Silicon Valley

The sound of crickets: VC offices on Y Combinator Demo Day

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--If you 're an entrepreneur looking for money today on the famous Silicon Valley venture capital row known as Sand Hill Road, yes, that is the sound of crickets you hear.

That's because today is Y Combinator Demo Day, and the lion's share of the biggest tech-oriented VCs in the Valley are packed into one auditorium here, listening to 65 early-stage companies pitch their wares.

The list is a veritable who's who of investors: Ron Conway, Tim Draper, Jeff Clavier, Mike Arrington, Stewart Alsop, and many, many others. And they've got their checkbooks … Read more

Twitter's first obscenity (and other 6th birthday memories)

It took just 18 minutes for Twitter to go from family-friendly to potty-mouth.

At 12:50 p.m. on March 21, 2006, then-Odeo employee Jack Dorsey upended publishing forever when he posted these fateful words: "just setting up my twttr."

Political movements would never be the same. Local news would forever be scooped on earthquakes. Cat videos would speed around the world at lightspeed. Serious forward progress had been made.

And at 1:08 p.m., it all went downhill with this (probably NSFW) tweet from @jeremy: "Oh, s--t, I just twittered a little."

In all … Read more

It was six years ago today that twttr began to play

If you go to one of the sites that tell you how long a Twitter account has existed, and ask about @jack, @ev, and @biz, you'll find something interesting: All three accounts were registered on March 21, 2006.

For those keeping score at home, that's exactly six years ago. And that makes a lot of sense since those three accounts belong to Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone.

Indeed, today is Twitter's sixth birthday, a number that seems impossibly large. Could it really be that long since then-Odeo employee (and now Square founder and … Read more

All aboard for Mars, just $500,000 a ticket

Not long ago, word leaked of a plan that could take anyone with an extra $150 million on a trip around the moon. So SpaceX founder Elon Musk's assertion today that he hopes to be able to take people on a round-trip to Mars for $500,000 signals a much better deal.

Musk told the BBC that he expects to unveil details of his plans sometime later this year or in early 2013. Essentially, though, Musk believes that with its Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX may already have the base infrastructure in place that could get paying … Read more

Parker, Fanning: Napster was still better than what we have now

AUSTIN, Texas--Despite the success of Spotify and its competitors, music sharing still hasn't caught up to what Napster offered before being neutered by the courts, that service's founders, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, said today.

During a on-stage discussion at South by Southwest here, Parker and Fanning argued that though new technologies and licensing models finally allow music lovers to legally access and discover vast collections of songs online, even the best new services are still philosophically behind what Napster originally offered its users.

Parker, who appeared earlier this week alongside former U.S. vice president Al Gore … Read more

The great SXSW switcheroo: Geeks out, rockers in

AUSTIN, Texas--Looking out the window of my hotel this afternoon, just across from the convention center here where thousands of South by Southwest attendees have been swarming like ants for days, I saw something altogether new.

Very thin people in with long hair and tight black pants carrying musical instruments were, if not everywhere, then all over the place.

Welcome to the annual population changeover as SXSW Interactive ends and SXSW Music begins.

Technically, those two sides of the festival (there's also SXSW Film, which lasts for ten full days) don't overlap, as Interactive ends today and Music … Read more

Al Gore with Sean Parker at SXSW: 'Occupy democracy!'

AUSTIN, Texas--Former U.S. vice president Al Gore and Facebook's founding president Sean Parker argued passionately today that online communities must use the powerful tools at their disposal to save American democracy.

At South by Southwest (SXSW) here, Gore and Parker took the stage to tell an adoring crowd of several thousand that though they should be proud of the mass Internet activism that derailed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), there is still a huge amount of work to be done if Americans want to keep special interests from perpetually forcing their agendas down society's throat.

Fortunately, … Read more

At CNET's SXSW 'big data' panel, sparks fly over privacy

AUSTIN, Texas--Representatives from opposite sides in the "big data" privacy debate tangled Sunday over whether a proposed White House "privacy bill of rights" is necessary to keep Americans safe online.

During a "big data" panel sponsored by CNET at South by Southwest, Berin Szoka, president of the non-partisan, non-profit, tech policy think tank TechFreedom, argued that states and the federal government might have better results providing privacy protections for Americans by enforcing existing laws than they would if they adopted new regulations.

"We have a difference of opinion of when government should get … Read more

The best OHs at SXSW?

AUSTIN, Texas--"We can't get in? Whatever, that's the douchiest party," began the incensed would-be reveler at South by Southwest. And then the quick about-face. "Wait, can we get in?"

Or this geek gem: "Can you unplug it? I want to see the ports."

Or maybe "'We're a consumer-facing data driven multiplatform Web-based solution with wide market appeal.' 'Huh?' 'We send people cat videos.'"

These and many more are "overheards," the famous "OH:" Twitter convention that can sometimes leave you speechless at the fact that … Read more

Twenty thousand reasons to go to SXSW

More than 20,000 people will roll into Austin, Texas, this week for the annual South by Southwest Interactive festival. The question is, besides copious amounts of free beer and barbecue, why are all those people--a broad mix of marketers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and social media junkies--showing up?

Over the years, SXSW has gotten bigger and has morphed from being an insular technology conference with a tight community of regular attendees to a mainstream event that appeals to everyone from those SXSW veterans to thousands of first-timers who want to get in on the action.

With that many people on hand … Read more