Does an Internet-only currency — not backed by any government entity — have a chance to become the way merchants and consumers transact business?
Coinbase not only believes so, but it has talked investors into giving it some start-up capital to build a much easier way for nontechnical users to pay with Bitcoin.
SendHub, the messaging startup that allows businesses to communicate with customers through SMS, is expanding its service today to include support for voice calls and voicemail. These new features put SendHub in more direct competition with Google Voice, as users will now be able to use their SendHub phone numbers to both make and receive phones calls, while keeping their personal cell numbers private. Although the company only has an iPhone application and online service currently, these voice calls can be initiated and received on any device that supports messaging – even on feature phones.
We’re all a bit tired of the “X is Twilio for Y” brand of analogies (though it’s refreshing to see more of Twilio in this equation than Airbnb these days), but if ever there were an industry in need of some modern, standardizing APIs it would be education. Thankfully, Clever, a San Francisco-based startup and member of Y Combinator’s current batch, is today launching a solution that brings some of the Twilio vision to education.
As companies from small startups to large enterprise continue to generate an ever-increasing amount of data, the demand for affordable and scalable databases also increases. Typically, this market has been the domain of large vendors like Oracle, but besides them and the usual open-source players, we’ve also seen a growing number of closed-source startups enter this space. Citus Data, which is launching version 1.0 of its CitusDB today, is the latest startup to challenge these incumbents.
The company, which has received a total of $1.6 million in seed funding, is based in Silicon Valley, with an additional office in Istanbul, Turkey. Among the seed investors are Trinity Ventures, Digital Garage, Matt Ocko, Ben Ling and Paul Buchheit. The founders are industry veterans who previously worked at Amazon and other companies that had to deal with large amounts of data since the early days of the web. The team has been working on the product for about two years now and already has a number of customers who are using CitusDB in a production environment.
Companies looking to monitor their web presence interactions have no shortage of analytics service providers to turn to. But in most cases, what they’ll get when they do set up an analytics solution is a database of numbers, which still have to be crunched by data scientists before they can be turned over to frontline staff and used to drive customer interaction policy and action. Custora, a startup looking to provide online retailers with insight about their customers, wants to shorten the loop on data gathered by organizing its analytics around questions rather than spreadsheets in its new 2.0 release.
Last night, Google showcased Beam’s new functionality with two apps, Paper Camera and Tagstand’s Task Launcher. Y Combinator-backed Tagstand, in particular, has been on a mission to make NFC more of a mainstream technology and is starting to pick up steam as a result.
Tagstand co-founder Kulveer Taggar tells us that the startup saw a big jump in demand when the NFC-equipped Galaxy Nexus hit stores, so they rebuilt Task Launcher to include a bunch of new features — and a new interface — in March. Sales picked up almost immediately, and they went on to sell as many tags in March as they did during the entire month of June 2011 (when the app launched).
What does one move onto after building what we called at one time “the most gorgeous photosharing app yet” and selling it to Facebook? For Divvyshot co-founder Sam Odio, its a new startup focused on analytics called Freshplum.
Along with Odio, co-founders Michael Yuan and Nick Alexander are announcing a $1.4M seed round of funding from some pretty impressive investors: New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Greylock Partners, Google Ventures and Charles River Ventures. If those firms weren’t enough, there are a few current and former executives from Google, PayPal and Facebook participating as well.
Looked for an apartment lately? It sucked, right? You showed up and you had to fill out an application and submit all sorts of stupid paperwork — credit check, proof of employment, utility invoice (apparently to prove that you can pay a bill, like an adult), etc. And then, if you’re lucky, your name will be pulled out of a hat amongst the other half-dozen people who applied for the same property.
Well that whole process sucks for landlords and property management companies as well. After all, they’re the ones who collect all that paperwork and sort through all that data. Don’t you wish there were a better way? Thanks to Rentobo, there is.
Yardsale, a mobile app to help folks sell goods to local buyers, is now available throughout the U.S., after a long, long period of testing in the San Francisco Bay Area. The latest version of the app, which hooks into Craigslist and enables users to easily list items for sale, hopes to take on other local marketplaces by reducing the friction associated with creating listings, and then dealing with flaky buyers afterward.
The Yardsale guys believe that everyone has some stuff they’d like to get rid of, if only Craigslist and eBay weren’t such a pain in the ass to deal with. On Craigslist, you’re faced with buyers who’d rather spend time haggling than actually buying your stuff. And when you do agree on a price, you never know whether your buyer will actually show up to, you know, buy the items. As for eBay, well, you are up against a growing number of small businesses, which have cropped up to largely make individual sellers seem irrelevant. In either case, it’s not a good user experience.