Best Tech Startups of 2010

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The tech startups which made it to top in 2010.

Instagram
Photo Sharing Goes Viral

The free app allows users to snap photos, apply one of 11 filters, and then quickly and easily publish them to a variety of social networks, as well as follow, comment, and like within the app itself. The new camera that came with the iPhone 4 this summer spawned a lot of great mobile phone apps, and Instagram is hardly alone in the photo-sharing space. But it has had incredibly viral adoption – growing by about a 100,000 users a week after its release in October according to a thread on Quora, with rumors of 1 million users to date.

Quora
High Quality Q&A

Quora is founded by former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo, and became an important new communication and knowledge-sharing tool for the tech industry. Quora launched in private beta in January and opened to the public in June. As with Instagram, Quora is a startup in a crowded space; there are no shortage of Q&A sites. Quora allows you to subscribe to topics, users, and questions, and the ability to vote up good answers, along with the ability to offer edits on questions and answers, have helped to build a smart network on the site.

Flipboard
Curated Reading, Built for the iPad

The free app lets you curate various feeds – RSS, Twitter, Facebook – and presents them to you via a beautiful, touchscreen UI. Rather than scrolling through the Web as we have been trained perhaps to do, Flipboard allows us to more easily browse and read. Having acquired the semantic technology startup Ellerdale, Flipboard’s technology delivers a more personalized reading experience.

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Rapportive
The Gmail Social Plugin

Rapportive replaces the ads in your Gmail side bar – which is cool enough right there – but then, it fills that space with a wealth of info – a picture of the person who sent you an email, their job title from LinkedIn, recent Twitter messages they’ve sent and more. Rapportive demonstrates some of the useful tools that can be built with our social data.

Diaspora
The Anti-Facebook, Crowdfunded

Diaspora sought to build an open-source, decentralized social network, one that respected users’ privacy. Continued dust-ups this year over Facebook and privacy, along with the fact that Diaspora’s challenge to Facebook simply made for a compelling story, gave the group a lot of press. The funds raised via Kickstarter skyrocketed from $8000, just shy of its $10,000 to almost $200,000 from over 6000 backers. Diaspora released the first version of the developer code in September, and launched in private alpha in late November. Diaspora certainly represents the power of crowd funding, as well as an interest in making sure the social Web is not centralized in one company.

LearnBoost
Bringing the Teacher Gradebook to the Web with Open Source

LearnBoost is tackling a space for Web-based classroom administration tools. But tracking grades and attendance is an important, if not cumbersome, responsibility of teachers, many of whom still use the paper-and-pencil gradebook for record-keeping. In fact, LearnBoost is free, it supports data portability, and it integrates with Google Apps

Square
The Future of Money is Mobile

Square, the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, allows you to accept and pay via physical credit cards using a card swiper that plugs into the headphone jack of your mobile device. The hardware and app are free, but Square takes a small cut of each transaction.
Square spent most of 2010 in private beta and had its share of hardware and security problems, but the addition to the team in August of Paypal veteran Keith Rabois marked a big win for the company. Square now says it’s processing millions of dollars of mobile transactions per week, and boasts some avid users – small businesses and independent merchants who are looking for an easy and mobile way to manage credit card transactions.

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