After being in closed beta for nine months since last June, 5 Rocks, a Korean mobile game analytics startup founded in 2008, launched officially on April 9, 2014. The team has some serious firepower. Changsu Lee, the CEO of 5Rocks, led the tech team at GameON, a Japanese developer and publisher of video games and also worked as a product manager at SK Telecom, Korea’s largest telecom. Chester Roh, one of the co-founders, is an experienced serial entrepreneur. He co-founded 4 startups including INZEN, which went public on KOSDAQ in 2002 and Tatter&Company, a Korean blogging platform, which was the first company in Asia that was acquired by Google in 2008. He worked for Google post-acquisition and left in 2010. Both founders hail from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) – the MIT of Korea which has yielded a number of top programmers in Korea.
Founded by Yusuke Umeda, Ryosuke Niino, and Yusuke Inagaki in April 2008, Uzabase’s first product is Speeda, a company database information platform built for industry analysts. Two of the three co-founders were bankers at UBS. They teamed up with a systems consultant to form a trio who aim to upend the financial industry. Umeda told media website Tech in Asia: While the salary is great, we didn’t quite enjoy our work. I couldn’t find information efficiently to do my job well. At UBS, I usually had to work until midnight. A lot of needless time was spent on searching for information. It’s really inefficient. Frustrated with data digging, Niino and Umeda left UBS to build Speeda with Inagaki. It serves many of the same functions as Bloomberg Terminal but only better, faster, and sleeker. “Bloomberg Terminal is really difficult to use. Speeda has better UX and speed. We focus on usability,” says Umeda. A genius idea was born after 2 entrepreneurs grew frustrated with corporate processe. While Umeda has extensive experience in the financial industry, Speeda had little reputation back then, so it was really hard to convince content providers to work with them.
The world’s eyes are shifting toward India as the next big market to watch, especially for those of us who keep tabs on the global tech scene. It was inevitable, then, that people would start comparing startup ecosystems of the archetypal United States and this fast-emerging powerhouse. Almost like a right of passage, every major startup scene in the world gets stacked up against Silicon Valley as a bellwether for how far it’s come and how far it has yet to go. Whether a direct comparison ultimately benefits India or not is debatable, as many would argue India shouldn’t model its startup ecosystem after Silicon Valley, but it’s still interesting to see the contrast solely based on statistical evidence. That’s what TiE, a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives with roots in the Indus region, has done with its latest infographic. TiE’s graphic compares four major startup hubs in India with their theoretical counterparts in the US; Bangalore versus Silicon Valley, New Delhi versus New York City, etc. Each comparison shows the cities’ 2013 population, number of startups, amount of investment capital, number of IPOs, and average valuation per startup.
If you're anything like the average phone buyer, when you get a new device, your old one just sits in your drawer unused and unloved. SK Telecom thought of something much better to do with outdated gadgets.
The company gathered up devices from the past 30 years and connected them to a computer. Using the phone's start up sounds, they created a cacophony of noise that sounds exactly like music — maybe even an orchestra.
This creative kind of upcycling is the perfect way to remember the 30th anniversary of the Korean telecom company!
Eko is one of a new wave of stripped-down, souped-up business messaging apps. Today the Thai-American startup revealed that it has secured US$1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups and unnamed angel investors. Eko’s apps for iOS and Android are reminiscent of the simplicity of WhatsApp or iMessage, but also add in a few extra tools for enterprise users, such as tasks and networks. There’s also a web app for desktop-based users. The startup launched the service last September. The messaging app is up against a ton of biz-focused rivals, such as HipChat, Flowdock, Convo, Cotap, Fleep, and TigerText. They’re all treading on the toes of venerable enterprise platforms like Yammer and Campfire.
Zendesk, the cloud-based helpdesk startup, has made what looks like its first acquisition: it has announced that it is buying Zopim, whose flagship product is piece of live chat software that is used by some 120,000 websites. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we are trying to find out.
As a result of the acquisition, Zendesk will be phasing out its own chat software and integrating Zopim’s “superior” one into its platform, writes Adrian McDermott, SVP of product development, in a blog post announcing the news.
It's not every week that you see a tech founder who has worked as an analytics associate at Google and as a nurse assistant at a hospital. Sean Duffy has always straddled these two worlds: his mother was a nurse and he developed a fascination for medicine, but he never could shake the fact that he was "huge tech geek."
Secret and Whisper, the current favouruits of the anonymous messaging market, are all about broadcasting your innermost thoughts or general gossip in a feed format.
But the founders of Truth created an anonymous messaging app that sends private missives to people on your contacts list. It's incognito one-on-one messaging between friends.
When you send a "truth," you are assigned an anonymous username and avatar (one of an assortment of playful owls). If the recipient already has the app, the message will show up in the app's inbox. If they don't, a text message will display part of the "truth" and prompt the recipient to download the app.
Microsoft Ventures general manager Rahul Sood said that we won’t see another WhatsApp-style, multi-multibillion dollar acquisition for a virtually prerevenue company again. Ever.
“You know you’re in a bubble when you see people throwing money at dog-shit companies,” Sood said at the Cloud Factory conference, referring to copycat companies who are building strong buzzword compatibility but not much else. “We’ve hit the peak of the bubble.”
From technology to fashion, California is a hub of innovation so it’s no surprise that it’s also startup central. However, only one city can be crowned king (or queen) of entrepreneurship and that title clearly goes to San Francisco. It’s where scores of startups are born and thriving, but there has to be a best of the best. What are the top five SFO startups to keep an eye on in 2014, whether you’re an investor, looking for your next job or need a little inspiration yourself?