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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    2013 finalists groupPeter Thiel, famous for being Facebook's first investor and the co-founder and former CEO at PayPal, is giving 20 teenagers $100,000 to drop out of college. 

    Here's the catch: They have to start a company.

    During the two-year program, fellows cannot work or be enrolled in school. Instead, they receive mentorship from the Thiel Foundation's network of tech entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, futurists, and innovators. 

    In the last two years, Thiel fellows have launched over 30 companies, and raised more than $34 million from outside investors. 

    “When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help a small number of creative people learn and accomplish more than they might have otherwise," Thiel said in a statement. "To their great credit, they have exceeded our expectations, and inspired people of all ages by reminding them that qualities like intellectual curiosity, grit, and determination are more important than a degree in determining success in life.”

    For some of these young entrepreneurs, it's not their first company. 

    Note: All descriptions are courtesy of the Thiel Foundation. 

    Daniel Zulla is working on a secure computing architecture.

    Age: 19

    Hometown: Regensburg, Germany

    Daniel Zulla is a software engineer who is about to introduce a secure computing architecture used for servers and desktop computers alike.



    Darren Lim wants to change how we interact with technology.

    Age: 19

    Hometown: Singapore

    Darren Lim came to love scientific innovation while studying in China, and remains a consumer at heart who is obsessed with cutting-edge gadgets. He is currently working on a startup that focuses on how we interact with technology.



    Delian Asparaouhov is changing the face of health care.

    Age: 19

    Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT

    Delian Asparaouhov wants to help improve health care. As a Thiel fellow, he will work on leveraging technology to help manage disease and improve patient outcomes. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Fred Wilson

    Union Square Ventures principal Fred Wilson just led his first startup deal in nearly two years.

    Wilson led a $5 million round in Coinbase, a startup for buying, selling, and accepting Bitcoins.

    Bitcoins are a form of decentralized, digital currency. This year, Bitcoin's value has reached new heights. Today, Bitcoin is trading around $111. At its peak, it reached $266. In January, it was trading at $15. 

    "We believe that Bitcoin represents something fundamental and powerful, an open and distributed Internet peer to peer protocol for transferring purchasing power," Wilson wrote on the USV blog

    Wilson went on a hiatus because of his commitments to other startups, he writes on his blogSince USV formed in the fall of 2004, Wilson has made 20 investments (now 21) but only six of those startups have made an exit. 

    Some of the companies in Wilson's portfolio include Twitter, Zynga, and Kickstarter.

    "Two things have happened to get me off the schneid (a hitless streak if you aren't familiar with that term)," Wilson writes. "First, the fourteen companies have all matured a lot in the past two years and the demands of that group of companies has waned a bit. And second, I have come to believe that a number of new fundamental technologies have hit the Internet and it is time to get busy putting out money."

    Before Wilson's hiatus, he would typically lead two to three startup investments per year for USV. Earlier this year, Wilson admitted that 2012 was a "sh***y year for him because he didn't make a single investment. 

    SEE ALSO: VC Fred Wilson: These Are The Worst Things You Could Do In A Pitch

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    monopoly bitcoin man bitcoin billionaire

    Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson announced this morning that he's investing in Coinbase, a startup that makes transactions through the web with Bitcoin possible.

    This is big news for a number of reasons.

    Wilson is a New York-based venture capitalist who wisely saw the rise of "social" on the Internet. He was an early investor in Tumblr, Twitter, Zynga, and Kickstarter.

    He hadn't made an investment in almost two years. He said he was trying to figure what was next, which is what makes this investment in particular interesting. Apparently, he thinks Bitcoin, the limited virtual currency is going to be big.

    Bitcoin has been up and down, but with Wilson's investment it's a sign that people think it's here to stay and it's going to be mainstream.

    He explained his investment in Coinbase on the Union Square Ventures blog.

    The short explanation: "We believe that Bitcoin represents something fundamental and powerful, an open and distributed Internet peer to peer protocol for transferring purchasing power. It reminds us of SMTP, HTTP, RSS, and BitTorrent in its architecture and openness."

    And here's the full thing:

    We have been thinking about and looking to make an investment in the Bitcoin ecosystem for several years. Today, we are happy to be able to talk about our first investment in the sector. We have made an investment in Coinbase along with our friends at Ribbit Capital, SV Angel and Funders Club.

    We believe that Bitcoin represents something fundamental and powerful, an open and distributed Internet peer to peer protocol for transferring purchasing power. It reminds us of SMTP, HTTP, RSS, and BitTorrent in its architecture and openness. Like what happened with those other low level protocols, entrepreneurs and developers are now building technology on top of Bitcoin to make it more useful, more accessible, and more secure.

    Coinbase is in some ways a perfect example of that trend. It was founded by Brian Armstrong, who as an engineer at Airbnb who wanted an easier way to incorporate Bitcoin into transactional systems on the Internet. Brian was joined by co-founder Fred Ehrsam, a computer scientist and former currency trader. The two of them have quickly built Coinbase into one of the leading Bitcoin platforms in the market.

    Coinbase offers three important features: an online wallet to store Bitcoin; a merchant platform that allows services to accept Bitcoin as payment; and a service that allows individuals and merchants to buy/sell Bitcoin into fiat currencies. Coinbase is located in San Francisco and the company's details and key metrics are available on its about page. Coinbase is hiring and their openings are on its jobs page. And of course, they also have a blog.

    If you are a merchant and want to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, you can do that with Coinbase. The platform for accepting Bitcoin is free and you only get charged a small fee if you want to convert Bitcoin to fiat currency, which you can do automatically.

    If you would like to buy Bitcoin and store it online, you can do that with Coinbase. Coinbase is where I have purchased my Bitcoin and keep it. Coinbase has native mobile wallets for iOS and Android and works great on mobile web as well.

    Even though Bitcoin has been all over the media lately as its exchange rate has surged, collapsed, and surged again, we believe that we are in the very early days of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. There is much that must be built on top of of these digital currencies to make them work well enough to support real business at scale. And we are thrilled to be invested in a team that is well suited to do that work and build a large and successful business in the Bitcoin sector.

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    New Orleans BioInnovation CenterNew Orleans is a hugely popular tourist destination for its food, music, history and Mardi Gras.

    The city's economy took a big hit after Hurricane Katrina devastated the cityscape in 2005. But since then New Orleans has rebuilt and reinvented itself.

    From startups to restaurants and bars, several very cool small businesses have sprouted up in the Big Easy.

    adverCar

    Web only

    What it is: A transit advertising and media company

    Why it's cool: adverCar matches brands with regular drivers who are looking to make some extra cash. The brand pays a driver to put a decal on their car. When that person drives through different neighborhoods and regions, the brand is then broadcast to the area in a subtle yet effective way.

    It is part of New Orleans Startup Fund's portfolio.



    American Sector And National World War II Museum

    945 Magazine St.

    What it is: A 1940s themed restaurant and museum

    Why it's cool:Besides being America's first museum devoted to World War II, this venue features restaurants and bars that are all 1940s themed. Everything from the seating to the cocktails to the styles of the performers oozes 1940s glamour. There are even live musical performances by Big Band orchestras and tributes to 1940s icons like The Rat Pack.

    The restaurant, called the American Sector, serves dishes that put a creative spin on traditional American food, like mini cheeseburgers with bacon-onion marmalade and wagyu short ribs.



    Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel

    739 Canal St. at Bourbon

    What it is: A sustainable hotel

    Why it's cool: This is a luxury hotel that has a ton of green initiatives. It recycles all cardboard, paper, plastic, and aluminum products. 

    About 90% of the hotel's lighting is energy efficient and it has a grease recycle program.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Reid Hoffman

    To hear successful entrepreneurs talk about it, founding a startup sounds like something no sane person should try.

    LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman says that starting a company is like "throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down." So he just told Bloomberg Television's Emily Chang.

    This is a similar view to how his friend Elon Musk describes it. In 2010, Tesla and SpaceX founder Musk famously said, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death."

    Reid faced his almost-crash moment with LinkedIn shortly after it launched. He had hoped that people would simply see how useful it was and that the site would grow fast virally.

    But it didn't.

    LinkedIn saw just "a trickle" of tech early adopters and not "an explosion," he said. "So, I sat down with the team and said, if we don't solve this, we're dead."

    He had only one idea to try: Allow people to upload their email address books to see if their friends had joined.

    If that failed, he would have, maybe, one more shot to get people interested in LinkedIn, but he didn't know what else to try.

    Fortunately, the address book thing worked and growth spiked. 

    This month, LinkedIn celebrated its 10-year anniversary. As of January, it had 200 million members in 200 countries.

    SEE ALSO: GET HIRED: How To Make Your LinkedIn Profile Gorgeous With Graphics

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    Joyride Coffee 24Joyride, one of New York's most promising startups, is quickly gaining popularity.

    The company delivers high-end coffee from roasters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle to well-known clients in Silicon Alley, including Foursquare, Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Gilt.

    Joyride Coffee was founded by three ambitious brothers, David, Adam and Noah Belanich, who decided to take a chance on working together. They say that co-founding a company with your siblings definitely has its challenges, but the upsides far outweigh the drawbacks.

    "One of the things that some of the employees we brought in have noticed is that we have a tendency to be extremely blunt with each other," says David, the eldest of the brothers. "We argue quite vocally with each other, but we always know that at the end of the day we have each other's best interest at heart so there is a real implicit trust underlying everything we ever discuss and do."

    David, 30, decided to launch the company after realizing a career in academia wasn't for him. He was pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Yale, which he enjoyed, but he "didn't like the professional side of academia, like having to fight to get tenure," he says. "That was the push factor. The pull factor was just that I always wanted to build my own business just to see if I could do it."

    His brother Adam, 26, followed a similar trajectory when he quit a teacher's assistant position at Dartmouth to come help his brother launch the company. For Noah, 24, the transition was even more natural; he joined the family business straight out of college. All three hold equal ownership in the company. 

    But the coffee delivery concept didn't surface immediately. Adam and David started out selling coffee and frozen yogurt in a food truck: "We basically took the same concept as Mr. Softee and tried to make it a little more modern," says David. But they quite literally hit several bumps in the road: Over the course of one summer, the truck got hit by city buses four different times.

    Joyride truckTheir first partnership was with Stumptown Coffee, so while selling coffee out of the food truck, Adam and David started bringing Stumptown coffee to offices on the side. They soon gave up the truck and opened an office in Queens in 2011. Their full-time delivery business is sort of like catering, with a twist.

    "Our clients become our customers for the long term," David explains. "We set them up with equipment and we deliver on a biweekly basis, so we get to see them pretty frequently. Whereas with catering, it's more of a 'one-off relationship' like when you deliver a product for a wedding or an event." 

    They also offer coffee tastings complete with a professional barista to teach customers everything about the coffee, like how its origins and varietals translate to a difference in flavor. Recently Joyride introduced a new and even more unconventional concept to their business: cold brewed iced coffee in a keg. 

    Early next week the brothers plan on delivering a five-gallon keg of coffee to Gawker Media."They've agreed to be our guinea pigs," David says, explaining that Gawker will be the first client to try out their new product. "It's going to be exciting because we have our own tap and handle and it looks like a beer tap, except coffee comes out of it."  

    Joyride Coffee 5Joyride created the device themselves because no one had ever made one before. They bring the same fun and inventive aspect they did to the keg concept, to everything they do with their business. Tasting sessions are fun and energetic, and so is their office culture.

    When they first started the company, David brought his two Boxers into the office "and then Noah got a dog because we wanted to keep the person-dog ratio even," he says. "We function like a Google office, minus all the perks." So far they've hired six employees, with two interns joining this summer.

    David has several theories as to why the majority of their clients are in the tech world, including an elaborate one that traces how both third-wave coffee roasters and tech companies migrated together from the West Coast to the East. But one of the biggest reasons, he says, is probably that Joyride also embraces the same laid-back company culture as many of its Silicon Alley clients. 

    "Sometimes it is like a doggy day care center in here with a Boston terrier and the two Boxers running around," says David. "I think it plays into our casual work environment. It probably related to the familial work environment we have here where we are totally comfortable with each other."

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    DreamIt demo day

    DreamIt Ventures, a multi-city startup accelerator program like TechStars and Y Combinator, has selected 16 startups for its summer session in New York.

    The three-month program gives each startup a stipend of up to $25,000 and mentorship. There's a Demo Day at the end attended by press and investors. Some of the better known startups to come out of DreamIt are SCVNGR, Adaptly, Winston and SeatGeek.

    Here's who will be working out of the 8th Avenue accelerator this summer:

    • Callida EnergySmart building SaaS solution for commercial facilities.
    • CreatorUpThe Online Web Series School:  Learn from top web video experts how to create and market your own videos on the web.
    • GamePressGamePress lets you create, share, and play mobile games on your iPad. With GamePress you don't need to know any programming, or have graphics design skills.
    • Glassboard: Glassboard is the collaboration network for research and development.
    • HeyKikiAggregation platform for the education space (Kayak for class/activity searches).
    • InstrumagicCreates super friendly magical musical instruments on mobile devices
    • License BuddyPlatform to help licensed professionals to meet continuing education requirements.  
    • MimoonaMimoona enables any website to integrate a fully featured crowdfunding platform into their site in less than 30 minutes
    • MinerThe easy way to deliver highly-contextual mobile content to people that are physically present at any location.
    • Perklean online community that connects consumers, businesses and charities, and rewards them all with great perks for helping each other.   
    • ServicefulMaids Radar makes it easy to find which House Cleaning Companies are available to clean your house today, without the call or search.
    • Stylr Inc.Window shop your favorite clothing stores right from your iPhone. With Stylr you know what is in stock before you go to the store.
    • TouchBaseBusiness cards you can tap on any smartphone to download their content immediately and accurately - no camera, no NFC, and no QR codes required.
    • Trippin' Inan unique "Engagement meter" for places and sites, measuring the real social pulse of local businesses.
    • WeDidIta web platform and mobile app for nonprofit fundraising.
    • wireLawyerLinkedIn for lawyers; creating the largest virtual law practice in the world and improving social advocacy.

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    Kim Kardashian "Temptation"

    Fashionista and reality TV star Kim Kardashian made her first foray into business with the launch of ShoeDazzle back in 2009. 

    But in 2012, the startup nearly imploded when co-founder Brian Lee left his position as CEO, PandoDaily's Erin Griffith reports.

    His replacement, Bill Straus, ditched ShoeDazzle's $39.99 monthly subscription plan, which had been shipping more than 300,000 pairs of shoes to women every month. ShoeDazzle took a major hit in revenues as a result. 

    Lee returned to the company in November to help save the struggling company. When Lee reclaimed the CEO title, his first move was laying off 40% of the staff. He then resurrected ShoeDazzle's business model, launching a new form of subscriptions called VIP, which Lee compares to Amazon Prime.

    As PandoDaily notes, ShoeDazzle is stable, but it's not growing. In order to fuel growth, Lee says the company needs to raise more capital.

    Today, Kardashian has less of a presence at ShoeDazzle, but is still a financial partner and co-founder at the company

    SEE ALSO: Startup CEO: It's Time For Me To Admit That My Startup Is A Zombie

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    brayola orit hashay

    According to Israeli venture capitalist and startup founder Orit Hashay, 80% of women wear bras that don't fit.

    To help them, she launched Brayola, a shopping discovery platform that recommends new bras to women based on their current favorite brands and sizes. 

    Like many shopping platforms, Brayola is an image-heavy site. It just launched a new, controversial feature called Fit or Not, which is essentially "Hot or Not" for women's chests. 

    Fit or Not encourages women to strip down to their favorite undergarment, snap a photo of themselves, and upload it. The world can then judge if the the bra looks good or doesn't with a single click. After, a new pair of breasts ushers onto the screen. 

    Yes, you read all of that right.

    A woman launched a feature that lets people stare at women's chests and rate them in rapid succession. 

    Brayola

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    Leonhard Widrich Joel bufferLeonhard Widrich and Joel Gascoigne were classmates at England's University of Warwick. The pair founded a startup together called Buffer, that helps you share Tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates more intelligently.

    Seven weeks later, Buffer started generating revenue. Widrich dropped out of school and Gascoigne left his full-time job to grow their company. After two years of bootstrapping and growing the userbase to 55,000 accounts, the pair booked a one-way ticket to San Francisco.

    They created a 13-slide pitch. Three months later, they rounded up $500,000 from 18 angel investors including HubSpot CTO Dharmesh Shah, Mightytext co-founder Maneesh Arora, and AngelList's Graham Jenkin.

    For two first-time founders, three months to raise a round sounds quick. But Widrich says he and Gascoigne spoke with over 200 potential investors during that time frame and had more than 50 meetings to finally find the 18 people who said "yes."

    "We learned you have to do a lot of meetings to actually get investment," Widrich says. "Hearing 'no' up to 10 times a day was definitely one of the toughest things."

    Today, Buffer is generating over $1 million in annual revenue with over 650,000 users.

    What did the winning pitch look like? Widrich shared the 13 slides with Business Insider.







    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Waze

    Editor's note: Last year, Business Insider partner EpicLaunch toured the offices of hot Israeli startup Waze.

    Today, according to several reports, Waze is about to be acquired by Facebook for a price around $1 billion. 

    Obivously this has all of us even more interested in what it's like working at the fast-growing company…

    Ever wonder what it's like inside a booming Israeli startup?
    It's not exactly the same as Silicon Valley, NYC or other tech hubs. So here's your chance to see.

    In case you haven't heard, Waze is a fast-growing social GPS app with over 10 million users. They recently raised a massive $30 million round.

    Waze actually launched in Israel and gained mass adoption throughout the whole country. In fact, it's so popular that Waze doesn't have a sign in front of their office because already random people like to drop by and rave about the app.

    The phenomenon began in Israel hence, the .co.il domain name



    A happy Waze employee who just received a new Macbook Air.



    3 million users? Not too long ago. Now they're at 10 million.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    My parents are finally able to talk fondly of the first phone call I made home during freshman orientation in college.  Three days into my time at Duke, I didn’t call to talk about my new classes or teachers or even the new friends I had made.  I was crazy excited to tell them about these things called lofts.  They were these 6-foot structures that everyone was paying $200 a piece for, and I felt like I could build them myself for a quarter of that price and then sell them to all my new friends.

    I worked so hard to get into college.  To get an education.  I was already distracted by my first startup.

    I can only imagine my parents’ thoughts…  Why can’t he focus on his studies?  If needs money, why doesn’t he get a job?  Are we paying his tuition so that he can study woodworking? 

    That first summer, I got an internship on Capitol Hill for my Congresswoman.  It was prestigious for a freshman, and I had worked hard to get it.  Yet three weeks into the internship, I called home to tell my parents about this discount card I had created for all the staffers on Capitol Hill.  I called it DC Discounts, and I was working on it whenever anyone wasn’t looking.

    What now?   He’s going to get himself fired.  This is silly.

    Two months into business school, I couldn’t wait to tell them about this new idea I had for a website.  It was called OpenVote.  It was far more important than any classes.  And when my classmates were receiving signing bonuses, embarking on their professional careers, I was spending everyday working on a Facebook app that not many people used.

    How is he going to pay back his student loans?  What about his resume? 

    Just a few years ago, I was working at a company, complete with a nice salary and some stability in my life.  Until I wasn’t.  Because I got interested in a commercial real estate startup…

    Oy. 

    *** 

    I’m 33 now, and I can say for certain that my parents support my life’s career choices, but I also know that I’ve given them pause every step of the way. Every single time I have had the opportunity to have a nice normal career, I’ve given it all up for my little startup ideas. And it may be easy now to say that this was all part of the learning process on the way to success, but back then the results were in doubt.  It really just looked like I was throwing away my opportunities.

    And I know many of you have parents right now that are wondering what the hell you’re doing with your dinky, little, hard-to-understand startup dreams.  And so, send them this post.

    How to Support Your Entrepreneur – A Guide for Parents

    Let go

    Parents, you have no choice about whether your child will decide to be an entrepreneur.  If you want them to be an entrepreneur, by all means expose them to other entrepreneurs.  But if your child has the entrepreneurial itch and you wish they didn’t, I can say without qualification, you will have no ability to further influence that decision.  The very crux of being an entrepreneur is an obstinate determination to build things.  And every suggestion to the contrary simply emboldens us further.

    Provide us emotional support

    If you talk to any experienced entrepreneur, they will tell you how difficult the dark days of their startup life were, how much uncertainty, how much fear … we all go through it.   And we need someone there who is going to support and believe in us.  Having a parent’s support can make a world of difference.  Don’t worry about enabling us or giving us false hope.  We don’t you need you to support the startup; we need you to support us. 

    Don’t predict our success

    The very best investors in the world can barely tell when the seed of a great startup idea is present.  As an entrepreneur, we are always faced with people happy to show us how our idea sucks.  When we go to you for feedback, we don’t actually need feedback on our startup idea.  In almost all cases your feedback won’t be correct.  Really, we just want you to listen.

    Don’t give us money

    It used to be that a friends and family round was a totally legitimate way to start a company.  It’s just not needed anymore.  There are literally hundreds of incubators. We have an oversupply of seed stage investors.  The process of raising money has now been spelled out clearly across thousands of blogs.  The last thing we need is a false hand-out during the early days.  It’s the process of figuring out how to get one’s dream funded that helps turn that dream into a reality.  Don’t rob us of that opportunity, even if we beg.

    Teach us how to conserve

    Doing a startup is inherently risky.  That’s an absolute truth. My dad has taught me to be an incredibly efficient with what little money I’ve had.  Somehow, most of my generation of yuppies never learned how to be frugal.  But for entrepreneurs, it’s a necessity.  One of the reasons I have been able to try so many startups is that I’ve been incredibly frugal, incredibly conservative, and I have been able to squeak by with much less money than most of my friends. 

    Don’t save us from failure

    Depending on how you count them, I have probably run seven little startups.  Most have been failures.  When OpenVote failed, it took with it my entire net worth and then some.   And that was the moment that my parents were most supportive.  They believed in me. But they refused to give me money.  And it’s not any coincidence how hungry I emerged when I started FlightCaster a few months later.  Most parents don’t have to deal with their child’s repeated failures.   But in the startup world, failure is common. Don’t be afraid of our failure, be proud of our resilience.

    ***

    So to my parents, I say, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  You have been incredibly supportive.  And I know how often I’ve made you nervous.  But you held back and let me be the person I wanted to be.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.  I love you both.  And as always, I aim to do you proud.

    Comments on Hacker News

     And Mom, Happy Mother’s Day.

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    wine glass shatter shot explode

    Lot18, a wine e-commerce site that once dominated the New York startup scene, is undergoing more layoffs.

    This morning, eleven people were let go, dwindling the staff down to 36. Last year, Lot18 had nearly 100 employees.

    The cuts were made across all of Lot18's departments.

    Lot18 last laid off workers in January, when 25 positions were cut. Over the past year, Lot18 has lost multiple executives, shut down verticals and offices abroad, and pivoted the business from flash sales to a direct response company.

    The company says the layoffs are the result of that shift, and Lot18's acquisition of Tasting Room earlier this year. 

    "The flash business of Lot18, now a retail business, can operate – and flourish – with a much smaller staff, while all remaining resources are being dedicated to Tasting Room," a company spokesperson tells Business Insider. Tasting Room has been beta tested, redesigned and relaunched.

    Lot18 gained a new CEO, Jay Sung, a few months ago. Sung was hired in December following the departure of Lot18's co-founder, Kevin Fortuna. There were a number of months between Fortuna's departure and Sung's hiring where the company operated without a chief operator. Fortuna's co-founder, Philip James, is still at Lot18 in an operation role.

    "The people who are leaving the company worked extremely hard, and their focus and dedication have ensured that the company will grow and thrive," says Sung of the layoffs. "I attribute much of the company's successes, to this point, to their efforts, and it's difficult to see them go. I wish them the very best."

    The story of Lot18 is one of the more tragic startup tales. When Lot18 launched in 2010, it gained users and generated revenue quickly. Investors were impressed and gave it $44.5 million

    Unfortunately, the early traction was the result of aggressive, unsustainable user acquisition marketing campaigns. Ecomom, a eco-friendly ecommerce site for moms, used a similar tactic and failed under its now-deceased founder, Jody Sherman. Both companies spent extraordinary amounts attracting users with unbelievable discounts which were costly to the companies' bottom lines. Neither could convert the one-time users into repeat customers who were willing to pay full price.

    In addition, wine is a difficult product to ship and sell online. It needs to be packaged carefully and shipped promptly in temperature-conscious environments, which costs a fortune. Orders must also meet each state and country's legal requirements, making it an inefficient business to scale.

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    unikey kwikset

    One object startups have tried and failed to kill is the good old-fashioned key.

    We shove them onto tiny metal rings and bury them deep in pockets and purses. They're impossible to find when we need them most, they're a hassle to retrieve when our hands are full, and losing them means changing all of our locks.

    Still, no mobile app, motion or touch device has worked as flawlessly. So the easy-to-lose, headache-inducing physical keys have remained.

    Phil Dumas has spent the better part of his career developing a key-free way to unlock a door. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from University of Florida, then helped invent a biometric finger-lock technology. But it was faulty, only accurately reading the owner's fingerprint sometimes. "The lock needed to work the first time, every time," Dumas says. And it didn't.

    unikeyHis latest creation, UniKey, may finally replace physical keys. When Dumas debuted the product on ABC's Shark Tank last year, he received investment offers from all five judges. Dumas has now raised over $2.3 million from traditional investors including ff Venture Capital, and he is licensing Unikey's technology to Kwikset, one of the largest lock and lockset manufacturers in the world. Unikey's touch-lock devices will soon be sold in major retail outlets such as Home Depot.

    The Kwikset Kevo looks like any other lock. There's a place for a physical key, and it's double bolted onto the door. You don't need to call a specialist to install it. You can still unlock the door from the inside by turning a knob. But unlike a traditional lock, this lock uses proximity to unlock doors.

    The lock operates via iPhone or iPad app, or a fob for people without smart phones. When the mobile app or fob are nearby and you touch the lock, it turns blue then green to signal it is unlocked. If you tap the lock three times, it turns yellow and locks again. If you don't have access to a door and you touch it, the lock turns red.

    You don't have to be touching the app or fob to lock and unlock doors. The devices just need to be within range. You can set the range to either a few inches or a few feet via the app or website.

    phil dumas unikeyUniKey's technology knows which side of the door the owner is on, so being too close to the lock from the inside won't let a nearby stranger in.

    There's no pin required to access the mobile app key or button that needs to be toggled. You just enroll your device(s) once. Hackers aren't really a worry either, because UniKey scrambles together new key codes all the time. If you lose your smartphone with the the app, you can turn off access on via the website. Otherwise, access will turn off on the old device as soon as you activate a new phone.

    The best feature is the ability to share permanent or temporary keys with others via mobile app. For example, you could assign a key to a house cleaner for a specific day each week, or let a construction worker use a key for a few hours each day. Family members can get their own mobile copies. Keys can be cancelled as quickly as they can be created on the app.

    "We focused on convenience, control, simplicity and elegance," Dumas tells Business Insider of his ten-person team. "We're not the first company to open doors with a cell phone. We're the first to do it in a passive manner where you don't have to engage your phone. The minute you have to toggle a switch, you may as well put a key in the door."

    The locks will be available for pre-order on Amazon soon. They'll retail for about $249 or less.

    To better understand how the Unikey lock will work, here are some screenshots of the device in action.

    The inside of the door is a normal bolt that turns to lock.

    qwikset unikey

    Click on the video below to see the prototype of Unikey in action on Shark Tank. To watch it, scroll down to the bottom of Unikey's press page (Shark Tank has rights to clips locked down and we couldn't find an embeddable version).

    Note: Even though he agrees to work with Cuban and Kevin O'Leary at the end of the episode, the deal didn't close. Dumas merely says he and those particular investors "couldn't come to terms."

    unikey dumas shark tank

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    Fred WilsonIf your CEO loses the faith of the team, it's time for him or her to go. 

    That's one thing a board cannot tolerate, Union Square Ventures VC Fred Wilsonwrites on his personal blog, A VC.

    It's also the most common reason for Wilson deciding to remove a CEO from a startup.

    Wilson writes:

    If I think about the times I have had to remove a CEO, by far the most common reason was the loss of confidence of the team in the CEO. You get the call from one of the senior team members. They tell you that they are going to leave and so is everyone else on the senior team unless you do something about the leader. It is a palace coup. No guns are fired. But the boss has to go. And so he or she does. No Board can ignore that call."

    Wilson writes that no board can ignore that call.

    So there's a lesson in here for both CEOs and startup employees. For CEOs, realize that your employees are more important than the board. For employees, if there's a consensus among the team that CEO isn't the right fit, say something about it.

    SEE ALSO: VC Fred Wilson: These Are The Worst Things You Could Do In A Pitch

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    Airware

    Drones are spreading beyond military warfare and becoming the hot new thing in startups. 

    One proponent of them Chris Anderson, former Editor-in-Chief of Wired. He founded DIY Drones where a community of 33,000 people fly devices they've made or purchased from his company, 3D Robotics. Even larger companies like FedEx are finding uses for drones; it hopes they'll be able to transport packages come 2015, when the FAA will start allowing drones to fly in standard US air space.

    Now Airware, a startup that creates "brains" for drones, has attracted significant investor interest in Silicon Valley. Today, Airware announced a $10.7 million Series A round from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures

    Airware is to drones what iOS is to iPhones. It's a universal platform for commercial drones that developer can buy and build upon for $20,000 to $50,000. Its technology has been implemented in drones that track endangered animals' whereabouts in Kenya, for example. Another Airware drone was built to deliver vaccines to remote locations in Southeast Asia.

    Jonathan Downey airware ceoAirware was founded by MIT graduates. Its CEO, Jonathan Downey, has been building drone technology since he was a student and gained more experience working for Boeing. His company is on track to generate about $4 million this year. In March following Airware's participation in startup accelerator Y Combinator, the company received $200,000 in orders from 20 customers in ten countries.

    "We've been in the space for a while and we're really excited about it right now because we believe there's this huge unmet need and potential market for use of drones," Downey tells Business Insider. "There are a lot of really exciting applications like in agriculture or mining. On the military and government side, there's one typical use for drones, surveillance. On the consumer side there are so many other applications."

    Chris Dixon, Downey's Andreessen Horowitz investor and now-board member, agrees.

    "Robotics has long been a field that overpromised and underdelivered," he said in a press release. "We think drones are the most likely way to rectify that, and Jonathan is the person to make it happen.”

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    Dr. Dre

    Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are two of LA's biggest movie and business stars. They've turned artists like Lady Gaga and 50 Cent into celebrities and made clunky headphones popular by starting a business, Beats.

    Now they want to help Los Angeles have an even bigger business presence.

    The pair is giving University of Southern California $70 million to start an entrepreneurship program. The degree will teach students about marketing, design and product development, and it will include liberal arts courses. There's a portion of the curriculum called "The Garage" that will encourage students to create working prototypes and pitch classmates. The goal is to find students who are working on the next big things in tech.

    “If the next start-up that becomes Facebook happens to be one of our kids, that’s what we are looking for,” Iovine told The New York Times' Jenna Wortham.

    Dr. Dre seemed to agree. Wortham describes the pair's interaction:

    "The rapper nodded often, ate chocolate chip cookies with evident pleasure, and chimed in occasionally."

    While Dre told Wortham he never imagined starting an entrepreneurship program when he was younger, he's excited about helping kids change the world.

    "I feel like this [endowment is] the biggest, most exciting and probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my career,” he said.

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    dots for iphone game

    A simple yet beautifully designed mobile game is making the rounds, and it has already turned 2 million users into dot-connecting addicts.

    Dots is an iOS game that launched in the App Store on May 1. It was made by two engineers in Betaworks, a New York company that creates startups. The goal of Dots is simple: connect two or more of the same-color dot in a row to clear them from the board. You can go up, down, left or right, but not diagonal.

    If you're able to connect a square of same-color dots, all of the dots that color will clear from the board. New dots fall on top of the 36-dot grid to replace them.

    The goal is to get as many points as you can in 60 seconds. Each dot cleared is a point, unless you complete a square, and then your score jumps even higher. Unlike Zynga's games, Dots works with or without an Internet connection.

    The game's creators, Patrick Moburg and Paul Murphy, caught up with AllThingsD's Lauren Goode. Since the game was released, more than 100 million games have been played, which means those 2 million downloads have resulted in 100 million minutes spent on the app.

    "Everytime somebody opens the app, they spend almost five minutes in there, and then tend to come back day after day," Murphy said. The founders are gearing up to release an iPad app by the end of the month. 

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    georgia institute of technology

    The Georgia Institute of Technology will soon offer an online, three-year masters degree in computer science for less than $7,000.

    That's about one-sixth of the cost of its traditional program, but officials maintain that the two degrees will be comparable, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    The program, which is offered in collaboration with education startup Udacity and AT&T, aims to open enrollment for fall 2014. 

    As part of the deal, Udacity will get 40% of the revenue and Georgia Tech will take the rest. AT&T is subsiding the program to ensure it breaks even in its first year. 

    Initially, enrollment will be limited to just a few hundred students. But Georgia Tech plans to gradually expand its student population over the next three years. 

    Georgia Tech is one of the world's best engineering schools. Its top employers for graduates include IBM, Intel, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft.

    Computer engineering majors also tout some of the highest salaries post-graduation, according to Forbes. On average, those with computer engineering degrees earn $70,400 per year post-graduation.  

    SEE ALSO: The World's Best Engineering Schools

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    guys, happy, excited, OMG, gamers, computer, techies

    Working in the tech industry means you're going to hear a lot of industry-specific jargon. 

    Even if you're not an engineer, it's worth knowing the terms they use everyday so you can at least interact with them and better understand the challenges they face. 

    Benjy Weinberger, the engineering site lead at Foursquare, recently explained the ten basic terms that engineers use everyday.

    Here they are:

    1. API: An application programming interface helps different software components interact with each other. "APIs offer a simple, standardized way to provide functionality, without requiring a lot of intricate coordination."
    2. Technology Stack: A set of standard components for doing things like storing and retrieving data and handling user logins. "A common example of a technology stack is the LAMP stack: Linux for the operating system, Apache for the web server, MySQL for the database and PHP (or Python) for the server coding environment."
    3. DNS: The Domain Name Service is a directory for converting names like foursquare.com to computer-friendly IP addresses like 107.23.22.73. "When you type www.foursquare.com into your browser’s address bar, the browser contacts a DNS server to ask it to translate that name into an IP address, and then sends the original request to that IP address."
    4. Open Source: Open source projects make the code publicly available for free. That way, users can modify and improve the code, and even re-use it for other purposes. 
    5. Machine Learning: "Machine learning algorithms infer general rules from a set of examples, in a manner superficially similar to human learning. They are useful for finding approximate solutions to those problems for which there are no known straightforward algorithms. Siri, for example, is the result of a machine learning algorithm that approximates human understanding of speech."
    6. Version Control: Version control systems help ensure engineers within an organization don't overwrite the work of their teammates. These systems also store all previous versions of files. "This allows developers to make progress while still being able to debug servers running older versions of the code."
    7. Algorithm: Weinberger likens algorithms to recipes. "It's a list of step-by-step instructions that can be unambiguously and mindlessly followed by a computer."
    8. Client/Server: "When two computers interact over a network, the client initiates the interaction by sending a request to the server." Web browsers and mobile devices are typically referred to as clients. 
    9. UNIX/Linux: UNIX is an older type of operating system first developed at Bell Labs. "It’s notable because many of its innovations strongly influenced the design of later operating systems, all the way to the present day." Linux, on the other hand, is an open-source operating system very similar to UNIX. 
    10. Distributed Systems: Big scale companies like Google and Facebook rely on a distributed system to handle its massive load of data and server requests. A distributed system "uses multiple computers, connected by a network, to perform a task or provide a service."

    Be sure to head on over to Weinberger's blog to learn more about the aforementioned concepts.

    SEE ALSO: You Can Get A Computer Science Degree From A Top School For $7,000

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