E088: with Maxwell Salzberg, Co-Founder of Diaspora



about this episode

This week, Jason welcomes guest Maxwell Salzberg, one of the computer science students who have co-founded Diaspora, the forthcoming “open source” social network. He’ll also chat with the winners of the Web 2.0 Startup Showcase, sponsored by .CO, Brooke Dixon of Hour.ly. Plus the news with Lon Harris and plenty of insights from Tyler Crowley.

Today on This Week in Startups we are joined by Maxwell Salzberg the Co-Founder of Diaspora, we’ll hear the winning pitch from Web 2.0 and is the CD RSVP? All that and more, right here on This Week In Startups.

Come to The Launch Conference on February 23-14, 2011 by watching 10 episodes Live of This Week In Startups and Tweet #TWiST ‘I can’t wait for the Launch Conference’ and check in with the moderators in the chat room, then you can earn a free conference ticket.

Web 2.0 Winning Pitch (Part of the .CO Startup Showcase)

Brooke Dixon

Employment network for temporary and part-time employment (called gig employment). They applied dating website technology to career search. Hour.ly does a simple introduction and then let’s the two parties work out the details.

Jason and Brooke discuss the revenue model, the reasons why Hour.ly is getting traction, competitors and mobile applications.

Brooke discusses the experience at Web 2.0.

Jason discusses the value of a great domain name and a good idea.

Provides fully hosted / managed Microsoft Exchange and Google Apps e-mail

Maxwell Salzberg

Diaspora is a distributed social network. They are trying to make a piece of software that is a commodity similar to email. Open source.

Jason and Maxwell discuss what Diaspora is, how it works, and why it is getting traction today.

Maxwell and Jason discuss the architecture of Diaspora and how the architecture is distributed.

Jason and Maxwell discuss the funding Diaspora received using KickStarter. They were shooting for 20K and ended up with 250K.


Apple Kills the CD?
According to a headline on TechCrunch, Apple has “killed the CD.” Blogger MG Siegler claimed that 2 of the company’s innovations this week have essentially ended the optical disk’s reign in the computer industry.

First: the release of the new MacBook Air that comes with only a slim USB stick, not an optical drive. Second: The announcement of the Mac App Store, which does for desktop software what the App Store already does for iPhoens and iPads.

So is this a shocking statement designed for linkbaiting? Or is there a case to be made here?


JC: MG is a great blogger, but the substance is lacking. People still need to burn CDs and the cost is not as cheap. Blu-ray is still being used.

Networks Block Web Shows on Google TV

The idea behind Google TV is to allow viewers to search the Internet, including Web videos, in addition to live TV shows. But now ABC, CBS and NBC have started blocking TV programming on their websites from being viewable on the devices. Fox is said to still be mulling over the issue.

Google agrees that it’s the content owners’ choice to “restrict their fans from accessing their content on this platform.”

Does this significantly damage the value of Google TV? Wasn’t the whole idea that, if I search “30 Rock,” I get all the available episodes from both live TV and the Web? Thus finally uniting my television and the vast back catalog of the Internet?


JC: So stupid that the networks can’t get this right. It’s stupid that Apple has to care what they think. People are just going to put computers on their TVs, then I can use Bit Torrent, game over. They’re saying FU, go steal our content. And BTW Dumb Asses, I can skip the commercials on Tivo or DVR. I have to watch them on Hulu like services.

Steve Jobs Hangs With Barack

President Obama spent Thursday in San Francisco to attend an event for DA Kamala Harris as well as a DNC Dinner at Google executive Marissa Mayer’s house in Palo Alto. But rumors were spreading that he also had a one-on-one meeting with Steve Jobs.

It’s been reported all over, but there are no confirmations on whether or not the meeting actually happened. If it did, what do you think they talked about?


JC: Probably China. H1 visas. Obama has done nothing for the technology sector. General support of startups doesn’t seem to be happening.


Kleiner Perkins has announced a $250 million sFund Initiative aimed at social web entrepreneurs. The goal, as the press release says, is to fund and incubate innovators “who are re-imagining and re-inventing a Web of people and places.” Investors and strategic partners include Amazon.com, Facebook, Zynga, Comcast and Liberty Media.

The first startup to receive funding was Cafebots, a still-in-stealth company founded by 3 Stanford graduates. They secured $5 million in funding. Co-founder Yoav Shoham described the product as a social curation tool, or an online friend management system. The company currently has six employees and hopes to have a product ready to show the world by the end of the year.

Any guesses about what Cafebots will get up to? Thoughts on the concept behind this fund more generally?


JC: Not a lot of money. It winds up being a easy way to get an early look at social innovation. Ultimately not-important.

Jason discusses the problem with Facebook copying other projects.

Zynga Virtual Currency Patent

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga has filed a patent application for virtual currency in online games. Despite other companies like Facebook, Disney, ngmoco and others using similar technology. The application is titled “Virtual Playing Chips in a Multiuser Online Game Network” and has the abstract: “In various embodiments, virtual currency is used within a multiplayer online game in a restricted manner”.

The patent is in 47 parts and is obviously quite complicated, but it’s clear that it would refer to both gambling style games (liek Zynga’s Texas Hold Em Poker game) and the purchase of virtual goods (like in FarmVille).

Is this just a hopeful attempt by Zynga to control the market? Or is there a chance they actually could patent the notion of in-game virtual currency? Thoughts?


JC: Patents are like nuclear weapons. They’re nice to have, but people are afraid to use them. There’s a lot of prior art. I think software and business patents are lame.

Thanks to Mail Chimp and DNAMail for sponsoring the show.

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