Today in Tech: Foursquare guns for new round of funding

March 18, 2013, 7:00 AM UTC

Also: Inside the mind of Hulu’s interim CEO; Did Mailbox cost Dropbox $100 million? 

Foursquare aims at a moving target as it tries to close another round of funding [TECHCRUNCH]

One part of the problem appears to be that check-ins, the cornerstone of Foursquare’s early growth and its traditionally main source of data points, are no longer what they used to be. A year ago CEO Dennis Crowley said Foursquare was noticing more people using Foursquare but not checking in. In fact, as the company has doubled its user base to 30 million people in the last year, growth of check-ins appears to be flat: today, Crowley says Foursquare sees 5 million check-ins per day, but that’s also what the company said a year ago. For some, the novelty may have worn off of game-play elements, like getting badges and points — part of a wider trend for challenges in app gamification.

Has ‘Veronica Mars’ ushered in a new era of movie development? [THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER]

Three days into its campaign, The CW drama-turned-movie has shattered several crowd-funding records: fastest Kickstarter project to hit $1 million (4 hours, 24 minutes). Highest goal ever set in the 4-year-old website’s history. And 10 hours after its launch on Wednesday morning, the proposed Veronica Mars movie became the fastest project to hit that $2 million mark. As of Thursday night, it had received more than $3.2 million in pledges, with 28 days to go.

The astounding achievement—especially for a show that averaged just under 2.5 million viewers during its 2004-07 run—has injected new life into the possibility of reviving other cult favorites. But can other shows follow the trail that Veronica Mars has now blazed?

An exclusive look at Andy Forssell’s vision for Hulu [FAST COMPANY]

“At certain point once you’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on content, you face a point where you realize this is great, we’re getting really good stuff. But do I spend $2 million on several seasons of some show from the ’70s that was pretty good, and there are people that love it, there’s nostalgia, or is the smarter choice to go back and talk to a creator, a creative person who was in here last week, who we know, who has this idea that’s not getting made. And at a certain point you’d be crazy not to start to speculate a little bit there… and that’s one thing that perks up our ears. When we hear something doesn’t fit.

“Then you end up with some small piece of content that can only be seen on Hulu, that’s interesting for differentiation purposes. Most of what we do will be stuff that you can continue to find elsewhere. But if you can have that kernel of stuff that people love, that speaks to an audience and is something that they wouldn’t find somewhere else, then that has a lot of appeal.

The inside story of Lenovo’s ThinkPad redesign [ENGADGET]

As part of a planned revamping, Lenovo tapped dozens of departments across the world to put new ThinkPad prototypes into the hands of average people — people from all walks of life and strewn across a variety of cultures. Then, they watched and logged the feedback for a total of 18 months, chipping away and retooling the final product. The company didn’t invest more than a year of research to polish up a single machine — it’s putting those findings to work across the entire range. While the machine that debuted at Engadget Expand will be the first to showcase the fruits of that labor when it ships in April at a $949 starting point, I’m told the siblings and cousins that follow will boast similar marks.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 hands-on shows nice hardware but software is the star [GIGAOM]

There are also some solid component upgrades: A next-generation, 1.9 GHz quad-core processor with integrated LTE modem (for the U.S. market), a 5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display with 441 ppi density and Gorilla Glass 3, 2600 mAh battery, 2 GB of memory, 13 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front facing camera. All flavors of Wi-Fi — including the new 802.11 a/c standard — are supported as is Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS/GLONASS, HSPA+42 and LTE. The Galaxy S 4 also has an IR blaster in it, so you can use it to control any television set that uses an infrared remote.

With this hardware the device seemed peppy and responsive, even though it doesn’t yet have the final software version installed. The phone easily handled a burst of 20 camera shots without breaking a sweat. And the display is outstanding from every angle; colors aren’t over-saturated as they were on some Samsung phone displays over the past few years.

Loren Brichter, a high priest of app design [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]

Mr. Brichter was the first developer to create or help popularize app features such as pulling on a touch screen to refresh a page, panels that slide out from the side of a screen and the “cell swipe,” which is swiping to uncover a list of hidden buttons.

Developer Loren Brichter says he is irked by apps that have menus that pop up or collapse on themselves because the interactions aren’t real.

Those actions are now standard features in many popular apps, becoming part of the daily routines of millions of people. The “pull-to-refresh” feature, which Mr. Brichter built in 2009, is woven in software such as an app made by content-sharing site Pinterest Inc. and the mail app from Apple Inc.

Mailbox cost Dropbox around $100 million [TECHCRUNCH]

We had been hearing that Mailbox was raising money, piquing the interest of Andreessen Horowitz among others, which is why today’s news that the company sold to the harmoniously named Dropbox didn’t come as a surprise. Sometimes an acquisition is the easiest way to raise resources for growth — especially when you’re tackling as expensive a problem as email. And have a six-figure wait list.

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