California: will how we solve the inequity of sales tax cause jobs to leave?

It’s gotta be tough to be a Californian politician. Every year we’re $15 billion in debt and already we’re seeing that they are firing cops, firefighters, school teachers, and others. Even dangerous criminals are getting put on the street.

So of course politicians are looking at the Internet and its inequitable sales taxes as a solution. Here’s how they are unfair:

I used to help run a camera store in San Jose. If I sold you a Canon 5DMKII for, say, $2,500 I’d have to charge you 9.250 percent sales tax, which comes out to $231.25. But if you bought it off of Amazon or from BH Photo you wouldn’t need to pay that (yeah, I know, you are SUPPOSED to pay sales taxes on pretty much everything you buy, but be honest, how many of us pay that if you buy on the Internet. Almost no one).

So, this system is inequitable and is having HUGE consequences on local stores. Of course, that now means Walmart, Target, and other “big box” retailers. Funny, they didn’t care about the local stores when THEY disrupted the marketplace with their lower overheads (which is why the camera store I worked at is no longer in business) but now that their businesses are being threatened they are caring all of a sudden and spending BIG BUCKS lobbying our politicians.

And they are finding welcome ears. Politicians are sponsoring bills all over the place (they estimate that in California alone taxing Internet businesses could collect more than a billion dollars a year). This morning I listened to what they are doing at both state and national levels and it’s pretty clear we’re going to see rules massively changed so states can enforce their tax rules.

The problem is, as Keith Posehn blogged, this could have devastating consequences for a raft of startups.

Go read Keith’s post. It’s eye opening.

Is Silicon Valley about to see a good chunk of its startups done away with to protect the business models of out-of-state retailers (neither Target, BestBuy, nor WalMart are located here)?

All so California politicans can try to solve our government’s budget crisis?

Who will protect our jobs? Hint: no one.


EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Color has “real time” social camera competition: CoolIris LiveShare preview

One thing that caught my eye (beyond its $41 million in funding) about Color was its “social camera” capabilities. What do I mean by that?

Well, if you use Color, aim it at me in a room, it’ll add my name to your phone. How did it do that? Through the use of all the sensors to figure out we were in the same room, and you were taking a picture of me.

That’s pretty cool, when it works, but I think Color was pitched wrong.

What do I mean by that?

If it were me, I would have solved the problem of syncing photos between iphones and ipads. Just cure that pain and let people discover the other “social stuff” later that Color does.

Well, Cooliris, today, brings LiveShare which does that and more.

It is one of the coolest apps I’ve seen this year, you must watch the demo.

It’s NOT just a social camera, either.

Why did it get me so excited?

Because, say we’re at a wedding. I can have everyone there load up CoolIris Liveshare, and we can all share LIVE onto a single computer, or iPad. This is something I’ve never seen done before. I can’t wait to use this at a conference with a videowall. Photos can “pour” into the app live, from hundreds, or even, thousands of people shooting photos. Now, that isn’t that typical of a use case, but think of a birthday party, with 15 friends and family shooting photos. All showing up on a big screen instantly. All being shared with each other instantly.

This is a big deal and why, today, Color has new competition.

By the way, the system demoed here is not out yet, it will ship between now and August.

Here’s more, from Rackspace’s Building 43, reprinted with permission:


LiveShare: instant photo sharing from Cooliris

Photo sharing on the web has been around for years. Sites like Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and Snapfish provide a wealth of options for uploading images and making them available to friends and family. None of these sites, however, allows instant, real-time sharing across multiple devices. Cooliris is making that possible with its new app called LiveShare.

“Back in 2006, we started Cooliris with the goal to transform the way people experience media on the web,” explains Austin Shoemaker, Co-Founder and CTO of Cooliris. “And that’s brought us to a point where we’re really excited to show you what we’ve been working on—a new product called LiveShare that’s all about visual communication and enabling people to interact around media in a way that’s more natural and really thinking about the context of the message that you’re sending.”

The LiveShare application allows you to create an event and share photo streams related to that event. Anyone you invite to join the event can view the photos instantly as well as contribute their own photos. The app is currently available for the iPhone and iPad as well as any web browser that supports HTML5, but the company has plans to expand to other devices in the future.

“It’s a cross device, user-centric experience,” says Shoemaker. “When you jump into LiveShare, you can do that from your phone, from your tablet or from your web browser, and it’s the same experience with the same information and media. However you come in, you’ve got your personal world right there. If you’re on your phone, you’re more likely to capture photos and videos, so you could just take pictures and take videos, and those are instantly synced to the cloud. So you go back home, and those photos and videos are available for you to browse, present, and share to groups or social networks. We think this is going to be a great way to really connect all the different parts of your life.”

LiveShare achieves instant syncing by first syncing a low resolution version of the photo, but it follows that initial sync with the full resolution image. “One of the decisions we made,” says Shoemaker, “was we want people to be able to use this as their primary camera, so when you’re taking pictures, you’re not compromising on quality.”

You can also share text messages, videos and links from your browser. Links can be viewed right in the app using a minibrowser, or you can jump out to your full browser. And as location is a big part of the context of any event, the app allows you to geotag all of your messages.

Images and video are just the beginning for LiveShare. “In the first version, we’re only going to support image and video attachments,” explains Shoemaker. “In the future, we’re going to allow any kind of documents. The idea is if you’re sharing say a Photoshop file of a mockup, you should be able to drag and drop that on your group and they should be able to open it on the other side.”

More info:

LiveShare web site:
Cooliris web site:
Cooliris on Twitter:
Cooliris profile on CrunchBase:

First look: CloudFlare Apps make web applications faster and safer (dramatically so in some cases)

Do you own a website or blog, like I do? Is it as fast as it absolutely could be? I thought so, after all, my site is hosted at Rackspace where we have huge datacenters and huge pipes and a great CDN.

Last week CloudFlare visited me and showed me even my site isn’t as fast as it could be. That opened my eyes.

CloudFlare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, and Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder, explained how they make sites faster and showed me a new “CloudFlare Apps” feature. Before this came out web apps require website owners to change code, potentially decreasing performance and increasing security risks (that’s one reason why I don’t have a ton of WordPress plugins on my blog). But with CloudFlare Apps it allows web apps to be activated without requiring code changes and it works with app providers to ensure that they perform as well as possible and don’t create conflicts with other code. Announcing today are these apps:

* VigLink (affiliate links)
* Clicky (real-time website analytics)
* Apture (contextual search)
* Smartling (language translation)
* Monitis (site and server monitoring)
* UserVoice (customer engagement tools)
* Pingdom (website uptime monitoring)
* SnapEngage (live chat)
* ExceptionHub (JavaScript error tracking)
* Zoompf (web performance scanning)
* Typekit (web fonts)
* GlobalSign HackAlert (malware detection)
* WatchMouse (site performance monitoring)
* TRUSTe (privacy seal)
* Haileo (video and image advertising)
* Skimlinks (affiliate links)
* StopTheHacker (malware detection)
* Google Analytics (website analytics)
* Google Webmaster Central (website validation)

We’re evaluating using it here, what do you think? How much faster did it make your site?

In the video they explain how it works, why it protects your databases from crawlers, and how it makes sites much faster.