In this issue we asked our favorite product designers, pundits, visionaries and angel investors what products they loved in 2010. We're certain that their selections will suck a week or two out of your life, and a couple hundred bucks from your bank account. Don't say we didn't warn you! Vote for your favorite products of 2010 in the LAUNCH "Best Products of 2010" survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/bestproductsof2010. What did we miss? Tell us - @Launch / #launch.
Jason & the LAUNCH team (Carolyn, Kate, Kirin, Krute, Mo, Nick & Tyler)
Producers' Picks: Best Products of 2010 from 16 Insiders
1. Pishevar: "It's going to be one of the foundational Internet brands."
2. Kalanick: "They're f$%king legitimately awesome."
3. Borthwick: "It came of age in 2010."
4. Zappacosta: "It's a web-based password management solution that just works."
5. Spivack: "I would gladly use it instead of XM Radio in my car."
6. Gold: "Parents can no longer hate video games for making their kids couch potatoes."
7. McLeod: "It made me have happy giggles that only well thought-out tech can bring."
8. Boggs: "Huge time saver for me - especially around tax time!"
9. Pandya: "The impact has been undeniable to artists, geeks, & children."
10. Holovaty: "My home internet connection is 2x faster than with my previous router."
11. Howard: "They put a beautiful spin on task management."
12. Staff of reddit: "It's like The Sims, for guys, and dangerously addictive."
13. Horn: "This is going to make donations 10x easier in the new year."
14. Williams: "I'm a junkie, can't travel without it."
15. Rosenthal: "It's become essential for my team when we're traveling to new cities."
16. Kedrosky: "It finally made me upgrade from my cracked & busted iPhone 1.5."
[[ Editor's Note: We've cut down the responses to limit the number of duplicates - Dropbox, Google, Apple and Quora were BY FAR the most popular among those we polled. ]]
1. Shervin Pishevar, Founder and Angel Investor
[ http://www.pishevar.com/ ]
Quora is going to be one of the foundational Internet brands of the new decade. It will change they way we seek answers to questions and democratize the process of asking those questions of almost anyone regardless of status and influence. Quora will change the way we blog, the way we search and the rate of human knowledge distribution.
[ http://www.quora.com/ ]
2. Travis Kalanick, Founder, Red Swoosh (acquired by Akamai)
[ http://akamai.com ]
Google put out some real products, that I'm not sure they get the love in the top 10 lists, though they probably should... Google Voice, Gchat, Chrome are f$%king legitimately awesome products that depend on network effects that finally hit critical mass in 2010.... they definitely don't get enough credit for these... also add Gmail's Priority Inbox to the list.
[ http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/ ]
3. John Borthwick, BetaWorks
[ http://betaworks.com ]
HTML5 came of age in 2010. Lots more needs to happen, but look at Chrome Apps like Tweetdeck and marvel at what you can now do within the browser. Remember Andreessen saying he wanted to reduce the OS to a buggy set of device drivers? Well after 15 years, it has happened.
Dropbox v1.0.10 is a big step forward in letting me manage everything, in the cloud. The team over at Dropbox were nice enough to upgrade me to 300GB, and I have pushed pretty much everything into it.
group.me: love how light its touch is, SMS for groups, simple and very powerful.
letterbox: I used a lot of plugins and shortcuts, but I think this is the only one I have used all year and not upgraded or switched off.
[ HTML5: http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html ]
[ http://www.dropbox.com ]
[ http://group.me ]
[ http://harnly.net/software/letterbox ]
4. Marco Zappacosta, CEO, Thumbtack
[ http://www.thumbtack.com/ ]
Passpack is a web-based password management solution that just works. As more of the tools and services we use in our personal and professional lives move to the cloud, managing passwords for all of them becomes ever more difficult. This is particularly true in a business setting where there are a myriad of shared accounts to manage and coordinate. Passpack finally makes it easy to keep all your personal and shared passwords in a secure online repository--once you set it up, you'll never go back.
[ http://www.passpack.com/en/home/ ]
5. Nova Spivack, CEO, Lucid Ventures
[ http://lucidventures.com/ ]
I love Pandora. It's a delightful product and in 2010 they not only got through some difficult times economically, but they seem to have become even more mainstream and visible. Every time I or my wife use Pandora, we both remark at how great it is. It is one of those rare products that delights again and again. And then we usually say, "Why don't we use this more often?" There is no question that Pandora has cracked to the code to the future of radio (and hey, why not do the same for video too?). But THE question for Pandora is how to get it more integrated into the consumer's daily work flow? I think the best place for Pandora is in car stereos. I would gladly use Pandora instead of XM Radio in my car.
I really find Techmeme useful for tracking the most current conversations taking place in the tech industry. I would love to see the same concept happen across more subject areas – I think the concept could be a win with consumers if it covered sports, entertainment, gossip, etc. Now perhaps there are already similar services in those categories that I don't know about, but that is precisely the problem: Nobody has taken the concept of "curated conversations" and branded and owned it for all categories. Seems like an obvious play for the future of news.
I read The Huffington Post many times a day, every day. It's a fantastic read, always full of just the right mix of news and fluff. Whether you want to know what's going on, or just kill time, it always delivers. And it's just so satisfying to have an alternative to Drudge for breaking news and gossip. What I like best about HuffPo is that they have created a very engaging front page – they do a great job of roping me in to read stories with interesting headlines and graphics. And the constant stream of new, generally intelligent, but not overly intellectual, content, always keeps me reading more.
[ http://www.pandora.com/ ]
[ http://techmeme.com/ ]
[ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ ]
6. Shawn Gold, CEO, Cocodot
[ http://cocodot.com ]
Kinect for Xbox 360 is the definition of "Game changing" technology. It is a controller-free gaming and entertainment experience that enables users to interact in the gaming experience without the need to touch a game controller. Users effect the game experience with gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images. Parents can longer hate video games for making their kids into couch potatoes.
7. Thomas McLeod, Co-Founder, Pagelime
[ http://pagelime.com ]
The Watch Diary: Obscure but I really dug the concept. I still like to write things down, especially personal stuff. I always struggle with finding a good way to "time stamp" pen and paper stuff. This feels like both a useful way of handling the situation, and I dig the original design.
Netflix Streaming: While it premiered before 2010, it really hit this year. Pushing it as a wide platform play, modifying the entire company's mission statement, and making it available on almost every product in my life, really was a game changer. Automatically resuming movies where I left off across hardware platforms made me have happy giggles that only well thought out tech can bring.
[ The Watch Diary: http://bit.ly/eVRg8c ]
[ http://netflix.com ]
8. Eric Boggs, CEO, ArgyleSocial
[ http://argylesocial.com ]
Slipstream is a Google Chrome plugin that makes it easy to filter your Twitter stream. I use it everyday to hide check-ins, irritating memes, and other annoyances from my stream so that I can focus on the content that I care about the most - makes my life soooo much better.
Shoeboxed is a mail-in service that digitizes your mountains of unorganized paper documents (like receipts and business cards), extracts the data using OCR, and organizes everything neatly in an online account. They also have a great mobile apps for iPhone and Blackberry. Huge time saver for me - especially around tax time!
[ http://plugin.slipstre.am ]
[ http://www.shoeboxed.com ]
9. Shawna Pandya, Co-Founder, Civiguard
Twilio. One of the most powerful trends of the past decade has been the advent of platforms that empower the user to unleash their own creative forces on the world. The App Store has turned the average Joe into a smart phone developer.
Twilio (one of our service partners) has done that for the SMS and voice sphere, and they do it right. iPad. Cliched? Maybe, but you've got to admit, the impact has been undeniable to users, artists, geeks, and even children. ...And CiviGuard has never looked better. ;)
Google Navigation: As far as smart phone apps go, this one is an easy A. (I may be biased because I am severely directionally-challenged). Free, voice-search enabled, far more accurate than my early 2000s-era car module...and did I mention free? I was never lost again after I found this.
[ http://www.apple.com/ipad/ ]
[ http://twilio.com ]
[ http://maps.google.com ]
10. Adrian Holovaty, Founder, Everyblock, Django
[ http://everyblock.com ]
Netgear Rangemax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router. I never thought a router could make such a difference. My home internet connection is two times faster than with my previous router (!), plus it has a really cool feature where you can set up a "guest" wifi network that doesn't have access to whatever private files you have on the "real" network.
Intellitouch PT10 guitar tuner -- Has a really nice glow-in-the-dark feature for tuning at dark gigs.
[ Netgear: http://bit.ly/fAg5KY ]
[ Intellitouch: http://bit.ly/hKOUKu ]
11. Justyn Howard, CEO, SproutSocial
[ http://sproutsocial.com/ ]
Wunderlist is brilliant. Those guys are exceptional UX designers and they put a beautiful spin on task management. For some reason the popular task management tools have been painfully slow getting tasks synced across devices – these guys knocked it out on their first try. I'm not sure exactly what their secret project is [ http://www.6wunderkinder.com/ ], but I can guarantee I will pay for it, and use it.
[ Wunderlist: http://bit.ly/dTCClO ]
12. Staff of reddit (via Erik Martin)
[ http://reddit.com ]
Minecraft: It's like The Sims, for guys, and dangerously addictive. Players exist in a massive game world made up of mountains, fields, rivers and lakes. There is no set goal, and players are free to create anything they want with the resources they collect. Castles, giant floating water slides, a massive replica of the Starship Enterprise.... The game came be played solo or with groups of people, and is popular for supporting private servers that allow large communities of people to collaborate in the same game world, mining and building incredible structures. Android: Hands down. It has completely changed the mobile landscape, far more than competing phones have "changed everything". Android was the first with front-camera, first with 4G, and has the first pre-release dual core mobile devices.
Yammer (and the Gabble client for Mac): reddit's staff is located in a few different cities and time zones. we all work at various times of the day & night, so Yammer has been a great replacement for email threads and group IRC chats. With email and IM communication was too distracting from current tasks and it was too easy for things to fall through the cracks, but we've been using Yammer with different groups set up and it's made an improvement.
WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. Bigger than just a web app, WikiLeaks reflects a re-balancing of power to the anonymous, distributed World Wide Web. [Julian] Assange and his website could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn't matter, because a hundred more would pop up the next day -- this is the new world we live in.
SleepPhones: If you listen to a lot of podcasts or music while going to sleep, these comfy headphones are a welcome alternative to nighttime cord entanglement and ear canal damage from sleeping with traditional headphones on. Just don't wear them in public.
[ http://www.minecraft.net/ ]
[ http://www.yammer.com ]
[ http://www.wikileaks.org ]
[ http://www.sleepphones.com ]
13. Andrew Horn, Dreams For Kids
[ http://dreamsforkids.org/ ]
Small Act makes social media simple for non profits. You can compose, listen and track all of your social media accounts in one place. Saved us tons of time, helped us track engagement and identify new partners/donors."
Square. Ummm WOW. This is going to make donations ten times easier in the new year. We can now accept credit card donations at fundraisers and programs without having to take CC info down on paper. The Square Hardware and iPhone app are free and the processing rates are commensurate with industry norms."
[ http://www.smallact.com ]
[ https://squareup.com ]
14. Josh Williams, Gowalla
[ http://gowalla.com ]
Leica M9: a beautifully "analog" digital camera
Tripit.com. I'm a junkie, can't travel without it.
Fitbit. Just got one. I can tell I'm going to be hooked. Love stats!
[ Leica: http://bit.ly/idbymV ]
[ http://tripit.com ]
[ http://fitbit.com ]
15. Jeff Rosenthal, Co-Founder, Summit Series
[ http://summitseries.com ]
Fast Society: Short-term group-based texting app- works like BBM groups, but for all phones. It's become essential for my team to communicate when were traveling to new cities, running around festivals and conferences together etc.. super cool..
[ http://fastsociety.com ]
16. Paul Kedrosky, Early-Stage Investor
[ http://paul.kedrosky.com ]
Hardware is the new software for me:
* TV. Gorgeous design, well-executed, and a smart re-spin of a previously indifferent product.
* MacBook Air 13. Another great re-spin of a product that hadn't impressed me. Now best laptop on market.
* iPhone 4. It finally made me upgrade from my cracked and busted iPhone 1.5.
Synology DS-410 Smart, simple, fast home & small-business NAS.
[ http://apple.com/ ]
[ Synology: http://bit.ly/fycj2v ]
<Redacted>, former publicly traded dotcom CEO
ambien (zolpid em) and provigil (modafinil)
LAUNCH 004 Survey: Best Products of 2010
1. Which product did you love most in 2010?
g) Other (please specify)
2. Favorite mobile device?
d) 'Dumb' phone
e) Other (please specify)
Take the whole survey here:
LAUNCH Conference Announces Partners Google and Sequoia Capital
Today we are delighted to announce our first two partners for the inaugural LAUNCH Conference: Google and Sequoia Capital. Given the track record of these organizations, we're humbled by their early support.
Google has grown from a cold start to nearly one billion global users and has had an endless release schedule. Products include epic winners like Google Maps, Android, Chrome and Chrome OS, and Gmail, (which more than 50 percent of you use to read this very email). They've also launched experiments including Google Wave, which was (if not a massive commercial success) certainly a thought bomb that has resulted in an open source project with the potential to impact many startups.
[ http://www.google.com ]
The startups that Sequoia Capital has recently had the privilege of serving includes YouTube, Zappos, AdMob, Greendot, LinkedIn, Kayak, Amobee, Meebo, Jawbone, Dropbox, Kenshoo, Bump, AirBNB, Tumblr and Evernote (to name a few). They have been supporting entrepreneurs and empowering founders to build world-changing businesses for decades. A number of their partners will be participating in the event -- before, during and after!
[ http://www.sequoiacap.com ]
LAUNCH Conference Early Selection: 10 of 40 Companies Chosen
We've been meeting with more than a dozen startups every day to find the 40 that will take the stage and present their game-changing companies, products and services to the world in February. We have already accepted 10 companies to the 1.0 (new companies) and 2.0 competitions (existing companies with new products or pivots).
If you know of any startups that are launching soon or existing companies with killer new product releases, please do an email introductution to Jason Calacanis (email@example.com).
We're accepting anything awesome and new -- from a two-person startup no person has heard of, to new products from larger companies including Facebook, Tesla Motors, CISCO, Yahoo, AOL or Microsoft. There are only two rules for submissions: "new" and "cool."
LAUNCH Conference Tickets & Scholarships
Our goal is to make the LAUNCH conference the greatest place to see and launch products that will change the world.
A secondary goal is to make the event accessible to everyone, and we're doing that in two ways:
1. Ticket price: Startups can attend LAUNCH for $360 with the discount code LAUNCH4, and everyone else can attend for $900 with the same discount code. That's more affordable than even the most egalitarian tech conference in the world -- South by Southwest Interactive (which starts at $450).
2. Scholarships: We have created a LAUNCH scholarship program to enable new entrepreneurs and students to attend the event -- one $4,000 investment by a larger company, service firm or VC enables up to 10 startup founders to attend. Mark Suster of GRP Partners (and host of the blog BothSidesoftheTable.com and fabulous podcast "This Week In Venture Capital") was the first to buy in -- Thanks Mark!
[ http://www.grpvc.com/ ]
[ http://BothSidesoftheTable.com ]
[ http://thisweekin.com/thisweekin-venture-capital/ ]
Your firm can purchase a scholarship (and get a thank-you here and on stage at LAUNCH from Jason Calacanis) here: http://thelaunchconference.eventbrite.com/
Questions about the conference:
LAUNCH is a media company that covers and celebrates new products, services and technologies in two ways: an email newsletter and an in-person conference. LAUNCH was founded by serial entrepreneur, former journalist and blogger and now angel investor Jason McCabe Calacanis.
[ / ]
About the LAUNCH Newsletter Our newsletter is compiled in a collaborative fashion by a half-dozen writers, researchers and industry pundits we invite to our Google Docs from time-to-time. Our conflicts are many (i.e., Jason's angel investments: [ http://bit.ly/eZluM3 ] ), but our insights are always well-researched, honest and to the point. You can probably assume that if we're writing about a company in a glowing fashion, (i.e. Path.com http://bit.ly/fmTatI ) Jason might be considering investing in it. If he has already invested in a company we're covering, we will note that in the text. (Note: Jason tried to invest in Path four months ago, but the round was closed. He remains a fan.)
[ /newsletter ]
About the LAUNCH Conference The LAUNCH conference brings together more than one thousand startups, venture capitalists, angel investors, media, bloggers, pundits, recruiters, lawyers and fanboys to celebrate and commune around the launching of 40 new companies and/or products. There are two competitions at the conference: 1.0 for new companies and 2.0 for existing companies launching new versions and/or pivoting into new markets. So, if your company is already launched, you can still participate.
[ /conference ]
To advertise in LAUNCH: firstname.lastname@example.org
LAUNCH Coda #42: Failure is the thing that comes before success.