Tech + Gadgets
When it comes to a legacy technology that badly needs to be disrupted, it's hard to imagine a better example than the college textbook.
Students have to lug these anachronisms around in backpacks, only to read a chapter here and there as assigned by their professors. New editions appear every two or three years, rendering the older editions essentially worthless.
Second-hand bookstores do a thriving business on campuses as students try to stay within their budgets. Book-sharing, renting, and lending as well as illegal copying all occur as well.
A professor trying to teach from a core textbook in many subjects often finds it resembles the Winchester Mystery House, with chapters added on willy-nilly to a structure that originated many editions in the past, often decades ago.
Jack Dorsey's Square, which may just make old-school registers obsolete with their Square Card Readers, Square Registers and Card Cases, is HQ-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle Building on 5th and Mission. In what some might say is a changing of the guard, the start up's original 10 employees set up shop in the Chronicle's Human Resources floor in December of 2009.
Hipster or Homeless, an SF-grown site which launched on Monday, is the latest ammo for anyone who loves to hate hipsters. In a comic nod to ridiculous hipster fashions, the site asks you to decipher between photos of hipsters and homeless (even Rebecca Black and Jared Leto have fallen victim).
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, Outgoing.me, 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."
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.
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.)
The CEO of Salon.com, 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.
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.
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.
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.