Laura Oppenheimer. David Weir
For many city-dwellers, there's a huge disconnect between the number of friends we have on Facebook, and the number of friends we have in our neighborhood.
Yet when you really need a friend, it is at least helpful and sometimes critical that that person lives nearby.
Blockboard is a hyperlocal startup on a mission to do something about that problem, first in San Francisco, and then in other cities across the country.
When you download this free iPhone app, it recognizes your location via GPS and suggests which of 38 separate neighborhoods that make up this 49- square-mile city where over 800,000 of us call home might be yours.
“Neighborhoods are more emotional than physical, in many ways,” notes co-founder Stephen Hood. “So although Blockboard will suggest which neighborhood we think is yours, it’s up to you to choose.”
One of the top tech companies in San Francisco floating just below the surface of broader consumer consciousness is StumbleUpon, the discovery engine that co-founder and CEO Garrett Camp calls the "forward button for the internet."
StumbleUpon helps you find and share great content out along The Long Tail, and the more you use it the better it becomes at finding those gems that make the web, at its best, so entertaining and informative.
It's a bit unusual among startups in that it's about ten years old, and has already been through a major acquisition (for $75 million by eBay in May 2007) followed by an even more unusual event in April 2009, when its founders, including Camp and his co-founder Geoff Smith, bought it back from eBay at a deep (though undisclosed) discount.
The San Francisco Bay Area may be the global center of technology entrepreneurism, but not every big idea originates here, of course, although most do seem to find their way here sooner or later.
That's the case with Formspring.me, the social network that helps people find out more about each other and themselves by asking and answering questions.
"It's a vehicle for self-discovery and also for self-expression, says CEO Ade Olonoh, the soft-spoken computer scientist who started Formspring in Indianapolis late in 2009 and moved the company to SoMa last year.