“Venture capital for early stage life sciences companies has dried up in the last few years, and promising companies are always looking for investors. VentureHealth has the potential to change how healthcare innovations are funded, which is a win for both entrepreneurs and investors,” said Mir Imran , Co-Founder and Managing Director.
SOURCE: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/venturehealth-launches-new-model-for-funding-healthcare-innovations-207905501.htmlRead More →
“Los Angeles is an underachieving city,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in its 2013 mayoral endorsement. ”The candidate with the most potential to rise to the occasion and lead Los Angeles out of its current malaise and into a more sustainable and confident future is Eric Garcetti.”
An overwhelming number of startup founders seem to agree that Garcetti is the best candidate to bring out the best in Silicon Valley’s sister city to the south.
“Eric is by far the best candidate for Los Angeles, and has demonstrated a clear plan to grow jobs & our local economy. The proof is in his record, he spearheaded an innovative partnership with our company to provide LA business owners/operators the simplest way to get business licenses,” Jason Nazar, founder and CEO of Docstoc, told us in an email. “He has the overwhelming endorsement of our tech community, and he’s someone I know will work tirelessly to make this the best city for every small business.”
Given the strong desire by L.A.’s startup community to see Garcetti in office, and his impressively geeky record as a city councilman, I’m compelled to endorse his candidacy and urge Angelenos to elect him as its next mayor on May 21st.
Government’s have an undeniable impact on technology entrepreneurs: burdensome taxes and regulations can strangle innovation in the cradle, while funding for education and research are foundational to emerging stars.
Mayors can be powerful allies if they care enough about startups. If San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee hadn’t personally gone out to petition for local proposition E, it might never have passed and saved nascent startups thousands in payroll costs.
Most importantly, we likely won’t know the biggest challenges of the industry in the near future. A few years ago, the sharing economy barely existed, let alone faced the aggressive targeting of government regulators. In Garcetti’s (hopefully) eight years as L.A. mayor, the only thing we have to go on in whether he will prioritize startups on unknown issues against established interests is how he has treated startups in the past.
Nearly every startup we spoke to not only knew of Garcetti, but knew him personally. We cannot think of a policymaker in L.A. who has dedicated more of his time to our readers. But don’t take it from me, take it from the flood of endorsements we received on his behalf (below).
Our mission with TechCrunch’s policy channel, CrunchGov, is to keep our readers informed about laws and policymakers that affect your ability to build amazing things. As mayor, Garcetti will no doubt help you all do that.
Tara Tiger Brown, Represent.LA/ LA Makerspace
Eric Garcetti understands the importance of startups and technology to the future of the Los Angeles economy. He wants high school students to learn how to code, he understands that small tech firms are key to retaining engineering talent, and he’s dedicated to working closely with our research universities to ensure we benefit fully from our innovation leadership.
Sam Friedman & Alexander Israel, ParkMe co-founders
Eric Garcetti has the right policies to foster innovation and growth for our tech industry. His stewardship will drive collaboration among the private sector and local government to help create solutions and increase efficiencies to issues such as traffic and parking.
Jason Lehmbeck, Datapop
Garcetti would be the first real tech champion in the LA mayor’s office. His track record on the council in leveraging tech to make Angelenos lives better speaks for itself including launching the first 311 app in his district years ago. His specific plans as mayor point to LA taking its rightful place as a global center of innovation. These aren’t just campaign talking points, they are real initiatives that will have a big impact on city life including appointing a city CTO as well as setting up an office to work with LA’s great universities to encourage all those talented engineers and scientists to stay in LA. As a tech entrepreneur in LA, he has my vote.
Greg Cohn, Co-Founder & CEO, Ad Hoc Labs (makers of Burner)
Eric understands the impact the tech economy is having on LA today, and as an ideas person, the long-term transformative potential inherent in fostering a startup ecosystem. He also gets tech culture — both at the level of what needs to be done to support & enable it, and at the level of what the city could learn from it to be more efficient and effective.
Adam Lilling Managing Director – Plus Capital and Founding Director – LaunchpadLA
Too many politicians make decisions based on personal experience. It’s very limiting. Eric uses data to inform and drive his decisions and he uses it to help others see the way forward. From the first time I met him (he knew the lease terms on my Chevy volt by heart) to the last time I heard him speak (he used historical data and a trend line to make a point) he has the substance to support his charming ways
Marc Mitchell, CEO and co-Founder, Lootsie
Eric has consistently shown that he understands how technology can be used effectively, efficiently and at a low cost to address LA’s everyday problems. In his district, the Garcetti311 app has been used to fill potholes and to identify and remove graffiti in a quick, cost-effective manner that puts citizens directly in touch with their elected leaders. Solutions like these are replicable and scalable and will benefit all of LA when Eric is mayor.
Jason Rapp, Managing Director, Science-Inc.
“Eric Garcetti has actively supported the tech community in LA for years. He understands that the tech industry is a powerful job engine and community builder. He listens carefully and he takes action swiftly — two important ingredients whether you’re running a startup or a city.”
Google I/O, the company’s sixth annual developer conference, got officially underway in San Francisco on Wednesday, and it was an eventful day. It took the company every minute of its epic three-hour keynote to unfurl a laundry list of announcements and updates, seemingly across every product category in its arsenal — from Android, Chrome and Search to Maps, Google+ and Hangouts — each with a fresh coat of paint. We even saw the arrival of Google’s very own subscription music service, today, which is already being touted as a potential Spotify killer.
Amidst Larry Page’s triumphant return to the stage (after addressing his much-discussed vocal issues yesterday), Google’s soaring stock price and sexy smartphone demos, it was easy to miss an important announcement concerning Google’s foray into a considerably less sexy market: Education. (And K-12 education, no less.)
Android Engineering Director Chris Yerga took the stage to introduce Google Play for Education, through which Google hopes to extend Play — its application and content marketplace for Android — into the classroom. The new store, which is scheduled to launch this fall, aims to simplify the content discovery process for schools, giving teachers and students access to the same tools that are now native to the Google Play experience.
Teachers will now be able to search for and recommend learning content by category, grade level, and a variety of other criteria, and will have the opportunity to discover content recommended by other educators, for example. What’s more, every piece of content served within its curated portal is pre-approved by educators before being posted, so that teachers can rest easy knowing the recommended content is quality and school-appropriate.
Google has already begun to recruit content partners, with NASA and PBS among those that have already signed on to make their content available to users when the store goes live this fall. Yerga said that the team plans to begin accepting content submissions from developers at some point this summer.
Today, Apple is far and away the de facto leader in the education space, but with its new educational app marketplace, Google is clearly positioning itself such that it can begin to make a real play at challenging that dominance. To that point, the real key to Google’s new product is the fact that it enables administrators to distribute applications to their entire team. If a teacher wants to shoot content to a couple hundred Android devices, they simply have to type in their group’s name and voila, Google will push that sucker out to everyone on the list.
Another important perk for cash-strapped teachers is that the marketplace doesn’t require them to use credit cards to purchase content. Instead, educators have the option to buy apps and content in bulk and charge those purchases to their account. These are important features for educational users, removing a great deal of the friction around acquiring learning content.
Not only that, but, while schools and educators are eager to bring apps and other digital learning tools into their classrooms, it’s critical for them to be able to manage and to bring some oversight to the content distribution process. Plus, the Android Marketplace, er, Google Play, has had a long-standing malware problem, so that extra layer of teacher control can help get schools over the hump.
While the penetration of Apple’s mobile devices into education is significant, when it comes to other hardware, IT departments don’t want to deal with the hassle of networking iDevices. Plus, Apple products are expensive — and especially for bulk orders, schools will want to turn elsewhere.
Where Google can have a real advantage over Apple is in its ability to combine Google Play for Education with Google Appls for Ed. Small businesses have been adopting Google’s productivity software in droves, and the interest has started to grow among school boards who want to introduce tablets into their classrooms and use Google Apps as the standard.
Together these two products can work hand in hand in the classroom, with each becoming more powerful as a result. In turn this could help create the incentive or leverage that it needs to begin attracting new users.
The biggest takeaway: If it weren’t already abundantly clear, Google is no longer just a search company. The company has been exerting tremendous effort to achieve a unification among its products, not only in terms of design, but in the way its products interact with each other. That is best demonstrated by the fact that Google products now touch just about everyone. In a sense, Google is becoming a utility provider — for both consumers and developers — and, in turn, a data company.
While Apple has long been focused most of its attention on design over the years, Google’s focus on utility has allowed it to build a massive infrastructure, collecting data from across a broad range of software products at a nearly unprecedented scale. For me, there’s no better testament to the utility and wide application of Google’s infrastructure than Education.
Naturally, in juxtaposition with sexy new smartphones and mobile technology, streaming music services and re-imagined social networks, Google’s work in Education tends to end up in the backseat. But, for this reason, Google has quietly (and quickly) gained noticeable traction in Education, thanks to the adaptation of its utilities and gadgets, like Google Apps and Chromebooks, to the learning market.
For example, in February, Google announced in February that Chromebooks are now in over 2,000 schools across the U.S. For awhile now, Apple has grabbed most of the attention in the education space thanks to the rapid adoption of iPads among schools and teachers. Furthermore, when we talk about Google having positioned itself as a provider of essential utilities, there’s probably no better than the company’s recent announcement that the entire country of Malaysia — that’s 10 million students, teachers and parents — will use Google Apps for Education as part of the country’s effort to improve its education system.
Through its Google Apps products, Google allows students and teachers to collaborate in realtime through Web apps, while using already-familiar tools like Google search and Gmail. The other part of this is, Google’s cloud, its infrastructure, allows it to operate its software products at scale without the traditionally high costs. For that reason, the company can make its educational products accessible to cash-strapped IT departments, for example.
With infrastructure that allows it to run its software at scale from the cloud, Google’s products become more flexible. That foundation behind it, with Google Apps having found penetration among small businesses, it adapted the suite to address similar productivity and collaboration inefficiencies in education.
Apply that to Google Play and pair it with Google Apps, and you can start to see why EdTech entrepreneurs and investors, when asked what the biggest trends are in education (that no one’s talking about yet), more than a few have said “start paying attention to Google.”
And with the impending arrival of Google Play for Education, if Google can start to get Android tablets into the hands of kids, it looks like they might just be onto something…
Google Developer page here.Read More →
Google CEO Larry Page Shares His Philosophy At I/O: “We Should Be Building Great Things That Don’t Exist”
Today, a day after discussing his voice issues, Google CEO Larry Page took the stage at I/O keynote. He skipped last year’s conference and a few earnings calls after it due to those same voice problems, which he has noted are improving. Page even did something a little new for I/O — taking questions at the end of his talk.
At I/O, Page discussed how important it is for both the developers and Google itself to keep dedicating themselves to technology, to make sure that people everywhere can get access to it. He also discussed his relationship with his father, and how important that was in influencing him when it comes to innovation:
My dad was really interested in technology. He drove me and my family all across the country to go to a robotis company. Then we got there, he thought it was so important his son would go to the conference.
He moved on to discuss how important it is to be able to put all of its work on every single device, making Google a platform to build from. Page notes that adoption of technology is now “much, much faster” and the smartphone itself shows that. Page wants technology to do the hard work, meaning that consumers should be able to use technology, not be used by it. Google’s latest design choices and product announcements reflect that line of thinking, specifically the ease of use that comes with Google Now.
His philosophy can be best summed up with this quote: “We should be building great things that don’t exist.” This is why Google doesn’t pay attention to competition who is working on similar products, it tries to stay one step ahead with things like self-driving cars and Glass.
Page being on stage is a big deal, as it shows that the company is unified under his direction, regardless of his medical condition.
When asked about freedom of information, Page said that in hundreds of countries in the world, Google is speaking to leaders of countries, specifically its Chairman, Eric Schmidt, to keep dialogue open about protecting users’ privacy as well as keeping your freedom of speech intact.Read More →
Finnish Startup Rightware Closes $5.2M Series B To Drive Global Growth Of Its Embedded UI Creation Tool Business
Rightware, a Finnish startup that sells embedded user interface software and performance benchmarking tools to car makers and consumer electronics companies needing to build graphical user interfaces has announced it has closed a $5.2 million Series B round. Investors in the round include Inventure and Nexit Ventures, along with new investor Finnish Industry Investment.
The startup, which was founded in 2009 has offices in Finland, Germany, China, Taiwan and the U.S., and counts Audi AG among the customers for its Kanzi UI creation tool, has raised a total of €7 million ($9 million) to date, according to CEO Jonas Geust.
He said the Kanzi tool is designed to “close the gap” between the UI designer and the UI engineer, with both being able to work together using the same tool. Kanzi also includes a WYSYWYG feature to help cut development times. “As the design work is proceeding you can see on your target hardware exactly how it’s going to look as the work goes ahead,” he added.
Geust said the new investment will be used to expand Rightware’s global sales, and also to continue developing the tool itself. Rightware is not currently breaking out customer numbers but says it’s seeing “big growth” in uptake of its Kanzi UI — with traction in the automotive sector and consumer electronics companies in Europe, US and Asia.
“We are seeing that we have an explosive growth in the Kanzi UI business unit. We saw already during first quarter of this year… 100% growth and that seems to be continuing month-over-month,” said Geust.
“We are using [the new funding] partly to further develop the Kanzi tool and technology — that’s more an R&D investment — and then the other side of that is to build an even stronger market presence — basically opening sales and technical support offices closer to the customers.”
Geust told TechCrunch that the company believes there will be increasing demand for its tools, thanks to the rise of higher resolution screens. “The underlying theme that we are seeing is first of all that the demand for more advanced graphical or we could call that photo-realistic user interfaces is increasing, as the high definition screens become more of a commodity in different industries. It becomes the default use case that you actually have a very good-looking screen,” he said.
“That also puts higher requirements on the user interface — that it is actually living up to the standard that the hardware can deliver, and that is where we are expecting to see explosive growth in demand for the tool that can actually deliver on that demand.”
Rightware said its Q1 2013 UI business revenues were more than double compared Q1 2012. It expects growth to further accelerate towards the end of the year.
Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Jussi Hattula, Director, Team leader of Growth Capital at Finnish Industry Investment Ltd said: “Rightware leads the embedded UI industry with its innovative technology and market penetration. The company promotes next-generation applications where integrated 2D & 3D graphics deliver better and faster user experiences. We are excited to be part of this round and to work with the company to fulfill its vision.”Read More →
“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location.” — Frank Underwood, House of Cards
At this very moment, Mark Zuckerberg’s political lobby, FWD.us, is probably taken aback at how reviled it has become, both from the public and its own members. After all, there are countless political technology lobbies, including Facebook’s own Political Action Committee, which routinely offer Republican candidates campaign cash for quid pro quo political favor. So, why, after discovering FWD.us indirectly supporting the controversial Keystone Pipeline initiative, have would-be supporters flooded their Facebook page with scathing comments, and its A-list supporters, such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, ditched the group?
Unlike other lobbies, FWD.us burst on to the scene with a very public op-ed from its celebrity founder, promising to galvanize the latent civic passions of Silicon Vally’s netizens in a noble crusade to advance the knowledge society. While one hand extended towards grassroots supporters, the other reached into its wallet pocket and discretely doled out funds to controversial candidates.
There’s a reason most lobbies don’t bother with grassroots activism: communities don’t get excited about the kinds of soul-crushing moral compromise necessary in DC politics. So, when FWD.us rolled up with millions in hand claiming to be the voice of the technologists, those who felt misrepresented freaked out.
Even more confusing, when confronted, FWD.us chose to do something no other major organization in technology has done: it remained silent. Even the notoriously tight-lipped Apple holds a press conference after public uproar.
Californians haven’t become jaded to the kinds of secrecy common for Wall Street banks and campaign SuperPACs. The unfazed backdoor dealings caricatured in Netflix’s (addicting) House of Cards series may work for lobbies based in our nation’s capitol, but Californians evidently won’t tolerate it in their backyard.
“I revised the parameters of my promise.” – Frank Underwood
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams tweeted a link to a scathing blog post from former Branch CEO, Josh Miller, explaining,
“In service of noble causes, FWD.us is employing questionable lobbying techniques, misleading supporters, and not being transparent about the underlying values and long-term intentions of the organization. More discouragingly, the leaders of the technology industry (and of FWD.us) have built their careers on bringing meaningful change to the world. They should be doing the same in Washington.”
FWD.us would-be grassroots supporters agree, “Will Fwd.us prostitute climate destruction & other values to get a few engineers hired & get immigration reform?”, wrote one commenter on their Facebook page.
Folks in San Francisco had a sense that FWD.us understood technologists’ natural aversion to Washington culture, “People in tech have often felt a cultural disconnect from the political process, which is a shame considering we are naturally idealistic,” went a press release of FWD.us’s launch last month.
True to their word, unlike any other lobby, they were building tools for grassroots activism, with the audacious aim of bottling the rare Internet flash mob protests that brought down the entertainment industry-funded, Stop Online Piracy Act, and helped smartphone taxi service, Uber, overcome the Washington DC regulators.
But, unlike Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is actually planning a social media campaign to push for Immigration reform, FWD.us’s grassroots promise is nowhere to be found.
“There’s a value in having secrets.” – Frank Underwood
Like many of us at TechCrunch, tech luminaries have been begging FWD.us for a hint of transparency, “It’d be easier to believe that FWD.us will be a positive force if we knew the full breadth of its agenda,” wrote popular blogger and entrepreneur, Anil Dash. Unfortunately, they refuse to talk to anyone. Even at our own Disrupt conference, Director Joe Green didn’t (or couldn’t) be interviewed, instead opting for a generic story about the value of immigration reform.
See, their strategy feels like patronizing, as though us overly-idealistic Californians can’t possible deal with the realities of DC politicking. As Dash concludes, not only can we handle the truth, we’re begging for a dose of reality, if it’s the best way forward,
“It’s already clear that with FWD.us, the tech industry is going to have to reckon with exactly how real the realpolitik is going to get. If we’re finally moving past our innocent, naive and idealistic lack of engagement with the actual dirty dealings of legislation, then let’s try to figure out how to do it without losing our souls.”
“Friends make the worst enemies.” – Frank Underwood
What have been the results?–near unanimous condemnation from every corner of Silicon Valley. Just last week, superstar innovator Elon Musk, made a very public departure, after a list of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, boycotted Facebook over FWD.us-funded ads that praised Republicans for supporting the Keystone pipeline (below)
Ironically, the group can’t post a single update on Facebook without being flooded with angry comments. Just 18 hours ago, after FWD.us posted about a congressional immigration hearing, 50% of the comments are about Keystone, “How can you justify completely selling out on he keystone pipeline in order to further your own immigration agenda? This is politics at its worst.”
In other words, FWD.us poisoned its only mechanism for grassroots activism: social media. Forget Twitter, forget Youtube, forget Tumblr. Every conceivable social platform permits open dialog, which has now become the bane of their existence.
A Way FWD (Pun Intended)
When we first wrote about FWD.us, the reader comments were largely positive. Most readers (including myself) were excited to see what a team of technology titans could accomplish. But, since then, the suspect secrecy is killing their trustworthiness.
Their calculation is clear: a win on immigration reform will absolve their sins. They’re wrong. Since they’ve chosen to mimic other lobbies, their accomplishments will be indistinguishable. So, each of their investors could just as easily fund a tech lobby employing the same tactics without the public heat.
Personally, I like the organization and its mission. We routinely advocate for many of the same issues and carry the voices of their partners. But, evidently, FWD.us underestimated just how little tolerance their supporters have for compromising the value of truthfulness.
I understand the consequences of writing this piece: when Joe Green eventually does speak, it certainly won’t be with me. But, until then, I’ll leave them with one thought. If FWD.us is so committed to traditional DC politics, perhaps they should also take Frank Underwood’s advice on transparency, “There is no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than a flood of naked truth.”Read More →
“Happier, healthier, more productive.” That was the goal of mobile app Astrid, and now Yahoo is taking up the mission as it’s just acquired the social productivity platform. Co-founded by a former Palantir engineer, Tim Su, AngelPad-backed Astrid says that it has four million users, who as of September 2012 logged 30 million plans on the platform.
Astrid, we have heard, had raised well over $1 million from investors that included, in addition to AngelPad, Google Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Jack Herrick and TMT Ventures.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But we’ve heard the price is “well over the amount you would pay for an acqui-hire.” Yahoo has been putting a strong emphasis on mobile in its future plans, making several other acquisitions in the area, such as the recent deal to buy Summly. Astrid not only gives Yahoo an existing base of mobile users, but also a productivity platform that Yahoo will now be able to scale out.
On the hiring side, the whole of the team, which is around 8-12 people, is joining Yahoo. That includes Tim Su and his big data expertise as well as Jon Paris, the co-founder and CEO, who before Astrid had also founded another startup, Graceful Tools, an event-planning site. (And before that, according to his CrunchBase entry, Paris had been a minister, with one previous role including Campus Director for the Stanford Chapter of InterVarsity, the Christian student group.)
As for the future of the app, “Over the next 90 days, Astrid will continue to work as is, and we will no longer be accepting new premium subscriptions,” the company notes in a blog post announcing the news. “To make future changes as easy as possible, we’ll be in touch with users shortly to share how to download data.” It doesn’t say what else Astrid will be doing after that.
Yahoo has also provided us with a statement: “We’re excited to welcome Astrid to Yahoo!’s mobile team. Their background in personalized mobile experiences is impressive, and we know they will be a huge asset to as we continue to re-imagine our products,” said a spokesperson.
“We’re really excited to join the mobile team and continue this work with Yahoo!’s goal of ‘making the world’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining,’” Paris notes on behalf of the Astrid team in the blog post.
Launched back in 2008, Astrid was a pioneer in the email management and to-do app space. Now it runs on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and desktop and mobile web. The app lets you create lists and reminders, and share them with others. It also integrates with Siri on iOS to add voice-based reminders.
If some of Astrid’s technology does end up getting used at Yahoo, the acquisition gives Yahoo a potential lever to compete with apps like Mailbox, Evernote and Wunderlist. On the email front, one of the features that Astrid touts is that it can help users clean up their inboxes in 30 minutes.Read More →
And with the conclusion of the last Battlefield Startup presentation, the second day of TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 has come to a close.
The day kicked off with a talk between noted New York City venture capitalist Fred Wilson and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who recently become a VC himself. The two talked Bitcoins and traded VC stories with Wilson giving tips for pitching a venture capitalist. “Leave your backstory at home,” Wilson pleaded. Arrington quickly nodded and agreed.
Mike Abbott then took the stage with Mailbox CEO and co-founder, Gentry Underwood. The two talked about the surprising pains in scaling Underwood’s hot iOS email application. It took engineers 24 hours a day for several weeks to keep up with the initial demand. And then Dropbox scooped up the company.
Google’s Seth Sternberg, Director of Product Management for Google+, and Ardan Arac, Product Manager at Google, used the Disrupt stage to announce new Google + features. Simply put, Google +’s visibility is now supersized in Google Search.
eBay chief John Donahoe explained to Bloomberg’s chief content editor Norm Pearlstine about how the company screens its acquisitions and how he keeps founders from leaving after the acquisition — a trick that many companies fail to execute after buying a startup.
Troy Carter is disrupting the music industry from within. And today he spoke with TechCrunch’s Josh Constine about his secrets regarding managing Lady Gaga’s online presence (she doesn’t use Facebook personally), where celebrities go overboard online, and why he thinks terrestrial radio will be the home of the next big disruption.
When should an entrepreneur raise money, who should they raise from… and, well, should they even raise? These were some of the questions discussed on a panel with TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis at Disrupt NY 2013, which included participation from Mike Abbott of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Aaref Hilaly of Sequoia Capital, AngelList’s Naval Ravikant, and Box Group’s David Tisch.
At TechCrunch Disrupt NY today, VP of Display Advertising Products at Google, Neal Mohan, Facebook Ad Products Director Gokul Rajaram and Twitter Senior Director of Product Revenue Kevin Weil took the stage to talk about the state of digital advertising — and they each had a unique take on the subject.
In a chat with TechCrunch’s Leena Rao, representatives from PayPal, Stripe and Gumroad gave thoughts on the currency that has VCs emptying their bank accounts to invest afresh — Bitcoins, a very popular topic at Disrupt NY 2013.
The afternoon kicked off with a talk between serial-investor Ron Conway, filmmaker/actor Alex Winter and CrunchFund’s MG Siegler to talk about the documentary “Downloaded” about the rise and fall of Napster. Conway said even in 2013, Internet sharing has yet to be solved and that is one of the most disappointing parts of the whole affair.
TechCrunch COO Ned Desmond and CrunchBase’s Matt Kaufman used the TechCrunch Disrupt stage to launch a big expansion of CrunchBase, TechCrunch’s own robust free wiki-style directory of people, technology companies, and investors. The new feature, the CrunchBase Venture Program, is to appeal to venture firms that want to improve CrunchBase’s data set.
The day wrapped with 15 startups launching on the TechCrunch stage. In the Startup Battlefield, thirty companies are competing for the TechCrunch Disrupt Cup and $50,000 in cash — along with a boatload of press attention.
Disrupt NY 2013 oncludes tomorrow with an all-star speaker lineup with the boisterous Rap Genius kicking the day off with a loud start. Then, after a morning of fireside chats and conversations, a Startup Battlefield winner will take home a gigantic check.
Here are the video highlights of the day.Read More →
The company is buying the mobile-backend-as-a-service startup (yes, the industry acronym is mBaaS) in a deal that we’ve heard is worth $85 million. [Update: And we're hearing that excludes retention.] Neither company is commenting on the size of the deal, except that Facebook said it’s not “material.” For more on the long-term impact of Parse on Facebook’s business, read our follow up, “Parse Isn’t An OS, But It Is Facebook’s Answer To Android And iOS“.
Parse was founded about two years ago by a small group of seasoned Googlers and Y Combinator alums who got together to build a useful set of back-end tools for mobile developers. They originally called their back-end service, the “Heroku” of mobile in a homage to what was one of YC’s biggest exits to date — the $212 million sale of Heroku to Salesforce.com. They offer services that help mobile developers store data in the cloud, manage identity log-ins, handle push notifications and run custom code in the cloud.
Facebook won the deal amid what we’ve heard was a competitive process with many of other Valley’s other biggest potential buyers. Parse CEO and co-founder Ilya Sukhar said that he chose Facebook over other suitors — without naming names — because the company was a better cultural fit.
“I don’t think any of the other conversations created anywhere near the excitement level that we had for Facebook,” he said in an interview.
Why Parse? Facebook is in a big push to become more relevant than ever to mobile developers. It doesn’t own its own mobile OS like Apple or Google. It doesn’t make its own devices.
Instead, it’s a horizontal social and identity layer that runs through thousands of apps of iOS and Android, in deep custom integrations in devices made by hardware makers like HTC, and in its latest project, Facebook Home.
In that sense, Facebook has to prove value to mobile developers in other ways. Facebook integrations can make apps stickier when users add friends, and the company’s mobile app install ads help developers acquire new users.
Now through the Parse deal, the company will be able to offer back-end services for data storage, notifications and user management. This is a brand new kind of revenue stream for Facebook, as the company is keeping Parse’s freemium revenue model. Parse currently has over 60,000 apps and roughly the same number of developers. They focus on monetizing the top 10 percent of their clientele.
“This fills out one of the pillars of Facebook platform that we’ve been thinking about for awhile,” said Facebook’s Director of Product Management Doug Purdy. “Since 2007, the Facebook platform has been about being an identity mechanism with sharing. But over the course of the last six months, we’ve been thinking about how we can help applications get discovered and how they can be monetized.”
He added, “In order to provide the best experience possible, developers also need to build a whole host of infrastructure. Parse is a natural fit. They’ve really just abstracted away a lot of the work necessary to get an app up and running.”
The deal is a big exit for Parse, which had raised just $7 million to date from investors including Ignition Partners, Start Fund, Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures, SV Angel, Data Collective, Yuri Milner, Aaron Iba, Garry Tan, Justin Kan, Chris Fanini, Sean Knapp, Don Dodge and David Rusenko.
As for Parse users, the company says apps won’t be affected in any way, that developers won’t have to integrate Facebook and that existing contracts will be honored. Parse has a freemium model with a basic free version for up to 1 million requests or pushes per month and a limit of 20 bursts per second. A lowest paid version is $199 a month with 15 million requests a month, 5 million pushes per month and a burst limit of 40 per second. Then there’s an enterprise version where the rates are negotiable.
In the long-run, by getting closer to the development process Facebook could increase the likelihood that third-party apps integrate with them and buy their ads. When added to the direct fees Facebook will collect from Parse subscribers, the acquisition could become a critical part of how Facebook earns money from the burgeoning app economy.
To learn how the acquisition will change Facebook’s place in the mobile landscape, read our follow-up, ”Parse Isn’t An OS, But It Is Facebook’s Answer To Android And iOS“
Parse has come a long way. In just under two years, we’ve gone from a rough prototype to powering tens of thousands of apps for a very broad spectrum of customers.
Some of the world’s best brands trust us with their entire mobile presence, and a growing number of the world’s brightest independent developers trust us with their next big thing. We couldn’t be happier.
As stewards of a good thing, we’re always thinking about the next step in growing Parse to become a leading platform in this age of mobile apps.
These steps come in all sizes. Most are small and incremental. Some are larger. Today we’re excited to announce a pretty big one.
Parse has agreed to be acquired by Facebook. We expect the transaction to close shortly. Rest assured, Parse is not going away. It’s going to get better.
We’ve worked with Facebook for some time, and together we will continue offering our products and services. Check out Facebook’s blog post for more on this.
Combining forces with a partner like Facebook makes a lot of sense. In a short amount of time, we’ve built up a core technology and a great community of developers. Bringing that to Facebook allows us to work with their incredible talent and resources to build the ideal platform for developers.
We think this is the right way to accomplish what we set out to do. We’re excited about the future of Parse!
Ilya, Kevin, and James
And here’s Facebook’s statement from Director of Product Management Doug Purdy:
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Last week, we hosted our first Mobile Developer Conference, where we launched several new products to help mobile developers integrate Facebook: Open Graph for mobile, better Facebook Login, and new developer tools. Today, we’re making it even easier to build mobile apps with Facebook Platform by announcing that we have entered into an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform that provides scalable cross-platform services and tools for developers.
By making Parse a part of Facebook Platform, we want to enable developers to rapidly build apps that span mobile platforms and devices. Parse makes this possible by allowing developers to work with native objects that provide backend services for data storage, notifications, user management, and more. This removes the need to manage servers and a complex infrastructure, so you can simply focus on building great user experiences.
We’ve worked closely with the Parse team and have seen first-hand how important their solutions and platform are to developers. We don’t intend to change this. We will continue offering their products and services, and we’re excited to expand what Facebook and Parse can provide together.