April 22, 2011

Scenes from the Where 2.0 mobile conference

JD LasicaI caught a fair chunk of the Where 2.0 conference yesterday in Santa Clara, Calif., plus part of Tuesday’s sessions. I think it’s fair to say this is the best annual gathering of thought leaders in the mobile space — people from the future who beam to bring us up to speed on where this whole mobile revolution is taking us.

Here’s my modest Flickr photo set of 14 images.

I got to spend some time with two of the rock stars of the mobile world: Di-Ann Eisnor, VP Community of the cool beat-traffic-jams app Waze, and DJ Patil (another initial guy), chief product officer of the hot startup Color (and former chief scientist of LinkedIn). which recently raked in $41 million in venture backing.

I’m always impressed by the visual eye candy at Where 2.0 and this gathering was no exception. Check out the 90-second clip above, Waze Presents: An LA Traffic Story (music), which visually represents a 24-hour time lapse of traffic congestion, accidents, police activity and more in Los Angeles, based on the automatic GPS tracking in the Waze app as well as reports by Waze members. Fun!

Some other highlights from Where 2.0

Serendipity panel
Alexa Andrzejewski of Foodspotting, Jyri Engestrom of Ditto, Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze.

I didn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to, but here are a few other highlights and takeaways:

• Good to meet the folks behind SeeClickFix, a site that lets people report community problems to local government, and one that I’ve admired for some time.

“We’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”
— Jyri Engeström, Ditto

• My favorite new toy: the GroupMe app, a group messaging service for ad hoc groups of friends, family, co-workers, college buddies. Says co-founder Steve Martocci: “It’s like a it’s like a reply all chat room on your phone. … This is a very intimate tool that’ll buzz everyone’s pocket.” Yowza!

• 40 percent of ratings on Yelp is coming in through mobile devices. Yelp now has 50 million unique visits per month in eight countries.

• One out of every 10 Israelis (not just drivers) uses Waze.

Localmind is a new service that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on — right now — at places you care about. If it scales, this would be an awesome service.

• Loved this quote from Jyri Engeström of Ditto (just downloaded the app: “Looking to hang out? Find out what your friends are up to, have a conversation, or get a group together. Ditto makes it easy to get recommendations about restaurants, movies and things to do.”):

“A lot of the conversation that goes on at conferences like Where 2.0 is based on the assumption that we’re talking about places and buildings. But the resolution of social objects is getting higher and higher so we’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”

• Raffi Krikorian of Twitter: “People want to say ‘I’m in Vegas, baby!’ without giving away their exact location.” His hourlong talk about the different tiers of “local” was fascinating. I was also digging terms like “geohash.” And: “The holy grail of geo-location is to use some kind of GPS triangulation.” Follow him on Twitter at @raffi.

• Jack Abraham, Director of Local at eBay: “Any product that can be digitally distributed, will be.” He noted there were 465 million active IP addresses in 2009 and that number continues to balloon. Also: ecommerce still makes up only 5 percent of all commerce in the United States. Continue reading

April 1, 2010

4 minutes with the CEO/co-founder of Foursquare

A chat with the co-founder of Foursquare from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHave you heard of Foursquare? If not, you likely will in short order. As some people here in the Valley are saying, it’s the Twitter of 2010.

Yesterday, at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, I caught up with Foursquare CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley just after his eye-popping keynote talk.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch or embed the video on YouTube

For those who don’t know, Foursquare is a web and mobile app that lets its users to connect with friends and update their location. People in their 20s and 30s obsess over checking in at various locations to win digital badges. It runs on the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry, Palm and other devices.

Crowley says the year-old company is on track to hit a million registered users around May 1, which would be quicker than Twitter made it to a million.

In our chat, Crowley says Foursquare is about “trying to make the real world more playful (and) trying to reward people for doing interesting things.”

Merchants are starting to climb aboard the bandwagon, offering coupons and discounts for people to check in or create a swarm, where 50 people need to check in at a venue or event. Some are pretty funny, like the Seattle business Babeland, which wanted to give a free vibrator to its Foursquare mayor, or the medical marijuana dispensary in Beverly Hills that wanted to give a 15 discount to its mayor.

This kind of swarm behavior, which Howard Rheingold chronicled early on in “Smart Mobs,” was much in evidence at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival, where groups roamed from one party to the next following their friends’ leads on Foursquare. Continue reading