TechCrunch50 – crème de la crème

This week, TechCrunch reinforced itself as the most powerful tech blog on the planet. TechCrunch50 was everything it was made out to be. Startups, press, speakers – these guys were the crème de la crème of their respective contingents. The TechCrunch50 crew received over 1000 applications from startups wanting to demo their product at the event.

My favorite startups

Most of the companies that made the 50, were consumer facing software products. Here are 3 of my favorite startups (when I was picking these, I was thinking of products that I could use right away):

1. FitBitFitBit sells a piece of hardware that you can wear to keep track of your fitness. The hardware, when it gets close to its charging base station, will then sync to automatically upload this information to a website. Users can use the website to get a more holistic view of their health trends. The founder mentioned that he lost 15 lbs by using this device. The fitbit sells for $99 – a very affordable price. And guess what, I just placed an order for the FitBit. The only downside that I can think of is that unlike a software product, there’s no real way to beta test this to figure out if this is something that will work as they claim. It looks great though.


2. Swype – This product really blew me away. I actually got a demo of Swype the night before TC50 opened up. Swype is an intuitive application that users finger motions on a keyboard to spell out a word. So you’d essentially ‘swype’ through the keyboard connecting letters to spell out a word. In the case that there is a conflict, you’re presented with the list of possible words that you then get to choose from. I was actually very surprised when I heard that Swype wasn’t the winner at TC50. This product has the most potential to make money and a decently sized market to tap into.


3. VideoSurf – I have a blog post in the works about how I feel the future of search is in “vertical search”. While YouTube and Vimeo have made a clear difference in being able to publish and gain access to content, VideoSurf gives you the ability to search for the content in a visual manner. You can search for specific pieces of content in a video visually, share specific pieces of content in a video, and even search by characters in a video. They also claim that they can process videos in realtime. They demo’d the need for VideoSurf really well by searching for a keyword, like “Phelps” (I think) in Google, and seeing a video of a static photograph.


My favorite talk

Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban has been my hero for over a decade. I wish I had some specific highlights from the talk I could talk about, the whole talk was quite memorable and amazing. Cuban also stopped by our booth and I had the chance to have a pretty good chat with him about the Surface and applications we could develop for it. We talked about practical applications of the Surface for fans in the stadium, or maybe even for coaches to analyze game data.

Mark Cuban at the MSFT Booth - TC50
[Mark Cuban at the MSFT Booth]

Here’s Mark Hendrickson’s report on the chat.

My favorite moments

  1. During Mark Cuban’s chat with Jason Calacanis, Cuban said, “when I die, I want to come back as me”.
  2. Ashton Kutcher mentioning the Microsoft Surface as the most exciting thing he’d seen at TC50.
  3. Of course, Cuban stopping by the Microsoft lounge.
  4. And, last but not least, this:

Hammer time!
[MC Hammer]

It’s hammer time!