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Interview with TinyGrab – What’s next?

I’ve been thrilled to be able to talk with the new owner of TinyGrab.com – Company 52’s CEO Michael Poythress.

After weeks of quietly taking the rains of the Simple, Screenshot Sharing Service TinyGrab.com it’s now official, TinyGrab is under new management and we’ve got a great insight into this acquisition, and what’s next for TinyGrab.

Let’s Jump In.

So who are Company 52? And what do you do?

We are Company 52, a small development agency primarily based in the U.S.  We work as a completely distributed team, and don’t have a traditional office.  But we still have structure, order, and professionalism – this is a full-time job for all of us.  Our exact size fluctuates a little as we try out new developers and designers and as our workload increases – some people love the distributed model and flourish with it, others don’t handle it so well.  To stay on the same page, we start out each day with a quick phone call so each person can share what they accomplished the day before, and what they expect to accomplish today

Being distributed, we have a pretty relaxed / entrepreneurial management style.  Everyone on our team is competent, self-motivated, and self-disciplined, but we do have very clear leadership to prioritize projects and set the tone / culture / goals.  Our goal is to use technology to empower people – both through providing our development expertise to others (for hire), and through developing and maintaining apps of our own.  Our own apps are usually more fun and less stressful 🙂

The professionalism and discipline we operate with allows us to work with some very large organizations as clients.  Our specialty as an agency is getting great results *fast* – so there’s an emphasis on setting aggressive goals and timelines as a team, and working hard together to reach them.

Online tools make our business work.  In addition to our daily calls, we collaborate throughout the day using online chat and instant messaging, a project management tool, and Dropbox.  TinyGrab was a tool that helped us work together better and faster, and that’s how we ended up here today 🙂

We’ve never raised any outside money, and have taken the more slow, steady bootstrapped growth approach with our company.

For a little more on C52, you can see our website or http://www.crunchbase.com/company/company-52

Some of the other online applications we’ve developed from scratch and currently operate include PianoScheduler.com (a business tool for piano tuners – a very small niche), RainMakerApp.com (a financial donation tool for Twitter), and Tweet2Give (a white-label version of RainMaker for larger organizations).  We also have another online service that’s about to be launched – called 52 Deals.  More info on that will be released soon.

What’s your biggest success and biggest failure as a company so far?

Good question.  I wouldn’t say we’ve had any massive successes OR massive failures, really.  Certainly we have high hopes and expectations for each app we work on and launch, and they rarely start out experiencing the kind of widespread adoption and profitability that we dreamed of.  But we’re still operating them all and working diligently to gradually build them.  And each one is steadily making progress.

A lot of our most impressive successes have to do with what we’ve been able to pull off for clients, which we can’t talk about as much.  But those things have shown us what we’re capable of, and given us the confidence to do that for our own apps.  We seem to be developing a pattern of being “turnaround specialists” – coming in at the 11th hour and turning what is about to become a colossal failure into a success.

We’ve certainly made our share of mistakes since we started as a company 3 years ago, including the original founding partnership splitting up.  But that helped make us stronger, and shaped the culture of relaxed professionalism we have now.  Our biggest success is probably the fact that we made it through all that and are still in business 🙂

What motivated you to take on TinyGrab, what was the clincher?

Excellent question!  The original motivation was this:  we’ve been using TinyGrab for over a year, and we had no idea how much easier it made our lives until it became unreliable in March.  We had originally just contacted the guys at TinyGrab to see if they wanted or needed help getting everything back stable, so we could continue using it.  But it became apparent immediately that they were getting burned out and overwhelmed.  At that point, we didn’t want it shutdown, so we started learning about what was going on and talking with them about acquiring it.  The clincher for us was when we realized that some issues TinyGrab was experiencing never would have existed with some of our basic operating practices.  What TinyGrab needed was just a little more experience, and we knew we had what it needed.  At that point it was a no-brainer for us.

At first it may seem odd for a *web* application development agency to buy an installed application.  But over half of what makes TinyGrab work *is* web-based, and our developers are experienced enough in the non-web-based part of TinyGrab’s code that we knew we could handle it.

Once we confirmed it was something we could handle from a technical standpoint, the only thing left was coming to terms on the business side with Chris & Nick.  Our discussions happened over a period of a couple months, and we actually thought we had lost out to someone else.  But apparently it became clear that the other party wasn’t as committed to keeping TinyGrab alive, so Chris & Nick came back to us and we resumed our negotiation.  The clincher was obviously that Chris & Nick agreed to our offer.

What do you see as the “end goal” for TinyGrab?

The ultimate goal of TinyGrab is to make sharing screenshots with others as fast and simple as possible.

It’s not much of a leap to get from what TinyGrab does currently to sharing all kinds of files, like CloudApp.  I won’t say we’ll never do that, but for now, CloudApp is serving that market just fine – at least for Mac users.  Our first priority is to make TinyGrab the best cross-platform screenshot sharing app + service in the world.

What are your plans for the service of the next year or so?

First of all, we’ll be completing all (or nearly all) the features that were started or planned, but not yet completed.  As part of that, we’ll be adding support for uploading images to more services than just grab.by – such as Rackspace Cloud Files, Amazon S3, Dropbox, and others.  We’ll also be adding more “social” to the “social screenshot sharing” aspect of TinyGrab, with better social network integration.  The iPhone app for tinygrab is ok, but there’s a lot more potential for that – we’ll be working on new mobile applications for iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Windows Phone.  We also want to add in some customization features that specifically serve the professional users (like Company 52).

A lot of people don’t know about the “image gallery” aspect of TinyGrab, in account control panel at tinygrab.com.  We’ll be enhancing that and making it a lot more useful.

What do you think seperates TinyGrab from it’s competitors?

When TinyGrab got started, it didn’t have many competitors if any.  Several new ones have sprouted up in the last couple of months primarily *because* TinyGrab was failing.  But now that it’s reliable again….

When TinyGrab stopped working reliably, we started looking for good alternatives that had its features and flexibility.  But there weren’t any that fit the bill, that’s when we realized how unique it was.

TinyGrab is one of the only cross-platform screenshot sharing apps.  Most others services are either for Windows OR Mac, not both.

Speed and ease-of-use.  TinyGrab is just simple and fast.  And it looks pretty.  You don’t have to have any other account to use TinyGrab; it can be completely self-contained.

Flexibility.  Even though you don’t have to have your own server to use TinyGrab, you can use your own if you want to.  We’ll be expanding that with native support for more services, as mentioned above.

Cost.  Some of the new apps and services sprouting up cost something, even if it’s just a little.  TinyGrab will have paid versions, but for the casual users there will always be a great free version as well.

Do you plan to make any changes to the current income structure? – More ads, less ads? Or subscriptions?

No, not really.  We’ll be keeping the ads basically as they are, but we will be re-introducing the subscriptions as soon as possible.  For that to work we have to finish some of the programming to get some of the subscription-worthy features ready.  We are also considering offering a non-subscription, one-time purchase edition at some point.

Any surprises? – Was it easier/harder than expected? – What challenges have you faced so far?

Yes, actually 🙂  But mostly good ones.  The first surprise was just how many fans TinyGrab has.  Sure there are a lot of ticked off users that gave up a while ago, but we were really excited to find some great allies on Twitter and via email.  We’ve been chewed out some by people frustrated about the last few months, but each person who raves about how much they love TinyGrab and are excited to have us take over and fix it makes up for all the angry ones.

One challenge we didn’t expect was the complexity of taking over and migrating servers from Keyone.  In the due-diligence, Keyone provided us with system resource usage.  But one thing they forgot to include was the cloud *storage* for all the grabs that have been taken over the last couple of years.  It was millions of files, and hundreds of gigabytes.  And due to the way Keyone’s server infrastructure was setup, we’re having to move all of those files off to a new server.

The transition certainly hasn’t been a walk in the part, but it’s about what we expected.  I wouldn’t call it “easy” in the objective sense, but I would say we were uniquely prepared to know how to deal with all the challenges and just take them in stride.  We are still in the middle of quietly transitioning everything over behind the scenes, a process which will end up taking several weeks.

Get a FREE 2-year Subscription for TinyGrab Pro!

GeekTechBlog.com are lucky enough to have three (3) 2-year TinyGrab Pro subscriptions to give away, with a service which is constantly improving and adding new features this really will be the gift that keeps on giving!

How to win:

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Each comment, like, follow and tweet counts as additional chances to win, so tweet your hearts out! Don’t forget to mention @GeekTechBlogUK in your Tweets!

We will pick the winners on Friday 5th August and Announce on the blog by 7th August.

TinyGrab – Under new management

Us at GeekTechBlog are big fans of TinyGrab, and have been closely following the service for the past few months, particularly when they got taken over by a new owner – Now we can finally spill the beans!

TinyGrab has has a rough couple of months, including issues with their Grab.by domain which left many users pulling their hair out.

Company 52 quietly acquired TinyGrab on July 8th and since then have been busy stabilizing the service, including restoring the Grab.by domain and improving customer support.

Launched in 2009, TinyGrab has grown quickly over the last two years to over 300,000 registered users.  It grew faster than the original founding team’s capabilities, and when the service’s primary server was hacked in March, it set off a chain of events that resulted in unfinished TinyGrab 2.0 beta software being pushed out the door, the disabling of all new paid-plan signups, and a firestorm of user frustration.

After considering offers from multiple companies, TinyGrab’s founders selected Company 52 as the best equipped and committed to ensure TinyGrab’s long-term success.

Since July 8th, Company 52 has taken over all development, maintenance, and customer support responsibilities.  It will also complete development of the Mac and Windows versions of TinyGrab 2.0, reintroduce the paid service plans, and release new mobile app versions.

Company 52 is a primarily US-based web and mobile application development agency.  Its small team of full-time designers and developers is geographically distributed, and has been developing very secure high-availability applications for the last 5 years.

TinyGrab is a cross-platform application that allows users to take screenshots, upload them to a cloud-based service, and share them – within seconds.  It was founded in 2009 by Chris Leydon and Nick Cooper.

Check out our other post where we Interview the Company 52’s CEO Michael Poythress about the TinyGrab acquisition, and their plans for the future – We also have three (3) 2-year TinyGrab Pro subscriptions to give-away!

Twitter Ads Set To Become Unmissable

This coming summer, it’s going to become a lot harder for you to ignore adverts on the social blogging site, twitter.

CEO Dick Costolo has been presented with a problem following the inception of ‘Promoted Tweets’ as they only appear when the user searches for a particular term on the site. For example, typing in Romance at the moment brings forward the promoted ‘My Chemical Romance Live Stream’.

The proposed plans is to incorporate these ‘Promoted Tweets’ directly into your twitter feed so that when you’re filtering through, you’ll see them.

I can absolutely see why they are doing this, considering the profit Twitter makes, despite it’s size. But at the same time, I simply can’t justify it. It’s the equivalent of having a link to McDonalds situated right above this line. It’s out of context and frustrating.

Let your Minecraft Creations come alive

I am pretty sure you all know about Minecraft. For those who do not, it is sandbox building game that has proven to be quite popular among the online community and creators alike. People spend days building different models out of textured cubes, which depending on the game mode, have to mined for, thus the name Minecraft.

With Minecraft.Print you can now make your Minecraft creations online. Minecraft.Print is a project by two students, Cody Sumter and Jason Boggess from the MIT Media Lab where they attempt to create a bridge between Minecraft and the real world, via 3D Printers. Here is a video of how they do it.

For those who can not view the video, here is a screen shot of, yes you guessed it, the companion cube.

 

So how does it work?

It is basically a tool that turns Minecraft 3D date into standard printable data. It uses in-game tools (blocks) to mark off the territory to be printed. For more details, check out their works here. You will find a gallery of all the different things that they have printed.

If it available soon cheap enough, I might actually be up for buying such a printer. Doubt it will happen though. Till then one can just wait for some one to start an online business where you send them your Minecraft 3D data and then post you your model for an affordable price.

Via [Hack-a-Day]

Links

Minecraft
Minecraft.Print

WoW! World of Warcraft Is Free Until Level 20

Some things never change; including Activision’s grasp upon the gaming industry’s udder, and it’s not going to be altered any time soon. Why? Because people like to socialise of course! Sitting at home raiding a dungeon whilst discussing what episode the Borg should’ve destroyed Voyager, is second to none, and Acitivision understand this. As such, they seem to be on a crusade to make WoW more accessible to the masses. In the 21st Century, no one likes to pay; in fact, we see it as quite an intrusion to be made to cough up our hard earned pennies. Piracy anyone?

Many people stay clear of the likes of WoW (Myself included) due to the subscription based service that some of just can’t justify. I could justify £8.99 on Microsoft Points, but £8.99 on one game monthly? That’s £107.88 per annum, and the big dogs know that the everyday consumer can’t continue like it, nor start for that matter. The introduction of ‘FreeTil20’ as it’s been nicknamed on the Blizzard Forums, is a clear jab at those of us who tread carefully when handing out card details. I for one may well look into the game more, but regardless of how long they give you; their aim is to hook you and reel you in like the money fish you are.

But how does this effect Activison?

WoW has had a drop of over 600,000 players since the last fiscal year, setting it on the course of concern (or the Guitar Hero path). As a result of this new ideology, there will inevitably be those who try and enjoy the game, paying the £107.88 a year, but in the long run Activison don’t lose money, merely gain. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it impeccable easy to get to Lvl20, and then a David Vs. Goliath for 21 onwards.

TinyGrab’s Grab.by is down

The Simple, Screenshot Sharing service TinyGrab.com is experiencing issues with their short Grab.by domain which is used for the generic screenshot URL as well as image source URL for custom domains too.

The @TinyGrab twitter account tweeted this morning:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/tinygrab/status/85284436891017217″]

However the issue seems to not quite be as simple as the registrar, or even the registry having issues, put simply, it appears to be that the grab.by domain was allowed to expire, and as such the domain has now gone offline.

This goes to show how important it is to pick your domain registrar carefully, and keep on top of your domain renewals! Particularly when 340,000 users depend on the domain’s functioning. Just writing this post not being able to use TinyGrab showed what a pain screenshots used to be!

Hopefully the TinyGrab guys can get this sorted ASAP with their registrar and hopefully any users wondering why it’s down now know, will update this post as we learn more.

Grab Page of Custom Domain:

Google set to release new photo sharing service “Photovine”?

PhotovineGoogle have recently applied for a trademark in the US for “Photovine”.

I think it’s safe to say that this will be some sort of service involving pictures and has been officially identified as “Communication services, namely, transmission of visual images and data by telecommunications networks, wireless communication networks, the Internet, information services networks and data networks”. So this is obviously a new way of sharing photos over the internet and judging by a further identifications as “Non-downloadable computer software” and “On-line social networking services” it is probably going to involve sharing photos with your friends and your Google account.

So it seems Google is now trying to take some of the market involving Flickr, after all we all know Picasa isn’t exactly a great photo sharing tool so maybe this will see Google enter yet another part of the social networking, lets just hope this works better than buzz.

You can view the original trademark here(United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Kinect SDK for Windows to be released this week?

KinectSDKA countdown has appeared on Channel 9 live set to finish at 1800 BST on Thursday is believed to be counting down the release of the announcement of the Kinect SDK due to be released in spring of which the end is quickly approaching. A twitter account @KinectSDKTeam has also be created with only a single tweet to its name.

The Kinect SDK is set to allow Xbox’s popular peripheral to be used with a Windows machine, it is not yet know which versions will be supported but it is understood to be able to bring full functionality to the system giving developers access to not only the IR and RGB cameras but also the voice recognition software which is currently being used by the Xbox 360. It will give developers a Skeletal track tool which will allow them to track the body without having to write their own tracking code. The assumed inclusion of official Kinect drivers will hopefully mean that the current Kinect hacks will be able to utilise one single driver over all the hacks and hopefully make them more responsive and easier for a user to set up.

Join the live event tomorrow to find out more and we will try to keep you updated.

 

Source : Winrumors

Extreme Unboxing of the Samsung Galaxy SII

There are some incredible videos of “Extreme Unboxing” of the Samsung Galaxy SII coming out currently, which I just have to share.

Firstly we have the Stunt Flight, in this we see Matt Brian of TheNextWeb.com unboxing while being tossed around like a rag doll in the air at great speeds. This in it’s self is worth a look!

Then we have Basil Knorfli unboxing, in a cloud hanging off a mountain… It’s incredible seeing the device being used and shown off by someone rock climbing. This video in particular shows off how easy to use the Galaxy SII seems to be, particularly the responsiveness of touch, as well as showing off the 8 Megapixel camera with impressive results.

In the next video with Gareth Beavis from Techradar.com unboxing, speeding up the river Thames on a speedboat, and still able to discuss the fantastic features of Samsung’s new Galaxy SII phone. He also shows off the 8 Megapixel camera, the clips shown are of surprisingly good quality and incredible considering the circumstances the phone is being used under.

After seeing these videos it has only enhanced my need for a better phone, still running on a (very crappy) LG Intouch Max, which is limited to a painful Android 1.5 it’s impressive to see both how the Android software which is running Gingerbread on the Galaxy SII has come, particularly when bundled with a fantastic dual core processor and the awesomely vivid screen. This is one of the best phones I have seen one the market and definitely worth checking out… I know I will be!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

The T-mobile Royal Wedding

T-mobile have done it again! Yet another awesome viral video this time to celebrate the Royal Wedding, a great laugh and definitely worth a watch!