<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/beeline-bikes.jpg?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="beeline-bikes" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />While there are thousands of small, independently-owned bike shops across the country and in bike-friendly cities like San Francisco, it’s still a pain to bring your bike in for a tune-up. There’s scheduling, and then there’s the hassle of not having a bike for several days. That’s why Peter Buhl, a former longtime partner at BlueRun Ventures who served on the boards of companies like PayPal, had been thinking about a way to address this problem for the past 15 years. He started Beeline Bikes, which is kind of like an Uber or Homejoy for bike tune-ups. They have mobile vans, outfitted with all kinds of parts (see below) and trained mechanics that can fix up many bikes over the course of a day. The nine-person startup has three initial vans and the plan is to cater to startups and tech companies up and down the peninsula and in San Francisco. They’ll also do housecalls to families as well. The price for a basic tune-up is $80, but they’ll discount it to $65 with multiple bikes. Each tune-up takes about 30 to 45 minutes and they have concierge levels of service for higher-end bikes. They’ll also do other services like bike fittings and overhauls. “Our goal is to be the virtual bike shop for all the tech companies here,” Buhl said. “This works in cycling dense areas down on the peninsula and in the Bay Area.” He estimates that the local Bay Area market alone is worth about $6 to 10 million per year, but if you expanded the concept nationally, it could be worth $100 million. Beeline becomes yet another services or logistics startup like Uber, Homejoy, Exec, Postmates, Instacart and others, that use mobile devices and the web to coordinate large networks of service providers. Unlike some of these other companies, Beeline does not rely on contractors. It wholly owns its vans and the mechanics are full-time employees, although they would be open to exploring a franchising model if they expanded nationally. The company has raised a half-million dollars in seed funding from 15 angels including IronPort founder Scott Banister, Canaan Partner Deepak Kamra, Like.com founder Munjal Shah, BlueRun Ventures partners Jonathan Ebinger and John Malloy and Brian Nesmith.
December 6th, 2013 05:01 PM
<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/header-image.png?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="Header Image" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />When looking for a new place to eat, drink or shop, most people turn to local recommendations services like Yelp, Google Places, or Foursquare, for example. A new mobile application called <a target="_blank" href="https://wise.ly/">Wisely</a>, launching today, has a different idea. Instead of user reviews, Wisely taps into actual transaction data, allowing you to filter searches by things like popularity or average bill size.
December 6th, 2013 05:00 PM
<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/giftguide-food.jpg?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="giftguide-food" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />More food is consumed during the holiday season than any other time. But that's the thing with food; you can't stay full forever. And so these gadgets, services and tools should serve your food-friendly loved ones quite handily. We'll cover a range of products, including a ingredient delivery service, a magical scale that measures the nutrition of your food, and one very special ice cube.
Everyone from a master chef to a home cook should have a blast with this gift guide, so let's waste no more time and crack some eggs.
December 6th, 2013 04:58 PM
<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/2013-12-06_11h36_48.jpg?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="2013-12-06_11h36_48" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />Bitcoin is acting up at the moment. Following a steep decline that saw the currency trade at prices not seen since late November, trading of Bitcoin on the Mt.Gox exchange has gone crackerdog. It has fallen into a pattern of very rapid rises and falls that end and begin in a very tight, specific trading range. The following is a chart using one-minute ticks to track the price of Bitcoin on the Mt.Gox exchange for today: Trading on Mt.Gox is also seeing massive delays, with the current lag listed as almost 40 minutes. So, I doubt that anyone has an idea about what is going on. Other Bitcoin exchanges, such as Btc-e are displaying similar prices for the currency, so the trading price on Mt.Gox isn’t itself too batty. Instead, current trading patterns themselves are inscrutable, unless we presume some sort of algorithmic allergic reaction to current trading lag. In the meantime, if you can get your trades through, there is likely a decent arbitrage possibility at play, though trading lag times could make any such activity incredibly risky. Coinbase has Bitcoin at $848, and Btc-e at $865. The currency was over the $1,000 mark yesterday. Bitcoin: Still not that mature. China While Bitcoin works through whatever bug or issue is causing its current trading pattern, we need to keep in mind the broader context of the current market position of the currency. A recent decision by the Chinese government to ban financial institutions from trading in the currency cut at its potential to become a global repository for value outside of the control of nation states. Today, news that Baidu has ceased to accept Bitcoin is pushing the currency’s value down. To lose a company like Baidu at once lowers the inherent utility of Bitcoin, and also directly contravenes the narrative that Bitcoin was starting to find wide integration into the world of e-commerce, thus granting it legitimacy, and perhaps improved stability. Chinese demand has been a key supplier of recently robust demand for Bitcoin, comprising an increasing percentage of Bitcoin’s trading volume. If that driver slips, so too could the value, and market interest in Bitcoin. Bitcoin has fallen from over $1,200 since the Chinese news cycle broke. That’s a steep decline — about 30 percent — in a few days. The question now becomes what will bring upside back to Bitcoin? Top Image Credit: Flickr
December 6th, 2013 04:07 PM
<strong>Gillmor Gang</strong> - John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Dan Farber, and Steve Gillmor. <strong>Live recording session today at 1pm Pacific.</strong> Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/GillmorGang
December 6th, 2013 04:06 PM
<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/scroogled_chromebook.png?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="scroogled_chromebook" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />About a week after posting its first anti-Chromebook “Scroogled” video, which features the cast of “Pawn Stars,” Microsoft is now back with a second video. But instead of revisiting the humorous approach of the first one, the company has brought back its regular man-on-the-street routine for the second. In this video, Microsoft Evangelist Ben Rudolph is tasked with walking the streets of Venice, Calif., to ask people if they would rather have a Chromebook or a Windows laptop. No surprise — nobody wants the Chromebook. Obviously, everybody he asks either needs Photoshop, Illustrator or a Microsoft Office app. None of these run on a Chromebook (assuming you leave out Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. “If that doesn’t have the capability to run Microsoft Office, it’s kind of useless to me,” one lady tells Rudolph. As in the first ad, Microsoft also plays up the fact that ChromeOS is meant to be online most of the time, conveniently forgetting that there are plenty of offline ChromeOS apps available by now. Instead of a cheap Chromebook, the ad tells viewers, they should rather buy an Asus T100, 10.1-inch Windows 8 machine with a detachable touchscreen. “This one is the same price, about $300 bucks,” Rudolph says. Actually, try more like $400. And running Photoshop and Illustrator on it won’t bring you much joy either. The people on the street are obviously wowed that they can detach the screen and turn it into a tablet, though people haven’t exactly been lining up to buy convertible laptops so far. Given that Chromebooks make up about 1 percent of the PC market, Microsoft is mostly increasing mainstream awareness of these devices with its ads, as The Verge’s Tom Warren pointed out earlier today. Despite this low market share, Microsoft clearly sees Chromebooks as a threat, though, and chances are we’ll see a few more of these videos over time.
December 6th, 2013 03:24 PM
<img width="100" height="70" src="http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/secret.jpeg?w=100&h=70&crop=1" class="attachment-tc-carousel-river-thumb wp-post-image" alt="secret" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px 7px 0;" />David Byttow, the former technical lead for Square Wallet, and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, a former Google product manager at Google+, Photovine and YouTube, are raising $1.2 million for a new stealth startup called Secret. “Nothing is a secret these days,” Bader-Wechseler said, declining to comment on his startup or the round. Byttow designed the infrastructure for Square’s partnership with Starbucks, and was a previous technical lead at Google+. Bader-Wechseler was brought into Google after creating a photo app called Treehouse and a video service laced around Twitter called Vidly. He released Google’s competitive entrant into the photo-sharing space called Photovine, before it got folded and he joined the Google+ effort. We hear the seed round includes investors like Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Google Ventures and KPCB, but Bader-Wechseler declined to comment or confirm any of that.
December 6th, 2013 03:22 PM
Startup founders, especially those up to their necks in product development, don’t always have the head for building the kinds of customer bases required to keep their business afloat. That’s where Y Combinator alum MobileWorks comes in. It first raised funding for its approach to building a virtual, on-demand workforce, and now it’s trying to bring that distributed team to bear on another weighty problem: building up a user base. Long story short, MobileWorks CEO Anand Kulkarni is trying to offer user acquisition as a service with a feature called LeadGenius (though I think we can all agree that UAaaS doesn’t have a great ring to it). If you’re a company looking to drum up some new users, the process seems simple enough — you shell out your monthly fee depending on the level of support you need and let the LeadGenius team do its thing. That “thing” naturally involves plenty of conversations. “They’ll come to us and talk about where they found their first users and what they look like,” Kulkarni explained. “From there we discuss where to find reproducible sources of users.” Once that team has dug into the meat of a business, they’ll start trawling sources like LinkedIn, Kickstarter, and even CrunchBase in search of leads that could stand to benefit from a client’s offerings. Of course, much of that legwork can be invisible to the company that requested it — LeadGenius handles some of the initial outreach and qualification so in the end that client company gets leads to try to seal the deal with. Kulkarni says a “good number” of LeadGenius customers are startups like Firebase and Zenefits; considering MobileWorks’ background, it comes as little surprise that many of its users are fellow Y Combinator companies. There are some key larger clients in the mix too, though thanks to some pesky NDAs I can’t name names — one is a notable player in payments and the other is a prominent e-commerce entity. But there’s a fine line between reaching out to a third party for assistance and dumping the job on them entirely, and MobileWorks isn’t ready to cross into that new frontier just yet. For now, the onus of actually making those crucial sales still falls on the client. “We’re one step short of sales as service,” Kulkarni noted. He added that a more sales-centric push may not be completely out of the question, but
December 6th, 2013 03:02 PM