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StumbleUpon's New Look

StumbleUpon

It’s been a busy year over at what is arguably the web’s top discovery engine, StumbleUpon.

From its offices in SoMA, the company has relaunched its website, plus apps for the iPhone and iPad, and most recently a new version of its product for Windows 8, for tablets and PCs.

Be More Efficient in 2012 Thanks To 8 Local Startups

It may not seem all that sexy, but much of the most significant innovation in digital technology is devoted to helping us get things done more efficiently.

Here are eight local startups that are leading the way in that regard as we enter the new year:

A Peek Under the Hood at Uber

Once upon a New Year's Eve, after StumbleUpon founder and CEO Garrett Camp dropped $800 on three cab rides, he decided there had to be a better way to get a ride when you really needed one.

He started Uber, a marketplace that connects you via an iPhone or android app with your own private driver. That may sound simple enough but take a peek under the hood, and it turns out be one gigantic math problem, says Ryan Graves, Uber's VP of Operations.

"A lot goes into matching drivers with riders," he told me, "and we measure everything. After someone opens the app, how often do they refresh the screen? How fast does the driver respond? How accurate is his ETA?"

Using GPS, Uber's system identifies the closest on-duty driver to where the rider's location. The driver has 15 seconds to respond. "Drivers love it," says Graves, "because it means less time with an empty backseat. When they're empty they are treating the Uber app like it's hot."

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