The problem with problems: Google[X] chief on finding the right real-world issues to fix

Head of getting moonshots ready for contact with the real world‘ isn’t the simplest job title you’ll ever see, but that’s exactly what Obi Felten at Google[X] gets to call herself.

In more comprehensible terms, Felten is a director of product management for early stage Google projects, working alongside engineers, scientists and everyone else to help turn “science fiction-like technology into real world products and businesses.”

Such projects include smart contact lens, airborne delivery systems and the much talked-about driverless car, in case you were wondering.

Felten was at Wired’s annual conference in London last week, where she was on-stage to discuss everything from drones and defibrillators , to the importance of startups finding worthwhile problems to fix.

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So, how does Google[X] decide what projects to work on – why contact lens and drone delivery systems? They seem like a random collection of ‘things’, so what connects them?

“There’s nothing really that connects these projects,” saysFelten. “The only thing that connects them is that they’re all about solving very large problems.”Yes, Google[X] is all about fixing big, real-world problems. ‘Moonshots’, as Google refers to them, using radical technology solutions.The 2-seater self-driving car Google revealed earlier this year is perhaps the most obvious example of how the internet giant is looking to disrupt all facets of the technological realm, not just your online world.

“There are many problems with road transportation, one of them is traffic,” says Felten. “But the biggest problem is safety – 1.3 million people each year die on the road. Almost all of those accidents are caused by driver error. The self-driving car is never distracted – it’s never texting, it’s never doing its makeup, it’s never getting into arguments and it’s never drunk. We will have a fully autonomous car before my children have to pass their driving tests.”

There’s little question that road safety is a worthwhile cause, but surely there are more immediate concerns that are arguably more worthy of our time, such as droughts and famine?

“Eleven percent of the world’s population doesn’t have access to clean water, and one in nine people still go hungry,” says Felten. “And that’s particularly disgraceful because everyone agrees there is enough food in the world, but we feed it to animals, we make bio-fuels, it’s wasted or it’s ‘just in the wrong place’. Ninety percent of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels, so we clearly have a long way to go on climate change. And 15 million people each year have a stroke, 6 million of whom die.”

Many of these stats make for familiar reading, and you could probably throw a ton more onto this list that would, subjectively speaking, be more worthy of our immediate attention. So why is Google working on energy kites rather than looking at ways to get more food and water to people?

“Some of these problems we work on at Google, like wind energy or internet access, and some we don’t, like water or food,” says Felten. “And that’s not because we don’t think they’re important, it’s because we haven’t found a breakthrough technology that we think we can apply to the problem.”

So if Google isn’t working on these problems – and nobody is necessarily suggesting it should be – then who is? Felten reckons startups are a good bet for fixing some of the bigger issues at hand here, but their focus is oftentimes a little too narrow.

The problem with problems

“I’m a startup mentor and an angel investor, and too many times when I talk to founders in the early stages, they’re picking a problem they think they can solve, rather than a problem that’s worth solving,” says Felten. “That must be the reason we have so many messaging and photo apps – [though] I’m not saying they aren’t useful, we all use them every day.”

In reference to her father who recently suffered a stroke, she says that although technology such as Hangouts is great for communicating with loved ones remotely, what she really, really wants is a device she can put on his wrist that will tell him before he has another stroke. “Will that take longer to build than the next mobile app, yes it will, but it will be worth it,” she says.

So how can we get more people to work on problems that matter? Felten reckons there are a few hindering obstacles.

“Large problems are daunting, they’re scary, they’re hard, it’s risky and expensive,” she says. “Another issue is less obvious – we just don’t spend enough time with a problem up front, and we reward people for problem solving, rather than problem stating. The truth is most people don’t like problems. We need to spend more time understanding the problem correctly.”

Google’s Project Loon is perhaps one good example of how problem-stating (i.e. finding the right problem to solve) is imperative.

Last year, Google launched a most ambitious project when it unveiled Project Loon, designed to bring balloon-powered internet to hitherto unconnected parts of the world. Tests kicked off earlier this year near the equator.

“If you want to take the internet to a village in Africa, you need three things,” says Felten.

“You need devices that are cheap enough, while you also need electricity to power these devices,” she continues. “And then you need the connectivity. So when the Loon team looked at the problem space, thinking about which part of the problem they should solve, they picked connectivity. Because they thought it was one of the hardest problems that nobody was having a go at. Other people have brought down the costs of smartphones, and they’ve brought down he cost of solar panels. But connectivity is still disgracefully expensive.”

This all ties in with what Felten was saying about startups not paying enough attention to the initial planning stages, in terms of establishing what the exact problem is they should and could be fixing.

“They [startups] often don’t spend enough time in that early stage,” she says. “They don’t spend enough time with the people who have the problem, to understand whether they can solve it.”

Pivoting projects

Google[X], with its bags of cash and resources, has pivoted a number of projects, including its Project Wing drone delivery service which was initially intended as a means for delivering defibrillators to heart attack victims. So you call the local emergency services, and the drone turns up with a defibrillator within 90 seconds.

“We were really excited about this, because it’s saving lives and it’s also a very hard technology problem to get something to you that quickly,” says Felten. “But it turned out that it wasn’t the right problem – because when our research team started talking to doctors and so on, even if there is a bystander [to help], it takes the person several minutes to figure out how to work the damn thing. If you imagine an elderly women dropping down on the floor, she’s not going to be reading the instruction manual. So we realized it wasn’t the right problem, and gave up on the idea.”

While Project Wing remains an early-stage ‘product’, Google is hoping that the technology can be used to deliver packages and disaster relief to remote areas in the future.

“This problem-stating process can be very painful,” continues Felten. “I want you to think of it as a problem ladder. Climbing the ladder is painful and hard, but once you’ve gotten to the top you’re rewarded with this amazing view, you understand the space of your problem a lot better and then kick the ladder away.”

Indeed, as American philosopher John Dewey once said, a problem well-put, is a problem half-solved. Of course, the size of problem really does make it harder to know which facet of it to focus on, as there are often many issues interwoven across it.

“Tackling large problems require a really weird mixture of audacity, believing in the impossible, and humility – acknowledge that it’s not going to be done any time soon, and not by yourself,” says Felten.

Though the Google[X] team undoubtedly has a ton of incredibly smart folk on board, it relies heavily on partners – academic labs for research, manufacturing partners and so on.

On Project Loon, for example, they worked with people who know how to make balloons. With the smart contact lens, Google brought in healthcare leader Novartis, because it not only knows how to make contact lenses, but it knows how to bring medical devices to market.

For startups, getting the right partners on board may not be so easy – Google is Google, after all. But the underlying point is a sound one – finding the right problems to fix may not be as easy or obvious as first seems.

Read more here: The problem with problems: Google[X] chief on finding the right real-world issues to fix

Why your startup isn’t making any profit

Callum Laing is the CEO of Entrevo Asia and the founder of Fitness-Buffet, an employee fitness business in 11 countries.

When you first start pitching your business idea to the world, there is no worse feeling than someone telling you they don’t think it will work.

Since that is your deepest fear, when someone articulates it, as someone invariably will, it will rip to your very core.

It happened a lot when I was starting out. To feel better, I would tell myself that they were idiots who just didn’t understand my industry as well as I did. Any success they had in business was probably down to luck.

In short, I would come up with any number of increasingly creative justifications that would allow me to restore my fragile ego.

More than a decade later and on the other side of half a dozen businesses – some successful, some not so much – I find myself biting my tongue when I get pitched new businesses. It turns out that some of those ‘idiots’ I met early on may have been able to see the red flags in my model, regardless of the industry they were in or the luck they had been on the receiving end of.

Here are some of those red flags in the five areas of a business that may keep you from ever profiting.

The pitch

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You may know your own pitch, but your business will get nowhere if other people do not understand what you are talking about. Never throw in jargon that people won’t get, especially if your product is one of the first of its kind.

A common mistake: Talking a lot about what will happen to your business in the future, but nothing about the results your actual clients are getting right now.

Remedy: The average person is more clever than you think. Just because you keep the language simple, doesn’t mean you need to present it in a boring or condescending way.

Content marketing

Everyone these days is talking about content marketing, about positioning themselves as thought leaders and helping to educate their market.

A common mistake: Thinking that you are above content marketing, and that one day journalists will be tripping over themselves to write about you and you’ll have all the credibility you need, so there’s no reason to invest in doing their work for them now.

Remedy: Early in your business, it’s best to share your ideas. Nine times out of ten, your product needs help speaking for itself; providing content that complement your business goals and services can help shape your company’s stance in the industry. Who knows, you might even win over some new customers who discover you through your blogs.

Product ecosystem

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Starting out, you may face the dilemma of whether to expand your offerings, or stick to one product and one product only.

A common mistake: You have one product or service. Refuse to deviate from that. Once it becomes a household name, you might start to add new products to the mix, but for now just keep focused. If the market isn’t buying enough of it then it’s clearly because the market are idiots.

Remedy: There’s a reason 99 percent of successful businesses have multiple product lines. Before completely ruling out this option, think about whether this will improve your company growth and offer your customers options. You want to retain customers by giving them what they didn’t know they needed.


So many businesses fail to realize how much can come from personal appearances and marketing outreach.

A common mistake: You see your competitors out there shamelessly talking about their business on stage or pandering to the media to get their opinions on the latest topic. Sure, it might drive products sales and revenue for them, but you signed up to be an entrepreneur, not some talking head.

Remedy: Don’t wait for people to come to you or hope that they’ll just magically find you by the good grace of Google. Follow up, put in work, contact your sources and know when to be persistent about making your name heard.


Oftentimes, new companies can use a helping hand from established businesses by partnering up.

A common mistake: Shoot for the stars – and stars only. Thinking that if you could just partner with Google, David Beckham and Mastercard, this thing would be through the roof! Maybe they are not returning calls right now, but that day will come.

Remedy: Just as you need partners, there are other people who want to partner with you. Don’t underestimate the power of teaming up with small companies and growing together – this includes your co-founders and early employees!

I feel obliged to say at this point I have ticked all of these five boxes of mistakes on many occasions, it is easy to do. I also may have been guilty of acting slightly petulant when people tried to point out these small errors in my approach.

However, should you be looking to keep your business small and unprofitable, then by all means, continue to make your mistakes. Fudge your pitch, keep your knowledge to yourself, only have one product, stay out of sight in your industry and finally do everything in isolation. These are the best ways to stay unprofitable.

But if you are like anyone else trying to make a buck off this whole entrepreneurship thing, it’s time to lower your ego, reflect on your strategy and determine your next best course of actions.

Read next: The ‘magic’ of business: Uncovering the trick to making your startup fail less

Continue reading here: Why your startup isn’t making any profit

Oculus unveils Crescent Bay prototype virtual reality headset

At the first ever Oculus developer conference, the company has unveiled a new prototype headset that features integrated audio, a new display technology, improved positional audio tracking and is much lighter than ever before.

Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, has dubbed the new prototype ‘Crescent Bay’ and says that the device is as “big of a step up from the DK2 as the DK2 was from the DK1.” A new camera on the back of the device allows gamers to spin around 360 degrees, giving much more freedom.

oculus crescent bay prototype2 220x124 Oculus unveils Crescent Bay prototype virtual reality headsetThe new prototype also has built in headphones and improved audio positioning to help make the audio itself just as immersive as using the Oculus VR itself. The addition of headphones is part of Oculus pushing into media content such as films as well as games, as the company seeks to build immersive media experiences.

Oculus was careful to point out that Crescent Bay is still “incredibly early hardware” and doesn’t mention when it’ll be available to developers, though it is on show at the conference today.

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Read more: Oculus unveils Crescent Bay prototype virtual reality headset

Apple May Reveal A Wearable Alongside New iPhones In September

Apple should have a very busy schedule for its (yet-to-be-confirmed) event on September 9: Re/code is now reporting that it will show off its wearable device on that day alongside new iPhone hardware. The report from John Paczkowski says that Apple’s wearable will incorporate HealthKit, the upcoming software found in iOS 8 that adds fitness and health tracking features to its mobile platform, and that it will also have HomeKit features to help it somehow work together with connected home devices.

This report counters previous claims that any new Apple wearable device likely wouldn’t break cover until 2015, but it’s possible that Apple will reveal the hardware design and still launch the wearable at a later date, in the same way that it gave us an early preview of the new Mac Pro desktop computer long before getting it out to the buying public.

Including its new wearable in its September event is said to be a late-stage change in plans by the new Re/code report. The most credible claims thus far regarding the iWatch (or whatever it ends up being called) suggest it’ll be a sensor-laden device that can measure things including blood pressure, hydration, heart rate and steps, and that it should feature smartwatch functions like notifications of incoming messages, too.

Read more: Apple May Reveal A Wearable Alongside New iPhones In September

An international CEO’s guide to Silicon Valley

Stéphane Le Viet is the CEO and Founder of Work4.

To the international community, Silicon Valley is the heart of the startup world. Entrepreneurs from around the globe are drawn in as they look to follow in the footsteps of others who have successfully launched companies in the US – Elon Musk, Sergey Brin and Mikkel Svane – to name a few.

While it’s not a requirement, relocating a startup to Silicon Valley makes sense in many ways as access to venture capital, mentors, talent and business infrastructure can help a company grow.

While international entrepreneurs see the opportunity, many underestimate the key differences in Silicon Valley’s business climate compared to other parts of the world. As such, they should be ready to adapt.

After three years of building and ultimately selling my first company in France, I felt that the company had been a David up against international Goliaths. From that experience, I knew that to make a bigger impact in the global business landscape, my next venture would benefit from the power of a strong presence in Silicon Valley.

In 2010, I founded my second company and shortly thereafter opened a US headquarters and began to grow a team there. It was a stark difference from the European business climate I was used to, and I’m certain that most entrepreneurs relocating to the area would feel similarly.

Here are three lessons I learned for any entrepreneur looking to move their company to the area.

Focus on scaling, not going 100 mph

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Silicon Valley thrives on ambition. Entrepreneurs come here with plans to become the next billion-dollar business, and the pace of change and growth is fast. It’s a complete departure from the pragmatic approach that is common in many other international startup hubs.

Every company has a certain rate of growth it can sustain – and it’s not always limitless. If a company grows too fast, the results can be counterproductive, as it can create unreasonable strains on all parts of the organization.

Moving at such a fast clip amplifies difficulties much earlier on in a startup’s lifecycle. A startup must be agile to overcome problems generally encountered by a much more mature company, otherwise it will be forced into failure. The common Silicon Valley mantra “fail fast, fail often” is prevalent for a reason. It’s better to move on from something that isn’t going to work.

The fast pace of conducting business trickles into other aspects of the startup ecosystem, which leads to my next piece of advice.

Beware of being over-invested

Venture capital funding and angel investors are not only abundant in Silicon Valley, they are also willing to make investments quickly. We raised $10 million in a couple of weeks, whereas in Europe I’d had multiple conversations over many months and that was still relatively early in a typical funding cycle.

One of the first VC firms I spoke with in Silicon Valley wanted me to sign a term sheet before I even left the initial meeting.

I know firsthand how exciting it is when people believe in your idea but being overeager can be risky. Silicon Valley sometimes feels like you’re in a money machine, but before reaching out for grabs you should think twice about the terms you’re entering into.

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You should also ensure you’ve thought long and hard about the size of the market opportunity, and you’re practicing intellectual honesty. As an entrepreneur, it’s incredibly easy to be blinded by your own belief in an idea and convince yourself that the market is bigger than it really is.

Not to say market size dictates success, because even in a small niche there can be demand, but it should dictate whether you seek funding at all. If it’s limited, which it was for my first startup, you’re better off bootstrapping.

However, if the market opportunity is big enough and you do seek funding, make sure it is an appropriate amount. Being overinvested is a surprising challenge here, and it can create organizational complexities. Like many startups after they receive early rounds of funding, we quickly built out a senior leadership team full of great strategic thinkers, rather than hiring developers and expanding our sales team.

Looking back, our rate of growth compared to our rate of scaling resulted in a top-heavy organization. Thankfully, we were able to overcome that because we had early customer adoption that fueled bottom line growth. We also looked back to our European roots and adopted a “think lean” approach to our business practices.

Many international startups tend to be bootstrapped and international entrepreneurs can use that lean, pragmatic thinking to their advantage. Once you are in a financial position to bring people on…

Be ready to fight 100x more for your talent than anywhere else

Top employees in the US have a great deal of opportunity to move from company to company. In Silicon Valley, this mobility is exaggerated due to the concentration of startups fighting over the same set of in-demand skills.

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To stay competitive, companies have upped the ante with the expected elements of employee recruitment and retention such as compensation, work environment and perks. What I didn’t initially realize is that intangible elements can have an ever greater impact on attracting and retaining top talent.

Consistently communicating with and selling your team on the company beliefs and vision is critical to engaging employees. You want the entire company to be passionate and work towards a shared goal – they need to feel a personal stake in the company.

It’s something that I didn’t do in the early days and, as a result, employee satisfaction and retention took a hit. While you may be one in a million in Europe, in Silicon Valley your startup is one of a million.

International CEOs each have their own reasons, from networking opportunities and access to capital to mentors and talent, for wanting to move to Silicon Valley. I hope that sharing what I didn’t know coming in will make the transition smoother for future CEO’s – the benefits certainly exist, but so do the differences.

Featured image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages

Original post: An international CEO’s guide to Silicon Valley

Music in the midnight sun: Behind Norway’s edge in online music

If Capsule.fm has its way, Siri and Samantha will be replaced by Miranda.

The first two AI assistants are ubiquitous to Apple users and audiences of the film “Her.” But Capsule.fm co-founder Danielle Reid hopes that Miranda and her co-star, Carl, will pivot the streaming music space.

Earlier this year, the German startup launched its new iOS app, The Early Edition (an Android app is in the works). The Early Edition offers more than music suggestions: it creates unique audio narratives from users’ online content. These users listen to headlines from their favorite news sources, their latest email messages, trending topics on Facebook and Twitter and local weather updates – all in between curated music.

Miranda and Carl act as the app’s “hosts” to transition users from news updates to curated songs from several of their libraries.

“The Early Edition by Capsule.fm is built for a passive morning experience,” Reid tells The Next Web. “We pick a broad spectrum of great sources, which listeners can fine-tune. They can also add their own music playlists from WiMP and iTunes and hear their SoundCloud stream. We also feature selected artists using Capsule.fm to broadcast their music.

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“We’re building for a fully interactive audio experience, where your mood and context will define the content. While we will still curate sources to make sure that they are high quality, we also let you select and deselect individual sources, such as The New York Times in news content.”

One might expect the US to be The Early Edition’s top market. In fact, the app’s highest penetration lies in Norway, and users can consume content both in English and Norwegian.

Co-founders Espen Systad and Tor Langballe hail from the small Scandinavian monarchy. Reid cites their knowledge of Norway’s music market as the reason why it’s an ideal “…sandbox to experiment and play with different content, before we decide to include it in the English version.”

Music in the midnight sun

Far from the hills of Silicon Valley, Norway doesn’t often jump to mind as a global startup giant. But in terms of music streaming, it’s not called a pioneer for nothing.

Together with Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, Norway averaged 73.6 percent of overall subscription streaming revenues in 2012. This placed them well ahead of the UK (27 percent), France (12 percent), Germany (8 percent), and the US (also 8 percent).

Full-year figures for 2013 showed that the Norwegian music market grew 11 percent last year, with streaming a strong 65.3 percent share of the country’s total recorded music market. That puts Norway only behind Sweden in global leadership of subscription service revenues.

Who is buying these subscription music services? One of the world’s most well-off groups of citizens.

norway flag Music in the midnight sun: Behind Norways edge in online music

Norwegians rank higher than global averages on health, happiness, education, and life expectancy. They tend to have more disposable income despite working fewer hours.

Norway is one of the few countries that can claim a 100 percent literacy rate. All of this makes them an ideal audience for subscription services – but comparisons to Sweden remain inevitable.

“Sweden and Norway share many characteristics with the rest of the Nordics,” explains Arnt Maaso, associate professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Oslo. “But Sweden has higher self confidence and better track records in tech innovation and startups.

“Norway is a more individualistic culture in many ways, which I think fosters small, interesting niches and acts in music, but may work against Norway becoming the tremendous hit factory and music exporter that Sweden has become in the last few decades.”

High fidelity

Launched in Norway in 2010, WiMP is a music streaming services that is listed on the Nasdaq OMX stock exchange in Stockholm. Unlike Spotify, its Swedish competitor available in 57 countries, WiMP is only available in five – Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Poland. This hasn’t hindered its growth – WiMP is one of the world’s top ten music streaming services.

“The Norwegian startup scene, looking at it from a music industry perspective, is in its infancy,” explains Ervin Draganovic, product director at WiMP. “In fact, I would go so far as to say that when compared with the other Scandinavian startup hubs, like Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki, the Norwegian startup wave is significantly smaller, but growing.”

Draganovic says there’s no magic bullet for why Norwegians lead demand for music streaming services. But alongside citizens’ relative wealth, he cites high bandwidth speeds and coverage throughout the country as a strong factor in both creation and consumption.

A look at bandwidth troubles faced by London’s Tech City confirms how essential this infrastructure is.

bandwidth Music in the midnight sun: Behind Norways edge in online music

“[High bandwidth] not only supports large content consumption through desktops centric devices, but also empowers consumers to consume content on the go through mobile devices by utilising 3G/4G connections,” Draganovic explains. “On the other hand, digital purchase and downloads of music content never became very popular, which meant that the entrance of music streaming services weren’t cannibalized by a substitutional product.

“Moreover, in the period from 2008-2010, there [was] a lot of anti-piracy coverage in the media, and laws were introduced which have pushed people away from illegal downloading.”

Smartphones outpaced desktops in 2012 as the main source of music streaming in Norway. And unlike other countries where a digital divide hinders the elderly, Norwegians tend to be tech savvy at any age.

“For example, my 68-year-old mother streams music at home, in her hybrid car and at the cottage in the mountains using 4G, all while Snapchatting with her grandchildren,” says Espen Systad, co-founder of Capsule.fm. “The Nordic startups try to satisfy and surprise a very tech-curious and media-savvy population – and they have to be creative in order to do that.”

All about me?

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Like The Early Edition and WiMP, Deezer is a music streaming service that thrives on subscriptions. The Paris-born startup is available in 182 countries, including Norway (Deezer’s Nordic team was unavailable for comment).

But in the tradition of WiMP, Deezer uses content curators that are local to each market and has avoided the US market until recently. Julie Harari-West, Deezer’s global head of PR, told me that Deezer’s expansion goals excluded the US in its early years because “the market is not mature enough.”

It remains to be seen whether music streaming trends in more robust markets are too insular for wider adoption. Narcissism has been on the rise for years in the US, both through social media and popular music. These mediums collided with Spotify’s Facebook integration in 2011, which allows users’ playlists to feature in their friends’ social media feeds.

CEO Daniel Ek has cited Spotify’s social sharing service as essential to their growth. But Masso thinks this focus on sharing also contributed to content fatigue.

“In one sense, Facebook obviously was important because it was so socially pervasive and contributed to people seeing others stream music, and becoming aware of Spotify through the network effects of social media,” Masso argues. “But I think it contributed to oversharing, and many people being annoyed with both having sharing as a default and seeing to much of other users’ music.

Moving forward, music startups are focused on both context and content. Spotify acquired US startup The Echo Nest earlier this year, with Ek citing their next goal as “…understanding the context in which people listen to music” (Spotify was unavailable for comment, and The Echo Nest declined to comment).

Tyler Goldman was hired as Deezer’s US CEO earlier this year, with Harari-West confirming to The Next Web, “…it’s no secret that we’ve been exploring opportunities in America. Watch this space.”

WiMP is more focused on offering audio mixed with print and video content within each country than expanding globally. And having topped App Store charts in the paid news app category – including both the US and Norway – Reid says of The Early Edition, “Our sights are set on becoming the go-to audio companion that our listeners use daily, challenging old-fashion radio as the number one source for audio entertainment.”

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As recently as 2012, Norway’s status as a global startup player looked average at best. An EU report published that year showed that the country was achieving only “moderate” levels of innovation and declining in investment innovation.

But the two years since that report have seen strong gains in revenue from music streaming subscription services. Mesh, Oslo’s first bespoke hub for entrepreneurs, is trying to bring the all-consuming startup mindset to a working world where most clock out at 4 p.m.

Athough it’s an uphill battle, there is a growing push to bring more venture funds to Norway beyond the oil and gas industry.

Perhaps most crucially, there is strong demand for further innovation in the music streaming space. Norwegian Dag Kittlaus is the man who introduced Siri to the world; what might emerge next is anyone’s best guess.

“Perhaps hybrids, where you get a huge local, default library on a chip, for instance with the purchase of a phone, and then can stream newly released music on top of this,” Masso hypothesizes. “But, as the Danish physicist Niels Bohr famously said: ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’.”

Read next: Why we crave human-curated playlists

See the original post here: Music in the midnight sun: Behind Norway’s edge in online music

Here are 11 of the first services to use Product Hunt’s API

Product Hunt, the increasingly popular website that helps you discover new apps and services, is about to grow its presence on the Web after it began allowing other services to plug into its treasure trove of information.

Founder Ryan Hoover last month announced plans for an API, which allows other developers and software makers to build services that make use of Product Hunt’s data. Now the switch has been hit, letting the first services in.

Here are 11 of the initial group that you can tinker with — many of these previously scraped the site for information, so will perform better using the API:

  • Huntlytics: simple Product Hunt analytics for products
  • Product Hunt Roulette: a StumbleUpon-like discovery service for navigating ProductHunt
  • Producthunter Chrome Extension: serves up the most recent entries in a new tab
  • The News: an iOS app that combines Hacker News, Designer News, and Product Hunt
  • Panda: lets you browse Hacker News, Designer News, Product Hunt, and other resources in a single place
  • The Scoop: like Panda, this brings Hacker News, Designer News, and Product Hunt together in one place
  • Yo PRODUCT HUNTED: sends a Yo update when an entry clocks 150 upvotes
  • Roost for Product Hunt: sends a notification when an entry hits 100 upvotes
  • Product Hunt Alert: sends an SMS if a specific domain is mentioned on Product Hunt
  • HunterData: a Product Hunt leaderboard
  • Spear: Product Hunt command line interface

The API isn’t open to all at this point, but around 300 developers have gotten access. Others who are interested are invited to request early access here.

In his post, Hoover admitted that the move is scary. “I worry people will abuse the site or create something that “steals” engagement… we also lose the ability to measure how people are using Product Hunt,” he wrote, though he recognizes opening up enables huge opportunities since “Product Hunt is all about inspiring creation and entrepreneurship.”

Product Hunt actually hired the developer behind the Chrome Extension — so it’s fair to say that this is a good way to catch the companies eye. The company is planning its first hackathon, which Hoover tells me will take place in the coming weeks. That’s more evidence that the team is passionate about working closely with the developer community.

The company is currently going through the hallowed Y Combinator accelerator program. That, coupled with its intention to work with the developer community and its existing successes, suggests that its service has a bright future.

➤ Product Hunt

Related: The 7 (mostly free) tools Product Hunt used to build its early-stage community

And also: The 7 best Product Hunt lists you didn’t even know existed

Dolphin wants to be more than a window to the Web – it plans to be a channel for all your content

What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

Go here to see the original: Here are 11 of the first services to use Product Hunt’s API

UberPool Lets You Split Uber Fares With Other Passengers Along The Same Route


In the ongoing war between Uber, Lyft, and all of the other me-too ride-sharing services, competitors are looking for any way they can better utilize their supply of drivers and reduce costs for their riders. Today, Uber is announcing UberPool, a new feature that will let you pick up other riders on the way to your destination and split the bill.

While the feature should do a lot to cut costs for passengers, not everyone will want to ride with a stranger in addition to the driver picking them up; Uber notes that the new feature also serves as a kind of “social experiment.”

Since there’s not much data about how people will react to the new service, Uber isn’t going to release UberPool across every market it serves. The company has begun rolling out a private beta, and starting August 15 a public beta will launch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Uber also notes that the company’s “friends at Google” will be joining the beta as early adopters, as they “share [Uber's] vision of a more energy-efficient world with less traffic congestion and pollution in our cities and are excited to be early adopters of UberPool.” This signals continued cooperation between the companies following Google integrating Uber into Google Maps for iOS and Android.

Getting more riders into a single car to make rides cheaper isn’t exactly a novel idea. In June we covered Hitch, a ride-sharing service whose biggest differentiator from Uber and Lyft was the fact that it tries to use software to maximize the number of passengers in a single car to increase driver utilization and reduce prices for riders.

Go here to read the rest: UberPool Lets You Split Uber Fares With Other Passengers Along The Same Route

Fly Or Die: LG G Watch

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

‘A new mobile expression’: Yo confirms seed-stage funding from Betaworks and Pete Cashmore

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.”

➤ Yo | Betaworks

Excerpt from: ‘A new mobile expression’: Yo confirms seed-stage funding from Betaworks and Pete Cashmore