Orbs CCG (YC S13) takes to Kickstarter to reinvent Magic: The Gathering online and make it async

Hey, remember Magic: The Gathering? Maybe you’re like me and you played the game religiously as a teenager, only to abandon it as you got older. (For those of you don’t know what I’m talking about: It’s a collectible card game in a fantasy setting. Also: Stop looking at me like I’m weird.)

Jeff Pickhardt, founder of Y Combinator-backed developer Jerpix, loved Magic too. He said he used to play, then after stopping for a while, he tried to pick it up again, but he found the online version “just kind of hard to use for a number of reasons.” At the same time, he was playing Words With Friends, and he realized that collectible card games could be improved by cribbing from the Words With Friends playbook.

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NASA Develops Novel Carbon Nanotube Growth Through Science Exchange (YC S11)

A collaboration formed using the online scientific services marketplace, Science Exchange, has lead to new developments in the production of carbon nanotube forests – the blackest materials ever measured. The research resulted from a partnership between NASA and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), a part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

“NASA and the ANFF’s research is monumental, and we are thrilled to have been part of such an important development in nanotechnology,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, co-founder and CEO of Science Exchange. “Scientists can now access the vast expertise available globally to produce powerful partnerships that lead to innovative research.”

Read the full article at the Science Exchange Blog

Apportable (YC W11) helps Björk release Android app album Biophilia—cross-compiled from iOS in less than 1 hr

Lora Kolodny writes:

Music and design icon Björk spent two years creating her 11th record, Biophilia, as an “app album” — songs in app form, games, and educational content that can get users involved so they’re not just passively listening.

Though critically acclaimed, there was one major problem with the Biophilia app–Björk fans using Android mobile devices couldn’t experience it. Until today.

The artist finally released an Android version of Biophilia (for $12.99 in the U.S. Google Play store) Wednesday, two years after its iOS release.  So what took so long?

According to Max Weisel, one of the developers of the original Biophilia app for iOS, “Porting Biophilia to a new platform was a daunting task,” because it is a “large suite,” not just a simple, casual game.

...

Enter Apportable Inc., a San Francisco startup that automates the process of turning an iOS app into an Android app. One of the company’s engineers, Zac Bowling, reached out to Mr. Weisel to see if Apportable could help.  Using Apportable, Mr. Weisel says, he was able to “translate” one of the song-apps on Biophilia to Android, in less than an hour with minimal effort.

Here’s how Apportable makes converting apps a faster and less costly process, according to the startup’s chief executive, Collin Jackson: “We package a mini version of [Apple’s] iOS in with an Android installer, so an application thinks it is running on iOS but is really running on Android instead.”

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal

Instantly cross-compile your iOS app to Android with Apportable

Meldium (YC W13) raises $1M in seed funding to help teams manage their passwords securely

Startup Meldium now has $1 million in seed funding to help ease password-management headaches for businesses.

And that’s no easy task. Speaking from experience, I have about four or five outside accounts — for photos, for site tracking, etc., for work as well as personal Twitter, Facebook and other accounts — and I probably use fewer apps than most of my colleagues. Worse, all those passwords are not-so-securely stashed on Post-it notes and/or a spreadsheet. That’s a problem, especially for younger companies that grew up on web applications like GitHub, Box, Asana and Dropbox.

For older companies nurtured on client-server applications, passwords and access rules typically sit on a single server — a mode that does not work so well now. “We aggregate all that — all the user and account data via  API connections to those services,” in an access-management layer, co-founder Boris Jabes said in an interview.

“We see people just love using more apps, but that gets more and more confusing. It’s not just about the passwords but who has access to what,” said Jabes, who spent seven years at Microsoft’s tools group. His co-founders Anton Vaynshtok and Bradley Buda are both Amazon alums.

Read the full article at GigaOm

Be more secure and use Meldium to manage your team's passwords

RealCrowd (YC S13) brings crowdfunding to commercial real estate: Own real property, collect rent, $5K minimums

Hardware projectsT-shirtsPeopleScientific research. Crowdfunding is getting applied to every possible niche vertical.

Now a Y Combinator-backed team is looking to bring crowdfunding to real estate, with big-ticket projects that often start at around a $10 million range.

Called RealCrowd, the startup is the brainchild of Adam Hooper and Roman Rosario, two longstanding real estate investors who worked for a Sacramento-based brokerage called Palmer Capital. At Palmer, Hooper and Rosario helped closed on more than $3 billion in investment transactions and was involved in managing investments in buildings like the ones on 625 Market St. or 260 California St. in San Francisco.

“There have been very few actual technology improvements with real estate investments over the last few decades, so the opportunity to change that only happens once in a life time,” Hooper said.

RealCrowd is aiming to give accredited investors the chance to put in as little as $5,000 to $10,000 to participate in larger commercial real estate transactions.

Each property on the site is vetted and features a business plan, detailing any kinds of improvements or maintenance that may be needed over the life of the investment. RealCrowd clients become minority stakeholders that entrust the operations and maintenance of the property to a real estate operator vetted by RealCrowd. Because Hooper and Rosario have been in the business for so long, they say they’ve accumulated enough relationships to know trustworthy operators, that will have profiles with their track records on the site.

“Going into it, you’ll know if the plan is for a 25-year lease to Walgreens with no capital improvements — which is a very straightforward deal, or whether it’s to buy a building in SOMA and renovate it,” Hooper said.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

FundersClub (YC S12) now shares carried interest with members on startup investment referrals

As barriers around general solicitation come crashing down, FundersClub is looking at new ways to stay on top.

The startup released a new feature today that rewards members of its community for making referrals. FundersClub will share 10 percent of the total carried interest on a fund with the member who refers the target company. Carried interest is a share of the profits of an investment or fund that is paid to the investment manager (in this case, FundersClub), despite not contributing any initial funds. If FundersClub receives carried interest on a fund, through a liquidity event like an acquisition or IPO, the referrer will receive a little something extra as well. This gives accredited investors an opportunity that it typically only available to general partners at VC firms.

Read the full article at VentureBeat

Estimote (YC S13) launches sensor-based analytics platform, with preorders now available

Founder Jakub Krzych on the Estimote vision:

Our primary area of interest at this moment is brick and mortar retail stores. More than 90 percent of transactions worldwide are still made in physical venues. More importantly, more than half of consumers who visit stores have smartphones, and that number is growing rapidly.

Thanks to popular communication technologies such as Bluetooth and WiFi, there are exciting new opportunities to understand how people behave and engage with products in stores.

New data and communication technology can be used to improve customer experience, bringing in new revenue streams for retail stores or cutting their costs. We call this smart retail.

We are currently piloting our solutions with the largest retailers in the United States and Europe. We have also launched preorder sales of our Developer Kits, which consist of sample beacon devices, as well as our SDK, which enables mobile developers and retail consulting agencies to add micro-location context to their mobile apps.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

StatusPage (YC S13) launches: Now anyone can have a status page as good as Parse, New Relic, or Shopify's

Y Combinator-backed StatusPage is in the fortunate position of having paying customers like Jawbone, Shopify, New Relic, Parse, Ping Identity and Zendesk, ahead of today’s official debut. The startup, as you may have guessed, offers a hosted status page for any company with a website, service or application. It’s the kind of thing many businesses want to offer their customers, but often don’t have the time or resources to build themselves.

In addition to showing the items being tracked and their current status, StatusPage also allows companies to communicate to customers about the problems and how they’re being resolved, both on the site, as well as via email or text. Beneath the page’s dashboard and accompanying graphs, a history of previous incident reports is also available. (Here’s an example.)

...

Scott says that the entire time it takes for a company to get their page set up and ready to go is realistically around 15 to 30 minutes at most. “One of the reasons people don’t do this is because they’re strapped for development time,” he says. “So one of the challenges for us is to really get this done without any developer time.”  The page can actually be set up by anyone who knows the basic CSS colors and has the images the company wants to use (like a logo), Scott explains; that could be a somewhat technical office staffer if developers are too busy.

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Dropbox (YC S07) in Wired: "It's going to work this way in the future. Why not us?" —Drew Houston

“Tom Cruise in Minority Report is not carrying around a thumb drive or logging into Gmail to pick up his attachment,” Houston says. The time is near, he believes, when the “pervasive data layer” becomes an expected part of the fabric of everyday life. It’s just a question of which company builds the best loom for weaving that virtual tapestry. “It’s going to work this way in the future. Why not us?”

Read the full article in Wired

Pebble (YC W11) ships over 275K units, tops 1M watch apps downloaded

Smartwatch startup Pebble revealed today for the first time that it has received 190,000 pre-orders for its wearable computing accessory through its own web store following the tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign it ran last year. That means it amassed around 275,000 pre-orders total for the smartwatch, which is impressive early traction for a device that didn’t have a proven market in place to sell into.

Pebble co-founder Eric Migicovsky told me the company wanted to reveal the total order volume now as a follow-up to its Best Buy availability announcement, in order to provide some context around the challenges the startup has faced in terms of shipping product to backers. Response at Best buy has also been very good, Migicovsky says, though the team isn’t yet ready to talk about specific numbers. The Pebble is sold out at many of Best Buy’s retail locations already.

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