Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NimbusBase Launches An iCloud For Any Platform At Disrupt NY, Lets Users Store Their Data On Dropbox Or Google Drive


It’s hard to gauge how popular Apple’s iCloud really is, but the idea behind it is solid: give developers a place to save their users’ data, give users control over this data and allow developers to focus on their apps and not storage. NimbusBase, which is launching at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 today, had built exactly that, with the ingenious twist that the data is stored in the cloud of the users’ choosing. Currently, NimbusBase supports Dropbox and Google Drive, with SkyDrive and other providers expected to launch in the near future.

NimbusBase’s New York-based founders Ray Wang (CTO) and Alex Volodarsky (COO) told me that developers currently have three choices. They can use iCloud, but that’s limited to iOS; they can build their own storage infrastructure and then pay for server space; or they can use specialized backend services, but those tend to charge a premium for storage.

With NimbusBase, developers can easily integrate the same features they would get from those tools into their own apps, but without any of the hassle because the cloud storage providers handle all of the storage infrastructure for developers and users. To get started, developers only need to add a few lines of code to their apps and NimbusBase handles the rest. For now, NimbusBase only works for web apps, but the team plans to release its Android and iOS integrations soon.

Services like Dropbox, of course, aren’t designed to be storage backends for apps, which typically use databases to store their users’ data. NimbusBase gets around this by first storing the data in a local SQLite database (or in a local file) and then slicing the data up into small files that get synced with the user’s storage service.

In addition to storage, these cloud storage providers also function as the de-facto user accounts for the apps – just sign in with your DropBox or SkyDrive account – so developers don’t have to worry about that, either.

For users, this also means they remain in full control over their data. Don’t like the app anymore? Just wipe out the directory in your Dropbox account and you’re done. You can try NimbusBase’s demo app to see how this works in practice.

To make sure that Dropbox and Google wouldn’t have any issues with how NimbusBase uses their services, the team talked to both of these companies to explain its service and got the go-ahead from both of them.

Currently, NimbusBase offers a free plan – its so-called “Hacker Plan” – which developers can use to build and test their apps. Once they are ready to launch their service, they will have to pay $500/year for the enterprise plan. For a popular app, the team told me, that should be a “no-brainer,” given that they simply pay a flat fee whether the app has a thousand or a million users, or whether those users save a few text files or high-res photos. The users, of course, will have to start paying their cloud storage providers at some point.

NimbusBase only works for web apps. Next on the company’s roadmap is an Android version that then allows Android developers to essentially replicate iCloud’s data-syncing features on Google’s platform. The team is also looking at adding encryption to NimbusBase’s feature set.

So far, Wang and Volodarsky have bootstrapped their company, which they founded last August. The two are actively looking for additional funding to hire more engineers and to expand NimbusBase beyond Drive and Dropbox.

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/5W14IV-QCwk/

JamStik, The Mini Guitar That Connects To Your iPhone, Hits Indiegogo


When we first saw the Jamstik at CES this year we called it amazing. Now you can call it yours.

The Jamstik is a MIDI guitar with real strings. It allows you to fret and strum like a real guitar and you can even roll up the octaves by pressing a button on the device. It connects to iOS devices and outputs a MIDI signal that can be used in almost any audio program including Garage Band and Sunrizer.

The device is just 15 inches long and is completely portable. It can teach you how to play guitar by following your hands as you fret or it can mimic other instruments using MIDI voices. In short, it’s a portable git-fiddle with quite a few cool features.

What’s a JamStik? The JamStik is a portable digital guitar that connects to your iPad or iPhone! We use light to scan your fingers as you press REAL STRINGS to REAL FRETS and use REAL PICKING technique to play, then send that information over to your device in real time to take some of the frustration out of learning to play and put some fun back in!

You can fund the project here and buy a Jamstik for $199. They are looking for $100,000 and have already hit $78,000 so there’s an excellent chance this will ship.

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/4Va0TVkw8DA/

Retwact May Solve Twitter's Misinformation Problem


Even worse than the pornbots and trolls, one of Twitter's enduring drawbacks is that there's no reliable way to issue corrections with the service. The flaw drew a truckload of attention in the wake of the Boston bombings as self-appointed detectives — fueled by Reddit — made all kinds of invalid allegations on social media. But the tragedy involving the Tsarnaev brothers is simply the most extreme case of what's a very ordinary problem. Virtually all reporting has become an iterative process, subject to revisions in real time as new knowledge becomes available.

Some journalists have called for Twitter to build a corrections function involving the same code it uses for retweets and favorites. So far, Twitter has given no indication that it plans to do so, which has led one independent developer to build his own solution. And until something more polished comes along, it's not a bad option. Read more...

More about Reddit, Twitter, Social Journalism, Rumors, and False Tweets

from Mashable http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/uoNok-0ofFc/

SupplyShift Helps Companies Understand The Environmental Impact Of Their Supply Chain


For large companies that have a long list of suppliers that they work with, it’s not only difficult to manage communication with all of them, but understanding the environmental impact of each supplier is next to impossible. It’s not a sexy space to work in by any means but the addressable market is comprised of Fortune 500 companies and the government itself, which is bound to mandates involving environmental sustainability when working with suppliers.

SupplyShift is a backend tool for those companies and organizations to track everything that’s going on with suppliers, which are usually scattered throughout the world. These buyers are collecting sustainability data but don’t currently have the tools to help them reduce risk exposure.

What SupplyShift really is is a network which allows them to understand their “supply chain footprint” which will make suppliers actually care more about how they present themselves, heating up competing among them. The team, led by CEO and cofounder Alexander Gershenson, has been working on these problems as a consultant and it was time to build their work out as an actual product.

Currently, Ecoshift, the consulting arm for the team, is already working with companies like Microsoft, Target and Sprint on supply chain management.

The type of risk that companies experience with suppliers are the situation that Mattel went through with lead paint, where 1M toys had to be recalled. As far as how suppliers can affect how the public thinks about your company, look no further than Apple’s relationship with Foxconn, regarding their labor practices. You get the point. SupplyShift will track all of these potential risks, sharing them among the network of companies that use it.

Why now? Gershenson told me: “The market situation changed radically in the last three years, and sustainability is becoming a key part of corporate strategy, but corporations and the government do not have the tools to address that need. SupplyShift takes care of that.”

The main component that makes SupplyShift different from its competitors is that the companies who use the service are also paying to enroll their suppliers. This is key, because suppliers either won’t, or can’t afford to enroll themselves in similar services. By putting this in the hands of the companies who are selling goods, the database of suppliers will grow at a more rapid rate.

This isn’t a social network for professionals, photo-sharing apps for tweens, but it’s a product that provides important information that could save companies millions of dollars in bad PR and lawsuits due to critical mistakes made by a supplier.

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/7tEV2Q4Qbio/

Zuckerberg's Lobby Can't Stay Silent On Secretive Conservative Political Ads Forever

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Online backlash is growing against Mark Zuckerberg’s lobby’s secretive ads supporting conservative senators who encourage the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. “Immigration reform – fine. Oil expansion and pipelines? NOT fine. Where’s the transparency here, rich dudes? Or does FWD actually stand for Fine With Drilling?,” wrote one angry commenter on FWD.us Facebook page.

FWD.us is the latest A-list technology political interest group to come out swinging for high-skilled immigration reform. Partnering with many of Silicon Valley’s brightest luminaries, from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to Bill Gates, FWD.us made a very public debut last week, promising grassroots activism in support of knowledge-economy-friendly policymaking.

FWD.us strategically splits its operation into democratic and conservative outreach, directly funding ads of senators friendly to high-skilled immigration reform. The Internet rumor machine spun an ad supporting Republican Senator Lindsey Graham into a link bait headline claiming that FWD.us subsidary “Americans For A Conservative Direction,” were “Promoting Wildlife Oil Drilling.”

As Salon‘s Andrew Leonard correctly points out, Zuckerberg, as founding tech partner of FWD.us, is not actually supporting Arctic drilling by indirectly funding ads in support of certain senators. But, FWD.us has been conspicuously silent about any details related to the high-profile lobby. Yesterday at our Disrupt Conference, FWD.us’s director, Joe Green, strategically avoided any details about their lobbying strategy or the controversial conservative ads.

As I’ve written before, no one in D.C. will be surprised that FWD.us is playing political games. And if they were just holding lavish dinners and shelling out campaign donations, the negative press wouldn’t hurt.

But as an organization that’s attempting to galvanize broad grassroots support, it’s going to have a hard time appealing to the tech masses when friends will be publicly condemn each other for supporting such a stealthy political organization (on Facebook, ironically). Transparency about the realities of Washington may be the only way they can redeem their fragile reputation.

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/EaBvLONNakk/

Braintree Poaches Google Wallet Co-Creator Rob von Behren From Square

"Google Wallet" Partner Event

Braintree, the Chicago-based payments gateway that’s processing about $2 billion in mobile transactions per year, just poached one of Google Wallet’s creators Rob von Behren from Square.

Von Behren was one of the co-founders of Google Wallet, the NFC-centric mobile payment system that was designed to let consumers pay directly for goods and services with their smartphones.

Wallet hasn’t seen widespread traction thanks to the often conflicting motivations of carriers, banks, credit card companies and Google. But there were also internal politics too, which led to a diaspora of Google Wallet team members out into startups and growth-stage companies like Square and Braintree.

At Braintree, von Behren says he’ll be working on their mobile e-commerce platform. “Smartphones are pervasive in developed economies, and people use them all the time while making purchasing decisions — but actually buying things with your phone is still really painful in most situations,” he said.

Braintree has focused on building out a direct-to-consumer presence with the acquisition of New York startup Venmo over the last year. Before, Braintree had mostly been handling B2B relationships and powering payments for companies like Airbnb and Uber. Venmo gave them a consumer brand, which they then used to launch services like Venmo Touch, which let consumers sign up to pay for services in the Braintree network with one-click.

Von Behren didn’t really comment on why he left Square after spending a year there. Square has seen a string of departures into the venture world with its head of growth Jared Fliesler moving to Matrix Partners, its director of product Megan Quinn moving to Kleiner Perkins and its COO Keith Rabois joining Khosla Ventures after allegations of sexual harassment.

“For somebody as well-known and respected as Rob, getting that kind of hire was going to be fierce competition,” said Braintree CEO Bill Ready. “We’re thrilled to have him on the team.”

He added that Braintree is definitely not doing NFC. “Rob’s passion was never NFC,” Ready said.

Von Behren said he was mostly attracted to the problem of making payments easy and frictionless on mobile devices. Braintree has a critical mass around this area with 40 million customers and $8 billion in transaction volume a year.

He added that the Google Wallet experience taught him about how difficult it can be to work with large retailers.

“One of the most challenging aspects of Google Wallet was working with the long development cycles of large brick-and-mortar retailers,” he said. “While it’s easy to conceive of good technological solutions to many of the problems these retailers face, figuring out an evolutionary path between where they are and where they would like to be is challenging.”

He added, “Google is one of the few companies in the world that has the right combination of tech savvy and resources to be able to tackle something like this, but even at Google this was difficult.”

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/WE7IK-CzANY/

Announcing the CrunchBase Venture Network

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We knew CrunchBase was big. We knew because there are 2 million people using the startup database each month. We knew because more than 120k people have contributed 1.6MM data points on companies, entrepreneurs, fundings, exits and more. What we didn’t know, however, was what the investment community thinks about CrunchBase.

To answer that question, we spent many weeks visiting venture and angel firms and talking about data and CrunchBase. We learned that most are investing a lot in data and analytics in order to find good companies, ideas, and people. Everyone agreed that CrunchBase is an important source of that information, but we also heard something else: CrunchBase needs to evolve fast to keep pace with these new demands. In particular, Crunchbase needs to be more timely, accurate, and detailed.

That’s a big challenge, and today at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, we are annoucing one key initiative to get us there: the CrunchBase Venture Program. We designed the venture program to appeal to venture firms that want to improve CrunchBase’s data set, and we’ve found just about universal willngness to participate.

Under the program, members agree to work with the CrunchBase team to get public information on their portfolio companies — including funding updates, staffing changes, product launches, and acquisitions — into CrunchBase in an accurate and timely way. What our partners get in return is better access to the CrunchBase team and API. But more importantly, what our partners and everyone in the startup world will see is steadily improving data in CrunchBase. That’s a big deal to investors researching new companies and founders, entrepreneurs looking for investors and talent, business development folks looking for partners, and virtually anyone trying to understand the constant change in the technology world.

Today we are also announcing 11 firms that helped shape the CrunchBase Venture Program and are our launch partners. There will be many more to come, but today we are very pleased to announce these partners who will work with us to make CrunchBase’s data nothing less than awesome.

The venture program is one of many major initiatives we have underway to improve CrunchBase. It’s a big responsibility. To learn more and join the program, visit the CrunchBase website.

from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/O0N8a1Kw7lw/