How this Aussie startup plans to become a leading player in the booming world of bitcoin: #2015istheyear12:53PM | Thursday, 18 December
Today I’m joined by Asher Tan from CoinJar, a startup that lets you buy, sell, and manage your bitcoin. CoinJar was founded by Asher and Ryan Zhou in mid-2013 and it’s been a whirlwind ride ever since. With something in the area of $50 million worth of transactions in their first 12 months of operations, they now have a team of 12 people and offices in Melbourne and London, as they look to become a world leading bitcoin exchange. AN: Asher, thank you for taking the time with me today, I know you just arrived back in the country from the new office in London. How is that going for you? Asher Tan: London is great. It’s one of the finance centres of the world. The UK have very progressive laws relating to bitcoin that make it an attractive market, and one that we will be focusing our efforts on in the coming year. AN: Nice one. To take it back to the beginning, can you tell us what you were doing before startups? AsherT: I was working as an analyst, writing economic forecasts for a large firm. AN: And so what made you want to do a startup? AsherT: I’ve always enjoyed building and creating new things. And I think I’ve always had the startup bug in me, it just took a while for me to find it! In my previous job I had a small team working with me and tried to cultivate a close bond within the team, in order to reach and surpass our targets. The thing was, we bonded so well and met all our targets easily, yet head office didn’t want us to do any more and probably viewed us as loose cannons. AN: Was there any trigger point, any incident in particular that spurred you into action? AsherT: Nothing specific, I was gradually getting more and more immersed in the local startup eco-system, going down to events, making friends with people actively working on startups. Reading all of Paul Graham’s essays on the subject. Seeing other people build and create great product and companies – I wanted to do it too! AN: So how did you get the idea for CoinJar then. Were you on the bitcoin train from the early days? AsherT: I had been working on a completely different idea for a good six months before applying to AngelCube. I met Ryan online and another partner at a networking event, and we applied to AngelCube. During the interview process, they told us that they liked the team, but not the idea, and that if we wanted to get in we should change the idea. At the time I thought it was like Dragon’s Den or The Shark Tank, and they were testing us to see our commitment. Turns out it wasn’t a test. So over the weekend we brainstormed a bunch of other ideas, and CoinJar was the one we agreed upon. Thankfully AngelCube liked the idea as well, and the rest is history! AN: Haha, too funny! It sounds like you’ve never been short of ideas… When did you know that this was the one? AsherT: The early signs were good, even during the first few weeks of AngelCube it was obvious that we were having early signs of success relative to the other teams. For a while things were very stressful, but one of the mentors at AngelCube reminded us that the stress was due to our product being too popular, which is a really good problem to have. It wasn’t too long into the CoinJar journey that we did our first million in transactions. From that point onwards there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. AN: Indeed. Given how fast things have been moving with CoinJar, I’m sure you’ve hardly had time to take it all in. But to date what would you say has been the biggest lesson learnt? AsherT: When you can't figure things out that's what your co-founder is there for. Ryan built bitcoin businesses before, and especially at the start of our journey it was him leading the charge in terms of what direction we should take, what we need to build, etc. Some of his ideas were crazy, and we spent many a night arguing over what was worthwhile and what was not. Thankfully most of his ideas were right! AN: Excellent! And just lastly, do you have any advice for the would-be entrepreneurs out there reading along and getting inspired to be the next Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou? AsherT: Hustle. You have to use every resource at your disposal to keep your startup alive. At the end of AngelCube all the teams went to the US as part of the program, with the goal of raising a seed round. As a group we went down to a startup trade show called TechCrunch Disrupt, the thing is, all the other startups looked very slick and professional, with banners and display monitors and everything. As a three-month-old startup we had none of this. So what we did was go down to Best Buy and purchased the biggest screen we could get our hands on. We were careful to take very good care of it whilst in our possession and not remove any of the stickers. As a result, we were the only AngelCube team to have a display monitor in our booth, which we returned as soon as the trade show was done, so it cost us nothing”! AN: Wow, thanks a bunch, Asher. Best of luck with CoinJar in the coming year. Amir Nissen is program manager at AngelCube This is the part six of our #2015istheyear series. Part one – 2015 The year for my idea. Part two – How to validate your idea this Christmas. Part three – How Ash Davies created his ‘YouTube for books’ startup Tablo. Part four – Why ‘manual first’ can help you MVP quicker. Part five – David Chung of etaskr on chucking in corporate life to chase the startup dream. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Today we’ve got a case study of the corporate kind, bringing you up close and personal with David Chung, co-founder of etaskr – an online resourcing platform that is an enterprise software version of sites such as freelancer and oDesk. It aims to connect those looking for workers inside an organisation to those looking for work. The etaskr story is an interesting one because its roots stem from the corporate world, a world many consider to be diametrically opposed to the world of startups. Unlike many startup stories you hear emanating from entrepreneurship hubs like Silicon Valley – where the founders are college dropout computer hackers who built an app over a beer-driven weekend – etaskr was founded by two work colleagues who left the security of corporate life to pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs. I had the chance to sit down with David and find out what it was like to move from corporate to startup, how it helped, what adjustments needed to be made, and what he would have done differently if he had his time over. AN: Firstly David, can you give us a quick idea of your background? DC: I went along a pretty well-trodden path of good marks, a double degree in commerce and law then getting a few graduate offers of which I chose a management consultancy position at KPMG. I quickly realised that this was not going to work for me and I made the life-changing decision to resign. Serendipitously, I was recruited for a position in the innovation department at KPMG as an innovation analyst, and that I feel is the key moment that has led me to this great path of building a startup. AN: Interesting. So what was working in the innovation department of a large corporation like? DC: At the time, it was really exciting. We had a framework that was heavily directed by your own creativity that moved projects from ideation to testing as quickly as possible. Then if we got the right signals we would go to pilot and then production. Looking back on it now though, it’s a much more conservative approach to building a startup but you’re solving your company’s problems and things move a lot slower because of how many stakeholders you have. It was certainly much more suited to me than consultant life though. AN: OK. And how did you manage that transition? DC: My manager and mentor Tom was really helpful, plus some books he recommended I read, namely: The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, and The Little Black Book Of Innovation by Scott Anthony, the latter dealing with corporate entrepreneurship. I think my people skills helped too as I got on really well with one key product developer, Pat, who helped teach me about product management, and we built some really cool things together. He eventually became my co-founder! AN: So what triggered you to leave corporate innovation and get into startups? DC: Well, funnily enough, I was researching an idea for work that involved co-working spaces. I made a visit to Inspire9 and while I was there I was explaining to Nathan (co-founder of AngelCube) what I do. He asked me if I had any ideas of my own and that if so I should apply to AngelCube as applications would be open for another week. Well, that got me thinking and back at work I asked Pat if he would be interested in joining me. He did, we drew up our plans for world domination, googled how to pitch and a few weeks later got in! AN: Sounds like it all happened rather quickly! DC: Yeah, it was crazy. We had to commit to AngelCube full-time, but to do that we had to resign from KPMG with one week’s notice! Thankfully, my boss at KPMG was really understanding. He told us that he knew that we would one day apply everything we’d been doing and learning to the big bad world and we’d fly the coop. I felt like Anakin Skywalker saying goodbye to Obi-Wan – before he turned to the dark side of course. We still keep in touch and he’s one of our biggest supporters. AN: And the idea for etaskr was one you picked up whilst at work? DC: So we got into AngelCube with a different idea, but they invested in us as a team, not the idea. So we decided to park it for a couple of days and just throw ideas around to see if we could come up with something a bit juicier. And so etaskr was born. The idea was heavily based on solving our own problem of working as consultants and being ‘on the bench’. It’s exactly what it sounds like – there’s not enough work and you sit on the sidelines trying to look busy. Not having much work might not sound like a big problem to those who haven’t worked inside a big firm, but it’s a nightmare. You go from being motivated and ambitious to frustrated and anxious – but you’re told it’s all part of the job. What we’ve realised in the startup world though is that you don’t just have to accept that – you can build crazy solutions that can change behaviour. AN: How did you find the shift from corporate life to startup life? DC: Pretty huge. First your mindset around ‘work’ completely changes. You no longer clock on, do your structured tasks that are managed and reviewed then clock off. You’re constantly thinking about creative, meaningful things you can do for your startup. It doesn’t really feel like work anymore – well apart from the compliance stuff – but you bring so much more energy into it because you don’t see it as doing something for a pay cheque. You’re doing something you’re crazy about! AN: Cool. This has been great! Just lastly, what advice would you give to people working in the corporate world who are at this moment thinking about doing a startup? DC: If you’re feeling underappreciated, disengaged and underutilised at work – well first off you should pitch etaskr to your boss because you’ll begin discovering awesome opportunities inside your company you never knew existed. But secondly you should trust yourself to go out and build your own dream instead of someone else’s. It’s a huge learning curve, or learning cliff face as I like to call it – but startups bring the best out of you. To sum up – smart people should build things! Amir Nissen is program manager at AngelCube This is the part five of our #2015istheyear series. Part one – 2015 The year for my idea. Part two – How to validate your idea this Christmas. Part three – How Ash Davies created his ‘YouTube for books’ startup Tablo. Part four – Why ‘manual first’ can help you MVP quicker. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A common refrain in Silicon Valley is ‘manual first’, referring to all the different approaches you can take to validate and grow your startup idea before putting any time into building a web or mobile application. The reason this approach is so popular is due to the speed at which you can accomplish things. Speed is everything for a startup. It is one of your few natural advantages over pre-existing competition. Because you’ve invested so little in your idea to this point, it will never be quicker or easier to change what you’re doing, be it slight changes or drastic ones. Big companies have mass, and with mass comes momentum. Momentum is great if you know where you are going, but crippling if you need to change directions suddenly. So how does ‘manual first’ equate to getting the ball rolling on your startup? The answer lies with an MVP. That’s not a sports reference mind you, rather in this context MVP stands for minimum viable product. That’s startup lingo for doing what you have to in order to learn whether the assumptions around your idea are valid. What this means in practice depends on the type of startup you’re creating and the particular hypothesis you’re hoping to test. Typically, you want to test the biggest assumptions in your business first, which usually equates to “will anyone use my product/service?” A good assumption to validate before going out and dedicating your life to making it happen, don’t you think? In fact, everything we try to do as entrepreneurs, be it speaking to people, creating a lean canvas, and testing the various hypotheses within, is geared towards de-risking the startup as quickly as possible. So, what might an MVP look like for your idea? If your idea is for a product that you plan to sell and distribute online, one clever MVP is known as the ‘smoke and mirrors’ technique, which involves setting up a landing page for your ‘product’ (including relevant information such as price, benefits, feature set, etc), sending people to said landing page (often via some paid ads on Google, Facebook, or whatever platform is relevant for your target audience) and seeing how many people actually click the purchase button. The point of this exercise is that you find out relatively cheaply – whatever money you spent getting people to your ‘product’ website – if anyone wants what you have to offer. If no one bites then there’s not much point in building out the product. You’ve invalidated the hypothesis that your product is the solution for a certain group of people, whom you believe suffer from a certain type of problem. From this you can deduce that: 1. The people who came to your site weren’t the correct subsection of people (change your advertising). 2. The people coming to the site were OK but the positioning of the product was not (change the content of the landing page). 3. The offer wasn’t compelling enough for the price (change the price). 4. People aren’t really interested in the product (put more work into researching the problem – is it really a problem?) If your idea is more service than product, then you can utilise ‘the Wizard of Oz’ technique to validate your assumptions (the name bears homage to the old man who hides behind a curtain pretending to be a powerful wizard in the children's classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). If your startup revolves around some type of service, the Wizard of Oz technique means physically complete the service by emulating the actions of what you would eventually code and automate. As an example, say you had an idea for an online gift recommendation service. Manually emulating the service in this case may take the form of finding potential gifts for a user by personally going through shopping catalogues looking for gift ideas that match said users preferences, then returning the results online as files in an email. To the user, there is no difference between an algorithm sourcing the gifts automatically and you working behind the scenes doing the same job. This approach often involves creating a site that is slightly more complicated than setting up a simple landing page and some ads, but generally not much more than an extra form field or two. Note that if you are completing manually what you intend to offer as an automated service, you shouldn’t be shy about taking money for said services. Some tools that you might find useful for this part of the process include: Balsamiq – a wireframing tool that lets you sketch out your website or mobile application. Unbounce – a tool that lets you create, publish, and test landing pages for your startup. FluidUI – similar to Balsamiq, but with a later stage focus, higher resolution designs and the ability to put your prototype onto your mobile and test it out directly. Google AdWords – you know Google, you know ads on Google, this is where you go when you want to put your own ads on Google. Facebook have a similar platform you can find via https://www.facebook.com/advertising Wufoo – a customisable online form builder with no coding required. Regardless of what tools and techniques you use for the job, keep in mind that speed is the essential ingredient. The faster you can prototype, iterate and prove an assumption, the faster your idea transforms into a viable startup. So, get out of the building, speak to customers, figure out what they want, what it looks like, put that online, and see if anyone buys! From there it’s wash, rinse, repeat… with one caveat which we’ll cover in the next article! Amir Nissen is program manager at AngelCube This is the part four of our #2015istheyear series. Part one – 2015 The year for my idea. Part two – How to validate your idea this Christmas. Part three – How Ash Davies created his ‘YouTube for books’ startup Tablo. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The Australian designer behind Google's now-defunct Wave service has shared the key lessons learnt from the innovative but ultimately unsuccessful service. Cameron Adams, now the chief product officer at Canva, has spent 16 years as either a graphics designer or chief designer. During the Above All Human conference in Melbourne, Adams shared the following three key lessons about design: 1. Design it how it works "Every time a conference speaker quotes Steve Jobs, an angel investor loses their wings. Nonetheless here's another one: 'Design it how it works'," Adams says. Back in 2007 Lars Rasmussen, then an engineering manager at Google, contacted Adams about working on a new service called Wave. Wave was launched at the 2009 Google I/O conference in the first YouTube video to run over 10 minutes. It was conceived of as being a feature-rich 'next-generation' email service and received positively, with the launch clip eventually watched over 80 million times. "If you ever have a product that has inerrant flaws launch the way we did -- we gave an 80 minute talk and demoed every single feature," he says. "There was only small problem with Wave, and that was no-one on the team had any idea what Wave should do," According to Adams, design maturity within a company is a spectrum. "At one end, some companies think design is like lipstick. And at the other end, you have companies like Apple that think is design is everything," he says. Google at the time was the former, according to Adams, with the Wave project having 50 engineers, five product managers and him as the sole designer. It led to the absurd situation where engineers added a range of features with no coherent vision for how the overall product would work, while Adams spent three days making sure the drop-shadows looked right. 2. Design is not everything After leaving Google, Adams launched an email design startup called Fluent. "The product itself was a great design... The problem was we forgot about the business.Following an Article in the Sydney Morning Herald, we got 60,000 people trying to use our service," he says. "We flew to San Francisco and spoke to VCs. They were like 'awesome product, but what's your business model?'" It was estimated the service, though solidly designed, would need to raise $5 per user per month to break even. It was a price consumers were unwilling to pay. "We created an experience that was well designed, but didn't move the bar enough to be a great product." 3. Design is cultural Compared to his previous two ventures, Adams says the secret of Canva has been that it has created a design culture, in which design decisions have been delegated throughout the organisation. "The design culture has to be embedded into your company so everyone can make great design decisions. And the best way to do that is to embed it from the top," he says. "Having a holistic design culture throughout your company has been critical to our experience."
Mobile messaging apps such as Whatsapp are killing traditional text messages while multi-screening is going mainstream, according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority. The ACMA paper, titled Six emerging trends in media and communications, attempts to identify disruptive media and communications trends that “strain the effectiveness and efficiency of existing regulatory settings”. Here are the six media and communications trends identified in the report: 1. Communications go over the top Consumers are increasingly rejecting carrier-based phone calls and text messages in favour of apps and online services such as Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Snapchat and Microsoft’s Skype. According to the report, revenues from fixed line phone services have collapsed by 34% in five years, from $18.296 billion in 2008 to just $12.045 billion in 2013. Over the same time frame, the number of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) users has surged from 2.1 million to 4.6 million. However, this extra data users has been good news to mobile phone carriers, which have seen their revenues surge from $15.967 billion to $20.014 billion. 2. Consumers build their own links It’s not just the number of communications apps that is booming. Australian consumers are using them with a wider variety of devices, which are connected over a growing number of network technologies. Consumers now regularly switch between fixed-line internet connections, Wi-Fi, mobile broadband and – especially in remote areas – satellite connections, depending on the time of day. The number of devices they use is also increasing, with the number of Australians owning a tablet, laptop and smartphone increasing from 28% in 2013 to 53% in 2014. 3. Wearables are set to boom On top of smartphones, tablets and laptops, the report predicts wearables (including Google Glass, smartwatches and fitness trackers) are set to become increasingly common over the coming years. The report suggests the number of wearables worldwide will grow from 22 million in 2013 to 177 million in 2018. It also predicts that an increase in the number of devices running Google’s Android Wear platform, along with the release of the Apple Watch early next year, will lead this trend to accelerate. 4. Online content is going mainstream The internet is not just disrupting the way we communicate. According to the report, consumers are increasingly viewing a greater number of TV services (including pay TV, broadcast TV, streaming TV and catch-up TV) delivered to a growing number of devices, over a growing number of network technologies. In a typical week, 97% of Australians watch a free-to-air or pay TV service. By contrast, one-in-two Australians have watched online TV over the past six months. This includes professionally produced catch-up or streaming TV services, pirated movies and content from video sites such as YouTube. Meanwhile, people aged between 16 and 24 now watch more TV over the internet than they do from broadcast television services. 5. Multistreaming is now mainstream In many cases, new forms are television are complementing, rather than replacing older ones. The report shows 74% of Australians with internet access regularly watched TV and used the internet at the same time, up 25 percentage points from 2009. It is as high as 89% for people aged 25 to 34. Overall, 71% of people still prefer to watch TV shows and movies on television, compared to on mobile phones (5%), tablets (4%) and computers (29%). Meanwhile, user-generated content is mostly watched on computers (71%) or mobile phones (41%), rather than tablets (17%) and televisions (10%). 6. TV is still the one for news Finally, when it comes to getting the news, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The report shows that 92% of free-to-air or subscription television viewers watched a news or current affairs programs on television in 2014. While newspaper circulation has dived 18% between 2009 and 2013, the drop has been a drop of just 10% from TV over the same time. Image credit: Flickr/alvy Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
That Startup Show, the Melbourne-based web series aimed at the startup community, has announced the line-up for the final instalments of its premiere season. The panel of experts for the final four instalments include chief executive of Shoes of Prey Jodie Fox, Chris Ridd from Zero, chief executive of Thankyou Water Daniel Flynn and country manager of Airbnb Sam McDonagh. Hosted by comedian and tech commentator Dan Ilic, the show focuses on the Australian startup ecosystem and the issues facing local entrepreneurs. The aim is to bring together entrepreneurs, incubators, investors and creatives to celebrate all things innovative. Since the pilot episode launched on YouTube in August, the web series has attracted more than 110,000 viewers across Australia, Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. That Startup Show recently announced funding from angel investor Alan Jones and technology foundry Digital4ge. The capital injection will allow the production to complete the remaining episodes for 2014 and build an online platform. Series co-founder Ahmed Salama told StartupSmart the premiere season was really about validating the concept and the response to the series so far has been overwhelmingly positive. “That’s only going to help us expand and grow even more,” he says. “We’ve got a few exciting things planned for next year. Our vision is to grow this show beyond a show and into a platform to give a voice for startups not just in Australia but around the world. “For us to do that, we have to take it to the next level and mature the show into the platform it can be. We look forward to doing that.” The final four episodes That Startup Show for this season will be filmed live between Monday November 24 and Thursday November 27 at The Savoy Tavern in Melbourne. Tickets are available here. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Spotify has paid more than $2 billion to the music industry to date, chief executive officer and founder Daniel Ek says. The criticism that Spotify is making money on the backs of artists is upsetting, Ek says, because the startup was founded as the team loved music and thought piracy is killing it. In the last year Spotify has paid $1 billion to artists and songwriters, money that would likely have been lost through piracy if the startup didn’t exist, he says. “The music industry is changing – and we’re proud of our part in that change – but lots of problems have plagued the industry since its inception and continue to exist,” he says. “We’re trying to build a new music economy that works for artists in a way the music industry never was before. And it is working – Spotify is the single biggest driver of growth in the music industry, the number one source of increasing revenue, and the first or second biggest source of overall music revenue in many places.” YouTube lands indie label deal for music streaming service Meanwhile, YouTube’s plans to become a direct competitor of Spotify continue to move forward. It has signed a crucial licensing deal with Merlin for the music streaming service it’s currently working on. Merlin is an agency that represents thousands of independent record labels. Messing with a competitor’s fundraising doesn’t help Venture capitalist Fred Wilson says messing with a competitor’s fundraising is a tactic that has been around since he first entered the VC business. Recently, Uber founder Travis Kalanick admitted he tried to do something similar with Lyft, Uber’s biggest rival. Wilson says not only is it unsavoury and unethical, like the companies that use it, but it’s also ineffective. “If you can’t win in the market on the merits and have to turn to messing with a competitor’s fundraising, what does that tell you about the defensibility and differentiation of a company’s service?” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.54 to 17,615.28. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US87 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Online publishing platform startup Tablo will soon start helping a major publisher find new writing talent. Tablo is a cloud-based e-publishing platform that allows authors and readers to create, share and discover new e-books. The startup has partnered with Momentum, the digital arm of major Australian publishing house Pan Macmillan, to uncover new authors. In November, Tablo will be looking closely at the numbers of readers, followers and overall engagement books on the platform receive and will pass on the five most promising books to Momentum. Tablo founder Ash Davies says as the platform has started to grow the team has noticed that “the best books” on the platform are also the ones with the most engagement. He says the month long competition is very much a test for Tablo and the partnership has the potential to be implemented as an ongoing feature of the platform. “Being an open platform where anyone can create and share their content, good work will naturally be found on the site,” he says. “Already on Tablo we see that readers are most engaged with the best books. So through that engagement we’re able to look at what books are most likely to be a success. “I would love to show you in the next 12 months a host of authors who started on Tablo and have landed publishing deals.” The terms of any potential deals would be negotiated on a case-by-case basis between the author and publisher and Tablo has no plans to be involved in that process. Momentum was not the only publisher that has shown interest in running such a talent search with Tablo, but Davies says it appealed to the startup the most because it’s one of the most innovative publishers in the world. The competition coincides with National Writing Month, an annual event that calls on professional and amateur writers around the world to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. “It’s the closest we’ve come to a democratised publishing model,” Davies says. “Incredible musicians have been uncovered on platforms like YouTube and, this month, we’ll be uncovering the next generation of talented writers on Tablo.” Momentum’s publisher Joel Naoum says the partnership is part of the company’s search to find new ways to discover talented authors. “Tablo’s innovative model is a fantastic way for authors to get feedback and build an audience before a manuscript is completed,” he says. “We’re excited about kicking off this new relationship and even more excited about finding the next bestselling author. “ Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
YouTube is considering offering paid ad-free subscriptions, according to chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki. The company is in the early stages of exploring new subscription services, Wojcicki told Re/code at the Code/Mobile conference overnight. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; but there are going to be cases where people are going to say, ‘I don’t want to see the ads, or I want to have a different experience’,” she says. Google X is developing an early disease detection system Google’s research arm, famous for taking ‘moon shots’ and running some of the most ambitious projects in the technology industry, is creating a system for early detection of disease, Wired reports. The system involves ingesting specially “painted” nanoparticles that target various molecular signs of disorder. When they detect such signs of disease they send out signals that will be picked up by wristbands. The early alerts mean potentially deadly ailments could be caught and treated sooner. Facebook beats earning projections, user growth slows Social media giant Facebook released its financial results and for the ninth quarter straight it beat earning projections. Facebook earned $US3.203 billion ($A3.62 billion) in revenue with earnings per share of $US0.43. Total user count grew 2.27% to 1.35 billion monthly users, slower than its 3.125% user growth in the previous quarter. Mobile advertising revenue accounted for 66% of advertising revenue, up from 49% year-on-year. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 187.81 to 17,005.75. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US89 cents.
Media startup Newzulu is looking to the crowd to make breaking news cheaper for large media organisations. The startup, founded in Australia in June 2012, by Alex Hartman and Peter Scarf, is a crowdsourced media platform for the distribution of verified news photos, videos and text. Co-founder and executive chairman Hartman says the nature of news is changing, and sees Newzulu becoming a big part of the traditional wire service. “AP (Associate Press) has 6500 full-time journalists around the world, sitting in bureaus, waiting for things to happen, and we think those days are long gone,” he says. “There’ll still be a place on the global news wire for most of the capabilities of AP, for instance the White House would never allow a crowd-sourced reporter to travel with the president. We feel those agencies have an important role in those local media landscapes. “But with most of the breaking news, we’re using the crowd with 600 editors, to do what 6500 editors would do.” With the proliferation of smartphones, Newzulu says the likelihood of a journalist being the first person to document a breaking news story nowadays is slim. “Breaking news on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, the pervasiveness of smartphones in pockets is disrupting the media,” he says. “We can harness the power of the crowd to report, not just any news but validated news.” What that means is Newzulu has an editorial department of 50 staff, working around the clock in English and French to validate news submissions from the crowd. Newzulu was founded by Matilda Media, which last year acquired a French startup called Citizenside that was founded in 2006. Citzenside had developed a platform that can “rapidly review and validate” crowdsourced material, detecting if photos have been edited or altered in any way. It’s that platform that enables Newzulu to validate crowdsourced material within 30 minutes of its submission. Contributors are then paid on a case-by-case basis. Last week, Newzulu announced it had entered an agreement to purchase Canadian company Filemobile, a software company that provides solutions to media outlets for the gathering, curation and publishing of user-based content. Its customers include Fox News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today/Garnett, The Weather Network, Hearts TV, iTV, London Live, Network Ten, CTV, CBC and Canadian Geographic. The proposed purchase price – roughly $5 million, will be funded by an upcoming capital raise. “Newzulu and File Mobile will together form the world’s foremost crowdsourced media company,” Hartman says. “The acquisition of Filemobile is consistent with Newzulu’s growth strategy and further strengthens the company’s product solutions and global directory platform.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
In 2012, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that actor Bruce Willis was going to sue Apple because he was not legally allowed to bequeath his iTunes collection of music to his children. The story turned out to be false (and shockingly bad journalism) but it did start a conversation about what we can, and can’t, do with our digital possessions. It turns out that “possessions” is actually a misnomer. We actually don’t own the music, books and movies we “buy” from Apple and Amazon. As Amazon puts it in its license terms, “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider”. In other words, we are allowed to read the content but we are not allowed to pass it on. It comes as no surprise then that 93% of Americans surveyed were unaware or misinformed when asked about what digital assets they were able to pass on in the event of their death. But the problems don’t stop there. Relatives of the recently deceased are frequently left with a range of decisions and challenges when it comes to dealing with their online accounts, especially social media. This is not made easier by the fact that every company implements different strategies in dealing with accounts belonging to a deceased user, coupled with the fact that in the UK in 2012 at least, the average user had 26 accounts. In most cases, getting an account shut down requires close family to produce a range of documentation to prove that they have the right to request that the account is terminated. This doesn’t allow for those relatives to get access to the content of the accounts however. Taking a lead in making the process of handling accounts of the deceased simpler, Google has implemented their Inactive Account Manager. This allows anyone to specify what should happen in the event that an account has not been accessed for at least 3 months. Up to 10 people can be notified and the contents of the accounts, including services such as YouTube and Google+, shared with them. Alternatively, the accounts can simply be automatically deleted. Facebook will, on request, “memorialise” a person’s Facebook page. This freezes the page with the same permissions as it had when it was last accessed by the user but will stop the page from being discovered in a search and will not actively promote the page to others. The role of social media in the bereavement process has been the focus of an increasing amount of research. Generally, it is thought that social media can help in the bereavement process, although the persistence of a person’s profile online may make final acceptance of the passing more difficult. An interesting finding has been that when people post on a memorial page, they frequently do so in the present tense as if the person was still alive. In the UK, a survey has found that 36% of people would like their profiles to continue being available online after they die, with a larger proportion of 18-24 year olds preferring this option than over 55s. It doesn’t have to stop there. There are now services which allow you to continue Tweeting after you die using a bot that has studied your tweeting style. Other services allow users to send final messages via Facebook and LinkedIn. Digital estate planning is starting to become more of the norm and people are being prompted to think about what they want done with their digital assets and accounts after they die. This is going to be a significant issue for social media companies in the future. Since Facebook started, about 10-20 million users will have died. This number will increase and eventually overtake the number of living users on the site, by one estimate, in 2060. In one humorous envisioning of the future, Tom Scott has produced a disturbing possibility in his video “Welcome To Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers”. In it, he describes a corporate sponsored network as a resting place for the digital version of your consciousness, that is, of course, ad sponsored. In this case as with the question today, it is perhaps best for all if your online social presence ends when you do. David Glance does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
With all the new mobile devices come the potential new methods for advertisers to keep track of you across all your devices. They are given access through deals done by the large platforms and gatekeepers of your information. Here are a few of the ways the big social media and tech companies are accessing your data and using it for profit. Facebook: It has access to enormous amounts of very personal metadata collected from all of its users, including everything from employment, family, hair colour, friends, travel, home location and many other details. Mined from its users, this information is considered very valuable for advertisers and marketers. Another way Facebook tracks your movements is when you use your Facebook sign-in for other websites. This is also tracked by Facebook. And Facebook owns a number of apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, that collect your information through your usage of the app. Facebook is large and looking to expand both its platform and ability to track your movements. It will keep purchasing and creating new ways to find and sell your information as this is its greatest income source. Apple: Its main tracking is through your email address and iTunes account, which tracks your credit card data and usage. When you purchase anything through an Apple device or using any Apple system, this information is used so the ads you see are normally reflecting your past activities. Google: When you log in to any Google account, you are then tied into the massive Google network. It also uses an Android mobile operating system which assigns each user a Google Ad ID. Google has many ad products and services such as AdSense, which access your ad identifier and compile the information with all the other YouTube, Gmail, Search and other personal digital history information, irrespective of what device you may be using. So why don’t they have to notify you of the use of your personal information? Because when you sign up to their services, you agree to their terms which include using your personal data as they please for advertising purposes. However, Google is still involved in class-action suits in various states in the US regarding its right to analyse message content and sell byproducts to advertisers. It is argued as beyond the scope of what is intended by the use of personal information. Google maintains it has the right to collect even your most sensitive data as long as it flows across an open Wi-Fi network. Google has been doing a lot more than its lobbyists and executives are disclosing when they are defending their initiatives. They could easily make collection of information for advertising more privacy-friendly if they wanted or were forced to, but at the moment we are at the mercy of the dominant operating system vendors who are not required to do so. Be aware: deals are being struck selling your information As you may have seen in the news recently, Facebook has struck a deal to sell access to your data to MasterCard. It claims it is not your ‘personal data’ but it includes your location, spending, connections and much more. This may not be personal data to some but it still seems very ‘personal’. This is likely the first of many deals to help monetise the ‘free’ Facebook model and seems to be the model for many large platform service providers on the internet. It is likely not to be the last. One thing that is important to remember about all this: it does not matter whether you are using an Android or an iOS device; you can still turn off many of the tracking mechanisms in the menu settings. Yet it still makes one wonder what is left under the ‘personal data’ legal definition anymore.
In a report that is due to be released next month, the OECD has drawn a picture of the state of the world’s digital economy, or at least that of its member countries. The reported data paint a picture of our modern digital life, with growing numbers of people accessing the internet via high speed broadband or wireless on their mobiles, enabling them to take part in social networks and online shopping. The digital citizen Overall, the number of adults in the OECD countries that use the internet increased from 60% in 2005 to 80% in 2013. The gap between young and old varies according to country but in the most advanced economies, up to 95% of young people are now internet users. 70% of them also access the internet at school. Buying products and services online has now become the norm, with 50% of users doing so, and an increasing proportion of that is now via a mobile device. E-Government services were used on average by 35% of individuals and about 80% of businesses. E-Government is defined as people accessing information and submitting completed forms, including tax returns. A particularly interesting set of data showed the degree to which users in a particular country would watch YouTube content from that country. This was highest in Japan where 75% of YouTube views were of Japanese videos, through to the USA where 33% of content viewed was of US origin and Australia where only 8% of views was of Australian content. Unfortunately the data doesn’t tell us where the majority of content Australians watched came from but one can only assume that it was from countries like the US and UK. It seems that being a digital native starts young in most OECD countries. The age of first access to the internet in 2012 ranged from 33% being under 6 in Denmark to the majority of Russians being over 10 years old. Australia, as with many things digital, was somewhere in the middle with the majority of kids being under 9 when they first accessed the internet. The not-so-digital citizen Not all is quite as switched on as it would appear however. In the EU, over 60% of the labour force reported that they had insufficient computer skills they considered necessary to apply for a new job. This included just under 40% of people with a university education. Again in the EU, 30% of internet users cited concerns about security as the reason they wouldn’t buy anything online. Computer use at work also varied dramatically across OECD countries with countries like Russia and Italy reporting over 50% of workers not using a computer at work. This figure was around 26% in the US and as low as 17% in Norway. Digital companies Companies have been slower than individuals to adopt digital ways but they have recently been speeding up. According to the OECD, “It took 15 to 20 years for slightly more than three quarters of enterprises to develop a website, but only a few years for around 30% of businesses to become active on social networks”. In the OECD countries, 94% of businesses have access to broadband, 75% had a website, but only 20% conducted any sales online. The standout country here was New Zealand where 80% of companies purchased goods online and 45% of companies sold goods online. The use of enterprise resource planning tools was lowest in the UK where only 10% of companies used this type of software. Wired (and wireless) countries A key enabler for a digital economy and digital citizens is access to broadband. The main driver here has been access to wireless broadband, principally enabled through the mobile phone. Almost 75% of OECD citizens now have a mobile wireless broadband subscription. In Australia, there has been a radical increase in subscriptions since 2009 where the figure was less than 20%, to now where there are more subscriptions than inhabitants. Australia now has the second highest wireless broadband usage of all OECD countries. Fixed, or wired, broadband subscriptions in OECD countries tell a different story. Korea leads the world with over 70% of fixed broadband subscribers having speeds above 10 Mbps. The USA is over 30% but Australia is down near the bottom of the list at 10%. The Digital Economy The impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the economy is huge. ICT companies spend more on the research and development than the rest of the economy and across the OECD productivity in IT companies is about 60% higher than the rest. Other analyses have estimated that the impact of wireless broaband on the Australian economy has been around $34 billion a year. As countries continue to look for ways of boosting their economies, investing in productivity and innovation through information technologies seems the most feasible way of achieving this. This is especially true for countries like Australia where the reliance on mining is not sustainable. This article was originally published at The Conversation. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
'Bendgate' tests: Just 31 kg of pressure to deform an Apple iPhone 6, compared to 68 kg for Samsung Galaxy Note 39:37PM | Monday, 29 September
It takes significantly less pressure to bend an Apple iPhone 6 than most other smartphones, according to tests conducted by US consumer website Consumer Reports. The results come after claims on social media and online message boards that the company’s latest flagship smartphones can be easily bent went viral. Following reports on social media about iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones being bent in users’ pockets, YouTube user Lewis Hilsenteger posted a series of videos demonstrating how easily the device can be bent with human hands. The videos appear to show that applying pressure on the back of an iPhone 6 Plus at a specific spot near the volume controls while at the same time pushing downwards on the edges of the screen can cause the device to first warp and then break. Consumer Reports responded by testing how much pressure it takes to break the iPhone 6, although with the pressure applied across the middle of the device rather than in the specific spot demonstrated in Hilsenteger’s videos. The report notes that the iPhone 6 bends at 70 pounds (or 31 kilograms) of pressure and breaks at 100 pounds (45 kg), while the iPhone 6 Plus bends at 90 pounds (40.8 kg) and breaks at 110 pounds (49.8 kg). This is significantly less than the 130 pounds (58.9 kg) required to bend the iPhone 5 or 150 pounds (68 kg) for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3. For its part, Apple is claiming just nine users have complained about their device bending within the first six days of the product’s release, although the bending phenomena was noticed by Wired in its review of the device. This story originally appeared on SmartCompany..
Online web series That Startup Show has been shortlisted for the Best Innovation Award at the 2014 Online Video Awards, as its creators negotiate with possible distributors. The second episode of the web series was released on Wednesday and looks to build on the success of the pilot. The first episode, released on YouTube in August has had over 36,000 views with a global reach across Asia, Canada and the USA. That Startup Show co-producer Sally Gatenby says the team was negotiating with a number of possible distributors, including TV. “We’re looking at both traditional and online,” she says. “Given the amount of views we’ve had in a short amount of time, we’re looking forward to seeing how we can leverage that and reach a larger audience.” Episode two, which you can (and should!) watch below, features Oxygen Ventures general manager and investment director Ilya Frolov, IntelligenceBank co-founder Tessa Court, and AngelCube co-founder and lead investor Adrian Stone. They, along with the host, comedian and tech commentator Dan Ilic examine the Australian venture capital landscape, the perceived lack of funds in Australia, and examines why “bizarre” innovations like Yo manage to raise capital. “We’re really happy with how the episode has come across,” Gatenby says. “We really wanted to demystify the role of venture capital in Australia.” Show creator Anna Reeves, a former business affairs manager for cult TV show Rockwiz in its early seasons is thrilled with how That Startup Show has been received so far. “For us, it’s also about actively engaging our audience on this journey in a unique a fun way, which adds vaue and foster connections with the amazing startup culture we have in Australia,” she says. “That’s actually what we love most about it.” That Startup Show episode three and four will be filmed back-to-back in late October as part of StartupAus’ Startup Spring Festival. Tickets are available at That Startup Show’s Eventbrite page. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
E-commerce giant Amazon has splashed out, paying close to $US1 billion ($A107 billion) for live video gaming platform Twitch. Amazon said on Monday it will pay $US970 million in cash for the platform, which had previously been rumoured to have fallen into the hands of Google. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year. “Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month —from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,” said Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in a statement. “Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.” Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear said in the same statement the acquisition will allow it to “create tools and services faster than we could have independently”. “This change will mean great things for our community, and will let us bring Twitch to even more people around the world,” he said. So what is Twitch and why did Amazon fork out the big bucks to purchase it? Here’s five things you need to know about the platform. 1. Twitch allows gamers to live stream their gameplay Twitch enables game lovers to broadcast their gameplay sessions on PC, Xbox One or PlayStation 4 to viewers online, essentially turning what was once a solitary pursuit into a spectator sport. Users typically see the screen of the person playing the game, as well as a video feed of the player’s face and a window that allows they to chat with the player and other viewers. 2. It is used by millions of gamers Twitch has more than 50 million monthly active users and more than 1.1 million members who broadcast videos each month. In a typical month, Twitch users will watch more than 16 million minutes of gameplay. The platform has grown exponentially since it was launched in June 2011 with 3.2 million active users. 3. The platform started out as something called Justin.tv Twitch was founded by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, who also co-founded Justin.tv, one of the first websites to host livestreaming user-generated video. Twitch was born as one part of Justin.tv, which the duo launched in 2007 and allowed users to broadcast their own video live streams. But Business Insider reports Twitch soon took over Justin.tv, so much so that Justin.tv changed its name to Twitch in February this year. Justin.tv officially closed earlier this month, with Twitch becoming the business’ sole focus. 4. Twitch allows advertising As with most other online social platforms, Twitch does share advertising revenue with those who broadcast their videos on the platform. And there is little doubt the advertising potential in the platform is at least part of Amazon’s attraction. According to the New York Times, most Twitch broadcasters, which can include businesses and content publishers, currently earn very little from the platform, although there are some said to be earning more than six figures a year. 5. It may expand to include live concerts in the future While Twitch’s users are dedicated gamers, the platform has experimented with live music concerts, raising the possibility of the platform morphing into a live equivalent of YouTube. In July this year, Twitch hosting a free broadcast of a concert by musician Steve Aoki. According to The Verge, Twitch said at the time it had received feedback that 80% of its users would be interested in watching live concerts. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
China could have a new homegrown operating system by October, to take on imports Microsoft, Google and Apple. The US and China have had a number of disputes regarding cyber security in recent months. The operating system would first appear on desktop devices, before being extended to smartphone and other mobile devices, the head of an official OS development alliance, Ni Guangnan, says. Ni says he hopes the Chinese-made software would be able to replace desktop operating systems within one to two years and mobile operating systems within three to five years. Coin apologises to customers Connected credit card startup Coin issued an apology to customers on the weekend after mishandling the announcement of a product delay. The San-Francisco based startup was criticised last week after revealing, after months of ambiguity, it would be delaying the launch of its connected credit card and replacing it with a beta program in which its 10,000 pre-order customers could opt in to receive a prototype. They would be required to pay $30 to upgrade to the finished product when it launched. Coin reversed its stance and the beta program will now be free. It apologised to its users for a “lack of transparency and clarity” in its communications. Facebook most popular app in US In comScore’s latest mobile app report, which tracks the 25 most popular smartphone apps in the US, Facebook leads the way by a considerable margin. The Facebook app had 115.4 million US unique visitors over the age of eighteen in June 2014, with YouTube finishing in second with 83.4 million. The top subscription app is Netflix with 28 million unique visitors. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 38.27 to 17,001.22. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
Google is rolling out a number of new Android app promotion features across its Google Search, the Google Display and YouTube ad networks targeted at app developers. For developers, Google now allows developers to promote their app through its ad networks, with the ads only appearing for users who haven’t downloaded the app from the Google Play app store. Developers can also embed deep links into content in their apps from ads on Google websites, with the ads only appearing for users that have previously installed the apps. The deep linking within apps mirrors a feature introduced by Twitter in January. In an official blog post, Google’s vice president of AdWords product management, Jerry Dischler, said app developers such as LINE, Zoopla and Booking.com have already signed up for the service. “Here’s how it works: let’s say someone has the Booking.com app installed on their phone and searches for “San Francisco Hotels” on Google.com; now they can go directly to the specific page in the Booking.com app that shows listings for hotels in San Francisco,” said Dischler. App downloads through the Google Play store that follow a user clicking on an ad will show up as a conversion in AdWords without any additional setup. This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.
Google has been working to overhaul its Web services so it can legally allow children to use them, The Information reports. It’s looking at features that include a dashboard for parents to oversee their kids’ activities, a child-safe version of YouTube and requiring people who sign up for a Google account on Android devices to share their age. The effort is being driven by Google’s desire to find new ways to expand its user base. Tumblr partner will now scan photos for clues about brand affiliation Yahoo-owned Tumblr has inked a deal with Ditto Labs, a company that analyses photos on social media for brand related data. The deal will see Tumblr start to search through all the images on the site looking for clues about the brand affiliations of users. Tumblr head of business development T.R Newcomb says the company isn’t planning on doing anything ad-related with that data, rather it will be available to advertisers who want to understand how they are perceived on the platform. US nuclear regulatory commission hacked In the last three years, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission computers have been hacked by foreigners twice and an unidentifiable individual once, according to an internal investigation, Nextgov reports. One incident involved emails sent to about 215 NRC employees in a phishing attempt which took users to a cloud-based Google spreadsheet. Twelve employees fell for the attempt. The IG Cyber Crime Unit was able to track the person who set up the spreadsheet to a foreign country. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 175.83 to 16,838.74. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
When Google+ launched in 2011, it enacted the ‘real name’ policy in order to prevent spam, trolling and to try to give users more confidence to connect with new or other people. So what went wrong with this policy? Google loosened restrictions on real name requirements Last year there was outrage by YouTube users when Google implemented the policy which forced YouTube users to sign up for a Google+ account in order to post comments. It was done to try to crack down on spam comments, trolling and low quality posts. This change upset so many users that they filed a petition on Change.org to try to force Google+ to reconsider its decision. In an effort to try to appease, Google+ has been loosening its restrictions on the Google+ real names policy over the past few years by allowing maiden names and nicknames to be included but still displaying the ‘real’ names next to it. But it was still not enough In the last few weeks, Google+ has now caved in to all the complaints and requests to allow multiple or fake names. They are apologizing, stating that the original policy was confusing and it excluded some people who wanted to use Google+ without including their real names. There was a lot of controversy when this was required as it meant that people could not post comments and use the internet anonymously. There was support for this. And there were complaints. A lot of complaints. The only restriction Google has put on this ability to change your name on Google+ is that once you make a change to your profile name it is locked for three months, so you cannot change it multiple times during the period. Google+ also made it clear that if you impersonate someone else, they will suspend your profile. What does it all mean now? Users can change their name by clicking their existing username while they are in their Google+ profile. You just select Profile from the drop-down menu in the upper left corner, click on your name and enter your ‘preferred’ name. It’s that easy. When you change your username on Google+, it also changes your ID on the other Google products such as Gmail and YouTube. What this means now is that people are now permitted to use fake names, nicknames, pseudonyms, etc on Google+ and YouTube users can now again comment anonymously. And now the trolls can come out to play…