Oct
09
2018
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Pitch, from the founders of Wunderlist, raises $19M to take on Powerpoint in presentations

Microsoft’s Powerpoint today has over 1 billion installs, 500 million users, and some 95 percent market share, making it the most ubiquitous presentation software in the world. But that doesn’t make it the most loved. Now, a new startup out of Berlin called Pitch is emerging from stealth with plans to challenge it, by making what CEO and co-founder Christian Reber describes as “a presentation tool for the Slack generation.”

And to do so, the company is announcing $19 million in Series A funding, ahead of a projected launch date of summer 2019.

The Slack reference is intentional, and not just because of how the product will be built (more on that below). Part of the funding is coming from the Slack Fund, the arm of the work-chat unicorn that makes strategic investments into like-minded startups.

Others in the round include Index Ventures and BlueYard as leads, along with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Framer CEO Koen Bok, Elastic Co-Founder Simon Willnauer, Datadog CEO Olivier Pomel, Wunderlist-backer Frank Thelen, and Metalab Founder Andrew Wilkinson. Blue Yard led Pitch’s seed funding as well: the company has raised $22 million to date.

“Pitch is one of Europe’s few true product-centric companies breaking new ground in software for businesses,” said Neil Rimer, partner at Index Ventures, in a statement. “From messaging to file sharing, software companies like Slack and Dropbox have transformed how teams work together and unlocked greater productivity as a result. We believe Pitch has the potential to redefine the presentation space and become a central hub for content collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and ultimately a platform for better decision-making.” Rimer’s also joining the board.

If $22 million sounds like a lot of money for a product that hasn’t launched, in a field that already has a very dominant player, Pitch is not your average contender. It’s being built by the same founders who created Wunderlist, a popular to-do app that — coincidentally — Microsoft acquired to supercharge its existing list-making and to-do software. You could say that Pitch knows just what it is pitching, when it goes after a problem that already appears to be “solved.”

In an interview, Reber said that he and the team — which includes founders Vanessa Stock; Marvin Labod; Adam Renklint; Charlette Prevot; Jan Martin; Eric Labod; and Misha Karpenko and 12 others — have been at work on the app for about nine months already and that it is in private beta with a few businesses.

As for the app itself, Reber would not show it off to me, but he did provide some detail about what it’s setting out to do.

The premise behind Pitch is to make “a presentation tool for the Slack generation,” he said, in reference to the workplace communications tool that became a runaway hit with organizations because of its ease of use, its speed, and the fact that it positions itself as a platform, integrating with just about any app that a person might use in the normal course of a working day, turning itself into a communication layer underpinning all those apps, too.

The same will go for Pitch. “Pitch integrates with everything you already use,” Reber said, describing Pitch presentations as “living documents” that will essentially update with information as data in other documents gets modified.

There will also be a social element, a la SlideShare, the cloud-based presentation app that was acquired by LinkedIn many years ago but has seen few updates since, and of course now is part of Microsoft too.

In the case of Pitch, users will be able to create documents for their own ends, but they can also use Pitch as a distribution platform, either to a selected group of users (for example, if you are pitching your startup to investors), or to a wider audience who are also Pitch users.

It’s ironic that Reber, who joined Microsoft along with the rest of the Wunderlist team when the startup was acquired, left the mothership rather than potentially trying to either build another presentation tool within Microsoft, or moving to PowerPoint to work on updating that product.

The reasons, I suspect, are the same ones that keep large tech giants from being able to move quickly on ideas, and to often live with bad ones for too long: leviathans are too big and too entrenched, and their halls are rife with politics.

Reber — who jokes that he seems to have a knack for trying to build things “that others have already built” — said that another reason is that he also has a little regret for selling Wunderlist when they did.

“I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished my goal,” he said reflecting on the sale. (For the reasons why he sold anyway, you might speak to a lot of other founders who have exited, and I’d guess that the multiple reasons are often the same.) “So, a year after the exit I thought I would like a chance to start from scratch and be more strategic in how I built my startup.”

The choice to tackle presentations came, as many startup ideas often do, out of his own frustrations — and possibly yours, too, if you have been PowerPointed at some moment in your life.

The most popular presentation tools that exist today are just outdated, he said, with different versions out in the wild, across different platforms, making for a challenge in sharing presentations with others. Reber describes the Pitch-nee-Wunderlist team as “design driven,” so you can imagine how that kind of lack of aesthetic consistency might grate.

He noted that Pitch is built on Electron — the application framework that’s used for WhatsApp, WordPress and many other apps — to smooth out some of those bumps across platforms.

Pitch is most certainly going into business with its eyes open, knowing that even if you put Microsoft’s PowerPoint and SlideShare to the side, there are yet others, such as Keynote from Apple, the web-based Prezi, and Slides from Google. But there are plenty of precedents that nevertheless indicate opportunity.

“It’s really fascinating for me why new products win,” Reber said. “Just look at the business communications space. The market was saturated, and Hipchat dominated the startup world, but then all of the sudden Slack came and everything change. It just took over. There will be a similar shift, I think.”

Besides, he added, having multiple competitors is a good thing. “It just means that the best product will come out the winner.” Let’s hope so.

Oct
22
2016
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Indie Author Day 2016

untitled-design15 October 8th: Tamara and I drove out to Yuma, Az to take part in the Yuma County Library's Indie Author Day, organized by the SELF-e program.

SELF-e is powered by Library Journal and acts as a kind of matchmaking service to help Indie authors get their ebooks into the library system. It's slowly rolling out across the US and Canada, so not every library is a part of the program yet. SELF-e contacted me a couple of years ago and asked if I was interested.

Um… yes! I grew up in libraries. They are a vital part of the local community, bringing the joy of books to everyone.  I absolutely would love to support the libraries. I entered both my fantasy novels into the SELF-e program.

I was astonished in 2015 when they contacted me to tell me that my Necromancer had placed in the top 3 most-read Indie fantasy category. Wow!

Then earlier in 2016 they contacted me again asking if I wanted to be a part of Indie Author Day. Again… hello… yes! The plan was that I would give a 45 minute presentation as an intro to Indie Publishing and then take part in a Q&A panel with two other authors. It was a total blast and the audience asked fantastic questions.

Before we get to the photos, I want to thank Becky and Vanna at Yuma Central Library for organizing the event and making us feel so welcome. They bought us dinner the night before and were a crucial part of the whole event going smoothly. Thanks both of you! Wonderful hosts!

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Here's the panel. In the center is PNR author Melissa Stevens and on the left, Christine Howard. I had a great time sharing the Q&A session with them. Very knowledgeable and friendly folk.

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Aug
09
2013
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The top 5 proactive measures to minimize MySQL downtime

The top 5 proactive measures to minimize MySQL downtimeI’m happy to announce that the recording for my recent webinar “5 Proactive Measures to Minimize MySQL Downtime” is now available, along with the slides. They can both be found here.

My webinar focused on the top 5 operational measures that prevent or reduce downtime — along with the related business impact in a significant number of customer emergency scenarios.

As a senior consultant on Percona’s 24×7 Emergency Consulting team, I’ve helped resolve a myriad of client emergencies related to MySQL downtime and know that every emergency situation is unique and has its own set of challenges. However, when cases are systematically studied and analyzed, patterns of what typically causes MySQL downtime and how it can be best avoided emerge. And that’s what my webinar focused on. Thanks to everyone who attended, asked questions, and sent me thank you emails after the fact.

If you were not able to attend but are interested in the material, be sure to watch the recording, as the slides include only a small part of the information presented. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll answer them as best I can.

The post The top 5 proactive measures to minimize MySQL downtime appeared first on MySQL Performance Blog.

Jan
07
2013
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Webinar: Avoiding common traps when designing a MySQL application

On January 16th at 10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern, I will give a webinar about the main traps that are awaiting you when designing and building a stable and high-performance MySQL application.

I will discuss a broad range of topics, from hardware and backups to instrumentation and indexing. I often see during my consulting practice wrong configuration putting data at risk or huge wastes of money to buy powerful hardware where a few indexes could have done the same result.

So if you think your MySQL servers are not in an optimal state, I invite you to sign up on this page (follow the “Register” link).

See you next week!

The post Webinar: Avoiding common traps when designing a MySQL application appeared first on MySQL Performance Blog.

Jun
22
2011
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Upcoming webinar on Hibernate and Connector/J

On July 12th at 9 AM PST I will be giving a webinar about performance implications for Hibernate and Connector/J. If you cannot attend at this time, a recorded session will be available soon after the webinar.

MySQL is not only about LAMP, and a lot of people use it from Java apps. For some of those, Hibernate is the persistent framework of choice. This webinar will discuss the performance implications of using Hiberate to manage persistence with a MySQL backend, and also some more broad implications for Connector/J  that will apply for anyone using MySQL from Java.

Topics will include:
* Very brief overview of ORMs and Hibernate
* Fetch strategies
* Lazyness
* Manually written SQL
* Concurrency
* Concurrency-related config options for Connector/J

You may register here.

Jan
03
2011
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Speaking on MySQL/PHP Meetup in Charlotte, NC

I’m speaking at MySQL/PHP Meetup at Charlotte,NC next week with topic being Scaling MySQL Applications. We will have a presentation probably for about an hour and the good amount of time for questions. So come prepared.

Great thanks to Red Ventures, LLC for help organizing and sponsoring this event. I’m hearing there are going to be a door prizes, some snacks and drinks available on this event.


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Dec
09
2010
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Recordings for webinars are now online

We’ve just published the recordings for our webinars; Migrating MyISAM to InnoDB and Introduction to Percona Server, XtraDB and Xtrabackup.  To listen, click on (Watch: Recorded Webinar) on each of these links.

We’re planning for future webinars next year.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.


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Dec
07
2010
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Speaking at MySQL Meetup event in NYC, December 15

I’m going to be in NY next week and as part of the meeting I agreed to speak on New York MySQL Meetup. I’m going to speak about
Scaling MySQL driven applications by us of caching, replication, sharding and other technologies. Hope to see you there.


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Dec
01
2010
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Doing Re-run of Migrating MyISAM to Innodb Webinar

We had some technical difficulties with Webex today which prevented from all registered attendees to be able to join webinar. I personally would be very upset having booked my time to attend event, pre-registered to ensure there is a space available and when unable to join at the time of event (which is frankly exactly what happened to me).

As result we have scheduled Migrating MyISAM to Innodb webinar to run again on Tuesday, December 7 at 9AM Pacific (Same Time). Here is direct link if you would like to register.

Note we also Webinar on Percona Server, Xtrabackup and XtraDB next week which is great if you would like to learn more about any of these technologies.


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Oct
05
2010
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Talks in Moscow, Minsk, Samara

I have my schedule pretty busy during a trip to Russia this year. In addition to giving a master class and Sphinx Conference I’m going to speak at HighLoad++. I’ll also have a user meeting presentations in Samara on October 17 and Minsk on October 22 This looks like it is going to be a lot of fun :)


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