Founder of Reddit (YC S05) and the Internet's Own Cheerleader

reddit founder Alexis Ohanian featured in the New York Times:

Alexis Ohanian bounded through the offices of Maker’s Row, a start-up in Brooklyn that pairs small businesses with manufacturers. At 6-foot-5, dressed in a gingham shirt and jeans, Mr. Ohanian was, in more ways than one, the big man on campus.

Trailed by a four-man camera crew from the Verge, an online tech channel, Mr. Ohanian hovered over a cubicle and interrogated an employee, Rafael Gonzaque.

“Do you have friends who are not in the start-up game who love their jobs as much as you do?” he asked.

“No,” Mr. Gonzaque said, before adding, “Maybe fashion.”

Read the full story in The New York Times

AeroFS (YC S10) raises $5.5M for private cloud file sync, wins large corporations who want maximum security & privacy

AeroFS announces funding and it's 100% behind the firewall private cloud that lets corporations get all the benefits of shared file and folder sync without ever having to use a server they don't own and control: 

Air Computing Inc., which is doing business as AeroFS, emerged publicly Friday with software that lets customers privately share files in a way that no outsider–not even their software provider—can gain access to their data.

The company has been working in stealth for about three-and-a-half years, since graduating from the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator in the summer of 2010, and has since raised a total of $5.5 million in funding, primarily from Avalon Ventures, Venture Capital Dispatch has learned.

It has also won some large corporate customers, including a financial services firm in New York that signed up for 1,000 seats, with virtually no marketing, according to co-founder and Chief Executive Yuri Sagalov.

Mr. Sagalov says he assumes customers are proactively searching for what AeroFS does. He also believes the media stories generated by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden on how the NSA secretly monitors and captures our data have only reinforced customers’ desire to find something like AeroFS.

“We have a lot of customers come from Germany. They say they can’t store stuff on American servers, but you’re just software so it’s OK,” he said.

AeroFS’s distinguishing feature is its ability to avoid putting files on servers or any other central location where they could potentially be seen. Files are instead synchronized directly between users’ machines, and because they don’t have to take extra trips between the machines and a server, the data can travel faster and the software can accommodate more users.

Read the full article on WSJ

Wevorce (YC W13) Gets $1.7 Million To Use Technology To Make Divorce Less Messy

Divorce is known for bringing out the worst in people. And while ending a marriage is never going to be painless, the people at a startup called Wevorce believe that it doesn’t have to be as ugly as it often is — and that the status quo divorce process creates unnecessary conflict. According to Wevorce, technology and social science can be used to ease the stresses of the divorce process, and potentially make every divorce an amicable one.

It’s an ambitious but very worthy goal, given how many people are unfortunately affected by divorce nowadays. And now, the company has landed some new funding to help make it a reality.

Wevorce is announcing today that it’s taken on $1.7 million in a new seed funding round from investors including Foundation Capital and Sam Altman. This brings the total invested in Wevorce, which launched out of Y Combinator in March 2013, to $2 million.

Read the full story on TechCrunch


Prophecy Sciences (YC W13) transforms recruiting using neuroscience, behavioral tests, and bio-signals

Ask any startup or business what its top priorities are at any given moment and, more often than not, the conversation begins and ends with recruiting. In spite of this, recruiting and hiring top talent is a huge headache, the process is messy and inefficient, and most businesses stink at it as a result. According to Forbes, businesses in the U.S. spend close to $72 billion each year on recruiting services and products, yet 46 percent of hires fail within the first 18 months.

Rather than throwing darts, a new startup launching today wants to help companies turn hiring into a science. Using a combination of neurocognitive games, biometric signals and machine learning algorithms, Prophecy Sciences aims to help companies make smarter choices during the recruiting process. Of course, the real key to a successful hire is not simply locating the candidate with the best resume or most impressive credentials, although those certainly help. Ultimately, it’s about finding the person who’s the best fit for your team (and understands your company’s mission).

That’s why Prophecy Sciences starts with your team. The Y Combinator-backed company has created a 30-min sit-down test (which it also administers) that’s designed to measure the skill level, personality traits and interaction styles within working teams. Founded by Stanford neuroscience PhDs, rather than simply rely on Big Data or automation software, Prophecy Sciences wants to go deeper.

The test seeks to analyze the unique blend of chemical reactions, electrical impulses, reflexes and behaviors that make you who you are, and measure how you respond to group dynamics, before ultimately identifying trends between you and your colleagues. The idea being that the better it understands the patterns in how you and the team work, communicate and interact, the more effective it can be in helping you to find and place the right candidate — and optimize your existing teams, says Prophecy Sciences founder Bob Schafer.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

The New Matterport (YC W12) 3D Camera Could Change Reality As You Know It

"A few weeks ago I slipped on an Oculus Rift headset and visited the future of virtual reality. In a millisecond, I was transported from a drab office park in Mountain View, CA to the middle of a showcase home in Portola Valley, CA  that had been rendered as a life-size model by the Matterport 3D Camera.

It was the closest I’m likely to get to teleportation. The details of my immediate surroundings were completely replaced by the virtual world. Using a keypad, I could move around and explore the home’s nooks and crannies at my leisure."

Meet Coin (YC W13), a startup creating a universal credit card

Summary: Coin isn’t trying to replace the physical wallet with a digital one. Instead it’s trying to reduce all of the credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards that clutter up our wallets to a single piece of plastic.

As the contactless payments technologies from Google Wallet to Isis flounder, critics point to what now seems rather obvious: Silicon Valley is trying to fix a system that simply isn’t broken. Swiping a card through a point-of-sale magnetic stripe reader is easy and it works in millions of locations. In fact, the mobile payments companies that have been most successful, such as Square and PayPal, aren’t necessarily trying to change that basic transaction – they’ve just made it possible to use your plastic in more places.

Kanishk Parashar learned that lesson the hard way. The PayPal veteran developed a smartphone wallet app in 2010 called Smart Market that went nowhere. But now he’s founded a new company called Coin that isn’t messing around with the fundamentals of the basic credit card swipe. Instead it’s building a better credit card.

LendUp (YC W12) raises $14M Series A from Google Ventures, Data Collective

A startup called Flurish Inc., better known as LendUp, has raised $14 million in Series A financing to offer an online alternative to traditional payday loans, according to co-founders Sasha Orloff and Jacob Rosenberg.

Google Ventures led the investment in LendUp, joined by Data Collective and QED Investors. The deal marks one of several in the lending segment of financial services for Google Ventures and Google Inc., which backed OnDeck Capital Inc. and Lending Club Inc., respectively.

LendUp, based in San Francisco with 14 employees, gives short-term, small dollar loans to borrowers online–usually the kinds of borrowers banks won’t help. Instead of relying on FICO scores, LendUp uses publicly available data online–from social networks, for example–to assess which applicants may be a good risk, even if they don’t have any credit history in the U.S. Loan decisions are usually made within minutes, the company says.

Read the full article at WSJ

Weebly (YC W07) launches e-commerce capabilities, lets you sell unlimited products for $29/mo

It’s been said that under half the businesses in the United States don’t have a presence on the web beyond a quick listing by Google. Part of the reason is that website hosting can be expensive and complicated. Website builder Weebly, which says it hosts blogs and websites for 20 million people, wants to tackle the problem by appealing to part-time entrepreneurs who’d like an online store, but can’t afford the real estate. It’s spent the last two years building an e-commerce platform that makes it simple enough to create a free e-commerce site entirely on a smartphone, and in a few minutes.

“One of the things we’ve learned about our users in the last couple of  years is that 60% consider themselves entrepreneurs,” says CEO Dave Rusenko. In response he’s now offering them an eCommerce plan which includes a basic, free version for a site with features like product search, mobile checkout and the ability to sell up to five products. Selling unlimited products will cost $29 a month.

Read the full article on Forbes


Lob (YC S13) raises $2.4M for easy printing and shipping services API

This summer, the Y Combinator-backed startup Lob launched a new developer API which lets companies easily integrate printing and shipping services into their applications. Today, the company is announcing $2.4 million in seed funding from various YC partners and angel investors... With Lob, whose early adopters include CrowdTilt, ZenPayroll, LendUp, LocalOn, and others, developers can automate or print a variety of products on demand, including postcards, photos, flyers, posters, bills, checks, invoices, and more.

The company says it now has over 1,000 paying customers, and just hit $40,000 in revenue at the end of last month. It has also printed a million dollars worth of checks. On the horizon, there’s the potential for Lob to grow even larger, with now two Fortune 500 companies testing the service on a smaller scale. If those trials come to fruition, they could be multi-million dollar deals, the founders tell us.

Read the full article on TechCrunch