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The Dish Daily

Robinhood: zero-commission brokerage that could open up the stock market

Few startups have the real potential to produce macroeconomic changes out of the gate, but Robinhood is one of those rare fast-growing startups that, if successful, might have an impact on the bigger picture. That’s the most interesting thing about their vision — what would the possible impact of Robinhood on the stock market and economy be? The Palo Alto-based company, 44% of whose employees are from Stanford, is now defying Wall Street by offering a mobile-first, zero-commission stock brokerage. Don’t be fooled by their relatively small size (25 employees) — they have half a million people signed up and already raised $16 million (seed round and series A combined) from the likes of Andreessen-Horowitz, Snoop Dogg, Box’s Aaron Levie, and Google Ventures.


Free software at Stanford: The (definitive) guide

It’s always nice to have new software and products the moment they come out on the market, but software is expensive and usually not the first thing you’d want to spend money on. Fortunately, Stanford gives students (and faculty) a huge amount of free essential software. The Dish Daily team has put together a list of this free software – check here for what you want before you decide to buy something.

A lot of students know that the easiest way to get access to Stanford’s huge amount of Software is to just access it remotely: as long as you have an internet connection, you can connect your computer to Stanford’s FarmShare network of computers. It’s a sure and easy way to get what you need.

Stanford provides multiple ways to connect to the network, whether you’re using Windows, Mac, or are one of the few who’ve for some reason chosen to use Linux.

You can find a list of ways to connect to the FarmShare network here and a list of software that you can access through it remotely here.

For those of you who don’t want to need an internet connection to get free software, there’s a ton of free software that you can download for keeps.

  • VMWare lets you create virtual machines on your computer, letting you run multiple operating systems and environments at once. Stanford’s Software Web Store will let you download VMWare for Windows and Mac, giving you every possible permutation and version you could ever want. Scroll to the bottom of the linked website for a list.
  • The same store gives you a link for a free download of Microsoft Office Professional Pus 2013 for Windows.
  • Windows 8.1 can be downloaded for free here.
  • For those of you who are in the need of a throwback to an older operating system, you can also get Windows 7 Ultimate here.
  • There’s a whole list of free Microsoft Software you can get for free, from Visual Studio to Lync, at the web store.
  • Stanford Engineering, through Terman Engineering Library, also provides free copies of SolidWorks, the Computer Aided Design software. You can get the software from the Terman Engineering Library front desk – they will give you a flash drive or a CD you can install it from.

Note, however, that the free software from the Web Store can only be installed on one machine – you only get one license key, and you need to have a full-service SUNet ID to download it.

Know about other free software that you can get from Stanford? Or are there some great deals on software that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments.


Sesh: A mobile peer-to-peer tutoring app

In the midst of midterm season, Sesh, a mobile peer-to-peer tutoring app that provides 24/7 on-demand service, has the potential to become your next study partner. Releasing publicly at Stanford on Tuesday, the company was started by eight Stanford and Vanderbilt students.

The selling point of Sesh, explained Zach Saraf ‘15, one of the founders, is the ‘insider information’ that their tutors can provide. Sesh takes great pride in their tutors’ “insider information”. Unlike formal professional tutors, Sesh’s tutors are familiar with class themes and styles of assignments.

“They’ve taken the class before,” Saraf said of the tutors. “They know which topics are more important to focus on.”

“They have the hidden value of having actually been there [themselves],” added Neil Hamamoto ’15, another cofounder.

Sesh's Mobile App for iOS. (Courtesy of Vanford, Inc.)

Sesh’s Mobile App for iOS. (Courtesy of Vanford, Inc.)

Sesh matches students with one another based on the classes and assignments they list in the company’s mobile app. Once a student requests a tutor, and a tutor expresses availability, the app allows the two to message each other to coordinate a meet.

Saraf and Hamamoto explained that one of the other selling points of Sesh is the opportunity for students to tutor or be tutored on their own schedules and at a competitive rate. Sesh’s tutors charge $20 an hour, which is less than half of what many established competitors charge.

The procedure that Sesh employs to assure quality control is simple: Students need to send in their transcripts to the company. They are only selected to become tutors if they received an A- or greater in the class. Read more >>

SYMSYS161: Symbolic Systems in Venture Capital

“At a venture capital firm, you’re working 12 a.m. to 12 a.m. – there’s no set 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule,” said Zavain Dar ’10, a senior associate at Lux Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm.

This flexibility in their schedules gave Dar and his colleague Nan Li, an investment partner at Investment Endeavors, the opportunity to teach at Stanford this winter. Dar and Li are teaching Symbolic Systems 161, a brand new course titled “Applied Symbolic Systems in VC and Entrepreneurship”. The class was met with great excitement, and had a waitlist of 40 students despite its capacity being doubled from 30 to 60.

Nan Li (left) and Zavain Dar (right) co-teach SYMSYS161: Symbolic Systems in Venture Capital

Nan Li (left) and Zavain Dar (right) co-teach SYMSYS161: Applied Symbolic Systems in VC and Entrepreneurship.

The idea for the class started when the two were talking last fall at Innovation Endeavors, a venture capital firm run by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The two had endless conversations and debates about the similar histories of artificial intelligence (AI) and venture capitalists, and soon the pair were unknowingly cultivating the curriculum for their class. Dar explained that the class, in many ways, is a continuation of the conversations that the two had.

“Today, AI has moved from hard-coded logic to statistically-driven correlation independent of reason,” Li said, paralleling the history of artificial intelligence with that of venture capital firms. “Today, VCs think in terms of logic.”

Dar and Li will apply their theory and try to predict the future trends of venture capital firms. Read more >>

CS27: a happy marriage of humanities and CS

(KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

CS27 group Cureador present their project to the class. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

“Have you heard of Tinder?” Professor Sebastian Thrun asks me immediately after I enter the classroom. He’s standing in the front of the room along with another student, Baris Akis, who’s presenting his group’s project: the “Thinkers Accordion,” an app that presents the name of a philosopher or author or sociologist, etc. along with a small blurb of the person’s main ideas and important thoughts. If the user likes it, he/she can swipe down for more detail, but if the user isn’t really interested, he/she can just swipe to the side for another individual – a process based on Tinder, the hit dating app.

Married couple Petra Dierkes-Thrun, from the Comparative Literature department, and Sebastian Thrun, from the CS department, co-teach CS27, Literature and Social Online Learning. Read more >>

Stanford Startups: Conspire, a startup for smarter connections

Save yourself from the trouble of searching for an employer, investor or customer and awkward introductions at networking events. Conspire, a digital network platform, will help you find the strongest path of connection to any person you’re interested in and figure out the best way to get introduced through analyzing your email interactions.

Alex Devkar ’04 and Paul McReynolds ’04 are former Stanford dormmates who bonded over a common interest in computer science and a vision of creating a startup company. Fast-forward eight years later, they have launched Conspire. Read more >>

Stanford Startup Series: Neoreach

About a year ago, in Stanford’s ENGR145 Technology Entrepreneurship class, Jesse Leimgruber and Misha Talavera pitched NeoReach in front of classmates, professors and venture capitalists. They explained their vision for a tech-enabled advertising marketplace. On August 27, 2014, after a series of accelerators, NeoReach stepped out into the limelight when it raised $1.5 million in seed funding while 19-year-old Jesse was still an undergraduate student at Stanford.

NeoReach is an online platform that connects brands with bloggers and social media influencers who are looking for new brands to endorse. Brands looking to promote their product post an offer on the NeoReach platform where social media influencers select a brand that fits their channel, and share the sponsored product or content on their social media page. Brands compensate influencers on a cost-per-click basis. Read more >>

Boosted Board product review & price update

Boosted Boards, a Stanford startup that raised over $460,000 in a Kickstarter campaign in late 2012, began officially selling its longboards in June this year. The Dish Daily was lucky enough to be able to ride one for a week to check it out.

Photo courtesy of Boosted Board.

Photo courtesy of Boosted Board.

The board was priced at $2,000, but as of today, Boosted Boards is offering a line of three products: Single, Dual and Dual+ models with boards starting at $999 for the Single, $1,299 for the Dual and $1,499 for the Dual+ (the original model), all significantly cheaper than the original board’s price tag of $2,000. Furthermore, for those who bit the bullet and bought the pricey boards early on, Boosted Board is showing its thanks with a price adjustment (up to $500 back). They have some more sweet perks that you can find on their website, including free upgrades as well as an extended warranty for current owners.

I should preface my comments with the disclaimer that I am an intermediate-to-experienced longboarder, having used one as my main mode of transportation over my freshman and sophomore years on the Farm. Occasionally, I sought out some hills in the area for recreation (the hill from the Knoll to Theta Delt, looping back down to Mayfield, for example, is a monster) so I’m fairly comfortable with speed. For the most part, I’ve used my longboard to commute to classes, so that’s the angle from which I’ll be reviewing the Boosted Board. Read more >>