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Madison Avenue targets your DNA

Friday, 9 Aug 2013 | 4:35 PM ET
DNA
Alexander Kozachok | E+ | Getty Images
DNA

The latest news on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies upsetting the status quo in the markets:

Madison Avenue begins to target your genetic information

23andMe, the personal genetics company that will sell you the secrets of your own DNA for $99, is rolling out its first nationwide television ad campaign.

Called Portraits of Health, the spots feature actors talkng about what they learned from their own genetics, from serious health issues to lifestyle choices and cool factoids related to how genes are expressed in our superficial appearance—the color of your eyes, for example.

Like Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett, two clients of 23andMe, all the actors had their genetic information mapped by the company. The campaign will air mostly on cable networks, and targets a budget of $5 million in 2013. Earlier this year the company raised $57.9 million in venture funding.

The rise of the misfits

John Sculley, former Apple CEO and board member of Audax Health, appeared on CNBC this week to discuss his role as co-founder of Misfit Wearables.

In 2015, the Affordable Care Act will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance or face a fine. To keep insurance premiums at a minimum, many employers will promote healthy lifestyles, and use gadgets like Misfit's Shine, a kind of high-tech pedometer, to gauge compliance.

Audax already has relationships with Fitbit and Polar for wearable technology.

(Read more: Google's $35 Chromecast bites Apple)

Foursquare's top-secret project no longer top secret

The future of Foursquare may be all about Panda Time. That's the name of the "top- secret" project that Foursquare demoed with Fast Company—not so top secret, it seems, after all.

Fast Company writer Austin Carr reported, "[Crowley] walks me through not just 'Panda Time,' the code name for the latest internal build of Foursquare, but also an even more secretive version of the product, which at the time only five employees have seen. The gist is that Foursquare no longer requires you to tell it where you are; the app is now smart enough to sense your location and offer recommendations for what to do while you're there or after you leave. ... It's a compelling prospect: If Google has built a $294 billion business based on your explicit searches, Foursquare's bet is that the data behind your implicit intent are just as lucrative."

SpaceX nabs its first European contract

It's been a good week for Elon Musk. Tesla shares soared to an all-time high after it reported a surprise profit, and his Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) won its first contract from a European government, for Germany's second-generation radar reconnaissance satellite system. The satellites are to be delivered to orbit by two Falcon 9 rockets in 2018 and 2019.

"These missions are very meaningful for SpaceX as the first contracted for a European government," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer.

(Watch a Disruptor on CNBC this week: Lending Club CEO on the rise of peer-to-peer lending)

WhatsApp reaches 300 million users

The mobile messaging service that is in many countries of the world the No. 1 most downloaded app, WhatsApp, now reaches more than 300 million people, up from 250 million just a few months ago. It's adding to its services also.

Voice Messaging is a new feature that will let customers quickly and easily communicate in real time using voice messages. Not the first app to offer such a feature, but WhatsApp has a big audience for it.

Tumblr's Retention Bonus

How much will it cost Yahoo to keep Tumblr founder David Karp on the job and happy? The answer: $81 million.

Yahoo's recently completed acquisition of Internet blogging service Tumblr includes an $81 million payment to Tumblr founder David Karp as long as he remains for the next four years.

The retention payment was disclosed in a regulatory filing Thursday and is part of the windfall that Karp and Tumblr investors realized by agreeing to sell the service for $1.1 billion in May.

Twitter on TV

Twitter has been saying it for years: engagement on Twitter about content on TV drives ratings. Now Nielsen has released a study that supports that thesis.

But which television viewing demographic groups are best suited to Twitter analysis. Twitter usage among U.S. adults who go online is up to 18% in the latest Pew Research Center survey, a tad increase from 16% last summer. The survey released Monday once again showed Twitter's popularity among people younger than 30, with 30% of so-called millennials active on the site. Twitter is also twice as popular among blacks and Latinos as people described as white. It's usage is fairly even across income and education levels.

(Read more: Forget the polls, read the tweets)

Microsoft to sell Makerbot all over US

After test-offering their Replicator 2 printer in Microsoft stores on the West Coast, MakerBot will begin stocking Microsoft stores across the country with 3-D printers. If you've got any interest in seeing how a 3-D printer works, live demos will be offered.

The Replicator 2 sells for $2,549 with a service plan from Makerbot.

Crowdsourcing Quirky summer gadgets
Quirky CEO and founder Ben Kaufman explains how his manufacturing company helps businesses fund the invention process and demonstrates several of this season's top gadgets.

Aereo's next moves

Aereo, which has already received a ton of press over its growing role in the battles between big broadcasters, will next launch in one of the cities that Time Warner Cable and CBS have been fighting over: Dallas. New York, Los Angeles and Dallas were the big markets impacted by the breakdown in talks between the two media giants.

The Time Warner Cable-CBS blackout extended into its eighth day on Friday, and last week a Time Warner spokesperson suggested that CBS watchers in New York use Aereo to catch CBS shows.

Aereo is also planning to launch in Houston and Miami. It will be available in Dallas starting Sept. 23.

So far the service is available in New York, Boston and Atlanta.

In news of interest to the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies:

Uber's "low cost" competitor hits NYC

A European competitor to Uber, GetTaxi, is launching its black-car on-demand service in New York.

GetTaxi will charge at most $5 on top of a standard charge even at peak times, a way to distinguish its pricing from Uber's "surge" pricing.

While Uber has been reported to attract a valuation as high as $3.5 billion, GetTaxi recent funding suggests a valuation below $500 million.

Is Pinterest overvalued?

If Pinterest is worth near-$2 billion, its New York-based competitor The Fancy is a bargain for investors. The Fancy recently raised $53 million from investors including American Express and actor Will Smith, suggesting a valuation in the range of $600 million.

The company had already raised a total of $60 million in multiple rounds of funding, including money from Twitter & Square co-founder Jack Dorsey.

—CNBC's By Eric Rosenbaum

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