Category Archives: Uncategorized

Startup of the day: Highlight

I’m having fun just highlighting one startup every day as I’m preparing LeWeb London.

After Klarna and Voxer, here is the red hot Highlight.

Highlight was definitely the star of South by Southwest, the app everyone was talking about. They got so much hype there that some people already talk about it as fad, I disagree.

Why? Yesterday I launched Highlight at my home and I discovered people I had no idea lived nearby (like, the houses around me!) that I would have never had any clue without Highlight. Do I need to know that 3 cool entrepreneurs I don’t know live in the houses in front of mine? No, but I like the idea to meet them one day and I like that Highlight lets me know that.

It doesn’t have much to do with Foursquare really, it tells you what friends or friends of friends or just strangers you have been nearby today. It also keeps a diary of those which is interesting in a conference, for example, to check who you have met after the event.

I personally experimented the founder, Paul Davison, being constantly interrupted during our launch in South by Southwest by Highlight users who were just coming to say hi as the app revealed he was in the restaurant. Pretty new behavior and showing new patterns. Okay it was in the land of sxsw, but I can see where it can go.

The big problem really is that it doesn’t help the already low iPhone battery time, Paul says it’s temporary and the new phones coming soon will have much better gps / battery management and you can pause the app.

Really interested to see how this one grows.

Paul Davison Highlight

Big fan of Highlight founder Paul Davison who will speak at LeWeb London.

Tweet

Voxer is on my radar today and founder Tom Katis will speak at LeWeb London

NewImage

I love my 11 years son Greg to be able to interrupt me at any time with Voxer, a Walkie-Talkie app that is really simple to use with excellent quality.

I hear it’s got 2.5 million daily users and is getting the SV VCs crazy these days with an unconfirmed ongoing round of $15-20m funding on a $150m valuation…!

The quality has to do with the founder, Tom Katis, having worked for 5 years on this app without ever pivoting after he had the idea coordinating soldiers in Afghanistan. Wow.

I invited Tom Katis to LeWeb London and I am so happy he accepted to join us. Going to be hot! Talking about this, I should walkie talkie Greg right now, he needs his evening hug in bed!

Tweet

Who wants a great engineering team in Bucharest? Please help me spread the word

You might have heard that this week, after having tried for months to keep the entire team of my company Seesmic I had to let go about half of it (also here and here)…

Here is a great group of engineers for mobile (Android, iOS and WP7), backend and QA engineers that I have enjoyed working with for a long time and would recommend to anyone. They are all hard working, dedicated and very good. They are very experimented on the main social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and Salesforce APIs.

Feel free to contact them individually or if you are interested in the entire team or a group we could help you very easily with the office space there.

The team is used to work remotely with us in San Francisco on standard development tools and is trained on agile methods, it could work for a business anywhere.

Here are some profiles, please contact any of them directly on LinkedIn or contact alex (at) seesmic (dot) com if you are interested in the whole group and us helping you setup the office.

I added after their name the platform/specialty they were working on for us but their background is broader, check their full LinkedIn profile.

Andrei Asandei (mobile WP7, Windows) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andrei-asandei/4a/81a/469 Adina Esma Abduraman (mobile WP7, Windows) http://ro.linkedin.com/pub/adina-esma-abduraman/4a/5b4/8b1 Marius Gheorghe (mobile WP7, Windows) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marius-gheorghe/9/5/7a6 Iuliu Burtoiu (mobile WP7, Windows) http://ro.linkedin.com/pub/iuliu-burtoiu/1b/85/a0b Andreea Nedelcu (QA) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andreea-nedelcu/1a/3a0/791 Veronica Madalina Imbrea (QA) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/veronica-madalina-imbrea/5/baa/b28 Catalin Ivan (Mobile, Android) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/catalin-ivan/36/7b6/31b Alex Perhinschi (Mobile, Android) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/alexandru-perhinschi/18/761/515 Adrian Iancu (Mobile, Android) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/adrian-iancu/30/ba1/29a Dragos Nita (Mobile, iOS) http://ro.linkedin.com/pub/dragos-nita/17/b41/3a7 Ionut Ene (Mobile, iOS) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ionut-ene/4a/799/a98 Florin Matinca (Mobile, iOS) http://www.linkedin.com/in/florinmatinca Alexandru Nedelcu (Backend) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/alexandru-nedelcu/5/719/897 Elena Pistrui (Office Manager) http://www.linkedin.com/pub/elena-pistrui/4a/a44/77a Tweet

The long tail has a blog

The long tail has a blog (via Joi, and you should read the article if you haven’t)

On my radar today: Klarna

Klarna

Klarna

It’s one of those companies that I had never heard of until suddenly many of my trusted friends talk to me about them so I had a look.

What is it?

A competitor to Paypal and over online payment solutions, they differentiate I hear mainly by guaranteed post delivery payment for the buyers and payment from the buyer to the seller. In other words they take the risk that the transaction fails for both parties.

Where is it?

It’s European, the three founders and the CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski are in Sweden and the company is HQed in Stockholm.

How big is it?

I hear they handle more than $2.5 bn of transactions already.

Enough friends brought it to my attention saying it’s likely going to become a billion dollar company that I will keep watching and invited them to speak at LeWeb London.

Have you guys used it as a buyer or seller? What do you think?

Tweet

[Davos 2012] Do artists use social networks for their creations?

I’m moderating tomorrow a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos about artists and social networks.

Do you have great examples of art being created with the use of social networks in a collaborative way?

I think the movie snakes in a plane had crowd sourcing as well as the Youtube Symphony Orchestra come to my mind as great examples.

On the other hands, designer Philippe Starck, fashion master Karl Lagerfeld and other creators told me they never use the Internet to get inspired and on the contrary they see it as distraction. Philippe told me he just looked at the Ocean and needed to be alone while Karl had his best ideas in his dreams or waking up in his bed.

I would be really interested in any pointer to good examples of art, literature, creations made using social networks collaboration as well as counter examples.

Do you think in the future artists will use social networks other than for marketing purposes like collecting likes on Facebook?

Would have Picasso used Facebook?

Thanks! I will report back!

Tweet

Path is where the A list hangs out, don’t tell anyone.

Silencio ParisThe trendy Silencio Club by David Lynch in Paris, where Sean Parker held his party at LeWeb, pic Paris by Mouth

I was about to name them but no, Path is about privacy first, so I won’t. Want to know where most influential and successful entrepreneurs, VCs and tech writers hide online these days? How they spent their new years eve and with whom? Want to be able to interact with some of them so famous and with so many gazillion followers on Twitter and Facebook that there is no chance they will read you and reply there?

Look no further than Path, it’s the new “club branché” where almost every A-lister in Silicon Valley I know hides these days.

They share thoughts, pics and short videos, very intimate. They share what they eat and it’s ok because it keeps you in very close touch, they share quick smileys and yes, they even share when they go to sleep and when they wake up.

Thanks to many unique features such as notifying you exactly when and who has seen your pictures or your feed, Path is the ultimate way of keeping you in touch with your close friends. Close is the key, you can’t exceed 150 friends on Path and you get so many notifications that you’d better make sure you really want to hear about people you friend there because you sure will.

Path has also been designed entirely mobile day one, and it shows. The attention to details and how pure is the UI make it one of the best iPhone app I know these days (see Path founder Dave Morin comment on this at LeWeb). It’s inspiring to use just to see how a really near perfect mobile app looks like. It’s entirely native and it feels really nice and fast. Facebook has been basing its iPhone app more and more on html5 and I have to say the latest versions feel slower to me, especially when you refresh the feed or want to post an update, you can feel there is a lot of web stuff being loaded, a choice that Facebook has been very public about. Sure it makes it very easy to update the app but it doesn’t have the same feel.

Path’s recent growth isn’t about features, though, it’s more about people. Facebook and Twitter have become very mainstream, many people have hundreds if not thousands of friends and connections there. Despite Facebook’s efforts to add “who you can share to” features most people feel that what Facebook wants more and more is for you to share everything in public. It’s the default setting. Path fills that gap for some people, it created a small place where you can hang out online anytime with your close friends and it does a superb job at pinging you all the time about them. And that’s okay, since they’re your close friends, you do want to hear about them all day long.

When Path added recently the option of sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare simultaneously, it became de-facto a posting client for them.

Basically the way I see my friends using Path is: “if it’s for my close friends, I just post to Path. If it’s for the masses and I don’t care that much, I will crosspost it from Path to Facebook and Twitter”. Basically if it’s important keep it in Path, if it’s more mainstream that who knows can read it and it’s a whatever update, share it to the social networks for the masses.

Sure, Path is still in its infancy and it’s very small compared to Twitter and Facebook. Yes, like every hip and fashionable restaurant or night club it might lose its appeal at any moment the A-list decides, that’s how fashion works. And of course it isn’t a real threat to Facebook or Twitter yet, it’s very small. Yeah, you can look at it as a well done app for a few people that has very cool features.

Since I was with Dave Morin on stage at LeWeb I started using it daily and I was very surprised on how addictive it gets (bummer I forgot to say when I went to bed and woke up on Path last night, my friends will miss that information badly) because my friends are using it. It has become the app I use the most daily on my iPhone and the very first feed I read. Then I also read and interact on Facebook, Twitter and the growing Google+, of course, but it doesn’t have the same feel.

Time will tell, but I think Dave and his team are onto something really big by aiming at keeping it small.

Tweet

Sprint iPhone 4S loses connection all the time (or gets no data at all) in Europe

 

Got one of the first Sprint iPhone 4S and I had a flight to Europe scheduled just the day after. I was very excited since I have a good worldwide data plan with Sprint and the iPhone is like most people my favorite smartphone.

0  640×960

I spent a few days in France and it behaved really weird:
-every 5-10 mins I got “NO SERVICE” while I was in perfect coverage area with other iPhones around me getting perfect signal
-this resulted in interrupted voice calls or data transfers all the time, really making it difficult to use professionally
-the Sprint iPhone 4S seemed to be searching for network very often, switching from one to another
-the battery time was really low, like half a day, probably somehow related to this permanent network searching
-I tried to manually search for a network and force it on one so it stopped searching and getting no service but Sprint REMOVED the “carrier” button from settings from some reasons: you cannot search manually for networks when you’re abroad and force your phone on one. I really wonder why.
Then I travelled to Bucharest, Romania. The iPhone 4s locked on Vodafone RO here but never got data working and I could not switch it to any other network since that option is hidden or removed from the Sprint iPhone 4s.
I spent considerable time on the phone with the (very nice) Sprint tech support and they could not get data working on it so I’m left with an iPhone with a WW data plan but no data where I am… One of the tech support representative even told me it was a problem with Romania which I don’t believe is true since everyone around me have great data connections…
I’m flying to London tonight and will test it there
I hope Sprint and Apple resolve those issues soon as it’s quite difficult to use it for the time being.

For reference here is how the Carrier button to select networks looks like on an Orange France iPhone, that one is gone on the Sprint iPhone.

Photo

Morgan Stanley brokers get OK to tweet, should they?

Morgan Stanley is the first large bank that are allowed its brokers since last week to use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Communications by brokers, whether to clients or to the broader public, is closely monitored by regulators guarding against investment scams, false advertising and misleading advice. Old-fashioned media like telephone call recordings and emails are retained, archived and screened.

Morgan Stanley bankers aren’t able to do anything, though, for example their tweets will have to be approved in advance by the firm and tweets and posts must be captured and retained for at least three years.

Morgan Stanley’s initiative is good but they should go all the way and not approve in advance their brokers and employees status updates on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. They should just remind them the basic guidelines and a mention on their profiles that what they post are personal views and not what Morgan Stanley thinks. Brokers have to take individual responsibility on what they post. I am looking forward to having open and public conversations with them. More public communication means more transparency and therefore trust in financial institutions. I can’t wait to interact with them, is anyone reading this @morganstanley?

How Leo Laporte builds a media empire and a tour of his future studio

Leo Laporte invited me for the second time to his show Twit (see or hear the full episode here) and gave me an awesome tour of his next studio where he will host about 20 shows… Have a look at the video below, thanks, Leo!