Thursday, October 31, 2013

Groupon Redesigns Website for First Time in Five-Year History


Groupon is getting a facelift just in time for its fifth birthday

The daily deals service announced Friday that it has overhauled the look and functionality of its website for the first time since it launched in November 2008. The site, which has received the occasional tweak over the years, has now been rebuilt from the ground up with entirely new code, new search and browse options and perhaps most noticeably at first, a new color. Groupon green is out, replaced by a plain white background.

"The original site was designed for a deal of the day and the new site is designed for a marketplace," Jeff Holden, Groupon's SVP of product management, told Mashable in a recent interview. The web redesign has been in the works for about a year. Read more...

More about Apps, Groupon, Business, and Apps Software

from Mashable

Apple is reportedly testing an update for its OS X Mavericks Mail app to fix problems

mail1 520x197 Apple is reportedly testing an update for its OS X Mavericks Mail app to fix problemsExperiencing problems with Apple’s Mail application on OS X Mavericks, in particular with Gmail? Apple is aware of the issue and is testing an update to its Mail app internally among Apple employees and also with users in the company’s customer AppleSeed program, 9to5Mac reports.

The update, which Apple reportedly refers to as “important,” addresses issues to do with Gmail, smart mailboxes and overall stability. Testers can provide feedback via a dedicated communication channel.

The updated Mail app, which is available as a patch download, is labeled Version 7.0 — similar to the one currently being used in OS X Mavericks but with a different build number. It is unclear if the fixes made will be available as a standalone update or folded into OS X Mavericks 10.9.1, which is expected to be released in the near future.

Apple testing Mail update for OS X Mavericks to fix Gmail, stability, and smart mailbox issues [9to5Mac]

Headline image via Shutterstock

from The Next Web Feed

6 Job Interview Questions and Answers to Avoid


The old adage of "think before you speak" is never truer than when you're on a job interview. One unwitting slip-up could cost you your dream position, so it's crucial to know what kinds of questions and answers will set off a red flag for your interviewer.

While a hiring manager has a responsibility to avoid illegal interview questions, there are certain things that you shouldn't say as a candidate, either. Five career coaches weighed in on the most common questions and answers that interviewees should avoid at all costs.

Questions to avoid:

"What does your company do?"

Even if the job posting you read didn't include much information about the company itself, this should be a fairly obvious question to avoid. Nothing puts a big red "X" on your résumé like not having done your research. If you're coming in for a job interview, the hiring manager expects that you have a basic understanding of what the company does and who its clients are. Read more...

More about Job Search, Employment, Job Interview, Job Hunt, and Business

from Mashable

Runtastic Releases Scary, Exciting “Story Running” To Encourage Your Ploddings


Runtastic, an Austrian running start-up with an aim of hitting the Polars and Nikes of the world where it counts has released something its calling “Story Running,” essentially an app that tracks your run and replays an audio story that becomes more exciting as you approach the high points of an interval run.

There have been a few of these already, most notably Zombies Run! and, unless you're ensconced in a long audiobook they do add a bit of aural pleasure to the long slog of keeping ourselves out of an early grave. There are a number of genres including “Fantasy,” “Adventure,” and “Travel.”

Runtastic also announced the Libra scale, a BMI, bone mass, muscle mass, and BMR/AMR calculating scale that connects to an iOS device to track your weight and important statistics. It costs 129 Euro and will be available in November.

from TechCrunch

New Algorithm Assesses the Quality of Wikipedia Articles


An algorithm that assesses the quality of Wikipedia articles could reassure visitors and help focus editors on entries that need improving, according to the computer scientists who developed it.

Wikipedia quality

The result is many high-quality articles on a huge range of topics in more than 200 languages. But there are also articles of poor quality and dubious veracity.

This raises an important question for visitors to the site: how reliable is a given article on Wikipedia?

Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Xiangju Qin and Pádraig Cunningham at University College Dublin in Ireland. These guys have developed an algorithm that assesses the quality of Wikipedia pages based on the authoritativeness of the editors involved and the longevity of the edits they have made. Read more...

More about Wikipedia, Algorithm, Computer Science, Tech, and Apps Software

from Mashable

Gruesome Drawings Decompose Your Favorite Pop Culture Characters


Homer Simpson never looked this beat.

French artist and graphic designer Pierre-Yves Riveau, known as PEZ, has released a series of sketches that imagine sinewy and dilapidated versions of beloved pop culture characters. The series, titled Distroy, gives icons like Mickey Mouse, Mario and Bart and Homer Simpson a gruesome makeover.

Riveau told Mashable that he set out to apply his "graphic style" to famous cartoons, mixing cartoon drawing and graffiti together to create "a strange and oniric image."

Check out Riveau's haunting series above, and visit his Facebook page to see more of his work. Read more...

More about Pics, Tv, Art, Pop Culture, and Watercooler

from Mashable

Nomorerack Raises $40M In Series B Financing To Build Depth Across Its Biggest Categories


Less than one year after completing a $12 million Series A round, the multi-category retailer Nomorerack has raised $40 million in Series B financing led by Oak Investment Partners and HTV Industries. Although the company launched as a flash sales site in 2010, Nomorerack has since transitioned to position itself as an online retailer that offers deep discounts across the board in numerous categories.

The financing will go toward customer acquisition and building out the depth of its top categories, which include jewelry, apparel, electronics, home and lifestyle.

“At the end of the day, when we advertise on [sites like] MSN, the broader we are, the more appealing we are,” CEO Deepak Agarwal said.

The company did $9 million in revenue in 2011, north of $100 million in 2012, and is now on track to do close to $300 million, Agarwal said. It's profitable, and about 70 percent of sales are repeat purchases from consumers. They are currently seeing around 5 million monthly unique visitors to the site.

The site started off featuring sets of nine items that would stay live for 24 hours before they were swapped out for another batch. Today, there are more than 3,000 deals available at any given time, curated by a 16-person buying team, many of which are live for months at a time. How long any given product remains available on the site is determined by an algorithm on the backend that takes into account revenue and sales volume.

“It started out as a daily deal and then over time has evolved to have deep breadth and depth. A lot of products do not get removed from the site. Whereas before, when we launched, they would only last for 24 hours.”

The site is able to offer discounts to consumers by buying directly from manufacturers and disrupting the typical retail pricing chain.

Agarwal said that while Nomorerack is taking market share away from brick-and-mortar stores like TJ Maxx, Target and Walmart, their consumers are shopping on similar sites like eBay and Amazon.

The site recently launched a full-scale jewelry boutique, a mechanism for building depth that they would like to apply to apparel and home, as well. The manufacturing chains for apparel and jewelry are especially ripe for disruption, Agarwal said, as there is a particularly high discrepancy between the manufacture cost and retail price of both. It's not dissimilar to the recent push Amazon has made in the fashion category.

Home, the site's biggest category, currently accounts for 30 percent of sales dollars, with electronics coming in second and fashion in third.

Acquiring customers is the company's biggest expense, Agarwal said. The team is largely based on display advertising, with about 80 percent of marketing dollars going in that direction. That means advertising on sites like AOL, Yahoo, Facebook and Google, as well as running national television commercials, which Agarwal described as an effective driver for them.

Image: Flickr

from TechCrunch

Ecomm Newcomer Greats Is Building A Brand On Sweet, Affordable Sneakers


Someone should probably go make a Wikipedia page for the “Warby Parker model,” since it has rapidly become the go-to business strategy for online retail startups.

The latest addition to the genus Ecommerce Lowoverheadus is Greats, a men's footwear brand that launched in August. The name derives from the ambition to put a fresh spin on the enduring designs in sneaker history. Although that might sound like copycat design, pretty much every shoe brand iterates on others' designs; as with most menswear categories, the classics persist in one form or another.

Although their wares are manufactured in the same facilities as upscale lines like Lanvin and Balenciaga, the goal is to create high quality goods while keeping the price point low by cutting out retail overhead. The shoes are priced in the range of $39 to $190, and while early adopters will undoubtedly skew toward sneaker aficionados, the target audience is broad.

“We're going to make shoes for men with feet,” co-founder Ryan Babenzien said.

Babenzien and his co-founder, Jon Buscemi, are career shoe guys. The former did branding and marketing at K-Swiss and Puma, while Buscemi already has founding another footwear brand, Gourmet Footwear, under his belt.

The company raised an angel round of $500,000 last April, at which point they hadn't even opened a bank account, Babenzien said. They were pre-selling in beta until their launch on August 6 and only began shipping three weeks ago.

Like Warby, Greats got a lot of early attention from press, including the seal of cool-approval on GQ's blog. Now the team is looking to raise its seed round.

More than anything, Greats is aiming to be a label, not a startup with a clever business model. When we spoke, Babenzien came back again and again to the idea of building a brand, and, more importantly, to making sure that the DNA of the product is readily recognizable to consumers from the get-go. (Lest we forget that, the site's URL is

Greats launched with two styles in three colors each and will be rolling out six additional shoes over the course of the next year. Sneakers are a focus in the first batch, but they'll also be adding styles like boots and boat shoes into the mix by the end of 2014.

At the moment, Greats's profit margins are 60%, but the team thinks they can get them higher than that.

“I could have sold this for $120,” Babenzien said, gesturing at the $99 black leather sneakers he was wearing. “And nobody would have blinked. We wanted to make a real statement.”

Part of the team's long-term roadmap is globalizing Greats. Babenzien said they have been seeing web traffic coming from France, England, Asia, Australia, and Canada.

“The culture of men's sneakers and footwear is global… we'd like to get to $1 million in revenue in five years,” he said. “I think based on what we've seen, it's well within reach.”

They'll also be taking on auxiliary categories. Socks, for instance, are something they could get into in the near term. (“That's more of a strategic category than anything else,” Babenzien said.) Bags and sweatshirts would naturally follow. Because sneakers are part of a youth culture, college age guys form a large portion of Greats's potential market, and the brand has the opportunity to outfit them from the shoes up.

The company has been moving quickly since April, and they're wasting no time in getting their products into the offline retail world, as well. On November 9, Greats is opening a hundred square foot shop in a small glass walled shopping complex on Williamsburg's waterfront, which they're calling the “Field House” in reference to the brand's vintage athletic vibe. Customers can buy shoes in the shop, although Babenzien noted that it's the only physical store in which people will be able to make purchases.

The store will only be open from noon to 7 pm on weekends, the point being to get consumers touching and test driving Greats shoes, rather than serving as a major retail location.

Although having an offline location was always in the team's playbook, they didn't expect to make the move so soon. But the Williamsburg space was cheap and didn't have a lease, so they snatched it up.

Greats is also getting product into the real world with two displays at the upscale LA men's store Union and at High Point, a sneaker Mecca in Phoenix. The shoes won't be available for sale at either joint; it's more about building the brand in the context of other sought-after designers.

The sneaker market for guys is big, and these shoes, with their buttery leather uppers, are sweet. (Unfortunately for the ladies, they're not running unisex sizes just yet.) The tricky part about online native fashion startups is that the fashion part of the equation - finding the line's voice and aesthetic point of view - so often loses out to a focus on being online native. Young, creative designers fail all the time out of a lack of business acumen, but a fashion label needs direction, achievable through tight branding and great product. The Greats guys get that.

from TechCrunch

Is Anonymous Social Media the Answer to Cyberbullying?


On the Internet, it's easy to create a new pseudonym or personality. But what happens if you remove the concept of a user profile all together?

That's what Whisper, an anonymous mobile social network for Android and iOS does. By removing the user's identity, Whisper helps people share secrets they wouldn't be comfortable sharing with anyone else in the world under normal circumstances. Users anonymously share "whispers," which are stylized cards that share deep secrets formatted on images. While you can like and comment on whispers, there are no profiles. This means, in theory, no one but you can track your activity. Read more...

More about Cyber Bullying, Social Media, Bullying, and Social Good

from Mashable

Being A CIO At Tesla Motors, A Startup That Builds Cars And Its Own IT


Tesla Motors has proven that it can build the most modern cars in the world. And apparently Elon Musk insisted they build their own IT systems and e-commerce platform, too.

Most all of Tesla's IT is homegrown, said CIO Jay Vijayan, appearing onstage at the Constellation Research Connected Enterprise event today. The reason: the traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems did not cut it, and the company has a vertically integrated operation that required a custom environment.

The speed and agility Tesla needed in an ERP environment could not be found in the market, Vijayan said. SAP's ERP tech was clearly not working for other car manufacturers and Vijayan knew what it would take to implement and update the SAP environment. “Elon said this is not going to cut it,” Vijayan said.

In four months, Vijayan and his team of more than 250 built the ERP system, which serves as the foundation of the electric carmaker's operations. Now every department is using the same system without the need for making custom connectors, so different systems can work together.

The company also built a world-class e-commerce system that is designed to help people buy cars as seamlessly as possible.

Tesla needed to build its own IT and its own e-commerce system due to the fundamental difference in its business model. For decades, auto manufacturers have sold their cars through local dealers, a fixture of every town in America. But Tesla sells its cars directly to customers. All the materials, the processes and the features need an operation that is uniquely designed so Tesla can sell its cars online.

Tesla is another example of how much tech is being reinvented by young companies that have to build things themselves for their business models to work.

from TechCrunch