Islamic State militants behead American, threaten another

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 6:54 pm

In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded American journalist James Foley - and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say.





Uber API Terms Bar Developers From Working With Competing Services

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 6:44 pm
uber api So a quick side note that wasn’t really mentioned in the coverage around Uber’s big API announcement this morning: The on-demand transportation company will keep developers who are interested in using its API from integrating with other ground transportation services as well. Read More




Picnic Health narrows its focus to helping cancer patients with their patient records

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 6:30 pm
Picnic Health narrows its focus to helping cancer patients with their patient records

Above: Picnic Health's personal health record.

Image Credit: Picnic Health

As part of the Meaningful Use requirements in the HITECH Act, health care providers are now required to give patients access to a specified set of patient data. Providers will have to build patient portals at their websites containing the data, accessed through the so-called “blue button” on the home page.

That was good news for San Francisco-based health startup Picnic Health, which is in the business of collecting and organizing personal health records on its customers’ behalf.

Picnic Health was in the most recent batch of startups in the influential Valley accelerator Y Combinator. Y Combinator invests $125,000 in each company in the class.

To get the process rolling, a consumer signs up for the service, then signs a HIPAA release allowing Picnic to access their patient records data.

In some cases, part of the patient record data sits in some other health providers’ database, or the data is in paper form. Picnic can track down the missing data and pull it into a customer’s patient health record (PHR). It even has automated systems — web-based faxing and optical character recognition (OCR) — for digitizing paper-based health record data.

But healthy people don’t think much about their patient records. Chronically ill people do.

Of the chronically ill, Picnic Health believes, cancer patients have the greatest need to have their patient records organized, and they often have the hardest time doing it.

And, as Picnic Health founder and CEO Noga Leviner points out, the burden of collecting all of the data usually falls on patients alone. This can be an extremely daunting task, especially for people aren’t feeling well.

Liviner says Picnic Health is now working with several oncologists to further focus its product on the needs of cancer patients and their doctors. “We’re seeing a clear need,” Liviner.

Oncologists stand to benefit greatly from a unified, digitized, and searchable personal health record. Many patients come for treatment with very little patient information. At the other extreme, some cancer patients come to the oncologist with reams of paper that electronic health records systems spat out. So doctors often have to swim through a lot of useless printouts to get to the information they need.

“Oncologists say the best patients are the ones with binders,” Livener says. By this they mean the patients who have done the hard work of collecting their medical records in one place — a paper binder. But no matter how well-organized, the information in these binders isn’t searchable.

Picnic Health is simply doing what most startups must do, in any industry: It’s finding the place in the market where its product would be most valuable, and tweaking its product accordingly. Doing this in a smart, agile way can mean the difference between survival and kaput for startups.

Livener says that though her company is focusing on oncologists, the service will remain available to anyone who wants to stay on top of their medical data.

People who want to collect and organize all available patient records on a one-off basis can do so for $295. For people who want Picnic to collect their records and add any newly generated records to the PHR, an ongoing $40 per month plan is available.


HealthBeat — VentureBeat’s breakthrough health tech event — is returning on Oct 27-28 in San Francisco. This year’s theme is “The connected age: Integrating data, big & small.” We’re putting long-established giants of the health care world on stage with CEOs of the nation's most disruptive health tech companies to share insights, analyze trends, and showcase breakthrough products. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!











Startup Marketing And How Emotion Drives Customer Action

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 6:00 pm
Light Bulbs Put down the calculator and ignore the data for a second. Contrary to popular belief, startup marketing is not all about quantitative metrics and growth hacking. It’s time to start mapping out what creates a connection between you and your customer. Specifically, I am talking about driving customer actions by leveraging human emotion through the art of storytelling. Read More




VMware buys CloudVolumes, continuing its diversification push

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 5:30 pm
VMware buys CloudVolumes, continuing its diversification push

Above: The CloudVolumes team.

Image Credit: VMware

VMware has acquired CloudVolumes, a startup that built technology that helps companies provide complex applications to their employees quickly and easily.

Word of the acquisition came in a blog post today. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed; VMware will announce more details on the implications of the deal during its VMworld conference next week, CloudVolumes senior vice president and chief product officer Harry Labana wrote in the blog post.

The deal could help VMware better articulate the value of its software for desktop virtualization, which packages up the desktop experiences and legacy applications that employees use in such a way that everything can be run securely from devices other than corporate computers, even outside company offices. That can happen as a result of a desktop operating system like Windows running inside a virtual machine on a company server.

VMware pioneered virtualization technology — which enables multiple applications to run inside virtual machines on top of physical servers — more than a decade ago and still brings in much of the company’s revenue. But VMware has striven to sell additional types of enterprise software and boost its portfolio. The publicly traded company has made acquisitions in recent years to boost its portfolio in the areas of storage and networking, as well as in desktop virtualization.

VMware ought to take such steps as open-source and Microsoft virtualization software continue to take hold, along with the rise of emerging technology for running multiple applications on physical servers like Docker.

Now VMware’s virtual desktop assets stand to get stronger as they can take advantage of potential cost savings as a result of CloudVolumes’ more efficient use of computing resources.

CloudVolumes’ architecture “significantly reduces the infrastructure overhead and simplifies application lifecycle management,” Labana wrote in today’s blog post.

In a sense, the writing for the acquisition was on the wall. CloudVolumes has been a VMware partner in the past, and VMware has played up the startup’s capabilities and said it complements VMware’s ThinApp software for virtualizing applications for end users.

CloudVolumes can also quickly grab more server capacity for applications when demand increases. It works for VMware’s widely used ESX hypervisor software for creating virtual machines, and support for Microsoft’s competing Hyper-V hypervisor and public clouds like market-leading Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure were on the way, according to its website.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., CloudVolumes disclosed in July 2013 that it had raised $2.1 million in funding. Vish Mishra, a venture director at Clearstone Venture Partners, sits on the startup’s board.

Matthew Conover and Matthieu Suiche first started working on the CloudVolumes software in 2011.


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VMware (NYSE: VMW) is the leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions that enable our more than 500,000 enterprise and mid-market customers to thrive in the Cloud Era by simplifying, automating and transforming the way ... read more »












Check out these hacked Netflix apps for Oculus Rift & Philips Hue (videos)

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 4:38 pm
Check out these hacked Netflix apps for Oculus Rift & Philips Hue (videos)
Image Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s semi-regular company hack events usually produces some pretty awesome ways to combine the streaming video service with gadgets or third-party services — and this year is no different.

Today the company revealed a slew of hacked Netflix apps that enhance the TV show or movie watching experience in unexpected ways. For instance, there’s a “Netflix Hue” app that uses the Philips Hue smart lighting kit to change the color and intensity of the lighting to match whatever you’re watching. As you’ll see in the demo video embedded below, the ambient lighting changes to match the background when browsing through titles, and attempts to match the lighting while a video is playing. It seems like it works pretty well, and definitely something I wish Netflix would fully support for the cool factor alone.

Another developer hacked Netflix to work with virtual reality hardware Oculus Rift. The “Oculix” app allows you to view the Netflix menu as if it filled the entire room. You can even navigate using your hands, as shown in the video below. Other hacks include a text-based console version of Netflix’s UI called “Nerdflix,” an alternate Netflix UI design called “Circle of Life,” and a Google Chrome browser extension called “Netflix Mini” that displays a tiny video player in the corner while you surf the net.

While all of this year’s Netflix hacks are cool, I’m not sure any of them top last year’s Sleep Tracker app. (That particular hack saw company engineers use a Fitbit activity bracelet to sense when your body goes to sleep, and brings you back to the last moment you remember when you finally wake up.)

Check out Netflix’s blog post for a roundup of all the Netflix hacks from this year’s hack day.



With more than 25 million members in the United States, Canada and Latin America, Netflix, Inc. [Nasdaq: NFLX] is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. For US$7.99 a month, Netflix members ... read more »












Sony Doesn’t Know Why The PS4 Is Doing Well

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 4:32 pm
PlayStation 4 Earlier this month, Sony announced that it has already sold 10 million units of its PlayStation 4 game console since its launch last November, a record-setting figure for the company’s hardware. In an interview with Eurogamer published yesterday, SCE Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida admitted that the company doesn’t really know why its console is doing so well in… Read More




Coupa’s Explosive European Growth Drives New Hub in Dublin, Ireland

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 4:19 pm

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Coupa’s Explosive European Growth Drives New Hub in Dublin, Ireland

Check out our press release hub, powered by Business Wire. It's a one stop shop for industry announcements to help you stay on top of the latest technology and investment trends. Get the scoop here.

Dublin Centre to Serve as Customer Success Basecamp for Company’s Fastest-Growing Region

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–August 21, 2014–

Coupa Software, the leading provider of cloud applications for finance, announced today the opening of a new European customer support hub in Dublin, Ireland. The addition is a key element of Coupa’s global expansion plans and will accelerate the cloud-enabled automation of financial processes for businesses based in Europe, helping them save millions.

EMEA was Coupa’s fastest-growing region during the first half of 2014 as sales grew by more than 200 percent compared to the first half of 2013. EMEA customers have already processed over 2 billion EUR in spend to-date using the Coupa platform.

“With a relentless focus on customer success, we created this support hub to be closer to our customers in EMEA and to significantly enhance our global support capability,” said Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa. “Our customers in this region can expect immediate value as we accelerate and better localize our support capabilities. The Dublin team is a self-sufficient provider of local customer service and is a key element of our expanding global operations.”

The Dublin centre helps Coupa address requirements particular to the European Union such as data privacy and protection regulations – key factors for European companies considering cloud-based technologies.

The centre also expands the time-zone coverage of Coupa’s combined global customer support organisation, giving the company the ability to work directly with customers locally while benefiting from a more globally integrated technical support capability. Coupa estimates that it will reduce turnaround time for customer service requests by up to 50 percent in both EMEA and North America.

“We see Dublin as the ideal springboard for our expansion in EMEA. The Silicon Docks in Dublin are a rival to other tech hubs around the world,” said Alex Kleiner, General Manager, Coupa EMEA. “Given Dublin’s incredibly strong pool of engineering talent and its entrepreneurial spirit, it makes sense that so many Silicon Valley companies like ours are expanding or launching operations here.”

Coupa also announced it has named Kieran Brady of Coupa Dublin as the company’s head of customer support worldwide. As Vice President of Global Technical Support and Technical Account Management for Coupa, Brady will head Coupa’s support teams in Dublin as well as San Mateo, California and Reno, Nevada.

“We are thrilled to have Kieran lead our globally integrated customer support function from our Dublin centre,” said Kleiner. “These are the first of a number of initiatives in Coupa’s global expansion that help us scale quickly to meet demand while ensuring the top-of-class customer support that has always set Coupa apart.”

The news comes in a year of many major accomplishments for Coupa. In March 2014, Coupa announced $40M in venture capital funding to accelerate development and corporate expansion. The company announced a 100 percent increase in revenue in Q2 2014 over Q2 2013. Coupa was also recognized as a leader in the “The Forrester Wave™: eProcurement Q2 2014″ report issued by Forrester Research Inc. in May 2014. More information on Coupa’s second quarter can be found in the company’s second quarter 2014 momentum press release.

Coupa will hold its first annual Coupa INSPIRE EMEA conference in London on 16 October 2014. Coupa INSPIRE is an event where organisations can hear first-hand from Coupa customers, company experts and other industry visionaries on the power of cloud-based spend management. To register or learn more about the event, visit http://coupainspire.com/.

Coupa now has approximately 270 employees and expects to grow to more than 300 employees by the end of the year. Coupa is actively recruiting for its engineering, product development, sales and marketing departments. Learn more about opportunities at Coupa on the company’s career page.

To contact Coupa EMEA directly, visit http://www.coupa.com/our-offices or dial +44 (0) 207 203 2043.

About Coupa Software

Coupa Software is the leading provider of cloud-based financial applications. More than 450 customers in over 40 countries use the Coupa suite of financial applications to support business agility and reduce costs. Only Coupa provides a suite of true cloud applications for finance, including accounts payable, sourcing, procurement and expense management that allows customers to realize a return on their investment within a few months and savings that continually impact the bottom line. Learn more at www.coupa.com. Read more at our company blog, Making Cents or follow @Coupa on Twitter.

Media Inquiries:
Grayling for Coupa Software
Trafton Kenney, +1 415-490-3583
[email protected]


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A Second Act For The Internet Of Things

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 3:00 pm
Internet of Things smart home For the last few years there has been a lot of talk in the venture capital industry about automating the home and leveraging Internet-enabled devices for various functions in manufacturing and the traditional workplace. The first wave of this was the use of the smartphone as a remote control, like the Nest’s ability to allow consumers to control their thermostat using their smartphone.… Read More




What happens when a Tesla fanboy meets the Mercedes-Benz electric car

Wednesday 20 August 2014 @ 2:30 pm
What happens when a Tesla fanboy meets the Mercedes-Benz electric car

Above: Mercedes B-class electric

Image Credit: www.mbusa.com

When Mercedes-Benz contacted me last month to ask if I’d be interested in driving its new B-class electric, I thought they were either too sure of themselves or foolish. Why else would they ask a self-proclaimed Tesla fanboy to reconsider his “breakup” with them?

In February 2013, I wrote that after driving my Model S, I couldn’t drive my Mercedes–Benz anymore — it was like listening to an old cassette tape. I compared my Tesla to a supermodel working a Paris catwalk and the Porches and Ferraris owned by my friends to supercharged lawn mowers.

But this email from Mercedes-Benz was from a stodgy old German car company, not from a brash kid in Silicon Valley. So I decided to take them up on their offer.

My first reaction upon driving the car was that these people surely were smoking something if they thought I would trade in my Tesla for this four-door hatchback. It just didn’t have the acceleration or torque. It felt slow and small. But then I realized that wasn’t a fair comparison. The two cars are from different categories and price brackets. It wasn’t an either/or: The Mercedes is for a different market. The Mercedes public relations team had just been very creative in getting my attention.

The B-class electric is indeed a great small car. It is as quiet as a Tesla Model S; it drives with comfort and elegance. And it is relatively economical. The base price of the Mercedes is $41,450; the Tesla costs $69,900. (But all electric cars qualify for $10,000 tax rebates on those prices in the state of California.) Of course, you get a lot more in a Tesla, including a battery with twice the range, an Internet-connected dashboard, and an eight-year “infinite miles” warranty. But a Mercedes has its own old-world elegance.

The Mercedes is certainly better than the three other electric cars I have driven: the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius, and the Chevrolet Volt. It’s also about $10,000 more expensive. But it’s much better than any Mercedes I have driven. It accelerates without hesitation, doesn’t have the deafening engine noise, and gives you excellent control of the car with its regenerative braking system. It surely helps that Tesla makes the Mercedes B-class motor, as well as its battery technology.

What most surprised me was that Mercedes underestimates the range of its battery. Its rated range is 85 miles. In the Tesla, I usually allow for 20 percent more consumption than the rated range, because I drive the car … like a Tesla (you can’t resist rapidly accelerating the car to the speed limit — it’s like getting a spaceship up to warp speed). In the Mercedes, I made a trip of 67 miles with 80 miles on the power gauge and had 30 miles to spare. I drove in electron-conserving “E” mode because I was worried about running out of power, but I never get this type of efficiency when I drive in the similar “range mode” in the Tesla.

The real competitor to the B-class is likely to be the BMW i3 — and a slew of other luxury cars to be released over the next couple of years. Every car maker is surely preparing for the inevitable future when electric engines replace the primitive internal-combustion engines that have too long driven our automobiles. Bart Herring, Mercedes–Benz U.S.A. general manager of product management, believes there will be a transition period over a decade and there will be many choices of engines. But as he explained, you can expect that more and more “normal” cars in 2025-2030 will be battery-driven or hydrogen-fueled.

My bet is on electric batteries. Earlier this year, Tesla announced that it is building a “Gigafactory” — a gigantic $5 billion plant to produce 35GWh of battery storage a year (more than in all the lithium-ion batteries produced worldwide in 2013). Tesla set expectations that prices will drop by 30 percent when it starts ramping up production in 2017. The capability and range of batteries will undoubtedly increase significantly, and I expect that they will double their driving range and halve their cost by about 2020.

Even if fuel cell–based technologies win the race, electric motors will still rule the day. These technologies generate electricity as needed and allow for much faster charging than the Tesla type of vehicle does. Either way, we are going to see dramatic changes in the economics of the automobile industry. Electric cars will be cheaper, faster, and better in almost every way than internal-combustion alternatives. We will all be upgrading to clean technologies and enjoying driving our “spaceships that travel on land.”

Let me correct myself. I expect that our cars will be driving themselves … but that is a different story.

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke’s engineering school and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory universities. His past appointments include Harvard Law School and University of California Berkeley. You can follow him on Twitter @wadhwa.


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