San Francisco startup attorney prepares to launch a new seed fund


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Patent attorney and investor Jeffrey Schox.


Jeffrey Schox is a patent attorney to Silicon Valley’s startup stars — and sometimes, he’s their investor too.

Schox, an attorney and the owner of Schox PLC, a boutique patent law firm nested in San Francisco’s startup-heavy SoMA neighborhood, has been in business since 2003. For the last several years, he’s used his firm to generate deal flow — identifying startups he might invest in.

Later this year, he’ll take his investing a step further with the launch of a seed fund and the expansion of his team of patent agents’ role in the investments he makes into clients.

Selective practice

With the reputation he’s built, and constrained by the small size of his team, Schox works with a select number of clients, and invests in about 10 of the 30 to 40 new clients he takes on every year.

“We have the luxury of picking clients,” Schox said during an interview at his office with VentureBeat, adding that his team turns away about 80 percent of the companies that reach out.

His clients include Project Ara, Dropbox, Mailbox, Twilio, Duo Security, Karma, Estimote, Tactus Technology, Runscope, Eero, Cruise, Omada Health, Bubbli, 140 Proof, and many more.

To evaluate potential clients, he and his team ask themselves two questions: Would they invest in this company? And how much enjoyment would they get from working with it? (“Would we get a beer with these guys?” as one employee put it to me.)

They also have to consider potential conflicts of interests and stay away from working with competitors of current clients. So while Schox is working with two drone companies, for example, he says they’re approaching the space in completely different ways, which removes that conflict.

Continue reading “San Francisco startup attorney prepares to launch a new seed fund”

This iPad Mini case does a magic trick — it ‘grows’ an actual keyboard


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Tactus Phorm


Mobile executive? VB is hosting our 5th annual Mobile Summit on February 23–24 at the scenic Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, CA. See if you qualify here.


I never describe anything as magical, but this gadget might be the closest to it I’ve seen so far.

Tactus Technology, a company that announced $13.5 million in new funding last spring with strategic participation from original design manufacturer Wistron Corporation, is now taking preorders for its first product, the Phorm: an iPad Mini case-and-screen cover combo. The magical part of this is that the screen cover “grows” an actual physical keyboard when you slide the button on the back of the case.

Designed by Ammunition Group, the case is fairly slim and plastic, with a clear screen protector and a slider on the back that you can move with the tip of your fingers while holding the iPad with two hands, as you would while typing.

This portion of the case’s design is particularly important, as it keeps you from having to move you grip on the tablet. Usability in general is a core goal for Tactus. The company believes that physical keyboards increase productivity and usability and that people prefer and type better with them.

Through third-party usability studies the company commissioned, it found a “75 percent preference for typing with Tactus, in this case Phorm, versus a regular touchscreen,” Tactus cofounder and chief executive Dr. Craig Ciesla told me in an interview.

Phorm is designed to work with iOS’s standard keyboard as well as popular third-party options like Fleksy and Swiftkey, whose layouts are similar to the default keyboard.

Continue reading “This iPad Mini case does a magic trick — it ‘grows’ an actual keyboard”

Twitter now has 288M monthly active users, but growth is slowing


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The floor of the New York Stock Exchange


Today Twitter unveiled its user numbers for Q4 2014, which likely won’t make Wall Street happy at all.

In this past quarter, Twitter added only 4 million monthly active users (a 20 percent year-over-year increase), for a new grand total of 288 million monthly active users. The company blamed “changes in third party integrations” in its official statement. For context, it added 13 million monthly active users during the third quarter.

Twitter also shared that average mobile monthly active users represented 80 percent of the total monthly active users for the quarter, with no change from the third quarter.

On the engagement front, Twitter’s users viewed their timelines 182 billion times, a 23 percent increase year over year, though only 1 billion more views than the previous quarter. On average, each user generated 631 timeline views.

Developing…. 


VentureBeat is studying social media marketing. Chime in, and we’ll share the data with you.




Y Combinator partners with early-stage VC Bolt and Autodesk, opens lab to foster hardware startups


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Y Combinator


Mobile executive? Join us February 23–24, for our fifth annual Mobile Summit. This exclusive gathering brings together the top 180 executives at the scenic Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, CA to discuss the latest mobile strategies. See if you qualify here.


Y Combinator has historically fostered software and Internet-focused startups, but with its increasing investment in hardware companies, the accelerator program today announced a partnership with Bolt and Autodesk’s Pier 9 lab to better cater to these startups.

Y Combinator president Sam Altman writes in a blog post:

Bolt’s partners will advise YC hardware companies on product development and manufacturing, and YC hardware startups will have free access to Autodesk’s Pier 9 facility, which is the best prototyping facility I’ve ever seen.

Second, we’re also happy to announce a number of new deals for our hardware startups–across-the-board discounts & expedited services, free consultations and prototyping, and volume pricing for YC startups.

The accelerator is also building a small hardware lab in Mountain View, California, Altman said.

Developing…. 

 


Like this story? Want to learn more? On February 23–24, our fifth annual VentureBeat Mobile Summit will tackle 6 big opportunities for business to leverage mobile to grow. The invitation-only Summit will gather the top 180 executives at the scenic Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., to discuss issues like this.

Continue reading “Y Combinator partners with early-stage VC Bolt and Autodesk, opens lab to foster hardware startups”

This photo-editing and drawing app just bagged $10M from Sequoia Capital


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Picsart


Picsart, a little-known mobile app — and community — for photo editing and drawing, is catching investors’ attention.

Profitable and with 200 million users, Picsart is building a mobile community for creatives, and today it’s announcing that it has raised $10 million in new funding entirely from Sequoia Capital.

Picsart’s app combines drawing and editing tools, with social capabilities to enable creators to share their artwork with Picsart’s community.

“I got the inspiration from my daughter, she’s creative, she’s an artist,” Picsart founder and chief executive Hovhannes Avoyan told VentureBeat in an interview. “It would be cool to have an app that lets people like her be creative.”

The app reminds me of Pixlr and the like, but with sharing, contests, and other distribution and promotion features.

However, while it likely appeals to the same artsy crowd that hangs out on Instagram, Picsart isn’t a social network. Instead, it’s more like a “YouTube for pictures because it’s a platform to be discovered,” as Avoyan said.

And speaking of YouTube, Avoyan said the company will be working on its video-related features in the near future, though photos and images will remain the focus.

Since Picsart is already profitable, the company’s new funding is about partnering with Sequoia Capital and focusing on growth. It will also use the funding to grow its San Francisco office, which is its new headquarters. Avoyan founded Picsart in 2011 in Mountain View, California, and this is its first round of funding.

Continue reading “This photo-editing and drawing app just bagged $10M from Sequoia Capital”

Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place


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Here’s a list of today’s tech funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

New round of $117 million lands a lot of Taboola for content discovery platform

“Here’s how to spend $117 million.” That could be the teaser for this story, if content discovery platform Taboola included this in the 200 billion content recommendations it serves each month to more than half a trillion unique visitors.

Read more

Skimlinks raise $16 million to bring ‘comtent’ to the masses

Skimlinks, a content monetization platform for digital publishers, announced today that the company has raised $16 million in Series C financing. Frog Capital led the round, with participation from existing investors Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), Greycroft, Sussex Place Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). To date, Skimlinks has raised a total of $24 million in equity.

Read more

BucketFeet raises $7.5M

BucketFeet, a company putting unique artwork on shoes, announced it has raised $7.5 million in new funding. Jumpstart Ventures led the round, with Yunsan, Gordon Segal, Jeff Cantalupo, and Glen Tullman also participating.

Continue reading “Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place”

Y Combinator backs marijuana-delivery startup Meadow, its first investment in the industry


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Meadow


With Founders Fund’s recent investment in Privateer Holdings, giving the cannabis industry a big stamp of venture capital approval, it’s almost not surprising to find out that Y Combinator, arguably the most prestigious accelerator around, has invested in the growing industry as well.

Meadow, a young startup that helps medical marijuana users order a delivery through its mobile app, is in Y Combinator’s current batch. Today, the startup is announcing the launch of CannabisMD, an on-demand service for at-home medical cannabis evaluations by a licensed physician.

Launched in October, Meadow’s delivery service is part of the ancillary cannabis industry — that is, it’s not involved in actually growing or selling cannabis. Instead, it’s built more like a “GrubHub for cannabis,” as cofounder and chief executive David Hua told VentureBeat in an interview. While its mobile app provides consumers with dispensary information like menus, the dispensaries themselves handle the delivery. Meadow simply takes a cut from the deliveries. The rates vary.

“We’re trusting these dispensaries that have been doing this for a long time to understand the patients and understand the logistics,” Hua said.

During its time at Y Combinator, the startup is focusing on customer acquisition.

“One of the biggest goals is to really identify our customers, our patients,” said Hua.

Meadow isn’t the only startup working on this kind of service.

Eaze and Nestdrop, among others, offer similar services, although the city of Los Angeles recently shut down Nestdrop.

Continue reading “Y Combinator backs marijuana-delivery startup Meadow, its first investment in the industry”

500 Startups-backed DrumPants rebrands as Tappur, wants you to tap more than just pants


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Tappur's lamp demo


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — As the afternoon of startup pitches for 500 Startups’ demo day went on, one of them stood out because it was familiar. DrumPants had previously appeared on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, and its kooky sensors that turn clothing into musical instruments got a lot of buzz shortly after.

But DrumPants cofounder and chief executive Lei Yu stood on that stage representing Tappur, the company’s new name, which is supposed to encompass its new — and much bigger — vision. Tappur wants to use its sensors to help you tap to activate any connected device you want, saving the time it takes to pull out your smartphone, open an app, and finally take the action you want to accomplish, like unlocking your Lockitron-equipped door.

Currently, Tappur (and its existing DrumPants sensors) works by connecting with Icontrol’s OpenHome platform for connected devices, which enables it to control more than 200 devices, including the Lockitron smart door lock and the Philips Hue connected lightbulb. The company is also finalizing deals with a couple more partners, and it will continue to add more, such as the Apple Watch, as they roll out.

Virtual reality is also an area where Tappur’s sensors work well. At its booth, the startup had set up an Oculus Rift demo with a game; players attached the DrumPants sensors to their shoes and used them to march in place to mimic walking around the game virtually. It already has a couple of virtual reality developers working on building games with its sensors.

Tappur’s other demo was a simple lamp from Ikea that was hooked to Icontrol’s platform. Cofounder and chief technology officer Tyler Freeman turned it on and off by tapping on his jacket — a DrumPants sensor was tucked inside his inner breast pocket. Tappur’s app can also be programmed to be context-aware — tapping once might turn on the light in the living room when you’re in it, but the same tap could trigger a different device when you’re in a different room, he added.

Although the startup shipped its first batch of DrumPants sensors three weeks ago, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Freeman told me that Tappur — the bigger vision — had always been the team’s true idea. DrumPants was only the beginning, the first application it ran with given how difficult music was to create with mobile devices like tablets, Freeman explained.

Continue reading “500 Startups-backed DrumPants rebrands as Tappur, wants you to tap more than just pants”

This 500 Startups-backed company uses drones to map cemeteries


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PlotBox


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Today’s demo day for 500 Startups’ newest class has taken a somber turn: It features not one, but two startups that are in the death business, and one uses the hot tech of the moment — drones.

PlotBox, hailing from Northern Ireland, has built cloud-based software that cemeteries and crematoria can use to better manage their operations. In particular, it uses drones to map the grounds and help cemeteries make sure they’re not burying anyone in the wrong plot – something that apparently happens and causes expensive lawsuits.

“We’re experts in cemetery mapping,” cofounder and chief executive Sean McAllister said during his presentation today at the Computer History Museum here in Mountain View.

McAllister is a licensed commercial drone pilot, which is how the company accurately maps out cemeteries for its software. Drones have been used for mapping in other industries, including agriculture, but clearly their scope is expanding.

The software provides tools for operations management, communicating with staff and other business partners, financial reporting, and making genealogy data searchable and available to the public.

There’s money to be made in the death biz. In the U.S. alone, it’s a $3 billion market, according to McAllister.

McAllister cofounder PlotBox with Leona McAllister, and they’re joined by chief technology officer Stephen Hardy.

Continue reading “This 500 Startups-backed company uses drones to map cemeteries”

Y Combinator-backed eBrandValue wants to show social media’s impact on your sales — in real time

Socialmedia


Monitoring brand mentions and even sentiment on social media is all well and good, but what about seeing how social media translates into a brand’s financial value in real time?

That’s exactly what eBrandValue, a company in Y Combinator’s current batch, helps brands do, and today it’s announcing its launch.

Founded by Ayse and Tolga Akcura in 2012, eBrandValue is about telling brands how consumer sentiment in social media correlates to sales, in real time. It juxtaposes social media data about a client’s brand assets (product names, etc.) taken from data providers like Gnip and others, with financial and sales information they provide to eBrandValue. The result is a dashboard that shows metrics such as customer comments on social media, how each changes brand preference over time (or not), and how comments correlate to sales and financial value.

“We can tell them in real time whether the money they’re spending into customers” is turning into revenue, Mr. Akcura told VentureBeat.

eBrandValue also enables them to track competing brands, specific events like a new campaign or product release, and more. It pulls social media data from virtually all social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and more.

Most social media monitoring tools around, such as Sprinklr, Hootsuite, and SocialBakers largely focus on analyzing the social media data itself, as well as conversion from campaigns, but eBrandValue wants to match it to real-time finances.

Along with providing financial values as part of its metrics, eBrandValue’s focus on real-time reporting is one of its main selling points. As Mrs. Akcura told VentureBeat, reports — especially those looking at financial value, like BrandZ’s and InterBrand’s — only happen a couple of times per year, and the feedback comes too late for brands to do anything with it.

Continue reading “Y Combinator-backed eBrandValue wants to show social media’s impact on your sales — in real time”

With $5M in tow, Eero will make your Wi-Fi better cover your entire house — not just one corner


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Eero


Last week, my upstairs neighbor asked me to use my apartment’s Wi-Fi. Her roommate had tinkered with theirs because he felt his room wasn’t receiving a strong enough signal, but ended up taking down the whole network instead.

This is an all-too-common issue. People struggle to get adequate Wi-Fi coverage throughout their homes all the time, but Eero, a new startup from San Francisco is building a gadget that could help solve that. And today it’s announcing that after it raised $5 million in funding last summer, preorders for its product are now open.

Eero’s pod-shaped devices, a new take on the range extender, use mesh networking and Bluetooth to connect and extend your network. You can get just one or multiple (Eero recommends three to cover a typical home). The first connects to your modem, while the others only need a power outlet as they connect to each other via mesh networking via the two radios built inside.

While it might seem like an obvious solution that should have been built ages ago, the current alternatives are still traditional range extenders and access points. Cofounder and chief executive Nick Weaver spent years setting up Wi-Fi for his family and friends, he told VentureBeat, which gave him a front-row seat to the problems and challenges.

The Eero devices are also equipped with Bluetooth chips, and that’s the key to Eero’s bigger vision. Although they currently only serve to connect with Eero’s companion smartphone app, Weaver said the company will eventually enable the devices to connect to other Bluetooth-equipped devices.

You can now preorder one device for $125, or three for $299, which will ship this summer.

First Round Capital led the round, with Stanford University, Menlo Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Homebrew Ventures, Alexis Ohanian, and Garry Tan also participating.

Continue reading “With $5M in tow, Eero will make your Wi-Fi better cover your entire house — not just one corner”

Tinder’s paid undo button and travel feature will hit the U.S. in March


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couple dating looking at an ipad


Tinder Plus, the paid set of features from dating app blockbuster Tinder is set to roll out in the U.S. in mid-March.

Tinder, which set the dating app stage on fire with its “swiping” interface and ease of signing up and getting started, announced back in October, and unveiled a couple of weeks later, that it was preparing premium features focused on travel and an undo button. At the time, Tinder said it would roll it out to all users by the end of 2014, though a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email that it’s still in only available in a few markets as a test, and that mid-March is the current goal for the U.S. rollout.

The undo button was created to help users when they’ve accidentally passed on a potential match and would like to swipe “yes” instead. Passport is the travel-focused feature, which Tinder paints as a way to get travel recommendations or to connect with people around the world, but really, we know it’s to spice up users’ travels.

Back in November, Tinder said it was running tests in seven markets, including Brazil, the U.K., and Germany, and that it would be priced between $1.99 and $19.99.

Take a look below at the Tinder Plus promotional video in case you want to get pumped about what you’re money will soon go to:

Continue reading “Tinder’s paid undo button and travel feature will hit the U.S. in March”

Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place


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funding



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Here’s a list of today’s tech funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

Netflix will raise $1B in debt, in part to buy and create new content

Netflix officially announced its plan today to raise $1 billion in debt to fund a range of initiatives, including “content acquisitions” and “potential acquisitions.” The company did not give an official date for the debt offering, or the terms. But the size of the debt is testament to just how competitive the market for video-streaming services is becoming, and what Netflix believes it needs to do to stay on top.

Read more

Apttus raises $41M

Apttus, a company providing sales software for managing the entire cycle, from quote to payment, announced it has raised $41 million in new funding. Salesforce Ventures led the round, with additional participation from K1 Capital and Iconiq, among others.

Read more: Press release

This list will be updated with breaking funding news all day. Check back for more. 

 

 

Continue reading “Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place”

This week on VentureBeat: An Apple Watch, the Super Bowl, Snapchat’s future, & more


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apple watch hands on


Every week, the news team at VentureBeat brings you a blitz of news day after day, but even for our most dedicated readers it can be a challenge to catch every single story.

So, we’ve decided to pull together a handful of the best stories from VentureBeat this week, just in case you missed them, or want to read them again.

I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I’m a believer

The man to whom I gave a gentle push so that I might fit inside the crowded commuter train this morning was wearing an Apple Watch. As the train stopped in a tunnel, the man apparently received a reminder on his wrist, and when he raised his wrist I got a clear view. No, it wasn’t one of the knockoffs they were selling at CES. This thing looked like a luxury item, and it had the now familiar “bubbles” Watch user interface. Read more

Oculus Super Bowl party could be the future of social sports broadcasting

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — When the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots kick off the NFL’s championship game Sunday, friends, family, and coworkers will gather across the country and the world to watch. But for one big group, while the game will be real, the gathering will be entirely virtual. Welcome to the Super Bowl party, Oculus Rift edition. Read more

Hurrah! Amazon will finally disclose finances for its Amazon Web Services cloud business

Amazon is primarily a giant of e-commerce, but in the past eight years, it has developed a considerable side business as the leading provider of public cloud infrastructure with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Discerning AWS’ financial health has always been a roundabout process. But that’s about to change, because Amazon will start breaking out financial figures for the division, executives said today on the company’s earnings call, asBloomberg and others reported. It’s a long time coming, and it comes as a relief to cloud watchers, who after every quarter speculate on AWS’ exact financial position. And in a sense, today’s news is a watershed for the cloud infrastructure market, where AWS is ahead of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platforms, IBM Softlayer, and several others.

Continue reading “This week on VentureBeat: An Apple Watch, the Super Bowl, Snapchat’s future, & more”

Why Product Hunt went from intimate community to the hottest marketing platform in town


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Product Hunt


There’s a particular thing that happens to online communities whose members’ business interests are too closely aligned with the community’s spirit. It’s part corruption, part tragedy.

Product Hunt, a community-driven leaderboard for tech products that went from an email list to an Andreessen Horowitz-backed company, is staring at this fate. The organic, small community I joined more than a year ago has now become the hottest marketing platform for tech startups and makers.

Though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the turn happened, it was gradual — likely around spring or summer of last year, when Product Hunt really started to pick up steam in the press and tech industry.

Just as the tech press eventually became a line item on startups’ marketing plans, something to get done, with as many “hits” (the industry term for each article or media mention) as possible, Product Hunt is becoming more vulnerable to these companies’ marketing greed. It’s all about upvotes, making it into the day’s top 10, and feeling really cool about it.

“Launching on Product Hunt”

Although the number of pitches from startups looking to convince tech reporters to write about their product launch has certainly not decreased, Product Hunt has emerged as an alternative route for some of them. You can do the traditional press launch, or you can “launch on Product Hunt.” Instead of monitoring media mentions, you’ll spend the big day counting upvotes, responding to questions and comments, and begging everyone you know to vote for you.

At least a handful of startups have chosen that route and written about it, describing their decision process and the results. Poornima Vijayashanker, a well-known engineer, recently wrote a post on her Femgineer blog, outlining how to “launch on Product Hunt like a pro,” based on her own experience and lessons. Batch wrote about the experience, including how they have to pre-arrange the posting of their product. (I recently heard from a Product Hunt team member that it’s largely because so few people have immediate posting rights, so most items go through the submission queue).

Continue reading “Why Product Hunt went from intimate community to the hottest marketing platform in town”

Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place


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Here’s a list of today’s tech funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

Cloud-monitoring startup Datadog lands $31M

Datadog, a company that helps monitor cloud applications, has raised $31 million in a Series C round. Datadog’s service gives developers and operations teams the ability to monitor performance metrics, as well as specific events, from a variety of cloud services, all in a single dashboard. It’s free for up to five hosts and costs $15 per host per month for up to 100 hosts, with enterprise pricing available for quantities above that.

Read more

Mobile platform Tune (formerly HasOffers) sings right notes, lands $27M

Mobile marketing platforms are hot. And, in the latest indication of just how hot, Tune announced today it has landed $27 million in funding. The company says that its platform, which helps marketers manage organic and paid channels on mobile devices, is used by 60 percent of the top-grossing apps in Apple’s App Store.

Read more

Deliveroo grabs $25M to bring its premium meal delivery service to more cities

London-based food delivery startup Deliveroo has raised $25 million to beef up its U.K. and global aspirations. Today’s news comes just eight months after Deliveroo raised a £2.

Continue reading “Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place”

Snapchat’s future is in the details — why Discover is only the beginning


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snapchat


Yesterday was a huge day for Snapchat — and its bank account’s future — with the launch of Discover, its new media channel that brings users articles, videos, and other content from its partner publishers.

While this is a huge deal for the ephemeral mobile app’s monetization strategy, and much of everyone’s attention was on the app’s Discover section, we noticed a couple of other changes in the app. They’re much more subtle than the shiny new content tab, and yet definitely worthy of attention and a few words from us.

Finally, real chat

When Snapchat first introduced the ability to send a text-based message, back in May, I was ecstatic. Finally, Snapchat was listening to my wishes and incorporating the one feature I’d always said Facebook’s failed clone, Poke, had over it. Sometimes, you don’t want to snap a photo or shoot some video. Sometimes, you just want words.

Yesterday’s app update slightly tweaked that feature: You no longer need to have a previous photo- or video-based interaction with someone (housed in your activity feed) in order to send them an ephemeral chat. Now you can open the chat tab, and start typing away.

You see, at the time, Snapchat was pretty clear about still wanting users to communicate through photos and videos, not text. Chat had been a complementary, or auxiliary form of communication so far, but the app’s new update lets go of that. Go ahead and send those disappearing text messages now — and feel more “private” than when using other services.

That’s a lot of white space

Yesterday’s update also included a nifty new way to add friends: You point your camera toward another user’s personal QR code (found in their app’s profile section), and Snapchat detects and adds them to your friends’ list. Turns out, Snapchat’s quiet acquisition of Scan.me is behind this feature.

Continue reading “Snapchat’s future is in the details — why Discover is only the beginning”

Facebook passes 1.39B monthly active users and 890M daily active users


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Facebook


In its Q4 2014 earnings announcement today, Facebook revealed that it now has 1.39 billion monthly active users (up 13 percent year-over-year), and 1.19 billion mobile monthly users (up 26 percent year-over-year).

Facebook also shared that it now has 890 million daily active users (a 18 percent bump year-over-year), and 745 million mobile daily active users (a 34 percent increase year-over-year).

Facebook’s usr numbers for this quarter are on par with how it’s been doing in the past couple of quarters in terms of year-over-year user growth.

Developing….


VentureBeat is studying social media marketing. Chime in, and we’ll share the data with you.




Meta grabs $23M to keep riding the wave of augmented reality excitement (thanks, Microsoft)


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Meta VR headset


Last week, Microsoft got us all excited about, well, Microsoft (again), with the announcement of HoloLens, its upcoming augmented reality headset.

Now Meta has raised $23 million in new funding for a similar technology.

Meta’s headset is like a pair of big sunglasses equipped with sensors and projectors. While wearing it, a “pioneer” (what Meta calls its beta users) sees a virtually constructed world and can interact with elements in it. For a great overview of this, check out VentureBeat’s take on Microsoft’s HoloLens headset we tested last week, which takes a very similar approach to augmented reality.

By contrast, some companies like Oculus Rift are building virtual (not augmented) reality headsets, which immerse a person into a fully virtual world. Virtual reality headsets usually have a screen that goes in front of a person’s eyes which is what they look at and experience instead of the real environment around them.

In 2013, Meta raised just under $200,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter for its first version, the Meta 1 Developer Kit. Now, more than 1,500 developers and companies have access to Meta’s SDK, including Arup, Salesforce, and SimX, according to the company.

Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, Tim Draper, BOE Optoelectronics, and Y-Combinator partners, Garry Tan, and Alexis Ohanian led the round, with Danhua Capital, Commodore Partners, and Vegas Tech Fund also participating.

Meta was founded 2012 by Raymond Lo, Ben Sand, and Meron Gribetz, and is based in Portola Valley, California. The company participated in Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 batch.




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This post is by Kia Kokalitcheva from VentureBeat


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UserTesting lands $45.5M to reveal why users do the things they do

Boasting the largest user experience platform on the planet, UserTestingsaid today it has scored a whopping $45.5 million so it can better decipher why users do the things they do. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which says it has more than 30,000 client companies, pays real people to record their screens and voices as they try to complete tasks on sites, apps, prototypes, and sometimes physical products.

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Loyalty rewards company Lootsie raises $3.5M in seed funding

Once a developer gets a user, it’ll do whatever it takes to keep them. And now a company that specializes in that is expanding after a big investment. Lootsie, a reward program for mobile apps, revealed today that it raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Pintrest product management head Tim Kendall, Anvil Capital Advisers chief investment officer Michael Liou, angel investor Anthony Saleh, and SLP Ventures founding partner Brad Schwartz. Lootsie will use the cash to expand the services it offers to developers.

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