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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

We're giving away gas money! – Roadshow

Three lucky winners will win $200 Visa gift cards to fuel up their automobile. This promotion ends on Dec. 11, 2018.
Source: CNET

Social music app Playlist lets you listen to music with others in real time

A new app called Playlist aims to make music a more social experience than what’s offered today by the major music platforms like Apple Music, Pandora or Spotify, for example. In Playlist, you can find others who share your musical tastes and join group chats where you listen to playlists together in real time. You can collaborate on playlists, too.

The app, backed by investment from Stanford’s StartX fund, was founded by Karen Katz and Steve Petersen, both Stanford engineers and serial entrepreneurs. Katz previously co-founded AdSpace Networks and another social music platform, Jam Music. She also was a founding executive team member at Photobucket, and founded a company called Project Playlist, which was like a Google search for music back in the Myspace era.

Peterson, meanwhile, has 35 patents and more than a decade of experience in digital music. In the early 2000s he created the software architecture and ran the team at PortalPlayer Inc., which powered the iPod’s music player and was later sold to Nvidia for $357 million. Afterwards, he was CTO at Concert Technology, a technology incubator and intellectual property company with a focus on mobile, social and digital music services.

“The world has gone social, but music has been largely left behind. That’s a real gap,” explains Katz, as to why the founders wanted to build Playlist in the first place.

“Ever since we started listening to music from our mobile phones, it’s become an isolated experience. And music is the number one thing we do on our phones,” she says.

The idea they came up with was to unite music and messaging by synchronizing streams, so people could listen to songs together at the same time and chat while they do so.

During last year’s beta testing period, Playlist (which was listed under a different name on the App Store), saw a huge number of engagements as a result of its real-time nature.

“Out of the gate, we saw 10 times the engagement of Pandora. People have, on average, 60 interactions per hour — like chats, likes, follows, joins, adds and creates,” Katz says. 

Under the hood, the app uses a lot of technology beyond just its synchronized streaming. It also leverages machine learning for its social recommendations, as well as collaborative playlists, large-scale group chat, and behavior-based music programming, and has “Music Match” algorithms to help you find people who listen to the same sort of things you do.

The social aspects of the app involves a following/follower model, and presents playlists from the people you follow in your home feed, much like a music-focused version of Instagram. A separate Discover section lets you find more people to follow or join in other popular listening and chat sessions.

At launch, the app has a catalog of more than 45 million songs and has a music license for the U.S. It plans to monetize through advertising.

The core idea here — real-time music listening and chat — is interesting. It’s like a Turntable.fm for the Instagram age. But the app sometimes overcomplicates things, it seems. For example, importing a playlist from another music app involves switching over to that app, finding the playlist and copying its sharing URL, then switching back to Playlist to paste it in a pop-up box. It then offers a way for you to add your own custom photo to the playlist, which feels a little unnecessary as the default is album art.

Another odd choice is that it’s difficult to figure out how to leave a group chat once you’ve joined. You can mute the playlist that’s streaming or you can minimize the player, but the option to “leave” is tucked away under another menu, making it harder to find.

The player interface also offers a heart, a plus (+), a share button, a mute button and a skip button all on the bottom row. It’s… well… it’s a lot.

But Katz says that the design choices they’ve made here are based on extensive user testing and feedback. Plus, the app’s younger users — often high schoolers, and not much older than 21 — are the ones demanding all the buttons and options.

It’s hard to argue with the results. The beta app acquired more than 500,000 users during last year’s test period, and those users are being switched over to the now publicly available Playlist app, which has some 80K installs as of last week, according to Sensor Tower data.

The company also plans to leverage the assets it acquired from the old Project Playlist, which includes some 30 million emails, 21 million Facebook IDs and 14 million Twitter IDs. A “Throwback Thursday” marketing campaign will reach out to those users to offer them a way to listen to their old playlists.

The startup has raised $5 million in funding (convertible notes) from Stanford StartX Fund, Garage Technology Ventures, Miramar Ventures, IT-Farm, Dixon Doll (DCM founder), Stanford Farmers & Angels, Zapis Capital and Amino Capital.

The Palo Alto-based company is a team of six full-time.

Playlist is a free download for iOS. An Android version is in the works.

Source: TechCrunch

Scientist Who Crispr’d Babies Bucked His Own Ethics Policy

He Jiankiu, a Chinese researcher who claims to have edited the DNA of twin babies, now born, also published ethics guidelines directly contradicting his work.
Source: Wired

*SpongeBob* Creator Stephen Hillenburg Left a Legacy in Memes

While Hillenburg’s titular creation has shown up in theme parks and parades, SpongeBob’s legacy is most keenly felt online.
Source: Wired

The innovation supply chain: How ideas traverse continents and transform economies

While Westerners often associate the invention of calculus with 17th century European luminaries like Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, its theoretical foundations actually stretch back millennia. Fundamental theorems appear in ancient Egyptian work from 1820 BC, and later influences sprout from Babylonian, Ancient Greek, Chinese and Middle Eastern texts.

Such is the nature of the world’s biggest ideas — concepts that arise in one corner of the world provide the scaffolding for future advancements. Realizing the true potential of any idea takes time and requires input from diverse cultures and perspectives.

Technological innovation is no exception.

In the tech world today, this is playing out in three important ways:

  • ideas improve when they become global;
  • the best ideas are increasingly starting internationally; and
  • testing globally is a differentiated strategy.

Ideas improve as they scale globally

Like calculus, technological innovation benefits from international iteration.

Ridesharing, for instance, started as an innovation pioneered by Uber and Lyft in San Francisco. Yet startups rapidly exported the model globally. Such evolution reflects local needs. Take Go-Jek, a ridesharing app that is now a dominant local player in Indonesia. Although Go-Jek “replicated” the model, they also took a highly localized approach, applying the Uber/Lyft concept to Jakarta’s existing informal system of motorcycle taxis, “ojeks.”

Yet Go-Jek realized that ojek drivers had the potential to do so much more than just move people around. The company aims to maximize driver engagement throughout the day and has built a multi-service app that allows them to not only transport people, but also deliver food, packages and services. As Nadiem Makarim, Go-Jek’s CEO put it, “In the mornings, we drive people from home to work. At lunch, we deliver them meals to the office. In the late afternoon, we drive people back home. In the evenings, we deliver ingredients and meals. And in-between all this, we deliver e-commerce, financial products and other services.”

Silicon Valley used to have a monopoly on the idea, manufacturing and distribution of innovation. No longer.

The model of leveraging a single ridesharing platform to deliver a range of services is undoubtedly different from the Silicon Valley original. In Silicon Valley, an array of companies offering Uber for X have sprung up, yet some of Uber’s latest product categories — like UberEats — seem more akin to the Southeast Asian model.

Tellingly, Go-Jek’s vision incorporates inspiration from another geography: China. In China, platforms like Tencent’s WeChat offer a range of direct and third-party services spanning ride-hailing, shopping, food delivery and, of course, payments. WeChat payment functionality (like Ant’s equivalent) is nearly ubiquitous in major Chinese cities.

Go-Jek, like its competitor Grab, has evolved its model to include a payments platform as part of the app. It is striking to see Uber enter financial services, as well — take, for example, the recent Uber credit card.

These models evolve by learning and combining lessons from other geographies.

The seeds are increasingly global

Historically, entrepreneurs outside Silicon Valley were accused of being replicators — copying and adapting successful models pioneered in San Francisco or Palo Alto.

Times are changing.

Many of the most compelling tech innovations increasingly come from outside of Silicon Valley, and even the United States. Just look at some of 2018’s most successful IPOs — Sweden’s Spotify, Brazil’s Stone and China’s PinDuoDuo (a Cathay Innovation portfolio company).

Entrepreneurs are working to replicate innovations from every corner of the globe. Take mobile payments.  M-Pesa, Kenya’s ubiquitous payments platform that now transacts a remarkable 50 percent of its country’s GDP, has created a global movement. Today, there are more than 275 deployments around the world.

Certain geographies are specializing. Toronto and Montreal are emerging as artificial intelligence hubs. London and Singapore remain leading fintech hubs. Israel is known for its cybersecurity and analytics expertise. And regionally focused initiatives are catalyzing this further. For instance, Rise of the Rest is committed to supporting entrepreneurs across the U.S., and organizations like Endeavor facilitate the development of entrepreneurial hubs worldwide.

The nascent innovation supply chain will see increasing globalization of the generation of new ideas.

Emerging ecosystems can provide optimal testing grounds

Broadway is famous for testing its shows in smaller markets before committing them to the big stage. Similarly, innovators are looking to emerging markets to test models before scaling them.

SkyAlert, which operates an earthquake early warning system, is an illustrative example. In most earthquakes, people do not die from the shakes but rather from getting trapped or crushed under collapsing buildings. Technologically, it is possible to perceive and distribute an early warning, as a quake is first felt near the epicenter and travels outward from there. Through its network of distributed sensors, SkyAlert promises its users a head start to evacuate buildings, and can work with companies to automate security protocols (e.g. gas shutoff).

SkyAlert was not born in San Francisco. Alejandro Cantu, SkyAlert’s founder, began in Mexico City, which he describes as his innovation laboratory. The early versions were focused on R&D rather than commercialization. Developing this in Mexico City was much more affordable for product innovation. Salaries were cheaper. Cost of acquisition was cheaper. The U.S. is now his main target market, but Mexico served as his early base of operations and testing ground.

As a community of innovators, we have an opportunity to take advantage of these trends.

Just as most Silicon Valley techies are familiar with the buzz around Amazon’s home drone deliveries, the majority remain unaware that some of the most interesting drone innovation is happening far away in emerging markets. In developing nations, where infrastructure is far more limited, drones offer lifesaving potential. Startups like Zipline leverage drones to leapfrog broken or nonexistent infrastructure. They deliver time-sensitive drugs and blood across Rwanda through a partnership with the ministry of health. Already, its drones have covered 600,000 km and delivered nearly 14,000 units of blood (one-third of which were in emergency situations).

Entrepreneurs are testing these innovations in markets that are more affordable, and where the need is most acute. Over time, such models will scale and return to developed markets. This is how the innovation supply chain will evolve. 

Where we go from here

The Economist recently predicted a “Techodus” — that innovation will continue to shift away from Silicon Valley. The story is more nuanced.

Silicon Valley used to have a monopoly on the idea, manufacturing and distribution of innovation. No longer. The creative spark is coming from everywhere, innovators are testing ideas in markets where costs are lower and needs are more acute and models are perfected from lessons from around the world.

As a community of innovators, we have an opportunity to take advantage of these trends. You have a new product idea that could be completely transformative? Great. Who else is doing that globally? You want to test a new idea? What are the advantages and disadvantages of various locations? How can the innovations’ lessons from abroad be replicated locally?

Source: TechCrunch

Khosla GP launches Bling Capital to help seed-stage startups build products

At Facebook, where he was the first-ever director of platform, they called him Bling. At YouTube the following year, they still called him Bling. At Google in 2010, they continued to call him Bling. Even at Khosla Ventures, where Ben Ling has been a general partner for the past five years, the nickname stuck.

It was only natural that Bling Capital would be the name of his debut venture capital fund, a $60 million seed-stage vehicle backed by Marissa Mayer, Nellie and Max Levchin, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

We first spotted Bling Capital’s $60 million filing two months back; this week, TechCrunch sat down with Ling, who will officially depart from Khosla next month, to learn more about his investment strategy and why he’s venturing off on his own.

Bling Capital founder Ben Ling

Ling joined Khosla in 2013 to invest in consumer technology, internet, mobile, marketplace, SaaS and consumer health. In his tenure as a general partner and angel investor, he deployed capital to nine “unicorns,” including Lyft, Palantir, Square, Instacart and Zenefits. But he wanted the freedom to invest at a more rapid clip.

“Going out on my own allows me to be more agile; a sole GP can act a lot more quickly and speed matters a lot in seed,” Ling said. “And I love early-stage and product because I think there is a void in the marketplace — there’s a lot of money in seed but there’s not a lot of product builders in seed.”

Ling will invest between $750,000 and $1 million in one to two U.S. companies per month in exchange for 10 percent equity.

The firm is in the process of closing two funds: a $60 million flagship vehicle that will invest in consumer tech, internet and mobile, marketplace, data, fintech, SaaS and automation startups, and a $30 million opportunities fund, per an SEC filing, reserved for follow-on investments.

“It’s pretty much the things that a Google, a Facebook or an Amazon would be interested in,” Ling said, referring to where the fund will invest. “What’s it’s not is crypto, or rockets or enterprise, but it’s pretty much everything else when we think about the world of the internet.”

Given Ling’s experience, the fund will have a particular focus on product. Ling is the sole general partner of Bling, but he’s recruited a team of roughly 60 experts to work with his portfolio company executives as part of what Ling has dubbed his Product CouncilThat includes the heads of product at Square, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Nextdoor and Uber, who also are all investors in the fund.

Members of the Product Council will be available to consult with founders and may become advisors, investors or board members, if it’s a good match.

Source: TechCrunch

How to check your CPU temperature

Need to learn how to check your CPU temperature? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you plan to delve into your UEFI/BIOS or just need a software recommendation, we have you covered.

The post How to check your CPU temperature appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

Turo’s new dongle will let customers instantly find and unlock cars

Turo, the peer-to-peer car-sharing company described as the “Airbnb of cars,” is rolling out a new product that will let users locate and unlock cars right from the app.

The new product, called Turo Go, is a dongle and an accompanying service that aims to bolster the number of cars and users on its platform. The product is designed to remove a barrier of entry — the time required to physically exchange keys — that once was a hallmark of the platform. As part of the Turo Go service, owners can opt to allow users to find, book and unlock a vehicle in as little as five minutes. Currently, the app requires a minimum 60-minute lead time before a customer can pick up a vehicle.

“We want to making hosting even easier,” Turo CEO Andre Haddad told TechCrunch. “Easy always wins when it comes to consumer products.”

The company is launching Turo Go in Los Angeles, where it has the biggest penetration of hosts who have multiple vehicles on the platform. Turo Go will expand to additional markets in 2019, he added.

Turo Go uses an aftermarket key-as-a-service entry device from Continental. The device doesn’t require any hardwiring, although it takes about an hour for the install. The device is connected to the OBD-II port (on-board diagnostics) found on modern vehicles. A hidden antenna connects the device to the ignition.

Turo Go costs $20 a month. Turo also charges a $150 installation fee to owners who want to add the device to their vehicle.

Car sharing and on-demand short-term car rental companies like Zipcar also use remote unlock and lock tech. This product is unique because it’s being used on a peer-to-peer car-sharing app.

Turo Go provides a technological upgrade of sorts that is designed for Turo’s experienced hosts, “people who have become comfortable with the notion that a stranger will be in their car,” Haddad said.

Once the device is installed, users will be able to find the vehicle, instantly book it and unlock or lock it via the app. And unlike other car-sharing services, the device uses Bluetooth technology and doesn’t rely on a cellular connection, which can be problematic in parking garages or other remote areas with spotty network coverage.

turo go app

Turo Go also has a digital ID verification step, which uses facial recognition technology to confirm that users have the proper license and are who they claim to be. The tech matches the ID photo to a customer’s face and uses movement tracking to ensure the customer is a real person in front of the camera rather than just a static image that has been printed out.

Once a user has completed a trip, owners of vehicles equipped with Turo Go will be able to locate their car, truck or SUV. Haddad emphasized that owners will not show the location of the vehicle while a customer is using it. Turo Go will also provide other information, such as odometer and fuel levels. Other data features will be added to Turo Go in the future.

Source: TechCrunch

AWS launches a base station for satellites as a service

Today at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, AWS announced a new service for satellite providers with the launch of AWS Ground Station, the first fully managed ground station as a service.

With this new service, AWS will provide ground antennas through their existing network of worldwide availability zones, as well as data processing services to simplify the entire data retrieval and processing process for satellite companies, or for others who consume the satellite data.

Satellite operators need to get data down from the satellite, process it and then make it available for developers to use in applications. In that regard, it’s not that much different from any IoT device. It just so happens that these are flying around in space.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy pointed out that they hadn’t really considered a service like this until they had customers asking for it. “Customers said that we have so much data in space with so many applications that want to use that data. Why don’t you make it easier,” Jassy said. He said they thought about that and figured they could put their vast worldwide network to bear on the problem.

Prior to this service, companies had to build these base stations themselves to get the data down from the satellites as they passed over the base stations on earth wherever those base stations happened to be. It required that providers buy land and build the hardware, then deal with the data themselves. By offering this as a managed service, it greatly simplifies every aspect of the workflow.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the service will help put the satellite data into the hands of developers faster. “To rule real-world application use cases you need to make maps and real-time spatial data available in an easy-to-consume, real-time and affordable way,” Mueller told TechCrunch. This is precisely the type of data you can get from satellites.

The value proposition of any cloud service has always been about reducing the resource allocation required by a company to achieve a goal. With AWS Ground Station, AWS handles every aspect of the satellite data retrieval and processing operation for the company, greatly reducing the cost and complexity associated with it.

AWS claims it can save up to 80 percent by using an on-demand model over ownership. They are starting with two ground stations today as they launch the service, but plan to expand it to 12 by the middle of next year.

Customers and partners involved in the Ground Station preview included Lockheed Martin, Open Cosmos, HawkEye360 and DigitalGlobe, among others.

more AWS re:Invent 2018 coverage

Source: TechCrunch

Cyber Monday 2018: 40 Extended Deals You Can Still Buy

These are our favorite Cyber Monday deals that were extended, but they may go quick, including Roku, Echo Dot, and more.
Source: Wired