Today at Disrupt NY, Ken Lerer and Ben Lerer took the stage to talk about Lerer Ventures and their respective entrepreneur stories. One thing that caught the attention of the audience is when Ken Lerer talked about gun control and a new StopTheNRA.com website.
“We are going to launch StopTheNRA.com,” Ken Lerer said. The site should be up in about two weeks. They already own the domain name and it’s now just a matter of time. It will be a partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Gabrielle Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions initiatives.
The motivation behind this new site is to be more vocal about gun control. “We are doing something viral,” Ken Lerer said.
A significant gun control bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers was brought to a vote in the senate a few weeks ago, but the effort failed, and the government is now back to square one.
When asked about New York politics, Ken Lerer only had good things to say about Mayor Bloomberg. “Spectacular” was the word he used to describe him. “His or her successor may not be as knowledgeable as him,” he continued. That’s why he chose not to express a preference for the front-runners of the upcoming election.
Today at Disrupt NY 2013, Benchmark partner Bill Gurley shared an interesting fact about Uber. “Uber is growing faster than eBay did,” Gurley said. In 1997, Benchmark invested $6.7 million in eBay. It was worth more than $5 billion less than two years later. Benchmark is also an investor in Uber.
“Uber is probably the fastest growing company that we’ve ever had,” Gurley said. He insisted a lot on the quality of the product. If a company builds a good product, it will grow organically.
Benchmark took part in Uber’s Series A and Series B rounds of respectively $11 million and $37 million. Gurley seemed very satisfied with this investment and only had good things to say about the car company.
“The product is so good, there is no one spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing,” Gurley said. eBay and Uber are both consumer companies that have reached a lot of customers in a very short time.
It contrasts a lot with his comments about the past failures of the tech industry. “On the consumer side, the risk is what there was in the late 1990s, with too much money spent on marketing,” Gurley said.
A few days ago, New York finally decided that e-hail services would be able to operate in the city. Last year Uber launched UberX in New York, its e-hailing service on top of regular taxis. But the company had to kill its service because of legislation issues. Uber will now be able to enter the market again, with competition from Hailo, TaxiMagic and others.
View original post here: Benchmark’s Bill Gurley: “Uber Is Growing Faster Than eBay Did”
Remember PLAiR? About nine months ago, the startup raised $2.1 million from Roger McNamee and Mike Maples’ Floodgate Fund, but wouldn’t say what for. (Spoiler alert: We found out anyway.) Never mind that. The company is finally ready to release product! And, well, here the product is.
As we expected, PLAiR is a sub-$100, dolphin-shaped dongle for streaming online video to your TV screen, either from a computer or any mobile device. The idea is to enable anyone to experience AirPlay-like functionality, even if they don’t have an Apple TV — or an iPhone or an iPad. The product debuted at CES and is finally ready to ship to consumers.
With a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and Wi-Fi capability, PLAiR allows users to stream all the content they care about, without having to buy a connected TV or worry about whether or not it has a certain app.
Viewers can plug it in to an open HDMI port on a TV and connecting to PCs through a Chrome plug-in or mobile and tablet devices via native Android and iOS apps. Once connected, viewers can watch any available online content or locally stored media in full, 1080p video resolution and Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
I got a demo of the device a few weeks ago, and it works more or less as advertised. On the web/PC side of things, PLAiR provides a landing page where users can find basically all their favorite TV shows through a single interface. Once they’re launched from a laptop or desktop, users can leave the page and surf the web, checking out other pages. And the mobile apps have a wide selection of freely available video content that can be streamed from smartphones or tablets.
Anyway, the device is for sale at www.PLAiR.com/store for $99. Oh and it’s available in three colors.
Google has quietly rolled out an update to its Google Search app for iOS, and before you get your hopes up, I’ll go ahead and tell you that there’s no “Google Now” anywhere to be seen.
The update does, however, bring with it some minor bug fixes. Other than that, the update isn’t all that exciting. In fact, it’s downright disappointing.
Rumors had been swirling for a while that Google has plans to bring Google Now over to iOS. A video even leaked in mid-March showing an alleged promotion for Google Now on iOS, saying it was built right into Google Search for iOS.
There was some back and forth after that, with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt saying the ball is in Apple’s court with regard to when we might actually see Google Now on Apple’s platform. He played a similar game with Google Maps months ago, when we were all ready and waiting for Google to swoop in after Apple’s Maps product on iOS 6 was a flop.
Apple then responded saying that Google had not submitted any Google Now application to the App Store. Of course, that didn’t exclude the possibility that Google would push out Google Now through an update to Google Search.
Alas, Google Search has been updated and there’s no Google Now to show for it.
Of course, Google could still push out Google Now through the Search app, and probably will if this video (which looks pretty legit) is to be believed. Unfortunately, today just isn’t the day.
T-Mobile USA is embarking on a new strategy to claw back market share from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, and today the carrier released some numbers that should help it set off on the right foot: 579,000 new customers, bringing its total to 34 million, according to preliminary Q1 results. Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile will start, finally, carrying the iPhone on April 12 as part of its “Un-carrier” campaign, which also includes a no-contract scheme and a new set of deals to help users buy their phones upfront.
Whether you think T-Mobile’s new plans are actually revolutionary or just marketing speak, the results today indicate that for now consumers are taking its early bait.
In addition to its overall gains, T-Mobile notes that it has narrowed — but has not reversed completely — the net losses in branded postpaid customers (the category that is most lucrative of all, since postpaid users tend to spend more than those using prepaid services): these were 199,000, down 61% from 515,000 losses a year ago. Meanwhile, T-Mobile continues to pick up more budget prepaid users: 202,000 more versus 166,000 a year ago, taking the total to 1.7 million over the past seven quarters, it says. Doing the math, that works out to a rather measly number: overall branded customer growth of just 3,000 customers, but still major reverse on its branded net loss a year ago, when 349,000 users decamped to other carriers.
T-Mobile has been a strong partner for those looking to create carrier businesses without owning networks — the so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) approach — but this has for years proven to be a difficult game to play in terms of sustainable margins. Still the number of MVNO users on T-Mobile’s network continue to rise: they picked up 576,000 more, compared to 410,000 adds in the fourth quarter of 2012 in wholesale users, “primarily attributable to the continued focus on growing the MVNO customer base.”
“These results display positive momentum and the first positive branded growth in four years,” John Legere, president & CEO of T-Mobile USA, said in a statement. “We have made material progress in stabilizing our branded business in Q1, which provides a solid foundation to build on with the new Un-carrier customer offers we launched last week across America. I believe the best is yet to come!”
Still, there is a long road ahead for T-Mobile. That 34 million subscriber number, which includes a hefty measure of non-branded, MVNO users which make T-Mo less revenue, the is a very far cry from the subscriber numbers of market leaders like Verizon, which reported 98.2 million subscribers at the end of 2012 — most of them branded and postpaid.
T-Mobile’s best bet for more scale will be through acquisition and merger, and although its attempt to combine with AT&T was scotched, a more modest deal, with the smaller MetroPCS, is still on the cards — despite some persistent opposition.
No financials released today — these will be coming out on in T-Mobile’s full, final Q1 results on May 8, the company says. For now, here’s the breakdown of how those customer gains look across the board: