UberConference Could Save Your Startup On Conference Calls

UberConference, Startup Tips, startups, conference callingThere’s a reason that UberConference won the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012 Battlefield, and continues to win awards today, like theInternet Telephony Excellence Award. It’s because they’re out to save their users money and headaches that often times come with conference calls.

Conference calls have often been the brunt of true frustration. Until recently conference calls meant dialing into a long, strange, and sometimes long distance number. Then you had to dial an equally as long passcode. This could be a pain sitting at your desk but even more of a pain when you’re mobile.

Another big pain point for people that require a regular amount of conference calls is sound quality. By the time the 3rd or 4th person enters the call it’s like you’re talking in a tunnel. With UberConference you get the benefit of HD audio calls from anywhere on the internet.

UberConference has put together a core feature set wrapped around a visual dashboard that makes conference calling a breeze. So much in fact  that lawyers are raving about it.

UberConference’s core features are free and for just $10 a month you can get UberConference Pro which rounds out a suite of sweet conference calling features.

  • Start a conference without having to enter a PIN
  • Schedule conference in advance
  • Automatically call participants at scheduled time (Pro only)
  • Schedule recurring meetings (Pro only)
  • Get a local phone number (Pro only)
  • Optional web display shows who is currently talking
  • Easily and quickly mute participants one at at time, or by group
  • Participants allowed conference before the organizer shows up
  • Record call easily with one button
  • iPhone and Android apps (free) let you easily start a conference from your phone

Then, after the call UberConference provides you with a report that details who was on the call, the exact times they dialed in, who was on first and who joined the call last.

UberConference allows the first 5 participants free. Then if you connect your social media channels you can get another 10 people on your call and uploading your contacts gives you two more spots for people on your calls.

You can learn more about UberConference by watching the video below.

Sexism Takes Center Stage At Disrupt Hackathon, TechCrunch Issues An Apology

Titstare, Circle Shake, TechCrunch DisruptTechCrunch is known for pushing the envelope. They are also known for their sometimes snarky editorial and for breaking stories no matter how sensitive they are. They don’t play favorites, and in some circumstances a startup can live or die by the TechCrunch pen. Throw founder Michael Arrington back into the mix, and it’s no holds barred tech and startup journalism.

Sunday was no different, even when all eyes were on the AOL-owned tech site and its legendary Disrupt conference and hackathon.

The TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon typically starts the weekend before a TechCrunch Disrupt conference. We’ve been to several and out of their events comes amazingly good content. We had to sit this one out because we are too busy planning Everywhere Else Cincinnati.

In true hackathon fashion, hundreds of hackers spend the weekend seeing if they can solve the world’s problems with technology, or at least make life more fun.  An Australian team that came up with an app called Titstare and another hacker whose app was called “Circle Shake” were attempting the latter.

Titstare was an app that showed off a woman’s cleavage, while “Circle Shake” was some kind of mobile sensor app that measured how many times you could shake your phone up and down in ten seconds. Titstare was obviously in bad taste and doesn’t really need more comment. When the hacker went to demonstrate “Circle Shake,” he proceeded to pretend he was masturbating the phone on stage.

This week TechCrunch Disrupt is home in Silicon Valley. Their late spring New York event is usually chock full of top notch investors, supporters, and even AOL executives. The Silicon Valley (San Francisco) event draws a similar crowd and some of the more notable Valley investors who often rely on and trust TechCrunch when judging a startup’s traction. In other words, both apps were quite an embarrassment for TechCrunch.

No worries though, co-editors Eric Eldon and Alexia Tstotsis jumped into action and quickly issued this apology to all of TechCrunch’s readers and supporters, ending it by saying:

“Trust us, that changed as soon as we saw what happened at our show. Every presentation is getting a thorough screening from this hackathon onward. Any type of sexism or other discriminatory and/or derogatory speech will not be allowed. You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry.”

What makes this story even more significant is the air of sexism in technology and startups, even hitting home with TechCrunch. Earlier this year a woman falsely accused TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington of sexual harassment and abuse.  Last year, former Kleiner Perkins Partner Ellen Pao sued the firm for sexual harassment, a story that was widely chronicled by TechCrunch.

There’s also the notion of the startup/digital/technology divide and the unfair treatment female founders get when talking to VC’s, an issue which Box Group’s David Tisch and Sequoia’s Aaref Hilaly addressed on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC back in May.

For more info read this and this.


ShareThis, The Social Sharing Startup With Cincy Ties, Closes $30 Million Dollar Round

ShareThis, Silcon Valley, Cincinnati Startup, Cintrifuse, FundingShareThis, one of the most successful startups to come out of Cincinnati, has just announced the closing of a $30 million dollar round of venture funding.

The company, now based in Paolo Alto, has created a platform that makes it incredibly easy to share any kind of content across over 120 different social channels. ShareThis claims that they touch the lives of 95 percent of U.S. internet users across 2 million publisher sites. Whenever you’re cruising a website like AllthingsD, Cosmopolitan or any of the Food Network sites and you see the little green sharing icon that’s ShareThis.

The company was founded by native Cincinnatian Tim Schigel who before he founded ShareThis was the director of Blue Chip Venture Company, a Cincinnati based firm which participated in the startups latest round. Schigel is also the founder of the public/private partnership Cintrifuse that’s supporting downtown Cincinnati’s startup movement.

Back in April when ShareThis acquired Socialize they opened up a funding round and raised $23 million dollars. They left the round open and took another $7 million dollars before closing the round.

In addition to Blue Chip Venture Company, Blair Garrou of the Mercury Fund , Heidi Rozen of Draper Fisher Juverston and T-Venture also participated in this round. All of the investors had previously invested in the company.

Come see Cincinnati’s amazing startup community for yourself during this national startup conference!


New VC Fund Is Linking Michigan To Silicon Valley

Michigan eLab, Venture Capital, Michigan startups, Ann Arbor startups

While the bankruptcy of Detroit has put Michigan in the news in a negative way, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel coming from startups and entrepreneurship. This isn’t anything new for the state of Michigan; after all at one point even cars were new technology.

While Detroit has a blossoming startup scene and is preparing to rebuild, Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan have a startup scene that’s starting to thrive. The latest startup-focused venture, a VC fund called Michigan eLab is the most recent organization to join the cause.

Most startup communities “everywhere else” struggle with two major things: access to capital and access to talent. The new Michigan eLab is positioned to help entrepreneurs in Ann Arbor with both.

MichiganeLablogoCrain’s Detroit reports that the new Michigan eLab is raising a first fund of $40 million dollars. While any startup community would welcome a new VC fund, Michigan eLab is uniquely positioned to bridge Ann Arbor and Michigan with Silicon Valley.

For starters the fund has two offices: one in Ann Arbor, the other in San Mateo California. An even bigger benefit that eLab brings to Ann Arbor is that three of the fund’s four founders have ties to Michigan. Doug Neal, one of the fund’s founders is originally from Mt. Pleasant. Neal spent 15 years in Silicon Valley with companies like Hewlett-Packard and Symantec before co-founding his own startup Mobile Automation.  That company sold to iPass Inc in 2005 for $20 million dollars.

Rick Bolander is another one of the Michigan eLab founders with ties to both Silicon Valley and Michigan. Bolander graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s in electrical engineering. He went on to launch Chicago’s Blue Sky Ventures and then co-founded San Mateo-based Gabriel Venture Partners.

Bob Stefanski is the third founder with ties to both Silicon Valley and Michigan. He is a graduate of UM earning both an engineering and a law degree. Stefanski is a partner in the Silicon Valley-based Reed Smith LLP. He is also the cofounder of Tibco Software, which has more than $1 billion in revenue according to Crain’s.

The final partner, Scott Chou, has no direct ties to Michigan or UM, but he is a managing director at Bolander’s Gabriel Venture Partners. Chou’s first venture deal was a 2001 seed round investment in NextG Networks, a California company, which sold to Texas-based Crown Castle International in December of 2011 for $1 billion dollars. That earned him a spot on the highly coveted top 100 venture capitalists in Silicon Valley list from AlwaysOn.

The founders of Michigan eLab hope to link Ann Arbor’s tech community, startups, and entrepreneurs with other famous founders with ties to the region. Those include: Larry Page, Dick Costolo, Skype’s Josh Silverman, Sun Microsystems co-founders Scott McNealy and Bill Joy, Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell, former Palm Inc. CEO Donna Dubinsky, and more.

Source: Crain’s Detroit.


List.ly is the Slideshare for Lists

Listly, Canadian startup,startup, startup interviewHave you ever read a “Top 10…” list and thought, “Hmm, they missed something”?

Now, with Listly, brands and content companies can make lists interactive and embeddable. Communities love it because they can share a whole list or just part of one. They can even contribute to a list by interacting with it right in blog posts. No more scrolling through comments to find out if people agree with your list.

Listly is also great for brands. As we all know, these days, content is king, and the more content a brand can produce, the more opportunities they have to reach their audience. Lists are easily the most popular content on the web, and Listly makes it easy for brands to create and use those lists.

What is your startup, what does it do?


We take the most effective form of content marketing, the numbered list post, and we make it collaborative, interactive, and embedable. Human beings simply love to consume information in the form of numbered lists. This explains who 30% of posts are in the familiar form of “10 ways to..” “17 tips to…” “27 things you must not …”. We simply bring life these blog posts by letting people vote and contribute directly on the list. We make it easier to share and embed these interactive lists. You can share the whole list or just an item. You can embed the whole list or just an item. We track where and when your lists are seen and we also track who and how people interact with each list.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Shyam Subramanyan  & Nick Kellet

We’ve both got a background in startups and building brands. We make a great team. We complement each other.

Where are you based?

We’re based out of California in the Bay Area.  I live in Canada.

What is the startup culture like where you are based?

San Fran is about a tech as it gets. I live in Kelowna in BC, which has an aspiring tech culture. Exits like Club Penguin, Vineyard Networks, and Workfire put Kelowna on the map. Plus there’s an event called Metabridge that is really working to connect Kelowna to Silicon Valley.

What problem does your startup solve?

 We help brands get found and we help them foster engagement with the community.


What is the greatest challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?

The list hasn’t evolved since the invention of HTML. That is the opportunity we are creating. We are to lists what slideshare is to slides. You put your lists on Listly and embed them back on your blog. The model has been proven for static content like slides, videos and audio. Were just taking that model one step further as lists evolve over time and can be contributed to by many. People are always skeptical when a new type of data is created. The challenge we have overcome building the credibility needed for people to place their lists with Listly.

 To this point with have lists embedded on 5000+ blogs. We have thousands of publishers who’ve signed up and used the platform. 


What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?

 Lots of iterations along the way, but three major:

V1 – Simple social embeddable lists

V2 – Scaling / cachable lists and synchronizing the experience between listly and blogs

V3 – Responsive Listly – A simpler, consistent experience across smart phones, tablets and desktops.

All these build on Listly as a publishing platform and a serious piece of internet infrastructure.


What are your next milestones?

We’re focused on small incremental steps right now and in driving our adoption metrics and our monthly active user count. Our core focus is to get more embeds. We’re also building out our API so people can build the use of Listly lists into their applications and workflows.

What’s next for your startup?

More of the same. Were focused on removing friction, driving up the number of embeds, and on building brand awareness so people are happy to jump in and vote or contribute to a list. We’ll also be putting more focus on our premium product to cater to the needs of bigger brands and publishers.

Where can people find out more, and what is your Twitter username?

@listly, @nickkellet @shyamster

Evernote Launches No Equity Accelerator For Developers

Evernote,developer,startup accelerator,app accelerator,docomo ventures, honda silicon valley labEvernote is known for it’s great relationship with developers. They hold hackathons on just about every continent, they hold the “devcup” and they support every single bit of creativity that developers can build using Evernote as the backbone. Some of the things that have come out of Evernote developers are really cool, and go way beyond the “notepad app” that Evernote started as. (my favorite Evernote app is Hello).

Now Evernote has announced they are expanding on the relationship with their developers once again. Evernote is opening a new on-site accelerator bringing their developers to SiliconValley. Docomo and Honda have partnered with Evernote to make the accelerator possible.

No matter where you are based, if you’re selected for the Evernote accelerator you and your team will be flown to Silicon Valley, you’ll get living accommodations, free food, office space, access to Evernote developers and engineers, group work sessions and feedback sessions and more. At the end of the program Evernote’s Rafe Needleman told Venturebeat, that “they’ll hold  a demo day for Silicon Valley investors and press.”

Currently there are six billion API’s per month across the Evernote platform and Needleman and team are looking for even more. “There’s a million different ways to store, use, and get access to personal and private data, and so far we’ve only built eight of those apps,” Needleman says.

Teams chosen for the accelerator will come from the DevCup. Once they arrive in Silicon Valley not only will they be working with Evernote but they will also be working with Docomo Innovation Ventures and Honda Silicon Valley Labs. This could be a big benefit for Evernote developers whose apps deal directly with mobile and wireless or transportation.

Interested in learning more? Check out Evernote’s developer’s site here.

Unfortunately money doesn’t grow on trees in Silicon Valley, read here.

Startup Lessons From The Formspring Shut Down, Or Not!

Formspring,Startup Tips, startups,startup news, Silicon Valley startupFormspring, the very popular, anonymous, question and answer site, was supposed to shut down on Sunday March 31st. We went to see where they were in the shut down process and saw the note above. So it looks like it’s possible Formspring could have one last reprieve.

The service has millions of users and billions of questions, asked and answered. It was a great tool to ask anonymous serious questions too, and also became a very abusive tool among younger sets. A  young, openly gay, actor in Atlanta said he used to love getting critiques and questions about his local theater performances and some of his tv appearances, but at some point he became inundated with requests for naked pictures, before turning 18.

It was things like that, that made Formspring flirt with safety to the point where some of their staffers stomachs turned.

Anonymity is one of the things that Cap Watkins, a former lead designer for Formspring highlights in this personal blog post.

He recaps his time at Formspring and the wild ride of one of the quickest rising startups in the country. Now sites like Quora, and to a point Cha-Cha (which is rumored to be running out of money), carry the bulk of the question and answer flow.

Watkins shares three things that could have “steered the product to a more successful outcome”.

Watkins shares:

We protected anonymous content to a fault

Formspring’s initial success was, in large part, due to giving our users the ability to ask each other questions anonymously (even without a Formspring account). In under a year, we skyrocketed to our first billion questions answered and showed few signs of slowing down. Yet even as we celebrated these milestones, we were all discussing how anonymity would or wouldn’t play a part in the future of our product. On the one hand, anonymity was a really popular feature (duh). On the other hand, we saw a lot of bad and abusive content come through that channel (double duh). A fact that we wound up being pretty infamous for.

But man was it hard to let go of anonymity as a core feature. We tried workaround after workaround. We prompted for sign-up after asking an anonymous question. We started pushing privacy settings for users into our on-boarding (which they never changed, of course). We started setting up elaborate filters to catch bad or abusive questions and put them behind a “Flagged Questions” link in users’ inboxes.

We spent a lot of time on anonymity. It was our sacred cow. Looking back, we should have spent that time finding ways to gracefully degrade that feature instead of finding ways to keep it alive. When you find yourself constantly giving a feature CPR, you should stop and consider whether or not it’s worth saving (or even possible to save).

Our opaque follow-model shot us in the foot

In a way, this lines up with our stance on anonymity. Following on Formspring was, for years completely anonymous. You couldn’t see who followed you and others couldn’t see that you were following them. This meant that we gave people a microphone and they kind of had to hope people heard what they were saying. And until we eventually launched our Smiles feature (akin to Facebook Likes), there was no way to know that your content was being consumed. We debated this a lot internally and came to the conclusion that the Twitter public-follow model was broken in that it put unnecessary social pressure on users to follow back. We felt we could build social features on top of the content (like Smiles) that let our users receive feedback and let their followers out themselves purposefully.

Formspring eventually allowed public following (not as a default, and after I left), but it was too little too late. My takeaway from this has been to always double check to make sure you’re not designing toward your own biases instead of what’s best for your product and users. Formspring had clearly struck a chord with people aching to share more about themselves with their friends. And instead of making it apparent that they were achieving their goal, we put an artificial barrier in place and prevented them from knowing if Formspring was working for them or not.

We skated toward the hockeystick

The biggest sin of them all from a product perspective, but also the hardest to avoid (and one that I see companies make over and over again).

Our initial graphs at Formspring, as you probably know, all hockeysticked up and to the right. Nearly straight up. That part was totally awesome! We were super popular! We could be the next [insert gigantic company name here]!

Oh wait, the graph has peaked and is starting to slowly (very slowly) trend downward. What do we do? Make big bets, right? Try to recapture that crazy growth!

And so we tried. The first big project we worked on was a Formspring button that sites could embed at the end of blog posts or other content. We had millions of users, so we figured it wasn’t a stretch to imagine they browsed other web sites and would gladly click a Formspring button at the end of a post (which asked “What did you think?” and allowed them to post a response to their Formspring page). This was just as the Facebook Share and Twitter “Tweet This” buttons were appearing, so we figured it made perfect sense to follow who we viewed as our closest competitors at the time.

We literally spent months on that system. We had to make sure our servers could handle a potentially huge influx of traffic (we based our estimations on our main site’s traffic, which was honestly insane), had to design and implement the feature, make sure the implementation was easy for publishers, make deals with publishers, etc. We bet huge. On someone else’s (Facebook and Twitter’s) plan.


 Continue reading at Cap Watkins blog

A note form Formspring founder Ade Olonoh on the Formspring web page on Sunday March 31, 2013 indicates that they may have a hail mary deal in the works. Stay tuned for more.

Lucas Rayala, founder of Altsie, shared this when his startup failed gracefully


Myth Busters: Money Does Not Grow On Trees In Silicon Valley [video]

Neil Parikh,Communly,Silicon Valley,startup,startup tips,launchyourcity

Communly co-founder Neil Parikh talks with Memphis based entrepreneur Ryan Ramkhelawan at the LaunchLounge on location in Silicon Valley (photo: NMI 2013)

We just wrapped up the LaunchYourCity, nibletz.com mission to Silicon Valley. On that trip we spent lots of time connecting to investors, accelerators, incubators, entrepreneurs and startup founders from San Francisco to Mountain View and everywhere in between.

As the voice of startups everywhere else, we kept our minds open throughout the trip and soaked up every nook and cranny of information that we could.

In working with hundreds of startups across the country, and around the world (everywhere else), we have found that a lot of people think money grows on trees in the valley.

In talking with a variety of Silicon Valley based startups in various stages we found that, that’s not the case. In some cases it’s actually harder to raise money in the valley because there’s much more competition.

Silicon Valley is like the Hollywood of statups. Founders move to Silicon Valley in droves in hopes of getting their big idea discovered.  It certainly isn’t that easy.

You have to figure for every idea out there, there are three more people working on that same thing. Sure the biggest VC’s are based in Silicon Valley but they’re getting pitched every minute of everyday. One VC we spoke with said he, like Mark Cuban, routinely gets pitched in the bathroom.

Sure all startups are looking for their big funding break and all VC’s are looking for the next Facebook or Instagram, but the chances that the two will connect are very difficult.

More than one startup founder told us that they had raised money at home, and thought that was the signal that they were ready to raise in Silicon Valley and now they’ve moved onto another startup.

There are several factors that could account for this happening. One is that when you grow your startup in your hometown and can pick up any bit of local traction, your local investors know you. They’ve seen you grow and seen your failures and victories. When you venture out to Silicon Valley you quickly become just another startup.

There’s also a much better chance that an angel or VC in Silicon Valley has heard your particular idea hundreds of times, where your local investors have only heard it once, from you.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t move to Silicon Valley? Not necessarily there are advantages too that we’ll be posting about later. This is definitely some nourishing food for thought though.

We got a chance to talk to 21 year old serial entrepreneur Neil Parikh of Communly about the myth that money grows on trees in Silicon Valley. Check out the video below and check out communly here.

 Find a lot more great startup tips here at nibletz.com

Startup Weekend Education Movie Debuts At SXSWedu

sxswedu,startup weekend edu,startup weekend,startup weekend movie,sxsw,sxsw13

(l to r: Chapman Snowden (Kinobi/Startup Weekend EDU), Adam Stelle (COO Startup Weekend), Vinny Verma (1887 Films) photo: NIM 2013)

Startup Weekend Education is a 54 hour long event that utilizes the same startup hacking weekend format that traditional Startup Weekend events use. They’ve been held all over the country, including Silicon Valley, New York, DC, and Florida. There have also been several successful Startup Weekend Education events overseas.

The movie, produced by Vinnny Verma of 1887 films, chronicles Startup Weekend Education events in Silicon Valley and New York City.

In New York, the focal point is Kevin Tame, who taught 8th grade math at Booker T Washington middle school in Baltimore Maryland. The idea for his startup Student Dashboard, is that kids don’t like to spend time logging into all the various apps and platforms they need for school.

Tame felt that if he could simplify the process he would give back a much needed commodity, time, and not only to the students but the teachers as well.

On the west coast the film turns to Rob Schwartz a 16 year educator and principal. His problem was that students and teachers need better ways to produce and consume content. His startup, MySciHigh went on to win the Silicon Valley event and is now in 35 schools across the country.

The movie was screened as part of the SXSWedu event at the legendary Alamao Draft House and Theater.

Startup Weekend’s COO Adam Stelle, Verma and Chapman Snowden of Kinobi and Starutp Weekend Edu all participated in a panel discussion after the viewing.

One thing that caught my eye was during the film Tame had said that he had gone to the NY event only to work on his project and didn’t want to work on any other project. This actually goes against the grain of traditional Startup Weekend events. We’ve been to over 60 Startup Weekend’s and at those events entrepreneurs are encouraged to stay and participate whether their idea is picked for building or not.

Stelle explained that at Startup Weekend Edu the hackers are actually teachers, and many come in specifically to get help “scratching their own itch.” Verma said that he had actually spent time contemplating this issue and went with it because if fit with Tame’s character.

Regardless, the movie was a great look at what happens when you get people together working on common problems.

“We’re too concerned about talking about the problem than real world action,” Tame said in the film in regards to teaching. He went on to say that at the Startup Weekend edu event people were talking about problems and solutions.

Tame’s team didn’t have a designer or a developer. Tame and a partner ended up hacking together the entire idea, and a pitch deck with one minute to spare.

Tame has transitioned from a Teach For America corps teacher to the organizations Director of Design and Technology, moving to this position in part because of his involvement with Startup Weekend edu.

The movie, which is finally edited down and ready to go, will be online and shown at several startup events across the country.

To find out more about how to host a Startup Weekend event in your city visit startupweekend.org

Find more of our Startup Weekend coverage here.

Andrew Mason’s Farewell Memo Gets Rap Geniused By Marc Andreessen And Ben Horowitz

Groupon,Andrew Mason,Marc Andreessen,Ben HorowitzAndrew Mason was hot news this week. As you all undoubtedly know by now, the CEO of Groupon is CEO no longer. We didn’t report on Mason’s firing earlier because everyone else did and our good friends at Business Insider wrote so many articles about it we made up a drinking game.

Today though, we found out some epic news. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, of Andreessen Horowitz fame, have used their own portfolio startup, Rap Genius, to decode Andrew Mason’s epic farewell memo.

Andreessen Horowitz were in Groupon pretty deep, so it’s great that they’ve basically come to the aid and support of Mason via Rap Genius. They are also major investors in the lyric website that decodes rap lyrics.

Andreessen and Horowitz pointed out early on that Rap Genius could be used to annotate lots of things like poetry, stories, news and now farewell memos. What’s even better is that both founding partners worked on the memo together and while some of the entries are funny others are long form and offer great explanations.

For example in the first paragraph of Mason’s letter he says “controversial metrics in our S1,” Andreessen goes on to make this lengthy explanation:

Andrew is referring to the use of non-standard financial metrics in the company’s SEC filings, particularly in the IPO filing (S1).

As someone who was in the room as an observer at the Groupon board when the decision to use these metrics was made, I think Groupon was honestly trying to provide additional information that investors would find useful, which mirrored the way management thought about running the business.

However, no good deed goes unpunished, and widespread media paranoia about business metrics still lingering from the 2000 dot com crash combined with other missteps on Groupon’s part combined to make the use of those non-standard metrics highly controversial and ultimately negative for the company.

Horowitz shows his support of Mason when Mason says “As CEO, I am accountable.” Howoritz writes:

Andrew does the stand up thing and claims accountability. Make no mistake though—although he’s the only one accountable, he’s certainly not the only one responsible for all the things that went wrong. The board decided to take the company public prior to putting all the proper controls in place. The material weakness was nearly guaranteed at that point. Every one on the board plus the CFO and the bankers agreed those were good metrics at the time. But here as in every case, it’s not all the CEO’s doing, but it’s all the CEO’s fault.

On the lighter side, when Mason says “maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive,” a Rap Genius community contributor says that this means:

“FYI World. I’m open to a killer deal if you want to hire me. But I ain’t gonna be cheap!”

See the entire thing here at RapGenius.com

We’re on the nibletz sneaker strapped nationwide startup road trip part deux and we cold use your support.

Bill Harris, Former CEO Of PayPal And Intuit To Speak On “Adult Supervision” At Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference

Bill Harris, Personal Capital, Intuit, Paypal, Facebook, everywherelse.co the startup conference

Bill Harris CEO of Personal Capital and Former CEO of Paypal and Intuit to speak at everywhereelse.co (photo: salon.com)

Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference has quickly become the biggest starutp conference in the United States. The unique thing about everywhereelse.co is that it’s a celebration of startups outside Silicon Valley with information, and education for startups facing a similar set of challenges, being from outside the valley.

By now you’ve heard that our speaker lineup is one of the best in the country including Scott Case, Pat Riley, Tracy Myers, several managing directors from startup accelerators across the country, founders from some of the best accelerators across the country like Techstars, YC, and MassChallenge and many more.

Today we’re pleased to announce that veteran “parental supervision” CEO Bill Harris will speak at everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference on Monday morning.

Harris is the CEO of Personal Capital, his own startup that’s already raised $25 million in venture capital, prior to that he has had a successful career in media, finance and entrepreneurism. Harris has twice been brought into young companies to be CEO and returned the companies to their founders in incredible positions.

Harris was brought into Paypal as it’s first CEO back in the late 90’s and prepared it for a $100 million dollar investment, eventually leading to the acquisition by eBay who owns it today. He also served as CEO at Intuit after merging ChipSoft into Intuit. Harris serves an advisor to some of the Facebook billionaires and has also taken a board or advisory role with several other successful companies.

Harris will speak about his current company Personal Capital. He will also talk about the real need by some startup founders to hire a CEO that is more seasoned than themselves. Eric Schmidt, the current Executive Chairman of Google, was hired as CEO of Google to lead Sergey Brin and Larry Page to the point where they could take back the company they founded.

Many credit Harris with bringing together Confinity and it’s founders Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery with X.com and Elon Musk to actually form the company we know as Paypal.

Attendees and startups in the everywhereelse.co startup village will benefit from hearing Harris speak on all things startup and about his experiences advising, mentoring and helping some of the biggest startup founders in the world. It’s an amazing victory for startups “everywhere else” to have the opportunity to hear someone  of Harris’ caliber and experience at a conference.

Nearly 2000 people from across the country and around the globe, have already purchased attendee tickets for everywhereelse.co the startup conference. The are still a handful of tickets left. There are 135 startups in the Startup Village and there are just 10 startup village booths left. More info can be found at everywhereelse.co tickets can be purchased below.


Mark Cuban: Shit! That Sound You’ll Hear From The Valley As The Fund Manager Turns Out The Lights

Marc Cuban, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley Bubble, startup,startups

Mark Cuban (center) with nibletz co-founder/CEO Nick Tippmann (left) hanging out in Indiana

Like, Dave McClure, entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban is a strong advocate for starutps outside Silicon Valley, “everywhere else” as we call them here. It seems that almost every time Cuban is asked to speak at a startup investor conference or in front of entrepreneurial students, someone asks him about the next bubble.

Cuban is a self made business man all around. One of his earliest business endeavors was selling computers. The kicker though was that he didn’t even own one. He read manuals and documentation on whatever he could about computers working for someone else, until he ventured out on his own.

His earliest success came during the first dot com “bubble” when he sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion dollars. Not too shabby. He was able to parlay that into purchasing the Dallas Mavericks and founding HDnet which is now axs.tv.

Cuban has spead his latest investments around. He’s invested in companies (outside of Shark Tank) in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and other cities, keeping his portfolio out of harms way in the event of a Silicon Valley bubble 2.0. And that’s just where he thinks the next bubble will occur.

He doesn’t think the next “bubble” will actually be a bubble but rather the results of a pyramid scheme or modern day chain letter.

“It’s almost the 2011 version of a private equity chain letter,” Cuban said, as reported by PEHUB.

“Remember the old chain letter, where you put up some money, then you got other people to put up some money, and you gave it to the people who were in the deal before you? That’s what’s happening today,” says Cuban. “The early [VCs] are getting the new [VCs] to invest enough money at high enough valuations that they get most, if not all of their money back. Then the next round [sees] someone else invest more money at a higher valuation, returning cash to the last two rounds of investors. By the time you get to the last [VC] standing, those last few rounds hope they can get a return from the public markets. That may be very tough. But the only players really on the hook are the guys from the last rounds. Just like in a chain letter.”

Lately there’s been a lot of talk as to whether Silicon Valley is on the brink of another bubble explosion. The first one saw startups quickly become brand names like Pets.com and Toys.com, and then just as quickly evaporate into a bankrupt land of nothingness.

Several things over the last three months in particular have caused investors to look more cautiously. Back in mid december the Dow Jones VC Edge report came out. That sent a tremor through Silicon Valley and New York City. Fred Wilson blogged about it as a signal that there was a “Series A Crunch” coming. That same week Paul Graham the founder of YCombinator shook things up some more when he reported that startups in the world famous accelerator program would receive less seed funding and that they were taking less startups in the next YC class.

Today, people are watching anxiously as companies like Zynga and Facebook were expected to make billions in IPO’s and then carry investors off into the sunset. That didn’t happen for either company, Zynga much worse off today than Facebook, and that was all in the last year.

Cuban banks on winners, in fact on and off the court he says “No one hates losing more than me”. He’s practical though and knows not everything he invests in is going to have  $5.7 billion dollar exit but he’s going to work relentlessly to insure as much success as possible.

What he does say though is that eventually, like with a chain letter, Silicon Valley investors are going to be left holding empty envelopes. He won’t be one of them.

“When the market has a correction, stock prices will correct dramatically, and that sound you’ll hear from the Valley?” says Cuban. “[It] will be of a fund manager screaming, ‘Shit!’ as he turns out the light on his fund.”

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Merry Christmas Instagram: Facebook’s Mobile Photo App Hit With Class Action Lawsuit

Instagram, Terms of service, Class Action lawsuit, startup,startup newsWhile millions of people across the world were preparing for Christmas and undoubtedly filling their Instagram feeds with pictures of carolers, cooking, food, presents and of course Santa Claus, A woman from San Diego, Lucy Funes, and the law firm of Finklestein & Krinsk launched a class action lawsuit against the photo giant.

Instagram quickly found themselves under fire from irate users. Even some of their more infamous users like Kim Kardashian said they would quit using the service. National Geographic had taken down their Instagram feed. All of this stemming from a change in Instagram’s Terms of Service (TOS). You know those long legaleeze pages that you just automatically agree to so that you can start using an app.

In the originally changed TOS Instagram had basically said that they could use your photos for whatever they want without compensation. They also said they may choose to advertise alongside your photos, they didn’t have to tell you and you wouldn’t make any money from it. Of course, whether or not you agree with these terms, no one forces you to use their product. All the while, if you do, you’re making an agreement to abide by their terms.

Nevertheless, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom went ahead and back pedaled on the parts pertaining to copyright and using a users photos. The language about advertising remained in place.

Funes, most likely started the ball rolling for her class action lawsuit before Systrom apologized and changed the terms of service again, however the suit was filed.  The lawsuit says customers who don’t agree with Instagram’s terms can cancel their profile but forfeit the rights to photos they previously shared on the service.

“In short, Instagram declares that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law and if you don’t like it, you can’t stop us,'” the lawsuit says.

Instagram catapulted to fame over the last few years. They were acquired by Facebook in early 2012 for what was believed to be a cash/stock deal worth $1 billion dollars at the time it was announced. Because of Facebook’s decline in stock valuation the deal is only worth about $715 million dollars now.

With the long holiday weekend it’s hard to tell if Funes will still push forward with the lawsuit since the new TOS language doesn’t lay claim to a users photos the way it previously did. We’ll hopefully find out more shortly.

The holidays are a big time for Instagram. They may see a little downtrend this year partially caused by users unsure of what’s happening with the Terms of Service and also because their sharing via Twitter went through a major overhaul earlier this month.


Source: Yahoo/Reuters

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Maryland Media Firm: Discovery Communications, Backs “Pinterest For Learning” Grockit

Grockit, Discovery Communications, Valley startup, Maryland company, funding, startup newsThe Maryland mega media firm that owns cable channels TLC and the Discovery Channel, Discovery Communications has made a financial and strategic investment into valley startup, Grockit.

Grockit has iterated several times since coming onto the scene in 2006 as a video test prep course for standardized testing. They relaunched at TechCrunch 50 in 2008 as a hybrid of test prep and a multi-player learning game.

Today, they’ve iterated again, keeping their feet firmly implanted in social learning. They’ve added a new product to the mix called Learnist, which allows teachers and students to discover, share and clip content from the web to a clipboard. Grockit’s Founder Farbood Nivi told TechCrunch that the Learnist product has seen 400% growth and doubled their user session length from 10 minutes to over 20 minutes.

While Learnist targets students in grades K-12 quickly checking out the site you’ll find that in can easily be expanded to assist with socially learning anything from K-college and beyond.

TechCrunch is reporting that the financial investment from Discovery Communications was $20 million dollars. GigaOM is quick to add that the strategic partnership includes shared technology, marketing, distribution and promotion. Of course everyone is thinking that Discovery will integrate the Learnist and Grockit technology into the web/social companion products for Discovery’s top brands.

“We think of our audience as people who are curious,” said Roy Gilbert, CEO of Grockit said to GigaOM. “We’re blurring the layer between things I need to learn in the classroom – common core [content] – and general nonfiction media. People are coming to the internet, not just to do differential equations but to learn about what’s going on in Syria.”


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