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Tech Crunch Archives - Page 142 of 142 -

How Twitter Uses Open Source

August 31, 2012 |

linuxfoundation_logo_BOX

Twitter’s Chris Aniszcyk gave a keynote address this morning at CloudOpen and talked about how Twitter uses open source.

His talk provided insights into how open source technology can also be used in an enterprise environment for scaling infrastructure. That’s an emerging topic of interest in the enterprise world.

Aniszcyk reviewed the open source technologies Twitter depends on to manage its service:

  • MySQL is heavily used for primary storage of  tweets. The company developed its own MySQL fork in the open to collaborate with the upstream community. MySQL is an open source relational database.
  • CassandraHadoopLucenePig and a variety of Apache projects are used within the Twitter  infrastructure to power services such as analytics and search. The company also contribute back to these projects. Twitter is a sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation. Cassandra is a NoSQL database. Hadoop is a distributed file system often used with higher level languages like Pig is a high level platform for big data analytics. Lucene is an open source search technology.
  • Memcached is used heavily in the company’s caching infrastructure to scale its ever-growing traffic. The company recently open sourced Twemcache which was heavily inspired by the Memcached code base. Memecached helps speed up dynamic web applications by alleviating database loads.

Twitter also develops software for its own purposes that it makes available via open source:

  • Iago is a load generator that was created to help test services before they encounter production traffic.
  • Zipkin is a distributed tracing system that the company created to help gather timing data for the services involved in managing a request to the Twitter API. In essence, it helps make Twitter faster.
  • Scalding is a Scala library that makes it easy to write MapReduce jobs in Hadoop. Scalding was developed for Cascading, a framework that is designed  for Java developers to build big data applications on top of Hadoop. It is known for its ability to abstract the complexities of MapReduce and making Hadoop clusters easier to manage. MapReduce was originally developed by Google for processing search data. Scala is a general purpose programming language. It expresses common programming patterns.

Facebook and Google have also open sourced their technologies. The results are evident in the enterprise. Hadoop, for instance, was developed primarily by Yahoo! It is now a cornerstone of the big data push we are seeing across the enterprise market.

(Thanks to Jen Cloer of the Linux Foundation for sharing the summaries of what Chris planned to talk about in his keynote.)


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Revealed: Mint.com Could Soon Fire Back At Simple With A Debit Card Of Its Own

August 30, 2012 |

mint

Earlier today, online banking startup Simple unveiled new reporting features that will allow users to see how much — and where — they’re spending money in their bank accounts. Those features seemed aimed squarely at Intuit-owned Mint.com, which has been one of the leading online budgeting and data visualization tools.

One advantage that Simple has over Mint and other online budgeting tools is that is linked directly to a user’s bank account, meaning all of the data and reporting that it generates is directly actionable. And it can do that because users have their own Simple-branded debit cards and checking accounts. Well, it might not have that advantage for very long, as it appears that Mint will soon introduce its own debit card, called the Mint Control Card.

An advertisement for the card was spotted hidden in Mint’s code and sent in by a tipster earlier today. TechCrunch developer Vineet Thanedar has confirmed that yes, the code is there — but of course, we’re not sure how long it’s been there or how soon before Mint.com’s debit card will officially be launched and advertised to the public. [Full text of the ad is below.]

While it’s unclear exactly how the debit card will connect with Mint’s service, the pitch seems strikingly similar to what Simple is trying to accomplish with its service. In particular, Mint’s promise to let users “know exactly where [they] stand” sounds a heck of a lot like Simple’s “Safe To Spend” feature, which takes into account a user’s income and regularly scheduled expenses to determine how much discretionary spending money they have. Also, the ability to “reach savings goals faster” is similar to Simple’s recently released “Goals” feature, which lets users designate a certain amount of money they’d like to save and have it automatically deducted from their “Safe To Spend” amount.

Both Simple and Mint.com are seeking to provide data visualization tools to allow users to see exactly where their money is going and provide advice on how they can make better spending decisions. But while Simple is slowly rolling out debit cards as part of its public beta, Mint already has a very large and engaged user base tracking their finances through its platform. That could be a huge advantage, if it can convert existing users to use the card. It also is advertising a 2 percent cash back bonus for purchases made using the card, which is another competitive advantage.

All that said, getting users to switch is a huge pain, even for existing banks. It will be interesting to see how both Simple and Mint fare as they seek to convert online users to their services.

Introducing Mint Control Card: control your finances.

Now there’s a debit card that helps you control your financial life and make smarter spending decisions.

Know exactly where you stand.

You’ll instantly know what’s left on your card and where you stand with your budget, in real-time, so you’ll always know what’s left to spend.

Stay on-track with your spending.

You can set spending limits in any category you choose, so you’ll never have a negative balance or pay an overdraft fee again.

Make better decisions and save more.

Reach your savings goals faster with controlled spending — plus 2 percent cash back on everyday purchases — so you can get to where you want to go.


TechCrunch

The Talented Ms. Hornstein: How @Shirls Fooled The Valley

August 29, 2012 |

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Silicon Valley is full of hustlers, and that’s often a good thing. But there’s a difference between hustling and flat-out lying, and when people deceive company after company, it’s time to call them out.

So: If you look up Shirley Hornstein online, you might get the idea that she’s one of the most well-connected people in tech. Here she is at the THRIVEGulu party last month, where Silicon Valley types got a chance to meet Hollywood geek heroes Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku. Here she is at the Crunchies. And here she is on a list of the top women in venture capital and angel investing (which was republished in Forbes).

When it comes to Hornstein, however, it can be hard to tell what’s true and what’s not. Take the photo at the top of this post — which was one of the first photos I saw when I connected with her on Facebook. Looks like she must be best buds with Justin Timberlake, right? Except that it’s almost certainly a Photoshopped fake, as you can see from the original photo, which we found through Google, below. You can see more examples of Hornstein’s Photoshop mastery throughout this post.

And she isn’t just claiming connections with with big celebrities. When I first met her more than a year ago, she kept talking about her connections to Sean Parker and Founders Fund — though I don’t think I ever pinned her down on her exact role at the firm. Looks like I wasn’t the only one she convinced. In fact, Founders Fund took legal action to stop her from claiming that she worked for them. You can read their full complaint below, but here’s a quote:

Beginning no later than July of 2011. Ms. Hornstein engaged in a pattern of conduct, which includes making false and misleading written and oral representations, designed to deceive potential business partners and employers into believing that she had prior and/or ongoing business and employment  connections to Founders Fund and its partners. In fact, Ms. Hornstein is not now, nor has she ever been, an employee or business partner of Founders Fund or any Founders Fund Partner or executive.

As an example, Founders Fund points to a blog post that was published on the Women 2.0 site where Hornstein says she ”has experience working with a number of Silicon Valley companies, including iMeem, Nitro PDF, Dropbox, and Founders Fund.” (The post has been taken down for reasons unknown, but you can read an archived copy here.) “That representation was false,” the complaint says.

The complaint also states, “On September 16, 2011, Ms. Hornstein again claimed employment at Founders Fund in an electronic communication to a major entrepreneurial networking company. That representation was likewise false.”

Oh, and this wasn’t mentioned in the complaint, but I was also told that Hornstein somehow attended Disrupt with a Founders Fund badge.

When Hornstein heard that I was writing this post, she emailed my editors to suggest that there were a lot of false rumors floating around about her. That may be true, and it’s also true you shouldn’t take everything in a legal complaint as objective fact. But I’ve spoken to a number of people about their personal and professional experiences with Hornstein, and well, the phrase “web of lies” came up repeatedly. (And for whatever it’s worth, it doesn’t appear that she has filed any court documents contesting Founders Fund’s claims.)

Anonymous personal gripes (everyone insisted that I not use their names) should probably be viewed with at least a little skepticism, but as everyone told me their story, each one followed some pretty similar patterns. When they first met Hornstein, she’d drop lots of names, claiming she was well-connected with celebrities and Silicon Valley bigshots. (One example: She said she was one of the first angel investors in Dropbox and helped them get into Y Combinator.) She’d find a way to get involved in each company, using promises of introductions to and meetings those aforementioned celebrities and bigshots. Then if she’d didn’t get caught fairly quickly on a falsehood, the charade could drag on for a while, though with suspicions about things like her celeb-packed Instagram feed and the excuses about why she couldn’t deliver. Until finally there was a lie too big to sustain, and everything came crashing down.

One of my sources told me: “If nothing else, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson — don’t trust anyone until they deliver.”

In the past year or so, it looks like Hornstein has been involved in some capacity in startups including Zaarly, Giftiki, and Postmates. I’m pretty sure there were more, but those are the ones she’s discussed with me in the past, or that I’ve seen her mention online. It’s hard to put an exact chronology together because most of the companies I reached out to declined to comment (Zaarly confirmed that she was worked as a consultant for several months in 2011), and Hornstein’s LinkedIn profile is pretty barren.

I also emailed Hornstein this morning discuss the specifics of the post, but I haven’t heard back.

Now, dragging up old accusations against someone who doesn’t seem to be working at a major startup or venture firm might seem mean. especially in the context of this cryptic-but-contrite tweet from February: “I get it Karma, I did some stupid stuff and now I’m paying for it but I learned my lesson. I *really* did. Please stop torturing me? “ And look, Shirley Hornstein has never done anything bad to me. Except, y’know, lie. It sounds like she’s done quite a bit of that around the Valley, and  it seemed like it was time to bring that into the open — before any other naive souls accept her friend request.

Founders Fund v. Hornstein


TechCrunch

After Removal By Apple, Privacy App Clueful Returns Via The Web

August 28, 2012 |

clueful home page

Wohoo this is one nice article. You can’t skip reading this. I found this one very interesting to read especially for the young who loves the use of high technology even those who are not that young anymore. Read on..

 

Back in May, security company Bitdefender launched Clueful, an iPhone app that looked at the other apps on your phone and identified what they were doing with your data. However, according to Bitdefender, Apple removed the app from the App Store in late June without an explanation.

Today, Clueful has relaunched … but not on iOS. Instead, it’s now a website where users can search for different apps and get basic facts like which ones are accessing your location, tracking your in-app usage, and reading your address book. For example, one of the apps that I use the most on my iPhone is Routesy, so I can look it up on the Clueful sit and see that it can display ads and track my location, while also encrypting my data. (Basically, nothing to worry about — which is good to know.)

Bitdefender’s Head of Online Threat Labs Catalin Cosoi acknowledges that iOS 6 will come with additional privacy controls, but he says Clueful still goes further. For example: “iOS 6’s privacy controls tell you that a certain app wants to read your address book. Clueful tells you whether the app uploads your contacts to its cloud.”

Cosoi also that Clueful wasn’t directly scanning the app activity on your device, so the app analysis and information is “not dependent on being an iOS app.” Much of this data is gathered from testing the apps in the Bitdefender lab, he says, and Clueful now offers profiles of more than 100,000 apps.

That said, Clueful still sounds most convenient as an app on your phone — the website is a clever workaround, but it’s still a workaround. Cosoi says Bitdefender wants to bring Clueful back to the App Store, but can’t offer a timeline on when that might happen.

“We are confident that we will, but in the meantime we’re addressing the issues around iOS app privacy and security with the Clueful web app,” he says.
TechCrunch

Confirmed: IAC Has Bought About.com From The New York Times For $300M In Cash

August 27, 2012 |

about.com logo 'do more'

Update: The news has now been confirmed. The $ 300 million acquisition price includes About.com, ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com and the deal will close in the next several weeks. Full release below.

Both AllThingsD and Reuters have reported a deal in the works, and we have now confirmed with a source very close to the situation that IAC is buying About.com from the New York Times Company for an all-cash sum in the region of $ 300 million. TechCrunch has also learned that the news is due to be made official either later tonight or tomorrow morning.

The source also confirmed that although Answers.com had also been interested in the information portal, its offer — reportedly valued at $ 270 million — was in debt and equity in Answers.com.

Whether it goes for $ 270 million or $ 300 million, it’s a discount on the $ 410 million the NYT paid for the site in 2005.

Alexa ranks About.com as number 37 in the U.S. in terms of traffic, and 80 worldwide. Its pre-Demand Media approach to acquiring content for low prices spawned some 900 subject sites with general interest information on topics like regional foods, parenting and technology. In that, it served as a counterbalance to the New York Times itself both in substance and in business model — the idea behind About.com being very high traffic and advertising sold against that.

However, whether it’s down to people’s online preferences (we have a million more places to get recipes for Red Velvet Cake now, although About.com’s is pretty good; and Wikipedia has become the default for so much general info) or Google’s search algorithm changes, traffic at the site ain’t what it used to be. In the last quarter, ad revenues were down nearly 9% to $ 25 million; operating costs were up by some 15% to $ 15.2 million; and the site had an operating loss of $ 187 million. In its quarterly earnings in July, the NYT wrote down the value of About.com by $ 195 million.

But if About.com’s declining traffic seemed to make the site less and less a good fit for the NYT, you can see how it would make more sense to have a home at IAC, which already owns a number of properties that also function on a similar business model. IAC can potentially pool its resources together to bring down some costs on the site, and About.com would become another outlet for the advertising network that runs across the rest of the IAC portfolio.

The New York Times Company Agrees to Sell Its About Group to IAC

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aug. 26, 2012– The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) has entered into an agreement to sell its About Group, which includes the Web sites of About.com, ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com, to IAC (NASDAQ: IACI) for $ 300 million in cash. The all cash transaction is expected to close in the next several weeks. The Company intends to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.
“About.com has been a strong contributor to our company since its acquisition in 2005,” said Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman, The New York Times Company. “About’s early expertise in search engine optimization, expert content and revenues from cost-per-click and display advertising made it a valuable component of our portfolio for the past seven years. This sale will allow the Times Company to focus on the development and growth of our core brands locally, nationally and on a global scale.”
Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those predicted by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include risks detailed from time to time in The New York Times Company’s publicly filed documents, including the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 25, 2011. The New York Times Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
About The New York Times Company
The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading global, multimedia news and information company with 2011 revenues of $ 2.3 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, About.com and related properties. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information.


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