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6 480x245 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Last Friday, my friend Shak pathed, “Productivity at tech companies must be low today. Half the folks are headed to Utah while the other half are looking for an ice cream truck.”

Told to pack for a camping trip but not much else, 850 like-minded individuals showed up in Eden, Utah last Friday for the first Summit Outside event, hosted by the Summit Series team famous for its weekend retreats like Basecamp and Summit-at-Sea. For Outside, attendees were encouraged to disconnect, with the promise of “finding a better connection.”

Without WiFi or outlets, a group of the world’s most Internet-addicted human beings found immense freedom letting go of the digital world and reconnecting with nature.

2 rehabilitated raptors were released into the wild 520x383 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

It was the first major event held in Eden, Utah since the 45-person team purchased Powder Mountain for $40 million earlier this year. Weekend tickets started at $2,000 and went up to $12,000 depending on housing options like a 10-person dome, quad tent or air-conditioned RV.

Summit donated a portion of ticket sales to local nonprofits and attendees made optional donations at registration. In total, Summit Outside raised nearly $100,000 for Ogden Valley and Weber County nonprofits, including the Weber School Foundation, Ogden Valley Land Trust, Weber Pathways, Weber County Fire Officers Association and The Nature Conservancy.

When the mountain purchase was announced, there were several complaints from local townspeople who were dubious of the team’s ability to preserve the mountain’s old-fashioned charm. Change is still a thing you should believe in, as the event drove more than $2 million dollars into the local economy and resulted in over 300 local jobs.

nest by hannes wingate 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Upon arrival, attendees geared up for the weekend with free Nike Fuelbands, headlights, tin cups and camouflage backpacks for carrying around their new Tom’s sunglasses. After chucking bags into tents and strapping on hiking boots, attendees were delighted by surprises at every turn like a sonic meditation deck, a late-night noodle truck, a flash sale of coconuts and LeWeb founder Loic LeMeur giving office hours in the middle of a forest.

office hours w loic le meur 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Attendees stopped by the activity tent to sign up for paint ball, hiking, horse-back riding and mountain bike riding – or a knot tying workshop with Philippe Petit, the man featured tightrope-walking between the World Trade Center towers in the documentary Man on Wire.

Somewhat retired, Petit decided to climb the stage at the event’s closing plenary instead.

philip petit gives speech from an unexpected place 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Each morning on Powder Mountain, we practiced yoga on The Lotus Deck, overlooking Ogden valley. Teachers included Sasha Bahador, Founder of ShaktiLife and Kenneth Von Roenn III, Creator of Skanda Yoga.

DSC 0030 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Just a 5-minute walk down the hill, Taylor Kuffner’s robotic orchestra, known as “The Gamelatron” was tied to trees in a forest of hammocks, providing an oasis of relaxation for weary Summiteers.

DSC 0089 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

One of the more popular surprises was the Duck Pond, a hedonistic escape from the killer content and outdoor adventure experiences. Aerated and perfectly clean for swimming in, the Duck Pond served as an ideal cool down during the 90 degree days. Summit’s Chief Reconnaissance Officer Thayer Walker says the Duck Pond will be a permanent structure for the years to come.

DSC 0052 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

As entrepreneurs do, the Summit team members are building a permanent community that didn’t exist before, a home they’re proud to live in, and one they can call their own. “Our goal is to create a center of gravity for the innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders of the world,” says Summit co-founder Jeremy Schwartz, pictured below with fellow co-founder Brett Leve. “We hope Summit Eden will become a community built around a shared ethos that emphasizes collaboration as tool to drive positive, multidisciplinary output.”

 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Many will compare Summit Series to TED, Davos or even Burning Man, but lining up such energetic entities side-by-side is boring. While there were quite a few speakers at Summit Outside who have also spoken in Long Beach, and people important enough to fly to Switzerland each year, and a lot of dust and dancing in The Electric Forest, what’s more interesting is why events like this exist, and how The Summit Series team has brought such magical experiences to life that are shaping a generation of change-makers.

Content

The Summit Team offered content and activities ranging from a 3-hour mountain biking tour to a discussion of the female hormonal system to an hour-long talk about the recent Trayvon Martin trial. When asked to reflect on a high point from the weekend, Shervin Pishevar, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Sherpa Ventures, answered:

“The Trayvon talk. Cheeraz [Gorman]‘s tears opened a flood gate of love and truth. It changed hearts and minds and planted the seeds of a new social justice movement. Our nation still needs a process of reconciliation. There’s too much locked within our hearts. We need to get in that circle we formed in the forest and widen to all so we can all feel what we did that day.”

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Humans weren’t the only ones leaving Powder Mountain with new flight patterns. Summit partnered with Earthwings, a raptor nonprofit, to release two rehabilitated birds of prey into the wild at the event.

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Summit also partnered with Pack and Pounce, a local animal shelter to create a puppy pen where attendees could adopt puppies destined to be put down. 9 puppies were adopted and saved.

9 puppies were adopted from a local shelter 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

The event could’ve been called the “Summit of Love” – not because of the plethora of mountain-top sessions – but because love was on everyone’s lips, particularly speaker and therapist Esther Perel, who wins the award for giving the most talks in a 48-hour period.

As entrepreneurs, we are used to giving all of ourselves to our companies and careers, then we come home at night with just leftover scraps of our energies for our loved ones. How will we ever have as successful relationships as we do careers if we keep carrying on like this? Esther didn’t have all of the answers, but she made us realize that if its a fulfilling love life we want, we need to explore the possibilities of adjusting our current priorities.

esther perel 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

Production

The Summit team’s production talents are extraordinary. On Saturday night, attendees were invited to have dinner around a quarter-mile long picnic table in a field. The walk to dinner was led by jazz musician Jonathan Batiste.

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For many photo-takers, this visual feat and delightful feast was a highlight of the weekend.

14 mile dinner 520x346 Entrepreneurs gather in Eden for the first Summit Outside

The Summit team knows how to throw a party too. After dinner, the electronica ensemble Thievery Corporation played a 2-hour set before 50 fans jumped on stage for a late-night dance party. There were all dozens of artists and DJs, like Big Boi, RAC, Sean Glass and DJ Equal, who played until the wee hours of the morning for sparkly-pantsed dancers. To listen to all of the artists who performed this weekend, SoundCloud’s David Noel made a playlist for you.

Curation

While Summit is often knocked for being exclusive, its curated community creates an environment for some of the world’s most ambitious people to open up professionally, emotionally and physically. “It’s going to be a place on Earth that becomes a sacred space for growth and development,” says Nicole Patrice De Member, the Founder of Toi and the woman responsible for introducing Summit to Greg Mauro, the entrepreneur and Eden, UT resident who brought the Powder Mountain opportunity to the team. “The people who need love will end up here. We want the world to be a part of this. It’s not a secret journey, but you still have to go on that journey to get here.”

Summit designed the event with serendipity built-in so that porch-front dinner conversations, afternoon walks down dusty Main Street, or late night discussions in the tea hut became places where we shared journeys of success, failure and personal hardship. “No matter where I went or what I did, I stumbled upon some of the most amazing, interesting people I’ve ever met. It’s a magical experience unlike any other,” says Summit first-timer Ryan Matzner, Fueled’s Director of Strategy.

The first night of Summit Outside I stood next to a stranger as we waited for our camp mates. I said “Hi” and gave him a warm hug the way you might a friend. He said, “Thank you, I really needed that.” He then told me his father had just passed away that morning. And instead of canceling plans to be with his immediate family, he decided that his first step towards healing was to be with his Summit family. In a place so loving, empowering and supportive, I understood.

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Summit Outside was the team’s first big event on Powder Mountain – and for most in attendance, those 72-hours were a transformational experience. The Summit Team’s passion shines through everything it touches, and they’ve fortunately chosen to build their home in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth. In Eden, once again, we feel like we’re just at the beginning of it all…

164685991 520x245 T Mobile cuts upfront smartphone costs in the US, but ramps up monthly payments instead

T-Mobile made a great deal of fuss over its flexible ‘uncarrier’ contracts back in March – clearly separating the cost of the call plan and the handset – but now it’s taking the idea one step further by dropping the upfront cost of the handset altogether.

In what it describes as an “unparalleled” promotion, T-Mobile subscribers will be able to pick up a flagship device such as the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 for free. The network operator is then adding most, if not all of the difference to the regular monthly instalments that consumers need to pay to actually own the handset.

There’s some savings to be made here, but it’s essentially just another payment plan. Accept the upfront cost and the user benefits from lower device payments. Forgo the down payment entirely, however, and subscribers have to accept that most of the savings will be added on to their final monthly bill.

As The Verge reports, to put the price difference in perspective the Samsung Galaxy S4 costs $149.99 up-front alongside a $20 monthly fee for two years. Or, a total of $629.99. Under the new $25 tier, with no up-front cost, that comes to $600 exactly. Other handsets, such as the iPhone 5, offer even more negligible discounts.

The promotion is also compatible with T-Mobile’s JUMP! program, enabling consumers to upgrade after six months to a new handset. The catch, however, is that T-Mobile takes subscribers’ existing handsets back, nullifying the payments made up until that point.

“The number of reasons not to switch to T-Mobile this summer is ZERO,” John Legere, president and chief executive officer of T-Mobile US said. “Adding Zero Down in addition to JUMP!, and Simple Choice with no contract is all about making wireless work for consumers and shaking up this industry.”

The scheme is described as a promotion, so it’s fair to assume that it will only run for a short period of time. All of the new monthly payment amounts are listed below – if you’re strapped for cash but looking to switch to a new carrier in the US, this could be a viable option.

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 – $25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II – $27
  • Samsung Galaxy S III – $22
  • Xperia Z from Sony – $25
  • iPhone 5 – $27
  • Nokia Lumia 925 – $20
  • Nokia Lumia 521 – $5
  • BlackBerry Q10 – $25
  • HTC One – $25
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – $20

Image Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

85679352 520x245 Google has been taking action to demote mugshot sites that charge people for removing their images

Google has been addressing an issue with mugshot sites to push them down in search results, the New York Times reveals today in an article.

Such sites post photos of those who have been arrested and charge a fee for their removal, which can range from $30 to $400, or even higher.

What makes them popular is that they appear high up in Google searches regularly whenever a name of someone who has been previously arrested is keyed in. The New York Times notes that Google had not been penalizing these sites for getting their images and text from third-party sources, going against the search giant’s ethos that websites should be promoted if they have original material, and demoted for copying.

However, Google has now found that these sites apparently do not comply with a certain guideline, and has taken action to demote them since Thursday, rolling out an amendment to its algorithms that has led to mugshots being pushed back and listed beyond the first page.

In an excellent piece about how mugshot sites affect people who have once been arrested, the New York Times also reached out to several financial companies that enabled these sites to receive payments for mugshot removal services.

Ultimately, MasterCard told the newspaper that it is in the process of terminating these mugshot site accounts as customers, while PayPal also said it is putting an end to support for such mugshot removal payments. American Express and Discover also said they were pulling the plug for payment support for mugshot sites, while Visa was asking merchant banks to investigate business practices of these sites.

Headline image via Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

122486570 520x245 LearnVest wants to fix your poor spending habits, nabs $16.5M to scale its financial planning service

Financial planning startup LearnVest has its heart set on fixing your poor spending habits – and minting money because of them. Now, after polishing its product and launching on the iPhone, LearnVest is gearing up for expansion with a new round of funding: $16.5 million in funding, to be exact, with investments from Accel Partners, American Express Ventures, Claritas Capital and others.

Sitting nicely alongside this news, LearnVest, which offers both a money management app and advising services, is also announcing its first West Coast office. The space, located in Phoenix, will serve as the company’s hub for housing and training financial planners. We’re told LearnVest’s new space will hold about 25 people, and that the company plans to “scale up to a few dozen.”

LearnVest as a company has seen success with its product – according to CEO Alexa von Tobel “the product works; now we’re scaling [it].” Gearing up for this expansion, LearnVest tells us it has new distribution plans in the works, including partnerships with undisclosed companies that offer LearnVest services to their employees.

A “major commercial partnership” is also apparently coming, which could involve American Express, given its fresh stake in LearnVest. We’ll be sure to update you on that deal as news surfaces. Until then, you can check out LearnVest here.

Image credit: Thinkstock

1600404101 645x250 520x245 Starbucks adds Duracell Powermat wireless charging stations to its coffee shops in Silicon Valley

Starbucks is quickly becoming the ultimate chain of Internet caf s due to its solid Wi-Fi connectivity, free app vouchers, access to The New York Times website and now, reliable wireless charging.

Following a successful roll-out across Boston, Duracell announced today that it will be fitting the Duracell Powermat in a number of Starbucks stores across the Silicon Valley area. These wireless charging spots are fitted directly to the tables, giving consumers the ability to recharge their various electronic devices while sipping a cup of hot joe.

The caveat, it would seem, is that these charging spots require the user to own a Powers Matters Alliance (PMA) certified device or smartphone case. Duracell sells these independently for the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III, but that seems like an awfully restrictive range of devices – we’ve reached out to the company to see if it’ll support more handsets in the future.

For reference, AT&T announced in April this year that it would be integrating wireless charging within a select number of smartphones by 2014. Blackberry, HTC, LG and Samsung, among others, are also signed up with the PMA.

The selective roll-out in Silicon Valley, combined with the need for a specialist device or case, restricts the scope of the program and how useful it will be to the majority of global Starbucks coffee lovers.

What it does show, however, is a glimpse at how the company wants to expand the in-store Starbucks experience and make it increasingly tempting for people to come in on a regular basis. A fast, stable Wi-Fi connection is now a given for almost any Starbucks store – it’s easy to see how wireless charging could quickly become just as prevalent.

“We know that our customers use our caf s in a number of ways beyond buying coffee. For some, it’s their home office, for others it’s their place to get away and have some time to themselves. More and more customers are using Starbucks as their home base and they are looking to recharge in a number of ways,” said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks Coffee Company.

A similar effect has been achieved inadvertantly in Apple stores – consumers walk in all the time to charge their iPhone or iPad – so Starbucks would be wise to expand the number of stores offering Duracell Powermats as quickly as possible. People increasingly need to charge their smartphones in the middle of the day – we use them more and more with power-hungry apps – so more places to charge will never be unwelcome.

Image Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

756206 30290725 520x245 China to hit 246m Android and iOS devices this month, taking it past the US to become worlds largest market

This month, China is slated to pass the US to become the world’s top country for active Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. In January 2013, China and the US had roughly the same active device installed base: 221 million and 222 million, respectively. By the end of February 2013, China will have an estimated 246 million devices compared to 230 million in the US.

The findings come from Flurry, which tracks over 2.4 billion anonymous app sessions per day across more than 275,000 apps around the world, and says it can reliably measure activity across more than 90 percent of the world’s smartphones and tablets. Based on historical growth trends as well as the number of detected devices per country through the first of this month, the company estimated its numbers for the end of this month.

Here’s the historic data with the projection in graph form:

SmartDevice InstalledBase China vs US Feb2013 resized 600 China to hit 246m Android and iOS devices this month, taking it past the US to become worlds largest market

If China really does claim gold from the US in February, it will be exactly 12 months since Flurry reported that the country had become the world’s fastest growing market for smartphones and tablets. The company unsurprisingly doesn’t expect the US to take back the lead from China, citing the countries’ populations: just over 310 million versus over 1.3 billion, respectively.

The only country that could feasibly take that spot is India, which has a population of just over 1.2 billion. Yet it is currently in 10th place with 19 million smartphones and tablets, according to Flurry:

SmartDevice InstalledBase Jan2013 resized 600 China to hit 246m Android and iOS devices this month, taking it past the US to become worlds largest market

Interestingly, both the US and China have more than five times the active installed base than that of the UK, the world’s third largest market. Furthermore, both countries continue to see rapid device adoption.

China may no longer lead the world in growth, but it still commanded an impressive 209 percent rate on top of a base of 71 million devices from January 2012. The below chart excludes countries with less than half a million devices as of January 2012:

SmartDevice GrowthRates Jan2013 resized 600 China to hit 246m Android and iOS devices this month, taking it past the US to become worlds largest market

Only Columbia, Vietnam, Turkey, Ukraine, and Egypt grew faster than China. Year-over-year, compared to January 2012, the US added 55 million new devices, while China added 150 million new devices. Flurry says China would have passed the US earlier, given its growth rate, but the American holiday season delayed the inevitable for an additional two months.

See also – Duopoly: 98% of Q4 smartphone shipments in China were powered by Android or iOS, at 86% and 12% respectively and Despite the iPhone’s monumental Q4, Android still powered 50% of all smartphones sold

Image credit: Gary Tamin

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