Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week, and tell you what you need to know, and why it matters.
The deal: Solar Roadways, an experimental project to replace every road in the country with light-up solar panels, has raised $1.6 million in funding in the past six weeks.
Solar Roadways has clearly captured the imagination of its backer community, as well as a slew of mainstream media coverage. Since April 21, the crowdfunding campaign has raised $1.6 million to start manufacturing and testing the panels at a larger scale, and has set an Indigogo record for the most individual backers on a single project, at over 35,000.
It’s also impractical, expensive and, as the editors of Equities put it, “really silly.” While the project might make its backers feel like they’re helping contribute to a greener society, there’s no way
Sure Why Not
The dream of solar roadways — whole roads, driveways and parking lots replaced by light-up solar panels — has been talked about for years as just a pipe-dream for utopian futurists. That is until yesterday, when the quixotic Solar Roadways Indiegogo campaign reached its goal of $1 million in funding.
The company already has working prototypes, but the project will help them manufacture tons of panels and start testing them out on a wider scale. The proposed hexagonal panels stay slightly heated to melt snow and eliminate the need for salting and plowing, and light up with guidelines to eliminate the need for repainting. The working prototypes are made of largely recycled glass and generate enough energy to pay for themselves over a period of many years.
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Are you one of those annoying, self-righteous people who hates reading things on screens because you “just love the weight of a book in your hand and the smell of the pages”? If so, we have good news: some people are trying to crowdfund a project to print all of Wikipedia into a 1,000-volume book set.
Presumably, at some point in high school you were forced to read Brave New World and, because you were an oversexed teenager, you mostly remember the part about the “feelies,” the sexy movies complete with erotic sensations.
Well, call up your sophomore English lit teacher and let him know that dystopia is nigh, because a Dutch company has just launched an Indiegogo campaign for something called the cumOmatic. It’s billed as the “first wireless ‘Feel Real Erotic Movie’ system in the world.”
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Justine Tunney is a New York-based software engineer at Google, but she’s also a prolific activist who was and continues to be instrumental to the Occupy Wall Street movement. A “transgender anarchist,” she founded OccupyWallStreet.org and continues to maintain the @OccupyWallSt Twitter handle; her Github account has an Occupy Wall Street specific repository that boasts the tagline, “Stomping out capitalism, one line of code at a time.” And she also has an interesting new approach to crowdfunding.
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Welcome to life after Bravo: Hermione Way, erstwhile Start-ups: Silicon Valley star, is now the face of Vibease, a company that purports to make the first “wearable smart vibrator.” They’ve just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $15,000, and they’re already at $13,695.
Ignore the fact that “Vibease,” when you say it out loud, sounds like it has something to do with bees. Vi-BEES.
Back in April, Colorado-based revenge porn proprietor Craig Brittain promised that he would shutter his online nudes hub Is Anybody Down, feigning remorse about posting naked photos without women’s consent and even changing his Twitter bio to something so emo it’d make Taking Back Sunday proud. But shortly after declaring his intent to shut down the site, Mr. Brittain registered obamanudes.com and transferred all of Is Anybody Down’s archives there. When visitors go to isanybodydown.com, they’re greeted with a message: “Is Anybody Down is OVER! Obama Nudes has begun. http://obamanudes.com/“
In November of last year, Gawker reported that the notorious gross-out site “Goatse.cx,” which showed an old man splaying open his anus for all to see, was being transitioned from a nostalgia-laden ’90s meme to an actual email service. The site’s new owner, an Australian IT consultant who goes by the moniker Jonathan, planned to offer Goatse vanity email addresses for $5 a pop.
Shopping Site Goes Shopping Back in 2011, Khoi Vinh, the former design director for The New York Times’s website, attempted to launch an iPad collage maker called Mixel that even Taylor Swift would love. The interface was kind of clunky, and the company soon pivoted to a smoother iPhone product, which became fairly successful. And now Mixel has been acquired by the custom product giant Etsy.
No, you won’t be creating any collages of your twee collectables any time soon. According to AllThingsD, The Mixel team is being acquired for its stellar mobile talents. Mr. Vinh and his cofounder Scott Ostler, along with employees Akiva Leffert and Roy Stanfield, will all make the move to Etsy’s Brooklyn offices. Mixel will be shutting down the social side of its app, but will leave up its collage-making tool. In an email to Betabeat, Etsy CTO Kellan Elliot-McCrea explains, “We expect our mobile traffic to surpass desktop traffic by the end of 2014.”
Kickstarted The crowdfunding king released its annual highlights for 2012 this week. And the startups is going about as gangbusters as well, an oversubscribed, blockbuster Kickstarter campaign. In 2012, 2,241,475 people pledged almost $320 million and successfully funded a little over 18,000 projects. That works out to about $606 per minute. Monetization is so much easier when it’s baked into your platform, isn’t it?
Indie No More Kickstarter competitor Indiegogo also released data for 2012. Campaigns raised 20 percent more in last year than they did in 2011 and successful campaigns took an average of 11 days preparing for their launch.