I was on the panel of judges yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt to select the top startup of the conference. The finalists were a very impressive group:
gTar, OpenGarden, UberConference, Ark, Babelverse and Sunglass.
The winner was UberConference. gTar came in a close second. Both of those companies are impressive and I support the wisdom of the judges:
Fred Wilson, Roelof Botha, Marissa Mayer, Mike Arrington, Chris Dixon, Eric Eldon and Chi-Hua Chien
The choice of the winner and the runner up was almost unanimous except for a lone nutjob who liked a different one.
My favorite was Open Garden. By a long shot. Because what they are doing is the most worthy of the conference name, Disrupt.
Open Garden is a free app for windows, mac, android, and soon iOS. What is does is connect all of your data services on your various devices (and your friends and family's devices) into a single network that all of the devices can access at the same time.
It allows you to create your own mesh network and provision it to the people you want on it.
This is a big idea. And I don't know if they have nailed it. I have just downloaded Open Garden onto my macbook air and my android phone. I will let you know how it goes.
If you want to watch their initial pitch (not the pitch we got yesterday afternoon, I have embedded it below).
I’m not sure a bunch of people solely comprising middle-aged, educated, wealthy, white folks, engaging in group-think are best placed to spot true disruption
I’m just looking for a little diversity. Add more spice. Come up with something more exciting.
There is some other comment which means the same … but very differently put.
Unless that describes the early adopters. Are there other disruptive-now-mainstream technologies that were first adopted by middle-aged, educated, wealthy white folks?
the mobile phone
We have a winner!
“best placed to spot true disruption”I think in order to spot disruption you have to be able to think like ordinary people think. Many of the comments that I see (here and elsewhere) show a lack of understanding of normals. It’s a different but similar quality that allows someone who is a politician to know exactly the bullshit they can spew that will fly with the general public. A skill that would probably totally throw, say, Stephen (Hawking|Wolfram) for a loop.Jobs had this ability as one example.
I think the true secret to Jobs brilliance was that he really didn’t care about physical items or products…he was into experiences and emotions.I think the reason he could make things he touched appear magical was because he shaped an idea around a story that evoked a set of emotions…and then he could pitch and sell that story so that everyone from the builders to the users bought into it and made the experience a reality.I don’t know that disruption was ever really the driving force for him…I think it was simply a by product of wanting to give people deeper and more interesting experiences (with the products he helped shape).
products that worked the first time you tried them…
The experience he wanted required a certain product to fit it. It had to be clean, crisp, innovative – different. This forces you to think outside the box, to think longer-term of what people want. I think what’s obvious to the general public is only obvious once the messaging is made clear, once the product is created.
+NANRight on Kevin.
I agree. I think the most disruptive things won’t be the most obvious things. The GTar seems very logical as a tool to learn guitar. It’s an improvement on Guitar Hero. I was a bit shocked they didn’t even mention gaming revenues, etc. or even games – as I saw it as a platform for games, more than just as an educational tool
Oh, hell no. They are if they are Bolsheviks like Fred!
Love the tagline. You are the network. Lots of places to go with that.ps. first time i’ve seen a paypal button in the installer — would be fun if Kickstarter had a brand extension that would give you a kickstarter pay button for free apps (and it would be nice if someone disrupted paypal 🙂
oh 🙁 my installation failed
Mine worked. On lion Mac air.
me2. oh well. i always have these kind of dumb issues with my computer. it’s my curse.
For me that was kind of a knock off of John Gage’s “The Network is the Computer” which basically helped define the Internet, then the Web, and now Cloud Computing. The statement is true — truer now than ever — and has been ever since we started to really connect the dots. That all being said, Open Garden’s tagline hit me as derivative and unoriginal.Killer idea about the Kickstarter button.
Network is computer is so different in my mind. The notion of i am the network is that it is pervasive and always around us. We don’t go online anymore. Devices and technology asd invisible, ubiquitous and extension of physical selves.
hmm… interesting distinction. You make a valid point.
And so do I.Now to make something that makes that truly real.
Too bad Open Garden isn’t available on the iPhone yet, but I will try it on my mac. Btw- the embed isn’t showing up on the iPhone & that line listing the companies is clipped after Babelverse.Not an iPhone-friendly day!
that is one of the many things i love about open garden. mac, windows, android and then ios!
I knew it!
I think you put it best, Fred. Big idea but I’m not sure they nailed it. We built something like this circa 2003-2005 called ThunderCloud and this mesh tolerance feature was something we thematically called StormChaser. The value proposition was not what it is today but our UX was actually much better and it worked.Sky Dayton also had some of this kind of functionality in the early versions of Boingo. He gave a great talk at TED on Wi-Fi that even included a concept like Open Garden mentioned of a credit system where one could sell access to your connectivity or get in proportion to what you give.I truly believe that idea of all your media and content living always in the cloud and local devices being rather agnostic in terms of underlying OSes but purely about the form factor one wishes to use at any given moment to use and enjoy the same media in every inflection point. There are MANY drivers on that and we haven’t even reached escape velocity on the potential of that. But it is definitely a ramjet effect as we add more devices, more media, more users, more connections. It is Voltaire’s “Opportunities Multiply as they are Seized” emerging in front of us.
Whats your take on what they have built?
Candidly, Fred, I tried to make it work today and ran into a few issues. Later on I just got busy.I have time during this coming holiday weekend to try and make it work so I can give you a proper and fair assessment if that is of any interest to you.My setup should be an ideal test case (multiple iOS devices, multiple Android devices, both Mac & PC desktops and notebooks).
i have a similar setup
By all means, I’ll check it out and give you my impressions.
You have many more millions of devices (actually billions) today than 8 years ago waiting for the proverbial light switch to be flipped. That’s the (near) instant network effect (Metcalfe) plus 8 years of Moore’s law to improve performance. All the while the carriers have resisted following either, so the spread between 3G/4G and wifi is 150x.
Precisely right. Could not agree with you more. Didn’t count on post-911 “hibernation effect” that dragged all of tech back by about 5-10 years. But at least all the other effects you mention are pushing things in the right direction.
there is a reason ios is last, this is automated tethering and apple is blocking that since a year back in apps trying to automate it, I hope they can convince apple to open up, then the carriers don’t like this and AT&T is charging extra per month for tethering, here in Europe carriers are following that trail as they don’t want wifi-users adding on to 3G, they want it the other way around getting 3G users to surf wifi when possible due to all the flat rate subscribers killing bandwidth… so I agree it’s disruptive, would be even more if they struck a deal with Fon, the Cloud, Boingo etc to mesh it with them too; unfortunately this isn’t disruptive technology so the me-too’s are waiting for apple or carriers to drop their guard; how long time? Who knows.
How would this be better or difference than using a MiFi 4510L mobile hotspot?
Not sure. I think it serves those that don’t have a Mifi.
Going to try it out, but not sure how compelling it seems right off: since I can already get a data connection over wifi on my phone, and tether my laptop to my phone’s data connection, it seems like the odds of being someplace where neither of those options are available to me, but another Open Garden user *does* have a data connection (and is present) are relatively slim.
tethering costs money on many mobile networks
Fair point — I guess I’m lucky in some ways with my mobile provider. (Which is not a sentence I say very often.)
Earning your #punk cred. muy bien.
I think that you liked “Open Garden” because of the subconscious effect of yesterday’s post…..Gee, that makes us “Influencers” and I wonder if we get two klout points for influencing Fred Wilson?
i will give you five!
…Oh, so now I finally figured out how Klout works! Fred Wilson is the Klout “Wizard” and he determines our scores! 🙂 Never really understood Klout till this morning!As the song says, “I can see clearly now….” :)The curtain to Klout has now been pulled back and the truth revealed!
This is like trading credit scores, ugggg
This sounds like a less expensive replacement for broadband device such as a MiFi in the form of a downloadable application. Why would someone currently using a MiFi want to use this instead?
let’s say your friend has mobile wifi on his laptop. this allows you to share it with him
This is sounds like nothing new, it can be done with the MiFi 4510L.
yeah, but what if you don’t have a mifi 4510lwhat if all you have is a phone and all your friend has is a laptop?why do we need yet another device?
OK, now I’m seeing it. I have a mifi that I use all the time, so I was wondering why I need this. The vision is that this replaces mifi and eliminates carrying around another device. Maybe I *am* an early adopter 🙂
Mifi is a $20 surcharge to your lousy $40 data plan to begin with!
What a fantastic idea. It renders hardware into exactly what it should be: an agnostic portal. Any artificial barriers that prevent people from getting what they want will most certainly be destroyed. Some are more easy to destroy than others, but people will eventually find a way. If your business model relies on artificial barriers, your days are numbered. If you’re business model seeks to destroy them, the future is yours.
Now that I think about it, the same goes for governments. You can only keep people away from the freedom they desire for so long…
You’d be surprised how many people are content to give up their liberty for a few bucks out of THAT GUY’s pocket.
without the money they don’t feel liberated, they feel as stuck as ever….
You can keep people away from freedom for a very, very long time. See the “history of the planet” for examples.
History can be discouraging indeed, but the more that technology provides a window for the oppressed to see what is happening in the liberated parts of the world, the more likely the desire for freedom will be activated. The great firewall of China is a good example of an artificial barrier. It seems hard to imagine perhaps, but I believe its erosion is inevitable. There’s a piece of the Berlin wall on public display outside Tishman Speyer HQ in midtown Manhattan. You can walk up and touch it with your hands. It’s a good reminder that these things do change.
Actually it’s not their HQ, but they have offices there. It’s on 53d Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.
Actually it’s not their HQ, but they have offices there. It’s on 53d Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.
Actually, it’s not their HQ, but they have offices there; it’s on 53rd between Madison and 5th Ave.
My friend wrote this – http://whataretheseideas.co…Maybe we are all looking for a change in the way politics work?
Lots of great technical questions in discussion, I’m sure they’ve got plenty of challenges ahead of them, but this is clearly where we’re headed collectively. They’ll likely get sued too, and may lose, but that’s just the natural defense of any old guard protecting its obsolete fortifications.
Getting sued by dinosaurs is a sign you are doing something right
Wouldn’t you rather be ignored until you become so big as to eat the dinosaurs. Seems cheaper to be the meteor….
Ahem. Napster didn’t end too well.
Sometimes doing something right leads to a bad outcome.
Agreed. It may be bad for the disrupter but good for the world in that it paves the way for future innovation such as pandora, spotify, youtube etc.
They sure did. Napster paved the way for companies like Youtube, pandora and spotify, so they did something right too.
Um, how many jobs have Youtube, Pandora, and Spotify created with their “innovation” to replace the jobs in the content industries they destroyed?
Um, how many jobs have Youtube, Pandora, and Spotify created with their “innovation” to replace the jobs in the content industries they destroyed?
Um, how many jobs have Youtube, Pandora, and Spotify created with their “innovation” to replace the jobs in the content industries they destroyed?
I liked the disruptive consequences of napster, but the company itself was a criminal enterprise. Stealing the property of others is wrong, and that’s what they were doing, stealing.
One could say the same for Youtube then. It is too bad music labels and napster couldn’t figure out a way of working together.
Why is it “old guard” to sue about theft of services? It’s theft. That never changes, even in cyberspaces and even with the newest of the new. If you tap into somebody else’s pipe they have to pay money to maintain, you are stealing.
Artificial barriers like, um, not having a paid account at a wireless service. Little things like that, yeah.
Stanislav Shalunov cannot confirm or deny he is in the Pirate Party.http://3dblogger.typepad.co…
Is iOS last a political statement?
i sure hope so
Can’t Open Garden be easily copied & subject to becoming another utility that everyone offers?And are they currently charging for this app?Is there a risk that the ISP’s block their usage, same as some providers restrict tethering?
Good questions. You should have been on stage yesterday
Lol. Maybe they’ll chime in here.
I suspect it’s an app landgrab on the device(s). Carriers will put up all sorts of roadblocks going out over 3G/4G (which have already been mentioned elsewhere on this thread, so they’ll have to stay on the relatively free/low-cost wifi/IP transport nets back to the WAN to succeed. That’s why they’ll charge for a VPN and bandwidth guarantee (maybe share that with the carriers over 4G). The carrier model is messed up. This is disruptive. Other disruptors are Republic Wireless who have mid-layer controls and rely 70%+ on wifi access and 30% on Sprint’s data channel for voice and data solutions. All you can eat $19.99 or something like that.
The carrier competition to this is a Mi-Fi, isn’t it?
Yes. But it points to a whole host of inefficiencies in the traditional carrier model; mostly that they focus on average, not marginal, consumption and costs. It kills me that I have to pay $20 more for ZERO incremental net cost to the carrier to attach my laptop to my phone! They implemented the tethering charges when they had no data caps and people resold or shared data access with others. But with a data cap I am now being charged double! There were other technical and performance issues/setbacks for me when they forced us to move from cable to wireless tethering. The list of inequities goes on and on and on.
I was in a meeting held in a conference room once and someone made a comment that was really stupid, to which a German said, “That was stupid, I think you need to leave now and not waste our time any longer.”If Uberconference does that then I think that would be the most awesome product! 🙂
I am technically of German-descent (well, partially) and I have friends and family from various parts of Germany. They have a saying that always gives me a chuckle and it is a perfect companion to your story. The saying goes, “It is nice to be German — but not German to be nice.”Yes, it made me laugh how, when they dropped someone from the conference, they didn’t just say they hung up on him, their terminology was they “evicted” him. Cold! It was just missing the MP3 sound of a silencer bullet hitting the caller. ;P
Yes, our German descent makes us quite mis understood!
My BFF is a big German guy. He cuts to like no other. If only he could guard his temper more, and not verge into mean, just succinct, then we would always be on same page.
I know exactly what you mean. But there is an underlying thread of beautiful logic in there at the same time that is strangely compelling for those who are able and willing to disregard the surrounding shrapnel.
Agreed, partially. It has to do with temper and intention. I am very mellow, and need to not be surrounded by sturm und drang. Not my vibe. Takes a lot for me to either ignore or recover.
first step towards the metaverse maybe…
Kind of a neat comment on your part. There are a lot of people who don’t grasp what the metaverse really means.
I’m one of them…..?
It was a reference to Snowcrash Jason, well worth a read imo
Indeed. And in my view, Stephenson will regret saying he quote-unquote “got it wrong” in terms of the Metaverse big picture. The eventuality is clearly there and it will be better than what he ever described. Reminds me of when Einstein referred to the Cosmological Constant as his biggest blunder.
Irrevocably that was that was his second biggest blunder… but next to the ‘unified theory’ he was working on for 10-years.
I didn’t know he had said that Robert. I hope you are right
Yeah, me too!
I meant for my remark to be a compliment to @RichardF. Not trying to knock anyone by name. Just appreciating some genuine vision when it flashed across my screen.
I didn’t mean that – sorry.The ? was to invite an explan of ‘metaverse’. Yeah, I can look it up but that’s less engaging.
I am not too sure but … the following link provides the list of reel life couple who could have been a good real life couples … it includes Billy and Meg Ryan in “when Harry meets sally” and couples in Shrek made it to No. 5 !!! :-)http://www.huffingtonpost.c…
I prefer Plato’s republic to a SnowCrash future or what we have now, which could well head us there or someplace out of Idiocracy.
I don’t. Those gold people freak me out….
We need an alternative for the file system, I use shared Dropbox folders with dozens of clients which are happily syncing on my hard drive and I might loose track of this sharing with outsiders.Gmail search and archive solved the email chaos of folders and files.But Google circles and facebook lists and groups on social networks shows that we haven’t cracked data organization for other applications
Watched vid and realize my original comment is wrong. Still think this is a great disruption.
I joined FB a few months ago when a partner launched her business and need to link to comments from me as she promoted her site (it’s a social network.) I connected to 12 people. I’m not so inclined to do more, I guess a holdover from being a pseudonym and the reasons for that. I really didn’t want to join at all.I marvel at people in the chat thing all day. I see AVC as organic community of chat of current topics, and FB as random non-current people, things. How does anyone get any work done?
You are right. The bigger picture at this point lies with levels of experience regarding the computer/phone in the marketplace. You have those that get the chain letter links to stories and seem to think no one else has them. They pass that along. Then they get on FB and seem to think 900 million people look at their stuff. In the workplace, you have younger people who are referred to as computer wiz because their older family members don’t know about FB and you laugh because that is all they do… go to FB and games at the workplace.In your case though, you could do a FB as yourself, limit your network while doing pseudonym on Twitter and here, not mention any link to the Psued on FB. You might be able to keep some anon with that, and promote artwork done by some special kids in your neck of the woods.
You have described my engagement perfectly. Disqus and twitter as panterosa, and as ‘me’ on the dreaded FB. It’s all so overrated. I can barely post on twitter for fear of cluttering someone’s thoughts. We are so overwhelmed by noise. I hate being part of that. Which maybe makes me ultra boring to follow. #sobeit!
Don’t be fearful. Remember we have different stages of tech users and many don’t really understand. So the companies try to herd folks toward their sales pitch. As Temple Grandin observed way back, if you gently push the herd in a soft curve, they will move forward content, rather than trying to ram it down their throat moving straight on. So at this point, you have the large herd thinking they have so much, yet get little done.Twitter is short and to point. In your case, you can experiment tweeting philosophically and later read it and see how it plays in your head. DO NOT, tweet and then later tweet asking if anyone read the former, for it then looks like you are tweeting to yourself. Many will copy/paste something and have it appear it came from them trying to look authoritative. Since you know how wise you are, share it and remember you cannot force someone to learn, but eventually a greater number will notice.
True disruption doesn’t present at a conference.
I love this Comment! Its all I could think about as I gave a 4 minute pitch to a seed stage conference. What the fuck was I doing. I should have spend the time getting my product in the hands of users!
What if you were running out of money tomorrow.. and that seed conference managed to get you an investor who would keep you afloat and buy you some time..Wouldn’t that get your product to more customers over time?
You should be able to find someone without announcing it to the world, potentially killing competitive advantage
Yeah you definitely don’t want to use every avenue available to promote your product so that it can be disruptive. Definitely would not want to do that.
you’re right, you definitely don’t want to use every avenue available to promote your product #OpportunityCost
Since when do customers go to Techcrunch Disrupt?
True disruption does whatever it wants.
True disruption does what it needs
thats all i could think of watching this!
That’s a false dichotomy. Gotta be in it, to win it.
You can be in it by connecting with potential angels/VCs – announcing something to the world isn’t any more or less in it IMHO
Sweeping statements are prone to internal fallacy.
TC Disrupt is about disruption? Since when?
Is there a maximum physical distance limit between devices?
My guess is same as Bluetooth. It asked me to turn it on when I installed.
That would be disappointing.
It’s “approximately 20 meters”.I wonder if it can be boosted to a greater range?
Is open garden access + bandwidth aggregation? Or just access?
That is quite interesting – and definitely more disruptive than the other finalists. I could easily see it as being a valuable piece of the puzzle for the new hybrid mobile carriers that are starting to pop up, like Republic Wireless.
From yesterday’s post ….Every tool should nourish the things upon which it depends.
You say “This is a big idea. And I don’t know if they have nailed it.”…I say “This is the indicator for their first round readiness. And I don’t know if they have seen it”. 🙂
Funny when I saw the title, I thought we were going to discuss Gardening and Management, picking up on JLM & Charlie’s.
It’s a high power fertilizing and sprinkler system.
I’m installing sensors on top of my tomato stakes so it tells me how they are ripening & how much water they need based on the amount of sun they are getting. Then it will broadcast that data openly to other neighboring fields and it will distribute sunshine from areas that have it to ones that don’t. It’s like Open Garden for sunshine distribution. Anyone wants to invest?
I already have a global patent on that I’m afraid
You Troll !
Throw in something that is colour aware to guarantee the perfect moment of ripeness!
That feature will come after the funding in a v2 🙂
Of course, let’s not bloat the MVP.
Wait, You are going to do plant color specifications? We should talk.
It’s getting fancy now.Crowdsourced product management
Everything will be crowdsourced in real time, we just don’t have the tools yet. If users want to change something about a product, there will be a way for them to do this. (I think)
Sounds interesting, but I was speaking metaphorically along networking lines; as in “there is an ocean of capacity being sold one drop at a time.” That only works for wine grapes; not many other agricultural products. The bandwidth model is busted. Wireless can be a high-powered bandwidth sprinkler system. The world is going mobile. Just ask FB. I know, I’m a broken record on this lower layer bandwidth subject as much as KM is on 9/11. But I’ve got facts and solutions.
If you actually had sensors for ripening, I think there would be a market for that. Seriously, imagine vineyards which need to catch the right grapes at the right time for great wines…could make their lives so much easier….
Well, sensors exist already for the watering. Ripening needs a human visual inspection. Distribution of sunshine is the disruptive value proposition hereDistribution of happiness is a follow-on feature 🙂
If only we could distribute the sunshine 🙂 (It helps with happiness, really, I have one of those lamps for the winter for this very reason)
So cool. I grow tomatoes on a high floor roof top. They are quite good!
Full sun? that’s great.
Too much water and fertilizer and you kill tomatoes.
There’s a whole art to growing tomatoes…I love it.
I like this fertilizer, but don’t use too much. http://www.gardeners.com/Or…
Thanks but I don’t use fertilizer. Just good soil & bit of compost.
Yes, that’s ideal. I ran out of good soil and compost last year, so I began looking for some organic fertilizer to supplement my bad soil. Did not find Kelp (1-0-2) particularly useful. Biochar is also interesting. http://www.re-char.com/
Make your own compost, eh?
Not yet…I got compost from my friendly neighborhood grocer (http://www.cookbookla.com/)
When I was watching this yesterday, it reminded me of two things: First, one of the final scenes in “The Dark Knight” when Batman navigates the inside of a building by using a network of cell phones to triangulate his position; and two, how dissenters in Egypt in the first few months of 2011 used ad-hoc mobile mesh networks to communicate with each other and post to Twitter when their government shut off communications. So, when I saw this demo, it reminded me of another way the application layer and networks could be used in combination to disrupt the carriers, the feeling of “disruption” comes from an aggregate feeling of pent up frustration for never having a consistent data signal.
I told you that you should have been on stage. What was your favorite?
Sorry for the late reply, totally missed this notification. OpenGarden was my favorite, not sure any of the others truly caught my eye.
Semil, have you seen what the guys over at SwayMarkets are doing with their CarrierCompare app? I was talking with one of their cofounders last week and am excited to see how their larger vision unfolds. Right now the app is just for iOS, and helps consumers peel back the shroud of secrecy around signal strength. It’s cool, but their larger vision is way cooler.
Since when is a conference call app with a slightly different UI disruption…
you must be really young. I’m almost 50, but was AMAZED at how easy Skype was 5 years ago when I finally used it . .I wrote about it on my blog at the time. http://dantiernan.com/blog/…
I keep telling this to my dad when it comes to polycom equipment. *sigh*
Skype was the first widely-available VoIP application with free long distance to really nail the ease of use. It was very disruptive.What does this app do that’s so revolutionary? The interface is a bit different from other conference call apps but I don’t think it’s revolutionary.
I kind of agree. Set-up can be a pain, but sound quality is a MUCH bigger issue. Knowing who’s talking is a distant third.
Totally agree. When it comes to utilities all people care about is reliability.
have you seen what YourKarma.com is doing (part of the current TechStars NYC class)?i’m beta testing and i like the model
Seeing them today. But i dont like hardware. Ive got enough
fair point, but could be the trojan horse into the market
What do they do? Not clear from their website
Gaal’s blog post is absolute brilliance.Enthusiastic about learning more.
Which post? This one:http://blog.yourkarma.com/t…Enjoy.
Which post? This one:http://blog.yourkarma.com/t…Enjoy.
Fred, i met Micha 2 months ago. i was impressed by their technology. i think this could be something equivalent to data to what skype did to voice. meaning big big
Me too. If it “just works” like skype did
This is potentially big in the PAN and PAN/LAN interface. Bigger issues and costs lie in the LAN/MAN boundary across all layers and MAN/WAN as well. When the carriers are pricing themselves out of the market because of their monopoly structures and expensive 3G and 4G protocols, its only a matter of time before someone comes up with seamless solutions across all three boundary points. Then we are talking GRIM BIG! Francis McInerney at NorthRiver Ventures calls Wifi “wireless dark energy.” How apt. I’ve called wifi government mandated nano or infinitely reused cellular. They essentially mean the same thing in terms of their potential worth if harnessed correctly. Open’s scaling is partially predicated on solutions at other layers and boundary points scaling at, or nearly, the same time. I am working on some of those other things, so this is very useful.
Or it could become like IM: free & commoditized?
What is there layer 1-2 technology? Is it wifi/wifi as Ants mentioned or is it wifi/bluetooth? A key thing for them to solve will be chicken and egg and viral adoption. The beauty of the landscape is that there are all these devices ready for solutions like this if they work.
So funny – It was getting to end of day here and I saw a link on twitter to watch disrupt live and ended up watching the stream. First time ever I’m checking out one of these streams.. no idea why.And saw the end of gtar, uber conf, the 3d guys and of course open garden. And the moment you asked your question – Can I share my boingo wireless at the airport with the family? He said yes. And you went ‘sold!’ I was half willing to bet then that this would be your first investment this year.. and willing to bet it would be the topic of today’s post.
If they can make wifi both a radio and a repeater that is big. Been wondering about this. Any 802.11 experts on the thread who can expand on this?
If you want seamless communication without delay for surfing and real time services then you need two radios for wifi, transmitter and receiver; theoretically you can use one and switch back and forth with a data repository that load/unload, downside is huge battery consumption and complicated protocol to keep track of data packs found/lost, mesh grid ID handshake controllers etc. I looked into this last year and came to the conclusion that walking around like a wifi grid node will drain your battery in less than 1 hour, we tried it IRL as well and my HTC almost started to boil.
So I wonder what they are doing to prevent batteries from boiling.
well i have to get it to work first
I have great faith in Stas.
Its a nice idea, but I don’t know who its going to appeal to. I can’t see many “normals” going for it – there’s no real need for them. I can’t see techies going for it, there’s already other solutions they can build themselves which don’t devolve as much control to a 3rd party app.
political activists. i.e. arab spring, occupy wall st, etc.
Really? I can *maybe* see #occupy as using it.
The market for internet-service delivery is, by a nice irony, organized in a pre-internet way, dominated by legacy providers hiding behind outdated technologies with an incumbent-friendly regulatory environment. It is, indeed, ripe for disruption.
Yes. I was at a conference in DC this week that was all about this topic. Here’s a talk from former FCC chairman Michael Copps that gets into it (his argument is basically for govt to step up and treat this the way it treats other infrastructure: http://theslowhunch.net/201…
Although I don’t say this about everything, my fear is that government, in this case, is a part of the problem, especially local government. Washington can wring its hands but the power of the ISPs and telcos is largely in their influence at the local level. They dug up the streets (the thinking goes), so they get to decide what bits run down the wires.
Maybe we should start a lobbying group to get congress to treat internet as infrastructure….
The irony is that the Bells did that successfully and look at the mess we are in!
Hmm, then maybe we need to rethink policies around infrastructure…
Yes. Don’t want to self-promote, but I wrote about this issue before SOPA http://bit.ly/z85txa. Mayhaps a wee bit contrarian as is my wont.
Yes, but few in the capital community are a) aware of these issues or b) prepared to invest. Following the CLEC, muni-wifi, wimax busts and BTOP crowding out, the market is dead. Where there were probably 100 active, there are now 5-10.
I don’t see the solution coming down from the traditional infrastructure investors and operators, I see it bubbling up from below, with technologies like Open Garden and social innovations like KeyWifi (where I work — full disclosure).
A long long time ago, before the evil empire(s) there were fair fields filled with competitive service providers and investors who supported them. They’re all dead or widely dispersed throughout the galaxy! This new resistance needs more capital to succeed; it can’t just rely on the force. Sorry about the literary license. I agree with your assessment on “traditional”. A new networking paradigm that you and I are working on is developing and will win out.
It sounds like we’re on the same page. My theory is that next-wave telecom disruption will be social, and that capital will be needed when it’s time to scale, but before that, the social engine still needs to be proved out. Will these bottom-up grassroots collaborative-connection approaches be viral like (Fred’s example) Skype was? Skype grew because Skype users recruited other users.
Now where is the LIKE button when you need one?
no liking on this website!
I spent the beginning of the week in DC at the freedom to connect conference, which is all about how the state of network access in the US is fucked. Perhaps in true american style we’ll see a really disruptive solution, as opposed to the state-driven model (that is working in places like france and south korea, but is a tough sell here)
We were leading the charge until 1996. Until folks wake up to the fact that the foundational pricing elements/layers of the internet were a direct outgrowth of the competitive WAN in the mid to late 1980s, we won’t establish a good competitive/regulatory framework. Govt should manage scare resources (like spectrum and rights of way) and adjudicate monopoly/oligopoly pricing and/or interconnect barriers. 2 key things that people have to grasp is metcalfe’s law and marginal cost. They actually drive towards the free/subsidized model and ensure near universal service. This notion of networks as monopolies was a fallacy in 1913 and is even more so today. Also, metcalfe’s law (network effect) ameliorates the state vs federal battles that have plagued networks from the beginning. Some of these “local community broadband activists” amaze me when they talk about keeping traffic local. Guess there are never any clouds over their heads….
droppin the f bomb. i love it.
It’s clever, but unless I’ve missed the point solves a problem that’s somewhat unique to NA and a few peripheral EU member states. I suppose those are huge markets today, and will still be huge tomorrow, but from where I’m sitting it’s a struggle to get excited.
Great stuff – but have you heard of “Phonebook?” http://www.zerohedge.com/ne…
Is this different from the voxmobili app? This is upper layer stuff. Open Garden is lower layer stuff. Look for addressing and service creation exchanges in the middle layers to connect all the walled gardens in the upper layers and make them seamless with open gardens in the lower layers. Funny how the terminology works/scales both figuratively and literally.
that is funny
We had discussed this idea a decade ago but back then it required personal servers and Bluetooth. In 2003 or 2004, Palm bought a small Portland company called weSync that allowed families to share calendars. Of course they screwed that acquisition up. More recently I thought about similar idea in 2007 but iOS made that impossible then. It is awesome that someone is broadening it and working on it now. Big problem the big companies have yet to explore.
I personally was having a hard time imagining when I’d use this (which prob means it’ll be a hit). What caught my attention was a million downloads already. That’s certainly traction. I wish someone had asked them who their customer (early adopter) is. I’d be interested to know what the one million downloaders have in common.
Maybe Steve Job’s biggest, lasting legacy will be how he forced AT&T to accept rear-door access to Wifi as backup to crummy 2G throughput and coverage. 3G is not much better and 4G? Where’s that! Every smartphone user wants something like this; as well as laptops, iTouch’s, game players, etc….
OK, I see that. I’m a smartphone and laptop user. But I have a MiFi thingy for when I’m away from home. The MiFi thingy lets me share my 4G (ha!) connection with others if I want. So for me, I’m still trying to picture the situation where this tech saves my butt. Since I’m prob not an early adopter, then, I’m trying to get an idea of who is. There’s a million of ’em, so they’re out there 🙂
I use MiFi alot on my Droid for my laptop; share with my kids and other people occasionally. Hate the throughput. 4G will not get much better. I always look for Wifi connections directly to landline when/where possible. As someone else said, this tied to virtual networks or confederated networks like Boingo, FON, CableWiFi, etc… might get us off those 3G/4G nets.
A need for better mobile data
That’s the problem they’re solving, though, no? I was just thinking more along demographics. But maybe it’s not so important here, since the problem is universal…I’m always asked who my customer is and how I’m going to reach him/her. It would be interesting to hear Open Garden answer that one.
The customer is people with smartphones. Pretty much everyone with a smartphone in the US also owns a laptop or a tablet.
I love that you answered 🙂 Thanks!
first rule of startups: engage
Let me guess… the initials of the lone nutjob are… M. A.
It was me. Sorry for being obtuse.
I think the problem is with the format of the contests. This is the kind of product you need to use for at least a few days. Personally I was skeptical on technical grounds that it worked as described. But in real life I would have just tried it.
Did you have a chance to try it out by now?
no they seem to be in private beta
Stas is one of the co-founders. 🙂 And it’s open now.
We opened up to everyone since Tuesday. Where are you seeing private beta?We are getting about 300 downloads/hour, so most people seem to be able to get it.
oh, sorry. I’ll try it out. thanks
Were you on the panel?
Yes, Chris was on the panel.
I was hoping for an open source mesh to come together, but it’s hard to beat financial motivation :D.Do you think your company will ever open part of that network (coral reef in Dave Winer’s terminology vs a closed ecosystem).The business model would be different. Instead of pure IP, community, size and data (mining/analysis not ownership) could serve as a competitive advantage.
Mark, we’re building basic tech that improves Internet. If it’s successful, you bet it won’t stay proprietary.P.S. As it happens serendipitously, my work on BitTorrent congestion control is in the final stages of standardization by the IETF right now.
I love it when bittorrent coders with software named “Open Garden” tapping into other companies’ paid wireless services for free decide to make their own code proprietary.”Your information wants to be free; mine is available for a fee — or call me after we sell to Google.”Serendipitously? No accident, comrade. IETF is where all the technocommunists go to bang through their standards and interoperability demands while no one is paying attention.
So, if I understood correctly, the theory of open sourcery is that you liberate everybody else’s IP and paid services for yourselves to monetarize by scraping all our data to pitch click ads better. Sounds like a great society!
These are the attributes I value and believe can be built upon “community, size and data (mining/analysis not ownership)”IP is having sharp people who want to work with your company. Not some vault of secrets.
I did that today. So far its not working for me.
Fred, sorry it didn’t work for you. It’s still a beta app. Can you say what you did and what happened? Is Open Garden installed on your Android phone and a Mac? Did the Mac connect to the phone? (When that happens, the name of the phone is listed under the Open Garden icon while there is a connection.)
i will email you to take this out of the comment thread
“unanimous except for a lone nutjob who liked a different one”#Priceless
The first thing that came to my mind after I read about who won was how much of the judge’s personal biases/preferences weighed on that. Do we really need another conference call solution?I’m sure it’s a great product, and will be successful, but come’on now. This is the Big Idea ™ out of TechCrunch Disrupt?I’m with Fred on OpenGarden being the standout.
Keeping all legal issues aside, Meraki tried doing wireless mesh networking many years back (started off as the MIT Roofnet research project). At one point there was enough hype around their ‘Free the Internet’ campaign that there were rumors that telcos are actually getting concerned about a peer-to-peer free communications infrastructure (imagine Skype calls in the same city where all routing is done over devices owned by individuals and not telcos). That never really happened. Probably worth looking into what were the challenges they faced. Their focus on personal mobile devices is different, but other than that a wireless mesh is a wireless mesh – no new tech innovation there. Probably “making it simple” might be their strongest point (they mentioned other tech solutions like “compression at edges for faster downloads” in the Q/A, but each left me puzzled and wanting to ask for more details). The only sustainable application of mesh networking that I’ve seen in the past 10+ years is the mesh networking of the OLPC laptops in developing countries. Maybe Open Garden can change that. Who knows 🙂
The presentation sucked. I realize not everyone can be a Kutcher but I had a really hard time following his delivery. I tried to look beyond (like you do with a non-staged piece of real estate in shitty condition) but it was really difficult to understand.I also don’t think they communicated what they do in a way that I could summarize the value if I was telling someone why they should use this. I’m not even sure why I would use it.What you wrote “What is does is connect all of your data services on your various devices (and your friends and family’s devices) into a single network that all of the devices can access at the same time.” I can’t say even after watching what that exactly means.
While I am non tech & especially non HW, I like to think I have a few active grey cells remaining.From these posts I get that they share HW infrastructure device to device in someway. Peer to peer bandwidth sharing?
I read further about it (after writing this) and I was able to find out what they did.Anyway the point I am making is that you don’t get a 2nd chance to make an impression on investors. Either they understand what you offer or they drift off and think about sex. (Which is why car companies had pretty girls at trade shows?)It’s not whether some people in the audience understood or not. Anyone reading AVC could be making a presentation to a group that (if done the way this was with the lack of sparkle, polish and accent) could end up with a situation where one investor in your small town passes and you go back empty handed.I think a way to handle this would be to have a person who is able to take what the founders say (in hard to understand english) and echo it back with some funny summary that is easier to understand. That’s what I would have done to add a little pizazz.
If you have ideas about how we can communicate better, let us know.
Congrats on your startup Stanislav.I suggest you focus on the customer and the paint point in stead of technology. For example. ‘we developed a wifi sharing app that allows friends and families to share data connectivity seamlessly anywhere (in airport, hotel room etc) without doing anything.’ You want to play around with it but you get the idea.I know this doesn’t sound as grand as dynamic distributed mesh networks, but people immediately get how they can use it. Best of luck,
You short description could be ‘free tethering app’. It lis kie Mifi but its free and no extra hardware reqd.
great advice dasher
Your team is a smart group but I think that intelligence (as well as the accent) is getting in the way of your message being clearly communicated.To simplify the message I would take your product and pitch it to some ordinary people at, say, a Starbucks that isn’t located in silicon valley. Make note of the questions those pitched ask and their thought process which won’t be the same as yours is. Say you are doing a survey about a new product you are launching or whatever. Many times the things you take for granted when you have “domain” experience are things that completely fly over the head of a regular user. (And in fact I run into this all the time with end users where I say “give me the dnS” and they say “what does dnF do” (note the “F” they don’t even know enough to mimick my words if I say them fast.)As far as when you are doing presentations I would a) start with a clear statement as to the benefits of the product and what problem it solves first and b) get someone who can communicate it in a way that anyone can understand (the accent really blocked my understanding and I grew up in a family with accents. I could understand my uncle but others couldn’t as easily.)If you come up with a new pitch I’d be glad to critique it and also show it to some “normals” in the area that I live (which is suburb east coast).
dropping free advice. i love it.
I dunno, I got what they were saying VERY well without being particularly technical. The first guy said INTERNET EVERYWHERE, that couldn’t be more clear, even if English wasn’t your first language. Stas then said old companies never liked new things but claimed now they had adapted to things like Skype even putting it on their phones.Their pitch was to Fred, and maybe Arrington, the rest would be too conservative.
Had to wipe out my original comment after watching vid.Open Garden is disruptive and can lead to many developments. The money side can take care of itself and it should start as planned as Freemium.Jump in Fred.
Thank you. It’s also important to note that free is important because of the positive network effects. Faster growth = better user experience.StasOpen Garden
Yes, and keep on top of the growth. I know some were questioning the income issue, but to me, I see many ways to do that. Going with the “You Get What You Pay For” mantra works great if what is free in the first place is disruptive.In gaining investors/partners, go for those that will be useful regarding the issues of litigation/copycat. It is best to help the world while wearing a suit of armor that surprises those out to get you…
lets you create a mesh network that ties together all the Open Garden-enabled devices around you into one large network that then automatically shares Internet access and bandwidth between all of these devices. Basically, Open Garden wants to become a crowdsourcing platform for mobile connectivity.Above quote from techcrunch article. So if I understand correctly what they are offering this seems to be something that would be of interest primarily to students and tech adopters. When you take all the places you currently have connectivity I’m not seeing that much usage for this outside of those areas. And why I would run the app and share my connectivity as well. It has value but I’m not sure it has ubiquitous value and will be used by a large segment of the population. How big of a problem does this solve?
I am not so sure about this company. When asked about competition, they respond with the fact they have built up a lot of IP. That just tells me that they plan on suing other entrants into the space and not truly out innovating them.”We have built a lot of IP. We have a strong competitive advantage there. Competition is in the carrier network offloading business. That’s mostly hardware manufacturers building femotcells etc.”
seems like the kind of app that takes us beyond the nation-state and towards internet communities as the dominant form of governance, although the technology, while necessary, is not the truly challenging part. the truly challenging part is the political will. moreover, it is not just about the founders’ political will (although that is certainly necessary) but rather about the political will of all stakeholders — particularly initial customers.as will be self-evident to most, political will is remarkably lacking. the VC industry is busy fetching IPOs for their bosses in the banking industry (i.e. goldman, morgan stanley, jpm, etc) while most entrepreneurs are complicit in this game.old-timer kooks — i’m talking kooks who were kooking back in the 60s — thought 9/11 would be the big wake up call. new school kooks like myself expected an economic crisis, i.e. 2008, to be the wake up call. some progress is being made, but it appears as though significantly higher doses of psychological pain are needed before higher consciousness is chosen. perhaps the demise of the dollar and the onset of internet restrictions will be sufficient.anyway, while the technology is disruptive, it’s worthless without the political will needed to actualize the disruption. if anyone actually pursues and achieves this goal i consider it likely that they will change the world and possibly make an immense amount of money in the process. “next big thing” type of money.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury
Political will will come, people just need help engaging.
So I was just thinking a bit more on this. Aside from plain vanilla LAN access, other wifi drivers across various layers are BYOD, OTT and carrier offload (I was on 2 separate webinars on these subjects today!). This area of PAN mesh probably diserves its own term or acronym. Just as google came up with food/desserts for its OS names, maybe the AVC blogosphere (given yesterday’s and today’s threads) should come up with gardening terms to talk about open vs walled gardens and knocking down silos.
Fred, thank you very much for the kind words. Please let us know how your experience with Open Garden goes. It was a blast to participate in the conference.
Great presentation! A million users is really exciting. Are you comfortable answering this question here: do your current users share any particular demographics?
Mostly US-based. Otherwise mostly a cross-section of smartphone users.
frankly it is not working on my android/macbook comboi don’t know what i am doing wrong
Open Garden was a lot of fun to watch at Disrupt! lol my buddy and I were still talking about it today. I love their backgrounds and just who they are. They were like disruptive robotic rat machines. We looooooooove to be conneeeeeected 🙂
This is really powerful. Democratises internet access albeit data caps remain an overriding issue. The vision has huge potential though if they can pull off the usability side of things.
reminds me of where FON was going (sold to BT)
This mesh network offers the promise we’ve looked forward to for a long time.
I installed OpenGarden app on my Galaxy Nexus and I stop using MiFi. This is really great way to access internet without any friction. I love this!
Open Garden is really great app for configuring ad hoc wireless networks so that multiple devices can share exit and entry points to the internet, but I fail to see how it will disrupt the internet service providers, either mobile or fixed.To do that, one needs to create physical and TCP/IP routing paths from your end devices to an internet exchange point without using existing ISPs to transport your traffic. Disrupting ISPs is a real estate play and regulatory task. Open Garden does not help with this.Definitely nifty and hides a lot of configuration tasks from a consumer, but not disruptive to ISPs. It appears to be a feature purchase that a consumer communications hardware manufacturer would find attractive in improving their user experience.Firms that provide alternative methods of internet access in the USA like Towerstream and NetBlazr are closer to disrupting ISPs than Open Garden.
But Fred, what you REAAALLY liked about it is not that it wired all your devices together and all your “friends and family” — what you liked is that it enabled any *one* person like yourself who had a paid Wireless account somewhere to piggyback all their “friends and family” who *did not have* such a paid account on that service. In other words, it is theft of services. And the judges rightly asked if this company would be facing a lawsuit.You exclaimed “communism!” (only half in jest) when they answered your questions about the piggy-backing (hijacking of service) — as the video shows.My fundamental problem with you and your notions is that you always have aggressively believed that if you buy one piece of content, like a song, that “all your gadgets” should be able to “share it”. And that aggressive destruction of copyrighted material that you perceive “everyone” has is in fact only the desire of a narrow sector of wealthy geeks. Most people don’t have all those gadgets. Most people don’t need to spread a song among 16 things. Most people are content with just the i-pad and just the computer and don’t feel they have to have every other machine wired in.You used to limit this device demand only to your own owned property and devices.Now you’re saying “friends and family” — i.e. anybody and everyone, the entire collective! — should get to “share”.How on earth do you think content creators will ever make a living?! And please don’t tell me some myth about how some one guy you know makes money by giving away CDs for free and then licensing a jingle. That’s not a viable business model for the whole music industry.
my god. do we have to have this conversation for the twentieth time????? i have outlined how i think content creators are and will make money in this new modelif you haven’t listened or don’t understand, i apologize but i am not going to get into it again
Yes, Fred, we have to have this conversation for the 20th time, because for the 20th time, some product or service you are investing in or enthusing about is engaging in theft, pure and simple. And for the 20th time, you’re claiming that this “business model” is great because content creators will simply use it to give away their content for free, which you claim is a viable model because you claim that artists will gain recognition and people will either put tips in their tip jar, buy their content anyway, or buy custom content. This is the shill that you, Cory Doctorow and other hustlers of this concept put out, and yes, you’ve said it 20 if not 200 times.But it’s utterly fake and I think you know it at some level. You cite some musician who gives away music, then earns money licensing a jingle for an ad on TV from a wealthy ad company. So you predicate your technocommunism always on the existence of some wealthy capitalist still managing to survive in the wings somewhere who hasn’t been put out of business by this rapacious ecosystem.Then when I point out that most content creators will NOT be able to use this lovely Darwinistic “jingle” model, you disappear. You bat it away. You say it doesn’t matter, some will, it will be enough.It was one thing when you were endorsing everybody liberating their content and claiming anecdotally that enough people find the gold ticket in their chocolate bar because you could point anecdotally to cases — and usually they *are* cases of people like Doctorow who in fact make their living giving high-paid lectures about why everyone should liberate their content, so they can afford to give away their books!But now you’re going further. Now you are reaching in and “liberating” not only content, and not only services, but paid utilities of other people. You’re depriving telecoms, which you hate, of literally making their legitimate buck from their legitimate service. And you are doing this *only* because you as a venture capitalist need to reduce the cost of utilities for your various investments — telecoms are your sworn enemy simply because they exist. If it were up to you, Google would provide all phone service and perhaps land lines would no longer exist.It’s no different than a Russian “red director” tapping into a town’s electrical line without paying to make your product cheaper, then paying off the police not to notice and ignoring the ordinary consumer who has a power outage every night.As for these guys and how they literally will get paid offering their coding services for free, it’s not going to be from the fan club buying t-shirts or the tip jar. Instead, what is supposed to happen is that they live off angel or VC cash for a year or two until Google or Yahoo or some other big company buys them, you get your investment back, and they disappear into the Borg but as new millionaires.If you are a good communist, Fred, you should at least care about what this does to business, the economy, and people’s livelihoods. Content creators are destroyed (newspaper, book, music industries destroyed or greatly harmed) and then you’ll take down the giant telecoms next. In their place, you leave hugely distorted ephemeral companies that don’t even provide jobs. Instagram, a company valued at $1 billion, has…11 people working for it. The entire social media sector taken together of everything existing doesn’t produce even half the jobs of one AT&T or GM.The dislocation and havoc caused by your methodology will eventually be as great as your spiritual brethren in the early 20th century in Russia.
If the max distance between devices is approx 20 meters how is that particularly helpful in building a network between people? “It allows you to create your own mesh network and provision it to the people you want on it.” -Those people are self selecting because they have to be within very close range of each other. How is this useful if the people you want on the network are down the street or on the other side of town? I’m not sure I get it.
sits back…opens popcorn and waits….
Agree 100% Charlie. Good punch dialog.. but I disagree as well.
I responded to Andy with, “Sweeping statements are prone to internal fallacy” but your response is better than mine. 🙂
perhaps @JLM:disqus will finally get to break out those duelling pistols
@andyswan:disqus is too busy building his next company to get sucked into a flame war here.
I hope not, I like the rumble in the jungle when the swaninator and Charlie “the hitman” Crystle go toe to toe.
I hope not, Dueling pistols are not known for their aim
aim?! not very sporting of you, Shana.
I’m not pro-dueling 🙂
Deleted double post, but I’d add a Nacho Libre match with the Grimlock and add JLM as a ringman to either during the first bout.
That would be a conference panel I’d pay to see. Most panel’s suck, but how fun would a panel be where Fred tossed out questions posed by the group, Charlie and Andy got to answer, the audience voted and the winner gets a shot of Pappy. You’d have to figure after 10 or 20 questions it really would get interesting.
it’s not a flame war Dave, it’s banter 🙂
He’s too busy disrupting this post thread for that.
We have a version of that coming up at BlogWorld in NY June 6 with Fred, JLM, Arnold and I. http://www.blogworldexpo.co…
i am the encourager. that’s my role. that and bartending.
$350 for virtual access. :/
Sometime I’ll do a blog post on how I see you as a mentor, encourager is definitely apart of one of the themes
in that case, I’ll take a double. 🙂
Be sure to get a picture of him holding a white cloth and wiping down the countertop of his bar. 😀
Maybe someday. ;P
It might be audio livestreamed. I’ve asked them. If not, tweets.
With him serving me a drink too, right? 😉
Cool.And true, tweets could be just as good.I wonder if I could somehow find a way to get a free live stream if not.Maybe they or Storify wants someone to cover it / make a good Storification of it.If it was an option I’m not sure I could even physically make it to the event as I need to renew my passport still!
Right! ^^ That would definitely be suitable for framing.