“Imagine a virtual wall,” Veysel Berk suggested in a coffee shop the other day. “It’s like a physical wall that you can write on or post a picture to if you are at that location. Others can see it in real time and as long as they are nearby, they can post to the wall too.”
Berk is the founder and CEO of Wallit, a geo-social app that connects people to places through multi-media messages on these augmented reality (AR) walls.
Check this out: Sixty hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which translates to an hour of video every second.
Think about that. No single human being is ever going to watch all of these clips of "Charlie Bit My Finger," not to mention kittens, music performances and product demos. We need curators.
Many of us have grown so accustomed to using social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to connect with each other, that we may have overlooked what research shows is a growing gap in our social lives, which is connecting with our neighbors.
It all started with a tweet. Or actually, two tweets.
On Wednesday night, Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW) tweeted “Dear SF Mayoral candidates, none of you has managed to convince me you don’t have your head up your ass. And you’re running out of time.” A few hours later, he had something new to add: “I am urging all San Franciscans to write-in “Mat Honan” for mayor. He’s passionate and he loves the city. Who’s with me?”
And like that, an Internet meme was born.
Back in the early days of the web, there were some who predicted that online shopping would never take off, because, in addition to other hesitations, most people would never entrust their credit card information to a website.
Amazon started proving the critics wrong soon after it launched in 1995, and when eBay joined the party the following year, it quickly became apparent that ecommerce represented a massive new business opportunity where a lot of players were going to make (and/or lose) a lot of money.
Cut to the present tense, and ecommerce generated some $165.4 billion in sales last year, or roughly eight percent of the retail product sales in the U.S. According to Forrester Research, that figure will reach the neighborhood of $279 billion by 2015.
Meanwhile, with Groupon and Living Social, daily deals and flash sales, the sheer volume of marketing and shopping information coursing over the Internet has become deafening. Email, Facebook, Twitter are all bursting at the seams with the stuff.
By any measure, Dropbox, the startup that lets you easily sync files between your computers, phones and tablets, is one of the hottest young companies in San Francisco.
It's well funded, and reportedly about to get a massive new infusion of cash that would translate into a $5 billion valuation.
It's getting ready to move its 65 employees from a cozy office in the old Phelan Building on Market Street to a new 85,000 square-foot headquarters near the baseball stadium, in what Mayor Ed Lee says is the second largest (behind Twitter's) new tech-sector lease in San Francisco so far this year.
And co-founder and CEO Drew Houston told 7x7 that he hopes to hire enough engineers and designers and others to grow the company to over 400 employees over the next few years.
Fellow geeks, get ready to tweet. Paramount Pictures and Twitter announced today that sneak-preview screenings of J.J. Abrams' eagerly anticipated sci-fi fantasy Super 8 will take place all day Thursday at theaters across the country – including the AMC Metreon here in San Francisco – a day before the movie opens nationwide.
To promote the sneak previews, the companies have designated the hashtag #Super8Secret, which Paramount has also sponsored as a promoted trend, giving Twitter’s global users a direct link to buy tickets. Participating theaters will be treat those in attendance to a free popcorn (with a concession purchase) at each showing. Hosting movie sneak previews marks a first for Twitter.
Jeannie Choe met Bryan Haggerty in 2006. She was supposed to be interviewing him for a design article she was writing, but they ended up chatting about everything else. “Needless to say, we didn’t talk much business that day,” she remembers. “And the rest is history!”
You may have read about their engagement on other blogs, but if not, check out the story here. The short version: Bryan designed a custom iPhone app that sent Jeannie around the city on a scavenger hunt ending in the big question.
In every neighborhood where tech startups are located, you’ll see them – small groups of bright young men, mainly engineers, going out to lunch together. Very occasionally, there will be a woman who is part of the group, but that’s an exception that proves the rule.
It’s an odd phenomenon, this gender segregation, especially because virtually none of these young men fit the old-fashioned stereotype of sexists; by contrast, their generation supports equality between men and women more than any in the past.
And as these companies grow, they hire plenty of women. At Twitter, for example, a recent estimate has women accounting for around a quarter of the workforce.
But where the paucity of women is most striking is on the boards of directors of Web 2.0 companies. In a piece last December for the Wall Street Journal, Kara Swisher documented that none of the leading companies in this sector – Twitter (9 members), Facebook (5), Zynga (5), Groupon (9) and Foursquare (3)-- had a single woman on their board!
photo credit: dbking (from Wikimedia Commons)
When the news broke a few days ago that Twitter had successfully challenged a gag order in the federal government's investigation into the WikiLeaks case, it was a reminder that the Bay Area is on the front lines of the battle to protect our First Amendment rights in the digital age.
A federal grand jury in Virginia had subpoenaed user account data from Twitter about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, among others, as part of its probe into how that large trove of classified records recently became public.
Twitter has a company policy of informing users before complying with court orders such as this one, which is significant because that allows the user to exercise the legal right to challenge the subpoena in court, where it may get quashed for any number of reasons.
But since government investigators routinely request -- and get -- gag orders in these types of cases, Twitter was barred by law from telling Assange and the others involved in this particular case. So it fought back, and won what may prove to be an important legal precedent in the process.