For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Your Family's Private Social Network
Dropping out of an Ivy League institution isn't just for Mark Zuckerberg. Wesley Zhao, 20, a co-founder of FamilyLeaf, a startup on a mission "to bring far-apart families closer together through technology," joined the club earlier this year.
Alongside Zhao are his other co-founders, who also dropped out of elite institutions: Ajay Mehta (20, Zhao's childhood friend, who was formerly at New York University), Henry Liu (18, who left the University of Rochester), and Mary Yap (19, who attended the University of Chicago).
The foursome hope that their hard work could create a revolutionary billion dollar social network. The San Francisco-based FamilyLeaf was founded in March and is free. It currently has users in 100 countries. The team has already gone through the prestigious YCombinator incubator, and now have investments from SV Angel, Start Fund, and Andreeson Horowitz.
"We have a wide age-range of FamilyLeaf users, which is exciting," Zhao says. "You'll find a good number of young kids connecting with grandparents, aunts, and uncles who are much older than them. Parents feel safe with their young kids using FamilyLeaf because, unlike Facebook, content is visible only to their families. Most of our active users are parents, and they feel comfortable sharing large numbers of photos of their children without worrying about annoying their friends."
Interestingly, the company has decided to focus efforts on its web site in lieu of building mobile applications at this time. Zhao says, "We have a contrarian view point to Silicon Valley's whole mobile-first attitude."
FamilyLeaf certainly faces competition: Other sites and apps in its space include Kidfolio, Karoo, 23snaps, Burst, Familiar, JustFamily, StoryTree, and Path, which are social networks that make it easy for users to enable only specific people to see what they share.
However, Mehta is confident that FamilyLeaf will successfully fill this niche.
"We feel that your work life and your social life have been well-addressed online, but no service has truly helped you stay in touch with your family," he said. "I love my aunts and cousins, but I rarely ever get a chance to update them and hear what they're up to, and I've always felt guilty about that. Our goal is to bring modern spread-out families closer together through the Internet."