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Megan Rose

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Original author: 
Megan Rose Dickey

summly marketing video

Two very young startups called Mailbox and Summly recently sold for millions of dollars.

Storage company Dropbox acquired Orchestra, the company behind Mailbox, earlier this month for a rumored $100 million in cash and stock — merely a few weeks after the email app launched

Just yesterday, Yahoo acquired two-year-old mobile news startup Summly for a little under $30 million, according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, even though the app had generated no revenue.  

But what did these early stage startups have in common that made them so attractive to the big players in the industry?

Neither had very many users. Mailbox had maybe 1.5 million. Summly had fewer than a million.

Neither made any money.

What both had was an awesome video with high-production values to show off their products.

If you're a startup and you don't make a video like these, you are dumb. Check that box!

Here are the videos:

Meet Mailbox from Mailbox on Vimeo.

Summly Launch from Summly on Vimeo.

SEE ALSO: This Is How It Feels When Your Startup Fails

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Original author: 
Megan Rose Dickey

clear to do list app

Apple's iOS platform is typically the first choice for app developers.

While Android is right behind iOS in terms of developer preference, according to a December report from Appcelerator and IDC, it still lacks some popular apps. 

Some of these iPhone-exclusive apps have recently launched, meaning that there's still hope for Android users. But some apps, like the Infinity Blade fighting game franchise, have been around for a couple of years and have no plans to launch on Android. 

Still, that doesn't mean Apple's App Store will always be the first choice for developers. 

Even though Apple is the leader in app revenue, Google Play is growing at a faster rate, according to a recent App Annie report. In fact, Google Play seems to be on track to hit one million apps in June, months before Apple, Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite recently predicted

Meanwhile, Android is dominating consumer smartphone sales with a nearly 70 percent market share compared to iOS' 20 percent.

Clear makes managing your to-do list a breeze

Clear is a very simple, yet aesthetically pleasing to-do list app that helps you stay on task. With Clear, you can create multiple to-do lists: one for work, one for your personal life, etc. 

In order to use the app, there are few gestures you need to know: pull down to add a task, swipe to the left to delete a task, swipe to the right to check an item off the list, pinch apart two tasks to add a new one, and pinch vertically to exit out of the current list. 

Price: $1.99

Fantastical is a beautiful calendar app

Fantastical puts Apple's built-in calendar app to shame. It pulls in data from the built-in calendar, but you can also add other calendars.

The app makes it super easy to see your entire calendar and appointments for any given day. It also has a pretty nifty day ticker where you can quickly see your schedule for the day and the rest of the week. 

Price: $4.99

Tweetbot is one of the most robust Twitter clients out there today

Tweetbot is a full-fledged Twitter client that is super customizable and packed with tons of shortcuts to enhance your Twitter experience.

With the multiple timelines feature, you can momentarily block out the rest of Twitter and just read tweets from people on a specific Twitter list. 

Tweetbot also recently updated the app with inline Vine and Flickr previews. 

Price: $2.99

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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David S. Rose

By 2045, human beings will become a new species, half human, half machine.

Or so futurist Ray Kurzweil believes. He argues that by looking at the how tech is being developed that one day we will sort of merge with machines and society will reach a state of "technological singularity."

That's because, in part, computer processors double in speed every year while they get increasingly smaller. One day, we'll inject tiny computers into our bodies like medicine or add them to our brains to make us smarter. 

In the meantime, tech is always getting faster, cheaper, and spreading to more markets and industries. And this creates a lot of opportunity for startups, until the day when we all turn into cyborgs.

"Because of this totally changing nature of society and the community business world, any company designed to succeed in the 20th century almost by definition has to fail in the 21st century," David S. Rose, Associate Founder of Singularity U and founder at Gust, tells Business Insider.

So what does that mean for startups today?

In order to prepare for the singularity, Rose says, entrepreneurs need to figure out what technology will change and over how long, determine what effect that technology will have on a particular market, figure out what holes there will be to fill, and then actually build a business that will intercept that market hole when it comes around.

Amazon, Rose says, is the perfect example of a company that built a business with the singularity in mind.  

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos foresaw a world where there was no longer a need for physical bookstores, so he decided to build one online. Once Bezos nailed down the distribution side of books, he had to start thinking about ways that competitors could kill his business. Given that the cost of storage, networks, and other digital technologies were dropping, Bezos realized the potential in digital books.  

Enter the Kindle.

Instead of waiting for a company like Apple to take him out, Bezos took himself out.

"He deliberately shot himself in the foot because he knew that if he didn't do it, someone else would," Rose says.

And someone eventually did. Apple announced in 2009 that it would be coming out with an iPad, and shortly after that, the tech industry proclaimed that the Kindle would die, but it didn't

Even though Amazon doesn't release its exact number of Kindle sales, the company has continued to expand its Kindle lineup and announced in November that worldwide Kindle device sales over the holiday shopping weekend doubled

Obviously, Amazon continues to face competition from the likes of Apple and Google. But Amazon is the perfect example of what a Singularity-focused business looks like, Rose says. 

In short, here's how startups should prepare for the Singularity moving forward:

  • Figure out where the ball will be a few years down the road.
  • Determine how to hit that ball when it arrives.
  • Figure out what could potentially take you out, and then take yourself out. 

SEE ALSO: Here's What Futurist Ray Kurzweil Thinks Life Will Be Like In The Next 20 Years

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robot woman

Manufacturers are already experimenting with robots. But within the next 10 years, we may start to see them pop up in classrooms, a deputy editor at The Futurist (a trends and forecasting magazine) recently told Business Insider.

That's because education is an industry that is especially ripe for change.

Schools often struggle with overcrowded classrooms, which means students aren't getting all the attention they need.

Patrick Tucker"We’re kidding ourselves in telling ourselves that that’s okay," Patrick Tucker says. "But any parent who is faced with the proposition of sticking their kid in a classroom with 64 other kids knows that’s not going to be a classroom where their kids will realize the best educational outcome."

Tucker points to experiments in Japan, where humans remotely operate robots to help the elderly.

"The potential is to increase the capability of very good teachers through these kind of platforms in the same way that the Japanese’s personal robotics scene right now is very much geared toward that," Tucker says. "Just making the right people more present in more places at once."

Still, Tucker doesn't think it's necessarily wise to have robot teachers in a classroom, but rather have a platform that lets a teacher talk to students when the teacher can't physically be there.

"I think that a certain amount of (experimentation with replacing teachers) is inevitable," Tucker says. "We can't yet say what the outcome of that experimentation will be."

SEE ALSO: Get Ready For Self-Driving Cars That Chauffeur Us Around

SEE ALSO: Roadmap To The Future

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google busIt's become common practice for Silicon Valley-based tech firms, like Google, Apple, and Facebook, to shuttle its employees to and from work on Wi-Fi equipped private buses with cushy, leather seats.

But Rebecca Solnit recently argued that these buses are partly to blame for gentrification, mass displacements, and increased housing costs.

There are more than 1,700 tech companies in San Francisco, which employ about 44,000 people. 

Not everyone rides these buses, but those that do are making the housing hunt in San Francisco increasingly more difficult. 

"At the actual open houses, dozens of people who looked like students would show up with chequebooks and sheaves of resumés and other documents and pack the house, literally: it was like a cross between being at a rock concert without a band and the Hotel Rwanda," Solnit writes. "There were rumours that these young people were starting bidding wars, offering a year’s rent in advance, offering far more than was being asked. These rumours were confirmed."

In several neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, rent has gone up between 10 and 135 percent over the past year, Solnit writes. 

More people and small businesses are also facing evictions because they're getting ousted by tech executives and employees, Solnit writes. 

In short, San Francisco has become increasingly unaffordable and the rising costs of living are driving out a lot of people. 

"Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves," Solnit writes. "In the same spaces wander homeless people undeserving of private space, or the minimum comfort and security; right by the Google bus stop on Cesar Chavez Street immigrant men from Latin America stand waiting for employers in the building trade to scoop them up, or to be arrested and deported by the government."

SEE ALSO: Here's A Map To Silicon Valley's Cushy Private Buses

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amazon fulfillment center picking

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers across the country. 

Last year on Cyber Monday, online retailing's answer to Black Friday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second. It's expecting this holiday season to be its biggest yet. Early reports have Amazon's holiday sales up 40 percent over last year.

That doesn't happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centers. As Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV notes, Amazon has made $5.3 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. $2.3 billion, or 43% of that, has come in the last 12 months.

NBC's Diana Alvear recently got a look inside Amazon's largest fulfillment center.

This Phoenix, Arizona-based fulfillment center could contain 28 football fields.

This fulfillment center is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It's the largest of Amazon's 80 fulfillment centers around the world.

Last Cyber Monday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Rejected Google Ventures

Google Ventures has invested in a number of successful startups, such as Nest Labs and HomeAway, and has become quite a significant player in Silicon Valley.

But it hasn't been able to get its hands on all of the hot, valuable startups that have emerged in the last few years, Amir Efrati of The Wall Street Journal reports. Among those include Instagram, Pinterest, GitHub and Path, most of which we featured on our Digital 100 this year.

  • Instagram, which Facebook acquired for about $1 billion in April, is now 12x bigger since the acquisition. Despite Facebook's stock troubles, the company is still valued at around $42 billion. In 2011, we valued Instagram at $100 million.
  • Pinterest, which actually has better user engagement than Facebook, recently raised a $100 million round at a $1.5 billion valuation. But we estimate, taking into consideration Pinterest's revenue, is valued at $2 billion. 
  • Software management program and collaboration tool GitHub was another miss. With assumed revenues of $50 million a year, we estimate the company is valued at around $500 million. 
  • Path, the mobile-only social network for close friends and family, doesn't have a significant number of daily active users nor any revenue, but it's a company that many, including Mark Zuckerberg, are watching very closely. It recently raised a $30 million round valued at $250 million, but we estimate it's worth around $180 million, which is still significant for a company without any revenue. 

Don't Miss: The Future Of 'Smobile' -- Social Networking And Mobile [SLIDE DECK] >

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Silicon Valley commuter bus route

Taking the bus isn't usually considered a luxury. But Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, and Electronic Arts transport their employees to and from work, no matter where they live in San Francisco, on Wi-Fi equipped private buses with cushy, leather seats. 

San Francisco-based design firm Stamen Design tracked those companies' bus routes to figure out where their employees live and how many people rely on those private corporate buses, Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stamen mapped out the routes to better understand the connection between San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

"Historically, workers have lived in residential suburbs while commuting to work in the city," the Stamen blog states. "For Silicon Valley, however, the situation is reversed: many of the largest technology companies are based in suburbs, but look to recruit younger knowledge workers who are more likely to dwell in the city."

That understanding of Silicon Valley's topsy-turvy urban geography is itself a bit outdated. When Google pioneered the buses a decade ago, a few hundred employees rode them. Since then, companies like Salesforce.com, Twitter, and Zynga, as well as countless startups have sprung up in San Francisco. What started out as a nice productivity-boosting perk has become an essential weapon for companies based 30 to 40 miles away from San Francisco to court employees.

Regardless, the buses remain popular and essential. Since the routes aren't marked, Stamen utilized Foursquare, the location check-in service, and Field Papers, an online mapping tool, to find the locations for some of the bus stops. Members of the Stamen team also took turns camping out at one of the known Google bus stops on 18th Street in San Francisco. The company even hired bike messengers to follow and track the buses. 

Stamen's research estimated that the buses transport roughly 7,500 tech employees a day, Monday through Friday, and concluded that the unmarked buses ferry a third as many commuters as ride on Caltrain, a commuter train that travels between San Francisco and San Jose. 

Stamen founder Eric Rodenbeck told Fowler that he expected the majority of traffic to come from the Mission District, a young, hip neighborhood in San Francisco, and was surprised to see how much traffic came from other parts of the city. 

"That's a conversation about citywide change," he told Fowler. "Is the city a place where valuable work can happen, or is it just a bedroom for Silicon Valley?"

If you live in the Bay Area, you can visit the "Seeking Silicon Valley" exhibit at the Zero1 Biennial in San Jose until December 8. You can also check out more information about the study on Stamen's blog

 

Silicon Valley commuter bus route 

 

Don't miss: Bravo's 'Start-Ups: Silicon Valley' Shows Geeks Just Want To Have Fun, And That's Simply Not Allowed >

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