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Tech + Gadgets Throws Dinner Parties Around Shared Interests at Local Hotspots

The Brothers Morin — Jeff and Dan — as business partners fit together like peanut butter and jam, which is a good thing because the company they've built,, organizes dinners for people with shared interests to meet up and talk.

This Thursday night, for example, at the Ironside, there are still a few seats left for a chat with Dan Nguyen-Tan of Public Bikes, where the conversation will revolve around cycling and high-end design. But that's just one of six to seven dinners each week organized by the Morins and their team around themes ranging from nonprofits to photography, wine tasting, hiking and running.

"We're about helping people, especially people new to the city, to meet other interesting people like them," says Jeff Morin. "It can be hard to meet anyone outside of your workplace at first. This beats going to the bars alone on a Friday night."

With, A New Twitter-Based App That Tells People Who You're With

If you follow some of those, how do you say, "influencers," on Twitter, you may have noticed a "w/" popping up in their tweets lately. It's generated by a new app called With, a side project hammered out by the developers over at Path. For those unfamiliar with Path, it's a photo and video-sharing tool for your own private network of close family and friends that's HQ-ed in SoMa and headed up by early Facebook team member (and co-inventor of Facebook Connect) Dave Morin.

Old Meets New: A Rotary Dial Cell Phone

A main theme behind steampunk design is trying to discover how products would look today if technology advanced, but never quite changed, from its late 19th century aesthetic. Hence, a cell phone with a rotary dial. Designer Richard Clarkson has created the Rotary Mechanical Smartphone that features two interchangeable brass dials (a true rotary dial and a button dial.)

Salon CEO Gingras Resigns to Become Global Head of News Products at Google

The CEO of, Richard Gingras, held an emotional "all-hands" meeting with his staff today to tell them he is resigning, effective July 8th, to become global head of news products for Google.

Over the past two years, Gingras has retooled the San Francisco-based quality content site into a leaner operation with significantly higher traffic, but still has not been able to propel the company to profitability.

Since its founding in 1995 (Disclosure: I worked as a consultant with the founding team), Salon has consistently provided high-quality, award-winning coverage of politics, entertainment and the arts, but it has never reached the break-even point financially.

StudySync, An "MTV Meets Yale" Social Learning Tool Being Evaluated by SF Unified School District

By 2001, writer, educator and entrepreneur Robert Romano had already developed and sold a successful educational software company when he refocused his attention on raising his kids and writing a novel.

Meanwhile, as any parent can attest, the technological environment our kids are growing up in is radically disrupting the way they perceive the world around them, and changing the way they learn.

With his background in literature and writing, Romano found it difficult to see his son put off his summer reading (which included Walden) in favor of movies and video games until it was almost time to go back to school.

So he decided to try and do something about it. The result is a brand new educational product called StudySync, which is, in essence, a collaborative social learning tool that uses high-end videos and other interactive multimedia features to make books like the 19th-century classic by Thoreau more accessible to a 21st-century kid on his iPhone.

StyleSeat: A Social Network For The Beauty and Wellness Industries

There is an abundance of services in San Francisco: restaurants, music venues, bike shops, bars, boutiques, dry cleaners, Starbucks. Such is big city life. But there are also tons of hair salons and exercise studios. When seeking a new look, or workout, I turn to referrals. That is, my social network of the fabulously coiffed and fit. Enter StyleSeat.

Founders Den Partner Says Angels May Supplant VCs in Current Tech Boom

Clustered around South Park in Soma are hundreds of companies in the forefront of the city's latest tech boom, occupying blocks where disruptive innovation has been a way of life for decades.

Just a few doors down from the old 70s Rolling Stone office on Third Street, for example — and across the street from where HotWired aka Wired Digital operated in the 90s — sits the Founders Den, a shared office space and private club for serial entrepreneurs.

Co-founder Jason Johnson, at 40 himself a serial entrepreneur with four startups in his past, had left his job at Dolby Labs in spring 2010 and was working out of his home on Potrero Hill, when he realized he missed the comraderie of hanging out with his former colleagues and geeks. So he sent out an email inquiring to a bunch of them whether anyone would like to share some office space with him downtown.

The response was positive and immediate, and three of them became his co-partners in launching Founders Den this past January. The well-designed space does not serve as an incubator, or a mentoring lab, but as a co-working environment for those companies with seed funding but not yet ready to get their Series A round of funding.

Jawbone Promo Video Pokes Fun at SF's Start-Up Scene In Another Viral Success for Portal A Interactive

Here's an amusing one making the rounds this week: Another video produced by Portal A Interactive, the digital media and production company behind last year's omnipresent Giants Don't Stop Believing video. Portal A hosted a Viral Video Summit last week at Public Works to discuss how brands can get better exposure via video. This one for Jawbone's JAMBOX release (where ASHKON makes a cameo in a taco truck) is yet another example of a success — it was posted within hours of its release on Techcrunch last week and has been enjoying some more exposure on The Bold Italic.  Happy Wednesday. 

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Try Out Square's Card Case at Sightglass, Smitten Ice Cream, Pinkie's Bakery, Devil's Teeth, and 10 Other Bay Area Merchants

It's easy to imagine some things of our not-so-distant past — land phones, Myspace, headgear — being studied in history courses or ending up as set pieces in period theme parks. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's new(ish) venture Square, headquartered in the Chronicle Building in SoMa, may soon add cash registers to that list. The company is moving towards a near billion dollar funding round and its Square Credit Card Readers now process more than $3 million per day in mobile payments. The Card Readers fit into mobile devices to allow merchants to process credit card transactions (Square makes money by charging 2.75 percent per transaction fee) on-the-go or without a register.

And just last month at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Square revealed the latest in their register-busting product fleet, The Square Register for the iPad, which is currently being used by 14 "beta" merchants around San Francisco, and the Square Card Case for consumers, which is essentially a virtual wallet. After a first credit card swipe, participating merchants can send customers a link to download the Square Card Case app (for both iPhone and Android), which allows you to open a "tab" at a vendor and then pay straight from your phone for all future purchases. They'll send you a receipt via mobile text to approve, which will then go into your payment history at the vendor.

Art, Science, and Story-Telling in the Age of Entrepreneurship

You know that the number of startups has reached a critical mass of sorts when academic studies start appearing in an attempt to document the "science" of entrepreneurship, as opposed to its "art."

Another way to put it might be "data replacing anecdotes."

Which brings us to the recent study called the Startup Genome Report: Cracking the Code of Innovation, coauthored by a team of professors from Stanford and UC Berkeley.

The report was based on surveys of over 650 Internet startups and identified at least 14 key factors that help determine success, including the finding that balanced teams of one business founder and one technical founder raise 30 percent more money, experience almost three times greater user growth, and are less likely to scale "prematurely" than unbalanced teams.

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