ReadWrite Announces Crowdfunding at #WWC15

by francine Hardaway on May 20, 2015

You have to hand it to Redg Snodgrass of Wearable World. First he went out on a limb with Wearable Wednesdays, Now he has taken a huge, cavernous white elephant of a space in San Francisco, the Palace of FIne Arts,  and made it into an accelerator for companies involved in wearables or IOT.I can’t say he transformed it, because it retains much of its original quality: it’s a cross between a museum and a hangar. I’ve heard rumors of a partnership between Wearable World and the City of San Francisco, but don’t have the details.


The space has its share of opportunities as well as problems. The ceilings are high, the building is not new, and  it was freezing the day I visited Wearable World Congress there.  The space is also too big ever to look crowded, which made the Congress look less successful than I believe it was. However, venues like these, taken over by creatives like Redg, can eventually make a huge impact.


Wearables and their companions on the Internet of Things are somewhere in that drop after the top of the hype cycle and before mass adoption. The early adopters have already bought their fitness trackers, their Hue lights, their Sonos connected players, and the most ardent of them also have a smart watch or two in a drawer somewhere.


But everyone agrees the Internet of Things space isn’t there yet. Nor is  the smartwatch, even glamorized by Apple.. The reason people continue to use the modifier “yet,” is that deep within us is the desire for the ultimate convenience a smartphone and wearable computers could deliver — if everything worked as advertised. But little things like sensors, FDA requirements, and products that can’t talk to each other mean we wait for a future that will be plug and play.


Wearable World Congress and Expo was an ambitious combination of Demo Day for the accelerator’s own companies and  chats between pundits and journalists from ReadWrite, the tech blog Wearable World acquired last year. The most interesting demo I saw was for an augmented hearing system that combines the in-ear aspects of an old-time hearing aid with the new tech luxury of the noise cancelling bluetooth headset.


In the chat-between-a-pundit-and-a-journalist genre, the CEO of Pebble averred that he was cool with Apple’s entrance into the market because he believes in both his customers — who funded him twice on Kickstarter — and open platforms. He let me play with his new Pebble Time after the talk, and there’s a real distinction between the two products: Apple is beautiful and expensive; Pebble is functional.


But for me the best part of Day One  was an announcement that Jabil, the manufacturing services company, Wearable World and Indie GoGo were partnering to help new device startups scale. This makes perfect sense, because it takes some of the risk out of starting a hardware company.


And then the icing on the cake was a further announcement that ReadWrite, the tech blog Wearable World acquired earlier this year, will go to a crowdfunding model in partnership with IndieGoGo to make sure it maintains its journalistic integrity. I’m sure there’s some smoke and mirrors here masking a larger back story, but if it produces even a single tech journalist who is not handcuffed by corporate sponsorship or brand advertising, I’m happy to contribute. Especially since this endeavor seems to have brought the fascinating and inimitable Jolie ODell out of retirement.



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