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LAUNCH Hackathon Wrap-Up

Jason Calacanis with first-place winners, Ramen

LAUNCH Hackathon (November 8-10, The Metreon City View, San Francisco):

A big thank you to all who participated in the LAUNCH Hackathon this past weekend in San Francisco.  The projects we saw exceeded our expectations and we were inspired by your hard work and energy! With over 1600 registrants, $1.7M+ in prizes, and 2 days of nonstop coding, LAUNCH's second Hackathon was a big success!

See what people were saying about the LAUNCH Hackathon on Twitter all weekend long (#launchhack)

Photos from Fri, Nov. 8:
Photos from Sun, Nov. 10:

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Of the 147 submitted projects, the judging panel selected 5 winners, with $100k in investment prizes from The LAUNCH Fund, and more:

First Place
($40k optional investment prize from the LAUNCH Fund):

Project-funding site for software startups, with a focus on early adopters, and collaborations.
Technology: Heroku, Ruby on Rails | @ramenapp
LAUNCH Hackathon project page:

Second Place - TIE
($20k optional investment prize each, from the LAUNCH Fund):

Mobile app to find restaurant pop-ups and underground dining experiences
Technology: Amazon AWS, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, MongoDB, Node.js, Objective C, Redis | @prixfixeapp
LAUNCH Hackathon project page:

Modular software to control robotic gantry for scientific experiments: recording and executing automation routines, live camera feed, gesture-based control
Technology: Arduino, Bootstrap
LAUNCH Hackathon project page:

Fourth Place
($10k optional investment prize from the LAUNCH Fund):

Code review for design projects; improving workflow for designers, developers and project managers
Technology: Angular.js, Dropbox API, JavaScript, Python, Twilio
LAUNCH Hackathon project page:


Fifth Place
($10k optional investment prize):

Mobile app that allows users to choose clothes they like, push designs into production , and earn rewards for being trendsetters – first access to fashion

Technology: iOS, Kohl’s API, Parse
LAUNCH  Hackathon project page:

See all 147 projects here:



The 15 finalists were:

Ramen (1st place winners)
AutoBio (2nd place winners - tied)
PrixFixe (2nd place winners - tied)
FinalRev (4th place)
Vibrance (5th place)
Meeting Pulse
Under the Radar
Kohl's Scavenger Hunt

Congratulations to all 15 finalists!

Click to read more ...


#googlewinseverything (part 1)


1. No company has as many smart people as Google.

2. No company is as ambitious as Google.

3. No company is working on as many hard problems as Google.

4. No company makes as many big bets as Google.

5. No company is willing to make as many crazy acquisitions as Google.

6. No company has more data than Google.

7. Few companies understand how to play the government better than Google.

8. No company has more global influence than Google.

9. No company is as ruthlessly efficient as Google.

10. Only one CEO is more ambitious than Google’s Larry Page.*

Google is going to win everything.




In truth, the 10 ‘facts’ I’ve outlined above are not mine; these are the opinions I’ve collected over the past year asking intelligent folks, ‘So what do you think about Google?’

These are the “facts” as the people see them. Although, I haven’t found anyone who disagrees with these 10 facts – do you?

The executives in technology, media, finance, journalism and government that I spend time with – typically at poker, dinner or bottle-service tables – have formed the general consensus above.

These brilliant degenerates I gamble, break bread and pop bottles with are more connected and intelligent than any of us – certainly me.

[ Side note: How great is my life that the kid with the 71 four-year average from Brooklyn gets to hang with the smartest kids in the class!? Love it! ]

They’re in awe of Google’s performance since Larry Page took over.

They’ve never seen anything like it in the history of not only technology, but humanity.

In this piece, I’m going to explore the following:

a) What are Google’s most ambitious projects?
b) What our world will look like in 10 and 20 years if Page & Co. execute at (just) their current level
c) What the ramifications are for startups, investors, the media, journalism, government, education, privacy, freedom and humanity

Click to read more ...


New Hackathon Keynote Speaker added: Naval Ravikant!


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We’re excited to announce that AngelList Founder and CEO @Naval Ravikant will join us at the LAUNCH Hackathon (Nov 8-10, San Francisco).  On the final day of coding, Naval and @Jason Calacanis will take to main stage for what’s sure to be an inspiring conversation!  See their previous “This Week in Startups” interview:

The Hackathon will open with a fireside conversation between @Jason and Kevin Rose (Digg, Google Ventures), and is poised to be the largest hackathon in the world with over 1k developers and designers competing for $1.7M+ in investment prizes.  

Spots are going quickly – there are only about 200 left – so register your team now!  All applicants will be screened, but participation is completely free, and includes breakfast, lunch, massages, workshops, and more.  

Learn more and reserve your team’s spot:



The Value of Starting from Zero (Divergent Thinking FTW)


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Yesterday I met with a savvy founder working on her first startup. She was looking for feedback and, of course wanted to mention that they happened to be closing out their angel round – there *might* be a little room left for me.

In all meetings, I like to get to the product as quickly as possible, so I asked:

“Can you show me your product?”  I’m a sucker for good product.

The founder proceeded to show me a site that looked exactly like Pinterest, but that was focused on a single vertical (which I will leave out).

“Pinterest clone!” was my immediate thought.

As the product was only 70% as refined as Pinterest, I quickly moved on:

“Uninspired founder!”

… and “Poor executer!”

At that point the meeting was basically over in my mind. Why?  

a) the projects and people I tend to invest in are ‘starting from zero’ and building up, and b) I only invest in folks who can build products that are as good or better than what’s in the market.

The LAUNCH Fund’s investments all have wickedly designed products:, and (and hey, two of three have .io domains – hmmmm).

These are my biases, and they’re largely based on my own reflection of when I’ve done great work and when I’ve done ‘menza menza’ work.

The Save
Interestingly, in the last five minutes I asked the founder why she wanted to build this product and she got a huge save. She explained her personal frustration trying to solve a problem in her life: the granular details of the problem and the potential solutions she tried after talking to her friends.

Click to read more ...


Invite: LAUNCH Hackathon, This Week in Startups Live! Boston


1. We're hosting the world's largest Hackathon, November 8th-10th in San Francisco. Over 1,000 verified developers will be there (600 have been confirmed already, 400 left).


2. The LAUNCH Fund will be investing $50k in each of two of the top 10 projects. Those two projects will also be shared with my AngelList Syndicate, making the investment $800k in each. So, we now have the world's largest investment prize (by a factor of 20x+) at $1.6M!

3. I'll also be interviewing Kevin Rose (Digg, Google Ventures), and two other awesome visionaries (suggestions welcome).


PS - A quick recap of the LAUNCH Mobile & Wearables event last week (300+ founders & investors came):

PPS - Had a great interview with Steve Jurvetson last week:

PPPS - My new startup will launch in November and I'm looking for 500 beta testers now:

PPPPS - Will be in Boston this Friday to interview Bill Warner:

PPPPPS - LAUNCH Festival has a stretch goal of 8k attendees (we hit 6k last year!), and you need to be there.  Visit for a free founder ticket. They will run out quickly!

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