Wibidata, a big data application provider, has a new platform for building real-time apps that shows the increasing accessibility of machine learning and how e-commerce companies can provide an experience similar to a giant like Amazon.com.
The new WibiEnterprise 3.0 platform allows a company to power a site with advanced analytics that fine-tunes itself, providing better recommendations and other features over time, including more relevant search results and personalized content.
The platform is designed for the customer who is beginning to use data science, said Omer Trajman, vice president of field operations at Wibidata. “They are not classically trained but they have an analytics background. They have been doing marketing analytics. The mechanics are similar, what has changed is the availability of data.”
WibiEnterprise 3.0 is built on an open source framework called Kiji, which provides a common platform for building applications that leverage large data sets.
At its core, Wibidata is offering a platform that takes into consideration the fact that companies often have just a few seconds to engage their customers. People use all sorts of personal devices and can turn to a competitor with just a few clicks. But with all this data, companies also have an opportunity to learn about their customers by analyzing their digital interactions. Doing that means building a storage system that provides a 360-degree view of the customer.
Like Google and Amazon, Wibidata’s Kijii framework uses a central storage system that allows a customer to collect user interactions across all of its applications, searches, purchases, likes, clicks and requests for product information. It’s what is called an “entity-centric storage system,” which essentially pools all the data so a company with sophisticated apps and services can do real-time queries and act on a customer’s recent information to deliver content personalization, relevant search results and recommendations.
Wibidata’s approach is in contrast to traditional data warehouse systems that manage data in a much different way. In the context of e-commerce, these older systems store transactional information such as likely purchases, or shopping cart manipulations in a central fact table. For a retail bank, this data might include credits and deductions from accounts. SKU information or geographic location data are stored in dimension tables to provide a detailed view of the transaction.
There are two problems with the approach, Wibidata argues. It can get expensive and it centers around the transaction instead of the user that is generating those transactions. Furthermore, it gets even more complex when using historical data, which has to get extracted from other systems, cleansed and then integrated with the current transaction data.
Companies using WibiEnterprise 3.0 include a top 10 retailer which has integrated it with its website to create relevant, contextual shopping recommendations during the online sales process. An international retail bank is also using WibiEnterprise 3.0 technology to combine multiple customer data sources and apply in-house debt models to better detect fraud and credit risks. Opower uses WibiEnterprise 3.0 to deliver personalized reports to utility provider customers explaining how to reduce energy usage and save money. And one of the largest SaaS providers uses WibiEnterprise 3.0 to help their customers identify prospective customers.
Wibidata is a powerful platform but it also reflects the complexity that comes with managing data across so many different devices. There is an infinite data supply but the technology needed to use it means a new way of organization that cuts across the way a company treats its own historical investments. There are the added cultural hurdles that come with a change in business approach that is more customer, than transaction-focused.
These sets of challenges also impact new startups like Wibidata, which are advocating disruptive approaches that put them in direct competition with companies like Oracle and established SaaS providers like Baynote.
There is no doubt that it is getting easier to have the same capabilities as a company like Amazon.com. But the challenges come with the will of the customer and the ability of a company like Wibidata to keep ahead of the competition.
(Feature image courtesy of Trevor on Flickr via a Creative Commons License)Read More →
Bitcoin burning a hole in your pocket? Probably. If so, a new site has popped up to help you spend your digital currency during this hectic holiday shopping week: “Bitcoin Black Friday.” Starting on Friday, November 29th, a growing number of online retailers will be offering special deals just for Bitcoin users.
Frankly, a good many of the offers are fairly gimmicky – you can use bitcoins to buy a bacon-flavored lollipop or a ticket to space on Virgin Atlantic, for example. That’s not really going to help you with your holiday shopping list, though. However, there are some decent choices on the site, too, but for obvious reasons, they tend to be a little more geeky in nature. Adafruit, for instance, is offering 10% off of everything in stock, including Raspberry Pi. Reddit is selling Reddit Gold. The Humble Bundle has deals up for grabs. There are also software, electronics, domain name and hosting deals, and so on.
Mobile gift card app Gyft is one of the better deals available, giving Bitcoin shoppers 4 percentage points back when you buy gift cards from its supported retailer partners, like Target, Gamestop, Gap, Zappos, Nike, Old Navy, and hundreds of others. If you were stocking up on gift cards anyway, that’s worth taking advantage of. (For what it’s worth, PayPal users will get 3% back, while credit card users get 2% back, the company says.)
Overall, though, the deal quality on “Bitcoin Black Friday” is a good indicator of where Bitcoin is in terms of mainstream adoption. That is, not so much. There really aren’t big-name retailers on board with the digital currency at this time. And for obvious reasons, big-name tech companies like Google, Amazon and eBay aren’t going to play along either, as they all have their own payment mechanisms to push (Google Wallet, PayPal and Amazon’s one-click checkout experience, respectively).
But the site has the backing of large number of Bitcoin supporters, including digital wallet Coinbase, which is waving all fees on Friday so Bitcoin users can buy, sell, send and receive bitcoins all day. The site lists logos of other Bitcoin backers who have either contributed funds or assisted significantly in outreach to the Bitcoin community, including SV Angel, Bitcoin Investment Trust, Ribbit Capital, Bitypay, Coinbase, Gyft, PrivateInternetAccess, BitGive, and BitDazzle.
Internet activists Fight for the Future are also involved trying to get the word out about the Bitcoin Black Friday efforts, somewhat radicalizing the event by pointing to Bitcoin’s potential to be disruptive to the status quo. “Bitcoin is an amazing new technology, but because it challenges established industries, it will face serious political opposition–especially in the U.S. where those industries are strongest,” the message reads on the project’s site. “Bitcoin will only be safe once millions of people rely on it every day.”
Of course, Bitcoin won’t reach those mainstream “millions” while speculators drive the price of the crytocurrency to crazy new heights. That doesn’t discount its long-term potential though as a money transfer platform, though. But as a payment mechanism for online shopping? While it’s great that there are over 441 retailers on board with Bitcoin Black Friday, it would be better if there were more deals mainstream users would actually want to buy. Instead of say, Bitcoin t-shirts, stickers, glasses, mining equipment….and, oh yeah, more Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Black Friday movement is still growing, however. Earlier this week, it was touting that 250 retailers had signed up, and today there are nearly 200 more. Evan Greer of Fight the Future also tells us the site has seen over 30,000 unique visitors to date, almost half of which arrived yesterday. Meanwhile, over 4,000 people have signed up to get an email when the deals go live.Read More →
Eating Its Own Caviar, UK Equity Crowdfunding Platform Seedrs To Crowd-Raise £500K As It Expands To Europe
It doesn’t get much more meta than this. Seedrs, the UK equity-based crowdfunding platform, is listing itself on its site in a bid to crowd-raise £500,000 for international expansion.
At the same time, Seedrs is announcing that it’s opening up to European investors and startups beyond the UK, giving rise to the claim of being the first “cross-border” equity crowdfunding platform.
“National boundaries become artificial when you move online, and the notion that a Brit should only be able to invest in British startups, a German in German startups and an Estonian in Estonian startups seems silly,” says Seedrs co-founder and CEO Jeff Lynn.
“Our goal is to open startup investing as widely as we can, and a key part of that is about exposing investors to dealflow wherever it’s located, and giving startups access to capital wherever it’s located”.
However, Lynn concedes that equity-based crowdfunding platforms like Seedrs rely heavily on ‘network effects’. The deeper the pool of investors attracted to the platform, the more value that is created for entrepreneurs. Conversely, the more dealflow provided by Seedrs, the more value it creates for investors.
“We’re very much a network effects-driven business, and while the costs of expanding to some regions might outweigh the benefits of the expanded network, our starting position is to say that we want to be open to as many people as possible.
“In terms of timing, we wanted to do this expansion as soon as we felt we had proven the model well enough in the UK, and gained enough of an international reputation, that we would be well-received as we moved into further countries. We feel we have now achieved that.”
Since launching in July 2012, Seedrs has seen 49 deals struck, totalling £2.5 million in funding. From there, it’s not hard to gauge the company’s own revenues. It charges 7.5% in fees for each successful raise on its platform, as well as the same again on any (future) profits made by investors, such as via an exit or dividends.
I’m also told this amounts to 80% quarter-on-quarter revenue growth against 6% quarter-on-quarter cost growth, though without breaking out the raw numbers in terms of burn-rate, that’s fairly opaque.
So, why then turn to the crowd to fund its international expansion, not least considering the startup is already VC-backed. In early 2012 it raised a £1 million seed round from DFJ Esprit, Digital Prophets (backed by Luke Johnson and managed by the investors behind 1seed) and a number of unnamed angel investors.
“We’re raising on our own platform because we think it’s a good commercial and marketing decision,” says Lynn, adding that it would look “strange” for Seedrs to promote democratised investing but then “run off, raise our money from institutions and cut out our customers”.
In addition, just like any crowdfunding campaign, Lynn hopes it will create a large base of “mavens” and supporters. “We’d love to see 500 people – or even 1,000 – invest in us, because that would be a massive base of people who would use us, get their friends to use us and bore everyone they talk to about how great we are”.
And, of course, Lynn says it’s also a way for Seedrs to eat its own dog food. “I would of course say that we make caviar rather than dog food, but the reality is that we will learn a huge amount by going through this process about what works well in our campaigns and what doesn’t, and we’ll use that experience to improve the platform.”
That’s not say that Seedrs won’t look to another VC funding round in the future, but it would have been especially complicated to combine VC funding with crowd funding, says Lynn.
(It’s complicated enough since Seedrs will, perhaps controversially, act as nominee over the shares issued for its own crowd-funding. To avoid the conflict of interest it plans to set up a dedicated, independent non-executive committee elected by the investors to vote and take all other actions in connection with the Seedrs shares.)
“Later on, who knows? I think there are some wonderful VCs in London and across Europe, but VC isn’t the be-all and end-all of business growth; depending on how our customers and the public respond to this round, we might look to continue to grow with public capital all the way up to a listing.”Read More →
Tubestart Becomes Exclusive Crowdfunding Platform for Leading YouTube Network Fullscreen to Increase Revenue and Reach for Content Creators
Fullscreen’s partnership with Tubestart will enable a community of thousands of content-creators who together get more than 3-billion monthly views to have access to additional revenue streams to help grow their audience reach.
“We’re honored that tubestart has been selected by the largest independent multichannel network provider to be a part of its mission to better serve YouTube content creators,”said Josef Holm.”This is not only a wonderful partnership between Fullscreen-and-tubestart, but it’s also a great opportunity for our crowdfunding platform to continue to demonstrate its unique ability to serve the fans,followers and funding needs of the digital video marketplace.”
SOURCE:http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/tubestart-becomes-exclusive-crowdfunding-platform-leading-youtube-network-fullscreen-1855285.htmRead More →
The crowdfunding space has just got a little more crowded in the UK, with the official launch today of a platform for crowdsourcing donations aimed at doing social good. Yimby.com – an affirmative play on the phrase nimby (aka ‘not in my back yard’) – is a new business from online charity donation company JustGiving, a 12-year veteran of the digital giving space. Yimby.com has been operating in beta up to today.
If you’re in the business of making money from other people’s largess – JustGiving takes a 5% cut of all donations on its platform, and has raised £1.6 billion for charity since 2001 (which equates to revenue of around £127 million for the business) – then the rise of alternative crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, is either a concern or an opportunity.
A concern because these platforms are on a growth tear, and people only have so much money to give. The most successful crowdfunding platforms also give people more of an incentive to donate by casting the spell of story around causes/projects to increase engagement.
Instead of watching from the sidelines JustGiving has decided to wade in, with a little help (to the tune of £50,000) from the UK government to help it launch Yimby. Presumably Yimby tallies with the government’s ‘big society‘ agenda – by outsourcing social project financing to the community, rather than the Treasury.
As with its other charitable donations-fuelled business, JustGiving will be taking a 5% fee on donations for all successful projects on Yimby. It’s also charging card fees (where applicable).
Here’s how it describes Yimby’s mission:
Yimby.com allows individuals to deliver philanthropic projects without being affiliated with a charity, from planting community gardens, to purchasing basketball wheelchairs for local teams or launching mentoring programmes for young people.
Yimby is manually checking projects to ensure they qualify as a ‘social good’ – so trying to fund your Birthday drinks probably won’t fly. But individual projects can qualify if the need/cause is great enough, with Yimby noting that a disabled man used the platform to fund making his house more accessible during the site’s beta period, for example.
Over the beta, Yimby has had 250 projects submitted, and more than £250,000 has been pledged. More than 100 of the projects have been successfully funded to-date, which it says works out at a 64% success rate thus far. Yimby sets a 30-day period on campaigns to keep them “focused”.
One successful project that took place during the beta was a campaign to save Kettering Town Football Club. Its supporters were able to raise £20,546 on the site in October.
Asked why the UK needs another crowdfunding platform, even one focused on social good, JustGiving said its aim is to take the crowdfunding model mainstream – or more mainstream than it currently is.
“We’ve continually been asked by our users for exactly this type of service, and now we want to open up philanthropy to any individual wanting to start their own community projects,” it told TechCrunch. “With JustGiving’s experience, technology and reach behind us we hope to bring community crowdfunding to a mainstream audience across the UK.”
It did not make mention of fee-less charity donation rival Believe.in, which undercuts JustGiving by charging zero fees on donations, but such disruption can’t be far from its thoughts.
And while here’s no shortage of rivals to Yimby – from a mainstream crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter to specialist social good platforms such as StartSomeGood or OpenIDEO, to name a couple – JustGiving will presumably be hoping its brand profile gives it a better reach than some of its smaller rivals. It’s also clearly keen to tap into the energy around crowdfunding.
While Yimby is launching only in the UK for now, JustGiving says the site has been growing fast, adding that it has plans to expand Yimby internationally in future.Read More →
The biggest dilemma we face today building products is not whether we have an identity without our devices, but rather can we have an identity with our devices?
Our identities are fragmented across dozens of websites, mobile applications and databases. Every day, these programs simultaneously squawk at us with push notifications and email updates, disorganizing and splitting our mental focus. It’s not simply that we’ve lost control of our identities. It’s that we have multiple identities based on whatever platform we happen to be on. And that is hindering our ability to accomplish even the most mundane tasks without friction.
This digital schizophrenia is harming users who want a well-designed and cogent experience built for their own work patterns. Schizophrenia, as understood today, is a “disintegration of personality” that leads to the inability to properly process thoughts. That is precisely why founders should be focused on building products that allow each of our identities to coalesce across applications.
Digital schizophrenia is harming users who want a well-designed and cogent experience built for their own work patterns.
There are three principles that should guide how we build companies around identity today:
- Create products that are properly targeting the right kinds of devices.
- Companies need to democratize their platforms, because products benefit each other when data is shared.
- Products should be built around frictionless workflows, both between users and devices, and between users themselves.
The Right Kind Of Device
Targeting the right kind of device is trickier than it seems. It is hardly a shock to anyone that users are interacting with more devices than ever. The popularity of smartphones and tablets has been among the most exciting developments in technology investing in the last five years. Yet, that doesn’t mean that every app should be mobile-only, or even mobile-first. Rather, founders need to focus on what they want their users to accomplish and what platforms make sense for that function.
Take Uber. The company takes advantage of smartphones by using your location to hail a taxi. As a workflow, it is among the best experiences of any product on the market today because it focuses on the sole platform relevant to its goals. It’s a great example of a mobile-only company. For Square, though, its product is best used on tablets, because that form factor is ideal for point-of-sale systems. Both of these examples are different from computer-aided design programs, which should probably still be on the desktop given a designer’s need for precision.
To ensure a great user experience, companies must also think about democratization of the platform. Today, too many companies are siloing away data, hoping to build revenue models instead of great products. There may be benefits to that strategy in the short term, but this siloing is a classic example of the tragedy of the commons, and we need to be aware of the loss to the user every time we consider adding another store of data to their lives. As I have written before, the great companies of the future will take advantage of economies of unscale and allow for decentralized workflows to work across their application.
With more of our identity information openly available, founders finally can build products with frictionless workflows. Products should be built to take advantage of the different data stores that a user has under their control – whether that be communications on a social network like Facebook or contacts stored in a CRM. These integrations are certainly hard, but products built around each other will create the superior experiences desired by users. The best example of this sort of future is Google Now, which actively tries to combine different data sources together into one integrated experience.
These three principles aren’t just good for consumers, but will help enterprises, as well. If we do this right, our focus on identity will create the first quantitative view of an enterprise that can assess productivity in a data-driven way. Who does too many meetings? Who is engaging enough with customers? By giving a human view of the enterprise, we can create a better functioning workforce and ultimately increase our productivity.
Projects and companies that focus on identity and overcome this digital schizophrenia are of strong interest to me at General Catalyst. In some cases it’s right in our sweet spot – entrepreneurs at their inception, wishing to partner with us in building companies from a germ of an idea. Ultimately, these smart systems – based on our identities – will not only sweep away the idea that there is a consumer or an enterprise, but do something much more valuable: give us back control of our identity.
Editor’s note: Hemant Taneja is a partner at General Catalyst. His investments include Stripe, Snapchat, TuneIn and Highfive. You can follow him on Twitter @htaneja.Read More →
Facebook’s share price tanked upon IPO, scaring plenty of private companies away from the public markets. But with its eventual recovery and now the stellar performance of Twitter’s IPO out the gates, the Wall Street bell suddenly has a much nicer ring to it.
Just in the last few days we’ve heard of Square, Box, and Seamless moving forward with IPO plans.
Now, a soaring share price isn’t always a good thing, and a sinking one isn’t all bad depending on a company’s intentions. But up and to the right boosts confidence of the market as a whole, and the shot in the arm from Twitter comes in sharp contrast to a rough 2011 and 2012 for technology offerings.
Facebook priced its May 2012 IPO high, and thereby raked in a ton of money for use on expansion, R&D, and acquisitions. What it sacrificed was perceived momentum. Though it was able to unload its shares at $38, the price would soon plummet to $18. That made Facebook look like a loser to the outside world, potential recruits and employees.
Soon we saw a grand exodus of veteran talent from the social network. Employees left citing they felt they had “done their duty” to make the world more open and connected. What they didn’t say was that they may have preferred to leave the pimping of Facebook as a business entity to someone else while they went on a new startup adventure.
Now Facebook’s share price is at $47.50. It’s regained some of its luster (though not with teens). Those prized employees are still gone but it has plenty of money to buy new ones. Overall, it was a tough transition from private to public that spooked a lot of people. What CEO wants to go public if they risk half their market value evaporating overnight?
Twitter waited until some of that fear subsided. It then its IPO low. The original price range of $17-$20 it looked now seems undeniably cheap (oh the joys of hindsight). But even at the time, most considered Twitter worth well over $11 billion. It’s become a backbone of digital communication whose raw, unfiltered nature gives it unique value in the social landscape. Even after pricing TWTR much higher at $26, many still though it was undervalued.
When Twitter IPO’d yesterday, its share price popped a remarkable 73 percent. Though it’s down a bit today, it still closed around $41, high above its $26 starting point.
Twitter did leave more than $1 billion on the table. Achieving the more traditionally sought-after 15 percent to 20 percent pop could have given it a much bigger war chest to buy complementary companies and invest in growth. But what it gained was the public sentiment that Twitter’s a winner, that it’s here to stay. And that it’s a beautiful time to go public.
Other companies apparently saw the sign. Payment service Square is in talks with banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for an IPO in 2014, someone conveniently leaked to the Wall Street Journal. Square’s sales are said to be around $550 million this year, with $110 million to $165 million in net revenue after payouts to credit card companies.
Cloud storage app Box has chosen Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase as underwriters for an early 2014 IPO that could raise $500 million, says Reuters.
And food delivery service Seamless is eying a late-2014 / early-2015 IPO says The Deal Pipeline. It had $85 million in 2012 revenue, bought its biggest competitor GrubHub six months ago, and is on track for $200 million+ in 2013 revenue, Deal Pipeline reports.
Other companies that might IPO in 2014 include Dropbox, Zendesk, New Relic, and Atlassian.
The idea seems to be “get money while the getting’s good.” Big private companies seem intent on getting their day in the Wall Street sun before the weather changes.
And the trend extends down to smaller startups private stories too, though their situation is very different. Pinterest may have raised $225 million because it wants to have plenty of money for expansion without fear the fundraising climate could get bleak if consumer investment dries up, as Fortune writes. Snapchat is said to be raising its own round of roughly $200 million.
Neither of these companies are earning any meaningful revenue right now. But rather than wait until they are so they could raise at better terms and even higher valuations, they’re squirreling away the cash now.
One problem this presents is that these big IPOs and raises could inflate valuations for smaller startups, as Jack Altman of Hydrazine Capital writes. If they can’t reach an exit before the market skies turn stormy, they may be left struggling to raise money, and end up with gloomy down rounds.
But for big private companies with solid revenue and a strong mobile presence, fast-tracking their way to getting their own stock symbol may be a smart bet. You never know what next year will look like.
Additional reporting by Alex Wilhelm
[Image Credit: Shutterstock, Institutional Investor]Read More →
Intel Has Acquired Kno, Will Push Further Into The Education Content Market With Interactive Textbooks
We had a tip about, have now confirmed, Intel’s latest acquisition: Kno, the education startup that started life as a hardware business and later pivoted into software – specifically via apps that let students read interactive versions of digitized textbooks. Intel was among Kno’s investors – the company had raised some $73.4 million in funding since being founded in 2009, with Intel leading the Series C round in April, 2011 (in the $37.5m round, Intel invested $20m).
“I can confirm Intel has purchased Kno,” a spokesperson told me just now. They are not disclosing deal terms but I’m hopefully going to speak to John Galvin, the GM of Intel Education, to get more details. (I’ll update as I learn more.)
Update: Intel has now published a more detailed statement on its site. “The acquisition of Kno boosts Intel’s global digital content library to more than 225,000 higher education and K-12 titles through existing partnerships with 75 educational publishers. Even more, the Kno platform provides administrators and teachers with the tools they need to easily assign, manage and monitor their digital learning content and assessments,” Galvin writes. “We’re looking forward to combining our expertise with Kno’s rich content so that together, we can help teachers create classroom environments and personalized learning experiences that lead to student success. Check out the Intel Education newsroom for ongoing updates from Intel.”
We have still to find out who and what is coming over with the acquisition. Osman Rashid, the co-founder and CEO, was also a co-founder of Chegg.
The deal is the latest development in Intel’s wider efforts to build out its education business. Among other things, recently Intel has put out reference designs for Android-based educational tablets, and it has gotten involved in e-education initiatives.
Kno itself has not yet issued a statement about the deal but its site posted a note a little while ago saying that it would go down for maintenance later today – possibly to post details of the acquisition (?).
We had heard that Kno was talking to interested parties some months ago, so in that sense, this is not a surprise. The company has partnered with 75 publishers and has some 200,000 interactive titles, from kindergarden through to university-level textbooks, that can be accessed via its iPad, Android and Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps. “They are the same books, only smarter,” the company notes on its site. The main idea is that the books are not only digitised but include additional features to help students and teachers assess their progress, share information with others and generally get more engaged in the content.
More to come.Read More →
This is a pretty cool new iOS app from Russia’s Displair, maker of the Minority Report-styled Multi-Touch “air” display.
Similar to Google-acquired Bump, Airlike uses an iPhone’s various sensors in combination with its own cloud-powered algorithms to let you share photos, videos and contacts with other iPhone users in close proximity, but with one key difference: There’s no need to bump phones or fists. Instead, you flick content through the “air” from one phone to another.
Shunning Bluetooth or WiFi for peer-to-peer networking, the app uses a combination of GPS, and each phone’s gyroscope, compass and accelerometer sensors, and relays that information to its own servers to know when two phones are pointing at each other. You then each confirm a connection and can begin flicking content from phone-to-phone – an experience the company describes in Arthur C. Clarke fashion as “absolutely magic”.
And in our quick testing, the iPhone app works as advertised.
Along with trumping Bump’s need for physical contact, Displair is also talking up Airlike’s functionality over Apple’s own AirDrop phone-to-phone filesharing offering. That’s because AirDrop requires iOS7, whilst Airlike works on iOS6 and upwards, meaning that it supports a greater number of Apple’s older devices.
In addition, and crucially longterm, Displair plans to release Android and Windows Phone versions of the app, making Airlike, just like Bump before it, truly cross-platform.
One thing lacking for now, however, is an Airlike API that other developers can tap into, though I’m told that this is on the roadmap and could be one way the company hopes to monetize the technology.
Interestingly, the ability to transfer money between contacts peer-to-peer is also currently in development, thus taking another page from the Bump playbook.
Meanwhile, the longer term business model revolves around the way Airlike will tie into the Russian startup’s Displair Digital Signage product to enables users to grab content from advertising displays. So, for example, you could walk into a mall, see interesting ad-related content on Displair (or even a standard LCD screen) and have it sent to your smartphone using a simple gesture, much in the same way as the Airlike app works for phone-to-phone content sharing.
TechCrunch’s Darrel Etherington contributed to this articleRead More →
Editor’s Note: The following guest post comes to us from Vaida Pakulyte of CAREMAKER, a Denmark-based crowdfunding platform. Pakulyte writes in to discuss slacktivism, and how it can be used in the context of crowdfunding.
Have you ever liked or clicked on a Facebook post, viral video, or a photo promoting a campaign that is looking to raise funds? Ever shared it with your friends or tweeted about it? Maybe even signed a petition or changed your cool profile picture to a virtual ribbon to support a cause or bring an injustice to light?
If you have, you can consider yourself a slacktivist. The word is a combination of ‘slacker’ and ‘activist’ — two counteractive terms, which (when blended together) refer to passive, self-satisfying actions that have little or even no effect on the ground.
But is slacktivism really so powerless and useless? Given the conventional thinking that crowdfunding is about leveraging your social network for monetary gain, the fire will always start from a small sparkle. No matter how small the spark is, it is bound to start a bonfire eventually, right?
If they are planned well, one-off, seemingly meaningless actions can turn so-called slacktivists into long-term ambassadors of a cause. What’s more, online buzz can turn into offline conversations. It creates awareness, and can snowball into big movements. Just take a moment to remember the Arab Spring and the impact of digital technology in making revolutions visible worldwide. Does this affirm the belief that there is no such thing as bad publicity?
While the simplicity of spreading the word increases publicity of a cause, the actual impact is negligible. The truth is that this is pretty much where our involvement ends — with clicks, shares, and likes. You have thousands of followers, but life stays the same. We indulge ourselves with the belief that we do the best we can with the resources we have. We deceptively believe that we are making a difference and in doing so, we feel great about ourselves.
The idea here is not to criticize slacktivism as a bunch of meaningless, duplicative actions but rather to focus on what can we get out of it. We shouldn’t dwell in the negativity and side with the doubters. The tools are ready, so why don’t we make digital technology even more powerful, accessible, and available to masses? Crowdfunding leaders can turn media-savvy campaign creators and their supporters from slacktivists into conscious and active changemakers. The big question is, how?
The Scandinavian crowdfunding platform CAREMAKER.com has a meaningful solution to answer this question. Caremaker offers a way for donors and supporters of fundraising campaigns to get involved in a more meaningful way than just donating money or liking the campaign page. Let me introduce to you the CARE WITH TIME tool. It’s a way for everyone to earn money for a cause without using their credit card.
The idea is very simple — users complete online tasks like surveys, sign-ups, and questionnaires submitted by local businesses, and earn money for a chosen campaign. The real benefit is that it not only makes the supporter feel good, but it also makes an actual difference.
A real example of Care With Time’s effectiveness is a story about a soccer club in Denmark. The club had many expenses like paying for the union, salaries, and renovation of their clubhouse; they were close to going into a lot of debt. Luckily, 220 members of the club did not want to give up. They engaged everyone in Care With Time activities. Using this tool, they reached 92 percent of the fundraising goal by dedicating time, not money. It showed that slacktivism can really achieve tangible results.
The future of crowdfunding is promising. There are new ways to influence change in others. More and better-designed social change programs like Care With Time are being created. The United Nations World Food Program, for example, created a web-based game called FreeRice that turns mouse clicks into food for people in need. By completing quizzes and answering correctly, you can earn ten grains of rice each time.
That’s not all. Another emerging trend is online academies, universities for entrepreneurs willing to design solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems. Unreasonable Institute and The Feast are two such institutions. Initiative like will turn slacktivists into real activists.
Undoubtedly, we live in a society where it is easier to push a button than plant a tree. For the majority of people, it’s still cooler to share a link on their Facebook wall than discuss an issue face to face. Even if slacktivism is still clearly visible, trends are changing. And there’s a positive wind of change — improvement of crowdfunding world. So let’s go turn those slacktivists into meaningful contributors to a cause.Read More →