Day: May 9, 2019

Thanks, Doug Baldwin, for being a total geek … and a great catch for the Seahawks and Seattle, too

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Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin played eight seasons in Seattle and won a Super Bowl championship. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Plenty of professional athletes fancy themselves as tech geeks in some fashion or another, whether they’re into gadgets or video games or they like launching startups and Twitter tirades. Doug Baldwin is the type of thoughtful, nerdy and genuinely interesting guy that made him — just like he was as a receiver for the Seattle Seahawks — a go-to guy for GeekWire.

With the news Thursday that Baldwin’s playing career with team had come to an end, it was hard not to remember how many times we tossed it to No. 89 ourselves.

We sought his perspective on everything from how technology was changing the game he loved to how important it was to give back and serve the greater good of the community.

Check out some of Baldwin’s GeekWire highlight reel below:

Gamer geek

Doug Baldwin plays “Madden” at the Museum of Pop Culture in 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

GeekWire founder John Cook caught up with Baldwin during the first-ever Madden 17 Championship Tournament in March 2017, an event hosted by the Seahawks at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture.

Baldwin discussed his love for video games, his Madden rating, virtual reality, and more.

“Games for myself and for a lot of the guys in the locker room, it’s an escape,” Baldwin said. “We spend so much time, so much effort, so much mental space on the game that we love, video games gives us that mental space to kind of check out for a little bit.”

Instinct over data

At the 2016 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit at what was then Safeco Field, Baldwin joined former Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors for a discussion about technology and what impact it had on their careers.

For all the advances in data collection and augmented and virtual reality being used to try to enhance player performance, Baldwin said he still leaned on the gut instincts that got him to the level he achieved.

He said no amount of data or virtual reality or anything else will change the fact that he has to make the decisions on the football field.

“Maybe it’ll help me in terms of repetition, but when I’m on the field, I’m not thinking about that,” Baldwin said. “It has to be second nature.”

Life after football

Last fall when GeekWire traveled down to Renton, Wash., for a weeklong GeekWire on the Road project, we set up shop not far from where the Seahawks have their practice facility.

Baldwin was the obvious choice to join us for an episode of the GeekWire Podcast, not just because he’d been a friend to the site in previous years, but because he’d shown his commitment to Renton, too.

Baldwin’s efforts to help the City of Renton build a new community center showcased how much he appreciated his own upbringing, and how it taught him to serve those around him for the greater good.

“When people ask me, ‘Why do you want to do this?,’ well, I’m a part of something,” Baldwin told GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and Taylor Soper. “I’m a part of the human collective and I want to be a part of it that’s going in a progressive manner and doing things in a positive way. That’s why I do it.”

While his Seahawks career may be over, we here at GeekWire know we’re not alone in Seattle and across the Pacific Northwest in hoping that Baldwin continues to feel that way about a region he has had such a positive impact on.

He wasn’t shy about saying, after he was done playing, that he wanted to get away from his football persona and take on new challenges and opportunities, and find a platform, for social justice reform or something else.

(GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The Seahawks said Thursday that Baldwin was one of the Seahawks’ best players on the field, but that his “legacy in Seattle, however, will be much bigger than the passes he caught or the games he helped the team win.”

“There’s this parable, it’s called the parable of talents. Some of you may know it,” Baldwin said on the GeekWire Podcast. “I think that I’ve been blessed with a number of talents, and I don’t want those to go to waste. I don’t want to bury them and not risk them to create more.”

GeekWire and Seattle are ready to see what Baldwin creates next.

Seattle’s Joe Coffee is uniting independent coffee shops with tech to compete against Starbucks

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Joe Coffee’s co-founders, from left to right Nick Martin, Brenden Martin and Lenny Urbanowski: (Joe Coffee Photo)

In Starbucks’ own backyard, a family-built startup has taken hold and assembled one of the largest networks of independent U.S. coffee shops.

Launched in 2014, Seattle-based Joe Coffee has created a platform that allows customers of local coffee shops to pre-order and pay for their drinks on mobile devices. The service also tracks purchase and rewards frequent caffeinators with free drinks, just like a paper punch cards do. The business has 300 independent coffee shop partners using its service, with 150 participants in Seattle. Last fall, Joe raised $1 million in its first round of funding, led by Flying Fish Partners.

The idea for Joe was sparked by a road trip. More than four years ago, brothers Nick and Brenden Martin were driving from Eastern Washington to Seattle and made what should have been a quick pit stop for java. The two started talking about the long waits at coffee shops and drive-thrus and began percolating ideas for a solution, ultimately landing on the notion of a mobile ordering system.

Take your pick of independent coffee shops through the Joe Coffee app (Joe Coffee Image)

Between the two of them, they had experience in marketing, startups and product management. And as kids, they’d had front-row seats to entrepreneurship when their dad started a company in Central Washington building and selling lawn-and-garden storage sheds.

They saw firsthand that “you have to pour your heart and soul into that thing to make it work,” Nick said. And even then, it isn’t always enough. After running his company for about 10 years, the national brand Tuff Shed squeezed out their dad’s local business.

Not long after Joe got its start, Starbucks launched a pilot of its mobile ordering app. That made Joe’s product key not only to speeding up coffee purchases, but also to competing with international purveyors.

A main driver for Joe’s founders is “empowering small businesses in the coffee space,” Nick said.

To round out their team’s skill set, Brenden enrolled in a coding school so that he could lead the development of their minimal viable product (MVP). It was there that he met Lenny Urbanowski, who would become their third co-founder and chief technology officer.

Joe’s business model charges a small “convenience fee” for consumers of 35 cents per transaction, and charges coffee shops an 8 percent fee on purchases made through its system. Some of that money is used to cover the cost of the rewards program for loyal coffee drinkers, essentially a buy-10-drinks-get-one-free sort of deal, which can be redeemed at any shop using the Joe platform. Coffee shops manage the Joe-enabled orders through a tablet provided by the startup.

The eight-person company expects to triple in size in the near future and in August is moving to larger offices in Seattle. They have plans to expand into a second market soon, saying it will be another large, West Coast city.

Competitors in the space include Cups, which has offices in Brooklyn and San Francisco, and Vancouver, B.C.-based JoJo.

Growth is still challenging for Joe. Every coffee shop has a different menu, a different work and customer flow, a different physical setup. For the company to succeed, partnering businesses need to ensure that freshly-made drinks are ready to go as quickly and smoothly as possible for their customers.

Despite that challenge, the Joe founders have venti-sized dreams.

“Our goal,” said Nick, “is building a network that meets and beats what you can get at a Starbucks.”

We caught up with Nick, who is Joe’s CEO; Brenden, software developer and product manager; and Urbanowski for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for their answers to our questionnaire.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: Joe is a mobile order and rewards app for local and independent coffee retailers that empowers them to compete with the “shop on every corner convenience” of national chains and allows coffee consumers to quickly and easily order directly from their phone.

Joe Coffee CEO Nick Martin. (Joe Coffee Photo)

Inspiration hit us when: Initially, it was while waiting in the drive-thru — a process that is designed for speed and efficiency that was clearly failing. When people pass up the experience they prefer for one that is more convenient, it hurts the relationships that our partners work so hard to cultivate. Ultimately, it also affects their bottom line. We started thinking about a way to level the playing field on convenience while enhancing the things that make local coffee so special to begin with.

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: We’ve done all three now. We bootstrapped it ourselves in the beginning because we had to: cashing in 401Ks, putting expenses on credit cards, taking on multiple freelance jobs and driving for Lyft. We didn’t have access to the right network of people, but eventually, we did make the right connections. Our first round was a mix of angles and VC. Initially, we were targeting angels because we weren’t sure that VCs would be interested in us. As it turns out, they were. The feedback and guidance we’ve gotten from both Flying Fish and our angel investors have been invaluable to our development.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: We have a significant lack of ego and a real focus on outcomes. We have an intense focus on doing whatever it takes to empower our partners and relying on data to create value around coffee-specific behavior on both sides of the transaction. We believe that our coffee-specific focus creates a comparative advantage that allows us to deliver higher value faster for partners and our users.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: We started working closely with our partners to refine the experience. We needed to think beyond just the technical experience and more on providing real, tangible value to their customers. Through that learning, we’ve built a better experience for everyone in a way that fits seamlessly into our customers’ existing processes at a cost structure that equals in-person orders.

Making an order through Joe Coffee (Joe Coffee Image)

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: The biggest mistake we’ve made is basically the inverse of our smartest move. We thought that if something didn’t scale right away, it wasn’t worth building from a product and process perspective. In the early phase, it’s more about learning than anything else. Once we took a step back and focused on learning about the unique needs of different segments of our audience, we could move faster and find a model that would scale.

Which entrepreneur or executive would you want working in your corner?

Nick: I have great respect for the leadership team from my time at Zillow. The way that Spencer Rascoff and Amy Bohutinsky represented themselves as leaders — they were authentic and approachable. To me, you empower your team to move faster and take risks when they know you trust them and that everyone has a shared mission of moving the business forward.

Brenden: I would love to spend time with the leadership team at GrubHub. The way they’ve been able to scale in the food space, there’s a lot of things we can learn from them. Also, the Lyft team. They way they’ve gamified the experience is awesome. They know what makes a great end-user experience and they truly empower their partners and make them feel valued.

Lenny: While at Microsoft I had the pleasure to work under Nick Caldwell (now chief product officer at Looker). He is truly one of the most inspirational engineering leaders I’ve ever encountered. He continuously fought to empower and elevate those who reported to him, and his example largely guides my management style today.

Our favorite team-building activity is: Every Friday we do what we call an “unwinder.” We get a few cocktails and we debrief on the week as a team. We talk through what’s going on with partners and the end users. We try to bubble up as many insights as possible, and we talk about wins and opportunities.

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: We are looking for people who are ambitious, eager and want to stretch and contribute in big ways. We are still testing and learning, so we need people who are OK trying new things and can come with solutions. They also need to be able to speak their truth while also leaving their ego at the door. We have a culture of always speaking up, and assuming any criticism comes from a place of good intention. Ultimately, we all want to grow and improve so this has been critical to the quality of the Joe experience.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: First of all, startup life can be overly glorified — it’s not always as sexy as you might think. You go through serious ups and downs and some extremely challenging times so you have to believe in what you’re doing and be in it for the right reasons.

To us, we couldn’t NOT work on Joe. We almost didn’t have a choice — that’s how hot the fire was burning to get it done and it’s taken every bit of that to get this far.

Similarly, ideas are worthless without the right execution and as a startup, you’re already facing an uphill battle. Make execution and relentless improvement your core competencies.

Lastly, spend time really developing your network. Regardless of the merit of your ideas, the right advisers can create an incredible amount of value in keeping you on track and connecting you to people and investors. For three founders from a working-class background, getting access to those networks was imperative.

A new ‘Fortnite’ update just added a bunch of new outfits to the game — here are all the costumes you can unlock during Season 9

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“Fortnite” Season 9 launched on May 9th, bringing big changes to the game and a new battle pass with more than 100 unlockable items.

Outfits, or “skins” are the most valuable items in “Fortnite,” since they’re capable of completely transforming your character’s appearance. The Season 9 update added three new Legendary-tier skins and four Epic skins, but players can only unlock the new outfits if they purchase the Season 9 battle pass for 950 V-Bucks.

Players can earn V-Bucks in the game, or pay $10 for 1,000 v-bucks. The battle pass will level up as players complete in-game challenges, unlocking the new outfits and other rewards along the way.

As soon as you buy the season 9 battle pass you unlock two of the Legendary skins, named Sentinel and Rox. The Rox outfit has multiple customizable styles that will unlock as you play as her. Maxing out your battle pass at level 100 will give you the final legendary skin, Vendetta.

Most skins have varying levels of rarity, and outside of the battle pass, they’re only available during limited-time sales in “Fortnite’s” in-game shop. The sale of outfits and other cosmetic items have helped the free-to-play game earn more than $2.5 billion last year. “Fortnite” remains the most popular game in the world, with more than 80 million players every month, and it’s available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, as well as iOS and Android.

Here is every skin and style choice you can unlock during Season 9 of “Fortnite”:

SEE ALSO: ‘Fortnite’ season 9 launches today with new map locations, and a huge overhaul to its offline mode

Rox’s outfit changes from a hoodie and skirt into a futuristic sky diving suit as you gain experience.

You can unlock even more color Rox variations by completing challenges.

Sentinel is a mechanized outfit with a dark variant.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The story of Chris Hughes, who made a fortune by helping Mark Zuckerberg create Facebook, but now thinks it should be broken up (FB)

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  • On Thursday, Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes wrote a blistering op-ed in the New York Times slamming Mark Zuckerberg and calling for the social network to be split up. 
  • Hughes hasn’t worked at Facebook since 2007, and cashed out his stake of $500 million or so in the company not long after the IPO in 2012. 
  • In his career, Hughes has worked for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, led the New Republic magazine, and founded nonprofits. 
  • Here’s what you need to know about Chris Hughes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook was launched by a group of Harvard students from a dorm room in 2004. 

One of those former students, Mark Zuckerberg, has become one of the richest and most prominent CEOs in the world — but also one of the most controversial, as Facebook has come under fire in a seemingly never-ending string of scandals.

On Thursday, Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s other cofounders, became the latest to slam Zuckerberg in a blistering New York Times op-ed, calling for the social network to be broken up and asking for increased regulation over the tech industry.

But who is Chris Hughes, this lesser-known Facebook cofounder? 

Hughes, 35, departed Facebook a decade ago with a small stake in the company. Although he hasn’t quite achieved the notoriety of Zuckerberg, Hughes’ career post-Facebook has included volunteering for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, a stint as editor of the magazine The New Republic, and pushing for Universal Basic Income (UBI) and other big social reforms.

Here’s the life of Chris Hughes, from Harvard student to cofounder to one of Facebook’s biggest critics:

SEE ALSO: A Facebook cofounder says that Mark Zuckerberg’s master plan has always boiled down to one word: ‘Domination’

Chris Hughes was born in November 1983 in North Carolina. He grew up in Hickory, right near the center of the state.

Source: Fast Company

When it came time for high school, Hughes decided to escape the South, and attended boarding school at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts on a “very generous financial-aid package.”

Source: Fast Company

The experience proved incredibly transformative for Hughes. As he once told Fast Company: “I went to boarding school Southern, religious, and straight, and I left boarding school not being at all religious and not being straight.”

Source: Fast Company

See the rest of the story at Business Insider