1. Why Can’t I Search Airbnb or Flightcar Listings from Kayak?

    As peer to peer travel companies become more popular, the holes in traditional travel search engine results get larger and larger. For example, by some measures, AirBnB serves more guests than Hilton. However, when you search for a place to stay in New York City on Priceline/Expedia/Kayak, you’re not shown listings from the largest single source of places to stay in New York City (Airbnb). This is true for other cities, and assuming room-sharing/car-sharing become more popular, it will only get worse.

    The comparison isn’t 1-to-1; Airbnb and Flightcar are the only 2 peer to peer services I’ve used with any frequency, and both require a little bit of coordination/human interaction to use. For Airbnb you only request a room, the owner approves you. And for Flightcar, you have to coordinate pickups and dropoffs, which require a phone call. This contrasts with booking a room at the Hilton, which I can do without interacting with a human. Additionally, with the Hilton, I know what I’m getting. Sometimes that’s an advantage (when you meet a nice host on Airbnb) and sometimes it’s not (getting a dirty Flightcar). That being said, most folks are familiar with crashing with a friend or borrowing a friend’s wheels, which are roughly analogous to Airbnb and Flightcar. Many times when I travel (especially traveling for pleasure, not business) I’m not looking for a hotel specifically. I just want a nice place to stay. For the (growing) proportion of travelers who are indifferent, or want something specific hotels don’t provide (eg a particular neighborhood, price break, or more social experience), a single way to search all the available places to stay, is valuable.

    From my understanding, there are a few reasons why integrated peer-to-peer travel search hasn’t happened yet.

    1. Scale - most peer to peer travel services are pretty new, and thus far only Airbnb/Homeaway are large enough to register.
    2. Economics - Kayak/Expedia get paid when a hotel room is reserved. AirBnb/VRBO/OneFineStay have yet to work this out
    3. Technology - the necessary work to integrate/make booking seamless hasn’t been done yet. This is arguably the easiest challenge to overcome.

    The benefits are clear:

    1. For Travelers: Book and plan trips faster, spend more time enjoying your vacation.
    2. For Search Engines: More revenue as more folks book rooms and vacation packages through them.
    3. For Peer To Peer Travel Companies: Faster growth and more revenue as they are exposed to a more mainstream audience more used to searching Priceline, Kayak or Expedia.

  2. Travel Search For 2014 #2: HotelTonight For Flights

    I love to travel - I once spent a year traveling around the world.

    That’s me aboard the MOL Wish, sailing from Singapore to Brazil via container ship

    I heard a story while on the road about a group of friends in London who would go to Luton or Gatwick airport with 200 pounds cash and a passport, pick the furthest location they could fly for 70 on RyanAir or EasyJet, and race back to London overland. The only rules were you couldn’t fly back, and you could only use a credit card for an emergency. First one back in London won the race.

    I considered doing this but didn’t ever have the stones (or the chance).

    Adventures, for Explorers

    What enchanted me though, was the idea of going to the airport and picking somewhere random, based on price. Pack a bag based on the time of year, and flying to the cheapest locale for a weekend of adventure (preferably with a friend, but solo works as well).

    I’ve looked for a while for something that could do this. The closest I’ve seen are Google Explorer and Kayak Explore.

    Google Explorer shows you a list.

    Kayak Explore shows you a map.

    It’s Happening In Hotels

    These get close, but they’re not quite there. What I want is something closer to HotelTonight, but for flights.

    Here’s HotelTonight


    The concept is:

    1. A list of available, roundtrip flights from my city that day.
    2. Ranked cheapest first, most expensive last, and listing the number of available seats
    3. That leave at least 4 hours from now (to allow me enough time to pack and head to the airport)
    4. Price is all inclusive (baggage fees etc)
    5. Accounts for things like what visas I’ll need (if overseas)
    6. (Optional) - might include hotels/AirBnb

    Here’s what it might look like:

    It’s Good For Travelers . .

    For consumers, it’s a great way to get out of town. If you don’t have your heart set on something, being able to browse flights by price is a boon, and can be a source of inspiration. The ability to book immediately adds to the excitement. It taps into the same deep well that hitchhiking did for generations past. For airlines, (this I don’t know for certain as it seems every single flight I’m ever on seems to be full) it might be a good way to get rid of last minute inventory, and might even spur price competition. If airlines wanted, they could sell empty last minute seats at cost and monetize on their infamous fees.

    . . but Travel Search Makes No Money On Flights

    From what I understand, airlines profit mostly from baggage fees and business travelers. Given that this idea sells adventure, it won’t appeal to business travelers. Travel search engines (such as Kayak and Priceline), profit largely from hotel bookings (hotels account for 97% of Priceline’s revenue) rather than flights. As a result, anyone building this would need to either treat it as a loss leader or monetize another way (eg selling hotel rooms, weekend packages or activities).

    HN Discussion Here


  3. Checked Baggage Fees - The Grinch That Broke Travel Search (And How To Fix It)

    I travel a lot and love to travel. That said, flying economy seems to get less and less pleasant with time. As we all prepare to go home (or away) for the holidays, many of us will feel the effects of airline fees, some which we are used to now, and some we aren’t. Often, if all the fees you endedyour choice of flight would change if fees were included.

    Price Inclusive Flight Search

    Airlines today tack on all sorts of fees to your flight, that don’t show up in your ticket. Kayak, helpfully tallies them here for you (not sure why this isnt surfaced when you’re searching for/booking the flight). Some examples:

    1. Spirit Airlines charges you $25 for a carry on bag. 2. Carrying pets in the cabin have fees ranging from $10 (Cape Air) to $199 (Sun Country) 3. SouthWest allows you check 2 bags for free, and JetBlue allows you to check one! 4. Delta, United, American Airlines and US Airways recently increased the fee for changing reservations from $150, to $200.

    Why this matters

    Whether you’re a parent, want to bring your pet home for the holidays, or just getting away for the weekend, these fees can make a material difference in the price of your flight. So why don’t all flight search engines show you a price inclusive of the fees? This could either be selected in the flight selection process, or as part of your preferences. Here’s how it might look on Kayak (my current favorite flight search engine)

    What Kayak Might Look Like If The Airline Fees Were Included

    This matters even more in the future, because airlines have come to depend on these fees for profits. In fact, airlines in the US collected “$3.5 billion in baggage fees and $2.6 billion in reservation change/cancellation fees last year, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data. That was a 3.8% increase in baggage fees and a 7.8% increase in reservation change/cancellation fees compared with 2011” (CNN). Even some of our favorite airlines (Southwest anybody) are considering introducing them. While I can’t disagree about the business value, I think they’re bad UX. They make flyers feel nickel and dimed. But these fees arent going anywhere.

    "as United reported a 13 percent rise in third-quarter profit, the chief revenue officer, James E. Compton, told stock market analysts that ‘ancillary revenue per passenger grew 16 percent year over year.” He added that the “Economy Plus upsell was, once again, a primary driver of this growth.’" Source: New York Times

    Knowing that, being able to bake this into flight search will help all travelers make better economic choices, because oftentimes you’d choose a different flight if you knew what the ticket really cost. For example, this flight from Atlanta GA, to Fort Lauderdale, FL from May 4 - May 18, 2014, costs $178 roundtrip with Spirit Airlines. However, if you traveled with a carry on bag (not to mention a checked in bag), the actual cost of this round trip on Spirit would be $248: $178 + $35 X 2 ($35 is the cost of a carry on that doesnt fit under the seat in front of you). This means, your best bet instead would be to buy the Delta ticket for $209 instead of Spirit for $178.

    Given how much airlines have come to depend on them, we’ll probably be paying more fees in the future, not less.

    A couple of bonuses (not necessary, but would help): 1. Including the price(s) and availability of in flight meals. 2. Including the average lunch/meal price at any airports you’ll be stopped over. 3. Including the prices of specific types of seats. For example, if I want to book an exit row seat specifically, the search could tell me the all in price: ticket + checked baggage + exit row fees. 4. Including the price of wi-fi and/or in-flight entertainment.

    Do any flight search engines do this? If Kayak did this, the flight search view might look like this:

    Next up, HotelTonight For Flights.


  4. iToothbrush - whose working on smart toothbrushes?

    Why isnt there a toothbrush with sensors in the head that tracks whats going on with my mouth (tooth decay, enamel decay, plaque build up, sugar intake, saliva composition etc).

    1. people use these everyday
    2. only innovation in toothbrushesthe last 100 years is a spinning head
    3. can make all this info available in an app and track your tooth health/mouth health
    4. can tell you when you need to see a dentist
    5. can show the dentist your mouth’s progress.
    Is there a market for this?

  5. dvint1:

    Flypad Demo: Turn your phone into a steering wheel (by aomojola)

    Now in public beta.

    (via dvint1)


  6. Something I’m working on: the flypad app.



  7. Why social works (and how to succeed in the consumer internet)

    These 2 ideas are by no means canonical or conclusive, but they’re evolving, and they help me make sense of the internet today.

    1. Social = adding structure to data

    If you look at the internet as a repository of data of all kinds that is constantly being generated, the “meta” meaning of what “social” networks really do, is add structure to it, Basically by allowing people do things with that data (view it, create it, tell their friends about it, tell the world about it etc) you create a sort of “tag” that says; “this is how important this data is” eg. a facebook share is more valuable than a twitter share, because there are fewer shares and they are directly to people you know. A twitter share > google +1 share, because the receivers are opt-in vs. just anyone etc, and if you look at it that way, what social has basically done is reduce an infinitely expanding world of data with static tags (defined by the creators or by the content itself) to a smaller, more slowly expansive world of data with dynamic tags (defined by the people who look at it).

    Dont know how to monetize this but its just arisen as a thought: Google won because search was primary way people found things, and the internet was small enough and their algorithms were good enough that they were able to filter out the noise. The real threat to google (of fb etc) is that the internet is so large and growing so fast, and their algorithms find it so hard to keep up, that at some point people always find noise in their google search, and structured data becomes the dominant way people find things in the majority of use cases. The second order threat (this will become more apparent in the coming years) is that the layers of social and all the public stuff that people do on the web, as well as improved AI, make it easier for other companies/ideas to dominate certain verticals of discovery (the easiest example I can think of this for is Quora - it’s early but you could argue they have found a better method than search for mapping and discovering “knowledge” - particularly the subjective kind).

    2. Success on the web = finding the broadest single use case, and nailing the process of getting that. The path is usually by finding a series of progressively broader use cases; this is called “iterating”

    This isnt really all that groundbreaking; continuing with the idea of applying web metrics to the real world to see if they pass muster (eg DAU/MAU for fridges, toilets and beds = 100%, which validates those metrics), you can argue that consumer internet success = ubiquity, and ubiquity is derived from finding a single use case that has the broadest reach (ie something that most people do every day, often a day) and nailing the way to do it on your platform (web or mobile or whatever else). So the easiest example is google; search was the primary way people discovered things 10 years ago, and google created a better way to search things than anyone else. 
    If you’re looking for consumer internet success - perhaps you first find an activity that people do frequently, then create a better/easier/more valuable along one dimension (Eg instrumenting for better decision making or taking out a pain point) to do that activity. What this means is; if someone comes to you with an idea that sounds like 4 things, that is bad, even if the 4 things cover a lot of people/activity. If someone comes to you with an idea that sounds like 1 thing, and the one thing is highly repeatable, then the only question is; what are they paying to do that one thing today (and if they arent paying to do it, who will pay).

    Help me complete this thought.


  9. WanderPlayer Turns Your Phone Into a Controller for Any Computer Game
    Smartphones have already replaced cameras and calendars for many people — and piles of gaming controllers might be next. A startup called WanderPlayer has developed a technology that turns iPhones (and soon Android phones) into controllers for computer games, no matter whether those games ca…


  10. Q. Why are federal elections held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November? via @michaelwolf42

    A.  The Tuesday after the first Monday in November was initially established in 1845 (3 U.S.C. 1) for the appointment of Presidential electors in every fourth year.  2 U.S.C. 7 established this date for electing U.S. Representatives in every even numbered year in 1875.   Finaly, 2 U.S.C. 1 established this date as the time for electing U.S. Senators in 1914.

            Why early November?  For much of our history America was a predominantly agrarian society.  Law makers therefore took into account that November was perhaps the most convenient month for farmers and rural workers to be able to travel to the polls.  The fall harvest was over, (remembering that spring was planting time and summer was taken up with working the fields and tending the crops) but in the majority of the nation the weather was still mild enough to permit travel over unimproved roads.

            Why Tuesday?  Since most residents of rural America had to travel a significant distance to the county seat in order to vote, Monday was not considered reasonable as many people would need to begin travel on Sunday.   This would, of course, have conflicted with church services and Sunday worship.

            Why the first Tuesday after the first Monday?   Lawmakers wanted to prevent election day from falling on the first of November for two reasons.  November 1st is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics.  In addition, most merchants were in the habit of doing their books from the preceding month on the 1st. Congress was apparently worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might influence the vote of the merchants.


  11. "If I were Michael Bloomberg, a very smart and wise man, I would take a deep breath and spend one day this weekend trying to learn what Occupy Wall Street is about, from the point of view of an average New Yorker. He’s so smart he will get it. The problem is his perspective. He’s one of the few people who they are angry with, and rightfully so. When the light goes on for him, he will be able to explain it to others in his class. Whether they listen or not is their problem. But it’s up to him, as the elected leader of all New Yorkers, to listen and understand, and make wise choices."

  12. Wanderplayer is coming. Reblog if you like to play games!!!


  13. Schedule for the Founders’ Retreat

    A gathering of the entrepreneurial community at Wharton and Penn, early every year. This year’s Founders’ Retreat is At General Assembly in New York City. The Founders’ Retreat is brought to you by a collaboration of Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, the Wharton MBA Career Management Office, the Wharton Entrepreneurial Club, and General Assembly! 

    The Founders’ Retreat schedule is below (subject to change): 9:30 - 9.50am: Breakfast & Arrivals 

    10 - 10.20am: Intro to the day, & welcome with Jake Schwartz, General Assembly founder, WG ‘08 10:20 - 10.45am: Entrepreneurship at Wharton: Overview of the different paths MBAs choose to pursue and the resources to leverage along the way 

    10.50 - 11.40am: Start it Up at Wharton: Perspectives from founders in Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program and other incubators and those who have launched business from Wharton’s Business Plan Competition. Featuring 
    - Cherif Habib and Stephan Jacobs- co-founders of Kembrel.com and WG’11 
    - Joseph Cohen - CEO and founder of Coursekit 
    - Rohan Deuskar- CEO and co-founder of Stylitics, 
    - Andrew Ward, founder of Pandaly currently in DreamIt Ventures 11.40am - 12.20pm: 1st Year class introductions 

    12.30 - 12.55pm: Student Founders (VIP, WVA, DreamIT) founders introduced to their 1st year teams for strategy session. 12.55 - 2.10pm: Lunch + Strategy session within VIP/WVA teams. 

    2:20 - 3:05pm: Recruiting at startups- perspectives from MBAs and the startups that hire them.Featuring: 
    - Roberto Medri- SquareSpace’s head of business development and WG’11, 
    - Shafqat Islam- NewsCred Founder and CEO and Penn Engineering ‘03, 
    - Arlyn Davich- PayPerks Founder and CEO, 
    - Harry Kargman- Kargo Founder and CEO 3:05 - 3:15pm: Break 

    3:15 - 3:45pm: Perspectives on MBA ideas/businesses, with Kartik Hosanagar - co-founder of Yodle Inc., Wharton Professor of Entrepreneurship & Operations and Information Management, and Angel Investor. 3.45 - 4.15pm: Founder’s story with Corey Pierson - CEO and co-founder of Custora and WG’10 

    4:15 - 4:25pm: Break 4.25 - 5:20pm: Mixed panel and perspectives on fundraising and today’s ecosystem from founders and investors. Featuring 
    - Jake Schwartz- General Assembly founder and WG’08, 
    - Saadiq Rogers-King- co-founder of Hot Potato, 
    - Michael Geer- co-founder of Badoo, 
    - David Mars - principal of White Owl Capital and WG’ 07 

    5:30 - 7pm: Happy hour & mixer


  14. Schedule for the Founders’ Retreat

    The Founders’ Retreat schedule: 9:30 - 9.50am: Breakfast & Arrivals 

    10 - 10.20am: Intro to the day10:20 - 10.45am: Entrepreneurship at Wharton

    10.50 - 11.40am: Start it Up at Wharton 11.40am - 12.20pm: 1st Year class introductions 

    12.30 - 12.55pm: Student Founders Intro12.55 - 2.10pm: Strategy session

    2:20 - 3:05pm: Recruiting at startups3:05 - 3:15pm: Break 

    3:15 - 3:45pm: Perspectives on MBA ideas/businesses3.45 - 4.15pm: Founder’s story with Corey Pierson 

    4:15 - 4:25pm: Break 4.25 - 5:20pm: Mixed panel and perspectives on fundraising 

    5:30 - 7pm: Happy hour & mixer


  15. mirchi:

    In its first month, Turntable.fm has generated a tremendous amount of buzz. It’s the first truly social web music service; it’s addicting, viral, and easy to use. This weekend the service hit its first hiccup as it closed the service to users outside the US. This led to disappointed…