The eve of what looks to be the largest technology IPO in the world is upon us. In just less than 12 hours, the world’s largest social network will certainly become even bigger after it goes public and raises a huge amount of capital–estimates have it being around $16 billion, 150% times larger than what was initially predicted. And to get people even more excited, today, Facebook shared with the world what they’ve been waiting for: its initial stock price. Starting at $38 per share, millions are expected to invest their money in the IPO in order to take their place in history as a shareholder in a momentous company. Some might think that the $38 price tag is pretty high for a startup, but not really. Looking back at search engine giant, Google, when they went public in 2004, the company priced their stock price at $85 and valued at more than double than what Facebook is currently valued. And each company has their own differences, which you can read about in this excellent Forbes piece. Nevertheless, the point here is that Facebook is probably the biggest thing to hit the public market since Google took it by storm eight years ago.
And now, we’re inching ever so close to that historical moment…when the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will take his place in history and ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange from his office in Menlo Park, California, and watch not only his company enter a brand new era, but also see many of the employees at Facebook become instant millionaires. But has the thought of billions of dollars rolling through Facebook headquarters damaged any prospect of work at the company in the proverbial eleventh hour? Nope…because Mr. Zuckerberg and his troops have assembled at their offices for a hackathon. Yes, a hackathon–something that is rather typical in Silicon Valley and what many see as a way for Mr. Zuckerberg to demonstrate to soon-to-be investors that Facebook isn’t all about the money. No, it’s actually the way of life at Facebook. As VentureBeat explains, this all-night event is meant to reinforce their mantra that “Facebook’s focus will always be on building and shipping products.” The work at Facebook doesn’t stop just because people are going to see all their work come to fruition in less than twenty-four hours.
There has been a lot of news and content produced about finding ways to determine one’s influence. Perhaps the two most cited sources of determining influence has got to be with Klout and Kred. These services are known by the community as being the de facto place to measure how influential you are and businesses should determine who they should reach out to when they want to get the community to notice their campaigns. But what if there was a way where people can decide if they’re an expert or not and not have to resign themselves to an algorithm, wouldn’t that offer more value to someone in order to help them determine what they want to actually consume?
That’s exactly what a brand new service called Refer.ly hopes to accomplish. Started by Danielle Morrill, this cool new startup is geared towards helping you create your own affiliate links just for recommending things that you love. And why wouldn’t this be something that everyone wants to do? After all, we’ve all been there where we like a certain product so much that we just have to tell our friends, right? For me, it might be a new gadget or digital camera that I’m rather ecstatic about and as a result, want to share it with people across my social graph–so why shouldn’t I be able to be rewarded for something that I’m already interested in doing AND am in love with? In a 2006 Comscore report, the number one reason why brands and products were recommended was because evangelists and brand advocates wanted to help others. For companies trying to tap into this social graph, it’s going to be rather difficult as people can be suspect of ulterior motives. But if a friend or a colleague recommends it and promotes it using social channels, there’s a higher likelihood of adoption and persuasion. A Harris Poll in 2010 found out:
Nearly half of Americans who use social media say reviews about a particular company, brand or product from friends or people they follow on social networking websites influence them either a great deal or a fair amount (45%) – the same number as Americans who say reviews in newspaper or magazine articles influence them (46%).
It’s the start of a brand new week and this one is especially special since it’s the week where Facebook is rumored to be issuing their IPO. There has certainly been a lot of questions and news surrounding the upcoming public release of Facebook stock, but what’s probably the most surprising came out of a recent article that featured a quote by analyst Michael Patcher, who is the managing director of Wedbush Securities, that said “Mark and his signature hoodie:He’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much; he’s going to be him…I think that’s a mark of immaturity…” Soon the debate over whether Facebook’s IPO was worth pursuing shifted from whether the social network could hold up their end of the bargain, in the face of a growing mobile issue to now being about the wardrobe attire of its famed founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and its apparent tie to him being too immature to lead.
Naturally here in Silicon Valley, many founders of the best companies and startups that are succeeding and going public have young founders, but should their wardrobe affect how they lead? Of course the industry covered this with even one respected writer saying that it’s ridiculous. Enthusiastic angel investor and founder of 500 Startups, Dave McClure went on a wild twitter rant soon after the announcement and AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher called Mr. Patcher simply a “doofus”. Fellow startup entrepreneurs defended Mr. Zuckerberg’s attire simply by saying that the infamous hoodie did not really correlate to the market performance–the company would still probably reach $1 billion in profits. In fact, Box’s CEO, Aaron Levie, of which is probably in good shape to mimic Facebook’s success in the cloud storage department, was quoted as saying:
After Facebook hit $1B in profits, you’d think investors would start demanding Zuck wear a hoodie. Yahoo CEO: No hoodie; AOL CEO: No hoodie; Facebook CEO: hoodie. Coincidence?
There are a lot of different mashups of technology and startups over the past few months and years and it’s definitely the year of the API. It all starts off with an idea and then by leveraging the API of that startup, others can build their own vision of a product. It usually happens with one of the more popular startups and today, one of them happens to be Instagram. Naturally, startups are going to try and “ride their coattails” (in a good way) to find ways to improve the service or come up with a great product. Launching this week, Scan-to-gram just happens to be one of them.
Started from nothing more than a mashup of ideas during a Scan company hackathon event, Scan-to-gram is the outcome of Scan team members mashing up their popular QR code generator and Instagram in order to create a fun new way for companies and others to have a web presence and increase their following on the photo-sharing social network. Not a bad idea from the company that produced one of the top downloaded QR code scanners in the Apple marketplace. According to TechCrunch, Scan is in the business of “creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech…” and they’re doing a pretty interesting job of trying to make QR codes less boring and more valuable. For many people, the thought of using a QR codes probably seems a bit far-fetched–some might even speculate that they’re dead. After all, it wasn’ t as if they’re a new thing in the marketplace. The QR code was first invented in 1994 and was designed to enable tracking of vehicles during the manufacturing process. But it’s only been recently since QR codes have hit their stride, somewhat, and have become more mainstream–but there’s a long ways to go. And that’s just what Scan seems to be trying to do, but they have a long way to go.
Recent statistics show that in June 2011, there were 14 million US smartphones that scanned a QR code, but when you compare it to the entire US smartphone population (82.2 million), it’s not that impressive. But now when you look at all the emerging startups making names for themselves and getting acquired, they’re all mobile-based and rely solely on the smartphone. Take Instagram, Path, Highlight, Foursquare, Flipboard, Evernote, etc. for example–these are all mobile-based startups that people with smartphones are rapidly downloading. The camera on the smartphones have become even better too. So the environment is there eagerly awaiting for a really great startup to put it all together. Scan just managed to find the right deal–make it easy for people to find their friends and great photographers on the number one photo-sharing app. That’s what you get with Scan-to-gram.
The San Francisco Bay Area is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of entrepreneurs and fledgling startups who want to make it big. But often what new startups may encounter is trouble finding suitable office space in which they can work at. Sure, you can always go to a nearby Starbucks or a cafe where you sit but one of the troubles of doing that is the endless amount of distractions for the team–loud noises, limited seating time, potential Internet issues, must purchase items periodically, etc. So what can a startup do? You might suppose that working out of a home or an apartment would be good, but that could get a bit tedious and maybe a slight bit uncomfortable after a while–finding a place that can separate work and life might be more suitable. And then you’re working 24 hours a day in the same place without any contact with the outside world? That can’t be healthy.
So what’s there for a young company to do? Maybe take a look at the coworking movement–this global phenomenon that is made up of people who believe in the principles of collaboration, openness, community, accessibility, and sustainability, can be a great opportunity for startups to meet other people and help grow their idea from simply that into a successful concept. Right here in San Francisco, there are numerous places for that to happen. From places like Citizen Space to pariSoma and even others like Rocketspace, Dogpatch Studios, The Hatchery, Sandbox Studios, Founders Den, and more, there’s a lot of different options for companies to go for. But each one has their very own specialty and limitations.
But enough about what’s already here…we’re going to talk about one of the newest additions to the coworking movement and to the San Francisco tech community. It’s called WeWork Labs and it’s set to open its doors this Monday right in the heart of the SoMA district in San Francisco. If the name sounds familiar, then you’re right, because it’s the latest expansion by WeWorks in the United States. It first started in April 2011 in New York City and now houses more than 200 entrepreneurs who work on more than 100 companies. The labs portion of WeWorks is their early-stage arm aimed at fostering the growth of young startups and raised $6.85 million in January. WeWorks has been pretty successful with the companies that have walked through its doors–many of them have gone off to acclaimed success with Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, and many others. Now, they’re setting their sights on the San Francisco tech scene.