5 companies worth watching from Dev Week San Francisco

The confluence of technology and teamwork makes San Francisco's Developer Week an innovation leader.

APW DW17 Hackathon event at Galvanize SF
APW/Ahsan Awan

Pink is for perfection. It’s also the signature color of Developer Week San Francisco. The 2017 edition of Geoff Domoracki’s amazing Dev Network event brought no fewer than 8,000 developers into Northern California’s City by the Bay for one week of incredible demonstrations, displays and conversations. Hats off to him and his team for doing such an amazing job.

Dev Network events allow developers to get their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot while learning important lessons and methods that help them succeed today. From the opening hackathon held at Galvanize, to the more than fifty partner events located all over the city throughout the week, Dev Week SF raised the bar for every other event in its class.

The Dev Week SF conference and expo showcases what’s hot in tech. Artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, the internet of things, big data, mobility, security and application program interfaces were heavily featured this year.

In between big tech standards such as IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, NetApp and CA Technologies, a number of companies dominated the spotlight. The confluence of technology and teamwork makes all the difference on the expo floor, and at Dev Week SF, FlockSenselClover (a First Data company), Flowroute and Wowza stole the show.

Flock provides rich and efficient real time communication technology to a broad range of industries, and the FlockOS and Flock chat technologies increase productivity in teams of all sizes. Bringing teams together in a virtual environment to facilitate awareness, sharing and workflow not only creates unlimited global scalability, it also greatly increases the likelihood of goal fulfillment.

“Flock increases user involvement. It helps teams communicate and collaborate efficiently, thus increasing productivity. It's simple to use, less noisy than many competing products, and it comes with a lot more features out of the box,” said Allister Barretto, Flock’s Director of Marketing.

Mr. Barretto gave perhaps the most useful and exciting presentation at Dev Week, “Getting Customers Excited About Your Unfinished Product.” One of the most classically complex parts of the product development lifecycle is deciding when a product is ready to launch. As Mr. Barretto explained, there’s significant value in generating demand before launch, as well as demand before distribution.

In today’s market, where literally millions of apps exist, preordering and early adoption is essential for success. Mr. Barretto’s step-by-step explanation of marketing traction channels was priceless. From viral markets and PR pushes, to offline events and community building, this presentation was an essential guide that every company large and small can follow whether their product is ready or not.

Sensel made their presence known at the Hackathon. Blending hardware, software, and interfaces, Sensel is a unique IoT type of company. From general keyboards to musical instruments, Sensel’s multi-touch, pressure-sensitive Morph device interface supports just about any industry. One competitor in the hackathon revealed an intriguing app that allowed for full hand user authentication. Going beyond simple fingerprint security, the application opened the door to simultaneous multi-fingerprint analysis layered with additional unique factors such as natural pressure, and relative position of one fingertip to another, both of which may combine to greatly enhance the strength of security systems.

Sensel co-founder and CTO Aaron Zarraga explained how the Sensel pad can be used for a variety of different things. It can be used as an artistic design tablet, an aerial drone control pad, a media editor, gaming controller, or just about anything else one can think of. With pre-orders logged through Kickstarter and Backerkit, Sensel is well on their way toward successful launch and distribution.

Another company bridging the hardware and software gap is Clover. Acquired by First Data, a payment processing fintech company that has long served some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the world, Clover competes head-to-head with Square. They provide intelligent mobile and quasi-fixed point-of-sale technology systems.

However, Clover Station does more than that. Mark Mullan, a developer support engineer at Clover, pointed out that their solutions have broad industry application. They can be used for human capital management, supply chain management, loyalty rewards, customer retention, and as a big data insight generator that supports strategic marketing and outreach.

“Clover is a point-of-sale hardware and software platform featuring business management tools that help business owners operate more efficiently,” said Mark Schulze, VP of Business Development, and Co-Founder of Clover.

Schulze explained how Developer Week Hackathon participation has allowed Clover to provide a robust B2B app market that manages “everything from employee scheduling to loyalty programs, data analytics to pure payments.”

He also pointed out how Clover is collaborating with some of the most innovative software developers in the industry, and how that allows the company to further tailor solutions to their clients’ industries.

All of the exciting hardware and software solutions had one thing in common at Dev Week SF, they all had APIs and SDKs for developers to use in order to incorporate their systems and technologies in whatever the next wave of products may be. The growth of this micro-service economic niche has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Some companies have even gone so far as to focus a vertical of their own development cycle on creating new APIs and SDKs in different codebases.

Perhaps the most prolific tech API and SDK provider at Dev Week SF was Flowroute. Where many companies offer just one language interface, or sometimes two, Flowroute has taken a full stack approach. They’ve released kits built in Ruby, Python, Node.js, PHP and .NET. Flowroute provides enterprise class communication technology for calling and messaging.

Katie Welch of Flowroute explained that their technology disrupts traditional telecom and brings telephony and messaging together in a way that improves customer experience. At the same time, Flowroute supports existing telecom service providers. The broad base of developer tools is proof that they’re committed to transforming the entire industry.

“Flowroute intentionally sits at the nexus of telecommunications, software, and real-time communications,” said Flowroute Founder and CEO, Bayan Towfiq. Moreover, he continued, this is done “to uniquely help cloud software companies incorporate communications capabilities into their applications.”

Towfiq explained that integrating communications into the app experience generates tremendous value; but, he said “it’s only realistic when provisioning and operational control is provided through APIs.”

Towfiq added this broader market wisdom as well, “the world is early in a huge shift from closed, device-centric communications to intuitive, contextual communications that provide exceptional experiences and enable superior outcomes.” What’s apparent from Dev Week SF more generally is that the world is still in early phases of embracing APIs, microservices, and the value of truly open and collaborative opportunity.

While there were so many other companies worthy of being mentioned, there was one that caught quite a few eyes. Wowza Media Systems provides AR, VR and 360-degree streaming solutions for live sports, events and travel industry companies in over 170 countries. Wowza allows users to stream their world from every angle.

Chris Michaels, Wowza’s Director of PR and Communication, explained that their solutions allow for real time streaming of high quality live video and audio to any device, anywhere, at any scale. Companies such as ESPN, Disney and Facebook already use their technology, and with an addressable market expected to eclipse $30 billion over the next two years, Wowza is uniquely positioned to be incredibly successful.

Michaels said, “Simply put, Wowza Media Systems is the recognized gold standard of streaming. We provide the engine behind many of the world’s biggest broadcasters and today’s most popular live streaming applications.”

He said their client list includes companies such as Periscope, TuneIn and YouNow, among others. He then explained that Wowza’s “API-driven solution enables companies to deliver video streaming experiences, without having to become experts in streaming technologies.”

As Michaels further pointed out, “from VR to live sports corporate trainings and presentations to video chat applications — even the International Space Station — over 20,000 video applications and experiences run on Wowza.” Now that’s impressive. ESPN and Disney appear to be clients as well.

Without question, the excitement surrounding Dev Week conference and expo events is growing. Dev Week NYC is scheduled for June of this year, and Dev Week Austin will take place in November. Stay tuned for more innovative technologies from these amazing conferences.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.