Posts tagged startups

Visualizing Square Transactions
Square, the company behind the mobile credit card reader, is running $5 billion in transactions per year, according to Wired.
In this visualization, Wired puts together transactions that occurred over the course of an hour. The larger the circle, the larger the transaction. The color coding refers to the type of transactions that took place (eg., red for retail, green for food and groceries, orange for restaurants and bars).
Via Wired:

The most recent number puts total Square-enabled sales at more than $5 billion per year. That gets you to about $14 million per day. Since this snapshot captures a high activity part of the day across the entire U.S (not much being sold between midnight and 5 A.M.) this one hour likely represents several million dollars in sales. Square’s take in a hour? About $60,000.

Not bad for a two-year-old product.
Michael Copeland, Wired. 1 Hour in Square’s World.
Select image to embiggen

Visualizing Square Transactions

Square, the company behind the mobile credit card reader, is running $5 billion in transactions per year, according to Wired.

In this visualization, Wired puts together transactions that occurred over the course of an hour. The larger the circle, the larger the transaction. The color coding refers to the type of transactions that took place (eg., red for retail, green for food and groceries, orange for restaurants and bars).

Via Wired:

The most recent number puts total Square-enabled sales at more than $5 billion per year. That gets you to about $14 million per day. Since this snapshot captures a high activity part of the day across the entire U.S (not much being sold between midnight and 5 A.M.) this one hour likely represents several million dollars in sales. Square’s take in a hour? About $60,000.

Not bad for a two-year-old product.

Michael Copeland, Wired. 1 Hour in Square’s World.

Select image to embiggen

MISSION Possible

For the past year or so I’ve been advising a startup called MISSION. Its goal is to tell stories about projects philanthropies and non-profits are working on around the world, and build a community that promotes, supports and facilitates travel by volunteers that want to dedicate their time and skills to them.

MISSION’s founder is Amy Schrier who I first met — and worked for — in the late-nineties when she founded BLUE Magazine, an award winning adventure lifestyle title that ran from 1997 to 2003.

In the Q&A below, Amy and I talk about what it’s like to be back in publishing, her thoughts on female entrepreneurialism in the tech and media space, and how and why she has chosen Crowdfunder, a startup in its own right, as her starting point for raising MISSION’s first round of founds. (If interested, you can see/vote for MISSION here.) — Michael

Michael: What’s MISSION’s origin story? How did the idea come about?

Amy: MISSION grows out the growing awareness of social action, and desire among people to tie their awareness of these issues to actions they can take, to make the world a better place. This can take the form of watching a video and donating to the related nonprofit, or getting involved with a cause and taking a volunteer trip, to help build homes in Haiti, work in an orphanage in Kenya, or teach in a Mississippi school. Personally, it grows out of my own experiences volunteering in Africa and Bangladesh.

Michael: After publishing BLUE Magazine you took a break to raise your kids. Now that you’re back, what changes surprise you about the current media and publishing environment?

Nothing surprises me. Just kidding, social media and the power to interact with your audience in instananeous real time make starting a business a clearer proposition.

Michael: What media changes inspire you?

Amy: Most of all this: When we had BLUE magazine, we would regularly cover humanitarian issues… infanticide in India, land mines in Cambodia, Amputees in Sierra Leone… each time we would publish a sidebar of info to connect readers with organizations making a difference in these areas. But we never knew who contacted them? Or how many did?

The prospect of having real-time information about users’ desire for info on issues and being able to track this is amazing.

Michael: Much is made about how women are received in technology and venture capital circles. As you begin raising money — and moving through these circles — what has your experience been?

Amy: There needs to be more collaboration among women — in terms of helping young female-driven start-ups raise capital — at the earliest stages. There is lots of work being done by Golden Seeds, ASTIA and Springboard once companies have reached a certain level of revenues, and there are opportunities to be funded further, but very little for start-ups.

We were invited to present at ASTIA, which we did. After they declined on funding us they said, you have a great business model, great team, you are just too early. They said, every person in the room you presented too invests $100,000 or more in each deal. I wondered why there was not a room alongside, where early stage start-ups could present, and each of those investors might put 10% into the earlier stage companies.

Michael: MISSION’s a startup and you’ve chosen start your funding push through Crowdfunder, another startup. What’s the rationale and benefit for doing so?

Amy: Equity crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for early stage start-ups, investors, and just about everybody. Currently, finding early stage capital can sometimes feel like an inefficient system of cold calling angels, VC firms and high net worth individuals. The idea that start-ups will be able to tap into the public interest, test their business concept and appeal to public investors at the same time, is a wonderful thing. It will surely promote entrepreneurship overall in the long term.

Michael: Finally, you have some 30+ people volunteering their time and energy into turning MISSION into a reality. What’s your secret for getting people involved? Or is it some inherent Jedi mind trick you’ve mastered from raising your kids?

Amy: Jedi mind trick!

Latitude News Wants You
Latitude News, a startup based out of Cambridge Massachusetts, is looking for contributors to report on local US stories with a global perspective.
Founded by Maria Balinska, former BBC World Current Affairs Editor, Latitude believes “international isn’t ‘foreign’ anymore”.
As John Dyer, one of the publication’s editors, puts it:

We focus on topics that have US-foreign connections. Think how Chinese car buyers are key to Detroit’s recovery; how American missionaries are influencing family planning in Africa; how American and Norwegian fishermen are coping quite differently with their declining industries.
We want ground truth from the Deccan, the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Parisian cafes. We need journalists who can explain why a foreign story might be important for an American audience. We’re also interested in writers who might want to focus on international religion, science or similar specific topics.

Latitude is paying $360 for 800 word pieces with additional payment for audio and photographs.
Inquiries and pitches can be sent to John Dyer at john [at] latitudenews [dot] com.

Latitude News Wants You

Latitude News, a startup based out of Cambridge Massachusetts, is looking for contributors to report on local US stories with a global perspective.

Founded by Maria Balinska, former BBC World Current Affairs Editor, Latitude believes “international isn’t ‘foreign’ anymore”.

As John Dyer, one of the publication’s editors, puts it:

We focus on topics that have US-foreign connections. Think how Chinese car buyers are key to Detroit’s recovery; how American missionaries are influencing family planning in Africa; how American and Norwegian fishermen are coping quite differently with their declining industries.

We want ground truth from the Deccan, the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Parisian cafes. We need journalists who can explain why a foreign story might be important for an American audience. We’re also interested in writers who might want to focus on international religion, science or similar specific topics.

Latitude is paying $360 for 800 word pieces with additional payment for audio and photographs.

Inquiries and pitches can be sent to John Dyer at john [at] latitudenews [dot] com.

Stones: noun -- audacity; nerve; chutzpah

Example: A 19-year-old with serious stones secretly took up residence inside AOL’s Palo Alto campus, eating free food, enjoying gym access, and building a startup in the process.

Back Story: Eric Simons was in a four month program with the incubator Imagine K12 which is housed at AOL. When the four months ended he had no money left to go anywhere else so he started couch surfing around the corporate campus.

Via CNET:

Having spent several months legitimately working in the building, often quite late, Simons had noticed that although there were security guards with nightly rounds, there were at least three couches that seemed outside those patrols. Plus, they looked fairly comfortable. He claimed them.

This was his routine: He’d work until midnight or later, and then fall asleep around 2 a.m. on one of the couches. At 7 a.m. — and no later than 8 a.m. so he’d be safely out of his field bed before anyone else arrived — he’d wake up, go down to the gym for a workout and a shower, and then go back upstairs and scarf a breakfast of cereal and water or Coke. Then he’d work all day, finally waiting until everyone else in the building had gone home before returning to one of his three favored couches.

"I got a really good work ethic," he said, "and I got in shape, since I had to work out every morning."

Made in New York City
A map of NYC start-ups, incubators and investors. Also includes information about companies that are hiring if you’re in the market.

Made in New York City

A map of NYC start-ups, incubators and investors. Also includes information about companies that are hiring if you’re in the market.

MISSION Possible

In an alternative life I’ve been working on a startup called MISSION.tv. It’s a community and publication focusing on global philanthropic and volunteer activity. And, happily, its soft launch is today.

MISSION was founded by Amy Schrier who also happened to be my first publisher for a magazine she launched in the 90s called Blue.

For those interested in MISSION, check the Web site. Job opportunities are listed here.

And if you’re in New York City, there’s a launch party Wednesday, May 2, from 7-10pm on the Lower East Side. There are two ways to attend:

  • For free: simply register at Eventbrite and come on down.
  • For $20: proceeds collected will benefit Flying Kites Global, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that runs a leadership academy for orphaned children in Kenya.

MISSION is on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. We’re working on getting our Tumblr act together.

Hope to see people on Wednesday at the launch party — Michael

Facebook Buys Instagram for a Reported $1 Billion
That’s billion, with a ‘b’, in cash and stock.
Via Mark Zuckerberg:

[I]n order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.
That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

Glad to see they’ll keep it independent. — Michael

Facebook Buys Instagram for a Reported $1 Billion

That’s billion, with a ‘b’, in cash and stock.

Via Mark Zuckerberg:

[I]n order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

Glad to see they’ll keep it independent. — Michael

onaissues:

 What Journalists Can Learn From: Startups
“Startup culture has captivated the nation over the last few years, with starry promises of long nights spent in product development resulting in millions of dollars of funding and the potential for billion-dollar payoffs…So what lessons can media makers pull from startups?”
Here are five ways that startups can inspire journalists.

onaissues:

 What Journalists Can Learn From: Startups

“Startup culture has captivated the nation over the last few years, with starry promises of long nights spent in product development resulting in millions of dollars of funding and the potential for billion-dollar payoffs…So what lessons can media makers pull from startups?”

Here are five ways that startups can inspire journalists.

To All the (US-Based) Ladies in the House

The International Women’s Media Foundation is awarding three $20,000 grants to women-led digital journalism startups.

The application deadline is March 2 and is open to US-based women for a project that has not yet launched.

FAQ and application materials are located here.

H/T: 10000 Words

Y Combinator wants to Kill Hollywood

youmightfindyourself:

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV, but not the main reason. The main reason we want to fund such startups is not to protect the world from more SOPAs, but because SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they’re resorting to such tactics. If movies and TV were growing rapidly, that growth would take up all their attention. When a striker is fouled in the penalty area, he doesn’t stop as long as he still has control of the ball; it’s only when he’s beaten that he turns to appeal to the ref. SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten. And yet the audiences to be captured from movies and TV are still huge. There is a lot of potential energy to be liberated there.

How do you kill the movie and TV industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps) that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may initially look like they’re serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo.

It would be great if what people did instead of watching shows was exercise more and spend more time with their friends and families. Maybe they will. All other things being equal, we’d prefer to hear about ideas like that. But all other things are decidedly not equal. Whatever people are going to do for fun in 20 years is probably predetermined. Winning is more a matter of discovering it than making it happen. In this respect at least, you can’t push history off its course. You can, however, accelerate it.

What’s the most entertaining thing you can build?

One thing we like are new tools and platforms that enable storytelling, curating and content sharing. This keeps our eyes glued to new platforms such as Storify and why we enjoy our time on Tumblr so much.
It’s also a reason why we’re very interested in an email we just received. It’s the announced launch of Cowbird by artist and technologist Jonathan Harris.
It goes something like this:

After 2+ years of work, 145,000+ lines of code, one Icelandic grass hut, one night in jail, one serving of jellied ram’s testicles with fermented shark meat, and countless pieces of toast with orange marmalade, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Cowbird, a labor of love, and hopefully something that will have a long and meaningful life.
Cowbird is a community of storytellers, focused on deeper, longer-lasting, more personal storytelling than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web.
Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching “sagas” that shape our world today (starting with the Occupy Wall Street movement).
Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience — kind of like a Wikipedia for real life (but much more beautiful).

Grand plans, indeed, and we’re interested in testing the platform. If you are too, you can request an invitation here. Harris writes that they are looking for writers, filmmakers, journalists and storytellers in general to come onboard to grow the community. 
Image: Detail from Jonathan Harris’ Cowbird diary.
Bonus Points: PRI has an interview with Harris in which he explains the project’s genesis.

One thing we like are new tools and platforms that enable storytelling, curating and content sharing. This keeps our eyes glued to new platforms such as Storify and why we enjoy our time on Tumblr so much.

It’s also a reason why we’re very interested in an email we just received. It’s the announced launch of Cowbird by artist and technologist Jonathan Harris.

It goes something like this:

After 2+ years of work, 145,000+ lines of code, one Icelandic grass hut, one night in jail, one serving of jellied ram’s testicles with fermented shark meat, and countless pieces of toast with orange marmalade, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Cowbird, a labor of love, and hopefully something that will have a long and meaningful life.

Cowbird is a community of storytellers, focused on deeper, longer-lasting, more personal storytelling than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web.

Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching “sagas” that shape our world today (starting with the Occupy Wall Street movement).

Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience — kind of like a Wikipedia for real life (but much more beautiful).

Grand plans, indeed, and we’re interested in testing the platform. If you are too, you can request an invitation here. Harris writes that they are looking for writers, filmmakers, journalists and storytellers in general to come onboard to grow the community. 

Image: Detail from Jonathan Harris’ Cowbird diary.

Bonus Points: PRI has an interview with Harris in which he explains the project’s genesis.

Can You Peer Review the Internet?

This is the question that Hypothes.is raises. The non-profit startup hopes to provide tools so that communities of people can evaluate and comment upon content they come across online.

This falls outside normal commenting systems. Instead, it’s a tool that readers bring with them as they visit sites.

Via Hypothes.is:

Hypothes.is will be a distributed, open-source platform for the collaborative evaluation of information. It will enable sentence-level critique of written words combined with a sophisticated yet easy-to-use model of community peer-review. It will work as an overlay on top of any stable content, including news, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation and regulations, software code and more-without requiring participation of the underlying site.

It is based on a new draft standard for annotating digital documents currently being developed by the Open Annotation Collaboration, a consortium that includes the Internet Archive, NISO (National Information Standards Organization), O’Reilly Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a number of academic institutions.

Via ReadWriteWeb

It’s a peer review system to check, verify and critique content all over the Web - and beyond. “Improving the credibility of the information we consume is humanity’s grandest challenge,” [Hypothes.is founder Dan] Whaley says. Topic experts will be enlisted in addition to crowdsourcing, a reputation system, browser plug-ins and APIs are on the roadmap and all the data will be stored at the Internet Archive.

It sounds very interesting but I wonder if people are up for leveraging it. For example, a few years ago Google launched Sidewiki as a browser-based annotation tool. Recently, the company announced it’s discontinuing the project. Which is another way to say that people weren’t really using it.

Here’s hoping Hypothes.is learns from that example because the idea of having a crowdsourced verification system is amazing. — Michael

Who Are These Journalists

A new site called News Transparency is trying to bring transparency to journalists by publishing basic biographical information, recent stories and social media presences.

Via Poynter:

Ira Stoll is 38. He has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. His phone number is (718) 499-2199 and his email is ira@futureofcapitalism.com. He went to college at Harvard, has worked at the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Sun, and he considers Seth Lipsky a personal friend.

I know all this from Stoll’s profile page on NewsTransparency.com, a new site he just launched to make it easier for the public “to find out about the individual human beings who produce the news — human beings with opinions, relationships, history, and agendas.”

The site consists of journalist profile pages which, like Wikipedia, allow anyone to add information and, like Amazon, enable ratings and reviews. They also collect articles written about the journalist’s work.

If you’re familiar with Techcrunch’s Crunchbase, the idea should be familiar: Create a publicly accessible database that lets anyone learn more about the movers and shakers in a given field.

Created by Ira Stoll, News Transparency hopes to build trust between the public and journalists. Let’s see what happens when the journalists find their digital paper trail easy to find and read.

Disruptive Companies Infographic

Disruptive companies create innovations that invade the market, force change, and create new sectors of the industry. Here we examine a list of disruptive companies, and the industry effects of their innovation.

iPad, Google Apps, Skype, Zynga, Tata Nano, Netflix, Pandora
via Focus

Disruptive Companies Infographic

Disruptive companies create innovations that invade the market, force change, and create new sectors of the industry. Here we examine a list of disruptive companies, and the industry effects of their innovation.

iPad, Google Apps, Skype, Zynga, Tata Nano, Netflix, Pandora

via Focus