Posts Tagged ‘groupme’

Article from GigaOm.

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur — or something like that is true of 27-year-old Joshua Kushner, who despite being one of the hottest hands in the venture capital business has started his second startup, according to sources in New York.

Kushner, who eschews attention, is keeping everything hush-hush, so much so that even the name of the company is under wraps. In fact, I am still waiting to hear back from him. What I have learned is that it is focused on the healthcare business and is trying to take advantage of the changes in the healthcare industry due to universal healthcare. It has been funded by Kushner’s fund and has hired about fifteen people, mostly in engineering and design.

One of the reasons why Kushner’s new effort is interesting is because he has proved to be a stunningly successful venture capitalist, with a keen eye for consumer internet trends. Kushner started his first startup, Vostu (a social-gaming company based in Brazil) when still a junior in college about five years ago.

He left to work full-time on Thrive Capital, which has three funds and has about $200 million under management. As a venture capitalist, Kushner has been on a tear. His investments include Instagram, CodeAcademy, Dwolla, Fab, Warby Parker, and GroupMe. Of the lot, Instagram was acquired by Facebook and GroupMe was gulped by Skype before it was acquired by Microsoft.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from PandoDaily.

China Internet giant Tencent has just released version 4.0 of Weixin, a social instant messaging app for mobile that now counts 100 million users. In true China cut-and-paste fashion, the new release combines elements of Instagram, Path, Google+, GroupMe, Bump, HeyTell, and Facebook in one powerful offering that the blog TechRice suggests could one day overtake Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like microblogging platform that claims 300 million users. It also offers an English-language version called WeChat.

Weixin, which is essentially the mobile version of the massively popular QQ instant messenger, presents a fascinating study in China’s Internet economics. For a start, it was built by Tencent, much like Q Pai, the Instagram-like photo app we mentioned the other day. The in-house approach accords with Tencent’s general strategy to build its own products and leverage its 700 million-strong QQ user-base. Alongside Weixin, Instagram’s 40 million user count seems trivial.

Weixin also offers a prime example of how Chinese Internet companies are not only willing to “borrow” ideas from their American counterparts, but also tweak them to provide a better (or, at the very least, different) consumer experience. For many Chinese users, though, there is no question: This thing is big.

Among the new features that some think will make 2012 the Year of Weixin are Instagram-like photo-editing effects (why not?), Path-style photo albums that auto-upload to user timelines, and controlled social sharing features that closely resemble Google+ Circles. Tencent has also opened up the Weixin API to allow third parties to feed their content into the platform. One of the coolest uses of this comes from the integration of QQ Music, which lets users stream songs from within their timelines. Why doesn’t this feature exist in US-made social mobile apps? (Okay, maybe Facebook has that for Spotify, but I haven’t seen it on my mobile app.)

There are a bunch of other intriguing Weixin features. One of them is the ability to shake your phone to find new friends. You’ll then be automatically connected with people within a 1km radius (that’s .062 mile), who happen to be shaking their phones at the same time. The chances of a serendipitous connection are not as slight as you might think: The service records 100 million shakes a day.

There’s also a cute “message in a bottle” game, in which users can “throw” a message out to sea in the hope that some random stranger will pick it up and reply. I gave this a whirl and had an interesting conversation with a 22-year-old finance graduate student at Nanjing University. During the course of the chat, I discovered that I could exchange voice messages with this person – just like HeyTell, but with a ChatRoulette twist. Our conversation went like this (edited for sense and brevity):

Original message from Chinese stranger: Nothing to say

Me: Agreed. Where are you?

Chinese stranger: China. And u?

Me: USA. Do you like this app?

CS: Just so so. But it’s popular among young people.

Me: How old are you?

CS: I’m 22.

Me: Ok cool. Do you think it will be bigger than Sina Weibo one day?

CS: … they are different.

Me: I’m a reporter and I’m writing about this app. That’s why I’m asking all these questions.

CS: 😦 Commercial spy

Weixin doesn’t offer quite the slickly designed experience that Path or Instagram does so well, but US-based startups could learn something from Tencent’s multilateral thinking here. While there is value in the likes of Path, Instagram, and Pair in focusing tightly on niches, Weixin also demonstrates that a catch-all, centralized experience also has its appeal. And the app, by the way, is totally cross-platform, available on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Symbian handsets.

Industry watchers say that China lags behind the US in mobile development by one to two years. That might be true for now, but as smartphone market growth accelerates in China and savvy players like Tencent make aggressive moves in mobile, that gap will inevitably close. Apps like Weixin represent the beginning of that process.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from NYTimes.

“We’re here on the ground in Austin South by Southwest Interactive, the annual gathering of tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors and leaders in the industry.

The weeklong event is crammed with panels, parties, talks, the introduction of new apps and services, demos of said services, networking and the occasional breakfast taco.

Tech companies will be looking for support among tech-savvy festival attendees in the hopes of bubbling up above the noise of the hundreds of companies vying for attention. For a young business, the stakes can be high. South by Southwest, which attracts early technology adopters, has earned a reputation for helping propel companies like Foursquare and Twitter out of relative obscurity. And this year, the numbers of attendees is expected to swell to nearly 20,000. Last year, around 14,000 people attended.

Among the companies looking to create some buzz are Uber, which makes a mobile application that lets people avoid taxi shortages by requesting a car service to give them a ride.; it has seeded this city’s downtown with special pedicabs to lug tired pedestrians around. GroupMe, one of the mobile messaging applications I wrote about on Friday, says it will be handing out grilled cheese sandwiches with the company’s logo toasted into the bread. Breakfast, a digital agency in New York, has rigged several photo booths that will print physical photos snapped with the popular iPhone app Instagram. Eightbit.me, a service that creates cute cartoon avatars for members, has hidden several hard drives shaped like vintage Nintendo game cartridges, around downtown. To win one, users must check into various locations in the city to find and unlock the prize.

Even Apple, which rarely appears at any major technology conferences, is rumored to have a pop-up shop somewhere on the conference grounds, most likely to coincide with the release of the iPad 2, which went on sale Friday.”

Read the original post here.

Read Full Post »