Salesforce.com Doubles Mobile Packs, Adds Design Templates For Design-Challenged Developers

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Salesforce.com is doubling the mobile packs it makes available, adding design templates for developers and a feature for syncing data.

It’s all part of an effort for Salesforce to help clients use its platform to build apps that foster productivity during those hundreds of, what the company calls, “micro-moments” that we face every day. Yes — if it smells like marketing, it usually is. But there is some meat on the bones of this new release even if it is packaged with that trademark Salesforce spin. Here are a few of the highlights.

First, Salesforce is making available four new app frameworks in its mobile pack: Knockout.js, Appery.io, Sencha Touch and Xamarin. All are well-known app frameworks in the developer community.

The company is also offering new templates for the design-challenged developers. More than 20 open source HTML5/CSS templates are available that connect with customer data in Salesforce through the mobile packs.

Salesforce is also launching sample mobile design templates for developers to try:

A new syncing feature is part of the company’s Mobile 2.0 SDK release, allowing developers to sync offline data they have created when they go back online:

Salesforce.com is pushing this concept of the micro-moment so expect to hear more about it from them in the coming months. I can see it now — CEO Marc Benioff, onstage at Dreamforce, pacing in his usual way, talking about all the apps for those micro-moments in your life. That’s fine with me as long as they keep adding substance behind the marketing message.

Samsung WB250F SMART camera gains Evernote integration

A couple of Samsung‘s SMART cameras went up for sale back in February, among them being the WB250F 14.2-megapixel shooter. Fast-forward a few months, and this camera has been bestowed with new functionality thanks to a partnership between Samsung and Evernote, bringing the latter service to the camera for additional sharing capabilities. The software update with the integration rolled out today.


The Samsung WB250F already provides ways for users to share images socially, but with the new integration, Evernote faithfuls will be able to use the service directly from the camera, allowing for images taken to be synced to other devices – such as a smartphone or tablet – that is running Evernote as well. Furthermore, the new feature is being offered alongside three free months of Evernote Premium.

With Evernote Premium, the upload limit is increased to 1GB per month, and both sharing options and image processing speed get a boost. The software update that was released is only available for users in the United States, and is being included on new versions of the camera being shipped, which includes an Evernote redemption code that needs to be activated on the company’s website.

The Samsung WB250F runs SMART Camera 2.0, which provides features like Direct Link and AutoShare. The camera itself features a BSI CMOS sensor, as well as 18x optical zoom and the typical p/s/a/m manual camera modes. The back panel is a touchscreen, and there are also five-way navigational keys. The camera is available in cobalt black, white, gun metal, and wine red for $249.99.

Said Samsung’s Vice President of Marketing for Digital Imagine Ron Gazzola: “Consumers want to take great pictures that they can share with their family and friends. With the addition of Evernote to Samsung’s WB250F, users can now seamlessly sync their images across devices and share their photo memories with other Evernote users.”


Samsung WB250F SMART camera gains Evernote integration is written by Brittany Hillen & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

O2 4G launch August 29 as EE gets LTE competition

O2 UK has revealed its 4G LTE plans, giving carrier EE some competition for high-speed data. The new O2 4G service will go live on August 29, initially in London, Leeds, and Bradford, the FT reports, with the three cities being followed by a further ten before the end of 2013, the carrier has promised. The cheapest O2 LTE tariff will be £26 ($40) per month, though O2 is yet to detail exactly what that will include.

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Although competition for EE is undoubtedly welcome, it will nonetheless take O2 some time to match its rival’s head-start on 4G service. EE currently operates LTE in 95 UK towns and cities, with more than 100 expected to have coverage by the end of August; it also has double-speed LTE service in fifteen cities.

EE was criticized at launch for the cost of its 4G plans, though has trimmed away some of the fat since then. Most recently, it announced a new set of shared-data plans, while individual subscribers can get 4G service from £21 ($32) per month.

O2 is working with long-time rival Vodafone on shared infrastructure for the two carriers’ 4G roll-out, though each will operate an independent network. Vodafone is yet to confirm when it will begin its own 4G service, though Mobile reports that it is expected to announce its intentions sometime next week.

By the end of the year, O2 aims to have 4G service running in Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester, and Edinburgh, along with the initial London, Leeds, and Bradford coverage.

In addition to 4G smartphones, there will be mobile broadband devices, 4G-enabled tablets, and 4G modems for individual use. However, conspicuously absent will be iPhone 5 LTE support; because of the bands O2 is using, only EE’s network will work properly with the current iPhone 5.

That’s likely to be addressed with the upcoming iPhone 5S, it’s expected, and O2 is said to have prepared around twenty devices for its 4G launch.


O2 4G launch August 29 as EE gets LTE competition is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

The Daily Roundup for 07.31.2013

DNP The Daily RoundUp

You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.

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Jaguar XKR-S GT cracks Nurburgring record as ten more cars confirmed

Jaguar’s painfully powerful XKR-S GT has returned for another limited production run, with a further ten examples of the road-ready but track-prepared coupe set to go on sale. Following the thirty cars earmarked for North America at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year, Jaguar has revealed plans to bring the 545 HP Nürburgring-chomper to the UK for those with deep wallets and a taste for speed.

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Just as in North America, the XKR-S GT won’t be a cheap runaround. In the US, the car started at $174,000, while in the UK it will be offered at £135,000; UK deliveries are set to begin in October this year.

Jaguar hasn’t been sitting back in the months since the XKR-S GT made its New York debut. The company has in fact been throwing the car round Germany’s Nordschleife circuit, where it can apparently complete a lap in 7 minutes and 40 seconds. That, the big cat firm is keen to point out, makes it the fastest ever street-legal Jaguar.

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Still, when you look at what’s gone into the car, that doesn’t seem quite so surprising. Under the hood there’s a 550PS, 680Nm supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine, good for 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds. It’s limited to 186mph at the top-end.

Carbon-ceramic brakes – with six-piston monoblock calipers at the front, and four-piston at the back – and new height-adjustable adaptive dampers give the XKR-S GT a wider front track, and the steering system has been uprated for faster turns. Then, of course, there are the lashings of carbon-fiber – used on the front splitter, the dive planes, extended wheelarch spats, elevated rear wing, and the rear diffuser – and a new aluminum valance.

A mere ten owners will get to take the keys to the new car, leaving everyone else wanting a speedy hard-top Jaguar to wait for 2014′s F-Type Coupe. That will likely be a little less extreme, but a lot more affordable.

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Jaguar XKR-S GT cracks Nurburgring record as ten more cars confirmed is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Ahead of tomorrow’s big reveal, everything we know about the Moto X

Motorola has released several phones under Google’s ownership, but one gets the impression that this is the first one Google has been excited about.
@evleaks

It’s been nearly two years since Google first announced its plans to acquire Motorola Mobility—ostensibly for its patent portfolio—and just a bit over a year since the acquisition was finalized. For all that, it still feels like we’re waiting to see what Google plans to do with the company, aside from laying off its employees and posting financial losses. Google’s Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette even went on the record in February to say that Motorola’s products lacked “innovative, transformative” qualities, and that Google was still working through the company’s pre-acquisition hardware pipeline (we may have seen some of those devices this morning at Verizon’s Droid event, in fact).

By all indications, that’s finally about to change. Rumors about a coming “X Phone,” later dubbed the Moto X, have been building since late last year. Eric Schmidt himself has been spotted carrying one around already. Motorola’s logo has even been changed to incorporate Google’s flatter, simpler aesthetics and to include a Google logo. These changes indicate that Google is finally taking ownership of Motorola in spirit as well as on paper.

If Google’s past statements are any indication, the Moto X represents the dawn of a new era for Motorola, one that will see its sprawling and convoluted product line boiled down to just a few handsets. Let’s talk about what we know about the (much-leaked) Moto X, and what future advancements it may be heralding.

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Wii U sales plummet: Just 160,000 sold in last quarter

Nintendo sold just 160,000 Wii U units in the last quarter, a huge slump of more than 50-percent compared to the previous three month period. The sluggish demand, which bring total lifetime sales of the Wii U to 3.61m units, was blamed on “few key first-party titles” by Nintendo [pdf link], with a mere 1.03m software sales in the same period.

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In fact, even the far older Wii outsold its newer console sibling during the quarter. Hardware sales of the Wii reached 210,000 units, in fact, while 3.67m games were sold.

In portable gaming, Nintendo sold 1.4m 3DS and 11.01m games for the glasses-free 3D handheld. That was partly down to the worldwide success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which sold 1.54m copies alone. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon followed close behind, with 1.43m worldwide sales.

It’s the demand – or lack of – for the Wii U that is most concerning for Nintendo investors. The company has consistently refused to discount the console, despite waning support from game publishers; earlier this month, Ubisoft put Nintendo on notice after revealing it had sold so few copies of launch-day title ZombiU that it was “not even close” to making a profit. EA and Activision have also voiced concerns that the Wii U isn’t giving sufficient return to make developing for it worthwhile.

The fall-out has been swift. Major UK grocery store chain Asda – second-largest in the country – has pulled the Wii U, its games, and accessories from the shelves of its 555 stores, with minimal online sales of a few “select” titles. No other retailer has announced plans to follow suit yet, though industry observers predict that may only be a matter of time.

Even with the underwhelming sales, Nintendo still managed to turn a gross profit in the three month period, pulling in 36.4bn yen ($372m). That was unfortunately offset by high selling, general, and administrative expenses that pushed operating loss to 4.9bn yen ($50m), in part from spending on 3DS promotions and Wii U gaming development.


Wii U sales plummet: Just 160,000 sold in last quarter is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Scientific Breakthrough Lets SnappyCam App Take 20 Full-Res Photos Per Second

SnappyCam

Your standard iPhone camera app is actually pretty slow, able to take just three to six photos per second at 8 megapixels each. But with SnappyCam 3.0, you can shoot 20 full-resolution photos per second thanks to a breakthrough in discrete cosine transform JPG science by its inventor. Twenty frames per second is fast enough to capture shot-by-shot animations or every gruesome detail of an extreme sports crash.

SnappyCam costs $0.99 and lets you hold down your finger to take a constant stream of photos. You can then pick your favorites from a burst you shot, or view them as a “living photo” slideshow you can scrub back and forth through, kind of like collaborative photo sharing app Everlapse. Check out a sample of these animations here and below. You can mouse over the control bar on the right to scrub through the frames.

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John Papandriopoulos has a PhD in electrical engineering and has been building SnappyCam for two years. He calls it the fastest smartphone camera app on Earth. He essentially reinvented the JPG image standard in order to learn how he could speed up the process of capturing, buffering, processing and compressing photos on the iPhone. His goal? To put the continuous shooting power of a big, professional Digital SLR camera in your pocket.

SnappyCam version 2 was reasonably … snappy, but it had to sacrifice image quality. It could only take 20 photos per second at a 3-megapixel resolution. Then last week, Papandriopoulos had a Eureka moment. Through some complex mathematical algorithms and taking advantage of the iPhone 5′s dual-core processor, it can now take full 8-megapixel photos at 20 frames per second.

Papandriopoulos tells me the speed “is kind of unbelievable. That’s actually the limit of the hardware.”

To put the speed in perspective, SnappyCam is about 4X faster than the normal iPhone 5 Camera app, and more than twice as quick as the Samsung Galaxy S4′s 7.5 shots per second. Papandriopoulos claims that other iOS camera apps built for speed like FastCamera, Camera Awesome and Camera+ often degrade photos to 0.3-megapixel postage stamps when they try to get up to 30fps, and can only do around 4fps at full resolution.

SnappyCam isn’t just for the latest iPhone owners. On the iPhone 4S it gets 12fps at an 8-megapixel resolution, or 15fps at a 5-megapixel resolution. That’s way faster than the Samsung Galaxy S3, which only handles 3.3fps at full resolution.

All this science boils down to letting you choose the best smile from a portrait, review your baseball swing, capture your dog jumping around, and a lot more. Next Papandriopoulos is working to let you export the interactive animations SnappyCam creates so you can share them on Facebook.

The way Instagram helps you see art in everyday life, or Vine allows you to capture a moment, SnappyCam could let you see the world in slow motion.

Trakdot cellular-based luggage tracker now shipping after delay

We got a look at the nifty little Trakdot luggage tracking device back in January during CES 2013, and as promised it went up for pre-order in March. At the time, a late-June shipping date was given, but things were delayed and a few extra weeks went by uneventful. The company has updated on why the delay occurred, however, and has begun shipping the device.

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The shipping delay garnered some criticism from those who were expecting the device in time for mid-summer travels, and to acknowledge the inconvenience that resulted, the company is giving those who are awaiting their orders a second year of service without the annual service charge they’d normally have to pay, as well as an apology and explanation.

According to a blog post last week from the company, the device was delayed due to a hardware issue. “Our telecom provider has notified us that the reason for the prolonged period of time for activating the SIM cards was due to an error in the SIM card. We have had to replace the SIM card in all of the devices scheduled for shipment.”

The tracking devices started shipping on Friday and continued to do so over the weekend. Anyone who placed their order after June 24th will have to wait a bit longer, however, until the backlog is sent out, with the next round of shipping taking place on August 2. A shipping notification email will be fired off to buyers when their device is sent out.

Trakdot doesn’t utilize GPS, instead relying on cellular towers to triangulate the device’s position. There’s an integrated accelerometer that automatically puts the tracker in airplane mode when the plane takes off, and turns it back on when on the ground. The device itself is priced at $49.95, and comes with a $8.99 activation fee and a $12.99 annual service fee.

VIA: Engadget


Trakdot cellular-based luggage tracker now shipping after delay is written by Brittany Hillen & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Yelp inches slowly toward profitability, losing just $878,000 in one quarter

About 15 months ago, Yelp, the renowned service review website, became one of the latest tech companies to bring an initial public offering. But the company has long discovered it’s hard to translate tons of reviews into profits: since Yelp began keeping track in 2008, it’s been losing increasing amounts of money nearly every year.

In the corporation’s latest earnings report, posted on Wednesday, Yelp’s year-over-year quarterly revenue reached $55 million, a 69 percent growth over the second quarter of 2012. However, Yelp continues to lose money. This quarter, the company sustained a net loss of $878,000. The good news? That’s a small fraction of the more than $5.6 million lost in total during the first half of 2013.

By comparison, at this point in 2012, the San Francisco firm already lost $11.7 million. And by the end of that year, Yelp reached a net loss of $19.1 million—the largest annual loss the company sustained to date. Still, in after-hours trading today, investors showed modest confidence in the new earnings report, boosting Yelp’s stock price by more than seven percent. It’s currently hovering slightly under $42.

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Max Levchin Wants Us To Mine Hurricanes For Energy

Hurricane Mining

Health care, finance, education, food, and transportation are the five big tech opportunities that PayPal co-founder Max Levchin outlined today at Mixpanel’s Data Driven Conference. But perhaps the most interesting tidbit he dropped was his dream of harnessing hurricanes for energy.

Hurricanes release as much energy as a “50-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes,” Levchin said. Some quick research says it might be closer to 10 megatons in terms of heat energy released, but only 10 percent of that is converted to mechanical wind power. Still, there’s an immense amount of energy available if we could figure out how to mine it.

Levchin offered no ideas for how exactly to do that. It’s a pretty crackpot scheme we’ll have to leave up to the Wall Of Wind hurricane research center. But Levchin did say it would require that we be able to predict a hurricane’s path, “and to predict it you need to understand weather data.”

That need for better big-data analysis was the theme of the talk. “Every data driven business is one of arbitrage,” he said.

Essentially, if you can be the first to use data to predict what happens, you can exploit that knowledge to improve the system. Levchin said that these aren’t 1 percent or 2 percent [improvements], but 500 percent reductions in healthcare costs. If you know what factors contribute to a health-care problem, you can counteract them at the source rather than pay much more to fix what they cause. That’s the promise of big data.

[Image Credit]

Senators take intelligence officials to the mat over secret courts, phone metadata

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was among the senators who questioned various intelligence officials on Wednesday.
Senate Judiciary Committee

As intelligence officials came under fire over controversial National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday morning, two senators announced that they would introduce legislation aimed at reforming the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and—in an apparent response to a recent petition from technology firms and civil liberties groups—providing more public information about government surveillance.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said he would introduce a bill this week requiring the government to report on the number of Americans swept into its databases and allowing Internet companies to disclose more information about the requests they receive from intelligence agencies. While several prominent firms have begun issuing “transparency reports” detailing the law enforcement requests for user information, intelligence orders typically come with gag orders forbidding the recipients from revealing even the existence of the request. The firms—joined by civil liberties groups—have lobbied hard for permission to reveal more about how, and how often, they respond to government demands for user data.

Franken also criticized the government’s “ad hoc transparency” about its programs, arguing that selective disclosure of information in response to leaks “doesn’t engender trust.” He pointed to the government’s decision to release, just minutes before the hearing began, several documents related to the NSA’s massive phone log database, which collects the “call detail records” of nearly all Americans under the Patriot Act’s Section 215 “business records” authority. “Did you start thinking about this, like, yesterday?” Franken asked sarcastically, suggesting that the new disclosures were driven more by political convenience than any change in the risk to national security posed by the documents.

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UPS to offer 3D printing service in select San Diego stores (video)

DNP UPS to offer 3D printing in select San Diego stores video

Today, UPS announced its plan to bring 3D printing services to the masses. The shipping company will soon roll out Stratasys Uprint SE Plus printers to 60 locations in San Diego to test out the new service; it’ll be aimed at small businesses, start-ups and retail customers in need of a professional grade model to produce things like prototypes and artistic renderings. At $20,900 a pop, Stratasys printers aren’t exactly the kind of gadget you’d purchase for home use, so their availability at UPS stores is a pretty major step towards making high quality 3D printing an accessible option for the common man. Though the company is starting small, it hopes to expand the service nationwide, provided that the San Diego experiment proves successful. For more info, check out the video after the break.

Filed under: Misc, Peripherals

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Via: GigaOM

Evan Spiegel And Bobby Murphy Say Alleged Snapchat Co-Founder Never Had Equity

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Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy have said in new court documents that alleged co-founder Reggie Brown never had equity in the company.

In February, Brown filed a suit against Snapchat claiming that he has been robbed of his stake of the company. Since then, we’ve heard from sources and court documents that Brown was heavily involved in the early stages of the company. Spiegel has even admitted that Brown came up with the idea for a disappearing messages app.

Now, we’ve learned that despite his significant involvement, Brown may not have had equity in Snapchat.

In the summer of 2010, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy had just completed their sophomore and senior years at Stanford, respectively. They were working on a startup called Future Freshman that would help high school kids get advice and help with applying to colleges.

Spiegel and Murphy split equity in the startup, but it failed to gain traction and the two eventually gave up on it in March of 2011. 

In April, Brown, self-described as close friends with Spiegel at the time, came up with the idea for a disappearing messages app. Brown went to Spiegel with the idea and they recruited Murphy to join them and program the app, initially named Picaboo.

In the summer of 2011, the three were living at Spiegel’s fathers house, on Toyopa Drive in Los Angeles, and decided to rename Future Freshman LLC as Toyopa Group LLC.

“We discussed that change together,” Brown said about renaming Future Freshman LLC Toyopa Group LLC, but he notes, “I didn’t understand it as the same company.”

In a July 13, 2011 email, Brown sent Spiegel a draft of a press release for Picaboo, in which he wrote, “Picaboo is a licensed product of the Toyopa Group, LLC.”

Despite understanding that Future Freshman was renamed to be the Toyopa Group, which owned Picaboo, Brown seems to have thought he had equity in the Toyopa Group, as Picaboo was his idea and he was working alongside Spiegel and Murphy on the project.

Spiegel and Murphy seemed to think that they had all of the equity of the Toyopa Group, as it came from their joint venture, Future Freshman.

When asked in his deposition if he thought that Brown knew he had no equity in Future Freshman, Murphy said, “I don’t know what he believed. All I know is that, again, he was invited to join us that summer, do some work.”

One night that summer, the three had a drunken argument over Brown’s role in the app; the next morning, they talked more level-headedly about Brown’s contributions.

“Essentially, they were talking about switching me out for a different marketing person,” he said in his deposition. “So, you know, I had to protect myself. Who is not going to protect themselves in that situation?”

A source told me in February that Brown would go out constantly, partying at all hours and not working on the app, while Murphy coded and Spiegel worked on design. The source says Brown added virtually nothing to the team beyond the initial concept.

On August 11, 2011, Brown filed a patent entitled, “Timed, Non Permanent Picture Messages for Smart Phone Devices,” that listed his home address and contact information as the sole contact information, and listed Murphy, Brown, and Spiegel as the co-inventors, in order.

On August 16, Brown, Murphy, and Spiegel had an argument on the phone during which Spiegel was offended that his name was listed last. Spiegel hung up and allegedly changed the passwords and forced Brown out of the company. After the call, Spiegel texted Brown, writing, “I want to make sure you feel like you are given credit for the idea of disappearing messages.”

“In the last phone call before account passwords were changed, the point of that was, again, Evan and I had a prior conversation in which we expressed concern that [Brown] would ask for equity,” Murphy said in his deposition. “And we knew that he had the original patent applications in his control. So in that phone call we wanted to hear what he thought he was entitled to given the work–given the work he had done. He, I would say, exaggerated that. And Evan [Spiegel] hung up and I think he–I don’t remember specifically what he was asking for, but it was a lot more than we would be willing to give him.”

“He claimed that he had created the original idea and that he had designed the ghost,” Murphy continued. “And there was some disagreements between Evan [Spiegel] and Reggie [Brown] about what that meant.”

After Spiegel hung up, Murphy says he stayed on the phone and listened to Brown, who Murphy says asked for equity “somewhere in the range of maybe 30 percent.”

On May 6, 2012, The New York Times’ Nick Bilton wrote about Snapchat and its prowess as a sexting app in the first major media coverage of the app.

On May 8, Brown emailed Spiegel to settle the matter. “I understood both then and currently that my role in the process was of a different nature, and was thus willing to accept a significantly less portion of equity than either of you,” Brown wrote.

He said he spoke to patent lawyers, who told him “due to the provisional patent application…I still currently own a third of SnapChat’s IP.”

The patent Brown filed has not been approved by the U.S. Patent Office, and could have been removed by Brown, Spiegel, or Murphy at any time.

“In the summer, we had discussed a 40-40-20 equity breakdown; I am, however, willing to negotiate on this,” Brown continued in his email. “If we can come to an appropriate agreement, I am willing to forego the process of litigation.”

Brown is now suing for a full, undiluted third of the company—which would currently be valued at around $267 million. His claim is mainly based on the patent application, which has not been approved, his initial idea for the disappearing photos app, and his early role at Picaboo and the Toyopa Group.

So far, we haven’t seen any evidence of a written agreement stipulating how the equity of the Toyopa Group was to be divided. We may get a bit closer to the truth at tomorrow’s hearing, during which a judge will rule on Brown’s Motion to Disqualify Quinn Emanuel from representing Snapchat.

Brown’s representatives, Lee Tran & Liang, filed the motion because Brown spoke with and sent documents to a Quinn Emanuel lawyer, Anthony Alden; Alden later said Quinn Emanuel would not be representing Brown, and a few months later, Snapchat hired Quinn Emanuel. The firm has erected an ethical wall, shielding Quinn Emanuel employees from discussing anything related to the case with Alden, but Lee Tran & Liang argue that this is insufficient and that Quinn Emanuel should be disqualified based on precedent.

The legal documents, which are at times dry but do feature a naked man gesturing to Brown during a deposition and a brief mention of my female colleague Jordan Crook and myself, are below.

  

The six documents filed by Snapchat, totaling 185 pages, on July 19 are below in what I think is descending order of interest to readers:

Snapchat Lawsuit July 19 Docs by TechCrunch

The five documents filed by Brown’s representatives, Lee Tran & Liang, totaling 120 pages, on July 25 are below in what I think is descending order of interest to readers:

Brown July 25 Docs by TechCrunch

Disclosure: I am currently a rising senior at Stanford and the president of the Stanford chapter of Kappa Sigma. Brown, Spiegel, and Murphy were all members of Kappa Sigma at some point during their time  at Stanford. By the time I joined the fraternity, in the spring of 2011 (my freshman year), Murphy had graduated from Stanford, and Spiegel and Brown had left the fraternity.

I have never met Brown. I’ve met Murphy once. I have gotten to know Spiegel since the spring of 2012, mostly through interviews for TechCrunch. This in no way affects my objectivity or ability to report on this lawsuit or the company.

Terrafugia Transition flying car’s first public flight demos practicality

Flying car? Road-going plane? Whatever the Terrafugia Transition is, it’s finally starting to show its airborne skills, being publicly shown off going from road to flight to road again for the first time in a 20 minute demonstration at the EAA AirVenture show this weekend. The $300k hybrid went from trundling the runway at the Oshkosh, WI airshow – wings furled – to taking off and performing a fly-by for the crowd.

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It’s not the first time the Transition has flown, of course. Back in 2012, the company announced the converting car had taken to the skies for the very first time, following a proof-of-concept flight of an earlier prototype in 2009.

This latest demonstration, however, aimed to show just how practical the Transition technology could be. The car’s wings are motorized and can be controlled from inside the cabin, meaning you could effectively go from road to air without stepping outside. That, Terrafugia president of business development Richard Gersh argues, makes it ideal for use in bad weather.

Still, exactly who might be interested in buying one is still something of a mystery, especially given the price tag of more than a quarter of a million dollars. “We don’t know the market yet. A lot of people are waiting to see it fly,” Gersh told the Journal Sentinel. “But if you see one flying, that’s the best advertising.”

Right now, though, only $10,000 deposits are being taken, and they’re refundable too. Over 100 have apparently put their names down, despite the production car not being expected until 2015 at the earliest.

If the Transition – which couldn’t really be called car-like in its design – is a little too close to a plane for your liking, Terrafugia’s planned TF-X might be worth waiting for. Currently a concept, it’s described as a “four-seat, plug-in hybrid electric flying car with fly-by-wire vertical takeoff and landing” to make flight just as straightforward as driving.

VIA Autoblog


Terrafugia Transition flying car’s first public flight demos practicality is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2013, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Fullscreen Gives Video Creators The Tools To Collaborate And Make More Money On YouTube

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Fullscreen is one of the newer multichannel networks to appear on YouTube, and unlike some others, it’s focused on providing technology tools for its creators to understand their audience and better monetize their videos. As part of our TechCrunch TV tour of new media companies in Los Angeles, we stopped by Fullscreen to get a demo of its platform and learn more about how it’s helping creators.

Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos, who previously had been part of the partner development team at YouTube, told us that he founded the startup with the vision of creating a global media company in partnership with thousands of creators all around the world. But in order to build the video network of the future, the company would have to build technology tools to help creators achieve their goals.

The most recent incarnation of that is the Fullscreen Creator Platform, which it launched earlier this month to give creators a better way to understand their audience, while also providing better monetization tools. The goal is to help increase the chances of success for those creators on its network.

That’s worked for some of the creators we spoke with, including Andre Meadows, founder of the channel “Black Nerd Comedy.” Meadows says he’s a “one-man band,” doing filming and editing all by himself. But Fullscreen has helped him move beyond hobby status to actually make a business out of his videos.

Check out the video above for a demo of the Fullscreen platform and my talk with Strompolos, to learn more about what Fullscreen has to offer. And keep coming back every Monday and Wednesday over the next several weeks to learn more about other new video companies that have emerged. Or check out the other videos we’ve shot around this new YouTube economy:

  • Get Ready For TechCrunch TV’s Tour Of The New Hollywood
  • Inside Machinima, The New Video Network For Gamers And Fanboys

Spotify Doubles Revenues In 2012 While Losing Money, Highlighting Royalty Squeeze

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Spotify’s 2012 results are out today, with Reuters reporting that the private company had revenue of 435 million euros, and a 58.7 million euro net loss.

The revenue figure is impressive, more than doubling 2011′s 190 million euro tally. However, the company’s net loss widened in the year, even as it saw a dramatic expansion of its top line from 45.4 million euros to the aforementioned 58.7 million figure.

Spotify notes, in the document that Reuters attained, that as a company it “cannot exclude the need or desire to raise more funds in the future to fund future growth initiatives.” The company is essentially stating that it may again lean on outside capital to grow its operations and, presumably, find profits.

Spotify, its documentation revealed, pays around 70 percent of its revenue in royalty costs. So, for every dollar that flows into Spotify, 70 cents goes right back out the door to rights holders. I pay, like many of you, $10 to Spotify monthly for both desktop and mobile access to its tunes sans advertisements. From this perspective, I pay the music industry $7 per month to listen to its music, and $3 to Spotify to deliver it.

A music company with growing revenue, low cash reserves, and a niggling loss? That’s not just Spotify, it’s also Pandora, a rival to the Stockholm-based company music streaming company.

Pandora, for its most recent quarter, the first of its fiscal 2014 year, lists its “content acquisition costs” at $82.85 million. Its gross revenues for the period totaled $125.5 million. Pandora therefore pays out 66 percent of its revenue to cover the cost of the music that it spins out to its vast listener network.

Pandora and Spotify pay, therefore, around the same royalty rate. And it’s strangling them both. Spotify is unsure if it will need an additional shot of capital to make it to profits, and the public markets, and Pandora is shedding cash no matter how you measure it:

Total cash and cash equivalents:

  • FQ1 2013: $65.7 million
  • FQ1 2014: $55.4 million

Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments:

  • FQ1 2013: $88.9 million
  • FQ1 2014: $75.4 million

Total cash equivalents and marketable securities [fair value]:

  • FQ1 2013: $66.3 million
  • FQ1 2014: $56.3 million

Pandora lost $28 million in the quarter, up from $20 million the year before, even as its revenue grew from $80.7 million to $125 million for the comparable first quarter in fiscal year 2013 and FY 2014.

If growing their revenue isn’t an effective tool for the firms to find short-term profits, as their expenses do not decrease as a percentage of revenue given their fixed royalty costs, can the two companies not run out of gas? In the short term, they are more than safe. Spotify can raise capital from the private sector, and Pandora, as a public firm, has ways to raise rash.

However, the longer term efficacy of their business model is perhaps somewhat unsettling; if profits can’t be found in greatly expanded revenues, from whence can they be sourced? The simple answer is that royalty rates may need to ease to allow the two firms to find positive margins on their businesses.

Last year, Reps. Chaffetz and Polis introduced the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which aimed to do this at least for Pandora. As The Hill reported at the time: “According to statistics provided by Chaffetz’s office, Internet radio services pay more than 55 percent of their revenue in royalty fees, while cable and satellite stations pay between 7 and 16 percent. “

However, as we have seen, that 55 percent number is quite low. For fun, if Spotify paid the 55 percent rate, would it be profitable? Using back of the envelope scribbling, the answer appears to be yes: 70 – 55 = 15. Fifteen percent of 435 million euros is 65.25 million euros, which is greater than its first-quarter loss of 58.7 million euros. So, the company would have booked a profit in the realm of 6.5 million euros.

If that rate were further decreased, Spotify and Pandora would in fact be comfortably profitable. However, even at the 55 percent rate, both companies’ chances of knocking out real net income appears far healthier.

There could be cost cuts at both firms, but as long as the 66 or 70 cents they take in leaves before they take into account other expenses — development, advertising, content delivery, and so forth — the squeeze will remain in place. The question then becomes whether the music industry will hug the two so hard that in the end each suffocates. Something has to give.

Top Image Credit: Serendipiddy

Airbnb Updates Mobile Apps To Give Hosts Tools For Listing And Managing Spaces From Their Phones

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Peer-to-peer marketplace company Airbnb has released new versions of its mobile apps that will give users better tools for managing their listings on the go. The app also has taken a big step forward by enabling users to list their space directly from their smartphones.

The new versions of the Android and iOS apps are in part a response to increasing mobile adoption by Airbnb users, but also an acknowledgement that getting them on mobile apps speeds up the process. Hosts who use the company’s mobile apps tend to be more responsive than those who are only on the website, because DUH, the mobile phone is always with them. That means they are quicker to respond to prospective guests and more likely to confirm a booking.

Airbnb mobile engineering lead Andrew Vilcsak said that hosts using the mobile apps respond three times faster than those who are only on the website. And so, bookings happen potentially eight times faster from the apps. With that in mind, Airbnb wanted to make its apps even more useful and powerful, with more tools for managing their listings on the go.

With the latest update to the Airbnb iOS and Android apps, the company now lets hosts list their spaces directly from within the app. For first-time hosts, it will even provide them with a guide for how to do so.

The app was built to massively simplify the process of listing a space. For instance, it has location verification to ensure that the space you’re listing is where you say it is, as well as instant phone verification. To list a space, users must also upload photos, which is easy because they can upload them directly from their phones.

In addition to making it easier to list a space, hosts now have more tools for managing their listings as well. The app has an updated calendar feature that will allow hosts to show when their spaces are available. They can also fully update and manage their listings, including photos, descriptions, and what not.

Yelp Beats Street Estimates In Q2 With Revenue Of $55M, EPS Loss Of $0.01

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Today Yelp beat expectations, reporting second-quarter revenue of $55 million, and a per-share loss of $0.01. Analysts had expected the company to lose $0.04 per share on revenue of $53.3 million.

That’s a beat, but not a massive victory. However, the company’s net revenue increase of 69 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012 has sent its stock up nearly 7 percent in after-hours trading. Investors like what they see.

The company’s vanity, if perhaps useful metrics, point up and to the right: Average monthly traffic for the company is up to 108 million unique visitors, representing growth of 38 percent year over year. Yelp now has 51,400 “active local businesses,” up 62 percent in the last year.

After adjustments, Yelp’s EBTIDA came in at $7.8 million.

The Great Mobile Shift continues apace, with Yelp showing 40 percent of its advertisements on mobile devices. However, while companies such as Facebook are seeing their mobile incomes rapidly increase, Yelp’s 40 percent number is only a 4 percent improvement on its first-quarter figure. Also, the company doesn’t break out its mobile revenue as some other companies do, merely its mobile advertising share, which could easily not correlate directly to income portion.

Yelp’s cash position is essentially unchanged in the past six months, growing by under $2 million to rest at the end of the quarter at $96 million in cash and equivalents.

All told, it was a solid quarter for Yelp, slightly beating expectations, keeping its cash in place, and growing its traffic. Still, if it wants to fundamentally change how the market values it, an acceleration will be required.

Top Image Credit: Jakrapong Kongmalai

This is the Modem World: The sinister side of the '80s BBS

Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

This is the Modem World The sinister side of the '80s BBS

Some of the following, for legal reasons, may or may not be fictional.

My first modem was a 300-baud Apple-Cat II. It was an expansion card for the Apple II and simply plugged into a phone line. It was, simply put, a bad-ass piece of technology that turned me into a total digital delinquent. While my parents thought I was innocently learning to code BBSes (bulletin board systems) I was actually learning how to get things for free and paving the way for software pirates, phone phreaks and straight-up frauds of the future.

The Apple-Cat II could connect to other Apple-Cat IIs at 1200 baud, which made file transfers pretty quick for the time. This meant we could trade entire games in about an hour. We’d log into bulletin board systems, share lists of things we had and set up times to dial one another to trade games. Usually a barter would take place — your Aztec for my Hard Hat Mack. It was a lot like trading baseball cards, I imagine.

Filed under: Misc, Internet

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