Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Startup Battlefield is on at TechCrunch Disrupt Ny 2013- so what’s being disrupted?

The Startup Battlefield is open at Disrupt NY.

Thirty-five companies have six minutes each to elevator-pitch their products, followed by six minutes of Q&A.

So far, contenders that look volatile to us include Floored, a 3D visualization tool for real estate, and Zenefits, a free, YC-backed employee benefits outsourcer.

Floored is an app built on Matterport, a system that uses a camera with Kinect-style sensors to capture interior spaces in 3D. It’s pretty ingenious, and having worked at a real estate office, I can see the potential of this tool. Also, I suspect this technology will be incorporated into VR porn sooner rather than later.

zenefitsToday Zenefits announced that they are opening up payroll services, and expanding to New York State. Zenefits started here in the Bay Area, where startups with CEOs who couldn’t care less about administering employee benefits resent spending even HR-outsourcing dollars.

TriNet has been the titan in the HR-outsourcing arena for as long as I’ve worked at SF startups- fourteen years- but TriNet costs CEOs money.

Zenefits, which is essentially an automated insurance broker, is free to employers.

Plus, they cleverly describe managing the exchange of human labor for life-sustaining funds and critical health coverage as “soul-crushing busywork” on their homepage. This is sure to go over big with CEOs and VCs who see the Iowan twentysomethings who are at work building their actual company tech as inconvenient, interchangeable meatsacks.

We don’t think much of the “Mommy buy me a pony” app Ok’d from PaidPiper.

Transferring funds, sending money via Paypal, setting up wishlists on Amazon- none of those things are so hard that they need a “disruptive” technology to revolutionize them. Also, there’s an intrinsic lameness to software that helps you ask other people for money by sending them a picture of the thing you want.

Also distasteful to this libertine is the nanny-app Purchext, which claims to “increase communication” between parents and children.

If you’re worried about what your kids will buy with the money you give them, have a conversation with your kids. Making them submit expense reports is creepy.

We think the “build your app even though you can’t code” system AppArchitect has potential as a moneymaker, simply because there are so many people who can’t code but still want to write their own Facebook For Dogs app.

But even talking about iPhone apps bores us.

Then there’s Bidzy, which is HotelTonight>Priceline>TaskRabbit/Not Groupon. Bidzy is most interesting in that it’s using the Instacart homepage model, where you have to either login with Facebook or create an account to access the site at all. Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta claims that this converts better. We claim it’s a douche move, and think that Bidzy will fail.

And finally, we like the buzz around Spacebar, an app from cofounder Gregory Miller that livestreams concerts. The app seems to be well-designed to actually support musicians and is getting traction from a couple of major draws, so we hope it goes somewhere.

this post originally appeared on the T324 Blog.

Tom Foremski says “Be Here Right Now” will beat Google Glass.

I think Tom Foremski‘s a damn smart guy who really knows the Valley, but I disagree with him on this one. I think Google understands the crucial thing about the 21st century; if you keep opening bottles, some of the genies won’t go back in.

Not every new technology gets adopted. But the barriers to adoption aren’t about etiquette or what’s cool, or even what’s sensible or safe. It’s extremely interesting that Mr. Foremski is encountering an attitudinal shift about video and image recording- what he succinctly describes as “Don’t record me, bro!”- but it’s not a deal-breaker for Glass.