Part I — Hot Startups to Watch in 2010

UPDATE: Part II of this post, which includes the rest of my favorite 25 startups to watch this year, is now up.

I’m watching hundreds of startups, have at least one list of them over on Twitter (500 startups are on that one) and will be starting other lists in 2010 but I’ve been watching the trends on Twitter of what people are talking about and here are 25 startups to watch.


Because they are the best of breed examples of trends that are bigger than them. Is this list complete? No way, but it gives you a good starting point on some companies who you should be trying out and watching.

I have 15 other companies that I’ll be posting over the weekend, please let me know if you have any companies you are watching and we can watch them together.

Boxee Logo
1. Boxee. (Crunchbase entry). Twitter account. There are a ton of videos linked off of CrunchBase. Why is it important? Because better than any other company this one is pushing TV in a new Internet-connected direction.

Aardvark Logo
2. Vark. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. My video with founders. Why is it important? Because it uses humans to get answers to questions that search can’t answer and it does it via an interesting distribution system via IM, mobile apps, and email.

Foursquare Logo

3. Foursquare. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Why is it important? Because it brought us a new kind of game: a location-based one, but forget the game, when you check in with it you’ll see who is close to you and what tips about cool things to do near you have been left by your friends. Video of company founder on Gillmor Gang talking about Foursquare. UPDATE: a few people say I should put Gowalla (Foursquare competitor) on the list. But so far I went for Best-of-Breed and in my view Foursquare is kicking Gowalla’s behind. But, indeed, I’m watching Gowalla too.

Nextstop Logo

4. Nextstop. Crunchbase Entry. Twitter account. Video of company founders demoing nextstop’s mobile. Watch a more general video overview with the founders. Why is this important? Because discovering interesting places to visit, whether in the places near where you live, or on a trip across an ocean, is something we still can’t do well. Nextstop brings us a way to share, curate, and collect interesting places.

Rippol Logo

5. Rippol. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video of Rippol’s founders showing off several new features coming next week. Why is it important? Because it shows off something I expect a range of new companies to do in 2010: display a different view of our social networks, in this case it will show you just videos that your Twitter and Facebook users are sharing. I find it invaluable for watching large numbers of users and the videos that they care about.

Waze Logo

6. Waze. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video demo of Waze as we drive around Palo Alto. Why is it important? Because it shows off how crowds can be used to compete with much bigger companies, but also how mobile devices can be used to share information with each other to build a new kind of service that isn’t possible other ways.

Gist logo
7. Gist. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video of Gist’s founder on my studio show about future of work and a separate video of my visit to their headquarters in Seattle. Why is it important? Because when you are working with people the more you know about those people the more productive you’ll be able to be. This is particularly true for salespeople and other networkers. Before you make a big call, have you checked all their social networking sites to see what they’ve written? With Gist it’s easy and hooked into your email system.

Kynetx logo
8. Kynetx. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video with founders explaining why Kynetx is an interesting real-time development system. Why is it important? Because it lets developers augment websites and search engines for their customers. AAA can add new data to for its members, for instance.

Tapulous Logo
9. Tapulous. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video with Tapulous’ founder talking about having the top grossing iPhone game. Why is it important? Because mobile devices are changing how we play games and the company that best took advantage of that trend in 2009 was Tapulous who had the #1 iPhone game and was first to introduce in-app buying of virtual goods, another trend I expect will be huge in 2010.

Posterous Logo
10. Posterous. Crunchbase entry. Twitter account. Video of company founders talking about how Posterous makes publishing simple. Why is it important? Because, while Twitter has made publishing short messages super simple sometimes a short message isn’t enough and you want to write a blog, or post a video, or put up a photo. Posterous is one of a handful of companies that have pushed publishing along in 2009 (Tumblr is another one) and that makes them a company to watch in 2010.

More to come later this weekend.


41 thoughts on “Part I — Hot Startups to Watch in 2010

  1. Regarding Foursquare, I don't know why they have to restrict themselves to certain cities. Surely they would be able to expand even quicker if they let people from all over the world participate.


    1. I am using Foursquare in Hong Kong and Beijing without any problems. People from all over the world can use it. It’s not restricted to certain cities


  2. When you have only limited resources then you gotta limit your growth. I think it was very smart. Remember how Facebook started? Not for everyone, only for college kids. Now? Everyone is on Facebook. I think Foursquare's strategy was very smart.


  3. I use Gowalla for the fact foursquare like almost all tech don't happen here in South Central PA. It seems like we are in no where Montana sometimes when it comes to tech.


  4. I think that tumblr is far more promising than posterous. However, There is a big difference in user demographics.


  5. I find most of these companies really a waste of time. Iam sorry but expected more from you.


  6. Great list as always Scoble. You said you thought Foursquare was kicking Gowalla's butt. I've been using both for a while and have found Gowalla a better service. Are you saying Foursquare is winning today because of traffic, or because you've used both and for some reason like Foursquare better? Just looking for more of your thinking on that as I've come to a different conclusion (and actually, at this point I think Whrrl kicks BOTH their butts).


  7. Call me a geo-skeptic but I just don’t get Foursquare or the need to broadcast your location. To me, Foursquare et al are shiny new toys that the digerati will toss away once the novelty is over.


  8. Great list. I agree location and amplification (dissemination of social objects to multiple end points i.e posterous) will be big in 2010. 4 years ago I coined the term “iPALS” to try and describe how I saw things connecting together. – identity, presence, attention, location, services.Thus far identity is pretty much done with new features like Portable Contacts and WebFinger to make it easier. Attention is everywhere now from Twitter, Facebook and others. Location is equally hot with Fire Eagle, Twitter, Gowalla, FourSquare etc. Presence however is still something I think that has not been addressed. In email we have out of office and skype has presence states but there is no real presence options in twitter or facebook. This IMHO will be important once we are mobile and publishing out location status. Services of course is an easy catch all but Squirrel and Blippy are two interesting services for 2010 that build on identity, attention and location. I'm sure Robert these will be in your 25.


  9. Why would a VC or other investor-types be interested in companies like these? Just curious – aside from the ‘game’ company, don’t see any that have much in the way of revenue models – they are all more ‘wing and a prayer’ companies – is this all that us ‘techies’ are interested in these days? Seriously?

    Seems kinda sad – all we can do as entrepreneurs is ride piggyback on last years ‘meme’ idea – in this case social networking, when as far as i can see, social media has peaked about as much as it will for a while. Facebook etc is becoming more annoying and invasive than ever – twitter is hopeless (from a revenue generation perspective) and more people that I talk to are annoyed by ‘social media / web 2.0’ than anything else.

    There has to be more out there than these ‘same as last year’ type companies?


  10. My biggest issue with Foursquare is that I can be standing inside the location I want to check into and it will offer me locations 10's of miles away. Santa Clara really isn't close enough to San Francisco for there to be such a discrepancy. They need to fix their GPS tie in before they can definitively “defeat” Gowalla (who just happens to get the exact address EVERY time).


  11. Partly it is winning because of traffic. Remember, this is part of the reason why Twitter won and not FriendFeed or Pownce (both of which had better features than Twitter). But I think people are looking at the wrong things when comparing Foursquare and Gowalla (and even Whrrl). It's not just about telling people where you are, it's all the tips that enhance that location and your experience there.


  12. Hmm, I occasionally have that problem, but only occasionally. I really don't like Gowalla's forced accuracy system and I think that if you are worried about accuracy you're totally missing the value of Foursquare anyway. Most people are freaked out about sharing their real location. Having some added “fuzziness” in the system is actually a major feature for most people I talk with. For instance, I don't check in at my house. I check in at the Ritz down the street. Why? I don't want you to see my home address, but I do want my friends to know I'm back in the neighborhood.


  13. I'm missing one of my favs I was introduced to their video aggregation service at Blogworld. They let you create channels of videos found in different video websites and publish it on your own website. Maybe and idea for part II.


  14. Robert -Awesome post and a great highlight reel of start ups. I'm on par with many of them (and have talked with most). I'm a big fan of Gist as well. Why?1. They have a great product.2. They genuinely care about their users and have humans that answer email/phone, etc. 3. They make life easier not more complicated.4. Their leadership team is strong, accomplished and hungry. 5. Cool name :)Boxee is one I can't wait to continue to hear more about (especially since we are a video content provider). -D


  15. I agree! Try using it in Michigan. It only works in Detroit. If you limit your growth like this, you are giving a guge advantage to the competition like gowalla and brightkite.


  16. I don't get Foursquare too. I looked thoroughly at their site, but they don't explain what's the value or if they explain it, I don't get the explainations…Another problem with your comment is that you don't explain the real value too.It doesn't make any help to say that we don't get it, if you don't give some directions


  17. Judging from your blog post, you haven't actually tried many if any of the services Scoble has listed above. You seem to be missing the point of almost every single one – the whole post comes off as bitter and narrow-minded. You probably criticized blogging when it first started getting popular, back when you used “pen and paper” which you claim solves all problems. Sad.


  18. ..”..which you claim solves all problems”.. did i? It does beat hundreds of TO-DO applications out there. I wonder why so many of these startups fail … you should too … And i really will be glad to be wrong! My point was about “hype“. Calling these companies “HOT” just does not cut it! btw his next round of companies are way better … Intention is not to discourage, but we all know what unnecessary hype as brought about. Housing boom, stock market crash, IT bubble .. its time people learn't their lessons.


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