Inside Jobs: What It’s Like To Be The Community Director At Polyvore

For this week’s episode of Inside Jobs, I sat down with Nadia Hussain, the community director at Polyvore.

Polyvore has attracted one of the largest fashion-focused communities on the web today with some 20 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, so the company’s community management team never has a dull moment. Hussain’s job is to interact with them on a personal level, and relay their feedback to Polyvore’s engineering and product teams.

Doing this means hours of emailing, chatting, and often speaking on the phone with people all over the world who use Polyvore. So it made sense to hear Hussain say that community managers often form real friendships while doing their jobs:

“I keep love letters on my desk. I have these cards that members have sent our team, and it’s just a nice reminder every day to just think about, this is who I’m supporting, this is why I do what I do, it’s for the community.

And what’s really awesome is we have members all over the world, and I think they’ve all invited me to come stay with them. We were thinking about going to Brazil for the World Cup, and one of our members was like, ‘If you come, you’re staying with me! I have a room for you, and you can bring your friends.’ And that’s really cool. We’re developing these really awesome relationships with our community members.”

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

Founders, Execs, Denny’s Respond To The CIA’s First Tweet

You can now stalk the CIA back. At least within the realm of social media.

The government agency made its Twitter debut Friday afternoon with a self-mocking tweet that brought the account 50,000 followers in under 50 minutes.

The tweet, which combined a sense of humor with brand awareness–two key components for a successful social media strategy!–was retweeted over 280,000 times and drew thousands of responses from other Twitter accounts. Entrepreneurs and business leaders were among those who tweeted back at the CIA with a few jokes of their own.

Box CEO (and Inc’s Entrepreneur of the Year) Aaron Levie:

Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies Council:

Howard Fineman, editorial director of Huffington Post Media Group:

Billy Chasen, founder of Turntable.fm:

Dana Brunetti, president of Trigger Street Productions (and Kevin Spacey’s business partner):

And then there were brands like Denny’s, which took advantage of the tweet’s popularity to do some social media promotion of their own.

Given that the @CIA has now reached nearly 600,000 followers in the span of three days, it might not be a bad idea to spy on the account. You might uncover a few social media tips.

 

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Singapore’s Fastacash collects an extra $3.5M in funding to help make payments social

fastacash screen

Singapore’s Fastacash collects an extra $3.5M in funding to help make payments social June 6, 2014at 4:52 pmby Josh Horwitz Share 3025450 Fastacash, the Singapore-based payments startup, announced today it raised US$3.5 million in funding from Jagdish Chanrai, principal at the Kewalram Chanrai Group and Golden Orile Investments, along with prior investors Jungle Ventures, Spring SEEDS Capital, and Funding the Future. The round will top up the company’s funding to US$8 million.

Fastacash lets people send money to friends and family over popular social networks. A user who might want to send US$20 to a relative, for example, might log into Fastacash’s mobile app, input the sum of money to send, and then direct the cash to Aunt Susie’s Facebook. The next time Aunt Susie checks Facebook Messenger, she’ll receive a link that takes her either to her own Fastacash app or a web app, through which she accepts the transfer.

Fastacash provides accounts both to consumers, who might use it to pay for last night’s drinks, or companies, who might use it to give coupons to customers. Virtual goods, music, and images can also be transferred through Fastacash.

The company also revealed it formed strategic partners with a number of payment providers around the world, including Skrill, India’s Oxigen, Russia’s Mobi.Dengi, Kenya’s Imperial Bank, and Vietnam’s Techom Bank.

The social payments space – and the payments industry in general – remains crowded with young startups, none of whom have emerged as a globally dominant player. Venmo once looked to be at the forefront of a then-nascent wave of mobile payment startups, but it’s been relatively quiet following its acquisition by Braintree in 2012. Square also has its own person-to-person payments feature, though that company appears to be facing some growth hurdles. Old standbys like Google and Paypal also have their hats in the ring. Fastacash appears to bet that remaining platform agnostic, useful for brands, and relatively low-fi (you’re basically just sending out a link) will help win over users.

-Courtesy: Techinasia

Thailand social media stats: 28 million on Facebook, 4.5 million on Twitter, 1.7 million on Instagram

Thai social media

Back in March, Thailand had roughly 24 million Facebook users and 1.5 million Instagram users. Twitter saw 35 percent user growth and 45 percent more use per user in 2013 compared to 2012 in Thailand.

The number has grown significantly since then.

Earlier this week at the Thailand Zocial Awards in Bangkok, some interesting numbers were presented. Zocial Inc, the company behind ZocialRank, which monitors social media trends in the country, hosted the event.

According to the company, Thailand has 28 million Facebook users, growing 53 percent faster than the previous year. That makes Thailand Facebook’s ninth biggest country worldwide. Thailand has 67 million people, so one-third of the population has a Facebook account.

55 percent of Thailand’s Facebook users reside in Bangkok (15.4 million people), followed by Chiangmai, Chonburi, and Nakhonrachasima provinces.

In 2013, women accounted for 51 percent and men accounted for 49 percent of Thai Facebook accounts.

57 percent of Thai Facebook users post pictures, the most popular feature, followed by check-ins (33 percent), sharing links (21 percent), sharing YouTube videos (3 percent), and posting statuses about themselves (2 percent).

Twitter and Instagram is also popular in Thailand. 4.5 million Twitter users and 1.7 million Instagram users live in the country.

Thai people spend about 3.7 hours per day surfing social media, just behind the people in the Philippines who clock in at four hours per day.

Zocial Inc also did a small survey on users of messaging app Line. It shows that from 688 correspondents, 87 percent use the chat app to send messages, 47 percent use it to share pictures, and 45 percent use Line for its games.

-Courtesy: Techinasia

Foodstagramming and Potato Hashtags: A Social Media Campaign to Sink Your Teeth into

The latest innovation in social media is made of potatoes. And, it’s fried.

Frozen food maker Birds Eye is pioneering a new method of social media marketing where consumers can literally eat social media for breakfast. Though, with Mashtags–fried potatoes shaped like emoticons and hashtags–it’s probably more enjoyable for lunch.

Birds Eye also just launched a pop-up restaurant called Picture House, wherein customers may pay for their meals simply by posting shots of their meals on Instagram. At the pop-up restaurant in London, which just opened, customers can simply upload a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #BirdsEyeInspirations.

The innovative marketing methods are part of a larger marketing campaign from the nearly 70-year-old Feltham, England based Iglo Group, which owned by European private equity firm, Permira. With the hope of doubling its size by 2020, the company is looking into the benefits of social commerce. Marketing director Margaret Jobling told Marketing Week last year that the social media push was intended to build brand loyalty among adult diners and families.

So far the strategy has included everything from Facebook campaigns to social media-themed products like Mashtags. Birds Eye’s most recent foray into social media is intended to promote the launch of its Inspirations line, a new selection of premium chicken and fish recipes.

“The Picture House appeals to the current trend of taking photos of our food and sharing them on social channels and we feel that this is an exciting platform on which to champion two new premium products,” Jobling told Marketing Week.

According to research conducted by Birds Eye, 52 percent of people in the UK regularly snap pictures of their meals. Nine percent admit they cannot go a single day without photographing their food. The jury is still out about just how much of the population enjoys eating hashtags. (Though, we’re pretty sure, it’d be at least 60 percent of Americans.)

Given the new report that Instagram has the highest rate of user engagement with branded content, it’s no surprise that Birds Eye decided to capitalize on the foodstagramming trend. The tag #BirdsEyeInspirations has already generated more than 400 photos on Instagram. The brand is encouraging social media interaction on its own Instagram account, where it uploads its own pictures as well as “regramming” from customers.

While there’s no evidence yet as to whether the campaign will succeed in getting people to actually pay for the Inspirations meals once the pop-up tour is over, customer reactions have been very positive. Instagram user Nick Hay (@heavysound) described his experience at Picture House as an evening of “exceptional food and excellent service.”

Chef Boyardee had better watch its step.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

SV Angel Leads Pinterest Financing At A $5 Billion Valuation

News broke this afternoon that Pinterest has raised a $200 million Series F valuing it at $5 billion. We’ve just confirmed that the massive round, which could fund Pinterest until its monetization makes it self-sustaining, was led by none other than  SV Angel.

We’d been tipped earlier that Andreessen Horowitz and others had invested with significant participation from SV Angel, which Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are a part of individually as LPs. We had also heard that SV Angel coordinated the deal for many of its friends and some of its LPs through a special purpose vehicle, as it has done in the past.

ReadWrite’s Lauren Orsini broke the news of the investment.

Pinterest PR rep Barry Schnitt confirmed the $200 million raise and $5 billion valuation in an email. He also confirmed that existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Fidelity, A16Z, FirstMark Capital, and Valiant Capital Partners went in on the round, which SV Angel led. SV Angel and its SPV (an investment entity created for a specific purpose) set the terms of the deal.

“Google is ‘I’m looking for this particular camera and model number.’ Pinterest is discovery: ‘What are the cool cameras?’”

When asked if this was the first in a series of later stage SV Angel investments, SV Angel founder David Lee told me, “Probably not, our core business is seed investing. This is not a change in our strategy or our normal day-to-day business, this is just a unique opportunity which speaks to how much we believe in the founder and the company. This is pretty rare.”

Previous investor Rakuten did not participate, and hasn’t participated since its first sizable Pinterest round, Schnitt said.

Pinterest held that the new money would be used primarily for international growth and monetization. The company plans to open worldwide offices beyond the ones it has in France, Japan and the UK.

Pinterest launched its first paid Promoted Pins three days ago, which actually should have clued us in to its need for capital — in order to further implement a product that could eventually make it profitable. To monetize, a company needs to develop a paying user base, prove out ROI, and then get clients to ramp their spend. That takes awhile, and some dough.

“It’s basically a visual commercial search” one person told us, of Pinterest’s lofty ambitions and valuation. RW’s Lauren Orsini described its goal as a “battle with Google,” referring to its mobile Guided Search product as one of the weapons in its arsenal.

Lee said that the Google positioning wasn’t exactly accurate, “I wouldn’t position it to take on Google, it’s a new platform. Whether it is planning your next vacation, planning your wedding, or planning things to buy for your home, all those activities blend discovery and search.”

It’s notable that vacations, weddings and home decorating are also all retail sectors with high cart sizes. And the ROI on successful ad conversions could be huge on these big-ticket items, so Pinterest could potentially charge sky-high ad rates.

“Google is ‘I’m looking for this particular camera and model number.’” Lee said, emphasizing the big difference between Google and his potential golden goose, “Pinterest is discovery: ‘What are the cool cameras?’”

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

As Mark Zuckerberg Turns 30, His 10 Best Quotes as CEO

In Silicon Valley years, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is over the hill. Today is his 30th birthday.

In honor of Zuckerberg’s big day and to mark Facebook’s decade-long existence, we’ve compiled 10 of the tech entrepreneur’s most interesting quotes over the years.  

Here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy.

1. “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”
(Oct. 2009)

2. “If I were starting now I would do things very differently. I didn’t know anything. In Silicon Valley, you get this feeling that you have to be out here. But it’s not the only place to be. If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston. [Silicon Valley] is a little short-term focused and that bothers me.” (Oct. 2011)

3. “I remember really vividly, you know, having pizza with my friends a day or two after — I opened up the first version of Facebook at the time I thought, ‘You know, someone needs to build a service like this for the world. But I just never thought that we’d be the ones to help do it. And I think a lot of what it comes down to is we just cared more.” (Jan. 2014)

4. “The question isn’t, ‘What do we want to know about people?’, It’s, ‘What do people want to tell about themselves?’” (Nov. 2011)

5. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” (Oct. 2011) 

6. “Building a mission and building a business go hand-in-hand. It is true that the primary thing that makes me excited about what we’re doing is the mission, but I also think, from the very beginning, we’ve had this healthy understanding which is that we need to do both.” (Sept. 2012)

7. “The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.” (Feb. 2012)

8. “People can be really smart or have skills that are directly applicable, but if they don’t really believe in it, then they are not going to really work hard.” (Oct. 2005)

9. “I don’t want Facebook to be an American company. I don’t want it to be this company that just spreads American values all across the world. …My view on this is that you want to be really culturally sensitive and understand the way that people actually think.” (June 2011)

10. “My goal was never to just create a company. A lot of people misinterpret that, as if I don’t care about revenue or profit or any of those things. But what not being ‘just’ a company means to me is building something that actually makes a really big change in the world.” (Feb. 2011)

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Puzzle Piece’s $19 Tablets Help Children With Autism Learn Social Skills

Almost as soon as the iPad came out, parents and therapists began incorporating apps into autism therapy. The devices have been found to be highly effective for teaching children social skills and helping with schoolwork. Many parents, however, cannot afford to buy a tablet for their child.

New startup Puzzle Piece hopes to make tech ubiquitous for all families with autistic children by making and selling an Android tablet for just $19. Instead of monetizing off hardware, Puzzle Piece sells subscriptions for educational apps that also cost $19 per month.

Puzzle Piece launched just a month ago, but it already averages 80 new sign-ups per day and has 1,000 active users. The site also includes an online community where parents can talk to co-founder Andrea Macken, a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), three times a week, and meet other families with autistic children.

Last year, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that an estimated one in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Puzzle Piece’s tablets and apps are aimed at children aged three to 10 years old, with plans to create material for specific ages and ranges of the autism spectrum.

Puzzle Piece’s other co-founder wishes to remain anonymous for now because he still works full-time at major tech company. He talked to TechCrunch, however, about the inspiration behind Puzzle Piece, which came while he was consulting for an applied behavior analysis (ABA) home therapy program that serves children with autism.

“They are constantly having to hire and train new people to be therapists. They go through a three-week training program, and the requirement is that they have some sort of undergrad degree. It’s very loose and there is a high turnover because it’s hard to work with kids who have autism,” he explained.

“It’s the classic question of how do you scale something once it has plateaued? I kept looking at the problem and what they were doing in the training.”

Puzzle Piece tablet

Puzzle Piece’s goal is to make technology accessible for all families affected by autism, regardless of their income level. The company found manufacturers who would be able to create cheap but reliable 7-inch Android tablets. Though each costs $32 to make, Puzzle Piece sells them for just $19. Each device has a dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, a memory card slot, front and back cameras, and a durable build.

An app subscription, which also costs $19 a month, includes 10 new educational apps each month for kids at different reading levels. The initial payment is $39.95 for a tablet and a month of apps. After that families can cancel their subscription if they wish but keep the tablet.

Puzzle Piece’s games are built to mimic the kind of interaction and work children do with ABA therapists and board-certified behavior analysts, since many families cannot afford therecommended 10 to 25 hours per week of home therapy, which can cost hundreds of dollars each month even with insurance.

Much of ABA focuses on character-based stories to help children learn social skills, like how to interact with other children or teachers and deal with frustrating situations. Some stories teach kids how to cope with bullying. Puzzle Piece plans to launch customized programs in a few months that will give parents 20 new apps per month that are tailored to their child’s needs.

The app applies a correction and reward system, similar to the ones used by ABA therapists. Instead of toys, however, Puzzle Piece rewards children who complete a story with games they can play on their tablets. Though the core of Puzzle Piece is its ultra-affordable tablet and apps, the company also places an emphasis on building an online community. In addition to regular online chats and seminars with Macken, parents can also connect with each other for daily support and advice.

For more information about Puzzle Piece, visit its website or ask questions on the company’s Facebook page.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

4 Ways to Fall in Love With Twitter Again

On the heels of its first-quarter earnings reportTwitter seems to be struggling to keep its users active. The social-media service added 14 million active users, up about 6 percent from the previous quarter, but not as much as some analysts would have liked.

Twitter now counts 255 million active users; Facebook has over 1 billion active users. Keep in mind that an active user as someone who logs into their account once a month, not someone who’s necessarily tweeting regularly.

So what to do if you are one of many that set up a Twitter account and abandoned it? Dust off that handle, and give it another try.

1. Be patient. Unless you’re Katy Perry or Starbucks, your brand probably doesn’t have a built-in following. Your first tweet isn’t going to get a lot of traction because no one knows you’re there. So start favoriting, retweeting and replying to content that interests you.

2. Follow more accounts. Find more accounts that are more relevant to your interests, but be selective. There are accounts that may have 100,000 followers, but they also follow 80,000. How in the world will that person ever see anything useful to them? At the same time, don’t feel bad for unfollowing.

3. Be diligent. Make a point to spend even five to ten minutes a day reading, favoriting and replying to tweets. Don’t be discouraged if your replies and tweets go unnoticed. The more you tweet, the sooner you will learn what works and what doesn’t.

4. Say something. Try not to go days between tweets. Whether it’s a discount code, information on sales or something fun, be active. That said, don’t tweet for the sake of tweeting.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com