New Photos from #TechDrinkup

New York’s smash hit startup party, #techdrinkup, arrived in San Francisco for the second time last week. Check out the amazing photos on Mike Gold’s Facebook page!

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Announcing #sfbeta :: NYC SocialWeek Edition

Held in San Francisco since 2006, #sfbeta arrives in New York City on Monday, October 14, in partnership with SocialWeek.

Join hundreds of founders, investors, and hackers at The Alley for an evening of awesome people, groundbreaking startups, and illuminating conversation, celebrating the future of social media and the innovators behind it.

Co-produced with longtime friend and collaborator Michael Gold, Founder & Executive Producer of #techdrinkup, you’re invited to join us at the first and only NYC #sfbeta of the year.

#sfbeta provides a curated group of startups with the opportunity to demo throughout the evening. Startups with a social media focus: apply to demo today.

Register now for #sfbeta :: NYC SocialWeek Edition

#sfbeta Endorses Boycott of Coca-Cola

#sfbeta endorses the the Boycott of Coca-Cola and calls on other startups to do the same.

Coca-Cola is a signature sponsor of the 2014 Olympic Games, which have come under intense scrutiny due the fierce anti-gay legislation recently enacted in host country Russia.

The anti-gay law has unleashed a series of violent actions against the country’s LGBT community, with police often joining homophobic aggressors in contributing to, rather than curtailing, hate-inspired violence.

“It’s a scary place for LGBT people in Russia right now.”

Despite the public outcry against the law, which Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leaves General Manager, has called “repugnant,” Coca-Cola refuses to withdraw their sponsorship of the games, and remains silent on the controversial law itself.

Reactions against Coca-Cola have been fierce and swift, driven largely by the LGBT and allied communities. A Facebook page called Boycott 2014 Olympic Games in Russia has attracted 55,000 likes, whose frequent posts attracted the attention of television pundit Keith Olbermann:

On August 29, demonstrators gathered in Times Square, crushing Coca-Cola cans and pouring the sugary drink conspicuously down city drains. Journalist Craig Takeuchi reports, via the slightly-ironically-titled Straight.com,

Queer Nation NY and RUSA LGBT staged a demonstration in Times Square on August 29 to protest Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The activist organizations stated in a news release that they are demanding that the company withdraw its sponsorship.

“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” Queer Nation cofounder Alan Klein stated. “Coca-Cola is sacrificing the safety and security of Russian LGBT people for profit—a position that opposes fundamental Olympic principles, runs counter to the International Olympic Committee charter, and that will tarnish its global image for decades to come.”

Klein also noted that Coca-Cola also sponsored the Olympics in Nazi Germany in 1936.

Crisp, clear, repressing.

Homophobia has no place in a just and civil society, and #sfbeta condemns the individuals who practice it, and corporations that condone it.

Besides, companies should know better: in the leadup to the 2012 United States Presidential Election, Aimee Castenell received over 115,000 signatures in a petition protesting Google’s sponsorship of ultra-conservative CPAC conference, and enjoined Google: “Don’t sponsor bigotry.” Aligning oneself with homophobia, whether in the form of a country, a conference, or a commentator, is never cool.

As an active voice in the startup and entrepreneurship community, #sfbeta calls for an end to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

To co-sign your support (or express a rebuttal), please share your perspective in the comments below.

8.5 Life-Changing Startups (Including Life Itself!)

So, I've got this idea.

So, I’ve got this idea for a website.

Beyond the buzz, the dubious business models, the TechCrunch posts, and the endless cocktail parties, which startups are making a measurable impact on people’s daily lives?

I posed the question to Facebook and received eight responses, along with a vibrant sidebar dialog on the benefits and drawbacks of the technology-infused world we live in.

Below are the recommendations, with a hat tip to each of the recommenders.

Grovo: Cloud-based E-Learning… for the Cloud!

grovoDigital media pioneer David Kowarsky suggests NYC-based Grovo, a startup that helps people get their heads in the cloud. He offers an endorsement by way of caveat, since he works there: “Kind of a cheat to say — but I work there in part because I believe they’re making a huge difference,” he comments.

Grovo helps individuals and enterprises familiarize themselves with hundreds of cloud-based services, with training programs customized to each individual’s habits, experience, and goals. A Pro plan, ideal for companies, offers over 3,500 training videos, along with certifications, while a free plan equips users with a personalized training program, offering more than 1,000 videos for more than 100 different services.

Glympse: Permission-based Location Sharing

glympseDave Nielsen, Co-Founder of the CloudCamp unconference, recommends Seattle-based Glympse, a service that allows selective location-based sharing, bounded by invitations and time limits.

Integrated with Twitter and Facebook, and recently featured in Forbes, Glympse tracks the location of your iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone, and shares it selectively. Their hilariously over-the-top intro video chronicles a wide variety of use cases, from couples coordinating a meeting place, to laser tag enthusiasts checking in on the coordinates of their teammates.

Wunderlist: Best. Checklists. Ever?

wunder2Impressed by their stunning UI, multi-platform compatibility, famed ease of use, and extensive social sharing, filmmaker and Executive Producer Sarah Fisher recommends Berlin-based Wunderlist.

Wunderlist is difficult to explain to those who have never experienced it — how could a checklist app inspire so much elation and joy? Just ask the company’s millions of users. Wunderlist transforms an everyday activity into a beautiful, seemless, and intensely powerful productivity tool, suited both for individuals and collaborative groups, without sacrificing the intuitiveness afforded by a pen and paper.

Citymapper: Urban Transit in Your Pocket

citymapper-bgForget about Google Maps (as Apple would prefer you to). Chuka Chase, Hackstar at TechStars London (and Ninja in Residence at #sfbeta), recommends next-generation travel startup Citymapper, whose iPhone and Android apps simplify the experience of two of the world’s most complex cities: London (where the company is headquartered) and NYC.

Self-styled as “the ultimate transport app,” Citymapper helps users tackle a wide range of urban logistics — calculating the cost and time of taking a cab vs. taking a bus, for instance, or mapping a route between your current location and your workplace. Incorporating real-time datasets, Citymapper provides up-to-the minute arrival times for transit networks, along with delays and station closures.

Dashlane: Three flavors of awesome.

logo-dashlaneAs soon as Lyne Noella, Director of Sales & Marketing at Speechpad, recommended NYC/Paris-based Dashlane, I went to the app store and downloaded it.

Dashlane expands and simplifies the web and iOS user experience with three feature sets:

  • Password manager: Automatically import your passwords from Chrome or any other browser into your secure password vault. Save any missing passwords as you browse. Make a new password right within your browser. Get automatic alerts when websites get breached.
  • Autofill: Dashlane offers a smart form autofill that works – not some of the time, or even most of the time – but every time. Stop wasting time checking if everything is filled right, and correcting mistakes. Stop leaving your data unencrypted in your browser cache. Dashlaners save up to 50 hours a year with autofill alone.
  • Digital Wallet: Securely store your payment types in Dashlane’s online wallet. Get express checkout and flawless form filling everywhere you shop online. Automatically capture receipts of all your purchases. Always have your digital wallet on you, and never have to store your credit cards on sites that you don’t completely trust.

Splitwise: IOUs Made Easy

splitwiseSplitting bills and expenses generates headaches amongst friends and roommates the world over, but it doesn’t have to. Randall Leeds, Committer at Apache and Developer at Hypothes.is, likes Providence, RI-based Splitwise, the startup that makes group payments a breeze.

Available on web, iOS, and Android, Splitwise tracks group payments and keeps track of running balances, making it easy to remember who owes whom, and for what. The company recently launched Plates, the free iPhone app for splitting restaurant bills.

Rdio: Internet Radio Worth Working For

rdioIt’s a truism that the best startups inspire passion amongst their users, so much so that many will join the company as a result. It happened to David Schleef, whose love of Rdio prompted him to join their San Francisco headquarters as Principal Engineer.

Rdio is the groundbreaking digital music service that reinvents the way people discover, listen to, and share music. With a catalog of 20 million songs — available to play instantly or in perfect-mix stations — Rdio connects people with music and makes it easy to play any song, album, artist, or playlist. The company launched in August, 2010, led by Janus Friis, co-creator of Skype.

Patreon: Bringing the Arts to Life

patreonKickstarter distributes more money than the National Endowment for the Arts, and has itself kickstarted a global crowdfunding movement. NYC-based Patreon, honored in an encore recommendation by David Kowarsky, combines crowdsourcing with patronage, the traditional model for supporting artistic works and the people who create them.

Featured in Billboard, Wired, TechCrunch, All Things D, and Forbes, Patreon helps fans connect with artists, funding each one of their projects, piece by piece. Particularly popular for music videos, current projects also include comics, paintings, portraits, and poetry.

Life: As Seen On TV

lifeWhat if, in the rush toward an augmented life, we lose track of what life is all about? Lifelong technologist, entrepreneur, author, and podcast host Stever Robbins wonders if we’ve gone too far. His favorite startup is “life,” commenting:

Beta is full. We expect several openings shortly after the release of Google Glass, when we expect to lose many members permanently, freeing up a lot of open space.

He goes on to say:

I often see tech fanboys and girls slavishly worshiping at the altar of the latest gizmo or app, as they increasingly make their lives LESS efficient and less productive.

Keep in mind I’m an uber-geek myself. I’ve written more code than most programmers alive today under the age of 40. I own 2.5 computers for every member of my household. I’m not a Luddite by any stretch of imagination. But I do have the perspective to reflect on the quality of relationships, friendships, and interaction both pre- and post- Internet and cell phones.

At least so far, I find pre- to be superior over a wide range of situations.

Watch a group of 20-somethings out together at a restaurant, all texting and web browsing and not interacting face-to-face and that does NOT look to me like people finding meaning in technology. It looks like a lot of people whose dopamine systems have been consciously hijacked by Facebook and other apps that are designed to interrupt, distract, and seduce.

What are your favorite startups? How do you think the pace of technology has shaped our life, for better and for worse? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Neo’s Jeff Gothelf Expounds Upon the Lean Enterprise

Jeff Gothelf is the celebrated author of Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience (O’Reilly Publishing) and Managing Director at Neo, the global product innovation company.

While lean is traditionally associated with early-stage startups, it’s equally applicable to the enterprise, and this forms the focus of our discussion on @sfbeta On Air.

In this talk, Jeff joins us from Neo’s NYC offices to discuss the emergence of the Lean Enterprise, and how large organizations can (and do) embrace its cultural, organizational, and methodological principles.

Meet Jeff and the Neo team September 15 – 17 in Portland, OR at Lean Day: West.