Tag Archive | "chris-hughes"

A Month After Going International, Social Commerce Platform Fancy Raises $53 Million

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imgres

Fancy, the shoppable rival to Pinterest, is said to have raised $53 million from investors, bringing the company valuation to $600 million, Bloomberg reported this morning.

The July 3 SEC filing disclosing the funding round did not name the full roster of investors. A Bloomberg source “familiar with the matter” said the backers include American Express, Len Blavatnik, and Will Smith. AmEx President Edward Gilligan, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Kering chairman Francois-Henri Pinault, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are listed on the filing.

COO Michael Silverman declined to comment to TechCrunch on how the company will be putting this investment to use, but it could have something to do with the announcement last month that Fancy would begin shipping worldwide. The international expansion was the result of demand from non-US users, who account for just under half of all users, Silverman told TechCrunch last month.

As we pointed out, Fancy does face tough competition in the U.S. from sites like Polyvore and Wanelo, which rank well above it on the iPhone app store. Moving internationally could lower the field of competitors.

Often compared to Pinterest for its image sharing format, Fancy has been working on the idea of social commerce since it enabled users to shop the products in the images directly on the site in February.

Another, presumably smaller part of the Fancy business model is sample subscriptions. The company started selling its Birchbox-like “Fancy Boxes” in September 2012 and acquired the artisinal food subscription service Samplrs in February. Fancy could be looking to expand this further, but it seems secondary to the international commerce move at this point.

Fancy told TechCrunch this morning that they are now seeing about $100,000 per day in sales. They are also claiming nearly 8 million registered users and over 12 million unique visitors across all platforms last month.

We’ll be watching to see where these numbers go in the months following Fancy’s internationalization, especially if this latest investment round has anything to do with it.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Upworthy, Purveyor Of Videos With A Heart, Makes Plans To Monetize On Crazy Growth Rate

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Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 9.46.36 PM

After a first year marked by explosive growth, the social video site Upworthy is now focusing its attention on turning that traction into revenue.

They are piloting ideas right now, but don’t expect banner ads. Co-founder Peter Koechley told TechCrunch that sponsored content will have to be experientially in line with their curated videos, which focus on meaningful issues like domestic violence, education, and gay marriage.

“Our core is finding the greatest content and packaging it extremely well. We think that organizations and brands are finding that pretty valuable. They have the ability to pass through our filter, and have us share it out.”

Upworthy is claiming growth rates significantly higher than comparable sites like Business Insider and The Huffington Post and reporting over 3 million subscribers as of May, following the success of its hugely popular “Wondtacular” video.

Last October, Upworthy raised a $4 million seed round from investors including Facebook’s Chris Hughes, Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, and John Johnson of BuzzFeed.

Upworthy’s mission is to make substantive content go viral. The theory is that people do care about important stories — just as much, if not more, than cute, silly cats — and that it just needs better packaging.

Upworthy’s recipe for virality is part emotional and part marketing. The first test is subjective: is the curator, one of about 20 team members searching for content, crying by the end of the video?

The next part is pure metrics and marketing energy. With “Wondtacular,” the team tested 79 different headlines for two days, trying out 8 different made up words until they had one with the best chance of blowing up.

Then there’s distribution. Upworthy has worked hard to build its Facebook community (they have over 2M likes at this point) so that their users would act as amplifiers. They’ve clearly done a good job of that so far.

Koechley said the ultimate goal of Upworthy is to take up the noble mission of a dying old media and ultimately change the kind of things people across the nation are thinking about:

“To drive attention to the things we think really matter, get people paying attention, and pull some attention away from the frivolous stuff.”

Koechley said outright that Upworthy is focused on steady, aggressive growth in the coming year. We’ll see what they’re able to do to turn that meaningful content into meaningful green.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

The New King Of Web Optimization? Optimizely Has Run 100K A/B Tests On More Than 1B Visitors

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optimizely-logo

Optimizely co-founder and CEO Dan Siroker shared some big numbers today about the A/B testing service’s growth.

Let’s go with the biggest one first. Siroker says Optimizely, which makes it easy for websites to conduct tests to optimize their design and content, has now delivered those tests to 1,303,364,329 visitors around the Web. (He provided the number this afternoon, so those last few digits are probably too low now.) He also says Optimizely has run a total of 100,000 tests.

Or, if you want a more concrete point of comparison, let’s look at something Siroker said back in May, when Optimizely raised funding. At the time, he boasted about passing Google Website Optimizer in adoption, and he said he was aiming to surpass the market leader, Omniture’s Test and Target product. Now, he tells me (and announced via blog post) that Optimizely has achieved that goal. Specifically, BuiltWith reports that Optimizely is being used by 1.96 percent of the Alexa top 10,000 sites, putting it on par with Omniture — and given the way Optimizely is growing, it seems like a pretty clear bet to secure the lead (though there are other BuiltWith stats, like usage by the total number of sites, where Omniture still wins).

Optimizely now has more than 2,800 customers including GoDaddy, Footlocker, Electronic Arts, CareerBuilder, Gilt, New York Magazine, LexusNexus, Art of Shaving, and The New Republic, Siroker says. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that established media organizations, like New York Magazine and The New Republic (recently acquired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes), are getting on-board.

The service is also being used by both the Obama and Romney campaigns — Siroker points to a quote from Romney’s digital director Zac Moffatt, who said he started using Optimizely “Once I got over myself.” (He hesitated because Siroker was Obama’s director of analytics in 2008.)

In the past few months, Optimizely also launched its mobile product. Siroker says the next step is to go beyond A/B testing, with “really sophisticated segmentation and personalization tools” in the works. The goal is to help publishers deliver a unique experience for each user, in the same way that Amazon and Netflix do now.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Sean Parker: “This Election, Social Media Will Determine The Outcome”

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Sean+Shervin

Every time Sean Parker goes onstage, someone asks him the inevitable question, “Where is the social web going.” Today at Le Web, where he was interviewed alongside VC Shervin Pishevar by TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis, he decided to talk about politics. “I don’t think politics have been figured out yet,” he says.

The Obama campaign created financial relationships with voters online but, not deeper political relationships. Parker thinks that will change in 2012. “This election, social media will determine the outcome,” he predicts.

Wait. Didn’t it determine the last election? Obama’s victory in the last U.S. presidential election is often attributed to his mastery of Web campaigning and social media. After all, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes ran the Obama campaign’s social media efforts. But Parker, who himself was the first president of Facebook, says “a lot of it was a mythology. In truth the social media elements of the Obama campaign, while extremely innovative, did not produce a lot of results. Obama did raise hundreds of millions online, but not through social media.” Rather, it was through old-fashioned mailing lists and field outreach that pushed people online to make that final donation.

In his view, social media can trump other forms of political outreach (mass mailings, canvassing, political rallies). “At the end of the day,” he concludes, “money is just a proxy for votes. That is what makes politics so vulnerable to social media. Social media can deliver a relationship much more effectively than these field techniques.”



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

With Traffic Surging, NationBuilder Opens Its Doors To Larger Organizations

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nationshot

If you’re running a political campaign, a charity, or any other group where keeping in touch with community members — and/or delegating tasks to them — is critical, then you’ll probably be interested in a startup called NationBuilder.

The service launched in April, closing a $500,000 seed funding round the following month that was led by Chris Hughes. Hughes is best known for cofounding Facebook and leading President Obama’s online campaign efforts in 2008 (in other words, he’s exactly the sort of backer you’d want for this kind of startup).

And this fall, it’s started getting some strong traction. In September it had almost 200k unique visitors doing 1.2 million page views — that jumped to 400k uniques the following month, with 2.5 million page views. The service now has 300 groups on board, with a total of some 1 million supporters signed up. One of the site’s core features is fundraising, and groups have raised $3.3 million so far using the platform.

Now that it’s got its feet under it, NationBuilder is ready to ramp things up. Thus far the service has been limited to groups with fewer than 200,000 members, but now it’s opening up to larger groups, which will obviously pave the way for even more growth.

And while many of the site’s current groups revolve around a political campaign or non-profit, other groups are using it too, like the Beall Elementary PTA and a community around the documentary Stem Cell Revolutions. Gilliam says that ultimately the site’s target market is much broader than politics and non-profits — it’s “everyone building a community online”.

You may also be interested in checking out social fundraising platform Rally.org (you can find our previous coverage on it right here).



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Facebook Acquires Team Behind HTML5 App Platform Strobe; SproutCore Lives On

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strobe

Facebook has apparently completed yet another small acquisition, snapping up HTML5 app distribution platform company Strobe.

In a blog post, Strobe founder (and creator of open source JavaScript framework SproutCore) Charles Jolley says the Strobe service will continue to exist in its current beta form. SproutCore will live on as an independent project, he adds.

We’re happy to announce that, as of this week, the Strobe team is joining Facebook!

Strobe was founded on the belief that HTML5 can transform the way average people use their mobile phones through apps that are available everywhere, anytime, on any device. Now we’re joining the talented people at Facebook to help develop innovative mobile experiences for their users around the world.

For now, the Strobe service will continue to be available to existing users in its existing beta form. We will provide updates by email if and when this changes. SproutCore, meanwhile, will continue as an independent project.

Strobe has been a fantastic adventure. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. We look forward to working with you again in our future roles.

Sincerely,

- The Strobe Team

Strobe’s platform, which debuted back in September, helps developers build HTML5-based Web applications for desktops, smartphones and tablets, and lets them centrally manage them using a single interface. Sarah took a close look at Strobe when the service made its formal debut.

The company had raised $2.5 million from O’Reilly AlphaTech and Hummer Winblad.

Update: as expected, this is mostly a talent acquisition. A Facebook spokesperson says:

We’re excited to confirm that we’ve completed a talent acquisition for Strobe Corp., a mobile app development startup based in San Francisco. Founder and CEO Charles Jolley will join our mobile engineering team, and we’re looking forward to the major impact the Strobe team will undoubtedly make at Facebook.



Company:
Strobe
Website:
strobecorp.com
Launch Date:
January 6, 2010
Funding:
$2.5M

Strobe Inc. provides software and cloud services for touch-centric applications on the web. Based on a blend of technologies, like native, HTML5 and SproutCore, Strobe apps offer a high-quality native-style user experience across devices.

Learn more

Company:
Facebook
Website:
facebook.com
Launch Date:
January 2, 2004
Funding:
$2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

Learn more



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Facebook Acquires Mobile Video And Image Editing App Developer Digital Staircase

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It looks like Facebook has just acquired mobile video and image app developer Digital Staircase, according to a blog post on the startup’s site. We’ve embedded the blog post below and emailed Facebook for confirmation.

Digital Staircase has developed a number of apps for video recording, image editing and more. MovieCam, which is available as an iPad and iOS app, is a camcorder app that provides recording features like 8x digital zoom, pause-and-resume recording functionality, and contrast enhancement. The app also allows you to add 18 movie effects and filters while shooting video.

iPhone app StereoCam aids in the quick creation of stereo image pairs. A stereo image pair consists of two specially designed images that are placed side-by-side to allow viewers (employing an appropriate viewing technique) to see the depicted scene in full.

Another iOS app SmartSplice uses advanced graphics algorithms to improve the speed and ease of creating high-quality image selections and provides image filters and a way to create professional-looking image effects.

From the post, it appears that the development team may be adding some of these functionalities to Facebook itself. Unfortunately, Digital Staircase will be removing its apps from the Apple App Store.

Dear Digital Staircase customers, followers, and supporters,
Hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since we started Digital Staircase. As with any startup, there have been ups and downs, but we’ve always had a blast working with you all to create new graphics apps and tools that make the joy of visual computing accessible. We’re announcing today that we’re being acquired by Facebook to help bring these mobile innovations to a broader audience. Many things may change, but our dedication to immersive experiences will not.
In a couple weeks (around 12/05/2011), we will be closing down Digital Staircase as a standalone entity and will remove all iOS products from the Apple iTunes store. Those of you who own apps (MovieCam, SmartSplice, StereoCam, etc) will still be able to use them on your current device. Please look out for new innovations to be added to Facebook.
Thanks for all the support, and feel free to contact us at support@digitalstaircase.com for more suggestions, comments, and feedback. We’re always looking for ways to improve the user experience.
Thanks,
The Digital Staircase Team



Company:
Facebook
Website:
facebook.com
Launch Date:
January 2, 2004
Funding:
$2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

Learn more



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Video Interview: The Founders Of Asana Declare War Against ‘Work About Work’

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In late 2008, news broke that Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz was leaving the company to launch a new startup of his own, joined by early Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein. It was a move that led to plenty of raised eyebrows — Facebook’s growth was (and still is) explosive, and there were clearly lots of exciting things going on at the company.

The duo later revealed that they were working on a productivity app called Asana, raising a total of $10.2 million to fund the company. And yesterday, after two years in production and lengthy beta testing, the site held its public launch (you can find our full rundown on the launch right here).

So why did Moskovitz and Rosenstein start Asana? Yesterday the founders stepped away from their launch-day battle stations for an interview on TechCrunch TV, where they outlined their motivations for starting the company, and what makes Asana different from the slew of productivity apps that are already out there. Check out the video above for their answers.



Company:
Asana
Website:
asana.com
Launch Date:
November 3, 2011
Funding:
$10.2M

Asana is a web application that keeps teams in sync – a single place for everyone to quickly capture, organize, track and communicate what they are working on. It was founded by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, an alum of both Facebook and Google.

Learn more

Company:
Facebook
Website:
facebook.com
Launch Date:
January 2, 2004
Funding:
$2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

Learn more



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Judge Dismisses Class Action Lawsuit Over Facebook’s Friend Finder Feature

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facebook

A class action lawsuit filed against Facebook over its FriendFinder feature was dismissed yesterday by a California federal judge. In the case of Robyn Cohen, et al. v. Facebook, a group of the network’s members alleged that Facebook misappropriated users’ names and likenesses to promote its Friend Finder service, which suggests new Facebook friends to a user who chooses to upload his or her email contacts.

The Robyn Cohen case was actually dismissed previously on June 28, 2011, but the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. Thursday’s order dismissed this complaint. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not show any economic harm from Facebook’s alleged use of their names and likenesses.

Facebook had previously argued that there was no injury to the plaintiffs and that the network’s privacy policy stipulates that members’ names and photos are public information.

Facebook’s Litigation Counsel Sandeep Solanki issued this response to the ruling, “We appreciate the Court’s consideration, and we are pleased that all claims were dismissed with prejudice.”

This isn’t the first recent class action dismissal for Facebook. In September the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed a class action lawsuit challenging the use of teenagers’ names and likenesses next to third-party advertisements on Facebook, allegedly without parental consent.

Of course, when one goes away, a few new ones are bound to pop up. Earlier in October, Facebook saw three new potential class-action lawsuits filed regarding reports that it tracks logged-out users.



Company:
Facebook
Website:
facebook.com
Launch Date:
January 2, 2004
Funding:
$2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

Learn more



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Locked Out Of Facebook? Your Friends Will Soon Be Able To Help You Get Back In

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facebook-security

Facebook says it will soon allow you to get help from your friends when you get locked out of your Facebook account. According to a post on Facebook’s official Security page, you’ll be able to designate three to five friends as “Trusted Friends” who will be sent special codes in the event that you’re locked out of your Facebook account and unable to access your email.

It will also be introducing something called “App Passwords” to bring increased security to Facebook-enabled applications.

Typically, when you can’t remember your Facebook password, you can have a password reset sent to you via email. Sometimes, such as when you’ve had your Facebook account hacked, your email has also been compromised. In other cases, people who signed up with Facebook so long ago may no longer have access to the email account (or accounts) Facebook has on file.

With the new “Trusted Friends” setting, getting back into your locked account can now be facilitated by your friends instead.

Says Facebook:

Similar to other features that help you prove your identity through your friends, you can now select three to five trusted friends who can help you if you ever have issues accessing your account.  It’s sort of similar to giving a house key to your friends when you go on vacation–pick the friends you most trust in case you need their help.

If you forgot your password and need to login but can’t access your email account, you can rely on your friends to help you get back in.  We will send codes to the friends you have selected and they can pass along that information to you.

Facebook is also introducing another security feature in the next few weeks called App Passwords. This will allow you to set application-specific passwords that will allow you to login to third-party applications with a unique code. From the description, it sounds like these will be one-time passwords that you will use just the first time you authorize an application using your Facebook credentials.

Although it’s nice to see Facebook focused on security efforts, this particular development is probably not going to be much of a hit with mainstream users. Even Facebook itself can’t seem to describe the feature all that clearly:

There are tons of applications you can use by logging in with your Facebook credentials.  However, in some cases, you may want to have a unique password for that application. This is especially helpful if you have opted into Login Approvals, for which security codes don’t always work when using third-party applications.

We are testing a feature that allows you to use app passwords for logging into third-party applications. Simply go to your Account Settings, then the Security tab, and finally to the App Passwords section.  You can generate a password that you won’t need to remember, just enter it along with your email when logging into an application.

Facebook makes this announcement all the more confusing by posting a screenshot with the word “Apple” to describe the “app” in question. That makes it sound like Facebook is talking about device-specific passwords, which is not actually the case.

It’s a one-time password for a given app, and that app may run on an Apple device, but it won’t work for all the Facebook-enabled apps on the same device.



Company:
Facebook
Website:
facebook.com
Launch Date:
January 2, 2004
Funding:
$2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

Learn more



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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