So, I’ve never actually written a bio before, and while this post may seem a little on the tardy side, I had to knock out a few top priorities before writing about myself. In creating my recent to-do list, I of course had to include the items I already completed, just so I could check them off. I threatened to include my Excel checklist here, but decided I’d spare everyone …
We may be a little late to the party, but our friends at Pack—a social media platform exclusively for dog lovers—recently announced the site was leaving private beta, becoming available to dogs and their humans everywhere …
Quirky, The New York-Based Invention Machine, Brings On Doreen Lorenzo As President To Build Out Product Categories
In an effort to scale its product development capacity, Quirky, the creation funnel for crowd sourced invention ideas, has hired as president Doreen Lorenzo, formerly the president of design consultancy firm frog design. Prior to Lorenzo’s arrival, Quirky operated without a president. Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman said that Lorenzo will be running product organization, the department devoted to transforming an idea submitted by a community member into a commercial good. Product represents about half of the company’s operations and is Quirky’s fastest growing department, Kaufman said. As it has scaled from one person to a 75-person team, Quirky’s product development department has been able to move from creating plastic kitchen gadgets to more complex designs, like electronics. “Next year we’ll move into more product categories,” Kaufman said. “That’s why Doreen has been brought into the scheme.” Those categories could include further work with electronics, sustainability projects, products requiring chemical engineering — anything that is needed for Quirky to serve as a machine for the world’s new ideas, essentially. Six months ago, Quirky announced a partnership with General Electric to develop smart home products, like an app-enabled milk jug. The partnership opened up GE’s patents and technologies to Quirky’s product development, giving the latter the capacity to scale its capabilities. “With every new category that we decide to take on, we bring on a whole cross-functional team. With GE, we brought in electrical engineering, firmware design, software, and user experience,” Kaufman said. “We’ll be doing that similarly with all the new categories. There will be a lot of new people, and I don’t have numbers, but it will be significant.” The company, which Kaufman hesitates to call a startup any longer, has also begun its international expansion with the announcement a little over two weeks ago that it was launching a French division in conjunction with French retail group Auchan. Kaufman said that Quirky would be continuing to build its platform with localized invention sites (if you have submitted a project in the US, you are unable to do so in France, too). He would not reveal which market Quirky will take on next, noting instead that there are a lot of design centers that people look to for the next iconic product. “We project by the end of this year we’ll be around 5 to 20% sales internationally, and by next year 40 to 50%,” said Kaufman. Quirky now launches
Though hopefully none of us have ever pulled the old dine and dash, we’ve probably all thought about getting up and walking out on a restaurant check before.
Today, restaurant bill-focused payments startup Cover launches out of beta in New York city to let you pay your bill and never wait for a check again.
Sharran Deora said it took a lot of hustle to get his first job out of school. “I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I didn’t have the right connections,” said Deora, who was dreaming of working in banking. He ultimately ended up at Lehman Brothers and then Barclays Capital in product marketing and product management. But now that he’s back out of the finance industry, he’s looking to solve that old problem of finding the right career connections for future graduates. He’s launching an app today called Mounza for Android and iOS, that puts together all on-campus recruiting opportunities in one place. He’s starting with Stanford and UC Berkeley through partnerships with about 25 on-campus organizations like the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Berkeley EECS (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science) department. “The career center mayabe only holds 5 percent of recruiting events on-campus,” he said. “The majority is coming from the clubs.” Students can in-put their own events and subscribe to specific career fields for events in medicine or finance. The number of users in the beta right now is still pretty small at about 3,000 users. But Deora said that active users are logging in about twice a day and that the company hasn’t done any active marketing. He says that he’ll be able to expand campus-by-campus by marketing the app through the national parent organizations of different business clubs and fraternities. As for the business model, Deora said he plans to charge recruiting companies and corporations about $100 a month to get access to the app for posting jobs and hosting events.
Intel has acquired Sensory Networks for $20 million to further extend its security capabilities.
Sensory Networks, based in Palo Alto, was founded in 2002 as a hardware company, providing high-performance technology that maps networks by looking for patterns such as spam, malware and other types of intrusions, said Matt Barrie, one of the company’s co-founders who is now chief executive officer at feelancer.com.
On the same day that Twitter and Nielsen are debuting their first TV Ratings report emerging from the two companies’ partnership, Facebook is slyly releasing official numbers designed to give its own TV efforts a boost. Facebook claims that AMC’s hot “Breaking Bad” finale was a hit across its social network, generating more than 5.5 million interactions from 3 million+ users. Twitter, meanwhile, saw 1.47 million tweets in comparison from 682,000+ uniques for the same show. What does this mean for Twitter, whose forthcoming IPO is heavily dependent on its TV partnerships and ad business? Is Facebook moving in for the kill?
The company says it has 190 employees in 10 offices worldwide. When I spoke to founder and CEO Jan Rezab last week, he described it as as the largest independent player in the market (following the acquisition of competitors like Buddy Media) and as a “hidden gem”. By hiring Morgan (who he described as “a star”), Rezab is probably hoping to remove the “hidden” part of that description.
SparkLabs, the accelerator that brings Silicon Valley mentorship to Seoul’s young startup ecosystem, presented its second Demo Day today.
It also added 12 new people to its roster of over 100 mentors, including Dr. Sang Cha, the creator of SAP HANA, one of the enterprise software’s core platforms, Pat Kinsel, Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Polaris Partners and co-founder of Spindle (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Head of Smart TV Services At Samsung Electronics. Each of the up to 15 startups that participates in each SparkLabs class is matched with four to six mentors during the three-month program.
Bang With Friends’ catchy name unfortunately is getting tossed after the startup reached a settlement with Zynga. The social gaming company had accused the casual sex app of infringing on its “With Friends” line-up. But now both are saying they’ve reached a settlement. Neither company is talking about the terms, however. It seems like a clear win for Zynga. Bang With Friends had to acknowledge Zynga’s trademark rights and it’s now changing its name. They have a placeholder site called The Next Bang. It seems like there was some worry that Bang With Friends — if it ever got big enough — could color the reputation of Zynga’s more family-friendly games. Both companies said in a statement: Zynga Inc. and Bang With Friends, Inc. are pleased that they have reached an amicable resolution of their dispute. Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, Bang With Friends, Inc. acknowledges the trademark rights that Zynga has in its WITH FRIENDS marks and will be changing its corporate name and rebranding its services in the near future. Details on the next version of Bang With Friends can be found at http://www.TheNextBang.com. The settlement is yet another in a recent string: Zynga recently settled with an executive who defected to mid-core social game-maker Kixeye over theft of trade secrets. Zynga also settled with EA earlier this year over whether an earlier game “The Ville” was a copy of EA’s classic “The Sims.”