News Center

At The Pool Launches New iOS App

New Platform Connects Online and Offline Worlds

by Mike Montgomery

The way we socialize, network and connect today has been revolutionized by mobile.  Many of us choose to interact with colleagues, friends and family via our smartphones.  We use various types of social media, relying on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, FaceTime, Snapchat and SMS, though these are mere approximations of real interactions; communication through a digital buffer.

Our vision of the Internet and software development today is a laughable relic of the AOL days of yore. While technology can distance us from our fellow human beings, it can also bring us far, far closer to each other.

When Alex Capecelatro dove headfirst into his new venture, he was well aware of the opportunity to disrupt how our relationships are developed, formed and utilized. And he wanted to disrupt the way people maximized the social experience through mobile devices.

Capecelatro’s company, At The Pool, aims to help bridge the digital self with the physical one. “We see social media as a starting point, not a closed loop,” Capecelatro says. “Our goal is to allow you to leverage your network and get you out with your friends to socialize, network and advance yourself personally and professionally.”

Key to getting people to maximize their digital to real world experience is At The Pool’s “shout” feature. Users who want to do something — go to a museum, hit up cross-fit, watch a bad Sandra Bullock flick, whatever — shout it out via At The Pool’s new mobile app. The shout is then sent to their friends both near and far, as well as nearby At The Pool users they don’t know who might be interested in joining the fun.

“We’re all about connecting locally,” Capecelatro says. “You have complete control over how far you want your shouts to go, from the same block to the same city and beyond.  People demand products that offer hyper-local results.  We solve problems people haven’t yet had an answer to.”

Another way to look at At The Pool is as a contact list connected to sonar. You send out your shout, and it pings those closest to you, the message widening out as far as you want it to go. Add in the capability to easily share photos, along with an easy interface, and you can see why At The Pool already has members in over 100 countries — pretty great, considering they only launched their iOS app a few weeks ago.

“One of my guiding principles as we move the company forward is that our digital future is in mobile and our ability to connect people with the world around them is just getting started,” says Capecelatro. “We built At The Pool to make it easier to stay connected to a meaningful life in the mobile world.”

You can learn more about Capecelatro and At The Pool by visiting

Pausing to Reflect – Veterans Day

By: Mike Montgomery
As seen in Huffington Post

Monday is Veterans Day. It’s a day of rest for some, a day of work for others, and a day of reflection for many. I recently had the pleasure to discuss this meaningful day with Dustan Batton, a veteran and a member of the CALinnovates team. I hope you enjoy learning more about Dustan and saluting him for all he has done for America.

Mike Montgomery: I know Veterans Day is extremely important to you. Do you have any rituals you observe on a day when our country honors you and your fellow Armed Services members?

Dustan Batton: It was an extreme honor to serve our country for six years in the Air Force. Veterans Day is a day of remembrance. It’s a day of pride as well as a day of sorrow. As a veteran, this day should be about honoring not only those who came before us, but those who came after us as well. I stay connected with several veterans’ groups, and it is a great opportunity to continue to serve.

Read the full story here

CALinnovates Lauds Senate Confirmation of Wheeler and O’Rielly to FCC

Encourages new FCC Chairman and Commissioner to tackle spectrum auctions and IP Trials

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 30, 2013 — CALinnovates today issued the following statements in light of the unanimous Senate approval of Tom Wheeler to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Michael O’Rielly for FCC Commissioner.

Executive Director Mike Montgomery said:

I’m delighted that Tom Wheeler has finally been confirmed as FCC Chairman. He’s a well-regarded tech veteran who takes the wheel at a critical time for the Commission.  His experience will no doubt serve him well. I also look forward to seeing the many talents of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly in action in his new position.

With California’s economy increasingly dependent upon the tech industry, I hope Wheeler and O’Rielly will apply new energy and focus on two critical issues: The transition to next-generation high-speed broadband networks, and freeing up more airwaves via open spectrum auctions that allow all carriers to bid equally and without restriction.  Both of these issues are essential to the ongoing health of our economy — not just in California, but nationwide. Quick work is vital if we are going to keep the app economy thriving.

Barbara O’Connor, Ph.D., a CALinnovates Advisory Board Member, Emeritus Professor on Communication at California State University, Sacramento and an Officer and Director of the California Emerging Technology Fund, says Wheeler is an expert at working with all government agencies to shape a coherent administration policy:

My experience in working with Tom Wheeler is that he is skilled at consensus-driven policymaking by working with all interested parties.  Chairman Wheeler has the opportunity to tackle great challenges, including expanded access to high-speed broadband.  Our country is fortunate to have him at the helm of the FCC.

CALinnovates Advisory Board Member Josh Becker, CEO of Lex Machina, applauds the Senate for approving the appointment of Wheeler:

Silicon Valley and the entire California technology community welcome the confirmation of Mr. Wheeler as Chairman of the FCC.  This is an important first step in moving the commission forward on a variety of issues that will ultimately lead to greater innovation and increased opportunities for all Americans.

About CALinnovates

CALinnovates serves as a bridge between the thriving and fast paced technology communities based in California and the slower moving but equally important public policy communities in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Our members include C-level executives, political leaders, entrepreneurs, techies and California consumers interested in keeping up with the latest in public policy and innovation.

Smart Regs for a Bright Future

By: Mike Montgomery
As seen in Techwire 

We have a lot of smart things these days.

Smartphones. Smart watches. Smart glasses. Smart vehicles and electric grids.

What we don’t have a lot of, especially when it comes to tech policy, is smart regulations.

This is particularly true on the federal level where policymakers are routinely pummeled by the double-whammy of partisan dysfunction and a glacial regulatory pace. Technology simply moves too quickly and the government too slowly. And particularly when it comes to technology, antiquated regulations can easily do more harm than good.

Read more Here

Kit is the Hot New Toolbox for Business Engagement

by Mike Montgomery

An introduction to CALinnovates’ Newest Member

In a world where Twitter has over 200 million users and Facebook has reached the one billion member summit, tapping into the vast social wells can be challenging for businesses big and small.

Enter Kit, the newest member of CALinnovates, which is aimed at filling a big need for businesses interested in better using social to create brand ambassadors, convert more sales, and interact with their fans. Founded by Michael Perry just three weeks ago, Kit has already contracted with a gaudy number of high-profile clients eager to use their product.  Kit is, according to Perry, working with more than 1,500 brands, including numerous Fortune 500 companies.

“Our goal was to build a kick-ass product for brands,” Perry says. “We’re not cutting edge like Google Glass, but we’re insanely relevant.”

Kit has certainly nailed the kick-ass product part by building a simple tool allowing businesses and brands to identify their biggest fans via social channels. Looking for the #1 person who likes your posts? Wondering how big their network is? Looking for ways to offer incentives to turn your best fans into even bigger brand ambassadors? Kit is the simple toolbox you need.

That’s a lot to offer businesses, which makes it all the more surprising that Kit isn’t some lumbering social media research firm. In fact, they’re ridiculously limber, consisting of three people. Perry himself does business development by day with Aram Prigian and coding by night alongside CTO Mike Taylor, a former compatriot at Perry’s previous startup Gving.

Despite the company’s anorexic payroll, though, Perry believes Kit can easily compete with the biggest players in the market. “Some people would say David vs. Goliath was an unfair fight,” he says. “But we all know how that turned out.”

This confidence has served Kit well so far. But if you think Perry and company are just building another startup in search of a buyout you’re wrong. “Our goal is to build a great product and acquire, rather than get acquired,” Perry says. “We’re not interested in an early, easy exit.”

As for achieving the company’s goals, Perry is refreshingly frank, invoking a Field of Dreams mentality. “If we can’t build a million dollar business, we don’t deserve Silicon Valley investment dollars,” he says.

Those are words a lot of startups should take note of.

We’re excited to welcome Kit as a member of CALinnovates. You can learn more about them at

California is Number One

By: Mike Montgomery
As seen in TechWire Magazine

It’s good for the rest of us, too. Thousands of app sector jobs generate an economic impact that’s north of $8 billion, which is $2 billion more than the app economies in the California is Number Onegreat states of Washington, New York and Texas combined. As the nation works through its economic recovery, app economy workers enjoy a high degree of job security, a rarity in other sectors, thanks in part to a huge proliferation in mobile device ownership. More devices mean more people potentially downloading and using apps. A recent White House  claims there are an astounding 500 million mobile devices in the U.S., though our domestic population is only about 314 million. Worldwide, one billion smartphones will ship this year, further expanding the customer pool

To the surprise of very few people who follow the tech scene, the app economy creates a lot of jobs, and it’s probably not shocking to learn that the majority of the jobs created in this industry are located in California. If you’re one of the nearly 152,000 Californians holding down an app economy gig, life is pretty good.

To read the full story Click Here, and go to page 14

Silicon Valley Leadership Group releases GameChangers 2014

Silicon Valley Leadership Group has released a new book, GameChangers 2014.  If you’re simply too busy, or you’re part of the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” (tl;dr) crowd, here’s a sampling of some of the GameChangers’ thoughts that stand out:

Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Carl Guardino:

There is something magical in this region and it has led to wave after wave of innovation.  For our region to remain cutting-edge, we must break through in producing more game changers in the public sector. Silicon Valley’s success is all too often “in spite of,” rather than “in cooperation with,” the public sector. With the right outreach, this can change in 2014, and such partnerships can unleash even greater potential for the game changers throughout society that can make our region thrive.

Cisco’s John Chambers:

By 2020, we predict that 50 billion things will be connected to the Internet. As more and more things are connected, people’s lives will change for the better, productivity will improve, and new industries and ecosystems will create more jobs.

Along with great opportunity, the Internet of Everything will surely present technology, organizational, process, regulatory, cultural and other challenges. We need to address these issues head on and work to ensure that the privacy and security of individuals and organizations are protected.

SanDisk’s Sanjay Mehrotra:

[Our] nation’s educational foundation continues to weaken, and by neglecting this trend we are limiting our own futures.  In fact, the greatest opportunities in the 21st century for young people are where we have faltered the most: in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as “STEM” fields.  We have missed chances to arm tens of thousands of graduates with the critical STEM skills and experiences that we all need to successfully compete in a global economy.

View’s Rao Mulpuri:

Disruptive innovations can be brought to life at a rapid pace and large scale in industries such as infrastructure, if we develop highly impactful technologies and integrate them with proven building blocks.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

America is a nation founded on faith – faith in the future, faith in America’s collective capacity to succeed, to innovate, to discover, to thrive. This faith has been the bedrock of the entrepreneurial spirit shared by every generation of Americans.  That spirit formed the foundation of the explosive expansion and experimentation of Silicon Valley, which continues to revolutionize the way we do business, communicate and live.

Inside Straight Strategies’ Carl Pope

What Vinod Khosla calls “black swan” innovations – ones with low probability, high impact – don’t happen on their own.  These game changers need supportive ecosystems, thoughtful regulations, innovative infrastructure, accessible and often patient finance.  Society – and government – needs to facilitate and nurture the companion reforms that enable the new gizmos to scale.

AT&T’s Randall Stephenson

We’re always connected and always online. To a growing number of people, the idea of being tethered to a desktop computer or a stationary flat screen TV seems unthinkable. Put all of this together, and it’s clear that we are in a golden age of mobile innovation, driven by a powerful combination of networks, devices and applications.  Our goal with all of this is to empower people and unleash innovation. Six years ago, no one would have imagined the United States would have more Internet-connected devices than people. Yet here we are, and the wave continues to build. So what will the next six years bring? One thing’s for sure: It will be beyond what our minds can imagine today.

Kaiser Permanente’s Bernard Tyson

The smart and mobile devices millions of Americans carry with them every day promise to let people take more control over managing their care as well as increase their connectedness with their health care providers.  For much of the health care industry, that’s a new way of thinking – a game changer in itself that requires breaking down traditional silos in today’s disconnected delivery system. Breaking down silos is what Silicon Valley has done for decades, and why it is so important to rethinking health care.

San Francisco 49er’s Jed York

A smarter stadium was bound to happen. Levi’s Stadium will capture the best technology found in the Silicon Valley by allowing fans to create their own experience inside its friendly confines. Instead of focusing on hardware that will become obsolete over time, Levi’s Stadium will leverage the brilliant companies that create personal mobile devices for our customers.  Levi’s Stadium will build off of a legacy of innovation founded in the Bay Area. No longer is “good enough” an option for live sports. Levi’s Stadium will change the game internationally, becoming the next innovation that began right here in the Bay Area.

Streetline’s Zia Yusuf

We’re just beginning to see the impacts of the connected city. It is smart grids that measure energy and water consumption. It is enabling building thermostats to learn temperature preference patterns, times and seasons to adjust automatically. It can detect and analyze the amount of pedestrians and drivers in city areas to improve economic vitality. It can combine this passerby data with other data – crime, pollution, or passerby emotions – to provide deeper analysis from multiple sensing devices so that cities and businesses can thrive. It’s on its way to a connected car that makes the driver smarter and safer – one that alerts about mechanical problems, reroutes around traffic and knows where an open parking spot is. The connected city may also someday automatically detect illness, such as West Nile Virus containing mosquitos; a small tumor; or drug-resistant bacteria on a subway.

FCC Action Key to Our Mobile Future

By: Mike Montgomery

FCC action on a variety of fronts — including spectrum auctions and the transition to next-generation networks — is vitally important, and the agency will need to focus less on talk and more on concrete results under its next Chairman.

This was the takeaway from a recent Washington, D.C. event, “The Mobile Marketplace: The Deals and Consumer Trends Driving Spectrum Valuation,” hosted by Mobile Future, a DC-based group dedicated to encouraging investment and innovation in mobile technology.

If you don’t have the time to watch the webcast, here are some highlights:

Commissioner Ajit Pai outlined how the FCC can help, rather than hinder, growth in the mobile sector, by streamlining processes for mergers and spectrum acquisition, letting the market shape how spectrum auctions are put together, and helping facilitate what he called the “migration from legacy to IP-based networks.”

In other words, out with the outdated copper voice-centric networks that, according to a recent report, only carry 1% of all traffic in the United States, and in with next-generation high-speed broadband infrastructure.  This type of forward thinking policy is particularly important in California, where mobile innovation is a major economic driver in the state.

After Pai’s keynote, an all-star team of panelists discussed the current desire for mergers and spectrum acquisitions among communications providers, the growth in the mobile marketplace, the need to free up more spectrum (which should be of particular interest to Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach, given how bonkers the app economy has become), as well as offered advice for incoming FCC Chairman Wheeler.

Despite the panelists’ various backgrounds and areas of expertise, the overarching theme of the event was loud and clear: given the huge demand for advanced broadband networks and the ever-increasing consumer and business potential of the wireless sector, key decision makers must work to foster opportunity and investment in the industry.

Panelists agreed that Wheeler is well positioned to lead the FCC toward decisive action in modernizing our communications systems and, even more importantly, modernize our telecom regulations.  And this, although occurring 3,000 miles away, will inevitably have a positive impact throughout the expansive technology community in the Golden State.  Anyone whose business model has been stifled by regulation can tell you that public policy tremors in the Beltway can definitely be felt in the Golden State.


Follow the Leader | California Regulators Approve Transportation Ridesharing Companies

As featured on Tech Zulu
By: Mike Montgomery

Regulations can be suffocating. Used in the wrong way they might accidentally “Napster a nascent industry.

Thankfully, the California Public Utilities Commission realized the value of the mobile-based sharing economy by voting to legitimize the rideshare industry statewide. As Liz Gannesof All Things D reports:

The California Public Utilities Commission today approved a decision to legitimize for-profit ride-sharing companies. The ruling should give legal clearance to peer-to-peer driving services from startups like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Tickengo, if they meet certain parameters. It’s the first such decision in the U.S.

The CPUC’s decision, which was unanimous, boils down to creating a new transportation category called “transportation network companies” in order to oversee rideshare companies – an idea put forward last July by Commission President Michael Peevey. I liked President Peevey’s idea when it was just an idea. I like it even more now that it’s formally on the books.

By realizing the value of technology and innovation for California’s economy, and smartly supporting the trajectory of the digital revolution, the CPUC has shown regulations can indeed keep pace with the blazing speed of progress. The Commission has also provided a blueprint for other regulatory bodies to follow suit — not just when it comes to regulating the rideshare industry, but for many innovative, tech-based ideas with the potential to disrupt.

As the saying goes, as goes California, so goes the country.   I anticipate that yesterday’s news paves the way for other states to embrace common sense, forward-thinking tech regulations.


Strange Bedfellows

By: Mike Montgomery
As featured on The Huffington Post 

There have been many-storied rivalries in American history. In the 1800s, the bitter political rivalry between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton was settled with a famous duel. Later that century, the Hatfields started warring with the McCoys, leaving behind epic tales still told today. Two-hundred years later, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird staged heated battles on the basketball court, and actors Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie remain bitter rivals in the battle over Brad Pitt’s heart. Despite the intensity, the rivalries were all ultimately settled. Burr shot Hamilton dead, the Hatfields and McCoys hugged it out, Magic and Larry became friends, and Brangelina became the “it” couple while Aniston is engaged to be married, hopefully putting an end to the tabloid-style coverage of the matter.

Rivalries exist everywhere in life, even in the exciting world of communications policy. Communications and technology company AT&T and public interest group Public Knowledge are widely known to lock horns on matters of public policy, often bitterly. But it seems this rivalry may have a little more Magic-and-Bird vibe to it than Hamilton-and-Burr. Of late, the communications company and the advocacy group seem to have put aside their differences and locked arms in solidarity over the vision for the future of next generation communications infrastructure. Perhaps this doesn’t have the drama of some of the other famous feuds, but in the communications policy world, when something like this happens, it’s worth paying attention to because it must be important.

Specifically, AT&T found common ground with a white paper Public Knowledge released about the transition from antiquated telephone networks to the advanced high-speed broadband networks of the future. In this paper, Public Knowledge articulated five principles to govern the transition:

1) Service to all Americans
2) Interconnection and Competition
3) Consumer Protection
4) Network Reliability
5) Public Safety

For those not regularly knee deep in matters of communications policy, these five principles are basically a distillation of the ideas that have always guided communications in America, which is undoubtedly why AT&T agrees with them. As a recent post on the company’s Public Policy Blog states:

There were several points in Public Knowledge’s white paper that we could have written ourselves at AT&T. First, the transition has to occur. Our old reliable TDM technology is obsolete and defined by two words: “Manufacturer discontinued.” Second, the fundamental principles of universal connectivity, consumer protection, reliability and public safety — all hallmarks of our Nation’s centuries old commitment to communications — should not be lost in this transition.

Indeed, it appears maintaining this central principle — that everyone should remain connected — was the goal of AT&T’s petition with the Federal Communications Commission to conduct regulatory “beta trials” in select markets as the outdated copper networks are upgraded and modernized. The idea behind these trials is that by ironing out potential issues in its micro stages, the transition will go much more smoothly when taken macro.

AT&T notes that some 70 percent of households in the company’s wireline footprint have already ditched their traditional landline. It is precisely the inevitability of this transition to next generation high-speed broadband networks that makes the AT&T and Public Knowledge accord less surprising. It is obvious technology is evolving and it is equally as obvious that people are choosing to communicate in new, innovative ways. The five principles represent the shared universal goals to pursue as policy and regulation try to modernize to keep up with the speed of technological innovation.

The idea of modernizing our infrastructure with next generation broadband networks isn’t at all new or controversial; consumers, consumer groups, and corporate America have spoken, and they’re all saying the same thing. The only question is whether government agencies can work with the various stakeholders to make such a monumental upgrade to our nation’s communications infrastructure quickly enough, while ensuring sufficient consumer protection. If the AT&T/Public Knowledge cease-fire teaches us anything, feuds and rivalries come and go. When common sense prevails, progress is a certainty.

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