Posted on January 20th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
“Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice” – Martin Luther King, Jr. This motivates most all of my public service and philanthropy and proceed.
Folks, been thinking a lot about MLK today, a real good man who was taken from us too soon. Here's 5 great photos of him along with some of his best quotes that my team put together. Feel free to share your favorites too in the comments.
Posted on January 17th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
It's a little hard to say, since most of my reading is via RSS feeds. But if I were to pick a few sites I couldn't live without, I'd have to go with the following.
- Maybe Political Wire for best political summary.
- HuffPost for general news…
- Dilbert; Seriously, I lived the Dilbert life for nearly twenty years, often failing to learn what normal people learning growing up.
- Consumerist for updates on consumer reports.
- …and because I couldn't resist, craigslist.
I'm keeping an eye out for new sites to follow in 2014. What sites are your favorite go-to websites? (And more on my favorite podcasts later…)
Posted on January 14th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
Folks, there are a lot of really good businesses out there, and my team and I want to highlight 10 women run startups that you should really know about. These startups are doing great work and really getting the jobs done in their arenas. We took a little bit from each org's website to capture what they're doing in their own words. Make sure to visit their sites, support 'em, and follow 'em on Twitter. These women are really changing the world.
Infographic by Women Who Tech
- CyPhy Works: Helen Grenier, CEO
(Please note that we used Helen Grenier's Twitter account because CyPhy Works's doesn't appear to have an account.)
CyPhy Works research starts with people -They look to the places where people need empowering technology to reach beyond what they currently can. Then they turn their attention to scouring the market landscape and literature to see what, if any, un-utilized research can be leveraged to enable the people in need. Once they fully understand what people need, and what people have done to address that need, they focus their attention in their labs where their people develop transformational technologies that make it possible for people in need to achieve their goals more efficiently and more effectively than the status quo would allow.
- DailyWorth: Amanda Steinberg, Founder & CEO
DailyWorth says, "We're closing the income gap by enabling women to reach their maximum earning potential.We're closing the wealth gap by empowering women to invest and build wealth to fund the lives they want.We're helping women get the most value for their money, whether they’re purchasing products that enrich their lives, supporting causes they care about or investing in companies they believe in.We publish exclusive, expert content daily to more than one million female financial decision makers. Explore the website and sign up to get our tips and tools delivered daily to your inbox."
- Plum Alley: Deborah Jackson, Founder & CEO
“I founded Plum Alley for women to create products, build companies and enhance their esteem and wealth. We offer 3 things: a way for women to raise money for projects, hire experts to help them, and provide a way to sell their products with an emphasis on their story.”
- ThinkUp: Gina Trapani, Co-Founder
ThinkUp is a brand new app that connects your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social networking accounts and tells you what matters about the time you spent there. ThinkUp can help you have more fun with friends, connect better with your network, and even learn a little bit about yourself. ThinkUp is also our new company, focused on the idea that people are looking for tech companies they can trust. We're putting our users and community first, because we think that's the best way to create a better web for everyone.
- LightSail Energy: Danielle Fong, Co Founder & Chief Scientist
(Please note that we used Danielle Fong's Twitter account because LightSail's doesn't appear to be in use.)
LightSail aims to produce the world’s cleanest and most economical energy storage systems. Compressing air creates heat energy. Until now, this was wasted, drastically reducing efficiency.LightSail isdeveloping breakthrough, high efficiency energy storage systems using compressed air. Our key insight: rapidly capturing the heat of compression with a water spray.
- Tech Cocktail: Jen Consalvo, COO
Tech Cocktail is a media company and events organization for startups, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts. Since 2006, its goal has been to amplify local tech communities and give entrepreneurs a place to get informed, get connected, and get inspired. Tech Cocktail dedicates itself to covering news, how-to’s, up-and-coming startups, and industry trends online, and hosting events in over 20 cities in the US and abroad.
- uBeam: Meredith Perry, Founder
In 2012, Meredith Perry took on $750k in seed funding to build out uBeam's technology for wirelessly charging electronic devices. uBeam transmits power over the air to charge electronic gadgets wirelessly. It's like Wi-Fi for energy.
- Angaza Design, Inc: Lesley Marincola, Founder & CEO
Globally, more than 1.2 billion people live outside the reach of an electricity grid. Consumers in this off-grid world spend hundreds of dollars each year to light their homes and power small electronics, and they do so using expensive sources of energy such as kerosene lanterns and disposable batteries. Modern options such as photovoltaic solar cost far less when amortized over time, but the comparatively high upfront price of these energy alternatives has kept them out of this enormous market.The Angaza Pay-As-You-Go platform enables distributors and manufacturers of energy products to offer pricing that reaches 1.2 billion consumers in the off-grid world.
- InVenture: Shivani Siroya, Founder & CEO
The Problem? There are almost 400 million low-income and unbanked individuals that cannot access basic financial services due to a lack of credit scores.
InVenture's Approach? InVenture facilitates financial access for low-income individuals and the unbanked by creating the world's first credit scoring service enabled by their SMS accounting tool, InSight.
Their Impact? InVenture creates a fair market by taking the data collected through InSight and shares this information with lending institutions to help individuals qualify for and access affordable financial services tailored to their needs.
- Embrace Innovations: Jane Chen, Co Founder & Chief Business Officer
Embrace is a healthcare tech company that provides a line of innovative, affordable, and high quality medical devices for emerging markets. Their vision is to empower the disadvantaged to improve their lives through disruptive technologies.
Who would you add to this list? My team and I would love to hear about some other great women owned startups.
Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
Hey there, the CrowdRise #HolidayChallenge just ended on Thursday, and you won't believe how much the organizations raised collectively in small donations for their nonprofits: $2,394,827, more than double last year’s total for the Vets Challenge.
Yup, that's right, over two million dollars. Plus, I gave $75k, in grand and weekly bonus prizes and that money was distributed between several nonprofits who are really getting the job done.
A much-deserved congratulations to all of the nonprofits who really had their boots on the ground doing good work. Especially the top three winners:
- Cure JM Foundation came in first place, winning the Holiday Challenge. The total amount that they raised and won was nearly $400,000 to help advance Juvenile Myositis (JM) research, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune condition affecting mostly children.
- US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust won 2nd place ($40k prize) by raising $133,576 to support care for orphaned elephants in Africa.
- Hope and Opportunity Through Literacy won 3rd place ($20k prize) by raising $111,114 to support education and health programs for the poor living in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Portugal, and the United States.
These nonprofits couldn't have raised over $2 million dollars without your help, so a big thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated, and to all the good folks over there at CrowdRise, Huffington Post, and the other philanthropists who are really making a difference.
Thank you again for making this happen, folks. A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.
Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
The Department of Veteran Affairs doesn't get the recognition they deserve. They're really working hard to help vets. As the official VA Nerd-in-Residence, I'd like to begin 2014 by reminding folks of a few of the VA's efforts.
- The VA is doing more and more to give homeless vets a hand. The move is part of the larger government-wide effort to end veterans homelessness in the next two years, and comes at a time when most federal programs are tightening their belts in an effort to deal with sharp reductions in funding. More on the homelessness efforts here and on the VA site here.
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs
- For disability compensation, they've deployed something like TurboTax for veterans. It appears to be decently user-friendly, adjusted for the way that vets and veteran service orgs (VSOs) really operate. The software also accounts for all the laws and regulations, the rules that VA has gotta follow to write checks.A vet would start up eBenefits, online, click on "Apply for Disability Compensation" and go. It's mostly drop-down menus, and many data fields get filled in automatically. It's way easier and faster than paper forms. (More about self-service for disability claims processing here… and here.)
- The VBA workers are doing a whole lot for vets. Most of the workers are on the VA medical side, but there's also a group that processes benefits payments for vets. That's the Veterans Benefits Administration–VBA–and they work on over a million disability claims from vets each year. They deserve a lot more thanks than they're getting.
- VBMS development involved a lot of waterfall stuff, but much more recently, VA people are actually directly listening to people on that and acting on that. If vets, VSOs, or VA workers find a problem or have a suggestion, they contact contact actual humans to get stuff done. (A little more on my big idea for 2014 and how to fix Washington's approach to tech…)
- They've been working hard to get the paper claims inventory converted to digits and put into VBMS, which involves scanning huge amounts of paper into the system. That's about 80% done. (You can view before and after photos here.)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is doing some really good stuff for vets that no one hears about, catching up since 2009. I've helped, in a very minor way for several years, now I gotta do more, for VA, military families, and vets.
What do you appreciate about the VA? And what are you hoping they'll begin to work on in 2014?
A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.