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Estimate: In Two Years, Streaming TV Will Be An $800 Million Business for Netflix and Hulu

April 5th, 2011 04:50 admin View Comments

By the end of this year, an estimated 2 million households in the U.S. will have abandoned TV for the Web, cutting the cord with their cable companies. This estimate comes from Convergence Consulting Group, a UK research firm with a new report on The Battle for the American Couch Potato. That 2 million is up from the 1.6 million it was estimating a year ago, but it is still rather small and the number of cord cutters may very well have peaked last year as cable companies begin to fight back with TV Everywhere offerings.

Nevertheless, the big beneficiaries of cord cutting are Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV.  They benefit even if people keep their cable but add Internet TV streaming or downloads to their viewing repertoire, as is much more common. According to the report, 18 percent of viewers in the U.S. watched free, full episodes of TV on the Web last year, and that is growing by a percentage point every year:

Estimated Percentage of Average Weekly US Viewers That Watch Free Broadcast and Cable Network Online Full Episodes, 2009-2012

2009—16%
2010—18%
2011—19%
2012—20%

Streaming has helped Netflix in particular in terms of driving new subscriber growth, and it is also arguably a gateway drug to cord cutting.  Convergence estimates that Netflix revenues from online-only subscribers in the U.S. will grow from $172 million this year to $578 million in 2013.  And if you add in Hulu Plus, the combined streaming revenues from both companies will reach an estimated $800 million in two years.

Netflix may be paying up to be able to stream TV shows and and movies left and right, but it is still paying only a fraction of what the cable companies shell out for programming. For instance, this year Netflix will double the amount it is estimated to pay for programming to $1.1 billion, while Apple will pay about $450 million, and all the other online providers will pay almost $400 million. Not quite $2 billion total from the Interent for TV and movie programming rights. Meanwhile, traditional TV access providers are expected to pay $38.7 billion for programming.

On a per subscriber basis, last year Netflix only paid one tenth the amount for programming ($34/subscriber) as did cable and satellite TV providers ($359/subscriber).  As a percentage of revenues, it is approaching what TV access providers pay for content.  Last year it was 25 percent of revenue going towards content, and this year it will be an estimated 39 percent, versus 42 percent for cable companies (and 70 percent for Apple TV).  But the absolute gap will remain massive for the foreseeable future.

Photo credit: Flickr/Schmilblick

Source: Estimate: In Two Years, Streaming TV Will Be An $800 Million Business for Netflix and Hulu

Groupon For Nightlife Poggled Raises $5.6M From Groupon Investors

April 5th, 2011 04:35 admin View Comments

Poggled, a Chicago-based daily deals site that focuses only on and club discounts, has just raised $5.6 million according to an SEC form filed today. Well what’s interesting about this? As Fortune’s Dan Primack points out that Groupon investors and co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell and New Enterprise Associates principal Tom Grossi are listed on the SEC form.

Lefkofsky and Keywell, who now run investment firm Lightbank, were involved in Groupon’s seed round and NEA backed the service in a $4.8 million Series A back when it was called The Point. That $4.8 million seems like pocket change when you consider that Groupon just raised $950 million and is said to be valued at $25 billion.

As for the service itself, Poggled is an interesting take on the vertical daily deals model, where users buy a bar or club-related deal and are given a special code they can then redeem at the service. The iPhone app allows users to sort deals like “$75 for Bottle Service” by Nearby and Happening Now or browse by Event Type, Day Of The Week, or Neighbor hood.  Users can also post deals to their friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Right now Poggled only exists in the Chicago market, but with $5.6 million in the bank I wouldn’t be surprised if it branched out into nightlife-focused urban areas like New York and Los Angeles. I’ve emailed Poggled for more info around its funding and future plans and will update this post when they get back to me.

Source: Groupon For Nightlife Poggled Raises $5.6M From Groupon Investors

Study: Nuclear Fission Reactions May Have Continued After Fukushima’s Alleged Shutdown

April 4th, 2011 04:50 admin View Comments

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #3
Reactor 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, on March 24

What’s the News: A non-peer-reviewed study (pdf) publicized last week by radioactivity-detection expert Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress suggests that nuclear fission reactions continued at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station well after the plant’s operators had allegedly shut down the reactors there. The paper says there may be what are called “localized criticalities” have occurred in the plutonium and uranium left in the reactors—little pockets of fuel that have gone critical, propagating the nuclear chain reaction and generating potentially harmful radiation. The existence of criticalities is controversial: some researchers say there are certainly none; Dalnoki-Veress himself says it’s only a possibility.

How the Heck:

  • Over three days beginning March 13—two days after the earthquake and resulting tsunami—Tokyo Electric Power Company detected a neutron beam, a stream of radioactive particles that could be evidence of continued chain-reaction fission.
  • The company observed the neutron beam 13 times, about a mile away from the reactors. The beam itself doesn’t pose a health risk, with radiation levels between 0.01 and 0.02 microsieverts per hour. (You’d get about as much radiation exposure from eating one-tenth to one-fifth of a banana.)
  • After seawater was used to cool the reactors, the water had unusually high levels of chlorine-38, a radioactive isotope of chlorine. Chlorine-38 isn’t much of a radiation risk; its half-life is 37 minutes, so it disappears quickly. What’s strange is that chlorine-38 is formed when an atom of chlorine-37 (the stable, common chlorine isotope) absorbs a neutron. High levels of chlorine-38 mean there were lots of neutrons around, raising the possibility that melted bits of fuel may have gone critical.

What’s the Context:

  • An explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant came shortly after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Workers are still pumping in seawater to keep the reactors’ fuel rods cool, with leaks and disposal of the now-radioactive water presenting a new set of problems.
  • These localized criticalities, if they’re happening, could cause surges of radiation and heat, making cooling and containment work at the reactors even more perilous for workers.

Not So Fast:

  • Other experts are divided as to whether there’s even a chance that there are accidental fission reactions occurring. The dangerous conditions at the reactor make it difficult to get a good read on what, exactly, is going on. Nuclear safety expert Edwin Lyman told Time that he’d “be wary of attributing too much significance to a single anomalous measurement.” But Denis Flory, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency‘s nuclear safety department, said in a press conference that such reactions could potentially be occurring.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / derek visser

Source: Study: Nuclear Fission Reactions May Have Continued After Fukushima’s Alleged Shutdown

Twitter And Mediasift Announce Partnership

April 4th, 2011 04:32 admin View Comments

Twitter and realtime data curation service Mediasift have just announced a data resell partnership here at the Data 2.0 Conference at the Mission Bay Data 2.0 Conference.

Founder Nick Halstead used to run Tweetmeme, but expanded the platform to all realtime data at TechCrunch Disrupt in September. Datasift’s platform provides developers with alerts, analytics and a realtime API through a drag and drop graphical interface.

Datasift’s bread and butter is being able to drill down on data, for example mentions on Starbucks on Twitter with a positive sentiment or Foursquare checkins from people with a certain Klout score.

Sarver told developers to stop focusing on building Twitter clients a while back and to focus on data and different niche verticals. Looks like Datasift has complied.

Updating

Source: Twitter And Mediasift Announce Partnership

With Disclaimers, Health And Legal Knowledge Can Now Flourish On Quora

April 4th, 2011 04:59 admin View Comments

As regular readers of this site will be aware, we love Quora. We love it because of the wealth of knowledge that has poured out of seemingly all corners of the tech sphere and into the service. But the service itself has much broader goals than that. They want to be the organized brain-dump for all human knowledge. That obviously means a lot of verticals beyond technology. And a new feature today should help them march towards that goal in two very important verticals: medicine and law.

Quora now offers legal and medical disclaimers that any doctor or lawyer can easily place at the bottom of their posts. The service has written these disclaimers in a language for each profession that they believe will protect these individuals; while at the same time making it much more clear to other users that the answers are not a substitution for advice/care from your actual doctor or lawyer. And the key part is that these disclaimers are entirely customizable by each doctor/lawyer to suit their needs.

That last bit is important because while Quora says they do believe that the baseline disclaimers will offer protections, they haven’t done a full 50-state review to account for all the various law differences across the U.S. I suspect lawyers will have no problem altering the disclaimers as they see fit for their particular state. Doctors too should know the laws in the state they practice in. And if laws/rules do change, any edits made to the disclaimers will automatically update across all answers left by those professionals on Quora.

The disclaimers themselves will appear at the bottom of posts in a light gray color to show they’re different from the main text. They’ll also be collapsed by default so as not to take up too much room. Clicking the “more” link will expose the full disclaimer.

Quora is also perfectly happy to let the doctors/lawyers use the exact disclaimer wording on other sites that they may contribute to. And they’re even open to allowing other sites to adopt their baseline disclaimers as well.

But again, this is all still really about information. ”When it comes to medicine and law, the stakes are really high to get the right answers,” Quora’s Marc Bodnick tells us. “All of us are interested in medical and legal issues. Right now, there’s a feeling of helplessness around these issues on the web,” he continues.

Bodnick notes that his wife, who is a pediatrician, often gets asked question on medical issues by her friends. But these paragraphs of knowledge that would undoubtedly be helpful to others are trapped in single email threads. Wouldn’t it be better to let these people share this knowledge with others, he wonders.

Bodnick believes that this new feature (and the accompanying Terms of Service changes to provide a bit more protection) will give attorneys and doctors a platform to share their knowledge in a responsible way. While there have been plenty of other services over the years that have aimed to bring medical and/or legal advice online, most don’t offer protections beyond the most topical level (often just ToS wording). When Quora noticed that many of the doctors and lawyers already using the service were writing their own disclaimers on posts, it became clear that they should easily allow all of these professionals to do this.

At the same time, both Quora and these doctors/lawyers have to make it clear that these answers are not meant to be a replacement for seeking the help of your own lawyers and doctors. And, of course, the doctors/lawyers will not be permitted to break the client & patient confidentiality rules or create new such relationships on the web.

For now, this new disclaimer feature will only be offered to licensed doctors and lawyers (and law and medical students) on Quora. It’s both a smart idea and a necessary one to give everyone on the service peace of mind and let the information flow healthily and legally through these verticals.

[image: flickr/walknboston]

Source: With Disclaimers, Health And Legal Knowledge Can Now Flourish On Quora

Spammers Now Using Facebook Events to Trick Users

April 4th, 2011 04:17 admin View Comments

Facebook logo banner 150x150Spammers are now using Facebook Events to trick users into completing online surveys, taking part in online contests and perform other tasks which allow spammers to generate commissions. In some cases, users are also tricked into giving up their mobile phone number, which is then automatically signed up for expensive premium services.

According to multiple security firms, spammers using Facebook Events to promote their links have been highly successful in their efforts to dupe unsuspecting users thus far. According to a report from TrendMicro,”tens of thousands” of users had mistakenly registered for one spammer’s event. Meanwhile, Sophos found an example where over 10 million Facebook users had been targeted, and over 165,000 had accepted.

Event Spam: Bogus Events with Link-Bait Titles

TrendMicro’s fraud analyst Paul Pajares says that spammers have turned to Facebook Events instead of posting their links to users’ walls where they can “easily get lost in the News Feed.”  These bogus events often have tantalizing, link-bait titles like “How to Find Out Who’s Viewing Your Profile” or “Who Blocked You From His Friend List?”

Fb event blocked

Facebook event1

For the record, Facebook doesn’t allow you to track profile views or blocks, either through its own user interface and feature set or via third-party Facebook applications. Facebook even explains in its own online Help documentation that “blocking someone is completely confidential,” and that no one will ever be notified that they’ve been blocked. It also does not permit third-party applications to track this information, either.

In addition, any application that claims it can show you who’s been viewing your profile should be reported, Facebook says in a separate FAQ (frequently asked question) available here.

However, the Event spam is new enough that Facebook has not yet updated its Help documentation to refer to both applications and events. The pages only mentions apps.

That said, any links promoting such activities should be avoided at all costs, no matter the source.

Facebook-Scale Spam is Very Successful

In the case of one event (“Who Blocked You…”), security researchers found that 10.3 million Facebook users were targeted and over 165,000 of that group had been duped into accepting the event invite.

Fb event awaiting

Not all of these fake Facebook Events appeal to users’ egos, however. Some just use the tried-and-tested social engineering technique which promotes something (a video, photo, etc.) you have to “see to believe.” For example, one event reads “You will NEVER send a TEXT after seeing this VIDEO!” and the event’s wall says “This is a horrific video!” followed by a link where the video can (supposedly) be viewed. At the time that Sophos uncovered this scam, over 13,000 users had “registered” to attend.

Fb event text

How the Scams Work

Once on an Event’s page, users visiting the “More Info” section  are provided with instructions on how to find out the answer to the question the event promotes (e.g. who blocked you, who’s viewing your profile, etc.) The final step, of course, is clicking the spammer’s link.

This link is obfuscated using a URL-shortener like bit.ly, which takes a longer link and compresses it into a shorter one that redirects to the site in question. Bit.ly and other services like it grew in popularity thanks to Twitter, which limits the number of characters in its status update field to 140 characters. For Twitter users sharing news and other links with each other, these services are invaluable. However, for spammers, the shorteners can hide what would otherwise be questionable domain names and URLs from potential scam victims.

As a best practice, you should avoid any event invitations of a similar nature, even if you see a friend promoting them on their own Facebook Wall. The tricky, bogus events being used by these cyber criminals also automatically reshare the Event’s link to victims’ own Facebook pages. If you see something like this, you may want to inform your friend that they were a victim of a spammer.

Image Credits: Sophos; Trend Micro

Source: Spammers Now Using Facebook Events to Trick Users

Redsn0w 0.9.6rc9 And PwnageTool 4.3: Untethered iOS 4.3.1 Jailbreak For iPhone, iPad And iPod Touch Released

April 3rd, 2011 04:39 admin View Comments

Redsn0w

As expected, iPhone Dev Team has just released Redsn0w 0.9.6rc9 for Mac and Windows and PwnageTool 4.3 for Mac to jailbreak iOS 4.3.1 for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 4G, iPod Touch 3G, iPad 1 and Apple TV 2G users.

iPhone Dev team has used the untethered iOS 4.3.1 jailbreak developed by iPhone hacking expert Stefan Esser.

Dev Team has provided the following information on their blog:

Three years ago (almost to the day!), the first version of PwnageTool was released for firmware 1.1.4.  So today we’re excited to release another edition of both PwnageTool and redsn0w to bring an untethered jailbreak for Apple’s latest firmware, FW 4.3.1.

WARNING WARNING — ultrasn0w users don’t update yet!  See a few paragraphs down!

The 4.3.1 untether exploit comes courtesy of Stefan Esser (@i0n1c on twitter), a security researcher based in Germany.  Stefan has a long history of vulnerability research, and ironically his first contribution to the iPhone jailbreak community was improved security — last year he beat Apple to the punch and implemented ASLR for jailbroken iPhones with his “antid0te†framework. We’re happy to see that Stefan then turned his iPhone attention over to an untethered jailbreak exploit!

The 4.3.1 untether works on all devices that actually support 4.3.1 except for the iPad2:

  • iPhone3GS
  • iPhone4 (GSM)
  • iPod touch 3G
  • iPod touch 4G
  • iPad1
  • AppleTV 2G (PwnageTool only for now)

The reason the untether won’t work as-is on the iPad2 is that it requires a bootrom or iBoot-level exploit to install, and the iPad2 is not susceptible to either the limera1n or SHAtter bootrom exploits.

Dev team has issued the following warning to iPhone unlockers:

WARNING WARNING — ultrasn0w users don’t update yet! We need to first release an update to ultrasn0w that fixes some incompatibilities when FW 4.3.1 is used on the older basebands supported by ultrasn0w.  And remember once we do fix ultrasn0w for 4.3.1 (we’ll announce it here and on twitter), you must only get there via a custom IPSW from PwnageTool, Sn0wbreeze or xpwn!  Don’t ever try to restore or update to a stock IPSW, or you’ll lose the unlock!

For everyone else, redsn0w is the easier program to use (and redsn0w runs on both Mac and Windows).

So PwnageTool 4.3 and Redsn0w 0.9.6rc9 support the following iOS devices for iOS 4.2.1:

They don’t support iPad 2 currently as Apple has fixed the jailbreak vulnerability in iOS 4.3.1. Dev team is trying to figure out how to legally distribute Comex’s iOS 4.3 jailbreak for iPad 2 to add support for it.

iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone users who don’t care about unlocking are better off using Redsn0w as one doesn’t need to preserve baseband like iPhone users. Since the tools have just been released, they could be buggy so please proceed with caution and also check the comments for feedback from fellow readers.

Please note that jailbreaking your iDevice may void its warranty so proceed at your own risk. Please don’t forget to backup your iPhone before you proceed. You can refer to this post for instructions on how to backup your iPhone.

PwnageTool 4.3 is available only for Mac users and you can download it from one of the mirror sites:

BitTorrent Release – PwnageTool_4.3.dmg.6293151.TPB.torrent

Or the following mirror sites:

Redsn0w 0.9.6rc9 is available for Windows and Mac users and you can download it from one of the mirror sites:

If you’re new to the jailbreaking world and wondering what to do after jailbreaking your iPhone, checkout our jailbreak apps category page to find out the apps you can install on your iPhone using the Cydia app (which is also installed after successfully jailbreaking your iOS device).

As always, please let us know how it goes in the comments.

[via Dev Team’s blog]

Source: Redsn0w 0.9.6rc9 And PwnageTool 4.3: Untethered iOS 4.3.1 Jailbreak For iPhone, iPad And iPod Touch Released

Categories: iphonehacks Tags: , , , ,

Amazon, Music, And A Sunny Forecast For The Cloud

April 3rd, 2011 04:30 admin View Comments

Editor’s note: Guest author David Porter is the CEO and founder of 8tracks, the handcrafted internet radio network.

Last week, Amazon launched its Cloud Drive, with an emphasis on music storage.  While there have been a number of “jukebox” services these last 10 years (Napster 2.0, MusicNow, Virgin Digital, Yahoo Music Unlimited, MTV Urge, MOG, Spotify, Thumbplay, Rdio), relatively few “locker” offerings have emerged—although rumors of new locker services from Apple and Google sound promising.  Last week, Amazon leapt ahead of both rivals in launching Cloud Drive, a service that allows you to stream, for free, any songs purchased from Amazon.  

It also allows you to upload up to 5GB from your existing music collection for free storage and streaming; if you pay an additional $1 (or more) per year, you get an incremental 1GB (or more) of storage.  Amazon has not (yet, at least) negotiated direct licenses with content owners for Cloud Drive.

While it is creating quite a stir, remember that music in the cloud isn’t new.  Jim Griffin envisioned the “heavenly” jukebox more than a decade ago, and Listen.com executed a subscription-based version of the concept in the form of Rhapsody in 2001. During the same period, myplay and My.MP3.com introduced the music locker, another vision for music in the cloud but populated with a user’s existing music collection, without the subscription fee. Offering cloud-based access to your music collection obviously extends its value, making it available from another computer or a mobile device, and ensuring you don’t lose it if your hard drive crashes.  

For Amazon, it makes sense to pursue a locker service: they’ve perfected cloud-based content storage and delivery for thousands of web-based startups with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon Web Services (AWS) already provides hosting and data transfer.  What’s interesting, however, is that the consumer-facing Cloud Drive is actually cheaper than its existing business-facing offering.  While Cloud Drive charges only $1 per GB per year (beyond the free allotment), AWS charges $1.08 per GB per year for storage alone.  If each song in a person’s uploaded collection were streamed once per month, on average, AWS would require an additional $1.20 per GB per year for data transfer (or roughly $2.28 per GB in total).

Since Cloud Drive could well generate less than half the revenues as AWS for the same offering, it seems Amazon is offering the storage as a loss leader to gain digital music market share. Amazon undoubtedly hopes to wrestle away some market share from Apple’s iTunes, particularly in view of the growing base of Android users not yet served by a Google download store.  Its bold “first move” without licensing deals from the music labels could complicate and delay negotiations at Apple and Google.  Early adopters of Cloud Drive—especially Android users—might then consider the switching costs and choose to stick around even once Google and Apple launch their own competing services.

In addition, while I’m personally bearish on the mainstream prospects for the subscription-based, on-demand model, it’s also worth noting that a music locker may provide a more logical transition from the a la carte world of ripped CDs, iTunes, and Amazon’s MP3 store to the celestial jukebox of Rhapsody and Spotify.  At some point, it will make more sense for hardcore locker user to switch to unlimited music subscription services. For instance, a Rdio subscription costs $60 a year, which is the same as keeping 65 GB of music on Cloud Drive (5GB for free + 60GB at $1 per GB per year).

But will Amazon get away with offering Cloud Drive without a license?  I think there’s a good chance it will.  While there’s no doubt some grey areas are not yet adjudicated, it appears the labels can live with (i.e. won’t sue) a service that allows people to upload music from their own collections, provided there’s a unique copy of each track stored and no related features that make it easy to infringe.  My.MP3.com was sued and lost because it allowed users to “beam” CDs in their computer hard drive, providing access to the “bits” ripped from CDs purchased by MP3.com (rather than the user’s CDs).  This feature also made it easy to replicate a friend’s CD collection in the cloud.  In contrast, the plain-vanilla locker service of myplay was never sued.

Likewise, the current suit against MP3tunes, another music locker service founded by Michael Robertson, focuses on a user’s ability to “sideload” music they don’t own from around the web, plus the use of a single copy for each track streamed. However, so far, mspot and Amazon—not to mention myriad other services like Google and Dropbox that have broader storage purposes but are often used for hosting music—haven’t been sued.

Although, the industry has been experimenting with different models for online music services for a decade, I am hopeful that the entry of Amazon, and soon Apple and Google, will finally bring music to the cloud in a meaningful way.

Source: Amazon, Music, And A Sunny Forecast For The Cloud

Women of Color in Tech: How Can We Encourage Them?

April 3rd, 2011 04:00 admin View Comments

Over the last five years, I have taught more than 300 really smart students. One of the smartest, at the Masters of Engineering Management program at Duke University, was Viva Leigh Miller, a black woman. She had the ambition of moving to Silicon Valley after she graduated last year. I expected she would become a hotshot CEO.

But Viva couldn’t get a job in the Valley—despite introductions that I gave her to leading venture capitalists. I have never understood why. During my tech days, I would have hired Viva in a heartbeat. She had the determination, drive, and education that all tech companies look for.

It raised a red flag in my mind.

You can’t take one anecdote and extrapolate from that. It could just be that Viva didn’t connect with the right companies at the right time.

But the harsh reality is that there is a dearth of women in tech. Just look around Silicon Valley—you don’t see many blacks there, or Hispanics either. Until recently, I didn’t know of even one black woman CEO (though I had heard a rumor that one or two existed). Yes, I know that few women and members of ethnic minorities study engineering; that some women can’t deal with the stress and just want to raise children; and that this is not Mike Arrington’s fault.  It is noteworthy that blacks and Hispanics constitute only 1.5% and 4.7% respectively of the Valley’s tech population—well below national tech-population averages of 7.1% and 5.3%.

At an event I attended this week, called Alley to the Valley, at the overpriced Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park, I discussed this subject with 50 very successful women. Half of the attendees were from the east coast, and half were from the west coast. We agreed that the best way of supplying this dearth is through recognizing that there is indeed a problem; providing mentoring, encouragement, and assistance to all aspiring women entrepreneurs; and showcasing the successes.

I have already presented hard data that show that there is a problem, and I’ve suggested remedies. Now I’ll showcase some successes—black women CEOs that graduated from Founder Labs, a pre-incubator for emerging entrepreneurs and from a related organization, Women 2.0. I’ll let them tell you their own stories.

Raissa B. Nebie is the CEO of Spoondate, which allows food enthusiasts to meet and connect over a meal (this is currently in private alpha, part of the 500startups incubator and will demo publicly on 4/6).

Raissa was born in Paris, where her father was pursuing a PhD in linguistics. Her family later moved to the Ivory Coast, where she lived most of her life. Her parents have since returned to their home country of Burkina Faso, where her father is a university professor, and her mother, the mayor of her home town. Raissa studied finance in college and started her career at Wall Street at firms including JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers, and ICV Capital.

Raissa’s parents valued academic excellence and wanted her to pursue a traditional career, not entrepreneurship. Her role models were her mother, who dedicated her life to community service, and her grandfather, who was the first black doctor of pre-independence Burkina Faso. Raissa says she gets her drive and tenacity from her mother, whose determined recovery from an illness of more than 10 years’ duration was an inspiration.

Raissa was comfortable working in investment banking, but itched to become an entrepreneur and pursue her passion for food. So she quit her job, attended culinary school, and was training at a high-end restaurant in Paris when she decided take her passion for food to the web. She then packed her suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco. While networking her way around the Valley, she heard about Founder Labs and applied to the program in hopes of learning the fundamentals of tech entrepreneurship. Founder Labs helped her validate her idea, find a co-founder, and ultimately secure angel funding.

She says that entrepreneurship has been a great experience. She learned that there is always something to learn. While her co-founder is writing code, she’s out talking to potential users and learning ways to make her products better.

Her advice to others who may want to follow her path:

  1. Identify a problem you want to solve, and talk to potential customers. Be creative, and find ways to validate your idea without building any complex technology. (Before writing any code for Spoondate, she operated a dating concierge that manually matched like-minded eaters and sent them out on food dates.
  2. Get out of your house and become a part of the startup scene. Go to events. Be seen. Attend your local Startup Weekend, hackathons, pitch contests, etc. These are fun learning experiences and also great ways to meet potential co-founders. Take advantage of these events to build your network.
  3. Watch, listen, learn, and understand that anyone who takes the time to give you constructive criticism on your idea is not the enemy, but rather is doing you a favor.
  4. “Be humble. Be polite. Be charming.” It doesn’t matter what gender or race you are, people like to be around nice, pleasant people.
  5. Do it! But do it with passion and commitment.

Kimberly Dillion is the founder of House of Mikko,  a beauty social commerce site that recommends beauty products based on the ratings and reviews of like-typed women.  The site was launched last month and is gaining momentum.

Kimberly was born in California and raised in Colorado, where she has been a competitive figure skater for most of her life. Her father was a prison warden; her mother, an artist.  Kimberly received a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh because of her skating skills, and completed a degree in marketing and in anthropology before attending business school in Michigan.

Her mother was the most profound influence on her, and taught her to express herself freely and use her talents. When Kimberly was three, she saw a show on TV and decided to become a figure skater.  Skating is an expensive sport, and her mother could only afford an hour or so of practice time weekly. So she skated her routines on a tennis court at night, on special roller blades that were fashioned onto to skating boots. She says that falling on concrete is a lot worse than falling on ice, so it actually made her a better skater. She learned that there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.

Kimberly says she became an entrepreneur because she found a problem she wanted to solve that no one else was solving. Founder Labs taught her about the tech scene in the Bay area, and she made valuable contacts.  She says that she is glad there were also men in the program; that it is much better that way than being all black or all female.

Kimberly believes that the reason there aren’t more black women in the tech world is that it doesn’t offer them an equitable path to success—because of which most educated African Americans get into law or medicine. Her advice to entrepreneurs: go to as many networking events as you can—particularly the inexpensive ones. Meet others, exchange ideas, and learn to pitch your ideas. And she says that they should get used to rejection: “If you aren’t getting rejected, you aren’t playing the game right.”

Arielle Patrice Scott and her partners, Gleb Podkolzin and Danielle Leslie, recently launched a company called GenJuice, which creates products to help young up-and-comers build followings and audiences on line. GenJuice started as a thesis Arielle was writing on how Gen Y builds personal brands. This led to a national tour connecting 35,000 young influencers together.  She has since built this network of contributors to 300,000. (Inc. called GenJuice one of 2011’s coolest startups.)

Arielle grew up in Vallejo, CA. Her mother was a single parent and worked as a customer-service representative while she raised two children. Arielle says that it was a little difficult growing up, because she and her brother had to spend a portion of their time in foster care. She gained a scholarship to study Information Technology & Media at UC-Berkeley and was determined to make the most of it.

She says her mother was her role model because she is very passionate and independent. Arielle learned early how to make something out of nothing. She learned how to start at the bottom and solve problems through technology. She realized that entrepreneurs could impact affect of people—and that is what motived her to become one.

Arielle was a volunteer with the organization, Women 2.0 which helped herArielle build a network and connect to role models, investors, customers, and partners.  It was through the Women 2.0 network that Arielle met her co-founders, and really felt empowered and supported to be an entrepreneur, even while still in college.

Her advice to entrepreneurs:

  • Solve your problems. If there’s a problem that drives you crazy, there are most likely thousands of other people out there who feel the same way. Build a company upon solving the problems you face every day.
  • Never quit the problem, but don’t worry about quitting the product. Some entrepreneurs are afraid of pivoting if something isn’t working. It becomes more about protecting their own egos and being portrayed as quitters, than about solving the problem. Focus on the problem you’re solving and everything will fall into place.

Being an entrepreneur has helped Arielle build self-confidence and meet amazing people who share her determination to change the world.

All three of these women defied the odds and became entrepreneurs. With a bit of luck, they will achieve big success and help others behind them. It doesn’t take much to fix an entrepreneurial imbalance. We just need to recognize the reality, provide a little bit of mentorship, and a lot of encouragement.

*Photo credit–510 Media

Editor’s note: Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur turned academic. He is a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School, Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at The Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory University. You can follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwa and find his research at www.wadhwa.com.

Source: Women of Color in Tech: How Can We Encourage Them?

Instagram Founders: Instagram Is A “New Entertainment Platform” (TCTV)

April 2nd, 2011 04:03 admin View Comments

Somewhere between yesterday afternoon and last night, Instagram hit 3 million users after only six months of existence. To put that into perspective, that’s like 1% of the population of the US using a service that currently only fully exists on a iPhone.

Instagram’s explosive growth has made them the current go-to success story for pivoting and unleashed a torrent of buzz around the white hot photo-sharing space. But founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger don’t think of the service as just a simple way to share images, but as more of mechanism for users to tell stories and discover the world around them, a “new entertainment platform” the co-founders told me in an interview for TCTV yesterday.

“By no means do we think of Instagram as just a photo-sharing service,” said Systrom. “It’s something that a lot of people lump us into, but we’d like to think of ourselves as a storytelling service. It’s the way you go out in the world and tell a story about your life, and it’s a new entertainment platform. You can open it up and see a story about what your friends are doing, but also [that] ABC World News is posting photos of someone in Japan reporting on the nuclear crisis. It’s really moving to see those things coming together through images.”

During our interview Systrom and Krieger outlined a couple of interesting use cases for the service. Systrom explained how he often goes to demo.instagram.com and observes location-based phenomena like users uploading  pictures of the same sunset in Portland and in Seattle. Brands like Burberry who (has over 13,000 followers) hold man-on-the-street Instagram hashtag campaigns like #TheArtOfTrench to help build brand engagement.  BravoTV, which just joined the service a couple days ago, photographed and uploaded its entire Top Chef finale to #TCFinale.

The founders have a sharp idea of where the service is headed, including how they will eventually handle revenue. Systrom explained, “We’re moving in a very clear direction that will allow us to make money in the future. In the history of advertising the most profitable avenues of advertising have been pushing images to people. As we see outside of the digital world those verticals are struggling in one way or another, money is moving online. We’re going to be one of the largest ways to push images to people, that entertainment platform I was talking to you about. That puts us in a really interesting spot in terms of making money on advertising in the future.”

The co-founders are cool with sacrificing short term profits for long term value. “What is uninteresting to us is charge a user 99 cents and never see them again model. To be a world changing company we need to think bigger than that,” Systrom continues.

And while both co-founders do insist that an Android and iPhone app are in the both in the works (they’re “thinking really critically about them”), their grander goal for the product goes beyond any particular avenue for distribution, “Our vision for Instagram in the long run is seeing the world as it happens through other people’s eyes.”

Instagram currently has $7.5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Baseline Ventures as well as investment from angels Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey and Quora’s Adam D’Angelo.

Source: Instagram Founders: Instagram Is A “New Entertainment Platform” (TCTV)

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