“In the Studio,” Bump’s David Lieb Discusses Flock And A Shift To Background Services

Editor’s Note: Semil Shah is an EIR with Javelin Venture Partners and has been a contributor to TechCrunch since January 2011. You can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

“In the Studio” this week hosts a first-time founder and entrepreneur who began his career as an engineering student at two of the country’s finest universities and played baseball for his college team, after which he worked at one of the country’s largest technology research and product companies before enrolling in and dropping out of business school to work on building a company in Silicon Valley.

David Lieb, the co-founder and CEO of Bump Technologies, has been focused on mobile since he dropped out of the MBA program at the University of Chicago to build this company. Since then, Bump has been growing (in terms of downloads) and drives a lot of sharing of photos and contacts among users, especially during weekends. Before starting Bump, Lieb finished engineering degrees working with robots and joined Texas Instruments, where he worked with algorithms. The timing of Bump couldn’t have been better, with the rise of the iPhone and their innovative use of sensors drove them to enjoy great growth.

If you’re working on a mobile application that deals with location, watch this video. In this discussion, Lieb and I focus on a new product launched by Bump Labs, called “Flock.” The idea behind flock is to create mobile software that helps tie a user’s social graph to their the phone camera to enable easier, passive photosharing at events among friends.

Underneath the Flock service, it turns out, is a whole debate around the challenges and opportunities around mobile applications that provide services while running in the background, or what can sometimes be referred to as “passive” applications. Lieb details out the size of the opportunity — something he’s keenly aware of given the install base of Bump — as well as the challenges, everything down to the fact that mobile installations are hard and consumer education around the GPS indicators can scare off users (for battery and/or privacy reasons) even when the phone isn’t logging location. Specifically, we discuss the new iOS background location APIs, the ability to tie social networks to the application software from the operating system, the different states the GPS sensor can enter into, what battery drain really means, and the burden of communicating all of this to the end user.