Mobile Payment At U.S. Starbucks Locations Crosses 10% As More Stores Get Wireless Charging


Starbucks is seeing impressive adoption of mobile payments in its U.S.-based store locations, the company revealed during its quarterly earnings conference call last night (via WSJ). Mobile payments crossed the 10 percent mark in the U.S. as a percentage of in-store purchases, indicating efforts like the Starbucks mobile app, Apple’s Passbook and Square Wallet are popular among users.

The coffee franchise is pushing forward with more mobile-focused initiatives, including the installation of wireless charging mats in select locations. The Powermat-supplied wireless charging initiative follows a trial of 17 locations in Boston, and will roll-out in Silicon Valley throughout August. The standard it uses is the Power Matters Alliance variety, which unfortunately doesn’t work with phones that use the Qi standard like the Google Nexus 4. Still, a growing number of companies are joining up with PMA’s standard, and Starbucks’s continued support should help it appear in more devices.

The lesson here is that Starbucks is putting a lot of weight behind its mobile digital initiatives, and those efforts are bearing fruit. Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said on the call that its “various digital initiatives have added demonstrable impact to our U.S. business in the third quarter” and promises to do even more for the company with continued investment.

Pay-by-app in this way kind of defies what many thought about mobile payments in the early days, that it would be enabled by one dominant provider and come in the form of a single wallet provided by a single ruling platform creator, and that it would be enabled by NFC or something similar. The Starbucks method involves a variety of different payment options and uses traditional barcode scanning to function, and yet it’s very popular. This seems to be because it’s convenient, easy to find and carries familiar branding from multiple trusted sources.

While we still mostly pay with traditional methods, the Starbucks example is a good illustration of how mobile-enabled commerce can work if the conditions are right and the source in question has the clout to push it through. But the Starbucks model is an island, which means we could see continued growth in mobile payments on a case-by-case basis instead of as a sweeping trend that trounces cards and currency in one tidal push.

Mailbox’s First App, Orchestra To-Do, Is Shutting Down


Before being acquired by Dropbox for $100 million, before its app became one of the buzzier startups of 2013, the team at Mailbox had been known for Orchestra, a simple to-do list app with tasks you could assign to others, or pull in via email. Now that app is shutting down, and will be removed from the App Store on September 6th, the company says.

The move to shut down the app shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to its users. In order to build the email management application Mailbox, development efforts on Orchestra had stopped. In fact, the company was a case study in what a well-executed pivot should look like – it realized early on that the product wasn’t breaking out to become a mainstream hit, so the team took their initial learnings and applied them to a new area. Orchestra, the App Store’s 2011 Productivity App of the Year, inspired the team to treat emails basically like to-do’s when they moved on to building what then became Mailbox.

Now at Dropbox, the work on Mailbox continues, the company explains in an announcement about the app’s impending closure, but they need to now discontinue the app and move on.

Users are advised to copy the tasks they have within Orchestra elsewhere before it shuts down, noting that while the app will still launch on your phone if installed after September 6, all cloud services, including sync, task delegation, and access to the web app and customer support, will become unavailable. These, of course, are some of the main reasons why users chose Orchestra in the first place, so there’s little need to keep the app once it’s disconnected.

Though Orchestra was certainly a well-built to-do list application, there’s certainly no lack of task list managers in the iOS App Store ready to step up and takes its place – including some of my personal favorites like AnyDO, FetchNotes, Wunderlist, Evernote, Clear and more.

The full announcement is below:

The next chapter for Orchestra

Back in September 2012 we announced that we were pausing development on Orchestra To-do to build Mailbox. Since launching Mailbox in February we’ve been thrilled and overwhelmed by the reception. By all accounts, Mailbox has been a success so far, and we continue to develop it in earnest.

To help us focus, we’ll be discontinuing Orchestra To-do and removing the app from the App Store on September 6. If you’re still using Orchestra we recommend you copy any tasks that remain on the app and save them elsewhere. After September 6 the app will still launch, but all cloud services including sync, task delegation, access to the web app and customer support will be unavailable.

There is much about Orchestra that we love, and it’s hard for us to say goodbye to it. You may feel the same way. But we believe Mailbox offers a simpler and more direct approach to our mission of solving the problem of using email as a to-do list, and it’s important that we devote all our resources to Mailbox going forward.

As always, we’re grateful to have you with us as we journey to transform how people work together. And if you haven’t yet tried Mailbox, you can grab a copy here.

Thanks so much,
Gentry and the Mailbox team

Ask A VC: Lightspeed Ventures’ Bipul Sinha On How The Enterprise Sales Model Has Changed

Lightspeed bipul

On this week’s Ask a VC show, Lightspeed Ventures’ Partner Bipul Sinha joined us in the studio to field reader questions and talk about enterprise investing.

Sinha, who has led investments in Nutanix and PernixData among others, talked about how the enterprise sales model has changed over time. Sinha has an interesting view on this topic, considering he advises startups now on how to structure their sales operations and has an insider experience on how incumbent sales worked while at Oracle.

Sinha also discussed what the most interesting niche is within the software defined datacenter space. Tune in above for more!

Google Asks Glass Developers To Start Working On Android-Based Apps Ahead Of Glass Development Kit Launch


It looks like Google is about to unleash a new wave of more powerful applications for Google Glass. Currently, Glass developers can only build apps that are essentially web-based services that talk to the user’s hardware through a set of relatively limited APIs. At its I/O developer conference earlier this year, Google announced that it would soon release its so-called Glass Development Kit (GDK), which would let them build Android-based apps for Glass that can run directly on the device.

So far, however, Google hasn’t launched the GDK. Instead, Google today encouraged developers who are waiting for the GDK to start working on Android apps for Glass using the standard Android SDK (API Level 15) to try out their ideas.

As Google notes, developers can use the SDK to access low-level hardware to render OpenGL and use stock Android UI widgets, for example. Developers can also access the accelerometer of Glass through the SDK.

Glass, after all, runs Android 4.0.4, so it’s a pretty well-known platform for many developers. To help newcomers get started, though, the company also released a number of sample apps (a stopwatch, compass and level) today that highlight some of the things developers can do with Android on Glass. Over the next few weeks, Glass team member Alain Vongsouvanh writes on Google+ today, the team will also use these sample apps to “demonstrate the migration path between a traditional Android app and a full Glass experience.”

For Glass to reach its full potential, developers need better access to the device’s hardware, so it’s nice to see Google moving ahead with this. It’s still a bit of a surprise that Google hasn’t released the GDK yet. And the fact that it made today’s announcement indicates that it could still be a few weeks out. If you’re a Glass developer, though, now is probably a good time to start thinking about how you would use Android on Glass.

Apple’s Developer Center Is Back After Over A Week Offline


Apple’s Developer Center is finally back online, after taking a break for over a week. The developer site went down after a hacking attempt mid-week last week, and stayed down without any kind of return for multiple days. The hack was reportedly one that only affected developer accounts, after an intruder attempted to secure personal information.

Apple said at the time that it was possible personal information including developer names, mailing addresses and email addresses could have been accessed, but no credit card data was leaked. Apple offered no time-table for return at the time, but did create a system for tracking the status of the site after a week of downtime, and started bringing things back online slowly.

A researcher reported that he’d possibly prompted the down time after probing the dev center and reporting bugs regarding vulnerabilities in it and the iAd Workbench site, but we’ve reached out to Apple for more specific information about the return and what steps led to it, and will update with a response if we receive one.

Update: Here’s the full text of the email sent to developers by Apple about the outage.

We appreciate your patience as we work to bring our developers services back online. Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles, software downloads, and other developer services are now available. If you would like to know the availability of a particular system, visit our status page.

If your program membership expired or is set to expire during this downtime, it will be extended and your app will remain on the App Store. If you have any other concerns about your account, please contact us.

Thank you for bearing with us while we bring these important systems back online. We will continue to update you on our progress.

Get Ready For TechCrunch TV’s Tour Of The New Hollywood, Starting Next Week


Over the last several years, we’ve seen a new group of digital media companies emerge in Los Angeles, driven by the growth of YouTube as a platform for distribution of video content. What started out as a cottage industry built around YouTube is becoming a pretty massive business, with L.A. at the center of it all.

Companies like Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen were founded with the idea of helping creators to expand their audiences by improving their production value, collaborating with other YouTubers, and adopting a series of best practices.

That said, not all YouTube networks are created equal: While some focus on providing creators with tools for high-quality production, others have developed technical tools to help them succeed. Some are focused on specific verticals, like gaming or food, while others are built around aggregating channels with massive audiences and growing them through collaborations.

TechCrunch TV spent several days in L.A. meeting with a number of digital media companies, including Machinima, Fullscreen, Tastemade, ZEFR, Big Frame, Maker Studios, and Funny or Die. During those visits we met with executives and creators, toured production facilities, and got to know the people building this whole new ecosystem of video content. We also visited YouTube Space L.A., a huge facility filled with equipment for shooting, editing, and other post-production activities that is free and open to YouTube creators.

On Mondays and Wednesdays over the next four weeks, we’ll be rolling out a series of videos showing off all the best from our meetings at those companies, giving you a better feel for what each has to offer and what creators can expect when they sign up for a multichannel network.

Someone Please Actually Hack Chipotle’s Twitter Account

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 3.50.26 PM

For whatever reason, this week has felt particularly long. It might be some astrological reason like Mercury in retrograde. Or it might just be the emotions that are a package deal with being a woman at the end of any month.

Or it might be that burrito haven Chipotle fake-hacked its Twitter account on Sunday, and the stunt has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Brands who stage fake hackings as an attempt to #winthemoment, does the world really need more Internet mistrust post-NSA PRISM?

Is fake hacking really something you’d like to have forever associated with your brand? Do you really want Pete Cashmore sopping up pageviews debunking your lame attempt at garnering publicity?

For that matter, is using twelve people to “position” a tweet really the best use of your precious time left on the planet? I mean, doing anything on Twitter nowadays is lauded as being cool and fresh. Even if the content itself is not cool and fresh. We’re on to you, Oreo.

The only reason I’m bringing this up is because the world is in the middle of an economic Cold War: On one side, over a billion people who make less than $1.25 per day; on the other, a class of overprivileged digital natives like myself who get paid to spend their lives on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, thinking up new ways to “go viral.””What if we faked a hack …?!”

The only way this will end is with my head on a spike. Let them snap chats!

Hit send too soon!-
Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) July 21, 2013

Mittens13 password leave-
Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) July 21, 2013

Image: Jillian Fleck

Y Combinator-Backed DoorDash Delivers Food Quickly In South Bay, Hopes To Expand Beyond Food


DoorDash, a Y Combinator summer ’13 company, delivers food from restaurants in Palo Alto and Mountain View in an average time of 45 minutes.

Sound familiar?

It’s a crowded space, but while competitors like Seamless and GrubHub offer users an app to order food from any restaurant that has its own drivers and delivery-system setup, DoorDash hires and manages its own drivers, so it can bring you food from restaurants that don’t have their own delivery drivers. That may not seem like a big difference, but for the suburbs and college campuses, it’s a welcome change from having just pizza and Chinese food places offering delivery.

DoorDash charges $6 per delivery with no minimum order size, and currently delivers lunch (11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.) every day. The company currently delivers to Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Mountain View from 50 restaurants in the area.

Fluc, another startup we recently covered, is doing something fairly similar, but is more expensive-Fluc charges $5.95 per order and inflates menu prices a bit, whereas DoorDash charges $6 per order and doesn’t inflate menu prices. DoorDash partners with the restaurants they deliver from, so they take a cut from the restaurant’s side of things, not from the consumer.

DoorDash was founded by four Stanford students: Evan Charles Moore worked on the founding team of Vevo; Tony Xu was at Square and Red Laser/eBay; and Andy Fang and Stanley Tang spent a summer together at Facebook. Moore and Xu were friends in Stanford’s business school, and Fang and Tang are undergrads. Moore and Tang had worked on a project together in a class in the spring of 2012, and later decided to work together on DoorDash, bringing in the other two.

In February, they built a prototype, Palo Alto Delivery, in one day to gauge demand. Half an hour later, they had their first order and soon they were delivering food every day around campus. The four of them did the first 200 deliveries by themselves; they say they learned so much as drivers that they have new team members start as drivers.

I used DoorDash (then called Palo Alto Delivery) several times in the spring and really liked it. On campus at Stanford there aren’t a ton of options for delivery, so I was very willing to pay $6 to get better food delivered every once in awhile.

One of the new features I’m most excited about is Group Order, in which you can split the bill with a group of friends through DoorDash but still have all the food come in one order.

“Our ultimate goal is to enable merchants to deliver locally,” Tang says. He notes that restaurants are a good place to start, as the company has been able to grow really quickly (they doubled total deliveries in the past two weeks), and they hope to grow both geographically and, eventually, beyond just food delivery.

Disclosure: I’m a rising senior at Stanford. Fang and Tang are the same year as me. I’ve meet Fang a couple times, and I haven’t met any of the other co-founders at DoorDash. This doesn’t affect my ability to report on DoorDash.

Ice Cream Sandwich complete, Google erects statue

As Google confirms 190 million Android devices

Google has announced that Ice Cream Sandwich is complete. To honour the achievement it has erected a statue of an Ice Cream Sandwich Android figure at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View.

As it did with the launch of Gingerbread and Android releases before that, Googlers placed the new giant sized moto on the lawn and released a video on YouTube to celebrate.

The timing of the video, titled “Calling All Ice Cream Sandwich Lovers” comes as Google announced it would be unveiling the latest version of Android to the world on the 19 October in Hong Kong.

Google has been coy in detailing what is next for the mobile operating system, but has said that the main goal of the new OS would be to merge Gingerbread and Honeycomb operating systems together.

The news comes as Google announced that it had had a bumper quarter.

“We had a great quarter,” said Larry Page, CEO of Google. “Revenue was up 33 per cent year on year and our quarterly revenue was just short of $10 billion. Google+ is now open to everyone and we just passed the 40 million user mark.”

Page added that there are now 190 million Android devices.

Google Chrome Browser Has 200 Million Users

Google’s 3 year-old Chrome browser just hit the 200 million user mark, CEO Larry Page announced Thursday.

The fast-growing browser had about 160 million users in May, up from 120 million in December 2010, according to eWeek, which correctly predicted Chrome would hit 200 million users in October.

Chrome’s growth had been noted elsewhere. The browser has about 15% market share and in some markets, like the UK, it has surpassed Firefox’s share to become the second most popular browser after IE. Among Mashable readers, meanwhile, Chrome is the most popular.

The huge installed base for Chrome is good news for Google, which just started rolling out its first Chromebooks in June.