Alexis Ohanian of Reddit (YC S05) hosts Small Empires on The Verge, early viewing tonight at 5pm Pacific

Our new web series Small Empires debuts across all internets tomorrow, July 30th, but we’re broadcasting the first episode one day early! That's right — tonight at 8PM ET / 5PM PT, you'll be able to watch the first episode with the show's host, Alexis Ohanian. The episode will officially be available on demand starting tomorrow morning.

Immediately following the broadcast, we’ll have Alexis (co-founder of Reddit, Breadpig, and Hipmunk) live in studio with our own Nilay Patel and the show's producer Stephen Greenwood, answering your questions and discussing the show's roots and motivations. Submit your inquiries in the comments below and there’s a good chance they’ll be answered. We’re also taking questions on Twitter (include #SmallEmpires). See you tonight!

Watch later today at The Verge

Double Robotics (YC S12) helps Williams Cycling work remote, and save thousands on travel to their wind tunnel

A2 Wind Tunnel is located in Mooresville, North Carolina. 2662 miles to the west of A2 in Stockton, California is Williams Cycling, a bicycle company who needs to test their new bicycle frame in A2's wind tunnel.

A2 realizes that their customer's travel expenses often surpass the cost of the wind tunnel test itself. The time commitment alone would mean that the team from Williams Cycling would be out of office for 3 whole days: 2 days just for traveling to and from, and 1 day for the actual testing in the wind tunnel.

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“To have this access to a facility with the capability of A2 is huge for a company like ours. The ability to simply log on to the test from our office and interact with Dave as if we were right there in A2 was quite an experience. Not only did it save us a lot of money in travel expenses, but with full access to the tunnel at our control, we felt like we were actually there every step of the way. Now prototype testing is going to be almost effortless as we can send something right away to get tested and have immediate results while saving us time and money.”
— Keith Williams, Williams Cycling
Read the full article on the Double Robotics blog

Zenefits (YC W13) raises $2.1M from Venrock, Maverick, Aaron Levie, Charlie Cheever to automate startup HR

For small businesses, managing health insurance and payroll services can be a huge pain and time-sink. They probably don’t have someone on staff dedicated to these issues, and they themselves would rather be dedicating that energy to building a company. Zenefits launched out of Y Combinator this winter to remove the friction of setting up and managing group health coverage and payroll by automating the process and bringing it online — for free.

As a testament to how much demand there is among startups and small businesses, since expanding its service at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC in April, Zenefits co-founder Parker Conrad tells us that the company has signed on over 110 clients (ranging from 2 employees to over 100) and is now bringing on an average of 10 customers each week. Today, as it looks to continue expanding operations beyond California, Zenefits is announcing that it has raised $2.1 million in seed capital from an impressive roster of venture firms and angel investors.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

DoorDash (YC S13) delivers from favs like Oren's Hummus, Sprout for $6 in 45 mins—now serving PA, MV, Los Altos

DoorDash, a Y Combinator summer ‘13 company, delivers food from restaurants in Palo Alto and Mountain View in an average time of 45 minutes.

Sound familiar?

It’s a crowded space, but while competitors like Seamless and Grubhub offer users an app to order food from any restaurant that has its own drivers and delivery system setup, DoorDash hires and manages its own drivers, so it can bring you food from restaurants that don’t have their own delivery drivers.

That may not seem like a big difference, but for the suburbs and college campuses, it’s a welcome change from having just pizza and Chinese food places offering delivery.

DoorDash charges $6 per delivery with no minimum order size, and currently delivers lunch (11:45 am-1:30 pm) and dinner (5:30pm – 9:00pm) every day. The company currently delivers to Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Mountain View from 50 restaurants in the area.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Order from DoorDash now

Prim (YC S13) launches the Uber for Laundry—Painless pickup, wash, fold, now available in SF, MV, Palo Alto

You can call it a first-world problem. Or you can say it distracts people from their passions and contributions to the world. Either way, laundry is a chore, and new Y Combinator startup Prim wants to do it for you. You can schedule Prim online to come to your place, pick up your laundry, have it washed and folded at a top-notch laundromat, and deliver it back to you. $25 for a bag. It’s that easy.

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Currently Prim operates in San Francisco, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park — home to the world’s busiest techies. You go online and select from their upcoming 9am-11am or 8pm-10pm pickup and drop-off windows. You throw your clothes in a garbage bag and wait for Prim’s text that it’ll be there in 15 minutes. The driver calls when they arrive. You can hand them the bag, leave it with your doorman, or if you’re comfortable, give them a copy of your key or send a photo of it and they’ll make a copy so they can just come into your place and grab the bag.

Their driver takes the sack of clothes to be tagged and brings it to a well-rated local laundromat with a track record of flawless jobs. Within two days you get notified to confirm your delivery, and Prim brings the washed and folded clothes back in high-quality nylon satchels. It even ties together your stacks of shirts or whatever you wouldn’t want wrinkled so they stay prim and proper. See! That’s where they got the name! You got that already? Sorry.

The cost is $25 for the first bag of each pickup and $15 for the additional ones. That’s a bit more expensive than you can expect from a laundromat’s wash and fold, but you get the pick-up and delivery included. Because Prim brings in so much business, it gets discounts from the laundromats so the price stays reasonable. Prim strives for perfection, but in case anything gets lost or damaged, Wu says Prim has insurance and will refund you 100% of the cost of your clothes. “If there’s any mistake, we try to bend over backwards for our customers” says Wu.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try Prim now

Pulitzer prize-winning author Junot Díaz uses Rap Genius (YC S11) to creatively annotate his works

Pulitzer prize-winning author Junot Díaz has laid bare the inspirations behind parts of his celebrated 2008 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in a series of annotations to the text posted on a social media site that lets rap, rock and poetry fans share their passions.

The site, Rapgenius.com, taps into fans' enduring thirst for knowledge about the inspirations of their creative heroes, and enables users to post song lyrics, poems or passages of prose and to "collaboratively annotate" them.

Díaz's prize-winning novel follows the life of Oscar de León, a boy growing up as a Dominican immigrant in New Jersey who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels, and is also falling in love. Diaz took to Rapgenius.com to share the backstory to one of the book's footnotes, which relates to "Outer Azuo", the remote reaches of the Dominican Republic's Azua province, and Oscar's perceptions of it.

Read the full article at The Guardian
Hat tip Alexis Ohanian

Machine Zone (YC W08) debuts Game of War iOS MMO game, supports hundreds of thousands of players simultaneously

While iOS games started out as either simple physics or casual simulation titles when the platform launched about five years ago, the bar has gotten steadily higher and more hard-core. Midcore studios like Kabam started to rise in prominence.

Now the iOS platform might be seeing is most hardcore title to date — a very, very massive multi-player title from YC- and Menlo Ventures-backed Machine Zone.

The company, which started out doing text-based RPGs a couple years ago like iMob, is launching Game of War: Fire Age. It’s a title where players build and grow empires, train massive armies, forge alliances with other players to win kingdoms.

The game can handle hundreds of thousands of players concurrently in the same universe, which is not an easy technical feat. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, in contrast, typically handles a few thousand players simultaneously in a single realm. All movement on the game’s map is visible to everyone else.

“We wanted to take the company to the next level and be really ambitious,” said Machine Zone CEO Gabriel Leydon. “We decided to build some things that had never been done before. We had the capital to do it and the willpower.”

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Lob (YC S13) launches a cloud printing and shipping service for developers

Want to build your own Postagram? You could with Lob, a new developer API for integrating printing and shipping services into applications that’s officially opening its doors today. The company makes it possible for a business to implement a programmatic means of printing, packaging, and shipping items on demand, including things like business cards, photos, posters, letters, postcards, checks, stickers, and more. During its brief testing period, Lob saw sign-ups from customers like CrowdTilt, ZenPayroll, LendUp, and others.

Founded just a couple of months ago by University of Michigan grads Harry Zhang and Leore Avidar, Lob is participating in Y Combinator’s summer 2013 program. Today, it already has hundreds of customers and is generating revenue, the founders say.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Try Lob now for your printing needs

How Asana does marketing analytics: Google Analytics + Optimizely (YC W10) + Swiftype (YC W12)

Analytics: Google Analytics + Optimizely + Swiftype

Effective marketing is data-driven, and the best tools help teams not just capture data, but drive insights and action.  We use Google Analytics extensively, and we have customized it to help us segment visitors, capture events, and measure the success of campaigns. When we want to A/B test different content and messages, we use Optimizely, which is one of the best tools we’ve found for driving actionable insights (and is insanely simple to use, even for marketers not comfortable with code).

Our support and learning site, the Asana Guide, features site search by a company called Swiftype. Somewhat unintentionally, we’ve found Swiftype to be a goldmine of analytics data – seeing what people are searching for, finding, and not finding.  We share these reports with the product team to illuminate user confusion and pain points, and we use the data to add support content and make product changes.  Additionally, Swiftype lets us adjust search rankings, so we can point the most popular searches to the most relevant content.

Read the full article at the Asana blog

Watsi (YC W13) raises a $1.2M philanthropic seed round from PG, Tencent, YC, Conway, Khosla, Draper Richards Kaplan

We dropped everything for Watsi. We quit our jobs, moved across the country, and worked hundred-hour weeks to prove that by connecting people, we could change the future of healthcare.

Three months ago, we had the opportunity to pitch Watsi to the titans of Silicon Valley at Y Combinator’s Demo Day. Today, we’re excited to announce that 13 of the world’s most innovative philanthropists have contributed $1.2 million to fund Watsi’s operations.

Read the full announcement at the Watsi Blog