Brace (YC W12) launches Dropbox-powered hosting, making it easy to host and update static websites

Sometimes, all you need is a static website. Thanks to the advances in HTML5 and JavaScript, you can even offer relatively complex services through a static site. Brace, which is officially launching next week but is already available today, believes that there is a sizable market for a service that can make static hosting easier.

As Cole Krumbholz, Brace’s co-founder, told me earlier this week, the service is mostly aimed at web designers who can use it to push their work onto a live site without the need to know about setting up and managing servers. With Brace, they simply upload their files to a designated Dropbox folder and Brace will then sync it with its Amazon-hosted servers.

Read the full article at TechCrunch

Swapbox (YC W13) raises $800K with centrally located delivery lockers, available now in San Francisco

San Francisco-based startup and Y Combinator Winter 2013 class member Swapbox has raised $800,000 in seed funding, led by Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund investment vehicle and including Fuel Capital, YC founder Trevor Blackwell, Base Ventures and Ace & Company. The startup is hoping to cash in on the rise of ecommerce and home delivery, with shared, centrally located delivery lockers so people never miss a package again.

Swapbox isn’t alone with that aim, and it’s pitting itself against some heavy hitters; both Google and Amazon already have delivery pick-up initiatives in place, Amazon via its Lockers programs in select cities, and Google through BufferBox, a Waterloo-based startup it acquired last year. BufferBox recently went live in San Francisco, where it has packages accepted by local businesses. Swapbox co-founder and CEO Neel Murthy thinks there’s still room for a startup in the space, however.

“We accept any packages from anywhere. Shop online, we give you a new address and you just ship to that address,” he said in an interview. “It’s an independent platform that works for all the other ecommerce players.”

Read the full article on TechCrunch (YC S13) lets you share music tracks across iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, Rdio and YouTube.

Competition for listeners among digital music companies is tough (and getting tougher). But while each builds a business that it hopes will stand out enough from the rest of the pack, a new startup called, incubated at Y-Combinator this past summer, is blurring those distinctions a bit, with a platform that meshes all the services together on a universal platform — a “canonical home for music on the internet,” as’s co-founder and CEO Shehzad Daredia puts it.

Bop works like this: You can search for and listen to any song on detects what music subscriptions you may have and provides tracks from those services first — currently it catalogues streaming services Spotify and Rdio, as well as free services like YouTube and SoundCloud, and paid-for download services like iTunes, Amazon and Google Play; it plans to add more. In cases where you do not subscribe to Spotify or Rdio, or the track is not available on either, a user is given a YouTube link, or a SoundCloud link. You also get options to buy and download tracks. In each case, what has done is use the digital “fingerprint” of each track effectively to map each of these services on top of each other so that you get just one option for listening to it, and one for purchasing.

Then, you can create a link to that song to share with others. That link comes back to, and as with your original listening experience, detects which services you use before serving a result.

Read the full article at TechCrunch

Homejoy (YC S10) Raises $38M for House Cleaning On Demand

Homejoy Inc. raised $38 million in new venture funding to sell professional home-cleaning services for $20 per hour online and via mobile app. 

The San Francisco startup will offer other home-related services, from plumbers to babysitters, in the future, executives said.

The $38 million in new funding comes from a combined Series A and B round. Redpoint Ventures led the Series B investment, joined by the company’s Series A lead investors Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Max Levchin and others. A graduate of the Y Combinator accelerator, Homejoy earlier raised $2 million in seed and venture funding, bringing its total capital raised to $40 million.

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Ahead of Christmas, ZowPow (YC W14) Launches Plush Toy Controllers That Interact With Mobile Games

Like moths to a flame, kids gravitate toward iPad and iPhone games. But for parents that want their children to still be exposed to real-world toys, a new startup called ZowPow is offering a way that they can do both.

The company makes plush toys that can control gameplay.

One of their very first toys is a tiny plane that can control up-and-down movement for a paired game called “Tiny Plane,” which is published by EA’s Chillingo.

E La Carte (YC S10) Scores Deal With Applebee’s, Bringing 100,000 Tableside Tablets To All U.S. Locations

Applebee's, the largest casual dining chain in the U.S., has signed a deal with restaurant tablet hardware and software provider E la Carte, which will see it introducing 100,000 tableside tablets to its locations starting in 2014, with the rollout completed by year-end. This represents one of the largest tableside tablet rollouts to date in any private enterprise, as Applebee's serves around a million guests per day.

“Tablets are going to be in front of a lot more consumers at restaurants than they were before,” says E la Carte CEO Rajat Suri of the agreement with DineEquity, which operates the Applebee's chain as well as IHOP.

Firebase (YC S11) adds Zapier (YC S12) integration, so your apps can connect with other apps in realtime

Firebase, a real-time back-end service for managing apps, has added an integration with Zapier, a platform for connecting services such as SendMail, Twitter and Twilio. The new integration means developers can connect multiple apps without having to do any back-end server management themselves.

A developer using Firebase can now integrate apps that before would have required a fair degree of work. “You do not have to do all these small server spinups,” with the new integration, said Firebase CEO and Co-Founder James Tamplin during a phone call today. It may only be five lines of code to connect a new app with Firebase, but with that comes the need to provision a server, run it on a service and then do the maintenance and everything else that comes with doing it yourself. All that goes away with Zapier connected to Firebase.

Read the full article at TechCrunch

Strikingly (YC W13) Launches Its Super Easy ‘One-Click’ Site Builder

Y Combinator alum Strikingly launched earlier this year with the mission of enabling people to build Web sites in just a few minutes. With the launch of its new one-click site builder, the startup has now reduced that time to seconds.

The one-click site builder, which Strikingly bills as “the world's fastest Web site builder,” automatically fills in a mobile-optimized site with information from your Facebook account, including your profile picture, work experience, hometown, current city and contact information. You then have the option of customizing your site with new content, photos or additional slides.

Homejoy (YC S10) expands, starts foundation

A San Francisco startup connecting professional house cleaners to clients online has expanded into more than 30 markets across the United States and Canada in a little over a year.

Chief Executive Officer Adora Cheung, 30, and her younger brother and co-founder Aaron Cheung, 25, started the Y Combinator-backed Homejoy in July 2012 after trying other ventures. They charge customers $20 an hour, far below the market rate for house cleaning, Adora Cheung said.

The South Carolina natives have started a nonprofit called the Homejoy Foundation that works with organizations to provide support to build, create or maintain a happy home environment. The foundation currently focuses on helping veterans and military families.