Last Night at the Crunchies

In fall 2007, Michael Arrington, then the editor-in-chief of TechCrunch, reached out to me with an idea to host an award show to celebrate startups, technology and entrepreneurship. He wanted all of us technology blogs — Gigaom, ReadWrite and VentureBeat — to join up to help figure out the awards, called the Crunchies. Yes, it was a TechCrunch show. But that didn’t matter to me. Michael had it right: Every industry had its own awards, so why not technology? The first award ceremony was anything but polished. It was amateurish, raw and a whole lot of fun. There was genuine excitement in the air. Tesla was the cleantech startup of the year. Facebook won best company that year. Best startup founder? Mark Zuckerberg. Last night, at the ninth annual Crunchies, it was the exact opposite. The ceremony was held at the San Francisco Opera House, and Chelsea Peretti was an amazing host. Many even dressed Continue reading "Last Night at the Crunchies"

The Venture Capitalists Behind Superfish

Lots of people are talking about the Superfish malware debacle. People are starting to understand just how bad this situation is.

What I haven’t seen so far why venture capitalists would have backed such a startup.

Superfish investors, board members and advisors include Andrea Stavopouslos (Draper Fisher Jurvestson), Abe Finkelstein (Vintage Investment Partners), Anat Segal (Xenia Venture Capital), Shai Saul (DFJ again) and others.

The company has raised a total of nearly $20 million in venture capital, from people I interact with all the time.

Superfish tells the world they’re a simple visual search startup.

Did these VCs and other individuals, who are on the board of directors and board of advisors, know the truth about Superfish?

If they did, it’s bad. If they didn’t, it’s also bad.

Other startups that use the same SSL intercept module from Komodia include Lavasoft (a free antivirus provider) (now you know why the antivirus is free).

I’d like to see the tech press dig into this. And the venture capitalists involved, particularly the board members, should talk about what they knew and didn’t know.


The Venture Capitalists Behind Superfish

Lots of people are talking about the Superfish malware debacle. People are starting to understand just how bad this situation is. What I haven’t seen so far why venture capitalists would have backed such a startup. Superfish investors, board members and advisors include Andrea Stavopouslos (Draper Fisher Jurvestson), Abe Finkelstein (Vintage Investment Partners), Anat Segal (Xenia Venture Capital), Shai Saul (DFJ again) and others. The company has raised a total of nearly $20 million in venture capital, from people I interact with all the time. Superfish tells the world they’re a simple visual search startup. Did these VCs and other individuals, who are on the board of directors and board of advisors, know the truth about Superfish? If they did, it’s bad. If they didn’t, it’s also bad. Other startups that use the same SSL intercept module from Komodia include Lavasoft (a free antivirus provider) (now you know why the
Continue reading "The Venture Capitalists Behind Superfish"

We Deserve A Better Bitcoin Experience Than Circle

I finally got around to trying out Circle today. Boy it’s bad. Particularly for a company that has raised $26 million.

This is a space we’re interested in at CrunchFund, and are looking for who might be the breakout winners.

Circle is supposed to be a dead simple Bitcoin wallet and money transfer service. But here’s my experience:

1. I created an account and tried to add my bank account and credit card to deposit money into the system (as Bitcoin). I had to give a lot of personal information. And I had to take a photo of my drivers license. And then I had to take a selfie.

2. I don’t have a huge problem with that since these kinds of services are a huge fraud magnet. But Circle said they needed time to review the information. and here’s the problem, they basically (kind of) shut down my account while they were doing that.

3. This is a bad idea. Why? Because they didn’t actually tell me they were suspending my account. A helpful feature showed me how to receive Bitcoin and so I copied the wallet address and sent myself a Bitcoin from another wallet. I thought, hey, I can still use the service while they figure out my banking situation.

4. The Bitcoin transfer went through and was confirmed in the blockchain. But over at Circle I showed no pending transactions and no confirmed transactions…for hours. No messages that my account was suspended, or why fraud prevention would require them to accept a bitcoin transfer to the address they supplied me but not to tell me about it, even as pending.

5. Then things got weird. When I logged into the mobile app (remember, after I had a confirmed Bitcoin transaction) I saw this:

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No sign of the Bitcoin received, either pending or confirmed. But also no suggestion that the account is suspended.

So I logged in from my laptop. And I see this:

Screen_Shot_2015-02-17_at_7.10.04_PM-2

Circle actually kicked me out completely with the message “Additional Review Needed”.

But what about that Bitcoin I transferred to the account? It’s clear from the message above that something is very wrong with my account, but that Bitcoin is gone? Where is that Bitcoin? Maybe they shouldn’t have supplied me with a wallet address before they knew if they wanted me as a customer?

6. Meanwhile my friend Nik Cubrilovic tried to send me Bitcoin through Circle and had his own terrible experience, which you can see here. Here’s the tl;dr of that experience:

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On the upside Circle wouldn’t let him transfer money into the black hole that is my account. But it was certainly an awful user experience, and an unnecessary

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.25.29 PM
Continue reading "We Deserve A Better Bitcoin Experience Than Circle"

I’d like a combined ebook/audio book product

Just finished reading about a fairly stupid new book scanning product from Amazon and it reminded me of a product I’d actually really like to have – books that comes in both ebook (text) and audio formats, with tracking and the ability to switch back and forth at will.

I read most of my books on my iPhone 6 plus now. Before that was an iPad. I also listen to audio books in the car and on walks. But sometimes it takes me months to finish a book in the car @ 13-20 hours of audio, and whatever book I’m listening to there in the car is of course a different book than the one I’m reading on my iPhone.

I’d pay a big premium for a combined book format that had both text and audio and allowed me to switch back and forth while reading/listening. Seems like a no-brainer to me.


MTailor Launches on Android. Get Yourself A Perfect Shirt.

mtailorUp until now only iPad/iPhone people could use MTailor, the app that uses your mobile device to scan you more perfectly than any tailor ever could, and have shirts made to your exact measurements.

I last wrote about them in December when CrunchFund invested. Since then they’ve sold a LOT of shirts.

They haven’t started offering pants or suits yet, but once they do they’ll already have your measurements.

People on Android devices were frustrated that they couldn’t use MTailor. Now they won’t be frustrated any more. Get the Android MTailor app here. It launches today.