There’s now a kid-friendly Vine

Vine has released a new app just for kids. It features age-appropriate content in a similar six-second video format to the grownup Vine. The videos are held by little cartoon creatures, and children can swipe left to see new ones. The concept came from Vine’s hack week, where people at the company worked on new ideas.

In the blog post announcing the news Vine didn’t explain where the videos are coming from. There’s no place in the app for making your own Vine. TechCrunch suggested that Vine is filtering kid-friendly posts from the original app. But when you swipe through Vine Kids, the videos seem specifically created for children.


Screenshots from the Vine app

I’ve reached out to Vine to learn where the clips are coming from and will update this if I hear back.

I can’t imagine that Vine will build more category-specific, separate Vine apps in the future. It already has different channels for perusing specific topics like sports or style, but they’re in the Vine app itself. The only reason it needed a separate app for kids is to make sure children don’t stumble upon inappropriate content.

Over 1,000 people showed up to Product Hunt’s massive happy hour

Product Hunt’s happy hour starts in 20 minutes, and the line stretches far down the street. As I stroll through Geary, blocks from the bar, I’m convinced the crowds must be gathering for a Diplo concert or something. There’s no way this many people showed up for drinks with the young, Andreessen-Horowitz backed tech company.

But I am wrong. The public Facebook event invite reached 312,000 news feeds, 16,000 people viewed the event page and 3,700 RSVPed. The bar only fits 1,200 people. Half an hour before the start time, hundreds of people have showed up early to Product Hunt’s fifth official Happy Hour, trying to make sure they get in.

The line outside Product Hunt's happy hour, 20 minutes before the event begins, wraps around the corner and down the street

The line outside Product Hunt’s happy hour, 20 minutes before the event begins, wraps around the corner and down the street

For the unfamiliar, Product Hunt is a Reddit-like app for early tech product adopters. The community upvotes and downvotes cutting-edge new products, which range from GIF keyboards to musical pants to the new version of Foursquare, and the founders surface frequently to answer questions. Product Hunt raised $6.1 million from Andreessen Horowitz in September, and with fewer than twenty employees it’s still pretty small by tech standards.

That hasn’t stopped it from exploding in popularity. It’s the place where Yo and Ship Your Enemies Glitter were discovered, and it’s regularly surfed by early-stage investors and journalists looking for the next buzzy companies.

The overrun happy hour Thursday further solidified the company’s status as hot new tech community. But it also raised the question: Have we reached peak Product Hunt?

The people in line may be there to bask in Product Hunt’s limelight, but they’re not too pleased about the wait. One young man near the front mutters, “Sure, it’s popular, but I don’t know if it can monetize.” His friend says, “Maybe they’ll raise money on Kickstarter. They have a great community.”

Blocks away, a few friends stop short when they see the hordes of people waiting in line. They swear loudly and snort, “Never mind.”

The snaking queue of fans leads right to the door of the bar 620 Jones, rented out for the night. Ryan Hoover, Product Hunt founder and CEO, meets me inside. He hasn’t checked out the line snaking around the corner yet and is nervous to stroll past it, lest he get mobbed by tech groupies. He tells me he prefers smaller events but knew a lot of people would want to come to this.

Much like [company]Twitter[/company], [company]Facebook[/company] or Reddit, Product Hunt needs a loyal user base of people posting content to survive. Offline events help these users develop connections with each other, leading to a sense of community, which is not an easy thing to build. That in turn intensifies their loyalty to the application.

[pullquote person=”” attribution=”” id=”909141″]One young man near the front mutters, “Sure, it’s popular, but I don’t know if it can monetize.”[/pullquote]

The bouncer starts slowly letting in clusters of people and Hoover disappears into the masses. Not for the first time, I find myself wondering how his life has changed with his newfound fame. Although he’s a confident person, he’s a self-admitted introvert who gathers his energy in moments of solitude. At the last Product Hunt happy hour, a smaller event that happened pre-funding, he snuck away early while the party still raged.

Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, in the empty bar minutes before the happy hour crowds were unleashed

Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, in the empty bar minutes before the happy hour crowds were unleashed

The soft red lights of 620 Jones give everything a chic, sophisticated vibe. Top 40 music pulses in the background as founders, techies, PR people, salesmen and reporters mingle. Many of the people I speak with have never used Product Hunt, but they’ve heard of the company and wanted to familiarize themselves – or be associated with it.

“I didn’t know what it was, but I saw the Facebook event group and thought I should find out,” a social media professional in pointed heels and a tailored dress tells me. Her friend, a publicist for the firm that represents Yik Yak, nods beside her in agreement.

When I ask a co-founder of an online music merchandise service why he came, he says, “I don’t know. It’s a viral thing. People feel like they have to be a part of it but they’re not sure why.”

Two women chat during Product Hunt's happy hour

Two women chat during Product Hunt’s happy hour

Many attendees are huge fans and recognize Hoover on the spot. Two women from CODE2040, a nonprofit formed to encourage diversity in technology, ask him questions over the throbbing bass. A man interrupts them to frantically show off his social app, before being interrupted by another man wearing an ironic t-shirt.

An older, reserved fellow nursing a glass of wine at the bar tells me his company is one of the sponsors of the drinks. He jokes that the company didn’t pay enough money to get its name anywhere at the event. He marvels at the fact that the event was so overbooked, even as sponsors they were initially told they could only put one person on the guest list.

Tech employees from Mattermark and Sony chat during the Product Hunt happy hour

Tech employees from Mattermark and Samsung chat during the Product Hunt happy hour

The crowd reminds me of the shifting nature of tech culture. I show up expecting nerds and geeks and instead see cashmere sweaters and polo shirts, slicked-back hair and biceps amid the hoodies and startup T-shirts.

Tech has gone mainstream and Product Hunt is the water cooler where the cool kids hang out. It’s a characterization I suspect Hoover would feel uncomfortable with, and it’s perhaps not representative of the app itself. But the app has become a brand that people want to be associated with, regardless of whether they’re using it.

There’s an inherent contradiction in Product Hunt’s business premise. It wants to be the place where early product adopters can come together, and it also wants to go big. If this happy hour turnout is any indication, it’s starting to achieve that.

But it will be challenging for a community that’s all about the early adopters to scale without losing its magic along the way. After all, if everyone is an early adopter, is anyone really an early adopter?


One line from this story has been removed since publishing because it happened during an off the record part of the interview.

People order drinks during the open bar at the Product Hunt happy hour

Arduino-compatible Quirkbot lets kids build robots out of straws

One year ago, a simple and very cool construction kit for children came out; called Strawbees, it lets kids develop their inner engineer by making all kinds of structures out of ordinary drinking straws and cardboard. Now, a spinoff project has emerged: a “toy to make toys” called Quirkbot.

Quirkbot is a small 8MHz microcontroller with an Arduino-compatible bootloader that can be made part of a Strawbees creation without any need for soldering or breadboarding. It has light, distance and sound sensors and can basically be used to create moving, drinking-straw-based robots called “Qreatures.” Squeeze-on electronics can add sounds and lights to the mix.

Bot & Roll concertIt’s even possible to make a game controller using the thing. Quirkbot has a microUSB port for charging and for loading programs, which kids can create through a browser-based visual programming interface that allows for the sharing of projects.

This is a really nice educational idea – the Strawbees-compatible system makes it easy to quickly try out new ideas. The Swedish Quirkbot team’s Kickstarter campaign launched on Tuesday with the package of Quirkbot microcontroller, Strawbees Maker Kit, light sensors and motor costing $69 or $59 for the first 99 early birds.

Pricier kits come with features such as Midi out, speakers and LED lights, and with distance and sound sensors. The estimated ship date is August this year.


Netflix may remove My Little Pony, other Hasbro shows

You’ve got two weeks to prepare your kids for it: Netflix could be removing kids shows from Hasbro / Discovery from its streaming service at the beginning of February, according to reports from USA Today and the New York Post.

Shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is MagicLittlest Pet Shop, Transformers Rescue Bots and Transformers Prime will disappear on February 3 unless the two parties strike an eleventh-hour deal, which seems unlikely, but not totally out of the question. A [company]Netflix[/company] spokesperson declined to comment on negotiations between the two companies, but a [company]Hasbro[/company] spokesperson sent me the following statement:

“We know today’s audiences watch content on a number of different platforms and we are deeply committed to ensuring that the people who love our shows have access to them anytime and anywhere they want to watch. Hasbro Studios programs including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Transformers RescueBots are currently available on numerous broadcast and streaming platforms around the world.  We are extremely hopeful that we can continue to offer our highly rated, award winning programs to Netflix U.S. subscribers. “

It’s worth noting that some movie titles with the same characters, including My Little Pony Equestria Girls, will remain on Netflix either way, as they are not covered by this deal.

Netflix regularly removes shows and movies as content deals expire, and occasionally brings back content that briefly went off the platform. But while Netflix subscribers have by and large gotten used to this dance, it’s a different story with kids shows altogether.

Last year, all hell broke lose when Netflix ended its contractual relationship with Viacom, forcing the company to remove popular kids shows like Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants and Go Diego Go, with hundreds of our readers complaining about ruined birthday parties and broken little hearts.

PlayKids is taking its children’s video service to China

PlayKids, the video subscription service that focuses on kids under five, launched the iOS version of its app in China Thursday. PlayKids wants to win over Chinese consumers with local kids titles like Mumu Tribe, Our Friend Xiong Xiaomi and Dinobob.

PlayKids head of international expansion Eduardo Henrique told me during a recent interview that the company decided to focus on iOS in part because the Chinese Android market is more fragmented, but also because that’s where the company has seen more traction across its other 26 markets. “Most of our revenues are from the iOS platform,” he said.

PlayKids has seen more than eight million downloads of its app, and PlayKids users have played more than 500 million videos through the app. The service is owned and operated by Latin America’s mobile app specialist Movile. Henrique told me the company focused entirely on international expansion in 2014, but it may add a version for kids over five in 2015.

This is why Netflix loves the little ones: 75 of its kids shows have 2+ million viewers

netflix kids featured wide

Netflix continues to be everyone’s favorite babysitter: 75 of the kids shows currently on Netflix have attracted more than two million viewers in the U.S. alone this year, and more than a dozen kids titles even have an audience of more than five million viewers. The company revealed this nugget in its letter to investors Wednesday — a day that otherwise wasn’t the greatest for the streaming service: Investors punished Netflix in after-hours trading for slower-than-expected growth, sending stock down 26 percent. But at least the kids still love Netflix…