Like anything in this world, the LG G Watch has its pros and its cons.
It’s LG’s first venture into smartwatch territory, meaning that the company is just now figuring out its design aesthetic in the space. That said, it looks and feels surprisingly nice, with options for both black and gold.
The G Watch also has pretty solid battery life, despite the fact that its 1.65-inch IPS 280×280 display is always on. However, our own Darrell Etherington reported display issues in his review.
The smartwatch is outfitted with a Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz processor with 512 MB RAM and 4GB of on-board storage.
The question isn’t necessarily over the G Watch. It’s one of many new smartwatches in the market, all the way from the early Pebble to the forthcoming Moto 360. The more important question is whether you want a smartwatch.
At $229, LG’s G Watch might not be the best option out there, especially if you’re willing to wait and see what other companies have in store and how the market reacts to them. If you don’t have time, the G Watch will still make you feel futuristic, according to guest co-host Adam Clark Estes from Gizmodo.
So will the LG G Watch fly or die? Only time can tell.
Read the original post: Fly Or Die: LG G Watch
Remember Yo? Of course you do. Well, the single-button, zero-character communication tool that hogged headlines for weeks has just announced Pete Cashmore and Betaworks have participated in its $1.5 million seed-stage round.
Betaworks, a seed-stage VC firm and startup studio based out of New York, made a separate announcement earlier today. And it seems that John Borthwick, CEO at Betaworks, has been a big fan of the service for months.
“At the end of May, Matt Hartman invited Or Arbel, the co-founder of Yo, to visit Betaworks, and we started using the Yo app,” he says. “Since then, Yo has become part of our communications flow at Betaworks and in my life. We Yo with co-workers alerting them that a meeting is starting, I Yo with my wife as a hi during a busy day. I Yo with friends, without any more expectation or need than a Yo back. I get Yo’s from services that I am interested in tracking without having to download their apps.”
It’s the on/off simplicity of Yo and its associated API that seemingly appeals to Betaworks here, with Borthwick noting that more than 2,000 developers have already started working with the API. “It’s a new class of apps…and as always Betaworks is excited and ready to take a plunge into a fundamentally new mobile expression and join the seed round of funding in Yo.”
There are some other big names on board that aren’t being revealed yet, but Mashable founder Pete Cashmore’s involvement is an interesting one too.
While it was already known that Yo had notched up around $1 million in early-stage funding, today officially completes the deal, and bumps that original figure up to $1.5 million. Not bad at all for an app that only lets you say ‘Yo’.
“The value of this round goes far beyond the dollar amount that we received,” explains Yo founder and CEYo (yes, seriously) Or Arbel. “Bringing such incredibly smart, talented, and experienced people into the Yo team at this stage is an incredible advantage that will allow us to accelerate the growth and provide more and better value to our users.”
All of Google’s properties will eventually bear a look inspired by ‘Material Design‘ and Android L, and Chrome OS is part of that sweeping visual overhaul, too. A new preview posted by Google “Happiness Evangelist” François Beaufort today (via 9to5Google) shows a very early design inspired by the card-style multitasking view that made an appearance in Android L, the new Material Design-based update for Google’s mobile OS.
The new look, which clearly lacks polish and yet bears some hallmark resemblance to Google’s other Material Design reimaginings, is actually available already on the prerelease Chromium OS builds, and those keen on getting an early look and not afraid to get their hands a little dirty can follow along with fresh updates to the new look as they happen.
What’s interesting about this new look is that it resembles not only Google’s other efforts around Material Design, but also Apple’s use of Time Machine and Microsoft’s stacked multitasking view introduced in Windows 7. The Cards metaphor is not new by any means, of course, but its use across Google properties looks to be a certainty, although this is a test only and things can definitely change before we see any major alterations committed to the final release of Chrome OS.
Read the original post: Google Previews A ‘Material Design’ Inspired Look For Chrome OS
DigitalOcean today announced that it has secured $10 million in equipment financing from CapX Partners. CapX previously invested in DigitalOcean’s $3.2 million seed round in 2013. The announcement comes on the heels of its huge $37.2 million funding round earlier this year led by Andreessen Horowitz to fuel its fast growth.
We don’t usually hear all that much about equipment financing rounds these days, but that’s probably because most startups these days don’t have all that much equipment that needs financing.
For DigitalOcean, however, getting discounts and lines of credit with Dell and other vendors was very important during its early days because it does actually have to incur quite a bit of cost to keep its co-located data centers running and scale them up as demand grows.
Early on, DigitalOcean often had a hard time coping with the ever-increasing demand and had to limit access to new cloud computing instances on a number of occasions.
“CapX was impressed with the company’s product offering, customer growth, and the trend for small business to move IT needs to the cloud,” said Peter W. Washington, Vice President of CapX Partners, in a statement today. “DigitalOcean’s impressive management team and support from its lead investor, Andreessen Horowitz, convinced CapX to step up its financial commitment to the business. We look forward to growing our relationship with both DigitalOcean and Andreessen Horowitz.”
DigitalOcean COO Karl Alomar said today that, “CapX is providing a meaningful contribution towards our overall syndicated leasing structure and remains one of our key partners in this regard.”
CapX says that in the process of working with the company, it has helped Digital Ocean to “draw down incremental tranches of capital to better match the company’s scaled financing needs.” This “Lease Line of Credit” structure is meant to help the company “manage its capital efficiently during the new shareholder’s investment period,” CapX noted in today’s announcement.
Follow this link: DigitalOcean Closes $10M Equipment Lease From CapX Partners
Israel has always taken a disproportionate share of global media attention. This has long held true in international politics, where Israel would prefer a little less attention, but also in high tech where the media attention on startup success has often been overstated and anecdotal.
For the better part of a decade, Israeli venture returns have been disappointing, frustrating many who were once convinced they had found the next big thing. But more than a decade after the last bubble burst, the Israeli venture capital industry has steadily matured, reaching a turning point over the past year.
The return profile in Israeli high-tech investments is improving remarkably as entrepreneurs build stronger, more ambitious startups with eyes on a much bigger prize and a higher probability of success. The Israeli tech industry may not be advancing at the pace that impatient investors and reporters demand, but the last decade has also proven that Israeli high tech is far from a fleeting trend.
As a fund that has been investing in Israel since 1992, with a dedicated office there since 2007, we at Bessemer see a stark difference today versus what we found in the Israeli startup environment 10 years ago.
Israeli entrepreneurs have always been ambitious, but the maturity of the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem now gives emerging companies a better chance to deliver on big dreams and therefore a better chance of raising money to pursue them. Today’s crop of entrepreneurs has grown up in the startup ecosystem and seen peers disappointed by selling too early or shutting down only a couple years after raking it in. This means not only more serial entrepreneurs, but more maturity and experience in the first 50 hires these startups make.
The perspective shows. Venture-backed M&A and IPO exits have grown each year since 2011; Waze (Google) was the largest venture-backed M&A deal in 13 years, but so was Intucell (Cisco) when it was acquired earlier 2013 and XtremIO when it sold in 2012.
Wix, which started trading on NASDAQ late last year, was the largest IPO of a venture-backed Israeli start-up ever…and has since been followed by Varonis. But companies such as Mobileye, CyberArk, Outbrain and others will likely file this year if they haven’t filed confidentially already. And I am increasingly confident that in the near future, the first results of a Google search for “Israeli IPO” will yield links related to public offerings rather than the acclaimed Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
In most cases, these successes come years after rejecting otherwise lucrative offers, with management choosing an independent path despite higher risks. Remaining independent is generally much harder for Israeli startups relative to American peers.
To start, emphasis on cutting-edge tech and strategic partnerships triggers interest at a very early stage, well before a proper business has been built. And because scaling an independent business 6K miles away from the customer base is always daunting for the Israeli founder, accepting an early acquisition offer is often a very rational decision.
Startups become large, independent success stories when they “control their destiny,” which requires owning the distribution channel and, most importantly, owning the customer relationship. Historically, Israeli companies and their venture backers thought it sufficient to be the owner of unique and proprietary IP. For this reason, Israeli startup success typically hinged on building strategic partnerships and OEMs that could bring strong technology to far-away markets at a relatively low cost and low risk. It’s often forgotten, but this is how Checkpoint (Sun), Amdocs (AT&T), and Gilat (GE), became success stories.
Twenty years later, Israeli startups now know that such partnership shortcuts come at a profound cost to the company’s ability to stay independent long-term. Unfortunately, Israeli startups still tend to hire biz dev well ahead of sales, but the successful ones stand out for making every effort to own the means of customer acquisition as well as the resulting relationship.
This industry-wide transition is exemplified by the rise of Internet, SaaS and mobile companies — something once thought unthinkable in Israel. Wix, Waze and Outbrain each devised a method for scalable direct customer acquisition, whether it was through advertising channels, mobile platforms or sales reps. The same is true with many enterprise-focused companies, which increasingly eschew the “white knight” OEM and build an independent go-to-market strategy.
American VCs first entered the Israeli market in the late nineties, focusing primarily on follow-on financings in startups originally funded by local Israeli funds. Over the last five years, the traditional roles of early-stage Israeli funds and later stage American funds have become blurred. Six American VCs with deal-makers residing in Israel, including BVP, are among the most active early stage investors in Israel and at least four newly established Israeli VCs are focused exclusively on later-stage opportunities.
The resulting American imprint at the early stage has been substantial, further fanning the flames of ambition and independence of Israeli entrepreneurs. American investors have brought not only larger checkbooks but a better read of the U.S. market and competitive landscape. American VCs have also introduced a more aggressive set of venture tools aimed at helping Israeli start-ups grow faster including growth equity financings, acquisition strategies and previously shunned founder liquidity. It’s American VC influence that’s behind the direct customer acquisition strategy and the spurning of strategic partnerships.
Recent high-profile exits have investors once again focused on Israel. Active VCs are reaping the rewards after much patience, and institutional investors – who were heading for the proverbial door – have paused and are taking a second look.
Some see these startups as not yet polished enough to warrant attention, but they do themselves a disservice. Israeli high tech has matured to a point where we will continue to see a steady stream of large M&A exits and IPOs for years to come. Israel is the only real technology rival to the Silicon Valley, and the Valley know this well. Just as political observers no longer view Israel as the underdog, few tech giants and investors are willing to underestimate the potential of an Israeli startup.
IMAGE BY Shutterstock USER JCELv (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
Follow this link: Israeli High Tech Gets Aggressive
Apple will reportedly launch its smartwatch as early as October, after kicking off production in July, according to a new report from Reuters. The smartwatch will have a 2.5-inch screen, according to the news organization’s sources, which will arch up from the band and be “slightly rectangular,” and it’ll feature touchscreen controls and wireless charging.
Apple is planning on shipping 50 million of these in the first year of its availability, Reuters adds, and Taiwan’s Quanta computers will be mass producing the device for the Cupertino-based iPhone-maker. It’s currently under trial production, the company’s sources add, and it contains a pulse sensor (likely an optical one similar to that found on the Gear 2), plus a display supplied by LG for this first test batch.
The report is yet another claim by a reliable news organization that says we’ll see Apple’s foray into smartwatches launch in October. A report from Japanese business newspaper Nikkei earlier this month said that Apple would launch the device in October, too, and also claimed it would pack a curved OLED display (which could account for the arcing described in this product) and health-tracking capabilities.
Generally speaking, once Apple ramps up its production on new large-scale runs of upcoming products, the details begin to leak to major news organizations through suppliers in rapid succession. There are always a flood of these kinds of reports ahead of a new iPhone launch, for instance. That, combined with the increasing agreement of the details contained within the reports, is a good sign that the information they present is reliable.
Apple introducing a rectangular display in its smartwatch could mean we’ll see something more akin to the FuelBand-esque concepts being thrown around, but it’s still too early to tell what this might look like based on available information. It sounds like it will almost certainly plug into Health, Apple’s new fitness and wellness-tracking app coming in iOS 8 in the fall.
Adobe reports that its Creative Cloud online service, which powers access to some 16 creative applications including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and their helper resources, is not accessible online anywhere in the world.
Adobe said in a statement:
Adobe login is currently offline, impacting access to some Adobe services. We apologize for the disruption. We have identified the cause and are working to restore the service as quickly as possible. We will share updates on Twitter at @AdobeCare.
We’ll keep this post updated as Adobe brings the service back online.
Image credit: Ian Usher / Flickr
See the original post here: Adobe’s Creative Cloud experiences extended worldwide outage
One of (if not the) most well-respected fixtures in the Canadian venture capital scene has joined Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner, as Boris Wertz adds the Valley-based firm to his resume. Wertz has made a name for himself as a shrew early stage investor with his own Version One Ventures early stage fund, which he operates from his home base in Vancouver.
Wertz’s portfolio includes social publishing platform Wattpad, men’s subscription clothing startup Frank & Oak, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and VC investment scouting platform Mattermark, to name just a few. He doesn’t limit his investment expertise to Canadian companies, but it is a space he knows well, and that makes him a very interesting addition to the roster at a16z.
As a board partner, he’s not a full-time partner, but will instead operate as a scout for a16z, highlighting great companies for the firm to look at and bringing them into deals he may have been looking at as potential targets for his own investment vehicle. He’ll also act as a16z’s representative on the boards of some startups that the firm puts funds behind.
Andreessen Horowitz has posted a Q&A with Wertz on their blog to celebrate his arrival at the firm, and this exchange about the startup world beyond SV probably best illustrates what he might bring to the Menlo Park institution:
a16z: How does being in Canada give you a different perspective?
BW: I wouldn’t say it’s Canada, as much as being outside of Silicon Valley. I think there is Silicon Valley, and then there are smaller ecosystems in places like New York, Toronto, , Seattle and other places. Compared to Silicon Valley, they all lack consistency of deal flow. That said, great companies do get built outside of Silicon Valley, and there are great opportunities. And this is the interesting thing, when you find an entrepreneur outside of the Valley usually they have this extra passion for what they are building because in some ways they have to work much harder to pull it off. They know it’s hard to raise money. They know it’s even harder to build a company. Yet they are still doing it.
Read the original here: Version One Ventures Founding Partner Boris Wertz Joins Andreessen Horowitz
Toronto-based hardware startup Bionym gave a special public demo of its Nymi ECG authentication and identification wristband at the monthly We Are Wearables event yesterday, and talked a bit about their product in more detail, now that it’s well on its way to production. The Nymi measures a user’s heart beat, and uses that to verify their identity and then perform various handshake operations to make it easier to login to software, customize settings and manipulate connected devices. Check out the video above, featuring Bionym CEO Karl Martin and President Andrew D’Souza, and read below to find out more about how this impressive wearable works its magic.
For the Nymi to know who you are, you first go through an enrollment process. That enrollment is about taking your biometric data and tying it to your identity so you can use it for other applications. You touch the top to allow capture of your ECG, since the metal pad on the underside of the wristband provides a second point of contact. It takes about two minutes to gather enough data to complete your profile upon first setup.
That produces a biometric template that ties the Nymi to you so that it and the applications it works with know it’s you. Once registered, at the beginning of the day you touch it with two points of contact again to authenticate it, which takes a couple of seconds to recall your profile. It then uses sensors on the band to know it’s still on your wrist and hasn’t been removed (cut off, stolen or lost), meaning it’s not actually verifying with your ECG in each usage throughout the day, but using that initial handshake and its tamper detection as proof it’s still you each time you use it.
In terms of accuracy (identifying one person concretely without duplication), it’s pretty close to fingerprint authentication but is much better than facial detection, the Nymi team explained. It’s also designed to be more hack-resistant than traditional passwords. One of the reasons that Heartbleed was such a big deal was that people’s identities were easily stolen, explained Bionym Chief Cryptologist Yevgeniy Vahlis, but having a dedicated device avoids that. That’s because the Nymi is a self-contained device that doesn’t run any off-the-shelf software – it runs only Bionym’s own code.
“We’re creating an environment where we control all the variables,” he said. “As a wearable, that’s possible; as just an app [strictly software solution], there’s nothing we can do to protect your identity, your encryption, etc.”
Bionym also isn’t all that interested in licensing its tech to others, despite fielding a lot of approaches asking for this.
We’ve been approached since the start, but we’re trying to create a platform as a business,” Martin said. “So while it would be a great short-term revenue bump, you can very easily be swapped out for a different technology. It’s not out of the question to license, but it would have to be under our terms, and it would have to be backwards compatible with our ecosystem.”
Bionym would actually be open instead to building better authentication tech that might arise into its own devices, rather than operating the other way around, since it sees more longevity in that model.
With a launch planned for fall, the key to growing the business early is to find people whose problem is so painful for them that they’re willing to push your solution, D’Souza said onstage; that means airlines, mobile payments providers, and password management companies for Nymi. That could help this startup avoid the problem of building early influential evangelist communities that other hardware startups have faced, and build to critical mass without awkward early growing pains.
A business whose true north is growth will know that collecting quantitative and qualitative data is critical. Organizing your company’s data and knowledge from the beginning is not optional. Without this system, you might struggle to understand why your visitors and users are doing what they do, how they value your product and how they pass on information about it to others.
This means setting up your technical information (such as updates, tests, feature developments) and “business” information (such as design changes, copy updates, blog posts) in a way that the team has a holistic overview of the state of affairs.
The aim is to improve your team’s ability to identify correlation and causation – was there a surge in visits after the new feature was uploaded, or was it because of the new SEO’d blog post published the same day?
I’m going to start by telling you to record and store everything from Day 1 of your business. Why? Because you don’t really know your users yet.
When we started on our journey to turn hashtags into a principle of team collaboration, all we had were assumptions, a hope and a dream. You may already have a working product – and congratulations to you! But unless:
a) the novelty level is off the charts
b) unless you’ve carried out your customer discovery interviews like a god
- you probably still don’t know who your ideal users are, what they really want and even worse: if they really understand the value of what you’re offering.
Your idea will very possibly evolve over time; and data that once seemed trivial to collect will suddenly become precious. I’m not talking only about metrics and hard data here: I’m talking about soft data, qualitative data, both internal and external, getting into the heads of your user, clients, visitors.
It’s not easy to get the soft data. It’s hard to get people to stop and give you their opinion, to open an email, or to take a survey. SurveyMonkey’s data shows that the average click-through rate for emails is 4 -5 percent (MarketingProfs put it at around 8 percent).
Email is the cheapest way for you to do research, but not the only one. It’s important to grab every opportunity to squeeze a reaction and a suggestion out of those you have identified as ideal personas, as your ideal early adopters.
You can do this through Skype chats, live chats, in-app messaging, questionnaires, widgets or even meeting your users in person (yes that still exists). Lo and behold, you will find a slow but steady accumulation of data that will ultimately drive your business decisions in more ways than one.
Gathering this qualitative data will prove extremely useful for future copywriting, finding the right channels to acquire visitors, removing/adding features to the product… and the list goes on.
In the early days, it might seem urgent to start driving huge numbers of visitors to your website. However, this is the time to do serious qualitative research, and to stick with it until you reach product-market fit.
The product should charm and delight upon the first user experience. It should be simple enough for that person to explain to another without getting into a tongue-twister. There’s no point driving huge quantities of traffic to your app or product if you haven’t figured out what value people get out of it – people rarely return to a website once abandoned.
“Most early stage startups won’t have enough users/customers to heavily rely on quantitative data. You need to be acquiring hundreds of customers every month (preferably thousands) in order to have enough data to support A/B tests and detailed analysis. So focus your time on qualitative data. Remember, your main goal at this point is to find product/market fit. And talking to your early adopters every chance you get will help you find it the fastest.” – Hiten Shah
Let’s be reasonable here – not everything is important; As a business you will most definitely want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Weeding out pointless tasks early on is part of it.
This is where my trusty friend – the Google Spreadsheet – comes in. It’s free, shareable, commentable, and best of all, accessible.
Your first qualitative research will be important to help you identify the “tech enthusiasts” who sign up for everything just to play around with it, and the genuine early adopters. Your feedback needs to be based on the early adopters, not the “passing by” techie nerds thirsty for novelty (whom I love, truly).
This is the minimum set of information you need to have at your fingertips in my opinion when you are running a Web business or startup. Being this organized is good for you, for the team, and for your stakeholders – they’ll appreciate the transparency and trust you more. It’s also exceedingly convenient for you to have it all nicely laid out!
1) Technical developments
2) Usability tests
3) Customer research
4) Growth tactics
I italicized “list of resources” for each spreadsheet category because of the diversity of ways that each of my team member’s stores their links to the best stuff. This way, we all get access to the link whenever we need.
So, now you have the basics of starting a business laid out over a bunch of lovely spreadsheets.
In every spreadsheet, you will have a column labelled “hypothesis” or “why am I doing this?” All of your decisions should be customer-driven with the aim of solving a pain point.
Where applicable, I would also recommend using the PIES framework that I discovered by reading some of Peep Laja’s blog posts. The system works like this: For every feature, test, campaign, hypothesis, effort you and your team are going to carry out make a score from 1 – 10 on the:
Potential: What is my gut feeling (based on past experience, knowledge) on how much this can impact my company positively? This could be increase in conversions, increase in brand awareness, a better user experience, and so on.
Importance: How important is this? Does this have to do with some small feature that not many people use (score = 2) or does this have to do with optimizing something on my home page which is the most visited page of my website (score = 10)
Ease: How easy is it to implement this idea? Does it involve the CTO + the Designers + a copywriter? Will it will take 2 weeks to test (score = 2) or does it involve one person that can test it easily (score = 10)?
Score: The sum of the above will give you an indication of what you should be working on right now.
This system means that all decisions must be based on sound evidence – not just gut feeling. The intention isn’t to curb creativity but to make you think deeply and honestly about why you are conducting any test, campaign or making a change.
Real learning and understanding of your personas comes from this. You will get inside your user’s heads and know why they do what they do, what works for them, and what doesn’t.
I admit, I fall off the wagon every now and again. But we have an agreement in the team to remind each other to catch up on the information we are responsible for recording. Inconsistent and fragmented data-gathering will mean that your interpretations on causation and correlation could be flawed. This could set you back a lot, and waste time.
What can also waste time is poor labelling. Be clear, not clever. Have the tabs in a logical order. Make sure there are no “filler” columns or “repetitive” columns (i.e. a column where all the data is the same).
Here’s an example of what can done for the “results” tab of a blog campaign spreadsheet:
Turns out I should have written about dogs instead… but you get the picture. I can:
People want to see a “done” list, not a “todo” list. This system is the evidence of your accomplishments and mistakes along the way. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much work you have done!
Here is one version of the template we tweaked for running tests. You can use it as a guide.
Following a guide such as this will reinforce good habits, cause some repetition (which is great for HALLELUJAH insights!) and trust me – you will be constantly amazed by what you learn about your visitors and users!
Growth expert James Currier believes in language and psychology: “Behind every great company is a powerful insight about human psychology.”
If you don’t record what your users and visitors are saying about your product, or observe their conversations about it and take notes, you cannot understand how they perceive the value of your product to them. That’s what will make or break your startup.
Watch Currier speak about the topic and see for yourself.