Monthly Archives: October 2012
Yesterday, I joined the rideshare revolution. Today I’m writing about it. I downloaded this app on my iPhone and took three short car trips yesterday courtesy of SideCar, a San Francisco-based ridesharing company that connects people who need a ride with drivers already on the road. Simply put, it’s a reinvention of carpooling through smartphone technology.
On my penultimate trip to D.C., it took far longer to find a cab to Dulles than I anticipated. Once I flagged one down, I thought the stress of the mad dash was essentially over. I was wrong. About a mile away from the airport, I asked my driver if he accepted credit cards, as I couldn’t cover the fee in cash. Much to the surprise of few in Washington, the gruff cabbie said “no,” that he did not take credit cards. He did, however, offer me one option, which felt more like an ultimatum. I could get out of the taxi, shuffle down a flight of stairs, bank left and use an inconveniently-placed ATM. After withdrawing my cash, I could sprint back to the car and exchange my money for my luggage. What a deal.
On my last trip to Washington, I had learned my lesson. Two lessons, actually. The first was to carve out time for an anticipatory trip to the ATM. The second lesson was to download the Uber app on my smartphone.
Anyone needing reassurance that California hasn’t lost any of its high tech luster should have stopped by the DEMO Fall 2012 conference last week in Santa Clara. DEMO attracted 77 ambitious tech start-ups from around the country, competing with six-minute pitches for their apps, services and products. Just the fact that this event takes place in Santa Clara reinforces the reality that California is still the epicenter of America’s high-tech Internet economy. We’re still the place where budding tech stars come to be discovered. And we have a huge stake in seeing that our innovative technology isn’t smothered by unnecessary regulation.
Of the top start-ups selected at DEMO 2012, the number one spot went to RentLingo, a startup just up the road in Palo Alto, founded by Stanford graduate students Dan Laufer and Byron Singh. Their winning product is a social networking approach to finding an apartment. But RentLingo wasn’t the only California start-up in the top echelon. They were joined by Birdeez. From its humble beginnings as a student project at UC Santa Barbara, this central coast-based startup launched a smartphone app called Bird Alerts. Amateur Ornithologists can give Bird Alerts a list of the birds you most want to see and the app will send you an alert every time one has been spotted within 30 miles of your location.
“I am pleased that Governor Jerry Brown has signed a multitude of forward-thinking tech bills into law. In particular, SB 1161 is an important law that will provide regulatory certainty in California for Internet-based services. California has once again reassured high-tech innovators, investors and consumers that our state remains globally competitive by promoting investment, innovation, and continued economic growth in our critically important high-tech sector.
Also signed into law was SB 1298, a bill that allows for the testing of self-driving cars on our streets as well as an initiative to make California a leader in making digital college textbooks available to students. Another new law created privacy safeguards that prohibit colleges and employers from demanding access to student and employee social media accounts.
I applaud Governor Brown and the state legislature for recognizing that California’s laws must continue to evolve with the pace of change in technology.
Consumers deserve greater choice and access to new communications technologies, and innovators should be provided the freedom to innovate. CALinnovates opposes unnecessary regulations on Internet-based services that would undermine investment and job creation in our state.
Laws such as SB 1161 show that California is serious about preserving a free and open Internet. Policy makers across the nation would be wise to take a similar approach.”