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David Weir

Local Start-Up Munchery Makes the Luxury of a Personal Chef Affordable

When you launch a company, timing can be everything, and in that respect the timing looks to be perfect for the geek team of three at Munchery, who launched their intriguing service in San Francisco on April 23rd. 

The idea behind this startup is to match you with your own personal chef.

It's even better than that. Because your own personal chef will turn out to be someone who's committed to using locally grown, sustainable, seasonal ingredients to turn out high-quality, nutritious meals delivered right to your door at a total cost around $20 per person per meal.

Rice Paper Scissors Brings Vietnamese Tradition of "Pop-Up Cafes" to the Streets of San Francisco

At first glance, the two 20-somethings talking excitedly in a Mission District coffee shop may not look like renegades at the vanguard of a new food revolution, but that's exactly who they are.

Local food bloggers Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu will be taking their Vietnamese pop-up cafe, Rice Paper Scissors, to the streets for the third time this spring, on Friday night, May13th, at an as-yet undisclosed location.

In order to find out where they will break out their signature little red stools and spontaneously start serving their savory dishes, you'll have to follow them on Twitter or plug into one of local foodie blogs in the know.

When it comes to grassroots innovation in San Francisco, however, there's no better example than Rice Paper Scissors, which has no investors, angels or even a fixed office address.

CNET's Molly Wood on Darknets, Data Scores, and How to Watch Your Back

Molly Wood, CNET's Executive Editor, and the host of a daily web show covering technology, posted to her blog last week under the headline: "Welcome to the age of data. Watch your back!"

In a conversation with 7x7, she said that the current "information boom" sweeping through the Bay Area can be summed up by one word -- data.

"The startups have this in common. They harvest data, use it to make connections, to advertise to you, or to use the web as a giant recommendation engine. Essentially, they are forming a kind of supercomputer made of users and their data."

She notes the "dark side" of all this. "The level of information out there about you and me is staggering. They can sell this data. So the cost of 'free' has never been higher."

The New San Francisco Tech Boom is On (and Google Wants to Hire You)

Yesterday, Mozilla, the developer of the popular Firefox browser, became the latest tech sector star to announce that it will soon be opening an office in San Francisco.

So it's probably time to state the obvious, and that is that around here, the rush is on. Yep, we've got another full-fledged tech boom on our hands.

Over at CNET headquarters in Soma yesterday, I was marveling at the array of top-notch correspondents and bloggers they employ, which easily rivals Bloomberg TV's growing team down on The Embarcadero, which I profiled here recently.

The journalists at CNET, Bloomberg, and elsewhere I've spoken with all say that the pace of innovation occurring here in the city easily matches what they witnessed in the mid-90s during the original Internet boom, and that it may well soon surpass it.

Why?

Yammer Brings the Power of Social Networks Inside Your Firewall

David Sacks likes to call them "Dilbert problems."

You know, all those excess emails, unproductive meetings, and other awkward aspects of daily life in the typical office that make you wish you were anywhere else than -- in the office.

As the CEO of Soma-based Yammer, which positions itself as the "Facebook for inside the company," Sacks has a pretty good story to tell.

Since launching in September 2008, Yammer has attracted enough B2B customers that it now appears to be able to stake its claim as the social media platform of choice for the Fortune 500.

The Best Breaking News Site You Probably Don't Consider (A Breaking News Site)

Quick. Of the thousands of web-based content companies headquartered in San Francisco, which one has the highest traffic?

The numbers for this website are mind-boggling:

  • 414 million unique visitors monthly
  • 12 billion page views monthly

Here's a few more hints: This site contains roughly 18 million original articles, which is five million more than the entire 160-year archive of The New York Times. Plus all of those articles have been created in only the past ten years.

Led by 19-Year-Old Founder, Kiip Launches New Ad Model Based on "Emotional ROI"

Everywhere you look these days, people are playing games on their mobile devices. Business travelers at the airport, kids on the bus, restaurant patrons waiting for meals –– they all seem to be gaming in 5-10 minute spurts.

Meanwhile, as is the case with all types of original content, creating all those cool (free) games is an expensive proposition, so the same problem plaguing all types of digital media hangs over the gaming industry –– how to pay for it all?

Brian Wong thinks he may have found an answer. The 19-year-old founder of the advertising startup Kiip (pronounced Keep), unveiled his unique approach earlier this week.

It can be summarized in Kiip's tagline: "Real Rewards for virtual achievements."

Ubergizmo Makes Gadgets Accessible to Non-Geeks (and Fashion Accessible to Geeks!)

Did you know that for $50, you can turn your iPhone into a mobile microscope with 60x zoom and LED light display?

Or that a bug in Apple's FaceTime video chat feature suggests that it can take and store pictures without you even knowing it?

The place to find stories like these is San Francisco's Ubergizmo, where geeks explain technology in language that non-geeks can easily understand.

The perfect antidote to the gibberish typically found in user manuals.

Ubergizmo was was co-founded by designer Eliane Fiolet and software engineer Hubert Nguyen, both native French speakers, as a small blog in September 2004.

"We never thought it would be successful," says Fiolet. "Back then we both had day jobs."

Google Books Ruling Leaves Fate of Founder's Dream of "Library to Last Forever" in Limbo

When a federal judge threw out the class-action settlement in the Google Books case last week, he brought an end, at least for now, to one of the boldest initiatives the search giant has ever undertaken.

Back when he was still a grad student at Stanford in the late '90s, co-founder Larry Page began planning a "library to last forever," filled with digital versions of virtually every book ever published.

By 2005, when he and Sergey Brin had built Google up into the most successful company on the planet, Page began to put his plan into motion. Google made deals with leading academic libraries to begin scanning books, including many rare and out of print books, at a rapid pace -- to the point that today they have scanned a total of some 15 million books.

The Giant Holes in the New York Times' New Paywall

Next Monday, The New York Times will finally do what for over a year it has been promising to do -- erect a paywall around its content on the web.  But as details of the plan have emerged this past week, it looks to be one of the strangest, and leakiest, paywalls in the history of online content.

In fact, you might call this a voluntary paywall, because it will apparently be so easy to circumvent there is no reason any moderately tech-savvy consumer should ever have to pay anything at all.

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