Thursday, May 5, 2011

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The Latest from TechCrunch

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Bought Your Child An iPhone? Stalk Them With Footprints

Posted: 05 May 2011 08:55 AM PDT

When we think of smartphones and geo-location the two main use cases that come to mind are mapping and check-ins. These are fine and dandy, but what if you could use smartphones to keep tabs of where your child is? Footprints lets you do just that.

The new app (iTunes link), available for both iPhone & iPad, tracks the location of the device and shares it with family and friends. These can then know in real-time a person’s exact location. The app can have several use cases, but the parent/child one seems the most compelling.

What about privacy? With more and more parents shelling out the cash to equip their tweens and teenagers with iPhones, I don’t see why a basic requirement couldn’t be running Footprints in the background. As my father put it when I grew up, our household was run as a totalitarian democracy. Ergo, he buys my iPhone, he gets to run whatever app he likes in the background. Parenting rocks.

Using the app is fairly simple. A quick set-up process and then you just let it run in the background. The app was designed to run efficiently, without draining the battery. Once installed on the device to be tracked, permissions are then given to those individuals that should be able to view its location. A passcode can be put in place to make sure that the app isn’t removed.

Once setup and permissions are given, the location is provided in real time. Movement speed is also provided, so you can get a fairly accurate indication of how fast your kids is driving as well. That’s a nice bonus.

Theoretically, Footprints also has business-case potential. Companies who are subsidizing iPhones for their employees can surely enforce running Footprints in the background (certainly in business hours). Sure, there’s the big brother aspect to it, as in, boss-man making sure employees are where they’re supposed to be. However, I see it more as a potential utility between co-workers, as in, “Hey I see John is out on a customer call”.

Another use-case could be couples, well, ones with trust issues… “Hey sweetie, why were you at the Motel Six right off of Exit 123 for two hours today?” Riveting dinner conversation guaranteed.

Footprints provides users with 60 free days of usage upon registering. Then, an additional 3-month subscription will cost $0.99. A yearly subscription goes for $2.99, or $4.99 for a 2-year subscription.

The app is iOS only for now, but Android support is on the way.



Zin.gl Mines Social Network Data To Help Singles Find Their Perfect Match

Posted: 05 May 2011 08:49 AM PDT

The online dating industry majors rely on a fundamentally broken model, which may be good for their short-term balance sheets and providing people with meaningless entertainment but, as matchmaking service providers, severely limits them in offering people a genuinely optimal way to find that special someone, Zin.gl founder Alexander Dresen told me in a recent meeting.

In that meeting, I was given a preview of the new version of Zin.gl (now live), Dresen’s take on the perfect online matchmaking service. Zin.gl was designed not to appeal to masses of users, most of whom sign up for online dating sites only to get disappointed by those services when they fail to find a genuinely good match anyway.

Zin.gl instead aims for quality, not quantity, having developed a way to mine existing social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare for valuable ‘dating information’, and then feeding that wealth of data into its ‘social matching’ systems, all in an effort to connect singles with others when they have common interests, live nearby, and so on.

The company says this is all done securely and with utmost respect to user privacy, but obviously this approach isn’t for everyone. I, for one, find Zin.gl interesting as a concept, and potentially one that could help solve a real problem faced by many worldwide.

Dresen says he and his team have developed technology that enables people who sign up for Zin.gl to find only truly compatible dating partners, with unquestionable real identities (something that he says is extremely rare with traditional online dating sites).

In other words, no questionnaires to fill out, no psychological tests to be carried out, and a minimum of lying upon profile creation. Dresen says a lot of information about people is already out there, and can be mined to find qualified matches for singles.

That is, of course, an easy thing to say but a much harder feat to actually accomplish, so the proof of Zin.gl will be in the pudding. Be sure to let me know if it works for you, or not at all.

Zin.gl was founded by Dresen, who previously started place.to.be, the first chat site in Belgium, as well as its first social network, LookNMeet, and Brice Le Blévennec (founder of Belgium’s largest Web agency, Emakina).

The company has raised $600,000 from angel investors, including Fred Destin from Atlas Venture.



Yammer Updates AIR-Powered Desktop App With Threaded Conversations, Notifications And More

Posted: 05 May 2011 08:30 AM PDT

Enterprise social networking platform Yammer, just debuted a brand new iPad app and today is rolling out a new version of its Adobe AIR-powered desktop app.

Yammer, which launched as the “Twitter for businesses” at TechCrunch 50 in 2008, offers a multi-platform communications app for businesses. In fact, we use Yammer internally at TechCrunch.

The new version of the desktop app includes threaded conversations (a much desired feature), and a notifications tab, which will aggregate all of your new messages, @mentions, replies and more. The new app also includes the ability to view direct message to and from colleagues and allows you to create, edit, and use topics to tag content in internal communications. Additionally, a document viewer allows users to access, edit and comment on documents within the feed (via a browser based viewer).

As a user, the addition of threaded conversations and notifications seem like the more significant features in the new version of the app. To be honest, I find AIR-powered apps to be incredibly buggy, a sentiment that my colleagues share as well. A native Mac Yammer app would be ideal, or Yammer could just buy Gabble, who develops a native app for Mac OS X.



I’mOK Wants To Reward Kids For Communicating With Parents On Mobile Phones

Posted: 05 May 2011 08:00 AM PDT

As a teenager, my parents constantly hounded me about where I was going, and when I would return. I didn’t have a cellphone, so communication was limited. Flash forward ten years and although many teenagers have cell phones now, it’s still annoying for kids and teens to constantly communicate with parents and worrisome for parents to not know of their children’s whereabouts. A new app will soon launch to help solve this problem. I’mOK, which is in private beta, is a private mobile application designed to reward kids for staying connected to their parents.

By sharing their location, taking pictures, tagging friends, and telling parents what’s up, kids earn points that can be exchanged for things parents have agreed to, like allowance or special privileges. The more kids share, the more points they get.

All the communication takes place directly within the I’mOK iPhone app, which creates a private network for families. The app will also automatically tally all communications from kids. And an Android app will also be released shortly.

The company was founded by Matthew Bromberg, who was previously CEO of Major League Gaming and head of AOL Games, Moviefone, and Techweb. Other employees include Julio Miyares, ex-CTO of AOL Entertainment, and John Rabasa, who was most recently EVP, Experience Strategy for Publicis Modem USA. The startup has raised $250,000 from Bromberg, Machinima CEO Allen Debevoise and Chamath Palihapitiya, VP for Mobile and International at Facebook.

I think I’mOK’s idea has promise. As a teenager, I would have beeen much more likely to share my location and communicate with my parents, if I was somehow incentivized. The challenge, of course, will be convincing parents to actually reward kids for sharing.



A Few Key People Really Can Make a Huge Difference

Posted: 05 May 2011 07:15 AM PDT

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Mark Suster (@msuster), a 2x entrepreneur, now VC at GRP Partners. Read more about Suster at Bothsidesofthetable

I’m in Seattle this week.

People keep asking me if I’ve “seen anything interesting.” Of course I have. I’m an entrepreneur at heart so I’m always inspired when I hear stories about innovation.

I really liked BigDoor, MediaPiston, OpsCode, BuddyTV, SEOMoz and much more. Can’t list them all.

But I’m not here trolling for deals. I’m here to build long-term, stable relationships that I hope will pay off over a decade, not a week.  I’m looking to turn dots into lines over time.

I’m inspired by the enthusiasm of the young, emerging startup ecosystem that is here. It has all of the components for success: a steady inflow of smart, CS graduates from UW who prefer to stay local if they could, a smattering of local VCs & angels, some “patron” companies like Microsoft and Amazon who provide new talent as well as the opportunity for company-defining partnerships and it has “elder statesmen” like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

The ingredients are all here. Seattle should be the envy of any non Silicon Valley tech community in the country. Great lifestyle, great cost of living, motivated people and only the crap weather on the negative side. They have their successes; yet somehow all of the neurons don’t yet seem to be firing are powerfully as they need to be.

As I gear up to give a keynote at the annual Seattle 2.0 awards dinner on Thursday night I started reflected on what it would take to “change the trajectory” for Seattle or for any regional market, really. It really wouldn’t take much to turn a great technology ecosystem into a truly electric one.

And I think about the “Seattle issue” as a metaphor for startups and business in general. I’ve always been a big believer that just a couple of key individuals make all of the difference in a company’s success. It’s why my investment philosophy is called, “the entrepreneur thesis.”

I was meeting with a first-time CEO of a very promising young startup recently and offering my advice on what his priorities should be. He listed all of the product releases that were up coming, the customers that were in the pipeline and where he saw his competition moving. I gave him the same advice I give nearly all over-worked, control-freak, do-everything-yourself startup founders:

“Your number one priority isn’t any of these things. Your highest priority right now is hiring the 1 or 2 people that are going to join your company and make a difference. There’s you and your killer CTO co-founder. But who else is going to get out there and close your big biz dev deals with you? Who’s going to help you with improving your marketing / positioning to become a clear platform category leader like Twilio?

Are you going to do all of this? Evidence over the past year would suggest otherwise. You have too much on your plate.

A few key people really can make a huge difference.”

Him:

“I know, I know. I will start recruiting soon. But I need to get our next release out the door. I need to take some VC meetings. I just don’t have enough time to focus on it right now. It will be a bit easier when we have a little more progress to show.”

Me:

“Bullshit. It never gets easier. There are always the next 20 tasks. The reason you’re not getting to the next level is that you’re not prioritizing the precise thing that could take you to the next level. I would say recruiting at least one superstar would be your priorities 1,2 & 3.”

I don’t care if you’re a 10-person organization, a 1,000 person organization or a multinational corporation – often it is the few key players that change the dimensions. Imagine Apple without Steve Jobs. Or less obvious, imagine Facebook without Sheryl Sandberg.

So entrepreneurs need to think the same way some VCs do – because markets change, competition changes, innovation & technology cycles move so fast only having a few truly outstanding leaders in your company can you sustain any sort of advantage.

And that is precisely my thoughts for Seattle and what I plan to deliver on Thursday night: Which few key community leaders are going to step up and get those neurons properly firing and connected?

My recipe for Seattle or your community:

1. Community Leaders + Organizers
You need a good mixture of both.

Look at what Brad Feld has done for Boulder. I know it’s not single-handed as he has both fantastic partners at Foundry Group and many other community leaders. But he has helped put Boulder on the consciousness of so many young, aspiring entrepreneurs in search of somewhere other than the San Francisco Bay Area to work & live. It is possible and he’s showing people that.

David Cohen deserves much credit for building TechStars into an internationally recognized brand name for innovation. If you can attract people to Boulder for a session to be part of the magical mix of people at TechStars then some will naturally stay put afterward.  But it did take Brad as a public spokesman, consummate networker and successful VC to help create legitimacy to let David’s ideas flourish.

It takes both to build a community. The business leaders need to do their parts. The people with the time, energy & creativity to build organizations like TechStars need to bring their ideas to fruition.

I see this emerging in Seattle and the passion of “a few key individuals” who can help shift the game. Chris Devore & Andy Sack have created Founder’s Coop with the goal of funding, incubating & launching more early-stage ventures in Seattle. If you could convince a few young “wantrepreneurs” that there is a community that can support them & a safe landing if they’re not immediately successful you might have your next Amazon in the works. It’s a very cool vibe at Founder’s Coop. These two guys are part of the recipe for Seattle’s growth.

2. Passionate Entrepreneurs & Ambassadors
Stating the obvious but you can’t will a region into success. You need to have passionate tech entrepreneurs who want to build businesses locally. They have the same trade-off decisions that you do about packing up and moving to Silicon Valley vs. staying and building locally. The answer seems obvious (to move) but it’s not. When you account for competition for talent, the difficulty of retention, the cost of living and the difficulty of rising above the noise – there are many advantages of staying put. The advantages of moving are more obvious.

So you need Dave Schappell who is building an interesting business in Seattle called TeachStreet, a local-community initiative to connect teachers & students. Dave is ex-Amazon and is a tireless advocate for the Seattle community. He’s been steadily emailing me for the past 18 months with ideas for local entrepreneurs I “have to meet” and has been egging me on to spend more time in Seattle. He’s why I came this week.

Dave Schappell & Daryn Nakhuda rally the troops

He helped me organize a set of meetings with high-potential individuals and a dinner where we all debating how to increase entrepreneurial velocity. I re-connected with Andy Liu the founder & CEO of BuddyTV – the largest destination for social TV enthusiasts on the web. When I saw what BuddyTV is working on and how long they’ve been the market (since 2005) I realized that this has huge potential to help disrupt the television market. They haven’t launched their next gen product – watch this space. No Dave S. = no knowledge of what BuddyTV is up to for me.

Every community needs their “ambassadors” who build relationships with leaders from other communities, who convince these people to come visit the community, who help organize events with local teams to get the cross-city interactions and who create awareness for the local talent.

Dave is a potential key ingredient in the recipe for Seattle’s success.

3. Patron Companies
Seattle has something that many communities don’t have. It’s what I call “patron companies” and the local giants are Microsoft & Amazon. When you think about the success that is Silicon Valley, the unfair advantage is not just the huge amounts of available venture capital. When you start a company in the Bay Area you can often get your first biz dev deal done with Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, eBay, Yahoo! or the countless other successful startup firms.

A key deal not only helps you raise venture capital but it can help attract employees, garner press attention, help with product focus & importantly drive customer adoption and/or revenue.

In Los Angeles we don’t have “patron technology companies” that are big enough to matter – we’re still hoping to see them emerge. But every time I talk with senior executives a the big studios or talent agencies I tell the same story,

“You know that your industry is being disrupted. What industry isn’t these days. You can be part of the creative destruction. You can help local entrepreneurs get their first deal done and the innovation ought to benefit you.

Sure, it might mean some of your employees or colleagues go to join the barbarians at the gate, but would you rather that innovation happen in your home town where you can play to your strengths or do you want your entire future industry to shift to Silicon Valley?”

This message is surprisingly well received. People do want to help. They just need a few key individuals who are willing to go out on a limb, take some actions and make things happen for them. They need somebody bending their ears. They can then direct staff, allocate budgets, talk to the press, connect you with politicians and attend events. A few key people really can make a difference.

And that is what is most disappointing about the feedback I’m getting about Seattle. It has the dual technology patrons and yet the consistent story I get is that they’re not actively out embracing the startup community, helping local successes emerge, getting comfortable with the symbiotic benefits of some employees going to startups that innovate at a different pace and then buying up local teams, talent & IP. They’re doing stuff – just not enough.

Seattle has its patrons. The neurons aren’t connecting to the startups. Somebody needs to make this happen.

4. Elder Statesmen
This is where I think the action on connecting neurons has to come from. Jeff Bezos (and executive team) have to recognize that it’s in their best interest to see the community thrive and the benefits to Amazon (not to mention Seattle) are far greater than any negatives of employee flow. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and other senior teams from Microsoft need to want to promote local startups. These kinds of connections seldom emerge from middle management who view the immediate threats more than the long-run benefits.

But Jeff, Bill, Steve and well as Howard Schultz, the executive team at CostCo, etc. are not likely to spearhead this movement. They’re too busy running their companies and literally changing the world. Who from Seattle has their ears? Who can get help get access to their capital? Who can get them to communicate the bigger picture message top-down to their teams to embrace the startup community and unleash local partnerships?

Without this – it’s a totally wasted patronage. Who will step up the way that Steve Case (founder of AOL) has done with Startup America to promote this initiative to politicians, business leaders and the press. Actually, who will get Steve Case to spend time in Seattle helping communicate the message to local leaders? It’s clear that America has a vested interest in promoting entrepreneurship in many regions in the country to stimulate innovation & job creation.

Who will be those key leaders who will step up and make a difference?

5. Playing to Your Advantages
Every region has its advantages and while not limiting innovation to local themes it seems to make sense to at least consider local advantages. It’s no big surprise that I spend a larger portion of my time in LA working on: disruption of television, performance-based marketing, games & mobile. We have unique skills, teams, experience and regional assets that give us a better chance of success than other regions.

In no expert in Seattle but when I look around I see: enterprise software (Microsoft), the market leader in cloud services (Amazon AWS), games (Xbox), some of the most innovative retailers in the country (CostCo, Starbucks, REI) and what is left of Boeing (HQ moved to Chicago). I’m sure there’s much more.

I’m not sure it makes too much sense to have check-in applications for restaurants here. That seems likely to be dominated by a more urban startup from NYC or from San Francisco. But who know? I’m just saying’ … what local assets do you have that load dice in your favor?

6. Marketing Muscle
It’s great to see an initiative like Seattle 2.0 because every community needs its local tech press to report on companies and run conference. Consider just how much exposure the Austin community gets every year due to SXSW. It’s awesome.

I’ve often talked about the NY advantage of having the NY Times, WSJ, Silicon Alley Insider, New York Magazine and even the editor of TechCrunch based there. Not to mention every major agency, many PR firms, etc. There is no question NY startups get disproportionate press.  That’s natural. Not to mention they have the highest profile VC / blogger Fred Wilson of AVC.

It was great to hear that in Seattle John Cook and company are solving this at GeekWire.  Every region needs its local media & events. In LA we have SoCalTech, for which I am grateful. It’s an awesome source of regional news. I’d LOVE to see it become more of a national vehicle. How do we make that happen?

I’m now getting about 400,000 views / month at BothSidesoftheTable. I don’t write about LA but I write from LA. It’s important. A few key people can really make a huge difference.

7. Local Angel Community / Recycled Capital
Fred Wilson wrote an eloquent piece on his blog about “recycling capital,” which every regional community should read. The magic that is Silicon Valley is that every tech entrepreneur who has made a bit of money chooses to “recycle” it by investing back into the startup community. There is a long tradition of these and it’s what formed the original angel network groups.

As I look at LA I see a lot of this reinvestment going on. There are great entrepreneurs like Evan Rifkin, Tom McInerney, Paige Craig, Diego Berdakin, Brett Brewer, Kamran Pourzanjani, Jarl Mohn and many, many more who have done several local Los Angeles tech investments. There are several “club deals” where you see the same sets of people “passing the hat” around on deals.

I know from all of my private conversation that they aren’t seeing this as a “get rich quick scheme” – they’re giving back to the community. And the truth is that they know $25-50k from them on a deal that they can help influence returns on is a lot better than handing it over to a money manager who is parking your cash in a vehicle you don’t understand.

I have done the same. I had the good fortune of doing one small deal that returned 6x in a year. So it was newfound capital I wasn’t expecting. I plowed it back into 9 deals. I prefer not to do any angel investments because I focus on my VC funds but it was gratifying to write some small checks to support local teams.

I know there’s tons of money in Seattle. Perhaps somebody needs to organize it a bit better to go into more angel deals. I know that Founder’s Coop has a fund as does TechStars Seattle. That’s one model. Perhaps some experienced tech entrepreneurs could formalize more of the Amazon / Microsoft money into a higher velocity of angel deals.

8. Venture Capital
And of course you need a mature venture capital industry. There are several local firms in Seattle like Madrona, Maveron, Ignition and others. But the consistent message I heard was “there’s not enough.” That’s why more VCs ought to be spending time in Seattle. It’s similar to LA in that there are a highly motivated cadre of tech savvy entrepreneurs wanting to create companies and a lack of funding. I’d bet if one is disciplined about investing here you’d see significantly better pricing than chasing deals in the overly competitive Bay Area corridors.

It’s not an either / or but both / and. But as I look at the GRP Partners returns we’ve made a lot of money investing in companies in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Arizona and Seattle. We won’t rush into the market but we’re very open to finding teams with the ambition to build big businesses. We know it can be done.

9. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
The other message I delivered to the room of entrepreneurs & investors at dinner the other night was that you need to think about equity from outside the region the same way that countries think about foreign direct investment. The inflow of capital can be transformative.

But what is often not talked about is that those investments lead to 8-10 board meetings every year of which it would be hoped that the “outside the region” VC would attend 6-8 of them in person. I think a series of brand ambassadors should find out when these VCs will be in town and organize evening events for them the night before so they don’t do a fly-in, fly-out visit.

Imagine if the ambassadors from Seattle organized a dinner with 8 entrepreneurs, the CTO of Amazon, the head of Xbox and the head of marketing for Starbucks. You mean to tell me that the VC wouldn’t fly in early for that?

With VC FDI the community gets more than money. They get time, commitment & attention. One deal begets more deals. If you’re already on a plane to Seattle 8 times a year picking up a second investment there is trivial. Get them over that first hurdle.

10. Time
And finally, it’s clear that to really build a regional community you need time. LA and Seattle are in the second (or third) major wave of technology innovation. We have all of the 2nd-time entrepreneurs from Overture, CitySearch, MySpace, etc. on to their next companies and that produced Demand Media, a public company who even with a slight recent reduction in share price is still trading at $1.3 billion.

Over the past 15 years Seattle has built one of the most interesting technology companies in the world. I’m still amazed at how forward thinking Amazon has been in cloud services – years ahead of Google, Salesforce.com, IBM, HP, Oracle or the countless other companies that should have been strong in this space.

It’s a shame that hasn’t translated into more local break-out successes, but if a few key people really wanted to put in the effort to make it happen I’m confident that Seattle could be a major force in the decade to come. That will be “the decade of the cloud” where it really starts to become a truly connect resource that continues to accelerate innovation.

Who’s in?

Top photo courtesy of Fotolia



Android To Surpass Apple’s App Store In Size By August 2011: Report (Exclusive)

Posted: 05 May 2011 05:15 AM PDT

There’s no doubt Android Market will at some point offer more applications for download and/or purchase than Apple’s App Store, as the latter’s growth has been slowing down of late, while the Android application store’s growth rate has been accelerating.

In a recent report, app store analytics company Distimo forecasted that Android would surpass the App Store in size before the end of July 2011.

Another research firm, Germany-based research2guidance, corroborates Distimo’s findings; the firm forecasts Android to blow past Apple’s App Store by August 2011.

Provided current growth rates for new app uploads are maintained, research2guidance expects Android Market to reach 425,000 apps next August, effectively overtaking App Store in size.

According to the firm, Android Market added 28,000 new apps in April 2011, whereas Apple lagged behind with only 11,000 new apps.

Evidently, there’s always the question whether this matters at all. After all, the bulk of applications that are available for both platforms don’t see much traction anyway, so how relevant it is whether there are 100,000 apps or 200,000 apps that are rarely, if ever, downloaded by anyone? (note that this goes for most if not all mobile application stores)

In fact, notes research2guidance, Android Market’s high growth rate does not necessarily mean that the average mobile app developer will have a better shot at generating revenues from the store. In fact, the firm posits, the opposite may be true:

On the contrary, the success of an app store is negatively correlated to the success of an average developer. All analysis on the early months of an app store including the Android Market shows that average download numbers decrease dramatically after the first months or even weeks after the launch of the store. The long tail gets longer and longer while the top 5% gets richer and richer.

Be that as it may, Android Market’s stunning growth is worth noting, especially because it came out the gates fairly slowly.

Also read:

Smartphone App Market Reached More Than $2.2 Billion In The First Half Of 2010
Nielsen: Consumer Desire For Android Grows, Unlike iOS And Blackberry
Despite 861.5 Percent Growth, Android Market Revenues Remain Puny
Facebook, Android Increasingly Under Attack: AVG Q1 Security Threat Report



LIVE From Paris: TechCrunch France presents #TCFRecipes + Livestream

Posted: 05 May 2011 04:41 AM PDT

http://www.ustream.tv/flash/viewer.swf Oh yes, France does indeed have a tech scene. And today, TechCrunch France is hosting the first edition of #TCFRecipes in Paris, an event that will cover all the ins and outs of what's happening in the French startup world - in English - with some of France's hottest entrepreneurs and investors.


CareerBuilder Expands To Southeast Asia With Purchase Of Singapore’s Jobscentral

Posted: 05 May 2011 04:20 AM PDT

Online career site operator CareerBuilder has acquired JobsCentral, one of Singapore’s largest job portals with over 700,000 registered jobseekers and a growing presence in Malaysia.

JobsCentral also operates a niche site focused on job search for college students.

With the acquisition, CareerBuilder enters the Southeast Asian market, expanding operations to a total of 21 countries worldwide, including the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia.

Singapore has a strong economy and a dynamic job market. The country’s unemployment rate is low (at 2.2 percent) while job vacancies continue to rise, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics.

That, and its high Internet penetration rate (estimated at 77.8 percent), makes Singapore and ideal market for the online recruitment business, says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.



Silicon Milkroundabout Aims To Tackle London’s Startup Brain-Drain

Posted: 05 May 2011 02:57 AM PDT

There's a neat line in the Facebook movie, The Social Network, that says something like Harvard students don't seek a job, they create a job in reference to the fact that so many graduates go on to start their own venture. And while not all computer science graduates and those from related disciplines, either fresh from University or already in work, can be expected to found their own startup, joining one is the next best thing. However it's here where the London startup community faces a particular challenge: how to compete with the brain-drain caused by the Capital city's financial sector and by other corporations who have chosen London as their European headquarters or have a major presence here, including Internet companies like Google and Microsoft. That's something that a new event called Silicon Milkroundabout hopes to help remedy.


Mobile Ad Network Jumptap Closes $25 Million Funding Round

Posted: 05 May 2011 02:50 AM PDT

As we reported a month ago, mobile ad network JumpTap has raised a round of new funding. The company confirmed this today, announcing a $25 million financing round from AllianceBernstein, General Catalyst, Redpoint Ventures, Summerhill Ventures, Valhalla Partners and WPP, as well as several new investors, who are not being disclosed. This brings the company’s funding to over $90 million.

JumpTap is one of the largest remaining independent mobile advertising networks, in addition to Millennial Media, 4INFO, InMobi and others (another remaining network Greystripe was just acquired). Jumptap's data-driven technology promises highly targeted advertising and the company partners with digital and media agencies, publishers, wireless carriers and brand advertisers to serve an array of mobile advertising solutions.

Despite the heated competition in the mobile advertising space, JumpTap appears to be growing, both in terms of reach and employees. JumpTap says its network now reaches 83 million consumers, which is a 30 percent increase from last year. And the network has partnered with more than 10,000 sites and apps; received over 10 billion ad requests in April, and has over a dozen patents related to mobile ad technologies.

The company added 35 employees since the beginning of 2011 from companies including Apple, IAC, Time Inc, and Maxus. JumpTap also recently landed a deal with Tokyo-based cyber communications (cci).

George Bell, CEO of Jumptap said this in a statement: "Our focus on leading mobile innovation through technology and services underscores our long-term vision and commitment to delivering the best solutions for advertisers and publishers…We are well positioned to capitalize on the momentum in the mobile marketplace and continue to see impressive growth across all measures."

The company says the new investment will be used towards product and technology development, and to hiring additional staff to support client demand.

As we reported a month ago, mobile ad network JumpTap has raised a round of new funding. The company confirmed this today, announcing a $25 million financing round from AllianceBernstein, General Catalyst, Redpoint Ventures, Summerhill Ventures, Valhalla Partners and WPP, as well as several new investors, who are not being disclosed. This brings the company’s funding to over $90 million.

JumpTap is one of the largest remaining independent mobile advertising networks, in addition to Millennial Media, Greystripe, InMobi and others. Jumptap's data-driven technology promises highly targeted advertising and the company partners with digital and media agencies, publishers, wireless carriers and brand advertisers to serve an array of mobile advertising solutions.



Google I/O: ShortForm Curates Sandbox Startup Demo Videos Into A Single Channel

Posted: 05 May 2011 02:34 AM PDT

Google I/O, Google’s developer (cough, nerd) conference, comes to San Francisco next Tuesday for two days of peace, love, panels, and coding. Each year, the conference plays host to its so-called “Sandbox”, in which developers and startups demo their apps, code, and technical delights. This year, thanks to ShortForm, a video curation community, those startup demos can all be found in one place — on ShortForm’s Google I/O channel.

The San Francisco-based startup has built a cool video curation platform that allows users to create personalized channels of web video content, easily pulling clips from YouTube and other video sites. And you can play videos back-to-back to create a stream of video, not unlike the TV viewing experience. That’s right. I said it. Creating custom channels is simple, and ShortForm’s design and UI is more user-friendly (or at least more attractive) than that of YouTube. IMHO, of course.

So, applying this formula to Google I/O: If you’re unable to make the conference or, say, want to check back in on a favorite developer/app, you can kick back and get a full preview of all companies demoing at I/O in one channel. Ka-bam!

Between now and May 11th, users will also be able to vote on their favorite I/O companies. ShortForm’s Sandbox Contest doesn’t exactly have a world-shaking prize, but the startup will give “prime placement” to the winner, which, if nothing else, will provide some great exposure for developers, especially to those outside the conference’s doors.

To facilitate all this, ShortForm created a widget that you can embed on your site, blog, or if you want, to just print out and look at, though results may vary on that one. WordPress makes it difficult for us to embed iframes, so I’ll just point you to this link here if you want to check it out.

And, for the record, this isn’t ShortForm’s first lap around the contest track. It launched a video contest with CollegeHumor last month. Through its contest, ShortForm CEO Nader Ghaffari tells me, the team learned that curated continuous channels with voting and gaming mechanics have a beneficial affect for site owners, pushing “time spent on a channel” to 10 minutes per session.

Ah yes, so it seems the Web does indeed enjoy its video curation. Take note, YouTube. Ghaffari also said that the startup is looking to contest format and we are now working to productize these contests so that any ol’ ShortForm video jockey can turn their channel into a contest.

For more, check out the official Google Code blog’s coverage, or feast your eyes on our post last month on the startup hitting 1 million visitors.



Google Calls Out Rivals’ Web Benchmark Tools, Rebuilds Them To Better Gauge Chrome

Posted: 05 May 2011 12:49 AM PDT

When it comes to Chrome, Google has long been addicted to speed. And for many tasks on the web today, that speed is related to how fast your JavaScript engine is. Google has long held that their’s is the fastest. But it’s hard to know for sure because there are a few different benchmark suites to test such speeds — and the most popular ones are made by companies with stakes in the game: Apple, Mozilla, and yes, Google.

In a post yesterday on their Chromium, it’s pretty clear that Google feels their V8 benchmark suite is the best. In fact, they directly call our their rivals’ suites, noting bugs and saying that they must evolve. And then they go one step further: providing links to versions of the rivals’ suites supposedly perfected by Google!

Wow. In the extremely nerdy (and fairly incestuous) browser world, this is hardcore.

Specifically, Google says that SunSpider, first developed by Apple in 2007, contains tests that are “less relevant to the web in 2011″. Here’s the best part:

Even for the more relevant tests, JavaScript has gotten so fast that many finish in only a few milliseconds. This just isn't long enough to figure out which engine is faster–a golf cart and a Tesla will finish a 10-foot race in nearly the same time.

Ouch.

To fix this issue, Google made its own modified version of SunSpider which essentially runs tests 50 times consecutively to better gauge speed. When the tests are run this way, Google says that “the results begin to reflect Chrome's true performance.” Naturally. According to Google, Chrome is more than 30 percent faster (in the test results) when measured this way.

Meanwhile, they say that Kraken, the new benchmark suite Mozilla just created, is “in better shape” — but buggy. “As a result, the benchmark is less useful and has even (mis)led us to spend time making some irrelevant optimizations in Chrome,” they note.

Again, ouch!

To get around this, Google is now hosting a new version of Kraken “built directly from Mozilla's source code repository”.

Are these claims about rivals’ suites legit? It’s hard to say for sure, but I have a feeling that the rivals themselves would dispute that. It is a bit odd that Google is reworking the suites, and that the end result is Chrome performing much better in the tests.

Of course, my eyes don’t lie. I’m a Chrome guy all the way because in daily usage I find it to be much faster than either Safari or Firefox (on a Mac, at least). Until that changes, I’m trusting Google on this one.



Walking With Robots: A Look Inside Exciting New Technology From Berkeley Bionics (TCTV)

Posted: 04 May 2011 10:36 PM PDT

It’s not everyday that one has an encounter with a robot, let alone has the chance to wear one, and recently, I was lucky enough to have just that. Thanks to Berkeley Bionics, I got to take a peak into the future of bionic devices — and get a small taste of what it must feel like to be Anthony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man).

The Berkeley-based startup is developing exciting new technology that is truly the stuff of comic books and, formerly, of science fiction. Specifically, the company is making wearable, artifi­cially intelligent bionic devices that it calls “exoskeletons”. This has taken shape in two significant forms: eLEGS and HULC. Both of which you can see (as well as an interview with Berkeley Bionics CEO Eythor Bender) in the accompanying video.

In 2008, Berkeley Bionics introduced the appropriately-named HULC (or Human Universal Load Carrier), which is an unteth­ered exoskeleton that augments the user’s strength and endurance. HULC was specifically designed for those on long, strenuous missions (like soldiers) and allows the user to carry up to 200 pounds. For hours. In 2009, Berkeley Bionics and Lockheed Martin established a licensing agreement, which will enable Lockheed to further develop HULC and make it a field-ready device for military use.

Last year, the startup debuted its second exciting (and life-altering) device, called eLEGS, which is a wearable, artificially intelligent exoskeleton that allows people with paralysis to stand up and walk again. The startup hopes that this technology can eventually eliminate the need for wheelchairs, giving millions of people suffering from spinal cord injuries, stroke, MS, and more a new lease on life.

Below you’ll find an interview with the Berkeley Bionics CEO, in which he walks through the company’s history and development of the technology behind the devices. You’ll also get a glimpse of eLEGS in action as well as the pleasure of seeing me gracefully trying out, and becoming, the HULC. The second video contains the full interview. Uncut.

And, as a bonus, because we thought this was such a cool story and wanted to dive in a bit more, tomorrow we’ll be taking you to the Valley Medical Center in San Jose, where eLEGS is being used and developed as part of patient rehabilitation at Silicon Valley’s premiere hospital. I got a chance to speak with Dr. Akshat Shah, Chief of Spinal Cord & Orthopedic Rehabilitation, as well as VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder, and to see eLEGS in action. In the field. So stay tuned.



Google Voice CEO Craig Walker Launches Firespotter, A Google Ventures Funded Incubator

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:59 PM PDT

When Google Voice (previously GrandCentral) cofounder and CEO Craig Walker left Google last year, he didn’t go far. In fact, he just went across the street to set up a desk at Google Ventures as an entrepreneur in residence.

At the time he told me his goal was to start a new company. Now, he tells me, he wants to start lots of them.

He and his team (former Google Voice engineers Brian Peterson and John Rector, and Alex Cornell) are launching Firespotter Labs today, an incubator for new startups. The company has also taken an initial $3 million round of funding from Google Ventures (keepin it in the family!). Wesley Chan joins Firespotter’s board of directors.

Just another incubator? Maybe. But Walker has direct experience with the idea. Grand Central came out of a successful incubator, Minor Ventures. He says he wants to take the parts of Minor Ventures that worked, and then tweak a few things.

For example, he says, Minor Ventures tended to come up with ideas and then hire a team to build those ideas and carry the companies forward. Walker says that Firespotter Labs will build the initial products using its own permanent in house team. When and if an idea has legs, then they’ll hire a team and spin off the company to get outside funding.

Boutique incubators are somewhat in vogue right now. Betaworks continues to do well, and Churn Labs, founded by Admob founder Omar Hamoui, is off to a great start with backing from Sequoia.

So when will we see some actual operating startups coming out of Firespotter? Sometime soon, says Walker. That $3 million, he says, is enough to get 4-6 companies off the ground.



IAC’s CityGrid Media Buys Social Media Monitoring And Analysis Platform BuzzLabs

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:55 PM PDT

Social media monitoring platforms are undoubtedly one of the more desirable acquisition targets for both technology, e-commerce and media companies. Salesforce picked up Radian6 a few weeks ago for $326 million and Walmart bought Kosmix as well. And today IAC-owned local media and advertising property CityGrid Media is acquiring its own social media monitoring and sentiment analysis platform, BuzzLabs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Seattle-based BuzzLabs, which was co-founded in 2009 by former Microsoft employees Philip Lee and Dou Shen, allows publishers to leverage social content, keeps consumers better informed, and helps local businesses monitor their presence across the web. BuzzLabs’ dashboard for businesses dashboard aggregates social media activity into one location, allowing companies to track mentions, Tweets, reviews and more across the web.

For content providers, BuzzLabs will help socialize data. For example, BuzzFeed’s opinion mining technology extracts and identifies key phrases from content to determine if it’s positive, neutral, or negative. The startup also creates tag clouds from content. The company has actually been a partner of CityGrid and has been using the local media platform’s API for the past year.

So how does BuzzLabs’ technology help CityGrid? For background, IAC launched CityGrid last year as a set of APIs which makes all of Citysearch's local listings content and advertising available to other Websites and mobile apps. The company then rebranded its Yelp-like local business content platform CitySearch as part of CityGrid Media. All of the local listings in Citysearch are available through CityGrid's APIs so that anyone creating a mobile app or local Website can grab business listings, addresses, phone numbers, photos, reviews, and more and build their own apps around them. CityGrid also matches local advertisers with these local publishers.

With the acquisition, CityGrid says it will have the ability to aggregate and analyze millions of pieces of content across its content and ad network, including reviews, articles, blog posts, check-ins, Likes and other real time streams of user generated content, producing additional data relating to business sentiment, consumer insight and trending data for its publishers and million-plus merchants.

The acquisition will also offer a reputation management and social media monitoring platform to local merchant advertisers. And the BuzzLabs business dashboard will be integrated into the CityGrid Media Ad Center, allowing local merchants to access BuzzLabs' social monitoring and analysis tools to better manage online reputations.

Jay Herratti, CEO of CityGrid Media said this a statement:"With the explosion of local, user-generated content on the Web, it is imperative our network of publishers has real-time tools to acquire new content and make sense of it for users in a way that's immediately valuable to them…By adding BuzzLabs to the CityGrid offering, we are able to provide our publishers with relevant, real-time content and new local data that consumers now rely on to make their decisions."

Herratti tells us that BuzzLabs technology will be integrated into the CityGrid platform over the next three to six months.



Google Just Leaked Their +1 Chrome Extension On National Television

Posted: 04 May 2011 06:03 PM PDT

If you haven’t seen Google’s new “Dear Sophie” video, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s brilliant.

And watch closely.

At various points in the video, the Chrome browser in use reveals an unreleased product: a Google +1 extension. For the best view of it, skip to the 0:51 mark. There it is, front and center, next to the Picasa button being clicked on.

The funniest part of this is that Google is actually airing this video on national television as part of their new Chrome marketing push. So Google just leaked their own new feature to millions of people. Well, those watching very closely, at least.

So what does the extension do? Hard to say since they never actually click on it in the video. But one can assume that it’s a simple way to +1 any site you’re visiting. Google formally unveiled +1 about a month ago as a way to socially share Google Search results with friends — and to help Google rank those results with social juice.

I’m also wondering if the extension doesn’t have more social functionality — such as a way to share a link on Twitter and other networks alongside +1′ing it. You may recall that as they were developing +1, we kept getting leaks about it. One of those was a +1 toolbar that was apparently a way to share with other social networks.

Google has also said that a +1 button is coming for publisher websites. But we haven’t heard any more on that since the original announcement.

Anyway, a +1 Chrome extension is clearly on the way. And Google let us know about it either by way of a brilliant subliminal marketing move, or a big mistake in front of the entire American public.

Either way, great ad. +1, really.



100,000 Developers Strong, Mashery Nabs $11 Million To Push The Internet Beyond Websites

Posted: 04 May 2011 05:10 PM PDT

“People used to sit at a desk to ‘Internet’. Then they would get up and stop Internetting. Now they Internet wherever, whenever — even when they don’t think they are doing it.”

That’s Mashery CEO Oren Michels‘ explanation for why his company is growing so quickly. The API management company has just hit 100,000 developers using their service, Michels says. Just about a year ago, that number stood at 35,000. And now they’ve just gotten a big new round of funding to help deal with and maintain that fast expansion.

Mashery has just closed an $11 million Series D round led by OpenView Venture Partners. Also participating were previous investors Cisco, Formative Ventures, 406 Ventures, and First Round Capital. With the funding, Scott Maxwell, senior managing director and founder of OpenView, has taken a board seat.

The new funding brings the total raised to just shy of $25 million. And while Michels declined to give the valuation, he does note that this round was at a “significant premium” over the last round (a $5.5 million one in February of last year).

So what has led to a tripling of developers using Mashery in the past year? Apps, says Michels. It has been mostly Android and iOS leading that charge, obviously. But Michels also notes that the videogame consoles are also driving quite a bit of growth recently.

He also says that Mashery’s technology is now used in some 25,000 live apps out there.

“A great app ‘grants a wish’ — so companies are going to need lots of apps to meet the needs of different groups of customers at different places, times, and use cases,” Michels says. “The only way to make that happen is to have secure, scalable, easy-to-use APIs — that can be the ingredients of the wishes,” he continues.

Cute. And apparently good business.



Talkatone Lets You Make Calls And SMS Over Wifi For Free, No Strings Attached

Posted: 04 May 2011 04:47 PM PDT

Like Pinger, Talkatone allows you to make phone calls using Wifi. Unlike Pinger, Talkatone uses Google Voice as a channel to let you make and receive phone calls to and from your phone contacts, for free. While Pinger, using Textfree with voice, gives you a certain amount of minutes free and then charges your iTunes account or asks you to complete tasks, Talkatone, after some jiggering of your Google Voice account, allows you to make unlimited calls without having to jump through any additional hoops.

To set Talktone up log into your Gmail account and select the “Call Phone” option under Chat. Use the “Call Phone” option to make one call to a regular phone number. Then sign out from Google Chat and return to Talkatone. Make a phone call from its phone widget and you should be good to go there.

In order to receive incoming calls, you have to upgrade your Google Voice account to get a phone number and select “Forward to Google Chat” on the Voice Settings page. You can then receive calls to your Google Voice number in Talkatone.

(For more detailed instructions click here.)

This latest Talkatone release also lets users in the US and Canada send and receive unlimited SMS messages via Wifi, using just their data plans. It includes an audio compression upgrade to improve voice quality over weaker networks.

Talkatone is particularly useful for phone deadzones like TechCrunch offices, but might be a godsend for people who turn off their cell service on trips abroad and just use their data plans. Imagine being able to make calls from French hotel Wifi or even on a plane?

You can try Talkatone for free here.



TC Cribs: The Sights And Smells Of LikeALittle’s Ridiculous Hacker House

Posted: 04 May 2011 04:08 PM PDT

Warning: if you are an obsessively clean person, you may want to skip this episode of TC Cribs.

For those of you brave enough to tune in, here’s a bit of an explanation.

Over the last few months we’ve seen some pretty blinged-out offices, featuring go-karts, gorgeous skyline views, and endless supplies of free snacks and beer. But the reality is that most startups don’t look anything like that. Instead, they often consist a handful of founders working (and sleeping) out of somebody’s apartment and eating ramen noodles twice a day with the occasional pizza splurge. LikeALittle (LAL) is a lot like that.

For those that haven’t seen it, LAL is a college-focused service that’s like a more structured version of Craigslist’s missed connections, allowing students to post ‘flirts’ to other nearby users. The company just raised some seed money from a very impressive list of investors. And the team consists of a dozen young guys sitting in one room in a house in Palo Alto.

There’s stuff everywhere. Not necessarily gross stuff, but the floor was littered with dolls, photos of Ashton Kutcher, iPads, markers, venture capitalist business cards, and popcorn. In other words, it was a lot like my college dorm. And it’s awesome.

Credit once again goes to Ashley Pagán and John Murillo for the camera work, and to Mr. Murillo for the great editing.

Make sure to tune in to our past episodes of TC Cribs:



iPhone Location Update: All Users In 1 Week; Android 2.3 Update: 4% Of Users In 5 Months

Posted: 04 May 2011 02:56 PM PDT

Earlier today, Apple released the iOS update that resolves the location tracking issues that had the press in a tizzy over for the past couple of weeks. For those keeping score at home, it took Apple exactly one week from when they first addressed the problem to ship a solution to every affected iOS user. Yes, just one week later, the situation is resolved (well, aside from a smaller encryption issue which will be fixed in the next major iOS update). Regardless of your stance on the issue at hand, that turnaround time is impressive anyway you slice it. And it’s especially impressive when you consider the alternative.

The Android alternative.

This Is My Next’s Nilay Patel (formerly of Engadget) drove this point home with a tweet today. “It took Apple just a week to deploy this update to all iPhone users, while Android makers are still shipping 2.2, and WP7 is a mess,” he wrote.

The Windows Phone 7 update situation has been a nightmare from the start. And Microsoft knows it and claims to be working on the process — though it still doesn’t appear to be going smoothly. But they’re also a new OS and a relatively small one. So let’s focus on the mature massive one.

Let’s say there was some big OS issue with Android that Google wanted to resolve and get to users as quickly as possible. How long would it take? As Patel alludes to, looking at the Android OS distribution numbers, it doesn’t look good.

The most recent major version of Android, 2.3 (if we don’t include the tablet-only 3.0), has been out for about 5 months now. On what percentage of Android devices is it installed on? 4 percent, according to Google’s numbers.

Four percent. After five months.

While the holdup isn’t entirely Google’s fault, it is their fault by proxy. By allowing the OEMs and carriers to set their own schedules for OS releases, they ensure these insanely slow roll-outs (and sometimes the carriers choose not to roll out the updates at all). “I don’t blame Google for Android update problems — the blame there is squarely on the OEMs and carriers. They have to match Apple,” Patel writes in a follow-up Tweet. Okay, but they never will unless Google applies that pressure.

But isn’t that type of pressure against Android’s core principle of open? Oh, you mean “open”? “Open” as in, Google is complying with carrier requests to remove tethering apps from the Market? Don’t be fooled by the marketing bullshit. Google could apply more pressure if they wanted to to get the carriers in line. And they should have no problem doing that if the carriers are forcing their hand on things. It should work both ways. And the same goes for the OEMs. We’ve been hearing for years now that Google would do more in this regard. So far, nada.

Currently, this issue has only led to annoyed customers who buy new Android phones and expect updates, only to have to sit on the sidelines for months. But this could become a major problem if Google ever has to push an update quickly.

Instead, Google’s only option now is to release backdoor fixes through their own Market — which is hilarious. They had to utilize this method this past March when a bunch of malicious apps were published into the Market and were affecting users’ devices.

But what if the problem was more of a core OS problem? Or what if the malicious app disabled or removed the Market? Google would have to push an update through the carriers. For Apple, this process is instantaneous because they’re in control. For Google… well…

[image: flickr/laihiu]



Contest: Away Put Your Weapon, I Mean You To Win A Star Wars Prize

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:59 PM PDT

It is May 4th aka Force Day. On this day we must celebrate the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars. How better to do that than by picking one item from a huge list of Star Wars stuff and having it sent to your home. Your mission, then, is to choose one item and I will pick one winner at random and that winner will receive the item he or she chose. The result? He or she will, as Han Solo once said, “live long and prosper.”

Read more…



MerchantCircle Debuts iPhone App For Small Businesses To Manage Marketing

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:57 PM PDT

Online marketing network for small business owners MerchantCircle is launching an iPhone app today that allows small businesses to manage and update their listings on the site and other social media pages, upload photos, answer new customer inquiries and stay on top of their reviews on the go.

Merchant Circle provides a business directory for merchants in smaller towns and currently lists over a million small businesses. MerchantCircle has long targeted merchants in small locales versus catering towards the consumers, as sites like Yelp and CitySearch do. MerchantCircle has local business members in 95% of the 24,600 U.S. cities and towns with populations over 200.

The free iPhone app allows users to create and publish daily deals, photos, status updates and more across multiple social networks, including MerchantCircle, Facebook and Twitter. Users can also use the app to respond to customer inquiries, manage their business listing, reply to messages, and monitor reviews. For example, a hairstylist on MerchantCircle could snap before-and-after photos of clients and immediately post them to her page. Or an IT specialist could respond to inbound customer inquiries as they come in.

A mobile app seems like a natural extension of the network for small businesses (similar to the usefulness of mobile apps for networks like Facebook or LinkedIn). I’m actually surprised that MerchantCircle didn’t already offer small businesses a mobile app.



Facebook Like Aggregator Likester Tracks What’s Hot On Facebook

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:25 PM PDT

With hundreds of thousands of websites integrating with Facebook Likes and 250 million people engaging with Likes just a little after a year after the Like button made its first appearance at F8, the space of Facebook Likes aggregation is about to get competitive. Facebook search engine Booshaka just released their own Facebook Likes categorization yesterday, for example. Likester just overhauled its platform, wanting to become the go-to Facebook Likes aggregator

What Likester does differently from Booshaka is that it shows users realtime and popular Like trends, including what your friends are Liking, what everyone is Liking, what’s trending and a chronological log of all your friends Likes. A maps feature adds locality to what Likes are popular where.

As an example of the potential of this service, Likester is currently trying to predict the winner of American Idol by tracking how many people Like certain contestants during the show.

The best part about Likester is the drill down effects of item affinity when you hit the Details button on a specific Like. You can look into “Likesters who liked this also like” recommendations as well as suggest the content to friends and post it on your Facebook wall. Founder Kevin McCarthy says he is also experimenting with anti affinity, or figuring out what people who Like something dislike.

The site offers the ability to search all Facebook Likes by keyword (to search for all the Seattle-related Likes for example) and by popularity and relevance. You can also search for Like related content on platforms like Amazon, YouTube, Google, Twitter and more.

McCarthy explains the utility of the service,

“I came up with the idea for Likester about a year ago, because Facebook doesn't show you the whole picture. That is, if just view your news feed every day, you'll never see the totality of all of your friends likes (some are never shown to you). And you'll never see likes that occurred more than a day or so apart combined and reported, even when your friends have each individually liked the same thing. Basically, we wanted to provide a structured format for a user to manage all this data. An average user of ours, in their friend network, has 15,000 likes.  How can you possibly make sense of all of that data, without a service like this?”

Likester is currently bootstrapped and run by a small team of five out of Seattle, Washington. McCarthy is currently talking to customers like ChannelAdvisor to up the ante on retail adoption of Like data as a marketing tool.



Howard Lindzon, Yossi Vardi, Greg Tseng, and Bradley Horowitz All Ready To Disrupt In NYC

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:42 PM PDT

TechCrunch Disrupt NYC starts May 23rd—less than a month away. And we are very excited to announce four more guests to our growing list of speakers who will be joining us at this year’s Disrupt in NYC: Howard Lindzon, Yossi Vardi, Greg Tseng, and Bradley Horowitz.

Howard Lindzon, co-founder and CEO of StockTwits, is a force to be reckoned with. With over twenty years experience in the financial community acting as both an entrepreneur and investor (his sold his last startup, Wallstrip, to CBS), has incredible insight into new media and is also a very active angel investor in the financial and internet business sectors.

Yossi Vardi is an award winning Israeli investor, most famous for being the original investor in ICQ. Currently co-founder and board observer of WeFi, Vardi has invested in over 50 tech companies and has acted as an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program on issues of energy in the developing world.

Greg Tseng is the co-founder of Tagged and has served as Chief Executive Officer since its inception. He has been a driving force in creating Tagged.com with his partner, co-founder and long-time friend, Johann Schleier-Smith.

As VP of product for Google apps, Bradley Horowitz oversees Google's communications products and social applications including Google Talk, GrandCentral, Blogger, and Picasa. Before joining Google, Horowitz was the former vice president of Yahoo's product strategy group and led Yahoo's efforts in building innovative products and technologies across the company.

We are incredibly excited to have all four guest speakers with us for this year’s Disrupt in NYC. We will keep announcing new guest speakers week after week as we get closer to the event. You can read the full list of announced speakers here. Early bird ticket prices end tonight at midnight PDT, so make sure to purchase your tickets soon. Tickets are available here.

If you'd like to become a part of the Disrupt experience and learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Jeanne Logozzo or Heather Harde for more information.

Howard Lindzon
Co-founder and CEO, StockTwits

Howard Lindzon is co-founder and CEO of StockTwits® – a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. StockTwits was recently named "one of the top 10 most innovative companies in web" by FastCompany and one of the "50 best websites" by Time magazine. Mr. Lindzon has more than twenty years experience in the financial community acting in both an entrepreneurial and investing capacity. With a unique vision for starting and successfully managing innovative companies, he is the Managing Partner of Social Leverage, a holding company that invests in early stage web businesses. Howard continues to manage a hedge fund he started in 1998. He created Wallstrip, and more than 400 original web video shows, which was purchased by CBS Corp. in 2007. He is an active angel with many success angel investments including: Rent.com, (purchased by Ebay in 2005 for $415 million), Golfnow.com (purchased by Comcast in June 2008), and Lifelock (lead investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). Mr. Lindzon’s new media and internet business investments also include: Limos.com, Blogtalkradio.com, Buddy Media, Ticketfly, Assistly, Bit.ly and Tweetdeck. Mr. Lindzon received an MBA at Arizona State University and an MIM from The American Graduate School of International Management.

Yossi Vardi
Co-founder & Board Observer, WeFi Inc.

Yossi Vardi is an Israeli investor most famous for being the original investor in ICQ – the first Internet-wide instant messaging system. Vardi has invested in over 50 tech companies in diverse areas of software, energy, Internet, mobile, cleantech, and others. Vardi has been an active civil servant in Israel through projects involving energy and infrastructure. He also co-founded Alon, an Israeli oil company. Vardi acted as an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program on issues of energy in the developing world. Vardi has received many awards including The Prime Minister Award, The Industry Award, Entrepreneur of the Year (Tel Aviv University), and the CEO!'s Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame from the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization.

Greg Tseng
Co-founder and CEO, Tagged

Greg Tseng co-founded Tagged in October 2004 and has served as Chief Executive Officer since its inception. He has been a driving force in creating Tagged.com with his partner, co-founder and long-time friend, Johann Schleier-Smith. Greg holds an A.B. in Chemistry & Physics & Mathematics from Harvard University, where he served as a Director of the Harvard Entrepreneurs Club (HEC) from 1998-2000 and co-authored The Harvard Entrepreneurs Club Guide to Starting Your Own Business (Wiley, 1999). Greg is presently on leave from Stanford University, where he is pursuing the Ph.D. in Physics on a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. His academic research lies in the field of nanotechnology and he has published his results in top journals such as Science.

Bradley Horowitz
VP Product, Google Apps, Google

Bradley oversees Google's communications products and social applications including Google Talk, GrandCentral, Blogger and Picasa. Before joining Google, Bradley led Yahoo's advanced development division, which developed new products such as Yahoo! Pipes, and drove the acquisition of products such as Flickr and MyBlogLog. Bradley Horowitz is the former vice president of Yahoo's product strategy group. He led Yahoo's efforts in building innovative products and technologies across the company. Horowitz drove innovation and leveraged Yahoo's platform to deliver compelling Yahoo products and services to a community of 500 million users. In addition, he was responsible for the company's initiative to open up its platform which included overseeing the Yahoo Developer Network (YDN). Prior to that, he managed a portfolio of products for Yahoo including media search, desktop search and the Yahoo Toolbar. Prior to joining Yahoo, Horowitz served as both the chief technical officer and the vice president of engineering for the Virage division of Autonomy, where he was responsible for the technical delivery of five major product lines. Prior to Autonomy, he founded Virage, the company widely recognized as the market creator and leader for advanced media indexing and analysis. Horowitz helped grow the company from "a garage startup" through its NASDAQ IPO. Horowitz was a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab. While at the Media Lab, he worked on a number of topics related to computer vision, graphics and image processing, which resulted in a patented new technique for the recovery of structure, motion and camera parameters from video sequences. Horowitz holds an MS in Media Science from MIT and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.



Intel’s 3D Transistors Promise Small Physical And Electrical Footprint

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:30 PM PDT

Intel has made an interesting advance in microprocessor technology after years of research, and it seems that 2011′s processors will be the first to feature 3D transistors and tri-gate technology. By optimizing the shape of the transistor at a nanometer level, Intel has made it possible to both reduce the size of individual transistors and improve their efficiency.

Now, it’s important to differentiate this 3D method from others under investigation, like IBM’s. This isn’t a multi-layer solution, merely a more complicated shape for the single layer of transistors we know and love. I say merely, but of course sculpting things at a near-atomic level is no joke. So what exactly is the advance here, and what will it enable?

Continue reading…



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