Naval Ravikant: Keynote on Open Source, Bitcoin, and Cryptocurrency

Such investor! Very founder.

Wow! Such visionary. Very founder!

We’re thrilled to announce our newest keynote at the Open Source Startup Summit: Naval Ravikant, serial entrepreneur, blogger at VentureHacks, and co-founder of AngelList. Naval’s keynote will focus on open source, BitCoin, and the future of cryptocurrency.

In his Wired article, Bitcoin: The Internet of Money, Naval presented his vision for the future of the digital currency, pointing to a number of features and distinct advantages provided by the new platform:

Bitcoins are scarce (Central Banks can’t inflate them away), durable (they don’t degrade), portable (can be carried and transmitted electronically or as numbers in your head), divisible (into trillionths), verifiable (through everyone’s block chain), easy to store (paper or electronic), fungible (each bitcoin is equal), difficult to counterfeit (cryptographically impossible), and can achieve widespread use – many of the technologists that brought us advances on the Internet are now working overtime to improve Bitcoin.

So why not just use Pounds or Dollars? One can use bitcoins as high-powered money with distinct advantages. Bitcoins, like cash, are irrevocable. Merchants don’t have to worry about shipping a good, only to have a customer void the credit card transaction and charge-back the sale. Bitcoins are easy to send – instead of filling forms with your address, credit card number, and verification information, you just send money to a destination address. Each such address is uniquely generated for that single transaction, and therefore easily verifiable. Bitcoins can be stored as a compact number, traded by mere voice, printed on paper, or sent electronically. They can be stored as a passphrase that exists only in your head! There is no threat of money printing by a bankrupt government to dilute your savings. Transactions are pseudonymous – the wallets do not, by default have names attached to them, although transaction chains are easy to trace. It has near-zero transaction costs – you can use it for micropayments, and it costs the same to send 0.1 bitcoins or 10,000 bitcoins. Finally, it is global – so a Nigerian citizen can use it to safely transact with a US company, no credit or trust required.

Silicon Valley knows a platform when it sees it, and is aflame with Bitcoin. Teams of brilliant young programmers, entranced by the opportunity, are working on Exchanges (Payward, Buttercoin, Vaurum), Futures Markets (ICBIT), Hardware Wallets (BitCoinCard, Trezor, etc), Payment Processors (bitpay.com), Banks, Escrow companies, Vaults, Mobile Wallets, Remittance Networks (bitinstant.com), Local Trading networks (localbitcoins.com), and more.

To hear Naval’s keynote live, join us at the Open Source Startup Summit on April 22, and follow us at @sfbeta for ongoing updates.

These 8 Speakers Join the Open Source Startup Summit. Awesomeness Ensues.

Fellowship of the Webring.

Fellowship of the Webring.

With more than 500 RSVPs confirmed — projected to hit 1000 soon — we’re thrilled to announce the first eight speakers at our next event: Bain Capital Ventures presents the Open Source Startup Summit.

See who’s shining in the spotlight (so far) on April 22:

salilSalil Deshpande (@salil)
Managing Director, Bain Capital Ventures

Salil Deshpande focuses on software infrastructure, open source, middleware and enterprise software, such as Typesafe (the Scala language; Akka and Play frameworks for Java), Redis Labs (the Redis NoSQL database), Hazelcast (in-memory data-grids for Java), Aria Systems (ERP for recurring revenue businesses), Iron.io (queues and workers in the cloud), ZeroTurnaround (faster Java redeployments), and DynaTrace (application performance management; acquired by Compuware). Salil joined the Forbes Midas List in 2013 and manages a Top 10 syndicate on AngelList.

schottGreg Schott (@gregschott)
CEO, MuleSoft

Greg Schott is CEO of MuleSoft, the most widely used integration platform for connecting SaaS and enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise. Greg recently guided MuleSoft to their $50 million Series E round, positioning the company as a dominant force driving the open, connected, enterprise cloud. Greg is a lifelong leader in open innovation, formerly serving as VP at Springsource, Verticalnet, and Agile Software.

sarahSarah Novotny (@sarahnovotny)
Technical Evangelist, NGINX; Program Chair, OSCON

Sarah Novotny is a technical evangelist and community manager for NGINX. Sarah has run large scale technology infrastructures as a Systems Engineer and a Database administrator for Amazon.com and the ill fated Ads.com. In 2001, she founded Blue Gecko, a remote database administration company with two peers from Amazon. Blue Gecko was sold to DatAvail in 2012. She’s also curated teams and been a leader in customer communities focused on high availability web application and platform delivery for Meteor Entertainment and Chef.

jmw

John Mark Walker (@johnmark)
Chief Cat Herder, Red Hat

Called “one of the original generals in the open source army,” John Mark Walker is the Gluster Community Leader for Red Hat. An experienced marketing executive specializing in grass roots community-building for startups, John Mark’s career has spanned numerous organizations, including Splunk, Sourceforge, VA Linux, and Hyperic. He’s widely known for identifying and nurturing community contributors into becoming leaders and evangelists in their own right, allowing communities to benefit from the network effect and a larger center of gravity.

brewerMark Brewer (@mabrewer7)
President & CEO, TypeSafe

Mark Brewer is President & CEO of TypeSafe, the company behind Scala and Akka. Mark previously served as Vice President of Business Operations for VMware’s Cloud Application Platform, where he helped build out their cloud application platform portfolio. Prior to VMware, Brewer was Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Services at SpringSource, where he was responsible for the packaging and delivery of SpringSource’s enterprise (subscription) offerings. Brewer also participates as Board Member for several open source technology companies, including Stormpath, LucidWorks and ActiveState.

datateDiane Tate (@tbiz)
Program Manager, Mozilla

Diane joined Mozilla to operate and expand the WebFWD startup accelerator, which incubated 33 developer-led, open source startups across 4 continents. Diane’s current role focuses on developer engagement, and working with startups to keep the web open.

mg

Michael Gold (@michaelgold)
Founder, #techdrinkup; Co-Founder, Empirical.ly

Michael Gold is a serial tech entrepreneur with expertise in marketing and product development. He’s advised well known brands such as HBO, LG, Montecristo, Starbucks, and Target. Michael’s marketing strategies have been featured on Mashable and he’s been written up in numerous publications including Forbes, Examiner, The Observer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Techcrunch. His company, Empirical.ly, connects world-renowned innovators and technologists through events, summits, and destination experiences.

cp-blu

Christian Perry (@sfbeta)
Founder, #sfbeta; Co-Founder, Empirical.ly

(It’s me!) Christian Perry is the Founder of #sfbeta and Co-Founder at Empirical.ly. For more than seven years, Christian has built and catalyzed technology communities across eight cities on three continents. His work has been featured in Wired, GigaOm, TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat. He served as a charter member of Intel’s Social Media Advisory Board, actively advises numerous companies and community organizers, and blogs daily from sfbeta.com.

PressFriendly Offers Startups a DIY Alternative to PR Agencies

The future of PR is in your hands.

The future of PR is in your hands.

Back in 2006, several months into launching my first startup, ZapTix, an enticing email arrived from a Chicago-based PR agency, where I was located at the time. We had a compelling back-and-forth conversation about their services, which all sounded great — until, that is, I learned about the price: $5,000 per month.

As far as PR agencies go, this, I’ve since learned, is on the low-end of retainers. In Silicon Valley, rates for reputable agencies hover around $10,000 to $15,000 per month, and only go up from there.

For the right company, in the right circumstances, this can be a bargain, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for PR professionals who go to tremendous lengths to craft stories, build momentum, and communicate effectively on behalf of their clients.

That said, the agency model often feels like a one-size-fits-all solution, flopping like a bulky sweater over the bodies of lean and bootstrapped ventures, who may need far less than what an agency provides. Often, the best pitch for an emerging startup comes not from an agent, but from the direct, authentic voice of a company’s founder.

Realizing this, a new venture, PressFriendly, offers a compelling, freemium service to help startups create their own news and share it with receptive journalists.

Founded by Paul Andren and Joel Denya, who met at YCombinator startup HelloSign, the company guides startups through a nine-step PR wizard, starting with a one-line takeaway, proceeding to various details about the release (angles, important details, type of announcement, and so on), and finally matching the story with journalists who are likely to express interest in the content.

VentureBeat reporter Rebecca Grant reviewed PressFriendly in a recent piece, catching on to their value — not to mention their disruptive potential:

As a reporter, I spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through irrelevant, un-newsworthy, uninteresting pitches. I (and I think I can speak for my colleagues here) am not any more likely to cover a startup that is pitched by a PR person than I am to cover one that’s pitched directly by an entrepreneur. In fact, I prefer the latter. What matters is the pitch has to catch my interest and contain relevant information.

Furthermore, all of our email addresses can be found on our author profile pages, so it’s not as if there is some secret, exclusive pipeline to our inbox.

So startups, with their limited resources, do not need to shell out for an expensive agency if they can get the pitch right.

FTW! GaymerX2 Surpasses Kickstarter Goal in Under 24 Hours

GaymerX2, the LGBTQ-focused gaming convention in San Francisco, secured over $12,000 in Kickstarter pledges in less than a day, easily surpassing their fundraising goal of $10,000 — with a month still to go.

The event follows last year’s GaymerX convention, which drew over 2,300 gaymers from around the world. This year’s convention promises an even bigger event, with three times the square footage at the InterContinental, a centrally-located downtown venue.

As with many fandom conventions, GaymerX2 offers a wide variety of attractions and spectacles, including live musical performances, celebrity appearances, and a rumored demo of Read Only Memories, the queer cyberpunk adventure game developed by in-house studio MidBoss Games.

The convention, along with the game — not to mention a YouTube video series — stem from the prolific, visionary mind of founder Matt Conn, whose efforts have galvanized widespread awareness of the queer gaming community, bringing a tangible sense of community and solidarity to a group whose members often express feelings of marginalization in both the gaming community and the world at large.

Fans and allies can back the GaymerX2 Kickstarter for as little as $1, with early bird convention tickets starting at $59.

Empirical.ly Announces Partnership with New Context

New-Context-logo

Today, Empirical.ly, the parent company of #sfbeta, has announced a partnership with SF-based New Context, the Digital Garage company focused on operations automation and information assurance.

Under the partnership, New Context will participate as a sponsor at two #sfbeta events in 2014 — The Future of HR, on January 8, along with a future event to be determined.

In turn, Empirical.ly will help New Context launch, curate, and promote a new event series called SFActivate, whose details will be announced in the coming weeks.