Dane Knecht and CloudFlare

mattdaneMy nephew Dane Knecht has been working at startups his whole career – so when he told me he had moved to San Francisco – and was working at a ‘Cloud Security’ firm – I was incredibly excited for him. I then saw his company – CloudFlare - listed on the OpenCo list of open houses – so I stopped by to see what CloudFlare was all about.

1M websites covered – for free.  Several billion hits – per month.

These dudes and dudesses and figured out how to do a software Firewall and CDN which helps get rid of DoS attacks and all sorts of ugly, negative, security breaches, hacks, etc.  Not too shabby – I’d say.  The basic service is free and they have a premium $20 a month model.

cf-logo-v-rgbI heard Michelle (one of the co-founders) present during OpenCo and she reminded me of a younger Kim Polese.

This is a company to watch!

I later had dinner with Dane and ran into the CEO Matt – so I can personally say – “these people rock!”

Final note – I can still remember a 4 year old Dane being enamored of the Mac 512k we had.  His grandfather funded MacroMind and I’ll always have warm memories of those days – back in Houston.

David Brodsky and OpenWatch

David BrodskyOne of the coolio things about teaching at CWRU is meeting some awesome students who rose above the conformity embraced in Cleveland to focus on unique, value added propositions to change the world.

I had the good luck and fortune of teaching David – who actually took BOTH my courses there – and who I worked with on a design for a USB form factor, name tag, wireless key/identity thingie.  David got his EE degree, went to Cali, took on some jobs – but eventually co-founded a startup called OpenWatch (along with Rich Jones and Chris Ballinger.)

You go to the site and you’re IMMEDIATELY struck by the chaos, violence and issues of the world.  This is EXACTLY how on-line media should be used to spread messages, get the word out and connect people together.

OpenWatch - currently – is for assigning citizen journalists stories – which they then can go report on – and send back to “us.”  Its a compelling, vibrant kind of community site which will help bring on-line journalists together to help change the world.

I’m incredibly proud of David.  He’s found funding, is doing his thing and he can wake up in the morning – and look at himself in the mirror and know that he’s doing his part.  This is the big problem with youth today. They’re often lured by the pot of gold promises, and so go work for the Borg or even worse – Zynga.

But David started OpenWatch!

Travis Atkins and PiggyBack

TravisOne of the enthusiastic people i met at the SFMusicSummit was Travis Atkins.  Travis had found out I was back in town via Dave Winer’s Scripting.com – so once again I find myself thanking Dave for convincing me to “hold office hours” and get my ass “back out there.”

Travis has a startup called Piggyback – which has come up with a unique, disruptive model for messaging and cash remediation/rewards.

I want to get your attention – I want to get you to reply to my message – well then I’m willing to PAY you – if you reply!

Think of it as Keen or Guru – taken to Messaging.

I tried to find holes in Travis’ strategy – but at the end of the day – its a ballsey, disruptive thingie – that Silly Valley LOVES!

Travis and his partner Eric Martin both are experienced entrepreneurs and startup dudes – as they’ve worked for someone no less than Phillipe Kahn.  The odds are they’re gonna find funding, get their service out there – and see if it sticks. Inspirational = indeed.

Chutzpah would be another word to describe these dudes.

I just wish I had captured a better image of Travis – as he’s really very upbeat, enthusiastic, etc.  [NOTE TO SELF - check all photos AFTER you've taken them - for quality!]

David Temkin and a stealth project

david-temkin-vp-of-mobile-at-aolNot all projects and efforts I hear about are funded and many do NOT want to talk about – in public – what they are up to.

So when my friend David Temkin contacted me – he made it clear to NOT talk about his new startup.  That was totally coolio with me, so I had a great time talking to David about his new thingie – which – again – I can’t talk about.

But David is an important character for me.  He put me to work, when I needed it – back in the early 00′s when he was running a startup called Laszlo.  Laszlo was Flex – before Macromedia stole the idea from them.  This is something every startup has to worry about.  The exact people whom you’re ‘dissintermediating’ may decide to simply copy you.  That’s what happened to Laszlo.

‘Nuf said – water under the bridge.  Kevin Lynch can now take those techniques to Apple.

meanwhile David went on to head AOL Mobile and he’s doing fine.  So much so that David and his former techie head – Oliver Steele have this coolio new startup.

Which I cant tell you about.

Joe Brilliant and CratePlayer

0585e0fI ran into a bunch of people I knew at he DLD lunch on Friday and I also met folks who I only knew by name and reputation.  Then there were the folks who I recognized, but couldn’t quite put a name to the face.  One of those was someone named Joe Brilliant.

So here I am – waiting to pickup my Burrito at Iron cactus – the sister restaurant to the Creamery and this guy Joe – is standing in line.

“Hey dude – I saw you at MacAurthur park on Friday!” I said.

Joe has a startup called CratePlayer - which is a mixed media curation site.  In the old days we used to call that “multimedia” – meaning video, audio, photos, etc.

The first question I ask him is “what does your player do?”

This is the challenge that mixed media, mixed vendor-controlled players face – how do you create a playback experience when:

a) the sources are coming from YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Rhapsody, Rdio, Flickr, Facebook, Vimeo – and the list goes on and on

b) you’re switching between a video and photos – and just audio

c) you’re downstream from all this – and YOU wanna make some money – as well!

Well CratePlayer seems to have their heads on straight – and Joe gave me all the right answers.  So they didn’t really need any of my advice.

Then we talked about the battle of playlists – which is looming and how multimedia (sorry for using that “old fashioned term!”) playlists – have never really been utilized or understood.

THIS is why I think CratePlayer is in a really good position.  Its where a lot of the fun is gonna be over the next few years. Playlists to exercise by, to walk to school – by, to ride your bike to school – by, the make love with, to dance to, to change diapers – to, cook dinner, do the laundry, or garden – to.

I’m now gonna go play with it, create some crates – and link them here…..

Chris Russell and Voqel

chris russellMonday was quite a day for me at the Creamery.  Not only did I meet Michael Priv and run into my old friend Ben Werdmuller – but I also got to meet and talk to Chris Russell.

Chris apparently knew me from an earlier past – but I hope this does not disturb my readers to know that I don’t really remember Chris.  He was part of an investment group that passed on investing in Broadband Mechanics – so trust me when I say “I’ve run into quite a few people over the past 30 years” – and I really don’t remember meeting Chris before.

But that didn’t perturb him and he was excited about meeting me again and telling me about HIS new startup called Voqel.

Its an audio based story telling mobile app – which is based on the premise that when you hear someone’s story – THAT’s how you connect to them.

I buy that.  I buy that I want to tell my story of why I want to return to San Francisco.

I buy the fact that audio has been greatly mis-understood and ignored and that JUST having podcasting is no where near the potential of what audio can bring to our lives.

Think about the soundtrack of a video. Of a film. Of a TV Show.  Audio is HUGE!

Or the fact that transcribing audio into text is itself an entire business.

So Chris and Voqel are focused on creating a new way to connect with people based upon the stories they tell.  I just LOVE that notion!

Chris’ own story is that he went to India with his son and came back to start his own startup company around telling stories as a way to connect to people.  Chris has worked at Oracle and been around the block a few times and he’s working with my old buddy Marv Scaff – so I’m pretty sure these dues are gonna be successful.

I’d recommend going and trying out Voqel – looks pretty damm coolio!

voqel grab

Ben Werdmuller, Latakoo and IDNO

An old friend of mine named Ben Werdmuller came by to visit and to be fair – Ben actually had TWO companies to clue me in on.

The first – which is Ben’s “day job” – is called Latakoo.  They’ve gotten some Angel money, they’ve got customers and they’re well on their way to getting more funding.  But that’s not what I care about.  I’m a product guy and Latakoo has a really interesting play in the on-line video arena – which is making it really simple to upload video, store it and then use it, in various manners.  Newsrooms is what Ben and Latakoo is currently focusing on and they have some pilots going with NBC – as we speak.

Video has been a huge bugaboo in our industry and I’m familiar with Brightcove and Kaltura – but I had not heard of Latakoo before.  They’re mainly focused on “smartphone” kind of video – but they can certainly handle any kind of video, on up to pro-level quality 4:2:2 huge sized clips.  There’s little I can add to Latakoo’s business model or approach, except to wish them luck – and add them to the list of vendors in this ultimately hot arena.

container-schemeBen also clued me in on a new “side project” he’s working on – which is something that Ben and I have shared the same dream of – for some time now.  It’s called IDNO and it’s billed as “a decentralized open source social networking platform which can be used to power your social network, intranet or personal site.”  OMG!  This is EXACTLY what I’m all about.  You see Ben was the co-founder of ELGG - which was another white labeled social networking platform in the 00′s.  Ben left London to come to jolly old San Francisco, and is a typical, high-energy entrepreneur who can easily handle two completely different projects – and do them both – really well.

So IDNO is a project that I’d like to get involved in and help – so I immediately pitched Ben on some of my thoughts that I’ve been having recently regarding shared ‘meta-data’ that I call “dashboard containers.”  Recent epiphanies have led me to this new OS called CoreOS - which uses Docker - and so Ben and I spent an ADDITIONAL hour just rapping about that.

You see one of the challenges in having a truly distributed network of inter-connected websites, social networks, eCommerce sites, brochure sites, OpenGov Citizen dashboards, etc. – is keeping them all in sync.  If a teenage girl uploads a photo of herself on a Friday night and changes her mind a week later, she can go and change her access privileges on HER site – but what about all those OTHER sites who now have her photo?

I believe that utilizing CoreOS and Docker container – to update a mutually agreed upon micro-formats schema (see <-) – THEN we can agree upon updating and DNS-like synchronization – to keep us all in sync – with each other  under the kind of control we all wish and need to have!

So I’ll be working on this concept – and hopefully Ben will help.  I now need to pitch this to Tantek Celik and Kevin Marks….

So much to do, so little time.

So you’ll be hearing more about IDNO and Ben in the coming months.

In the mean time, check out Latakoo!

BTW Ben is one of the folks who gave me feedback on my book “How to build the Open Mesh” and actually and visited me out in Walnut Creek and saw my “mural fence.”

 

mural-Ben

 

Michael Priv and Corynga

michael privOne of the entrepreneurs who came to visit me on Monday was Michael Priv who has a startup called Corynga.com.

Michael has never done a software company before, though he has many years experience in business consulting and working with people.  His instincts have led him to design a system which he describes as the merger of Automotive and Leisure – though that’s certainly NOT what his site is.  He was told – by potential investors – that he can’t call it a gaming or game site – but indeed – that’s exactly what the site is all about.  What this site does is encourage users to – “enter into ‘games’ and other activities to win points so that those pints can be applied to prizes…..”

When I pressed him on just what exactly were these games and these activities- he was surprisingly light on details of what the games were, saying “oh you know – bowling, driving, etc.” – so he was obviously trying to dis-emphasize the gaming aspects.  A key angle which he did talk about was getting players to participate and ‘strategize’ with each other – but the only strategizing he talked about was “coordinating with others when to come onto the site.”  Michael’s big idea was that if 25 players were on the site together – at the same time – they’d all get double points.  And if 50 players were on the site – then they’d all get quad the # of points.

That’s it.  That’s his idea.

These points would then be used to redeem prizes – and sponsors would pony up these prizes.  He was focused on vacation and travel items – like tires, gas and even entire vacations. He also wanted to ALSO give away cars and entire vacations.

The whole idea was a classic money based service – so what Michael needs (and what I told him to do) was find people who needed that kind of service, to complement their ‘conversation’ tool – which was the opposite of his service.  It seemed to me that there are a lot of tools and non-money based experiences that would be the complete opposite (and thereby complementary) to Michael’s idea.