Next Big Things: crowdfunded babies, hashtags for blizzards, watching Game of Thrones on your iPhone

The Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit, a two-day conference to showcase the latest and greatest in entrepreneurial ventures and technological innovation, kicked off Monday in Half Moon Bay. The conference, which goes through Tuesday, is one of those rare events that bring the big Silicon Valley players, including executives from Facebook and Twitter, together with political leaders such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, mathematicians and startup founders. They explore the big ideas and companies of the day that are reshaping retail, media, mobile, science and technology industries — and potentially our lives.

Here’s a rundown of a few of those next big things:

  • GitHub – the open-source software site and code-sharing service from San Francisco could be the opposite of Yahoo, in that its office of Fourth Street is often a lonely place. About 70 percent of GitHub employees don’t live in the Bay Area, and those who do live in the neighborhood aren’t required to come to the office, said GitHub Chief Information Officer Scott Chacon. Flexibility, he said, is part of being a great entrepreneur. (Yahoo, by comparison, recently banned working from home.)

GitHub landed a whopping $100 million investment last year from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz . Already, GitHub has earned the reputation as the go-to resource for coding and one of the most powerful social networks for developers.

  • Crowdfunding – online and social fundraising has been used to fund the creative pursuits artists and musicians, provide the seed funding for a company and raise money for a noble cause. But did you know that crowdfunding helped make a baby? So said Slava Rubin, founder and CEO of Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding site with headquarters in San Francisco. Rubin told the audience that one enterprising couple raised thousands of dollars on the site to pay for fertility treatments. The procedure was successful, and they recently had the first crowdfunded baby.
  • HBO GO – Launched in 2011, HBO GO lets viewers watch the network’s shows on their laptops, tablets, smartphones and Xbox . The service, provided through an app, has a hefty monthly subscription fee (while Hulu and other internet TV providers offer free streaming) but media experts said on Monday that HBO’s move to the app store could help the company avoid the fate of obsolescence that awaits most other cable networks.
  • Aereo TV – The internet TV provider may face ongoing legal hurdles, but Aereo satisfies consumers’ growing need to watch whatever TV they want, whenever they want.  Cable companies, watch out.  Aereo is poised to upend the TV industry as we know it.
  • Mobile ticketing – StubHub, the online ticketing marketplace owned by eBay, is pushing for more venues to accept mobile ticketing. Most consumers want to keep their tickets on their smartphone, but because the technology at concert halls and sporting stadiums hasn’t caught up, many consumers have to make an extra trip to FedEx to print their tickets, said StubHub president Chris Tsakalakis.

Technology in stadiums across the globe is lacking – there are only about five stadiums in the world with decent wireless, said Oliver Slipper, CEO of Perform Group. But Silicon Valley is about to lead the pack. The new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara will have a terabyte of bandwidth, making it one of the most wired venues in the world.

  • Weather – real-time data from social networks about weather and road conditions could help prevent accidents and keep people safe during storms. Companies such as The Weather Company are figuring this out. CEO David Kenny said he was pushing for earlier naming of blizzards so that Twitter users could hashtag the name of the snowstorm in a tweet. The hashtags (#) could then be used to track the storm’s progress.
  • Cybersecurity – If you think your social security number and credit card information hasn’t already been compromised, you’re living a lie, said Mark McLaughlin, chairman CEO of Palo Alto Networks. Companies are trying to play defense from not only a troublemaking teenage hacker, but also potential threats from foreign governments and terrorist organizations. Basically, everyone is worried, no one has the answer.

“The anxiety is very high about the threats out there,” McLaughlin said.



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