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Jeremy Levine on why so many Silicon Valley investors passed on Pinterest

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

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$762.5 million in funding. A $5 billion valuation. 70 million hyper-engaged users who actually buy shit, and that’s just as of last year — this number is almost surely higher today.

And yet Pinterest doesn’t always get a lot of respect among many New York and Silicon Valley elites. Maybe it’s because 92 percent of its activity is generated by women, who are disproportionately unrepresented among venture capitalists and venture-funded founders. Maybe it’s because the network is favored by people between the coasts. Maybe it’s because the community is focused largely on fashion and food and other things real actual Americans aren’t afraid to admit they care about. Whatever the reason, as “New York Magazine”‘s Kevin Roose puts it, “You don’t see lengthy dissections of [Pinterest's] news feed algorithms, worried hand-wringing about its future, or personal essays about the emotional solace it provides during times of trouble.”

But as little respect as…

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“Kid, haven’t you heard of Friendster? Forget about it.” How Jeremy Levine missed out on Facebook

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

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“If you invested in every one of the ten next best VC investments, but you miss a Facebook or a Google, the next ten don’t add up to even one of a Facebook or a Google.”

Thus is the nature of regret in the venture capitalism world.

That quote was just dropped by Bessemer Venture Partners’ Jeremy Levine at tonight’s PandoMonthly in New York. Levine has had plenty of successes: Pinterest, Yelp, and LinkedIn, to name three. But the investment he’ll never forget is the one he didn’t make: Facebook.

In the summer of 2004, when Mark Zuckerberg split the East Coast for Palo Alto (looks like fun!), Levine was invited to speak on a panel at a leadership seminar run by his wife in New York. All weekend, some fresh-faced youth named Eduardo Saverin, then the CFO of a Harvard-based social network for college kids, followed Levine around, pleading with him to invest.

Upon…

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Meet AndRo.bot – my pet, hobbyist robot

Originally posted on Handy Hacks:

This post is formatted more like a scientific paper, and less like a blog. This is because I initially wrote this as a draft for a paper I was intending to publish. The version I ended up publishing turned out to be much more detailed and technical.

Abstract : This project uses Android, along with cloud based APIs and the 80c51 microcontroller, to create a software-hardware system that attempts to address several current problems in robotics, including, among other things, line-following, obstacle-avoidance, voice control, voice synthesis, remote surveillance, motion & obstacle detection, face detection and remote live image streaming. The rover, built upon a portable five-layered architecture, will use several mature and a few experimental algorithms in Web and Mobile Development, Computer Vision and Robotics behind-the-scene to provide its prospective user in defense, entertainment or industrial sector a positive user experience. A minimal amount of security is achieved using…

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Adrian Rosebrock ’14, Ph.D. Computer Science, in Catonsville Patch

Originally posted on UMBC Insights Weekly:

Adrian Rosebrock ’14, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science, was featured in a June 6th article for the online local news site Catonsville Patch. The article focused on Rosebrock’s development of a website and an application for iPhones called Chic Engine, which is supposed to help consumers locate clothing online and helps compare which colors and designs are available at which stores. Images can be uploaded to the site and compared with others available on Chic Engine, and features men’s and women’s shirts along with dresses, currently.

Speaking with Patch‘s Penny Riordan, Rosebrock described his motivation for starting the venture, saying, “I always hear people saying, ‘Where did you get that shirt?’ … This is the answer to that.”

Read the original article for the Catonsville Patch here for more details.

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Our Four Favorite Startups From The StartX Summer 2014 Demo Day

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

startx demo dayStartX, the Stanford-funded and affiliated incubator, just held the first demo day at its new Palo Alto-based office space. In an hour, 12 startups pitched their wares to investors and the press, showing products and services that range from a dating service for Chinese ex-pats to zoom lenses for next-gen smartphones.

In no particular order, these are the four startups that made our ears perk up during their presentations:

Nearpod – A mobile platform for teachers to use in the classroom. Rather than require teachers to mash a bunch of tools together to work with their school’s IT setup, Nearpod makes it easy to distribute presentations to whatever platforms students happen to have available. The startup notes that more than 2,000+ presentations are available on the platform, and teachers are already using it to show them to more than 5,000,000 students.

Gridspace – Captures business voice communication, transcribes with high fidelity, and pulls out…

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Meet the algorithm that can learn “everything about anything”

Originally posted on Gigaom:

The most recent advances in artificial intelligence research are pretty staggering, thanks in part to the abundance of data available on the web. We’ve covered how deep learning is helping create self-teaching and highly accurate systems for tasks such as sentiment analysis and facial recognition, but there are also models that can solve geometry and algebra problems, predict whether a stack of dishes is likely to fall over and (from the team behind Google’s word2vec) understand entire paragraphs of text.

(Hat tip to frequent commenter Oneasum for pointing out all these projects.)

One of the more interesting projects is a system called LEVAN, which is short for Learn EVerything about ANything and was created by a group of researchers out of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Washington. One of them, Carlos Guestrin, is also co-founder and CEO of a data…

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Colorado High Schooler Invents Smart Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Colorado has a history with gun violence so it’s only appropriate that 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, a high school student from Boulder, would want to apply biometric user authentication to firearms. Kloepfer just won the $50,000 Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge for his smart gun prototype.

Angel investor and gun reform advocate Ron Conway became the main backer of the $1 million Smart Tech prize to spur gun safety solutions earlier this year. “Let’s use innovation to bring about gun safety. Let’s not rely on Washington,” Conway told the SF Examiner in January. According to the Smart Tech Foundation, a total of 15 innovators will receive a part of that million dollar prize. Kloepfer is the first to get the award.

The gun works by creating a user ID and locking in the fingerprint of each user allowed to use the gun. The gun will only unlock with the unique fingerprint of those who…

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