California looks to raise money for road repairs by enacting both one-time and annual fees for plug-in vehicles.
“What were you thinking when you threw yourselves on the mercy of the Trump administration to solve your problems?” asked Mary Nichols, head of CARB.
“What were you thinking when you threw yourselves on the mercy of the Trump administration to solve your problems?” asked Mary Nichols, head of CARB.
The list of automakers that can test their self-driving cars in California is getting less and less exclusive by the minute.
The list of automakers that can test their self-driving cars in California is getting less and less exclusive by the minute.
During a recent trip to California, British photographer Garrod Kirkwood documented the Golden State’s laid-back cool.
Working in muted tones and a minimal style, Kirkwood’s lens focusses on classic Californian motifs: skaters, basketballers, vintage cars and neon motel signs, complemented by candid portraits of locals taking it easy.
A statement about his series – entitled ‘Americana’ – states: “With a subtle color palette in mind, Kirkwood portrays landscapes and people in perfect harmony.”
Based in Northern England, Kirkwood completed studied commercial photographic practice at Newcastle College, and has since become an accomplished advertising photographer.
You’ve probably heard that earlier this summer L.A. dumped 96 million “shade balls” into their reservoirs. The thinking was that the black, 4-inch HDPE spheres will reduce evaporation. Here’s a quick vid showing part of the mesmerizing dumping, which reminds us of Jelle Bakker’s epic Marble Machine:
Authorities are not clear on how the following incident happened, but here’s what we know:
1. A gigantic red ball created by Brooklyn artist Kurt Perschke apparently witnessed the video above.
2. During the installation process of Perschke’s RedBall Project at the Toledo Museum of Art, the aforementioned red ball decided it had had enough, and made up its mind to travel to Los Angeles to join its smaller waterborne friends.
The following video was shot just moments after the ball broke loose and attempted to find a freeway on-ramp:
Luckily the dangerous crimson sphere, which rolled over several parked cars while blatanly ignoring a One Way sign, was detained by museum employees who somehow managed to talk it down.
Authorities are requesting that RedBall Project visitors refrain from showing the ball any videos of Bakker’s marble machine, which is located across the Atlantic Ocean in Holland.
The Nest thermostat has already gone through a hardware revision or two and found its way onto plenty of physical and virtual store shelves, but parent company Nest Labs is eager to get it into even more households in short order.
The Palo Alto company has just announced that it has teamed up with energy providers from across the country that will see new climate-control services (not to mention some rebates) go live for customers in a handful of markets.
So far, the list of partners includes National Grid, NRG Energy, NRG subsidiaries Reliant and Green Mountain Energy, Austin Energy and Southern California Edison. You can probably guess what markets those last two serve. These newly forged partnerships could see adoption of the household gadget surge — customers who ink deals with National Grid, for instance, can claim a $100 rebate to help defray the costs of a Nest thermostat.
While the others don’t offer much in the way of actual cash back, Nest’s tie-ups emphasize the long-term value of having a Nest over a run-of-the-mill thermostat. The way the folks at Nest look at it, their gadget is only going to become more useful as the days get longer and warmer, and those new services I mentioned earlier should only help matters when it comes to the cost-conscious.
First up is Nest’s so-called Rush Hour Rewards, which are meant to reduce the load on already-strained power stations once it starts getting really hot outside. Rather than cranking the temperature down low and leaving it there as a hapless human might, the Nest instead gets a feel for the sorts of climates its users prefer and will sporadically turn down the temperature to keep things within that preferred range. By occasionally introducing blasts of cold air instead of just leaving things to run at full blast, the Nest can keep your house at about the same temperature as before without much of a corresponding bump on the bill.
Also part of the package is what Nest calls “seasonal savings,” which will see the smart thermostat measure user temperature preferences over the course of the year and make minor modifications over the course of a few weeks. The idea is to reduce a user’s heating bill by carefully acclimating them to a new, more cost-efficient temperature scheme without the residents even noticing.
For now, only customers who select certain plans with those power companies can use these new services, but I very much doubt that team Nest is content to leave things as they are. These sorts of deals will only serve to raise the company’s profile, and buy-in from power partners is a big deal for Nest especially as the company’s rivals have moved to make their own wares smarter. Consider Honeywell: it already filed a lawsuit against Nest last year for supposed acts of copyright infringement, an allegation that Nest Labs vigorously disagrees with. Meanwhile, the conglomerate is gearing up to release a rather handsome smart thermostat of its own, so deals like these could help Nest stay a step ahead of the pack.
Mobile personal assistant apps are all the rage these days. First there was Google Now for Android, but over the last several weeks we’ve seen a whole bunch of new apps pop up — apps like Donna, Osito, and Sherpa — all of which seeking to make our lives easier by simplifying how we organize our meetings, travel, and other personal information.
With that in mind, I sat down with my colleague Drew Olanoff to discuss why this is such a hot space and whether these apps deliver on their promise. On that latter question, we still think these apps have a long way to go.
As Drew says, all the technology is there — and yet, no one has really pulled it all together in a way that makes these apps truly smart. There’s also the issue of finding an app that fits everyone’s lifestyle. As he points out, his personal workflow is different from mine. Finding a way to make a personal assistant which suits everyone’s needs is a difficult process.
As for me? I like what I’ve seen so far from apps like Donna or Osito, but I don’t want an app that I have to enter information into to make things work. I want something that will scour my email and calendars, figure out where and when things are happening, and then from that information plan my calendar for me. No one quite comes close right now.
Check out the video above for our discussion on the topic, and let us know what you think in the comments.
During the summer of 2012, while working in venture capital, one of the early-stage companies I stumbled upon was founded by a trio of guys based in Singapore. We met a few times in the Valley and quickly became friends, and I informally helped them, from time to time, navigate the waters of moving to the Valley and getting situated here. I hadn’t talked to them in a while but we recently reconnected, and I thought their journey from starting a company in Asia to raising venture capital in California would be interesting to share with others, not only for those who reside outside the Valley and hope to move here to build their businesses, but also because this team is focused on building software exclusively for developers. This is an interest-area of mine because I’ve found there are some investors who are betting long on developer-focused businesses, while others like them but worry about their ability to scale to venture “size.” Below is an edited transcript of an informal Q&A we all coordinated over email with founders of Nitrous.IO, Arun Thampi, Peter Kim, and A.J. Solimine:
How did you all start the company in Singapore? Describe the tech scene there. Was it hard to raise money?
Arun Thampi: Pete, AJ and I were all in Singapore. The tech scene there is great, and there are lots of great engineers in Singapore. The problem is that it’s still young, and lots of people are still averse to taking risks and settle for jobs at bigger companies. We didn’t actively try to raise money in Singapore, but we spoke early on to Vinnie Lauria and Jeffrey Paine, who are good friends and run Golden Gate Ventures in Singapore. Vinnie runs SuperHappyDevHouse (a hackathon in Singapore), and we won two years in a row (including with Nitrous.IO), and so we knew each other well and he was very supportive of us from the beginning, and committed to invest in Nitrous.IO early on. Singapore is a great place, but in the last week, we’ve had detailed hour-long conversations with developers and software craftsmen we’ve looked up to (like Yehuda Katz and Guido van Rossum) and who’ve given us great feedback and encouragement, and also Joe Stump and Tobias Lütke agreed to be on our advisory board and are rooting for our success. This would probably not have happened had we been in Singapore.
Pete Kim: We decided from the beginning that we’d raise money from investors that had experience with cloud infrastructure and B2D space, and we have realized the investors in the Bay Area were the only ones that fit the bill. We did end up raising a small amount from Golden Gate Ventures in Singapore, because we are really good friends with the great team behind the firm, but we did not engage with any other investors in Singapore. If we did want to raise money entirely in Singapore however, there are various government programs in Singapore with generous matching grants and there are lots of investors willing to invest in startups with huge amount of cash, but we had consistent feedback from fellow entrepreneurs who received funding in Singapore saying that the amount of both technical and entrepreneurial help you get from the investors in Asia is minimal at best.
How did you all end up in Singapore in the first place? Seems like a random spot for the three of you to meet.
Pete: Arun and I both graduated from National University of Singapore and we’ve been in Singapore for over 10 years. We’ve met and worked together in Viki, an Andreesen Horowitz-backed startup based in Singapore that does crowd-sourced translation of international videos and music, where I was working as a lead engineer and Arun was working as a contractor. I first met AJ at a meet-up in Singapore, and worked together in many hackathons. After I have spent some time at Viki, I felt that I’ve learned enough to think about doing my own startup. Arun and AJ were then working together in a startup called Anideo where they were building a mobile video-discovery app called Vidyou, but despite the app being highly polished and feature-rich, it proved to be tough to gain enough traction, due to the highly competitive nature of online video market. The online video space was also riddled with problems that were difficult for a startup to deal with such as copyright issues. Having known and having worked with them with pleasurable results in the past, I’ve approached Arun and AJ and asked if they were interested in working together for a “Shareable cloud-based development environments that can be access from anywhere with any device” idea. They loved the idea having wasted countless number of hours troubleshooting their own development environment woes. They also loved the how the product will enable you to develop even on thin clients like Chromebooks and iPads. The timing was also perfect because they were just about to look for new ideas to work on. We then decided to join forces and started Irrational Industries Inc.
AJ Solimine: I was working in New York in the summer of 2009 when the financial crisis hit. I lived down in the Wall Street area and it was getting really depressing. The streets were pretty desolate but the bars were full of dejected, newly unemployed bankers & traders. A friend of mine from college grew up in Singapore, and I mentioned to him one night that I was considering living abroad and he suggested I consider moving there. I really only had a few suitcases and some ikea furniture to my name, so it was a pretty easy jump for me. Upon moving to Singapore, I realized that I knew all of two people in the entire country, so I started attending as many meetups as I possibly could and reached out to a bunch of people to have lunch and coffee. The community is small but pretty tight-knit in Singapore so it was actually easy and convenient to get settled. I met Arun at a Ruby meetup at hackerspace singapore and we kept in touch as we were both starting our own companies. We met up for a beer one night just to discuss our companies and we ended the night 5 hrs and about 20 beers later with a verbal agreement to join forces and start a company together – Anideo, where we developed a video-discovery app called Vidyou. I met Pete at a Pivotal Labs meetup at Viki’s offices, as Pete was working there as one of their initial lead engineers.
What motivated you to come to Silicon Valley?
Pete: It was a no-brainer decision. We are building a “B2D” product, so we just had to be in a place with the highest density of talented developers. Developer evangelism is a key user acquisition strategy for us and we knew there was no place better than the bay area for us to interact with developers. We plan to hold meetups, drinkups, and hackathons regularly in San Francisco. Hiring and getting advice is another reason why we had to be here. While there are some really intelligent engineers in Singapore, many of them lack experience in building a large-scale website, compared to those here. We also realized to form a real relationship with the thought leaders of the industry, we had to be geographically close to them. Eating, talking, and drinking IRL beats Skype calls, hands down.
AJ: It’s a function of velocity for me. There’s no other place where knowledge transfer occurs as rapidly as it does here. Everybody knows you want to “skate to where the puck is going to be”, and the best place to do that historically has always been to put yourself right in the middle of a “hub”. In finance, it’s New York. In healthcare, it’s Boston. In entertainment, it’s LA and in Technology it’s San Francisco. I’m happy that I lived abroad for a few years though. There are a ton of amazing people in the valley, but it certainly feels deserving of the “echo chamber” description. I think it’s important to travel outside of the country if you’re able to so you can gain perspective on the problems that the other 6.7 billion people face outside of the U.S.
We all met back in the summer of 2012, and now in April 2013, you’ve finally moved to the Valley — was it difficult?
AJ: Peter and Arun aren’t U.S. citizens, and getting U.S. visas wasn’t totally straightforward. By the time we decided to move to the U.S., the H1-B quota had already been hit, so we were really thinking we wouldn’t be in the U.S. until maybe October 2013. We did some research and realized that Pete and Arun were eligible for some other less common visas, so we put all the documents together and applied. I think both applications were well over 100 pages including supporting documents. It ended up working out well as they were both approved, but it definitely took up a huge amount of time and energy. Moving itself was pretty fun — we arrived on the eve of the Heroku Waza conference and crashed at a friend’s house in the city for a week (thanks Niles!). We ended up subletting an apartment together down in Mountain View because it was cheaper. The location is great, I love Castro street, but the apartment itself has its flaws.
Do lots of other tech startups in Asia want to move to the Valley? What advice would you give them?
Pete: I definitely feel lots of other small tech startups in Asia want to move to the valley for the same reasons we have stated earlier. However, the visa situation really makes it difficult for most startups. Bootstrapping is virtually impossible since there is no chance that a ramen-profitable startup can qualify for any visa category that would let them stay beyond the typical three-month visa waiver period. Arun and I would not have been able to secure our work visas (we took L-1/O-1 route), had we not raised our significant seed financing. Having felt the pain ourselves (my visa application was 96 pages-long, and U.S. CIS requested for more evidence before finally approving it, followed by a rather unpleasant interview experience), we really feel that something needs to be done about this – afterall, we are trying to build a company and create jobs in the U.S. – and we strongly support recent immigration reform movements like FWD.us.
Arun: For an entrepreneur/developer outside Silicon Valley, moving here is the equivalent of an actor trying to move to Hollywood. We’d decided very early on that moving to Silicon Valley would be crucial to the success of the company – not just for the investors, advisors who’ve been-there, done-that with PaaS/SaaS companies, but also since Silicon Valley probably has the highest density of developers/early-adopters who would put up with the warts of your software but would still champion its virtues. If you’re doing a hyper-local startup or a travel search startup focused on Asia, then it probably does not make as much sense to move here, since your customers and evangelists are probably not located here.
Your company, Nitrous.IO (formerly Action.IO) is in the “B2D” space. How did investors respond to this kind of business?
Pete: Many investors have told us that they don’t like to invest in B2D startups because developers are cheap and they don’t like to pay for developer tools. I am not sure if I agree. Engineers are in such high demand right now, and because they are getting paid absurdly well these days (especially in the Bay Area), every minute of their time is really worth a lot of money. If some service can increase the productivity of an engineer that costs over $100 an hour by just 10%, that’s already worth over $1,500 dollars a month, and if a $50/month service can do that, then it’s really a no-brainer. Perhaps the term “B2D” is not really appropriate since it’s the companies that hire the developers that end up paying for the service, and not necessarily the developers themselves.
AJ: Investors have sometimes been critical of the “B2D” market because they don’t think developers will pay for tools. We don’t really think of Nitrous.IO as a developer tool, but as a productivity platform for individuals and businesses. We save time for people who want to code and provide them with multiple ways to connect to a development machine. Marc Andreessen said recently that “software is eating the world.” Everybody knows this is true–even in financially turbulent times, the need for optimization is compounded and technology is the basis of almost all optimization. So software is the brain behind everything, but writing software is still not the most accessible or simplest of processes. You actually need to be pretty smart just to *start* coding. Our goal with Nitrous.IO is to reduce the friction of getting started with a new technology, whether it be a new programming language or a new combination of technologies when you’re working on an application (often referred to as a “stack”). The important thing that helped with investors was communicating that Nitrous.IO isn’t just a developer tool, but a full-fledged platform that helps businesses and individuals streamline their entire development workflow. We’ve had over 6,000 development environments created in our private beta, which took a total of approximately 17 hours to create on our system. If the developers were creating them individually, it would have taken well over 10,000 hours. Imagine how much more software can be written in those 9,983 hours =)
How did you find the investment climate for your startup?
Arun: We’d decided early on that we weren’t going to follow a “spray-and-pray-strategy” with investors in the Valley. AngelList was actually a great resource for finding investors who’ve invested in companies similar to ours. We knew that trying to explain a PaaS solution to an investor whose speciality is consumer/social would be a waste of both of our time and theirs (even if that investor was a “celebrity”). That is also when I’d noticed that you (Semil) had blogged about the B2D space and were making great observations about the enterprise software segment, and got in touch with you (through all places – Highlight!). You confirmed our thesis that there is no point trying to meet random investors, and made some great introductions to people (who we are still in touch with, as informal advisors). This is just an observation based on anecdotal evidence, but it seems like a few Valley investors have social/mobile fatigue – and unless social/mobile is part of a bigger play (for e.g. Github is social around developers, and we have a mobile component as part of our strategy), investors are tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. That’s where I think we had an advantage, because the idea in itself was interesting and game-changing, and we’d executed well and had a beta product ready before we began pitching.
Pete: New to the valley, we definitely lacked the social connections necessary to start talking to investors right away, and we were told by many that cold-emailing investors was a no-no, as it is highly unlikely for them to hear you out and once they say no, you have already ruined your chance. However one surprising thing we’ve discovered here is that other people in the startup scene in general are super friendly and willing to help. We’ve connected to lots of people whom we had absolutely no connection whatsoever previously over random channels, such as Highlight, AngelList, and Twitter, and more often than not, people were willing to meet up for coffee, hear our story and our pitch, and make intros if possible. That was also how we connected with you (Semil) and many others, and with lots of people following us in AngelList which got us in the “Trending Startup” list, we could slowly infiltrate and implant our names in the investors’ heads.
What are your plans now, Valley or City? How do you turn a million bucks of venture capital into a real business?
Pete: We’re currently based in Mountain View, but that is because we are currently working out of a great office space provided by our lead investor, at no charge (see picture above of the team in the Bessemer offices in Menlo Park). Once we have an external hire, we plan on moving to San Francisco, because that’s where all the cool developer gatherings and conferences are held. In San Francisco, if you really wanted to, you could probably attend a developer event every evening.
Arun: Long-term wewant to move to the city, there is an incredible amount of energy in the city, and with all the developer meetups and drinkups that happen, it makes sense for us to be there. Our immediate goal is to get to public beta and we have some awesome products and featured lined up which we are confident, will entice developers to pay for our service. We’re looking for a couple more engineers (http://nitrous.io/jobs) to help us get to that point and we have bigger plans for world domination once we hit general availability.
AJ: One of the most important things we’ve done to begin to transition to a true business is to engage with our users. I think this is where a lot of startups go wrong — they don’t think about which users are willing to pay them and what exactly they’re willing to pay for. Often, startups think about those things, but they’re usually just guessing and aren’t going on real data. We’ve had 1-on-1 conversations with over a thousand of our users, and are always surprised at what we learn from those conversations. The next hard part is using all the qualitative data we’ve captured to create a valuable pricing model for our customers.
Earlier this month, we wrote that High Fidelity, the virtual world startup led by Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, had raised $2.4 million of a $3.4 million round, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, we didn’t know who had actually made the investment — until today.
Tony Conrad of True Ventures just announced that his firm led High Fidelity’s Series A, and that Google Ventures and various angel investors also participated. The High Fidelity website now mentions Mitch Kapor and Linden Lab (the company behind Second Life) as investors too.
In his blog post, Conrad praises Rosedale’s achievement in building virtual world Second Life. Then he offers this description of what the new company does:
Philip is truly a Founder of a movement—his passion for authenticity in our virtual interactions is unparalleled. So it stands to reason that his most recent company, High Fidelity, is building a next-generation virtual world enabling even richer avatar interactions, driven by sensor-equipped hardware, simulated and served by devices (phones, tablets and laptops/desktops) contributed by end-users. Together with Co-Founders Fred Heiberger and Ryan Karpf, the High Fidelity team is creating a version of the SETI system, but with computers powering a tiny piece of the virtual world rather than folding proteins or looking for aliens.
If I understand Conrad’s description, as well as the details available on the High Fidelity homepage, the company wants to harness the collective computing power in user devices to build a new kind of virtual world. In case this clears things up: The site also emphasizes the importance of low latency in virtual world interactions, and it declares, “We work in labcoats. Starched and ironed.”
Conrad’s blog post does not mention the size of the round. I’ve emailed True Ventures for to ask and will update if I hear back.
During the conference call discussing Google’s latest earnings report, executives were asked about how mobile will affect the company’s business — both the general usage of search, as well as Google’s revenue and profits from advertising.
CEO Larry Page responded that he “always” gets asked about how the popularity of mobile apps affects Google search, but he’s “not super-concerned” about it.
“We’ve been dealing with that issue for a long time,” Page said. “Fundamentally search is an amazing thing for publishers and software developers and other apps. I think, in general, the information wants to be found.”
There will be challenges as more usage shifts to mobile, Page said, but Google will get through them.
As for the effect of mobile on the company’s bottom line, Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora argued that focusing on details like Google’s current mobile CPC rates is “the wrong way” to look at these questions. (He has talked in a general way about those CPC rates before.) “The right way” is to understand “the new reality where we have all these multiscreens.” In that new reality, Arora said Google has to deliver the right answer to users throughout the day, on any device. And if the company succeeds at that, “The pie will grow for everybody.”
While select outfits race to make satellite broadband an acceptable solution for those who need ping times south of three digits, there’s another game in town looking to quietly revolutionize rural access. As LTE slowly rolls out to major metropolitan areas in the United States, vacated spectrum is allowing companies like Carlson Wireless to offer up another option. TV white spaces — unused TV channels freed up after the analog-to-digital transition of 2009 — have long since been eyed as the answer for distributing high-speed internet to areas that aren’t economical to reach via wireline, or are otherwise shunned by conventional wireless operators.
Armed with an FCC-granted Special Temporary Authority to validate the efficacy of the product in real-world scenarios, Carlson has partnered with Cal.net in order to bring internet to sections of California’s Gold Country; the project comprises multiple transmission sites delivering broadband to several hundred heretofore un-serviceable subscribers in El Dorado County. There’s no word on pricing, but we’re sure hoping it’s a runaway hit — we can think of plenty of gorgeous locales in this country that could stand a pinch of internet. (Yellowstone National Park, we’re looking at you.)
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There’s been a lot of excitement around the possibilities that smartphones and especially tablets offer to traditional publishers, but they also present a big challenge — the costs are often too high, said MediaWire CEO Clifford Hoffer.
That’s why MediaWire is launching a new product called MediaWire Mobile, which allows publishers to launch their own branded apps on the Apple Store, Google Play, and the Apple Newsstand. To release a new issue digitally, they just upload a single file. Pricing is based on the publication frequency, starting at $199 per month (for quarterly titles). And MediaWire doesn’t take a cut of the subscription revenue.
The company had previously offered a product specifically for launching apps on iOS. The new MediaWire Mobile is cross-platform, Hoffer said — as noted above, it supports iOS and Android, plus Windows and Blackberry are also under development. Eventually, MediaWire plans to merge this with its desktop product, so you can start reading an article on your computer and then continue on your phone after you head out on your commute.
Other startups like Onswipe have tried to tackle the cross-platform problem by creating mobile web experiences, but Hoffer argued that “the native experience is still the best way to appeal to the user and keep them engaged.”
He also acknowledged that MediaWire Mobile doesn’t have “a lot of bells and whistles and stuff,” but it’s not just presenting readers with a PDF, either. Publishers can add hyperlinks, YouTube videos, bookmarks, and social-sharing features. Behind the scenes, they get access to analytics with information like subscriber reading habits, geography and demographics. Over time, Hoffer said he also wants to expand MediaWire Mobile’s ad targeting capabilities.
There are about 40 new MediaWire Mobile apps in development, he said.
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Yahoo just released its earnings report for the first quarter of 2013, with better-than-expected (non-GAAP) earnings of $420 million, or 38 cents per share. Revenue (excluding traffic acquisition costs) was flat compared to last year, at $1.07 billion.
Analysts has predicted that the company would report revenue of $1.1 billion and 24 cents EPS. Wall Street normally evaluates Yahoo on an ex-TAC basis — including traffic acquisition costs, revenue was $1.14 billion, down 7 percent from last year.
Ex-TAC, search revenue has actually overtaken display ad revenue. Display revenue was $402 million (down 11 percent from last year), while search revenue was $409 million (up 6 percent).
This is Marissa Mayer’s third quarter as CEO of the company — her leadership is seen as crucial for turning the company around. During the last earnings call, Mayer said her big goals for Yahoo included a better user interface, improved international reach, and broader demographics.
“I’m pleased with Yahoo!’s performance in the first quarter,” Mayer said in the earnings release. “We saw continued stability in our business, strengthened our team, and started the year with fast execution against our products and partnerships. We are moving quickly to roll out beautifully designed, more intuitive experiences for our users. I’m confident that the improvements we’re making to our products will set up the Company for long-term growth.”
Yahoo had a pretty active quarter. It unveiled a more personal, interactive version of its homepage in February. On the advertising front, it announced a non-exclusive display partnership with Google. And it acquired Snip.it, Alike, Jybe, and made its biggest splash by announcing the acquisition of mobile news startup Summly for a reported $30 million.
At the beginning of the month, we broke the news that Google’s acquisition, BufferBox, was planning on setting up shop in the Bay Area. Today, it’s clear that this wasn’t just a plan, as its co-founder proudly shared the first U.S. BufferBox location, the nicely trafficked Coffee Bar in San Francisco.
It’s no surprise that BufferBox will be setting up these shipment lockers in places that get high traffic, as it’s a more convenient experience than going to a post office or a shipping hub.
Here’s the tweet from Mike McCauley, along with the photo he shared on Instagram:
—Mike McCauley (@mmccauley) April 15, 2013
The location, in the Mission District of San Francisco, is a place where people could potentially route their packages to, knowing that they’re going to visit for a cup of joe at some point in the day anyways. BufferBox gives you a single-use address and locker number to have your items delivered to. Since worrying about packages being left on your doorstep, or, worse, missing the package delivery altogether is a pain, picking something up from a place that you go to every day on your way to work is appealing.
BufferBox has only been available in the Toronto area until now, leaving people wondering what Google would do with it once it acquired the company. Business went as usual in Canada in the past few months, and the team is clearly moving forward in California. The new San Francisco option is not available on their site, but I’ve reached out to the team to find out when it would be.
Another Y Combinator company, Swapbox, recently set up its own delivery lockers in San Francisco’s Nob Hill section, with plans to move fast and furious to install more. The race is on for these two companies to spread themselves out in locations that get a lot of foot traffic. On the BufferBox site, their services are currently listed as free for a limited time.
You have to imagine that places like Starbucks are ripe for BufferBox placement, as it’s somewhere that people go continually throughout the day. Additionally, Google could easily integrate its new Shopping Express service into BufferBox’s offerings once more locations start popping up.
[Photo credit: mentalogica]
I was fortunate enough to spend a solid chunk of my adolescence strapped into an ill-fitting vest and shooting lasers at friends of mine, but a group of technically minded youngsters and their mentors in southern California didn’t just want to play laser tag.
No, the crew at San Diego-based ThoughtSTEM wanted to whip up a (slightly) more subtle laser tag system of their own, and they’re just about there — now they’ve kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to help bring it to market.
The wearable sensor the team has cobbled together is rather neat if only because of how unobtrusive it’s meant to be. Rather than go with a traditional (and bulky) vest, ThoughtSTEM has instead put together a small PCB that’s meant to be worn under a layer of clothing so all that’s visible are the six LEDs that change colors to display your remaining hit points.
For better or worse, you won’t have to lug around any plastic guns either. The sensors on the wearable unit can be triggered by any gadget that can emit infrared pulses at 38kHz, which means most of the remote controls currently cluttering up your living room will probably do the trick. That also means that with a little hackery, you could probably rig up a more traditional IR gun without too much trouble (there seems to be more than a few people who’ve already tried doing just that).
Alright fine, it may lack the panache that come with some more expensive, elaborate setups, but it’s a very neat first project for a crew of savvy young students and their college-age mentors. All told, the ThoughtSTEM team is looking for $10,000 in funding to improve the design of the wearable PCBs and produce them on a larger scale, as well as put together an online storefront to sell them from. $75 will net you a fully assembled target unit, but if you’re willing to apply some of your own elbow grease you can pick up the schematics and a pre-programmed processor for $25, or a bag full of parts for $49. While the proceeds of the Kickstarter campaign will help lock down the particulars of production, ThoughtSTEM aims to funnel whatever future money they make into the program’s coffers so those SoCal mentors continue to run workshops and summer camp programs for tech-savvy middle school and high school kids.
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