Join Layer and Parse for our Google I/O Party

We’re teaming with our friends at Parse to host a party during Google I/O. Join us on May 27th — the evening before the conference kicks off — at Layer’s San Francisco HQ.

Come for drinks, food, music and great company. If you came to Layer’s I/O party last year, you know the turnout was big. We suggest you rsvp now to reserve your spot early.

We hope to see you there!

What: Layer and Parse’s Google I/O Party
Where: Layer HQ, 470 Alabama Street in San Francisco
When: Wednesday, May 27 from 4-7:30 pm
Reserve your spot: RSVP here

Join us for #OpenLayerHQ May 20

#OpenLayerHQ is office hours at Layer’s SF headquarters, where app creators can talk to Layer engineers, support staff, product experts, designers, and growth team members. It’s a great opportunity to have any of your questions answered as you work to integrate Layer.

Last month’s event was a big success, and we’d like to invite you back on Wednesday, May 20th. As usual, we’ll have our full developer support team on hand.

We’ll be providing drinks, snacks, and Layer swag for our attendees.

What: #OpenLayerHQ
When: 4-6pm, May 20th
Where: Layer HQ @ 470 Alabama Street in SF

We hope to see you there! RSVP here.

Layer at Disrupt NY Hackathon 2015

The Layer team is in NYC for TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon and we’d love to meet you.

Hackathon participants can sign up up for Layer here.

Layer is giving away a $1,000 cash prize as well as one year’s subscription to our Startup Plan ($300 value) for a total of $1300 in value for “Best Use of the Layer SDKs.”

For extra fast support over the hackathon weekend direct all your support questions to support-disrupt@layer.com or find one of our team members at the venue.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll build.

Kicking off monthly #OpenLayerHQ developer office hours

Since we opened up the Layer platform and announced Atlas, our customizable UI toolkit, for general availability at the end of February, we’ve been amazed at the variety of applications and experiences that developers are building on Layer. From connecting communities around common interests like sports or career development, to shareable to-do lists, the possibilities are endless.

To that end, we’d love to meet more of the developers that are working with Layer, and see if we can help you create the right messaging and chat experiences in your apps. We’d also love to accelerate your integrations, troubleshoot any issues, and just learn more about what you are doing!

Join us for #OpenLayerHQ office hours next Thursday, April 16th, from 4-7pm at our office in the Mission. We’ll have the Layer engineers behind Atlas and our entire developer support team around to answer questions and work side-by-side with you on integrations. Our designers will also be on hand if you’re looking for feedback on the right UI/UX around messaging. And of course we’ll also have drinks, snacks and Layer swag for anyone that comes in. Give us a heads up by tweeting us @layer or emailing us at hello@layer.com if you plan to stop by. We look forward to meeting you soon!

When: 4-7pm, April 16th
Layer HQ: 470 Alabama Street

Thanks,
Abir Majumdar & Neil Mehta
Partner Engineers

How Web Summit super-charged event networking with Layer

Web Summit has been called “the best technology conference on the planet.” It’s certainly one of the largest and most innovative technology-focused conferences in the world. First held in Dublin, Ireland in 2010 and drawing a crowd of 500, by 2013 it saw more than 10,000 attendees. In 2014 that number more than doubled to 22,000.

Attendees span the spectrum. C-level execs from Fortune 500 companies and founders of small startups just launching gather to swap stories and lessons learned annually at this “Davos for geeks.” Even celebrities and rockstars make appearances at the three-day event (Bono was among 2014’s speakers).

Why have an app at a conference?

Anyone who’s attended a conference is familiar with the challenges around identifying, locating and connecting with those other attendees you want to speak with. Attendees come to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and gain insight through common experience. Others seek opportunities to do business together and collaborate.

For its recent event, the team created an app that encourages the kind of serendipity that can only happen at an event like Web Summit. Not only can the app be used to connect with existing contacts, it also employs a sophisticated recommendation engine to match people who should know each other based on common interests and other shared traits.

How Web Summit used Layer

2013 was the first year Web Summit offered an app to its attendees, but communication was not the focus. This year the team turned its attention to messaging and communication, connecting attendees to chat, connect, and schedule get-togethers — all inside the conference app. Even better, attendees didn’t need to share phone numbers or other contact information to connect directly.

A beautiful, easy-to-use recommendation engine suggests possible connections, Tinder style, based on shared interests, common connections, and areas of expertise. Attendee swipe right through curated profiles, and can directly message other attendees to say hello and start a conversation.

If matched attendees decide to meet, meeting details can be coordinated, attendees invited, invitations accepted, and meetings added to the user’s calendar, all in-line with the conversation. Native in-app conversation and meeting invitations trigger push notifications to notify the receiving party of the initiated contact. This in-context scheduling of informal conference get-togethers makes connecting in a conference environment much easier.

Usage patterns & lessons learned

Half of all Web Summit’s 22,000 attendees downloaded the app and connected with other attendees via chat. At the outset, the app delivered an attendee’s top 50 recommended connections, but attendees’ voracious appetite for networking required an increase to 300 top recommendations starting on day two of the Summit.

Ci (the company behind Web Summit) will expand in dramatic fashion this year, launching a new event in Asia called Rise, a new tech conference that will give leaders of enterprise a place to congregate and demonstrate how their companies are changing the way we live. Plans are underway for the U.S. this year as well with year two of an event in Las Vegas in May called Collision. The team plans to deploy conference apps for these events built on the learnings from the launch of chat-enabled networking at Web Summit.

The Web Summit team believes that event-centric chat and networking has legs beyond the in-person conference experience. The app will keep attendees connected and enable ongoing chat well beyond Dublin, Hong Kong, and Las Vegas, with the hope of keeping the spirit and community of the events alive and engaging throughout the year.

Greylock Partners design event @ Layer HQ

Layer HQ played host to a fantastic event last night, and we’d like to take a minute to thank the organizer, Greylock Partners, for allowing us to be a part of it.

The evening brought together some of the most talented and creative designers in tech to share their recent work. The people were amazing and the content inspiring.

(Photo credit to Michael Inouye from Greylock.)

PS – we’re hiring designers. Come help us develop the new visual and interaction languages around communications.

Layer Talks – a speaker series for the app developer community

This month we’re kicking off Layer Talks, a new speaker series tailored for the app developer community and being held at Layer HQ in San Francisco. The premise is simple: we’re inviting some of the most talented and respected members of our community to come and share their expertise.

We’re excited to kick off the series with none other than Ilya Sukhar, founder and CEO @ Parse.

“Building great experiences for developers,” with Ilya Sukhar

What: The consumer app world lives and dies by the quality of design and experience. Building beautiful and simple products that delight users is the name of the game. Even the enterprise has gotten into it. But developer tools and platforms are just coming around to this philosophy. In this talk, hear Ilya Sukhar, founder and CEO of Parse, share his experience building Parse with these ideals in mind and how you can apply them to building great things for developers or users.

When: Wednesday, September 24 @ 6 pm

Where: Layer HQ, 470 Alabama Street, SF

Please RSVP here.

HackLayer, and looking toward the future of in-app communications

At Layer we spend lots of time considering how our service can best enable the creation of the next great messaging apps, as well as apps of all types that are — as of yet — only imagined. So our first hackathon, HackLayer, was awesome for many reasons. It proved that Layer makes it possible to build great app experiences in a short timeframe and in the case of our winner, with little or no app development experience. And it highlighted some early examples of the range of products you’ll soon see built on the Layer platform. For us, this is incredibly exciting to see.

About the event: HackLayer ran seven hours and was open to current interns at SF and Silicon Valley companies. Each participant or team was given access to our SDK at the start of the hackathon. Judges were Homebrew Partner Hunter Walk, OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch and Layer’s Tomaz Stolfa and Blake Watters.

Congrats to the winners, and everyone else who participated and conceived of, created and demoed an app built on top of Layer in a day. (More photos at the end of this post.)

1st place:
Simon Says
Developer: Matt Duran (University of Maryland, Baltimore County/Homebrew)
Concept: Simon Says is an in-person, on-device game. Simon picks a pattern of colors and the other partipicants must match the pattern using all game players’ devices. The game ends when a player gets the sequence wrong. The amazing thing about this one is Matt had ZERO app development experience prior to HackLayer.

2nd place:
WhatUp
Developers: Emil Sjolander (Umea University/Flipboard), Adrien Sulpice (INSA Toulouse/Google)
Concept: WhatUp is a basic messaging app, but that’s part of what makes it so great. By the end of the seven hours, this was a fully functioning messaging app. Fully functioning. And the team had it working on devices that the judges held in their hands.

3rd place:
OnCall
Developers: Michael Fang (Imprivata), Ambika Acharya (Genentech), Vinamrata Singal (Google), Dylan Moore (PayPal) (all Stanford University)
Concept: OnCall is designed to help you identify those of your friends who’re available now should you need help, or “on call.” The developers indicated a few use cases, one being on college campuses where there’s a rotating Resident Advisor calendar and it’s not easy to tell which RA is on duty.

Honorable Mention:
DayFriend
Developer: Spencer Yen (Saratoga High School/Everalbum)
Concept: DayFriend matches you with one of your Facebook friends for a 24 hour-period. During this window, she/he is your “DayFriend.” Then after the period expires, you’re assigned a new person. Did we mention Spencer’s in high school?

Eventy
Developers: Vinay Kumar Vavili (Amazon), Megha Jindal (Visa), Krutika Kamilla (Visa) (all Carnegie Mellon University)
Concept: Eventy lets you create a spontaneous event that anyone nearby can come check out. The app lets you post details and take photos during the event, and the team has ideas for ways to evolve the app – public vs. private events, for example.

Singr
Developers: Lawrence Lin Murata (Stanford University/OneTune), Jonny Burger (University of Zurich/OneTune), Duc Nguyen (Stanford University), Johannes Choo (National University of Singapore/Easily Do)
Concept: Singr is a collaborative song-singing app. The first user selects a song and records him/herself singing its first note, then invites a friend to sing the next note. The end result is a complete song sung by lots of people.

Roots
Developer: Wesley Smith (University of Utah/Critical Pursuits)
Concept: Roots developer Wesley started his demo by saying he has a big family, including grandparents for whom keeping up with the younger generation online isn’t always easy. Roots has two modes. One for digital natives and one for non-natives. In addition to larger, more clear buttons, language in the latter is more real world. Rather than “tap to talk,” it might say, “touch here to talk to John.” Lots of use for an app like this.

You’re invited: open house at Layer HQ for Google I/O

Kick off Google I/O with us!

If you’ll be in San Francisco for Google I/O, you’re invited to join us the night before it starts for an open house at Layer HQ.

On behalf of co-hosts Layer, Bloomberg Beta, Homebrew, Data Collective, Fuel Capital, Morado Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures, we hope to see you there.

RSVP here.

Thanks for coming to our WWDC open house

A huge thank you to everyone who made it out to our WWDC open house. The turnout was incredible. We loved hosting you and hearing about the amazing products you’re envisioning and building. Inspiring.

We’re planning another, similar event during Google i/o. Stay tuned for details.

(photo credit @superdeux)