RockMelt, ShopWell, Drinking & Partying, & More Xconomy News

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RockMelt, ShopWell, Drinking & Partying, & More Xconomy News Wade Roush 11/14/10 3:17 PM
I missed my window for sending out a news summary a couple of weeks ago (for good reason), so there's even more than usual to talk this time around. The reason was my vacation week in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I have a brand-new niece and a three-year-old nephew. Baby picture fans can check out the adorable Lucy Elaine Athey Roush in this Flickr set

I have to start out with a plug. My top work priority right now is filling the seats at Xconomy's first San Francisco event, an exclusive chat on November 30 with famed Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz. I'll be talking with Moritz about the trends shaking the venture industry and all the new funding options available to startup founders, among other topics. I'd love to see you at the evening event, which will be held at San Francisco's Kicklabs incubator; you can register at Eventbrite.

Speaking of events, the folks at the Y Combinator continue to set a high standard. At YC's "Startup School" event on October 18, I was most fascinated by talks from Quora founder Adam D'Angelo and investor Ron Conway, as well as Jessica Livingston's onstage interview with Mark Zuckerberg, which I captured on video.

And speaking of Y Combinator, I continued my series of profiles of summer 2010 graduates from the startup incubator with a look at OhLife, which makes it easier to keep a daily journal by sending out daily e-mail prompts asking "How did your day go?" All you have to do is reply to the e-mail, and your answer goes into a private locker on OhLife's site. Simple and brilliant.

While I was in Alaska, we published the longest story I've ever written for Xconomy -- look at ShopWell, a Palo Alto, CA-based spinoff of renowned design consultancy Ideo. The piece was so long we had to break it into three parts, looking first at the company's basic mission of providing personalized nutrition ratings for common products in supermarkets; then how Ideo attracted capital for the venture and engineered the spinoff; and finally, how the startup plans to win customers and make money (it sees shoppers as a giant focus group for information-starved product developers and marketers at the big food makers).

I stirred up some controversy among my Boston-area readers with a semi-serious October 29 column arguing that one way for startup entrepreneurs in Boston and other technology hubs to catch up with their peers in Silicon Valley would be to drink more and throw more parties. I pointed to the noticeably higher volume of after-work socializing among startup types here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and speculated that this form of networking is actually one of the keys to the region's innovation ecosystem. Some of the commenters were indignant, but most said that the pace of partying in Boston already seems to be picking up, which is a good sign.

I'm using a new Web browser these days: RockMelt, from the startup of the same name, which came out of stealth mode this week. In my November 12 column I reviewed RockMelt's innovative new social-media features, but expressed puzzlement over all the emphasis on a PC-only tool at a time when mobile apps and devices are finally unchaining us from our desktops.

On that score, regular readers know how much I love my iPhone and iPad, and I've had fun reviewing a number of iOS mobile apps for lately. One was AudioPress, a new iPhone app for organizing and accessing your favorite podcasts, streaming radio stations, and spoken-word articles. In a slide-show-style post on October 22, I also wrote about my 10 favorite photography apps for the iPad, from Color Splash to Flickr Photo Map. 

Finally, I managed to whittle away at my thick notebook of reported-but-as-yet-unwritten startup profiles. I took a close look at Zoho, which is challenging Microsoft and Google in the area of cloud-based enterprise productivity applications. I also wrote up my extensive interview with Vivek Ranadivé, founder and CEO of TIBCO Software, whose systems for real-time event monitoring and response powers the businesses of companies from Wall Street to the Las Vegas Strip. I also had fun profiling social media marketing startup Flowtown and dot-com-bust survivor BroadVision and covering the first crop of startups from San Francisco incubator AngelPad, the creation of seven ex-Googlers.

Thanks for following along, and I'll be back in touch after Thanksgiving.