InterviewStreet (YC S11) in Forbes Magazine: The Prince of Programming Contests helps top coders worldwide get the best jobs

In Silicon Valley Talent War, Zombie Math Rules, appearing in the May 6, 2013 issue of Forbes: 

Within Silicon Valley the prince of programming contests is Vivek Ravisankar, a 26-year-old Indian immigrant who cofounded InterviewStreet, which earned interviews for some 5,000 engineers worldwide last year and placed about 500 in jobs. Ravisankar started the company in 2009, soon after quitting a safe corporate job in India helping Amazon.com with its Kindle blogs. In 2011 Ravisankar won a spot in the Y Combinator school for startups (birthplace of Dropbox and Airbnb) . He eventually moved from Chennai to a cousin’s sofa in Sunnyvale, Calif. and set out to build a coding-challenge business.

Powerful people took a liking to this energetic striver. Vinod Khosla, the billionaire venture capitalist and cofounder of Sun Microsystems, provided Ravisankar with $3 million. InterviewStreet collects money in several ways from companies looking to hire. Some pay a $3,000 to $5,000 monthly subscription fee for access to InterviewStreet’s coder database; others buy talent a la carte, paying InterviewStreet $10,000 per hire, a bargain compared to conventional recruiters’ fees of $30,000 or more. Companies can also sponsor their own contests, known as Code?Sprints, which bring marketing cachet as well as new hires.

InterviewStreet has expanded to 17 people, 6 of whom work in a bare-bones office in Mountain View, Calif., with the rest in Bangalore, led by cofounder Hari Karunanidhi, Ravisankar’s college buddy. Competitive coders are their tribe. As a boy Ravisankar won candies and other treats from his parents by posing logic problems that his father couldn’t solve. Even today he and cofounder Karunanidhi set aside a few hours on Sundays for one-on-one coding competitions. “I’m the better programmer,” Karunanidhi says. “It’s only because I don’t have enough time to stay sharp,” Ravisankar replies.

InterviewStreet was the ticket out of Siberia for Yakunin, the programmer from Ekaterinburg. He wowed the hiring engineers at Quora, a knowledge-sharing website in Mountain View, Calif., by being the only person out of more than 700 respondents to win a perfect score on a CodeSprint challenge it sponsored. Often the best coders aren’t eager to apply for a job. They just want to prove their mettle against all comers. Mindful of this dynamic, InterviewStreet moved the bulk of its contests to a website called HackerRank, where most entrants log in with pseudonymous user names. Job hunters authorize the site to reveal their real names to potential employers.

CrowdMed (YC W13) raises $1.1M, launches crowdsourced medical diagnosis

Y Combinator-backed startup CrowdMed hopes to use the wisdom of the crowds to speed up and lower the cost of diagnosing rare medical conditions. By crowdsourcing medical data and applying some patented predictive technology, the company believes it can help users identify illnesses that had otherwise baffled medical professionals.

CrowdMed is designed to help users who have been unable to get help within the current health system. Because doctors can’t always track the thousands of rare diseases that are out there, patients may find themselves going to dozens of physicians and specialists and still not know what is wrong with them. Rather than continue to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on tests and hospital visits, CrowdMed provides an alternative path to uncovering rare illnesses.

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Solve or submit a case for diagnosis at Crowdmed

OKCupid partners with Coinbase (YC S12) to become the latest Web service to support Bitcoin

The world and his brother — well…the media, at least — has gone Bitcoin crazy in recent times, and the latest company to cash in on that attentionride that wave is dating site OKCupid, which is now accepting payments in the digital currency.

The newest addition to the growing list of companies to support Bitcoin — which includes RedditMegaWordPress.comExpensifyNamecheapthe Internet Archive, and countless others – the dating site has partnered with Y-Combinator-backed Coinbase, a platform for buying and selling the digital currency, to expand its payment options.

Read the full article on TheNextWeb

Buy, store, and accept Bitcoin using Coinbase

FlightCar (YC W13) raises $5.5M from General Catalyst, Softbank, Brian Chesky, Ryan Seacrest, to bring P2P Airport Car Rental everywhere

Seeking to disrupt the $10 billion airport car rental businessFlightCar, a sort of Airbnb for airport rentals, allows travelers leaving town to make their cars available for those who are visiting. The startup, which launched its service at San Francisco International Airport just a few months ago, is hoping to open for business in a number of other markets over the course of the rest of the year. To do that, it has raised a $5.5 million Series A round, with a number of high-profile investors, including General Catalyst, Softbank Capital, Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky, as well as Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group.

Other investors in the round include Hipmunk founder Alexis Ohanian, Posterous founder Garry Tan, Auctomatic founder Harj Taggar, Justin.TV founder Emmett Shear, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, First Round Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz. The new funding comes on top of $590,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator and SV Angel that it had received prior to its initial launch.

FlightCar’s service works like this: Travelers drop their vehicles off at one of the FlightCar lots at an airport where they are available. Incoming visitors can then rent these vehicles at lower rates than they would find at airport rental chains. If a car is rented, the vehicle’s owner is compensated with gas cards equal to up to $10 for each day a car is rented. If not, the vehicle’s owner gets free parking, which by itself could save them up to $18 a day in long-term parking.

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Try Flightcar at SFO (rent or park), with many more locations coming

SendHub (YC W12) launches the best phone service for businesses on iOS and Android, supports call, text, call transfer, and group messages

SendHub, the Y Combinator-backed call and messaging solution targeting business users and other organizations, is today extending its platform to include support for Android. The company had previously rolled out support for iPhone almost a year ago, promising that an Android option was on the roadmap.

Like the iOS version, the new app also includes support for calling and texting over Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or cellular voice networks, support for group messages, the ability to add auto-responders and contacts, and more. In addition, it includes support for call transfers – a feature which is currently in the Apple App Store review process, expected to launch in a week or so.

The call transfer feature, like many the company has added in recent months, is designed with the needs of businesses in mind.

SendHub, for those unfamiliar, is something like a more feature-rich alternative to something like Google Voice. While previously targeting both individuals and businesses, it went after the business market more directly with the launch of its SendHub Manger at the beginning of the year. From an online platform, organizations using Manager can access a dashboard where they can create, move, or delete lines for their staff, as well as backup and export the company’s text-based communications.

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Try Sendhub for your business phone system

ReelSurfer (YC S12) gets a makeover, adds NY Times and ESPN

Y Combinator grad ReelSurfer is an instant video editor, born out of its founders frustration of trying to find clips, quotes and scenes from their favorite movies on YouTube and other video sites. The process is probably familiar to you: Search for clip, don’t find it; if you do find it, it’s part of a larger clip, so you have to download, convert and clip the video yourself.

So, ReelSurfer developed the tools to let you clip any video from any website and share it with your “homies” and “homedawgs” over the Facebooks, Twitters and more. Or at least that’s the eventual goal. In truth, ReelSurfer’s design has been less-than-perfect and it hasn’t really allowed you to clip any video. Yes, YouTube has a lot of videos. Like a lot. But that’s not the only media player out there.

Today, ReelSurfer has officially unveiled a redesigned interface, which looks a whole helluva lot better and makes it easier to navigate and makes its URL search box even more prominent — as it should be.

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Kippt (YC S12), an Evernote for the Web, launches new API and App Gallery

Kippt, which lets you collect and share content from across the web, is looking to attract developers with a brand-new API and gallery of apps.

The two-person startup has relied on outside developers to have a mobile presence on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Kippt just relocated back to San Francisco from Helsinki, almost a year after graduating from YCombinator’s summer batch.

“An API is not only good for us, but it’s good for our users,” said Karri Saarinen, who co-founded Kippt and leads design. “There are some companies that fear this kind of openness will somehow harm the company, but we feel it brings value.”

He pointed to more than a dozen third-party apps that bring Kippt to the iPhone, or turn it into an elegant mobile reading list. Popular reading app Pocket added support for Kippt recently too. Saarinen said that some developers have already organized hack days around the API.

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SmartAsset (YC S12) launches the most in-depth way to understand buying a home, now with even more helpful data

If the game of Life taught us anything, it is that buying a house is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Today, personal finance startup SmartAsset has significantly expanded its platform that provides people with tools they need to make intelligently make home-buying decisions.

Y Combinator-backed SmartAsset prompts users with a series of questions about their income, deductions, assets, geography, and expenses. Based on the responses, the engine generates personalizes advice on what is affordable and why, how a purchase will affect cash flow, tax consequences and more. The new features include mortgage advice, government programs, neighborhood recommendations, and home appreciations.

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Now in addition to factoring in personal information, tax codes, transaction expenses, and dynamic property values, SmartAsset will also answer questions about mortgage insurance, and types, checks if users qualify for government programs, make neighborhood recommendations based on data about local crime rates, school quality, weather, and commute times. The company also partnered with Moody’s, which provides credit ratings and research, to forecast home appreciation by county. Carvin said this is the first time this data has been made public.

Backlift (YC W12) launches a back-end service for front-end developers, works great with Dropbox, Backbone, and Angular

Backlift, a Y Combinator-backed startup that’s launching today, describes itself as a back-end service for front-end developers. The service takes all of the work of setting up a server environment out of the equation and just lets front-end developers focus on their work. All a user needs is a Dropbox account – Backlift uses Dropbox as a file syncing service – and a text editor. With Backlift, a developer doesn’t need to know how to set up Rails,Django or node.js to get started.

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ZenPayroll (YC W12) launches ZenPayroll for Accountants, making it easy for them to manage all their clients from one dashboard

YC-backed ZenPayroll, the startup that offers an easy to use, cloud-based payroll application, is debuting a new product today—ZenPayroll for Accountants.

ZenPayroll, which has a list of all-star investors, is disrupting a space that incumbents like ADP and Paychex have dominated for some time. The startup offers a much simpler, cloud-based way to automate all payroll tax calculations and payments, as well as provide direct deposit to employees. And the application allows for filing of all payroll-related government documents paperlessly.

With the initial product, ZenPayroll was aiming at small businesses and companies who use ADP. With the launch of ZenPayroll for Accountants, the startup is hoping to attract independent accountants, bookkeepers and CPAs who manage a number of small businesses.

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