Fab Hits A Million Users, Is Raising Many Millions of Dollars

Design-focused flash sale site Fab announced an important user milestone today, the site hitting a million members; The company celebrated by giving each of their users $10 to spend and another $10 more to each friend they signed on.

The invite-only site has seen massive success since it pivoted from a gay social network in June, bringing in another 275K users in the past 30 days — with around 150K people visiting the site through its daily email alone. The company is operating profitable, expected to bring in $20 million in revenue in 2011.

Fab is taking advantage of this boom to raise some cash, we’ve heard from multiple sources. The company is raising a “huge” Series B round, which one source pegs as between $40 – $50 million at a ~$250 post-money valuation. Another source said that the valuation was in the “hundreds of millions.”

Existing investors First Round Capital and Menlo Ventures will be following on, and the round has a new top-tier investor who I haven’t quite yet sussed out. From what I’m hearing term sheets have been signed and the deal is set to close early December.

“Our buyers’ job is to find stuff that will make people smile,” Fab CEO Jason Goldberg, who wouldn’t give comment on the funding rumors, told me earlier today, “If they can do that the product will sell, and if we keep doing that the next million will come faster than the first million.”  Goldberg says that flash sales are just the start, and the company is presently working on supporting overnight shipping and in addition to adding advanced social features.

The Rise Of The Health Startup? A Peek At The 13 Companies In Rock Health’s Inaugural Batch

There’s been a bit of a debate going on of late among venture capitalists and investors over whether or not web startups are currently experiencing a cash crunch when it comes to early-stage and series A financing. (You can read Alexia’s recent breakdown here.) As per usual, the answer depends on whom you ask. This recent debate contrasts with the data seen in Column Five Media’s infographic from June, which showed venture funding and investment levels picking back up in the first half of 2011, poised to storm back to pre-2008-collapse levels.

Of course, the data showed that not all tech sectors were experiencing the boom times: Health and medical-related investment, for example, was on the low end, receiving only 3 percent of venture funding over the last year. Yet, there may be some evidence that investment in the digital health space may in fact be heating up. Looking at this data compiled by new healthtech startup incubator Rock Health, we see a list of 41 healthtech startups have been funded in 2011. CrunchBase’s data, which uses slightly more generous paramaters for defining “health tech”, puts that number over 120 or so.

Of those startups that were founded this year, Aza Raskin’s Massive Health raised $2.25 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, and more. (Well, Massive Health was actually founded in December 2010, but close enough.) And Azumio, which was founded this year, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Founders Fund and Accel in July.

What’s more, we just covered 100Plus’ $500K seed raise from Founders Fund earlier this week. The personalized health prediction startup was not mentioned in Rock Health’s list, I assume because it is still in private beta.

But the point is, as we’ve seen in Dave Chase’s series of guest posts, the healthcare industry is ripe for disruption. Sure, the industry has a long way to go, but we’re seeing some great progress from startups like Practice Fusion, for example, which is busy becoming the largest provider of electronic medical records in the industry.

There’s also plenty of room for help in the way of incubators. On Friday, Rock Health, the startup accelerator for health-focused startups, hosted its Demo Day at UCSF Mission Bay, where the 13 startups in its latest class introduced their businesses to 250 attendees, among them investors from Accel, NEA, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Benchmark, Kapor Capital, SV Angel, The Social+Capital Partnership, Founders Fund and more.

For those unfamiliar, Rock Health provides seed funding ($20K grants, without taking equity), office space, and mentorship to entrepreneurs that want to break into healthcare. We covered their debut here.

The thirteen startups that demo-ed range from BitGym, which makes motion-sensitive iOS video games for working out; to IDEO-spinoff Omada, an online support group to reverse diabetes; toCellScope, a smartphone plugin designed to remotely diagnose ear infections.

It was also great to see that these teams included entrepreneurs that have previously worked in other areas of tech and media and are now bringing their talents to health: For example, Gabe Vanrenen, the former Founder and CTO of Flurry, Jackson Wilkinson, the former head of UX for Posterous and LinkedIn, to Jeff Lieberman, the host of Discovery Channel’s Time Warp.

Again, we covered the initial eight Rock Health startups that were ready to introduce their wares back in June, and you can read about them here. However, five of the startups were not yet ready for the limelight, so we’re providing brief introductions to those below:

Bigevidence provides clinicians focused access to the universe of medical evidence at the point of care and within electronic health records, improving quality of care, while reducing costs and risks.

BitGym thinks you should be using video games to exercise. Their patent pending technology uses an iPad to turn any cardiovascular machine into an interactive
gaming experience.

Cake Health is the best free way to manage your healthcare expenses online. The startup was a finalist at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September. You can read our initial profile here.

Crohnology is a social health network for people with chronic medical conditions to share and learn what treatments work, meet others near them, and track and share their health.

Heartbeat is a salesforce.com-like enterprise solution for wellness professionals that aims to empower people to be successful doing what they love.

Applications for Rock Health’s next class beginning in January 2012 are open until Wednesday, November 16th.

Shopping Discovery App Zoomingo Raises $1.3 Million

The newly launched shopping discovery app Zoomingoannounced today it has secured $1.3 million in funding from early-stage VC firms Naya Ventures and Benaroya Capital along with several prominent angel investors. Previously self-funded, Zoomingo says it will use the additional capital to enhance its current mobile application, build a retailer platform and grow its community through expanded outreach to customers and retailer partners.

With this funding, Dayakar Puskoor, managing director of Dallas-based Naya Ventures, will also join Zoomingo’s board of directors.

For background, Seattle-based Zoomingo was founded by language learning service Livemocha’s co-founders, Shirish Nadkarni (Zoomingo CEO) and Krishnan Seshadrinathan (CTO). Nadkarni said he had the idea for the service when he noticed that his wife (an avid shopper, he says) was having trouble locating nearby sales using her mobile phone. So many of today’s apps focus on barcode scanning, deals and offers or price comparisons, but none simply rounded up all the nearby sales at local retailers in one easy-to-access mobile application.

Hence, Zoomingo.

The app pulls in sales data from major retailers using a combination of manual and automated means as well as crowd-sourcing via its “Deal Scouts,” who are positioned in several major U.S. cities. Zoomingo now provides access to 70,000 retail outlets in the U.S., and growing.

The app is available on both iPhone and Android.

Processing $11 Million A Day, Jack Dorsey Says: “We Don’t Want To Make Square All About Taxi Cabs”

Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup Square is now processing $11 million a day in mobile payments, it was revealed today at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Arizona. Host David Kirkpatrick threw the number out there as something Dorsey had told him backstage—the last official number was $10 million a day and Square may not be consistently above $11 million yet. Either way, this is up from $4 million a day just last July.

The key to Square’s rapid growth in Dorsey’s mind is the same thing that propels Twitter: “We haven’t defined a lot of how people are going to use them.” He sees both as utilities which can be adopted to different purposes by their users, and that is what makes them so powerful. “We don’t want to make Square all about taxi cabs,”” he says. “And we don’t want to make Twitter all about celebrities and politicians.”

The other thing that Square and Twitter have in common is that they are both essentially communications technologies. Dorsey thinks of the receipt as a publishing medium (kind of like TWitter). “It is a communication medium between the business and the consumer,” he says. But normally it is something we throw away. That communication between merchant and payer is where the “exchange of value” lies. Payments is just something “we need to do” to create that communication.

Taking a swipe at NFC payments, he notes that they lack that communication layer. “NFC only gives the merchant the identity [of the consumer] after the transaction.” By identifying the customer when they walk in the door, as Square is trying to do with its new Card Case product, there is better chance to build loyalty by doing something for the customer before they even pay.

Asked about Twitter’s business model, Dorsey notes that Twitter’s ad products (Promoted Tweets,Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends) are getting engagement rates “between 1 and 5 percent.”

He doesn’t call these ads. “We wanted to build a business model that felt like it was part of the network,” he says. “I don’t think of it as advertisement in the traditional sense.” Rather, he wants to “introduce you to something new.” Of course, if those Promoted Tweets were really as delightful as he makes them out to be, they would be clicked more than 5 percent of the time.

How Google, eBay, And PayPal Are Gearing Up For A Very Mobile Holiday Shopping Season

Online holiday shopping reached record levelsin 2010. And e-commerce spending is up this year. All signs point to consumers spending even more online this holiday season. I sat down with executives from Google, eBay, PayPal and ShopKick to discuss the trends that are expected to emerge in the e-commerce space over the next few months.  They center around mobile, tablets, and deals.

PayPal has more than doubled its mobile payments volume since the 2010 holiday shopping season, and we haven’t even hit the thick of this year’s rush. eBay is projecting $5 billion in mobile payments volume in 2010 and this number could increase in the next few months. And Google projects that 15 percent of total search on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year) will come from mobile devices. Tablet devices are now a part of the online shopping experience and retailers are taking note. Clearly, all signs point to the fact that this could be the breakout year for mobile shopping.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

All of the companies I spoke to unanimously agreed that this would be the year of mobile for the holiday shopping season. Steve Yankovich, head of eBay’s mobile business operations and development, says he expects this to be the biggest year for mobile sales for eBay yet. eBay has said that the company expects to see $5 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2011, and this will be partly buoyed by a strong mobile presence in November and December.

PayPal’s Senior Director for Mobile, Laura Chambers, echoes Yankovich’s forecasts and says that merchants are even preparing for the onslaught of traffic to their mobile sites. A number of big retailers, such as Armani Exchange, Guess and The Limited have recently put PayPal’s mobile express checkout as an option for payments on their mobile sites as a way to help the conversion process. “We are seeing strong investments by online retailers for mobile shopping this year,” she says.

Chambers says that last year, the peak day for mobile payments for PayPal was December 12, with $4.7 million in mobile payments volume. Now PayPal is seeing $10 million in mobile payments per day, and we haven’t even officially hit the holiday shopping period. Clearly, the mobile payments numbers could even triple from last year to this year.

While many consumers may shop on mobile for their holiday purchases, the usage of product search, barcode scanning, and other informative apps will also play a big part in this year’s mobile shopping. eBay’s RedLaser barcode scanning apps have seen scans go up 50 percent over the past year. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, RedLaser will scan the barcode of a physical product and show you where you can buy it on eBay’s properties and where it is available in local store locations around you (via Milo) and for how much. The app has been updated with PayPal functionality so that users can actually buy the product directly from the app.

Another shopping app developer who has high hopes for mobile this holiday season is ShopKick. Co-founder Cyriac Roeding says that this year will be the year of mobile for physical shopping. For background, Shopkick automatically recognizes when someone with the free Android or iPhone app on their phone walks into a store. Once a Shopkick Signal is detected, the app delivers reward points called “kickbucks” to the user for walking into a retail store, trying on clothes, scanning a barcode and other actions. Kickbucks can then be redeemed across all partner stores for gift card rewards or for Facebook Credits. User can also receive special discounts on specific products at partners stores like Macy’s, Best Buy or Target.

Roeding explains that the cell phone is the only interactive platform you carry with you in a physical store, and retailers are looking to use the platform to help drive transactions. Clearly, a mobile rewards app that offers in-store discounts can help do this. “The internet has caused brick and mortar retailers more trouble than benefit over the past fifteen years. Now retailers are catching on to how the internet can help retailers—that’s where mobile comes in.”

Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Google Commerce, tells me that the search giant is seeing a growing number of users are making buying decisions using their mobile phone. “We are definitely seeing m-commerce conversions growing and becoming bigger over time,” he says. “But users are also using their mobile phone to search for products and find local availability.”

Samat says that Google has seen a 200 percent growth in mobile product search usage and Google Shopper app downloads over the past year. Shopper, which is available for iOS and Android, allows you to find product prices, reviews, specs, local inventory of products at nearby stores, and more.

As we mentioned above, Google is forecasting that 15 percent of total search on Black Friday. will come from mobile. “There’s no doubt that users are now making buying decisions using their mobile phone,” says Samat. “And we are seeing m-commerce conversions growing and becoming bigger over time.”

Tablets

As tablets have grown to be the go-to browsing device, the iPad, and other devices are also becoming a way to shop. And retailers are catching on to this trend. According to a National Retail Federation study, 20 percent of retailers have invested in tablet device apps this holiday season.

With this in mind, Google debuted Catalogs in August, an app for tablet devices that includes 200 catalogs from major brands including Anthropologie, Bare Escentuals, Bergdorf Goodman, Crate and Barrel, L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Sundance, Tea Collection, Urban Outfitters and Williams-Sonoma.

The app is more than just a browsing experience. When consumers find an item they’d like to purchase, they can tap to find it in a store nearby or tap “Buy on Website” to visit the merchant online.

Google’s Samat says that “the tablet is the ultimate leanback experience and we see that playing a big role in holiday shopping as a replacement for the mail order catalogs you used to browse through.”

PayPal calls it ‘couch commerce’ and believes that tablet commerce will have a record year. PayPal recently reported that consumers who own both a tablet and a smartphone are significantly more likely (63%) to indicate increased overall spending on mobile purchases, versus owners of smartphones only (29%). Owners of both a tablet and a smartphone buy nearly twice as often as those who only have smartphones and more than 40% of dual owners made more than 20 mobile purchases over the past year, compared to only 12% of smartphone-only owners.

Forrester just released a report predicting a 15 percent increase in online shopping sales this year to nearly $60 billion, partly due to the increase in consumer-use of tablet computers for shopping.

Beyond Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are historically the top-high-grossing online shopping days during the holiday season. But execs expect to see high volumes of online shopping on other days thanks to an increase in mobile shopping and deals.

Yankovitch tells me that eBay expects revenue numbers to be well over numbers that eBay saw last year for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but expects to see more activity at times when people aren’t traditionally shopping.

The day of Thanksgiving is one of those days, says Chambers. Because people will have their phone everywhere (including at the table), consumers are expected to make purchases on the fly, especially on Thanksgiving evening. In fact, PayPal is predicting that after dinner on Thanksgiving Day will be the first mobile shopping spike this holiday season.

Another popular day has been the second Sunday in December, which is one of the last days where people feel confident that items will be shipped in times for the holiday. And Chambers says across the board, Sunday is the biggest day for mobile shopping generally.

Deals

There’s no doubt that deals, coupons and discounts will be a large part of the online holiday shopping experience, especially with the current state of the economy. According to the recent Forrester report, 58 percent of Americans say they are more price-conscious today than they were a year ago and nearly half believe they find better values online.

“I really expect consumers to be deal hunting this season,” explains Chambers. She says that PayPal, which has historically offered special deals for the holiday shopping season, will be bulking up on more consumer deals this holiday season.

Samat says that Google has always seen a spike for queries like deals, coupons, and sales during the holiday time and fully expects to see an increase this year. “The consumer desire for a better deal will help give certain product decision tools a big bump,” he explains. “People may take more time this year to find the best possible price.”

Deals could also include lucrative holiday shipping offers. In 2010, 45 of the top 50 online retailers offered some sort of promotional deal between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, most of which were a type of shipping promotion. And in 2011, Shop.org anticipates that a record 92.5% of online retailers will offer free shipping and not just as a Cyber Monday promotion.

Clearly, there’s plenty of optimism from retailers, and tech companies regarding online spending and shopping this holiday season. And this holiday season is somewhat unique considering the big bet that retailers are making on newer technologies, such as mobile, geo-location, tablets, local product search and more. The big question is how consumers will react to and engage with these technologies over the next several weeks.  It could be a very mobile Christmas.

Five Years Later, Apple Recalls The First Generation iPod Nano

 

In a move that demonstrates an incredible amount of either customer care or procrastination, Apple has issued a recall for the first generation iPod Nano. Not the one you use as a watch, not the fat one, and not the round one. The original (and in my opinion, the best). Turns out it has a rare overheating problem, by which these warnings usually mean explosion problem.

 

Only a single battery supplier has actually been implicated, and the few hot devices were only available between September 2005 and January 2006. So if you gave or received a Nano during the 2005 holiday season, better find it before it burns your house down.

 

Find your serial number using this step by step guide:

Put that sequence into Apple’s handy checker here, and if it’s one of the bad batch yet somehow miraculously has not melted in the last five years (the chance of overheating/catastrophic explosion “increases as the battery ages”), Apple will issue you a replacement. After six weeks.

 

In other news, Apple still has original iPod Nanos to issue as replacements. Very clever — or have they known about this the whole time?

 

[via SlashGear]

 

 

TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – IPhone Application Developer. . .And 6th Grader

TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – iPhone Application Developer. . .and 6th Grader
Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay. Tom been fascinated by computers and technology since before kindergarten. Recently, he’s been focused on the development of applications for the iPhone, and has established his own company, CarrotCorp. His most successful ap is one he terms “an anti-Justin-Bieber game” called “Bustin Jieber”. “It’s is a variation on the Whac-a-Mole theme,” he explains.