Posts Tagged ‘Francisco’
Having just wrapped up Engadget Expand New York earlier this month, and with CES fast approaching, you’d think our Events team would take a breather. Fortunately for those of you in the City By the Bay, we can’t stop ourselves from putting on a show!
On December 5th, we’re heading to Temple Nightclub in San Francisco for Engadget Live (formerly known as Engadget + gdgt Live). While we may have a new name for the event, we’ll be celebrating the 5th anniversary of the first gdgt Meetup taking place right there in San Francisco.
Engadget Live is a unique event that isn’t a conference or tradeshow — it’s designed to bring gadget lovers and tech brands together in a fun environment where they can get to know each other a little better. Best of all, it’s free!
We’ll also have plenty of incredible tech brands at Engadget Live ready to show you their newest products and get your feedback on the spot. Speaking of products, we’ll also have tons of great swag and chances to win some amazing gear. Just look out for the flyer at the door to find out how to win.
Did we mention the event is FREE? Grab a ticket and don’t be shy about passing on the good word to your friends.
One more thing: If you want to be a part of the behind-the-scenes action at Engadget Live, we could use a few volunteers at the event. To learn more and to apply, head over to the volunteer form.
Twitter is awash in the tweets following the superheroics of a lone hero in San Francisco know only as the “BatKid.” BatKid happens to be a five year old named Miles, who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After his parents wrote to the Make-A-Wish Foundation about Miles’ wish to become Batman, San Fran came out in a stunning show of support for him, turning the entire city into Gotham City. And then the internet exploded.
On a local level, The San Francisco Chronicle released a special edition of its paper this morning in Miles’ honor, and reporters and citizens…
Fulfill five year old Miles. Since life isn’t reasonable, Miles is battling leukemia. And on November 15th the Make-A-Wish Foundation is going to turn the city of San Francisco into Gotham and Miles, functioning as Batkid, is going to save the day. If you stay in the area you can volunteer to help support Miles on throughout the day and if you boss asks why you need the time off you look them directly in the eyes and state, “For something far more important than this shit.”
The day begins with a breaking news story. San Francisco’s Authorities Chief asks if any individual knows the whereabouts of Batkid since he requires his aid fixing criminal offense and bringing the bad guys to justice. Our little Batkid, Miles, in training with grownup Batman, prepares to respond to the call! Obviously Batkid will be riding around the City, saving the day and doing accomplishments of derring-do! After saving a damsel in distress from the Hyde St. cable automobile tracks in Nob Hillside, and catching the Puzzler in the act of robbing a downtown safe, Batkid will consume his lunch at the Burger Bar in San Francisco – straight above Union Square. While at Hamburger Bar, he will get a special message from the Chief of Authorities to go to the window – where he will look down and see a big group of volunteers lifting and down requesting Batkid’s assistance. Why? Since the villainous Mr. P. will be kidnapping a well-known San Francisco mascot! The getaway car will show up on Union Square (a convertible so that everyone can see what is occurring), and the chase will be on! After catching Mr. P., Batkid will make his last stop at Town hall, where the Mayor and the Police Chief of San Francisco will thank him and give him the key to the city.
Excellent luck, Batkid. We’ll all be following your heroics throughout the day. If you require any help let me know, I have a man in San Francisco that can make things happen. Don’t tell me exactly how he did it, however one time he discovered my preferred ice cream at 4 in the early morning. “24 hour supermaket.” I STATED DO N’T INFORM ME. But seriously, get better soon, Miles– we’re rooting for you. Thanks to Rodger, cam, Meghan, Lisa and Brookie, who are firm believers Miles is going to win this struggle.
San Francisco asked tech companies to help local community groups in exchange for tax breaks. 21Tech’s charities, however, look an awful lot like startups.
Paul Sakuma / Via AP
Technology consulting company 21Tech is one of the six San Francisco tech companies earning 1.5% payroll tax breaks on new hires over the next six years in exchange for “giving back” to the community. The idea: to bring more tech companies to the city, but to make sure the massive influx of new, monied residents doesn’t come at the expense of existing neighborhood residents — a phenomenon recently described as “hyper gentrification.”
While most of the companies have focused on schools, nonprofits, and homeless shelters, 21Tech has taken a different approach: assisting two startups with getting bids on government contracts.
21Tech first proposed its plan to the city as follows: It would help small local businesses register as minority- and women-owned small businesses, which would give them priority status for getting discounted government contracts. 21Tech would help them navigate the whole process, including bidding for the government deals. The city didn't specify what kind of businesses they had to be, only that they somehow benefit the Mid-Market area.
The city did not outright dismiss the concept. “We didn't specify the sort of business,” Bill Barnes, the city administrator overseeing the tax break process, told BuzzFeed. “I know in Mid-Market, a lot of individual sole proprietors that are struggling with rent are PR or marketing or startups. That is the business mix that exists in the area.”
Whether these count as neighborhood businesses is a matter of technicality. So is the question of whether they qualify as minority-owned or women-owned businesses, or whether they really need much help in the first place. The question of whether their existence and success helps the neighborhood, however, is not. It should be possible to determine if Regroup, a mass messaging platform, and DelC2, a business and international transaction consulting group, have any true relation with and impact on the Mid-Market neighborhood. There is scant evidence that they do.
DelC2, according to their website, is an “international network of professionals in the United States and Spain” that helps clients “develop global strategies” by providing “business and international transactions solutions.”
Information about the company itself is limited. It has no records on LexisNexis. According to city records, its address is the tony Marina district. Its website lists a Google Voice number and a list of advisors. 21Tech helped the company register as a small, women-owned local business by listing one of those advisors as the owner.
DelC2 did not respond to BuzzFeed's emails or phone calls. But one of the advisors listed on the company's site told BuzzFeed he has no relationship with the company beyond a single conference call. He subsequently got his name removed from the website.
The other company, Regroup, isn't located in the Mid-Market area either. It is registered at a Mission District address, four blocks from Zuckerberg's $ 10 million pied-à-terre. The CEO, Joe DiPasquale, splits his time between New York and San Francisco.
DiPasquale founded Regroup while getting his MBA at Stanford. The platform, which allows companies, universities, and local governments to send simultaneous mass messages via email, text, social media, and voice, started as a service for Stanford students.
In 2008, DiPasquale raised an initial $ 2 million round of funding, mostly from prominent angel investing groups. He himself is an angel investor as well as a venture investor at an early stage and structured growth capital firm, and has worked in investment banking at Deutsche and done strategy consulting for Bain, IBM, and McKinsey.
At a recent City Hall meeting, 21Tech introduced DiPasquale to the community board as the poster boy of their work helping the local community.
When asked about the two companies' relationship, DiPasquale told the board that he met the 21Tech CEO several years ago at a Silicon Valley event, long before the tax breaks were conceived.
Questions were raised as to whether Regroup qualified as a minority-owned business. 21Tech argued that it did, because the CEO is gay.
In its October six-month progress report, 21Tech reports that it has registered Regroup as a small, locally owned business. According to city records, it has not.
Reached by BuzzFeed, DiPasquale said he didn't know much about how the tax break program worked. He seemed genuinely concerned: He couldn't remember the name of the committee he spoke before at City Hall but also seemed anxious to get off the phone. He has not responded to follow-up inquiries. Whether he knew he was helping 21Tech get tax breaks remains unclear.
21Tech did not respond to multiple inquires from BuzzFeed.
According to its six-month report to the city, 21Tech has helped the community in other ways, including taking an online pledge to keep streets clean, hiring a summer intern from San Francisco State University, telling staff about a local street fair with emails and a poster in the break room, posting jobs on the city website, going to local restaurants — a list on which it included Subway and Starbucks — and having the local Bike Coalition talk to employees about biking over lunch.
Barnes said he and the community advisory board are in the process of reviewing 21Tech's case.
He and the community board have asked 21Tech for additional information. The company will appear before the board next month to answer this and other questions about its six-month progress report.
“The intent is good, but they haven't verified the deliverables,” he said. “Our big focus is how are these benefits serving the geographic area.”
The city of San Francisco this week launched a social network designed to help citizens prepare for, and respond to, natural disasters. The website, called SF72, allows users to create emergency plans, stock up on supplies, and, in case of an actual emergency, receive real-time updates on evacuation routes. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management launched SF72 on Thursday, and plans to release an accompanying smartphone app in the future.
The idea, according to site developer IDEO, was to make emergency preparedness less scary and more social.
“We found through research and user testing that people were intimidated by the types of preparedness information available because it tended to be overwhelming,” Kate Lydon, IDEO’s…
A start-up founder posted the top reasons why he hates the city. Now locals are giving him a taste of his own medicine.
Yesterday, Peter Shih, Y-Combinator grad and founder of Celery, posted “10 Things I Hate About You: San Francisco Edition,” a detailed screed against the city on Medium. The item has since been removed, but you can see it in its entirety here.
In the post, which quickly made the rounds online, Shih lists off an unsavory string of people and things he hates, including homeless people and poor dirty people on public buses. Shih doesn’t like the weather either, complaining that it acts “like a woman who is constantly PMSsing.” He had choice worlds for ugly women or, as he calls them, “49ers who are 4's but behave like they are 9's”. He even hates the city's “transvestites” (as he calls them) and bicyclists.
For San Francisco — a city with an already strained relationship with the wealthy tech community — the post has prompted an outpouring of equally harsh reactions online and in the streets.
A post on local blog, Uptown Almanac, entitled Tech Founder Complains About the Shithole City He's Forced to Make His Millions In,” tagged “Hey Peter Fuck You,” tells him to just go home.
People on Reddit weighed in. While there were those who supported Shih's complaints — particularly about the poor Public Transit system — many took offense at his language, calling it “misogynistic,” “vitriolic,” “entitled, condescending and annoying.”
“Man, I agree with at least half of his points, and he still manages to make me hate him by the end. That's impressive. (But seriously, Muni sucks)” wrote one commenter.
People have been plastering the SOMA neighborhood with these posters
Starting today, San Francisco residents will have something else to brag about besides their quality of life and hosting tech extravaganzas: free WiFi. The silicon valley hub joins New York and parts of France in receiving the service from provider GOWEX, which is now live in districts like Union Square and Marina thanks to 450 smart WiFi zones. As with the Big Apple, residents and tourists will see download speeds up to 1Mbps, while GOWEX will see dollars from carriers (via network offloading) and advertisers in return. To use it, you’ll need to download the free iOS or Android apps from their respective stores — which we might just do ourselves, considering a certain little developer’s conference in town at the moment.
This is a computer graphics clash in between the forces of Star Wars and Star Trek in and above San Francisco. Who gains? I’m not saying, that would be a spoiler. I’m joking, the video’s called ‘Death Star Destroys Business’. It’s a special prolonged re-release of this crappier variation made in 2009. Can you think I remembered that? ME NEITHER. It resembles how some days I can’t remember my ATM PIN however I could easily stand there singing the whole f \*\*\* ing DuckTales signature tune. Whoo-oo!
Struck the jump for the video.
Online relief efforts such as #BostonHelps are inspiring, but haphazard and confusing. How San Francisco is building a social network — for disasters.
When a disaster strikes, the first thing people want to know is what happened. The second? How can I help?
Efforts to offer help online are often scattered and confusing. Within minutes after news of the explosions in Boston spread, people began tweeting offers of help with the hashtag #BostonHelp. Not long after, Google created a people finder doc. The Boston Globe created another Google doc where people could offer up housing to those in need. Both circulated the internet, largely through Twitter. Lots of people signed up to help, but few were connected with people in need.
“I got at least 20 emails, DMs, [and] calls, but in the end no one needed our extra beds,” says Benjamin Maron, who repeatedly tweeted about his home and other services available. However well-intentioned, it was an admittedly odd fit — a Sandy-style relief effort for a human act of violence.
What’s become clear over the last year is that there's is a need for disaster and crisis coordination online, beyond hashtags. And San Francisco, the earthquake capital of the country, might have the solution.
In collaboration with the design firm IDEO, the city is creating a social networking website and app to connect people who want to help with those who need it. Through the SF72 platform, you will be able to preregister your home, supplies you have — say, an emergency generator — and relevant skills, such as emergency first aid. Instead of scanning hashtags, people will be able to simply log in to a preexisting community, knowing there will be specific offers for help organized by neighborhood.
“We looked at everything from CB radio protocols to earthquake apps, as well as emerging and established social platforms,” says Kate Lydon, who led the project for IDEO. “The central insight that SF72 is built upon is this: in the event of an emergency, human relationships and a community network are more important than a backpack filled with supplies— that people might not know how to use and are often out of date.”
Most government emergency response departments, including FEMA, use social media to communicate with the public. But they aren’t enabling conversations between other people looking to coordinate. As we saw during hurricane Katrina (and to a lesser extent Sandy), FEMA's immediately ability to help can pale in comparison to what regular people offer each other on the ground, almost immediately. Coordinating that help is essential.
“We want to make it simple and take fear out of it,” says Francis Zamora, spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM). “It appeals to people's values. We live here for a reason and this is our home and we want to be a part of it and make simple connections with our neighbors.”
The city did a soft launch in January, collecting user feedback, but the service is still in beta. “We are dreaming big right now,” says Zamora. “As we go into the second phase of the build out, we want to see what will work for people. SF72 can be anything.” The next build-out phase occurs in mid-May.
The stores will promote all of Google's flagship products — including Glass.
Google is planning to open retail stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to a source familiar with the plans. The company has already begun hiring staff, who are being trained in how to explain and market Google products — including Glass — in stores. It’s likely that the company will open stores in more locations, but SF and LA will be among the first.
Rumors that Google was opening its own retail spaces by the end of the year began circulating in February, and were spelled out more clearly today at 9to5mac. The reports indicated the shops would be selling Android and Chromebook-related products, as well as Glass.
Google has been expanding its retail plans in other ways, too. Google already has kiosks at Best Buy locations where Google-trained employees demonstrate Chromebooks. It's also been testing a same-day shipping program for online purchases in San Francisco, which could position it to compete more directly with Amazon.
The plans may shed light on another storyline at Google: Earlier this year, Google's Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android, flatly denied the rumors altogether. “Google has no plans, and we have nothing to announce,” Rubin told the audience at an international mobile industry conference in Barcelona. He downplayed the value of brick-and-mortar retail, too, saying consumers “don't have to go in the store and feel [products] anymore.” A month later he left his post as head of Google's Android division.
As for what the stores will look like, we can expect plenty more leaks; for now, however, Google is remaining silent. A Google spokesperson has not returned a request for comment.
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