Announcing The Agenda For TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013


A big city needs a big tech event, which is why I’m pleased to announce the massive TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2013 agenda. It’s a schedule chock-full of amazing speakers, great panels, and all the excitement of our Startup Battlefield – in which 30 amazing startups will compete for the Disrupt Cup and a $50,000 prize – all played out on the backdrop of the most vibrant metropolis in the world.

Who will be there? Gentry Underwood, who recently sold his meteoric company, Mailbox, to Dropbox will be on the stage. Investing partners and pillars of the New York entrepreneurial scene, Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman will share their perspectives. Ebay’s John Donahoe will sit down for an in-depth conversation as will Fred Wilson, Roelof Botha, Bill Gurley, Chris Dixon and Ron Conway. Flipboard’s Mike McCue will join us and Ashton Kutcher, will tell us what’s up with A-Grade and share what it’s like to play Steve Jobs on film. We’ll have an exclusive screening of Downloaded, the documentary about Napster, and sit down with the movie’s subjects and creator. Plus, the Taxi And Limousine Commission will take on Hailo and Sidecar in a not-to-be missed discussion.

If that’s not enough to make you run, not walk, to Disrupt, there will be hundreds of new companies in Startup Alley, a raft of awesome after parties, and Hardware Alley where we celebrate the best of hardware startups.

We’ve got even more surprises to announce as we count down the days to hearing those catchy Disrupt music tracks. Stay tuned.

Click here to get your tickets.

If you’re interested in sponsorships, please contact our team.


Monday, April 29th

9:00am -9:05am
Opening Remarks by TechCrunch

9:05am – 9:25am
Fireside chat with Chris Dixon (Andreessen Horowitz)

9:25am – 9:50am
Fireside Chat with Bill Gurley (Benchmark Capital)

9:50am – 10:10am
In Conversation with Chamath Palihapitya (Social+Capital Partnership)

10:10am – 10:35am
Keynote: Everyone is Literally Crazy, by Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed)

10:35am – 10:55am
In Conversation with Joe Green (FWD)

10:55am – 11:05am
Special Product Announcement

11:05am – 11:20am

11:20am – 11:45am
In Conversation with Kevin Ryan (Gilt Groupe) and Dwight Merriman (10gen)

11:45am – 12:10pm
Panel: Content Makes a Comeback

12:10pm – 12:30pm
Fireside Chat with John Borthwick

12:30pm – 2:00pm

2:00pm – 2:25pm
Founders Stories with Mike McCue (Flipboard)

Startup Battlefield with Jason Kincaid
2:25pm – 2:30pm
How the Startup Battlefield Works

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Session One – New Networks

Judges: Ime Archibong (Facebook), David Pakman (Venrock), Yossi Vardi (angel investor)
3:30pm – 3:45pm

3:45pm – 4:45pm
Session Two – Online for Offline

Judges: Niko Bonatsos (General Catalyst), Tracy Chou (Pinterest), Matt Mazzeo (Lowercase Capital), Ron Palmeri (Mark II Ventures)

4:45pm – 5:00pm

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Session Three – Get Things Done
Judges: John Frankel (ff Venture Capital), Hilary Mason (, Megan Quinn (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Sam Yagan (Ok Cupid)

6:00pm – 7:30pm

9:00pm – Midnight
After Party hosted by New Relic at Santos Party House

Tuesday, April 30th

9:00am – 9:05am
Opening Remarks by TechCrunch

9:05am – 9:35am
Fireside Chat with Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures)

9:35am – 10:00am
Founders Stories with Gentry Underwood (Mailbox)

10:00am – 10:25am
Ads: Your Eyeballs Are Money: Neal Mohan (Google), Gokul Rajaram (Facebook), Kevin Weil (Twitter)

10:25am – 10:50am
Fireside Chat with John Donahoe (ebay)

10:50am – 11:00am
Special Product Announcement

11:00am – 11:20am

11:20am – 11:45am
Lots of Venture, But What is Gained?: Mike Abbott (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Aaref Hilaly (Sequoia Capital), Naval Ravikant (Angel List), David Tisch (Box Group)

11:45am – 12:05pm
In Conversation with Troy Carter (Atom Factory)

12:05pm – 12:30pm
Show Me the [Digital] Money: John Collison (Stripe), Hill Ferguson (PayPal), Sahil Lavinga (Gumroad)

12:30pm – 2:00pm

2:00pm – 2:25pm
Downloaded with Shawn Fanning (Airtime) and Alex Winter (filmmaker)

Startup Battlefield with Jason Kincaid
2:25pm – 2:30pm
How the Startup Battlefield Works

2:30pm – 3:30pm
Session Four – Layers of Experience

Judges: Heidi Messer (Collective[i]), Peter Pham (Science), Dave Samuel (Freestyle Capital), Scott Stanford (Sherpa Foundry)

3:30pm – 3:45pm

3:45pm – 4:45pm
Session Five – New Marketplaces

Judges: Pat Gallagher (CrunchFund), Zach Sims (Codecademy), David Tisch (Box Group), Michelle Zatlyn (CloudFlare)

4:45pm – 5:00pm

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Session Six – Mobile First

Judges: Matt Brezina (Sincerely), Nicole Glaros (Techstars), Naval Ravikant (Angel List), Lior Zorea (Perkins Coie)

6:15pm – 8:15pm
Downloaded – Exclusive Screening at TechCrunch Disrupt in advance of the digital and theatrical release later this year.

9:00pm – Midnight
After Party hosted by MailWeGo at Hudson Terrace

Wednesday, May 1st

9:30am -9:35am
Opening Remarks by TechCrunch

9:35am – 9:55am
Founders Stories with Rap Genius: Tom Lehman, Mahbod Moghadam, Ilan Zechory

9:55am – 10:25am
Urban Tranportation: Jay Bregman (Hailo), Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Programs Ashwini Chhhabra (New York TLC), Sunil Paul (Sidecar)

10:25am – 10:50am
Fireside Chat with Ben Lerer (Thrillist, Lerer Ventures) and Ken Lerer (Lerer Ventures)

10:50am – 11:10am
In Conversation with Limor Fried (Adafruit)

11:10am – 11:20am

11:20am – 11:40am
Fireside Chat with Anthony Noto (Goldman Sachs)

11:40am – 12:00pm
In Conversation with Joe Lonsdale (Palantir)

12:00pm – 12:20pm
Fireside Chat with Ashton Kutcher (A-Grade)

12:20pm – 12:30pm
Hackathon Highlights

12:30pm – 1:50pm

1:50pm – 2:00pm
Special Product Announcement

2:00pm – 2:25pm
Software is Eating the Mall: Deborah Benton (NastyGal), Dave Gilboa (Warby Parker), Michael Preysman (Everlane), Deena Varshavskaya (Wanelo)

2:25pm – 2:50pm
Fireside Chat with SV Angel: Ron Conway, David Lee and Brian Pokorny

2:50pm – 3:05pm
Startup Battlefield Alumni

3:05pm – 3:25pm
Fireside Chat with Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital)

3:25pm – 3:30pm
Passing the Disrupt Cup with YourMechanic

3:30pm – 3:40pm

Startup Battlefield Finals with Jason Kincaid

3:40pm – 5:30pm
Startup Battlefield Finals

5:30pm – 6:15pm
Closing Cocktail Reception

6:15pm – 6:45pm
Closing Awards Ceremony

9:00pm – Midnight
After Party hosted by TechCrunch at Le Poisson Rouge

Mobile Video App Socialcam Adds Expanded User Profiles, Camera Switching, And Hashtags That Work


The team behind mobile video app Socialcam just keeps on trucking. The company, which is now part of Autodesk, is releasing a new version of its app today, adding a bunch of features that users have asked for, like expanded profile pages, as well as the ability to switch back and forth between front- and rear-facing cameras and hashtags and @ mentions that actually do stuff.

It’s been nearly a year since Socialcam was acquired in a deal that was worth about $60 million. Since then, the team has added a few members, boosting its ranks from four to seven. And that team continues to iterate on the app, posting eight updates across its iOS and Android apps since acquisition, some bigger than others.

That said, Socialcam co-founder Michael Seibel wants to increase the rate at which the company puts out updates, getting it back to its pre-acquisition pace of an update every three weeks or so. With that in mind, the company just issued a pretty major update today which answer some of the demands its users had from previous version.

That includes better support for hashtags and @mentions of other users. See, people were hashtagging their stuff all the time in Socialcam, but being able to search or follow or click through those hashtags wasn’t as fully built out as some would like. So users can now search via hashtag, and hashtags are now clickable. Socialcam has also added autocomplete for hashtags and @mentions, so users can get at what they want sooner.

And if what they want to get at is another user page, Socialcam has given them a little more to look at. According to Seibel, the company found that its users weren’t just leveraging the app to share their videos with other social networks, but were actually using it as its own little social network, following and interacting with the other folks there.

One of the requests the team got was to expand user profiles. So it did that, giving them more that they could do to express themselves and tell strangers on the platform who they are and why they should be followed. Socialcam also has added the ability to switch between front- and rear-facing cameras on its iOS app, allowing users to shoot a video intro with the front-facing cam, and then switch to the other one to show people what’s going on around them.

Unfortunately, not all the new features are available on both iOS and Android. Some, like the ability to switch between cameras, is an iPhone-only thing. But Android continues to come along, just a little more slowly in some areas. After completely rebuilding the Socialcam Android app a few months ago, it’s been working on getting feature sets between the platforms at parity. Or near-parity, at least.

Obligatory mention of Vine.

Goodbye Sherpa, Hello Osito! Predictive Intelligence iOS App Rebrands And Graduates From Beta


It was only about three weeks ago when the team behind predictive intelligence app Sherpa announced a hefty seed round and that it was rolling the app out to private beta users. Now it seems they’re all ready for prime time… with a few changes.

Since there’s already a glut of mobile apps named Sherpa floating around out there, founder and CEO Bill Ferrell thought it was high time for a bit of rebranding — to that end Sherpa has been renamed Osito, and it’s ready for you to download in the iOS App Store.

Here’s a bit of background in case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the app formerly known as Sherpa. Long story short, Osito is a predictive intelligence app that picks up on your location and scans your calendar and connected email accounts to display information about your day. While it’s easy enough to draw comparisons between Osito and services like Google Now (especially since there are some aesthetic similarities between the two), Osito’s biggest draw isn’t that it’s able to surface pertinent information on the fly.

Rather, it’s that the app is awfully smart at figuring out when it should display what it does thanks to its thoughtful reliance on location triggers. If it sifts through your email and happens upon a boarding pass for instance, you’ll only see it once you’re actually within range of the airport you’ll need to use it in. Osito’s work begins well before you set foot on the plane — in that particular case it will chew on your email to figure out when you should begin your trek to the airport and give you an idea of the weather you’ll encounter on your way there.

As a result of the three or so weeks that app has been open to private beta testers, Ferrell and rest of the team have added a handful of new features to the mix. This time around there’s improved support for hotels and accommodation information — users will get a notification the day before they’re slated to check in, plus another once the app detects that you’re near the hotel in question. The bigger change here though is that the app is more thoughtful about displaying what you should be doing next. Going back to the travel example, the app can now provide you with the ability to call taxis from within the app or display info on airport parking to help keep your sojourn moving smoothly.

“People like the information we’re surfacing,” Ferrell points out. “But they want it to be more actionable. Now we’re making sure to attach the right ‘next step’ buttons”

What really stuck me during my time fiddling with the app was just how rarely I actually had to fire up the app proper — Osito is plenty eager to display push notifications when it thinks you should be doing something, so you could certainly just let the app run in the background and react to whatever pops up. At this point Osito’s approach still feels like an understated one, and that’s just how the six person team likes it… for now.

“Our goal isn’t to be in your face,” Ferrell said. “That’s not the good stuff. The good stuff is sending you something when you actually need it.” That said, there have been more than a few internal conversations about what Osito will be able to do down the road — timely notifications are just the tip of the iceberg. Ferrell is awfully bullish on the concept of Osito as a platform and just not an app, and confirmed that the startup has been in talks with multiple potential partners who are interested in building experiences on top of Osito. It’s an encouraging sign for the once-stealthy startup even if Ferrell won’t say exactly who he’s been talking to — what the team has right now works well enough, but it’s hard not to use the app and think of all the other things you wish it could do.

Storify Aims For Marketers With its New ‘Storify Business’ Plan, Redesigns Free Version Too

storify logo

Last month, social media curation service Storify revealed its first paid plan, Storify VIP. It sounds like VIP is designed for large media organizations (the first announced customer was the BBC), but today, Storify is announcing that it created a more accessible, less journalism-focused option called Storify Business.

“The new features will broaden our user base beyond journalism to these other types of customers who are reporting on social media for their clients and telling stories about products,” Herman told me.

Storify’s usefulness to journalists is pretty clear — it helps them turn disparate social media updates into a coherent story. (The Denver Post used Storify in its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Aurora, Colo. shootings.) At the same time, Herman said it can be used by brands, PR agencies, and ad agencies, too.

“Current corporate reporting methods for social media — like pasting screenshots into PowerPoint — are cumbersome and lose links to the original data,” he said. “One of the main new Storify Business features is private stories, which are only visible to others who have the secret story link. Brands and PR and advertising agencies need to record customer sentiment and conversations from social networks to report on what they are doing.”

Herman added that this isn’t a replacement for more algorithmically driven social listening tools, but rather a complement.

In addition to the private sharing feature, Storify Business also includes customized story embeds (so that they can match a company’s branding or the design of its blog) and increased customer support. The company is currently offering introductory pricing of $59 a month (the regular price will be $99).

And even though the company has been expanding its paid options, it’s making improvements for free users too, with the launch of a new design, as well new features that allow users to edit the URL of a story, search Instagram by username or location, and delete items from a saved collection.

Hailo Is Hiring To Bring Its On-Demand Taxi App To San Francisco And Washington, D.C.


Taxi e-hail startup Hailo is looking to expand the number of cities that it serves, and could soon add San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to that list. Based on a couple of job postings on the company’s website, the company is looking to hire city general managers for those two cities, signaling its plans to launch its app in even more new markets.

The listings were posted as the company looks to take advantage of new funding and introduce its service in new cities. A few months ago, Hailo raised $30 million from Union Square Ventures, KDDI, Richard Branson, and other investors. With that cash, the company is looking to expand across a number of new cities. As CEO Jay Bregman wrote to me when I asked about the San Francisco job posting, Hailo want’s to be wherever there are licensed cab drivers:

“Hailo wants to be in New York. Hailo wants to be in San Francisco. Hailo wants to be in Breckinridge, CO. Hailo uses existing infrastructure and works anywhere there are licensed cabs.

Setting up a local infrastructure and recruiting driver-partners and local drivers are key pieces of our operating philosophy. We understand that more medallions are slated to be on the streets of SF and drivers are worried about making ends meet. Help is on the way.”

Hailo’s app is currently available in London, Dublin, Toronto, Boston and Chicago. The company is also working to bring its e-hail app to New York, Tokyo, Madrid, and Barcelona soon.

In New York City, Hailo — and all the other taxi apps, for that matter — are still in a holding pattern while waiting for litigation to clear up between the Taxi & Limousine Commission and a bunch of livery car drivers. (That’s something we’ll be talking about at Disrupt NY 2013 in a few weeks, by the way.) The Tokyo launch comes in part thanks to that investment from Japanese telco KDDI.

The San Francisco market is already pretty well acquainted with on-demand ride services. Local residents have been using their mobile phones to hail rides from services like Uber for a while. There’s also Lyft and SideCar for those who don’t mind riding in some regular dude’s car. Flywheel, another taxi hail app, has been in the Bay Area for a while, also. (You might have known it as Cabulous.) Oh, and then there’s InstantCab, which offers some kind of a hybrid cab and community driver ride-share thing. So there’s plenty of Hailo competitors already there.

In Washington, D.C., the competition isn’t quite as fierce, but Hailo won’t be alone in the e-hail market. Uber has been operating in the capital for a while, and has even launched its UberTAXI service there, thanks to a deal it struck with the local city council. SideCar is also in D.C. now, thanks to a big national rollout that it’s been embarking on after raising $10 million of its own.

But hey, competition is good, right? It makes everyone better, gives consumers choice, gives me something to write about.

Move Over Chat Heads. Ustwo’s New App Honk! Wants You To Meme-ify Your Friends With “Visually Explosive” Messaging


Just when you thought chat app makers had run out of things to say — i.e. because they’ve said it all already, via text, VoIP, videochatting, emoticons, snaps, pokes, stickers, Chat Heads, WHATEVER – along comes London-based app studio Ustwo to pour its distinctive brand of fun-loving mischief into the category.

After launching Rando last month, a random photo-sharing app which sparked plenty of confusion/curiosity over its lack of social sharing features (curiosity appears to be winning, with more than a million randos since shared), Ustwo has turned its attention to two-way communication and unboxed Honk!: a messaging app for iOS and Android.

Ustwo brands Honk! as a “super chat” app. What’s a super chat app exactly? “We had felt that none of the [messaging competitors] had that spark.. they felt too ‘message/// not enough SUPER CHAT,” (un)explains Ustwo co-founder Matt Miller via email. Clearly a man with a very visual mind. On its blog, Ustwo adds that it was “playing with the concept of non-verbal communication”  – photo-sharing being the monster truck driving most digital social interaction these days — and wanted to build a messaging app that wasn’t so ”streamlined” and focused on text, but rather all about imagery and playful self-expression.

To my eye, Honk is the sort of app you could imagine a DrawSomething-addicted lolcat cooking up after a particularly heavy fish-supper. Its splendid tagline says it all: “If you have nothing better to do or say. Honk!”

The app encourages users to treat messaging each other as a game — furnishing folk with the tools (camera, pen, colour palette, fonts, Flickr Creative Commons photo search) to cook up a heady cocktail of visual banter with which to amuse/terrify/meme-ify their friends. Messages are segmented into portions that are filled up individually — to create the overall messy messaging patchwork that is a Honk!

The segments look likely to encourage people to create composites of their friends’ faces. And turn running jokes into visual memes. It’s part messaging app, part game. Or as Ustwo puts it: “an alternative way to communicate with friends, show them what you’re up to and exchange nonsensical but engaging messages with them”.

More Honks below.

Google Launches Google+ Commenting System For Blogger, Coming To The Rest Of The Web Soon?


Google today announced that bloggers on its Blogger publishing platform can now enable a new Google+-powered commenting system for their sites. This means Blogger users can now use Google+ as a commenting platform for their blogs and comments from Google+ will automatically appear on their blogs, too.

Google has already enabled this new system on all of its official blogs.

This new commenting widget, Google says, will enable bloggers to “see activity from direct visitors, and from people talking about your content on Google+.” This, the company argues, will make it easier to engage with commenters, as all of the comments will be available in one place.

The comment widget actually looks quite nice. By default, it sorts comments by popularity (the other choice is ‘newest first’) and also gives users the option to see everybody’s comments or just remarks from users in their own circles. Just like Google+, however, the system doesn’t allow for nested comments.

Google also argues that this will make life easier for readers who want to comment. They will get the option to comment publicly – or privately to their circles on Google+. Of course, both the blog owners and the readers will only see the comments they have permission to see.

To enable this, Blogger users simply have to flip a switch in their Blogger Dashboard. Older comments will also be imported into the new Google+ comment widget.

What About The Rest Of The Web?

For now, this new commenting system is obviously restricted to Blogger, but it’s likely that Google is just using its own platform as a staging ground for a wider release in the future. In the long run, Google will likely want to use this to compete with Facebook comments. Facebook launched its commenting system back in 2009, though it’s not clear how many sites still use it.

Finally, A Competency-Based College Gets Approved

College for America

Days are numbered for colleges that award degrees based on the amount of time students sit in a classroom. The U.S. Department Of Education approved financial aid for a new self-paced, online learning college, where students demonstrate competence, rather than earn credit hours in a semester-long class.

From the Chronicle Of Higher Education Wired Campus Blog:

“Unlike the typical experience in which students advance by completing semester-long, multicredit courses, students in College for America have no courses or traditional professors. These working-adult students make progress toward an associate degree by demonstrating mastery of 120 competencies. Competencies are phrased as “can do” statements, such as “can use logic, reasoning, and analysis to address a business problem” or “can analyze works of art in terms of their historical and cultural contexts.”

For instance, instead of signing up for an arts class, students are directed to online resources and are awarded the equivalent of arts credit by demonstrating mastery of the material through a presentation of a museum exhibit.

Southern New Hampshire college boasts that its Gates Foundation-funded College For America Program is “the first degree program to completely decouple from the credit hour.” Online Education pioneers, such as Sal Khan, have long advocated for a system that rewards students only for what they know, rather than for how long they pretend to learn inside of a classroom.

Humans don’t learn in pre-determined intervals, but as they progress from fact to fact and skill to skill. Khan, for instance, found that so-called “failing” students are often just stuck on a particular concept. Once they got over the hump, they raced to the head of the class, proving that not all students should learn the same material at the exact same time.

At Southern New Hampshire, “coaches” help students along the discovery process. It’s already attracted some big business partnerships, including Anthem Blue Cross and ConAgra Foods.

Keep these innovations coming, Department of Education. We’ll get education right soon enough.