Firebase (YC S11) launches its iOS SDK, brings realtime capabilities to mobile

Today, Firebase hopes to change this with the launch of a mobile SDK bringing its scalable realtime backend platform to iOS. In other words, the company can offload the major engineering challenges to allow resource-constrained developers to build rich Web-like experiences for mobile, keeping users engaged and delivering updates as they occur. Firebase can also simplify the development process and in many cases can be used as a complete backend, meaning developers can skip the hassle and expense of running their own servers.

Based on the traction of its Javascript-based Web product, including with companies like Atlassian, BitTorrent, Pivotal Labs, and eToro, it’s fair to assume the new mobile product will be popular in the gaming, social, and communications categories. The iOS SDK is already in use by collaborative reading app Kindoma, alternative PC input platform GemPad, and silent disco synchronization platform DiscoSync.

In an effort to demonstrate its technology, Firebase did something so obvious, I’m surprised I haven’t seen it used before: It created a standalone sample app and open sourced the code. SF Live Bus is a Firebase-powered iOS app that displays a realtime view of the location of every bus in San Francisco. The team created the entire app with 30 lines of unique code, 12 lines of Firebase code, plus standard iOS boilerplate. The team also created a simple sample chat example.

Read the full article on PandoDaily

Terascore (YC W13) launches to help teachers bring testing online

Teachers and students have suffered through the same model of educational testing for years. Sure, the SAT has changed — it’s now out of a possible 2,400 points, not 1,600 — but both standardized testing and good old in-class quizzing are still in the dominion of paper and pencil. Terascore, a Y Combinator-backed startup that launches today, is on a mission to help bring testing online.

To do that, the startup aims to provide teachers with tools that can help them create, administer and manage tests online, while making scores and results available immediately after testing. The platform also offers instant analytics for teachers to help them dig down into question quality and difficulty, along with providing a question bank for easy storage and re-use — all collectively as a way to better evaluate student performance and make testing easier on teachers.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try Terascore for running your tests online

Fivetran (YC W13) launches to bring spreadsheets into the modern age: SQL and Matlab, meet easy point-and-click.

Fivetran, a new Y Combinator-backed startup that is launching today, wants to bring spreadsheets into the modern age and make it easier for users to work with messy data and analyze large amounts of information. Most people, for better or worse, use their spreadsheets as databases, and Fivetran acknowledges this by combining SQL-like queries with standard spreadsheet functions and statistical tools that will look familiar to users of more advanced tools like Matlab.

As the co-founders George Fraser (CEO) and Taylor Brown (head of product) told me earlier this week, the idea behind the project is that “spreadsheets have 50 percent of the power of programming and we want to bring the other 50 percent to spreadsheets.”


The service, which the team started working on last December, allows users to upload Excel documents, as well as CSV and JSON files and start working with them immediately (in the long run, the team plans to add direct connections to databases, too). To give people a better idea of the power of Fivetran, the founders also created a March Madness bracket simulator, as well as a set of tutorials.

Once they have added their initial data, users can manipulate it using Fivetran’s “step” system, which allows them to create additional sheets based on their calculations. This is a bit of a departure from how most spreadsheets work, but you can also still use your familiar Excel formulas (think SUM(a,b) etc.) to work with your data as well.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try Fivetran now or simulate your March Madness bracket yourself

Sift Science (YC S11) launches to fight fraud on your website, raises $5.5M Series A from Union Square Ventures, Max Levchin, others

In Wired today, Ex-Googlers Train Machine Army to Sift Out Crooks:  

Here’s a tidbit for the online retailers out there: If a shopper on your website is using Firefox with Windows XP, the odds of him being a fraudster go up sixfold.

That’s a trend mined by the machine learning geeks at Sift Science, a San Francisco startup that’s taking some of the same techniques that Google uses to cut down on abuse on its ad network and making them available to smaller websites, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Listia. All three of these are early customers.

“The point of this is really to make online commerce safer and more efficient,” says Brandon Ballinger, Sift’s founder and chief technical officer. “Machine learning lets you adapt to the different fraud patterns you see on different websites.”

Sift Science, a Y Combinator-backed startup founded by former Google engineers, is today launching its fraud-fighting service based on machine learning – a system designed to adapt to the ever-changing techniques used by criminals online. The company is also announcing $4 million in Series A funding, led by Union Square Ventures. As a part of the funding, Union Square’s Albert Wenger is joining the company’s board.

Sift Science had previously raised $1.5 million in seed funding, bringing its total raise to $5.5 million.

Other investors in Sift Science include Max Levchin (PayPal, Slide, Affirm), Chris Dixon (SiteAdvisor, Hunch), Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO), First Round CapitalY CombinatorFounder CollectiveSV AngelStart FundAlex Rampell (SiteAdvisor, TrialPay), Kevin Scott (AdMob, Google, LinkedIn), Lee Lindon (Karma Science, Facebook), Harj Taggar (Y Combinator), Garry Tan (Posterous, Y Combinator), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit, Y Combinator), and Rich Barton (Zillow, Expedia).

The service is primarily targeting online marketplaces, payment networks, and e-commerce sites, where fraud is most prevalent. Businesses can integrate Sift Science’s technology by copying and pasting a small snippet of JavaScript code to their sites, the company says.


Ballinger co-founded Sift Science back in June 2011 with former college roommate Jason Tan, previously of Zillow, Optify and BuzzLabs. 

Read the full article on Techcrunch, and additional coverage in Wired, The Next WebVentureBeat, GigaOm, AllThingsD, and Silicon Valley Business Journal

Use Sift Science now to catch fraudsters using machine learning on your website »

StyleUp (YC W13) recommends daily personalized outfits tailored to your style and location

One of the problems with fashion magazines is that they lack the element of personalization and curation that is entering the online fashion industry and retail world. Kendall Herbst, a former fashion editor at InStyle and Lucky magazines is hoping to change that with a new fashion startup launching today. YC-backed StyleUp is a daily personal fashion recommendation service for women that takes into account your location (i.e. weather) and personal style to give you stylized outfit suggestions each day.

On StyleUp, you sign up for the daily email by taking a 30-second survey to determine your style. You are shown various pictures of styled outfits, and you choose which outfit identify. You also include your location because each outfit recommendation is tied to the weather where you are, and you pick when you want to receive each email (i.e. in the morning before work, or the night before so you can plan ahead).

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Sign up for your personalized fashion recommendation at StyleUp

CircuitLab (YC W13) has 70K monthly users for its browser-based electronics design and simulation tool

CircuitLab is coming up on its one year anniversary, and the startup (now part of Y Combinator’s winter 2013 cohort) now boasts 70,000 monthly active users, who run an average of one circuit simulation every six seconds. The phenomenal traction for the electrical-engineering-focused startup has a lot to do with the team offering up a tool that’s both free and particularly well-suited to educational use, and it bodes well for CircuitLab’s chances of helping early stage hardware startups get off the ground.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Errplane (YC W13) launches performance monitoring and alert service for web apps - New Relic, Pingdom, Airbrake all in one

Errplane, a new Y Combinator-backed service for monitoring performance, uptime and errors for any type of web application, has officially launched its service. Currently, Errplane argues, developers need a number of different services like New Relic, Pingdom and Airbrake to effectively monitor their apps. Errplane unifies all of these functions into one single service, because, as the company’s CEO and co-founder Paul Dix told me last week, all of these separate tools ultimately rotate around the same goal you are trying to accomplish.

About a third of the current Y Combinator class is already using the service, which Dix co-founded with Todd Persen, as well as a number of other companies, including Garry Tan’s Posthaven for Posterous exiles, VHXBrewsterAmicus and RingRevenue. Across all of these beta customers, the system currently handles about 30 million data points per day.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try Errplane now on your app

Lollipuff (YC W13) launches an eBay-like marketplace for authenticated designer clothing and accessories

One of the main problems with buying designer clothing off of eBay and other auction sites is that there is really no guarantee that the item you are purchasing is actually what it appears to be. Despite a crackdown by eBay on counterfeit designer goods, the site still has a problem with fakes (though eBay will refund you if an item is fake). YC-backedLollipuff is an auction site that fully authenticates any designer clothing and accessories it sells.

On Lollipuff, the founders employ a combination of human expert authenticators with a patent-pending process to ensure that the goods on the site are real. For now, Lollipuff focuses on three of the most designer brands on auction sites: Chanel bags, Christian Louboutin shoes, and Herve Leger dresses. When a seller applies to sell on the site, the startup asks for specific photos that will be able to show whether a dress, bag or pair of shoes is a fake. All the items sold are either lightly used or brand new.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

SwapBox (YC W13) launches the solution to missed deliveries at your home: an delivery kiosk coming to a neighborhood near you

You know the drill, you order something from your favorite site and you can’t wait to get the package. Like a blogger normal person, you go to work and hope that the package is there when you get home. That hope slowly turns into worry as you picture your valuable freight sitting outside of your home, while people walk by it and wonder what it is.

There are a few companies providing solutions for this problem, setting up physical locations for you to have your packages shipped to, such as commerce juggernaut Amazon. A few months ago, Google picked up a Canada-based company called Bufferbox, a YC-alum, which left the space wide open for a startup to jump in and fill the void. That startup also comes from Y Combinator, Swapbox, and the team is launching physical kiosks in the San Francisco area during its beta period.

Currently, there are two Swapbox locations, one at Stanford, where the co-founders Nitin Shantharam and Neel Murthy attended school, and the other in Glen Park. Currently, you can have your first package delivered to a Swapbox for free, and pay $1.99 for each one after, which is next to nothing.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Never miss a package delivery again - SwapBox now available in San Francisco and at Stanford University

InstantCab (YC W12) launches in San Francisco, offers more drivers, lower fare prices than Uber, Sidecar

There’s no shortage of local taxi and ride-sharing apps out there, with services like Lyft, SideCar, Flywheel, and UBERx all competing for passengers in San Francisco. But a new startup called InstantCab has a unique twist on the transportation app business, by combining inventory of taxi drivers along with community ride-sharing drivers. Together, the company hopes to meet all of the demand that the San Francisco market is throwing at transportation apps, while providing all the same reliability and competitive pricing that local passengers have come to expect.

By having drivers from the ride-sharing community as well as the taxi community, InstantCab seeks to provide more supply, safety, and reliability than the other apps out there. 


While operating in a beta period, InstantCab already has apps for both iOS and Android. It has done more than 20,000 rides so far, and has several hundred drivers available for rides in San Francisco. When taking a traditional cab booked through the app, the price is the same as what’s on the meter. Community drivers end up having their fares match the same taxi pricing, but fares are based on GPS data from the route that they take.

With that in mind, Trivedi believes InstantCab not only has an inventory and reliability advantage over other services — it also seems to have a price advantage. He’s has done a price comparison of the different services traveling between the same locations, and found InstantCab’s fares are consistently lower than the competition.

Even the ride-sharing services like SideCar and UBERx that have cropped up seem to be somewhat more expensive, based on data he’s collected. For instance, SideCar’s fare was more expensive than InstantCab fares about 75 percent of the time, and UBERx was 33 percent to 50 percent higher than InstantCab fares. Even UBERTaxi fares were higher, by about 5 to 20 percent, and that’s before the mandatory 20 percent tip.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try InstantCab for iOS and Android now