SF Tech Sessions
Circa 2006 -2007 Archived


SF Tech Sessions brought together journalists, bloggers, and interested users to showcase the latest technologies and companies in the San Francisco area on a monthly basis.
Content is from the site's 2006 - 2007 archives pages, as well as from other outside sources.


SF Tech Sessions Photos

by Scott Beale at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2006

SF Tech Sessions

Last night Niall Kennedy hosted his monthly SF Tech Sessions way up on the 32nd floor of the The Westin St. Francis. There were demos by Skobee, Vast.com, Mozes and Songbird. Here are my photos.

It was by far on of the most elegant locations I’ve been to for a web geek event. It will be hard to top this one, especially the view, decor and ornate fish head. Recently launched Blish.com, out of Chicago, sponsored the event, putting to rest the rumor that Niall had recenly won the lottery.


Geeking out: SF Tech Session at the Westin

ndouglas | https://gawker.com/

Recent Technorati emigrant Niall Kennedy hosted a swanky demo session last night at the Westin St. Francis. This is the second of his SF Tech Sessions. Chicago startup Blish.com bought the room, the drinks (for the record, I stuck to beer and coffee), and the pricey salmon platters.

Niall basks in the light of a thousand IPOs.

One of the less lucky presenters. This fish's business plan was deemed a menace to the economy.

Years after his lounge-piano career, Brian Sherrill still hasn't changed his clothes.
The glitz screams "dot-com bubble," but Blish founder Brian Sherrill said he'd rented the room sight unseen. "I thought it would be some normal hotel conference room. Then I came up here and went, 'Whoa.'" Still, every dot-commer there wanted Blish to sponsor their next party.

"Pssst...I hear Kevin Burton bought someone in this room." "I'm right here, dude, and I didn't buy anyone." "See, it's so secret even Kevin doesn't know."

Skobee presenter Noam Lovinsky: "It's a consumer service, but I'm sure we can, uh, leverage your paradigmatic edge competency across the enterprise."
Skobee's the first to present. You use it to organize outings big and small with your friends. Looks handy.

The second speaker presents Vast, a topical ad search engine. For Vast's dating profile category, he says, "We had to pull a lot of results out. Thousands of Russian brides, lots of porn..." TailRank's Kevin Burton: "Can I get a disc of that data set?"

Mozes CEO Dorrian Potter: "And with enough seed money, I could afford a shirt with a collar."
Potter's mobile-bookmarking site Mozes.com has tags, of course, but not that hippie share-at-will kind: they sell tags as keywords. The peanut gallery around me is not impressed.

Finally, two reps from Songbird shuffle in. They're over an hour late, but they present their product.

Ohhh, hey, hadn't noticed that bug — er, feature — before."

Songbird is part browser, part media player. One of the demoers shows off the song display. And the sliding tracker. And the volume slider. Blogger Eran Globen: "Gee, I wonder if it does stereo."

Four companies, three of them dot-coms, and a dot-com sponsor. A posh 32nd-storey location. An audience of dot-commers and startuppers. Keep saying it: There is no bubble, there is no bubble, there is no bubble...


These sessions were vital to the launch of our business in so many ways. Just the info on servers, hosts, and website technicals was eye opening to say the least. We saved so much money by not making common mistakes - like using a dedicated server when first building our site. Or insisting on specific control panels, like cPanel, that permit easy management of the hosting environment. My partners and I were looking to create an online retail site to sell superhero stuff - t shirts, sweat shirts, hoodies, sweat pants, etc. Our favorite model was MoonAtMidnight.com and we wanted to achieve the look and ease of ordering this site created for their Batman t shirt customers. I met an ecommerce guru who liked Magento sites for stores, but another expert showed us some drawbacks of that cms. The Batman site we liked is not a Wordpress site or any of the common commerce platforms. Their t shirts displays enable huge images that show details absent from most websites. We ended up connecting to a coder in France that spoke English and could customize a Woo Commerce plug in for Wordpress that's doing the job perfectly. All the excellent guidance we received to help our startup was provided via contacts made at the tech sessions. 2 thumbs up for these guys!



January, 2006

Welcome to SF Tech Sessions

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Welcome to SF Tech Sessions, your place to learn about the latest technologies and startups that are changing their industries. Each month we will host an event highlighting emerging startups and their industry with head-to-head presentations and demonstrations.

I started SFTech Sessions to bring together journalists, bloggers, and other interested users to learn about new startups and how they plan to change the status quo. Each event will focus on a particular industry selecting 2 or 3 new products and companies close to their launch dates. Companies will present an overview of their product, their view of the industry, and a hands-on demonstration. You will have ample time to ask questions and research each product for your own writing or business.

I want to help provide a launchpad for companies developing interesting new products of interest to the technology community. Topics and companies will be hand-selected each month to keep the quality high and relevant.

Meetings will take place on a weekday evening in San Francisco. Hope you can make it!
Niall Kennedy



SF Tech Sessions brings together journalists, bloggers, and interested users every month to learn about new technologies and the companies and products defining the space. The event is skewed towards early-stage startups in the San Francisco Bay area.

Cheap storage and bandwidth combined with open-source software and services have made it cheaper than ever to launch a new technology business. Launching a company should not be a large marketing expense costing thousands of dollars. Eager users and technologists want to learn about new ideas, concepts, and companies while having the opportunity to provide real-time feedback to the people creating the product.

SF Tech Sessions is about face-to-face interactions, learning something new, and providing new opportunities for companies to share their ideas with people covering the space.

Presenters and audience members are not charged for their participation in SF Tech Sessions. Food is covered by donations and venue space is sponsored.

The event is organized by Niall Kennedy and held on a monthly basis in San Francisco.

Speaker’s Guide

Attendees of SF Tech Sessions include technologists, bloggers, and journalists. Overall the crowd is fairly technical and interested in your company, product, and industry and how it might fit in with their existing projects (both business and personal).


Each presenter will receive about 15 minutes to present and demonstrate their product. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions during the presentation if anything is unclear but general questions are held until a 2-3 minute Q&A at the end of your demo. You are encouraged to show attendees your product in action, helping them understand the possibilities and underlying technologies so they might dive a bit deeper on their own.

Good things to cover:

  • Who are you? What is your role at your company?
  • Why was your company or product created? Please provide some background on the people and process behind the product.
  • Where is your company located?
  • How many employees work on the product?
  • Who is the target market?
  • What makes your product unique?
  • What are some of the challenges in the space? How did you overcome it?
  • How do you make money?
  • Point out other members of your team in the audience, and invite 1:1 questions after all presentations have finished.
  • Are you hiring?


You will be standing front and center of a room of about 100 people. A waist-high table is setup for your laptop and whatever props you may want to bring. You will connect to a VGAcable up to two projectors on either side of you. I will bring a DVI to VGA dongle for connecting Macs. Sound will be distributed using a wireless lapel mic. CNET has ample free and fast WiFi that has held up under the weight of hundreds in the past.

A small propaganda is available at the back of the room to distribute goodies such as company stickers.


Each SF Tech Session starts and ends with attendee mingling accompanied by food and drink. Below is a rough schedule of each event.

  1. 7:00 p.m. – Food, drink, mingling
  2. 7:25 p.m. – Welcome, event introduction
  3. 7:30 p.m. – Speaker 1
  4. 7:45 p.m. – Speaker 2
  5. 8:00 p.m. – Speaker 3
  6. 8:20 p.m. – End of formal program. Discussion in small groups naturally forms.
  7. 9:00 p.m. – Out of the building



Archive for January: Connected mobile gadgets

Posted on January 8, 2007 by Niall

Our favourite gadgets are continually shrinking and becoming more talkative, acting as the centerpiece of our mobile lives. Computing power available on our desktop computers only a few years ago is small enough and power-efficient to fit in the palm of our hand. Add a few flash memory chips and wireless connectivity the size of a postage stamp and you have a hardware platform capable of sharing thousands of music files, photos, videos, and the latest media we demand every day.

This month’s edition of SF Tech Sessions will examine the ways connected mobile devices blend built-in features and data with a stream of updates from the data cloud. The connected mobile gadgets Tech Session takes place from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, January 18, in San Francisco.


Dash Navigation

Dash Express

Dash Navigation is launching its first product, the Dash Express, this Spring. Dash Express is an Internet-connected  GPS capable of sending and receiving real-time data for a better journey to people and places of interest. A typical GPS receiver stores map and point of interest data locally, searching through data stored on a DVD or hard-drive updated about once a year (if the owner purchases the latest data). Dash connects each dashboard-mounted unit to its real-time data services available using WiFi access points or a high-speed cellular data connection. The connected Dash Express can access incremental updates to map data as they become available, real-time traffic statistics to better plan your route, and live searches of event and venue information from partners such as Yahoo!. You can even send data from your home PC, storing your next destination before you even leave your living room. As Dash-enabled devices become more common network data will also include speed and location of each Dash vehicle.

Dash Navigation will share its vision of the connected automobile.

Zing Systems

SanDisk Sansa Connect

Zing software and services currently power the Stiletto music player from Sirius and will ship with the SanDisk Connect music player in March. Zing software connects your music to the Internet and your friends, creating new opportunities to download and share music while on the go. Zing utilizes local WiFi access points to download new music for free, payment, or subscription, share music and photos on your device with friends, or stream audio from Internet radio stations. As a software provider many of Zing’s features are dependent on partner implementations, such as the satellite focus of Sirius or the Windows media friendliness of SanDisk.

Zing Systems will share its vision of the connected portable media player.


OQO model 02

OQO just launched their Model 2 compact computer, a fully featured desktop computer that fits in the palm of your hand. The model 02 is a full computer with a 5″ touch screen, a full keyboard, and both WiFi and EV-DO crammed an extremely small magnesium case. The Windows Vista capable PC can dock to your desktop equipment, powering an external display, keyboard, and optical drives when portability is less of a concern.

OQO will share its vision of the connected mobile office worker.


Thursday, January 18
7-9 p.m.
CNET, 235 2nd Street
San Francisco
Add to iCal

Each speaker will have 15 minutes to talk about their product, its origins, and give a brief demonstration. You will have some time to mix with the speakers and other participants before and after the presentations, so don’t be shy.

Thanks to CNET for providing us a venue that can fit about 100 people. Attendees with an appetite are asked to donate $5 to cover pizza and bottled water either at the event or in advance using PayPal.



Archive for October, 2006

October: Social bookmarking

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Some websites are just too good to keep to yourself. Social bookmarking systems are gaining popularity as a way to share web pages, products, and tips with other people, adding the contributions of the crowd to your personal browsing and recommendation habits. A bookmark might be created to help you remember resource, share with a group of friends, or share with the world at large. This month’s SF Tech Sessions meeting takes place on Monday, October 30, from 7-9 p.m. at CNET in San Francisco and will take a look at different approaches to social bookmarking and their influence on search.

A typical bookmarking site or service stores a URL, title, description, and tags. You might see a thumbnail preview of the site, store a cached copy of the page at time of bookmark, or parsed elements of the page such as pictures and auto-classifications based on text. Some bookmarking systems have created special handlers for websites such as Amazon or Banana Republic, recognizing the activity associated with the bookmark and adding additional metadata to your remote annotation.


Ma.gnolia users may join affinity groups such as web design, zombies, or WordPress. You can lurk in these groups, picking up focused news on the topics you care about, and possibly contribute a few findings of your own. Founder Larry Halffwill present Ma.gnolia’s approach to the social bookmarking space at this month’s SF Tech Sessions.

Wists references bookmarks primarily by picture, allowing its users to quickly glance over a list of saved items. The site has been popular as a social shopping destination, helping groups of people collaborate on shopping decisions, wishlists, and recommendations. Wists promotes its technology through celebrity site Gawker Stalker and shopping blog Popgloss. Founder David Galbraith will present Wists’ approach to social bookmarking at this month’s SF Tech Sessions.

Kaboodle groups bookmarks into collections, allowing its users to solicit feedback from friends or the general public on a list of items. Kaboodle powers eBay’s My Collectibles service and its users like share potential shopping purchases (which dress should I wear to prom?) and travel recommendations (what to do in Maui?). Kaboodle parses a bookmarked page, pulling specialized bits of information such as a photo or price. Founder and CEO Manish Chandra will present Kaboodle’s approach to social bookmarking at this month’s SF Tech Sessions.

Event details

Monday, October 30
7-9 p.m.
CNET, 235 2nd Street, San Francisco
Add to iCal

Each speaker will have 15 minutes to talk about their product, its origins, and give a brief demonstration. You will have some time to mix with the speakers and other participants before and after the presentations, so don’t be shy.

Thanks to CNET for providing us a venue that can fit about 100 people. Attendees with an appetite are asked to donate $5 to cover pizza and bottled water either at the event or in advance using PayPal.


Archive for September, 2006


September: Enabling mobile communities

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Summer starts late in San Francisco, and in honor of our warm October, we’re leaving the laptops at home and taking off for the beach with nothing but our cell phones. Most early efforts at building communities for cell phones in the US have centered around adding a mobile component to pre-existing real-world or web communities. The rest of the world has become comfortable with communities that exist primarily in the cellular sphere, and now startups here are hoping the US  is ready to join in. Developers are creating tools that enable mobile communities, whether that means building communities around their own products or allowing you to create your community around any common bond.


  1. WAPtags  is a mobile search and bookmarking site that is building an ad-hoc community around search results. Users can leave comments on sites, creating conversations and connections between visitors who found the site through WAPtags.
  2. Twitter  is built to let you take an online community - your friends, blog readers, or site visitors - and make a mobile community around them. Users can send SMS updates to Twitter which are saved online and can be posted to website or sent to friends’ phones.
  3. TextMarks allows people to create instantaneous mobile communities based solely on text messages. Anyone can define a key word and choose an automated response when that keyword is sent to the system. But a community is created when users allow people to subscribe to the key word, then any subscriber to send messages to the group allowing anyone with a keyword, whether they know each other or not, to join in.


Wednesday, September 20, 7-9 p.m.


235 2nd Street
San Francisco

Each speaker will have 15 minutes to talk about their product, its origins, and give a brief demonstration. You will have some time to mix with the speakers and other participants before and after the presentations, so don’t be shy.


Archive for August, 2006

August: Media distribution platforms

Monday, August 14th, 2006

New blogging formats are clogging online pipes and creating large bandwidth bills for producers of rich media formats such as audio and video. Many publishers decrease the quality of the media they share, hoping the smaller download sizes and video quality will reduce their bills, or increase revenue through the sale of high-quality versions of their work in other formats. A few new local startups are breaking down distribution barriers, helping small and large producers alike plug-in to new sources of bandwidth and load balancing.

This month’s Tech Session focuses on the new distribution networks changing the way we share personal content online.


  1. GUBA distributes video in Flash, Quicktime, and Windows Media formats to anything from a personal media device such as an iPod or PSP to your home media center and more. They sell DRM  movies for Sony and Warner Brothers and are helping the MPAA warm up to digital content distribution. Bart Myers, VP of product and engineering, will present.
  2. MoveDigital turns your media into metered BitTorrents, mobile-capable streams, and simple permalinks. The tool is used by Senator John Edwards and Rocketboom, among others. Development lead Gary Lerhaupt will present.
  3. Red Swoosh uses P2P  technology from up to 30 different peers to distribute large media files “faster than a web server and without bandwidth costs.” Founder and CEO  Travis Kalanick will present.


Wednesday, August 23
7-9 p.m.


235 2nd Street
San Francisco


Archive for June, 2006

June: Online storage

Friday, June 9th, 2006

Storage is cheap and plentiful. Most computers now ship with enough room for growing digital media libraries and online services are starting to offer gigabytes of cheap online storage for end-users and application developers. This month’s SF Tech Sessions will focus on the changing world of online storage, bringing together three companies changing the way we store and share our data online.


  1. Box.net provides users with 1 GB of storage for free with higher storage limits available for a monthly fee. Founder Aaron Levie will present.
  2. Fabrik bridges the world of hardware and online services with intelligent hard drives and large online backups. Dave Tang of Fabrik will present.
  3. S3 from Amazon Web Services provides developers with reliable online storage at cheap, scalable rates. File storage currently costs 15 cents per GB-month and 20 cents for every GB of data transfered. Jeff Barr of Amazon will present.


Thursday, June 15
7-9 p.m.


Microsoft SF
1 Market Street
San Francisco



Archive for April, 2006

April: Timely conversations

Friday, April 21st, 2006

This month SF Tech Sessions is bringing together companies that connect people online for timely conversations. Broadband connections and faster computers are enabling new methods of online interaction. You can choose your favorite application or service provide and chat via text, voice, video, or all of the above within your own virtual world. Many of the protocols behind these new methods of interaction are open, programmable, and create new ways for users to interact with data and other users all over the world.


  • Meebo - multiple instant message clients inside a browser window. Founder and CEO Seth Sternberg will present.
  • Userplane - provides instant messaging including audio and video chat to many sites, including much of the online dating industry. Founder and CEO Michael Jones will present.
  • Linden Lab, makers of virutal world Second Life.


Come to SF Tech Sessions and learn about new technologies and ideas changing entire industries. You will walk away with new ideas for your own projects.


Thursday, April 27
7-9 p.m.


Microsoft SF
1 Market Street
San Francisco



Archive for March, 2006

March TechSessions wrap-up

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Thanks to the over 100 people who came out to tonight’s event. Skobee, Vast.com, Mozes, and Songbird demonstrated their product, shared their vision, and received constructive feedback from other attendees.

Skobee, Vast.com, and Mozes have all launched in the last two weeks. Songbird is a little older having launched their developer preview in the second week of February. Skobee has already received feature requests from around the world, Vast.com takes about 2 weeks to create a new vertical search space, Mozes had the audience ready to buy action words, and the Songbird team has interested users on multiple platforms when they release new versions.

Thanks to all the presenters, to audience participants, and to Blish.com for sponsoring the event.


March: Online communities and interaction

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

The next meeting of SF Tech Sessions will take place next Wednesday, March 29, from 7-9 p.m. at the Westin St. Francis in downtown San Francisco. This month’s event will feature 15-minute presentations and active discussions with 4-6 emerging local startups changing the way we think about online communities and interactions.


Wednesday, March 29
7:00-9:00 p.m.
The Westin St. Francis
Alexandra room, 32nd floor
335 Powell Street
San Francisco

Add to iCal


  1. Skobee, online event planning and local search through your social network. Noam Lovinsky, product guy, will present.
  2. Vast.com, an online classified search engine. Founder and CEO Naval Ravikant will present.
  3. Songbird, an open-source music engine built on top of Gecko, the browser engine behind Firefox. Founder and CEO Rob Lord will present.
  4. Mozes, contextual bookmarks for your mobile lifestyle. Founder and CEO Dorrian Porter will present.

Thanks to digital content marketplace Blish.com for sponsoring the event. Attendance is free, and we will have food, drinks, and an open bar.

Food and drinks will be provided. The Westin St. Francis is located just a few blocks from the Powell Muni/BART station for easy access from across the Bay Area. Check back here for an updated list of presenters and please RSVP in the comments below to make sure you have a chair to sit on and food to eat. Hope to see you next Wednesday!

5 Responses to “March Tech Sessions wrap-up”

1. Chris Heuer Mar 30th, 2006 at 6:56 pm
Congratulations on pulling off a great event. It was fun, it was informative and we all had some great conversations. Kristie and I are really looking forward to the next one… We have a few photos posted here

2. Paul Gleason Mar 31st, 2006 at 7:12 am
I want to thank everyone for helping us accelerate our burn rate.
Great night - thanks for all of the interaction and ideas.

3. Damon Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:59 pm
You created a great event I look forward to the next one, also, can we get these events intergrated into a skobee account.

4. Travis Newcomb Apr 2nd, 2006 at 2:35 pm
Great job with the event. I’m re-energized and looking forward to the next one already. Any idea who will be presenting next time?



Archive for February, 2006


Monday, February 27th, 2006

After working in secret for much of the last year, it’s a little… well, weird to be able to talk openly about what we’re doing at Joyent. But it’s also really fun.

It’s been frustrating, at least for me, to spend so many months speaking guardedly and in the future tense: “We’re going to do this,” “We’re planning to support that,” etc. As of earlier this month, however, it’s present-tense time for Joyent. We haven’t yet started our promotional blitz, but we have already shipped for real, in the Russell Beattie sense: you pay us with a credit card and we’ll give you a hosted account for your entire team.

So now we want to tell everyone everything about it, and we started at Thursday night’s SF Tech Session. In addition to being our first public event after shipping our hosted Joyent Connector accounts, it was also our first public event after our merger with TextDrive at the end of November.

Jason Hoffman, CTO of our combined company, presented our strategy. We’re different than most so-called “web 2.0″ companies in that we’re not merely building a web-based application, but rather, we’re building an entire system of consistent web-based apps, of which email, contacts, calendaring, and file sharing are just the foundation.

What really made Jason’s presentation sing was when he shifted from “here’s the basic idea” to “here’s how I actually use it”. The latter part of his demo was a tour through his actual Joyent account. In the industry parlance, we’re eating our own dog food, and have been for months. E.g., the point of a tagging feature isn’t to check off an item on the “How to Be Web 2.0″ list; the point of tagging is to help real people organize their information and communicate with others.

Our thanks to Niall for the opportunity, and to everyone who attended for their kind words and insightful questions afterward.