With a mission to leverage technology for the force of good, the San-Francisco-based non-profit ReAllocate has organized HACKtivation for the Homeless, a weekend-long hackathon uniting techies with San Francisco’s 7000-person homeless and at-risk community.
In typical hackathon fashion, the weekend began with pitches, this time coming from local non-profits and city agencies. Participating techies joined teams that resonated with their passions and areas of expertise.
Gathering on a rainy Saturday at the Yammer HQ in the Twitter building, teams plugged away on a wide range of projects, each designed to have a lasting impact.
One group I spoke with is redesigning the website for St. Francis House, which serves the homeless elderly population. Another group, working for Larkin Street, is building an SMS-based reservation service for emergency beds, bypassing the need to check-in at the building itself. A third group, led by volunteers from Salesforce, is digitizing the Homeless Prenatal volunteer sign-up form, which they estimate will save 20 minutes per applicant.
GDC, the annual game developer conference, is heating up in San Francisco — as are the bazillion parties oft dubbed “sausage fests” for their preponderance of dudely revelers. Realizing this, an ingenious company called Paymentwall is hosting a sausage fest of its own — but this time, there will actually be sausages.
The cleverly-titled SausageFest takes place tonight at the upscale San Francisco-based Supper Club — and oh, will there be supper. In addition to the obligatory scantily clad women in German regalia (*sigh*), the third annual festival features unlimited German sausages of all shapes and sizes, washed down with free-flowing pints (perhaps even litres?) of German beer.
Ve have vays of making you drink.
According to Paymentwall’s CEO, Honor Gunday, the party will be set to a soundscape of German 80s music, along with a German oompah band. It is unclear whether the mashup geniuses of Bootie will be there to mix the two sounds together, but one can only speculate — and hope.
Paymentwall makes a suite of monetization services for mobile and social games, including subscriptions, offer walls, and in-game currency sales. The company helps free-to-play apps become profitable by incentivizing users to become customers, whether through actions they take, or purchases they make.
Appropriately enough, the SausageFest admission policy eats the dog food — so to speak — of its parent company’s philosophy. Attendees can either pay $10 for admission, or visit the Paymentwall booth at #2030 on the GDC convention floor to redeem a complimentary “MINT Card” for free admission.
Hundreds of people are attending. However, as of press time, research indicates that no one on the list is named Dick, Johnson, or Wang.
See who’s shining in the spotlight (so far) on April 22:
Salil 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.
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.
Sarah 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.
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.
Mark 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.
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.
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.
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.
My first taste of SXSW, circa 2008, left a weary residue on my palate. Unable to see beyond the hype of the festival, I swore I’d never return. But then, this year, thanks to my co-founder Mike Gold, I came back, and with eyes freshly opened, I can say that, folks, this place is the real deal.
Culturally, economically, and ecosystemically, Austin is quickly emerging as the next big startup hub, joining the esteemed ranks of San Francisco, New York, and London. As Faith Merino writes for Vator:
The tech scene in Austin is booming, so much so that it’s been dubbed the “Silicon Hills.” Heavy hitters like Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Dell, and more have set up shop in Austin, and the city now accounts for much of all the tech-related revenue in the state.
So if you’re looking to get your idea off the ground and you don’t want to live under a freeway overpass in Silicon Valley, Austin is the place to go.
Moreso than Boston (too stodgy), Portland (too chilly), Boulder (too small), LA (too sprawl-y), Seattle (too Amazon-and-Microsoft-y), or Chicago (too — I’m not sure what — but just not Chicago), Austin has the perfect storm of factors that position it for exponential growth in the years to come.
One of the largest universities in the nation, UT Austin, sits blocks away from downtown.
Similar to the San Francisco counterculture of yore, Austin celebrates individuality, self-expression, and weirdness — qualities that befit an entrepreneurial culture that challenges, rather than embraces, the status quo.
More to the point, Austin has a genuine and growing startup ecosystem already in place. Vibrant spaces like Capital Factory and Conjunctured offer world-class co-working. Accelerators like TechStars, Tech Ranch, and ATI offer numerous opportunities for incubation and early-stage growth. Growth-stage startups, like WPEngine and uShip, anchor the community with proven success stories.
And then, of course, there’s SXSW Interactive, bringing together more people from more startups than any other event in the world.
Southby serves as a telling analogy to the city’s sensibility as a whole: deeply community-driven, yet friendly and open to the outside world. Tellingly, denizens identify as “local,” not “native”; hometown pride permeates every square inch of the city’s 271.8 square miles, but it’s a smiling pride, a friendly pride, a welcoming pride — a pride that says mi casa, su casa —this is my home, and it can be yours, too.
Granted, none of this is intended to paint a rose-tinted view of the place. Austin has its share of problems and shortcomings — the startup scene lacks growth-stage venture capital, and, outside of SXSW, the event community is said to be lacking (though we’re certainly thinking about ways to change that). The city itself lacks blue-state-quality public transit, endures its fair share of crime, and sits in the midst of a state that’s governed, at least for now, by a festering mold of scum better known as Rick Perry.
Then again, the gaps and shortcomings in Austin (for the startup scene, at least) imply that there’s room to grow — and, with both an open-minded and business-friendly culture, the future shines brightly.
Southby! It’s that time of the year again, when gobsmacking masses of techies converge in the Texas capital for five days of drinking, trend-chasing, drinking, drinking, socializing, scavenging free barbeque, drinking, standing in lines, sporting the occasional pushup, and chasing the next big thing. Also, drinking.
The widely buzzed-about (or over-hyped, depending on your perspective) festival famously serves as a launchpad for emerging technology trends. The atmosphere offers a palpable taste of the zeitgeist — live at the time of this writing, at the Samsung Blogger Lounge, panelists dive into a live YouTube show, What’s Trending.
Often referred to as “spring break for nerds,” attendees oft scour for the same thing as people at every other spring break: sex. And this year, in particular, there’s an app for that. Many apps. On the top of everyone’s mind is Tinder, whose popularity seems impossible to quell. Then there’s the gay ol’ standby Grindr, whose Saturday night party promises to be… interesting.
Then there’s social dating app Down, rebranded from the infamous Bang With Friends. Offering double-opt-in matchmaking with a twist, users swipe “down” on a person’s face if they want to “get down,” or swipe up if they covet a date. Finally, a solution to humanity’s greatest challenge: separating those who want to date from those who want to fuck. (Venture capital at work!)
Since everyone is getting tired of Facebook’s insistence on real names, anonymity is enjoying a moment in the sun. Most popular, of course, is Secret, among a slew of emerging apps offering freedom from the glaring eye of everyone you know in real life. From another angle, internet privacy matters more than ever, with anonymous web-surfing trending along with the launch of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
Something you’d expect to see a lot of is Google Glass — but tellingly, there’s a lot more Regular Glass (it’s still a nerd conference, after all), not to mention sunglasses. Free shades dance about ubiquitously, elevated to the status of semi-official schwag. (Sidenote: bright neon frames are in, slatted Wayfarers and their assorted knock-offs are out.) When I met someone yesterday wearing Google Glasses, my first question was, “are you recording this?” and he replied, exasperatedly, “why does everyone keep asking me that?”
Bonus trend: “gif” is now definitely pronounced “jif.”
“Roadkill one and all.” Maybe our cutomers will buy these again if we add a Facebook.
Citing Microsoft's $9 billion acquisition of Nokia, Lead Systems Engineer ...