Tech + Gadgets
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!
Facebook is ruining my life. My boyfriend and I were fine until I figured out that his last girlfriend is a total FB whore who posts a new profile pic every week, constantly updates her overly accessible wall, and has 800 friends. It doesn’t help that she’s gorgeous. I know she’s made herself available to him again, though he declined. Dealing with that is challenging enough, but tracking her status is making me crazy. I visit her page way too often and sink into total insecurity every time. Help!
Sneakerheads are well repped in this city. If you've never heard one fetishize the goods at local shops like HUF, Fatlace, or the Darkside Initiative, you'd think they were a religious cult mainlining Kool-Aid. SoleSearch, a new smartphone app from Pangea Subsidiaries, might turn you into one too.
Tim Westergren is one of those entrepreneurs who built an online company to fill a void he saw in the physical world.
His Oakland-based Pandora is the leading radio service on the Internet, which has to be satisfying for a musician who says he spent a "long time trying to make a living" in music beforehand.
In fact, Pandora, which recently filed for a $100 million IPO, now hosts a database of some 800,000 songs from more than 80,000 artists. This massive playlist is what you have to choose from in order to populate your own private music channel.
Around 80 million registered users have chosen to do just that, probably half of them via Pandora's iPhone app.
When the large aluminum doors of Mountain View’s Computer History Museum reopened in January, senior curator Dag Spicer was easily able to guess the age of all who entered the “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” exhibition. If visitors headed straight to the Apple II on display, they were likely 34; if the IBM personal computer caught a person’s eye, he could be 30; someone who went over to the Super Nintendo was probably around 25. “People unconsciously date themselves by gravitating to their first computer,” Spicer says.
When it comes to online dating, like with all types of social media, San Francisco is at the center of the action.
“We have the most fans in San Francisco, as a percentage of the population, and probably our biggest penetration of any market,” says Sam Yagan of New York-based OK Cupid, one of the larger online matchmakers. “It’s always been one of our best markets, there are more techies, more early adopters than anywhere else.”
San Francisco is experiencing another explosion in startups, and one of the best ways to visualize that is at at the local tech community's hottest recurring event, which is the "startup mixer" held by SF Beta every other month at 111 Minna.
SF Beta is the brainchild of Christian Perry, now 26. He launched it when he first moved here from Chicago after finishing college back in 2006. Perry notes that his meetups are attracting record crowds these days.
"There is a big spike this year, up to 650-700 attendees, or more than twice as many as in the past," says Perry.
Almost all of that growth, he says, is due to the rise of social networking companies like Twitter, mobile app developers, and new advertising startups, which have catapulted San Francisco into the new center of tech innovation -- more than anyplace else, including Silicon Valley.
Since it's a cliche that men and women are as different as, say, Venus and Mars, it should come as no surprise that the genders use social media differently, including when shopping online.
And with that emotionally-loaded holiday, Valentine's Day, looming on the horizon, those differences may well have unintended consequences in the offline world as well.
A new study by Empathica, a retail consultancy, found that women are looking more for good deals online, whereas men are more likely to just be seeking information.
“Women are more intentional and thoughtful shoppers,” Empathica executive Gary Edwards told Chief Marketer.
We wrote last October about Ratio Finder, the site that tells you the real time ratio of gents to ladies at city hot spots. But if sheer data's not enough for you, Barspace.tv (which just launched a new website January 3rd) now turns real-time video cams on your favorite watering holes, so you can check to see if the scene meets your standards before you venture out.
A little Big Brotherish, yes, but it's popular - they report more than 50,000 monthly visitors and 10,000 mobile app downloads so far.
If this is the first time you've heard the name Darian Shirazi, it's a good bet it won't be the last.
The 24-year-old UC Berkeley dropout heads up a Soma-based operation called Fwix, which is an early leader in what he calls the "fourth wave" of the Internet -- local search -- or "what's nearby, right now."
Under this formulation, the first three Internet waves were directory, search, and social media. Shirazi's tiny company (19 employees) appears to have opened an early technological lead on corporations that are trying to catch the same local search wave like AOL’s "Patch" and Google’s "Places," among others.
The idea, essentially, is to bring you the hyperlocal - the best information about what is happening right around you in as close to real time as possible. It depends on identifying content that has been accurately geo-coded. That presents an extremely difficult technical challenge.
First, let's back up a second.