Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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TechCrunch Giveaway: White iPad 2 and Nook Color #TCDisrupt

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:41 AM PDT

We are live in New York for the last day of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC. We have heard from amazing speakers, seen some unbelievable startups, and have given away many prizes. Since we know many of you were not able to attend, we wanted to do something nice for our readers and viewers at home. Thanks to DailySteals.com, we have one white iPad 2 and one Nook Color to give away. The lucky winner of this giveaway will win both. If you want them, just follow the steps below!

1) Become a fan of our TechCrunch Facebook Page:

2) Then do one of the following:

  • Retweet this post (making sure to include the #TCDisrupt hashtag)
  • Tell us what you’re favorite part of Disrupt NYC has been so far

The contest starts now and ends May 27th at 7:30pm PT.

Please only tweet the message once or you will be disqualified. We will choose at random and contact the winner with more details. Anyone in the world is eligible, as long as you can receive delivered packages.

Thanks again to DailySteals.com for all of the prizes at Disrupt NYC.

Good luck!



Twitter Confirms TweetDeck Acquisition: It’s All About The Power Users

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:41 AM PDT


Matt Graves
Twitter welcomes TweetDeck to the flock: http://t.co/xvRdD2c

Boom. After about a thousand blog posts, Twitter has officially announced that it has bought TweetDeck.

Both CNN and Mike have reported that the total price of the sale was $40 million.

Twitter emphasized in their blog post that the acquisition was about the segment of Twitter users who were heavily active:

“TweetDeck is a great example of a third-party developer that designed tools for the incredibly important audience of Twitter power-users and, in turn, created value for the network as a whole. As Iain's journey suggests, there is significant opportunity for developers who deliver insights that foster a more engaged Twitter user base.”




‘The Daily’ Is About To Hit A Million Downloads

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:14 AM PDT

This next panel I'm very excited about, tablet publishing. We've got the publisher of The Daily, Greg Clayme and CEO of Betaworks, John Borthwick, who until recently was also the CEO of one of the Betaworks ' companies, bitly, which has a very interesting tablet product called News Me. When did it officially launched a month ago, two months ago?

About a month ago.

So the ipad came out and publishers started experimenting with it and started thinking about different ways to, you know, put their traditional print publications online. And then in addition, people creating original publications online, and then in addition to that, people are creating new ways to take existing content and visualize it and make it more readable, right.

There's sort of these three different things. in my mind there's sort of an access.

And-and if you look in your iPad and you want to read something, you can find a Publication, and app from the Daily or the New York Times or the New Yorker, right?

Something that you trust that was maybe a print publication before, or is sort of a New Era type of publication.

Or, there's these aggregation tools where you get everything that you want to read and everything that your social stream is reading, ll in one place.

I think that's sort of where News Me falls in, and you see other apps like Flip Board and Pulse etc. and these are, you know, at the very least their readers put their readers plus, right?

And I guess I just want to talk a little bit about the pros and cons of going single publication route verses what I'll call an aggregation route.

So why don't we start with you Greg.

Sure.

The daily launch had a big launch, how's it doing?

So the Daily's been great. It launchedI guess February the 2nd we started charging on the 21st of March, right? So it's been, I guess just over sixty days, you know, since it was a paid publication and it is, we've been downloaded almost a million times, been almost a million downloads which kind of puts us up in a pantheon of large apps, news apps, publications and we are consistently now in the top, grossing apps.

You sort of take a look at the top ten, top twelve. Grossing iPad apps, they were always there. Today they were number three. Tomorrow, somebody will spend a lot of money on Smurfs, you know, and will be number four.

But you've been in the top 10 consistently.

Consistently, that's right. And that's, so you can start to do some of the

So there's the math version and And the subscription is 40 dollars a year?

Yeah, it's one dollar a week, or forty dollars for an annual subscription.

OK. And John, can you explain News Me, and there's a subscription model there as well, how does that work?

Sure, so we have, so we launched News Me about four weeks ago, and it'svery much an aggregation versus an original, original content production. So what we're doing is we're sifting from the streams out there, we're using the bit.ly algorithms and bit.ly click data to understand what is trending right now.

And then we have two products. So, we have an iPad product which is a full on beautiful reading experience. And then we have an email product, which is a very simple, sort of get an email summary each week or each day of what is trending right now. So, the iPad product is a $0.99 a week product and one week free trial.

So we basically did the same pricing as Greg did.

Right, so the basic concept for News.me is that, ell, as you can see, you can log into your Twitter account, and you can see all the stories that people are sharing on Twitter, and it's opened up the images and the text is opened up, right? So you can read it in the App. But not only that, you can also see what, you can kind of peek over the shoulder of the people that you're following and see what they're reading.

Can you explain how that works?

Yeah. So what we did I first and foremost,I think similar to what Greg has done, is that we're seeing that there are applications which are what I refer to as "tablet first." So both these, experiences, News.me and The Daily are meant to be full-on tablet experiences, we don't have print publications we're trying to carry into this product.

So what we did with News.me is, that we said, I want to look at the stream out there of, through Twitter. Yet nstead of seeing what you published. we said what if we could actually see what you're reading, so your inbound stream. And so News.me is a simple navigation on top where you see the people.

And I click your face, and then I see the stream that you could be reading, filtered, as I described, through the most popular stuff and then you can read the whole thing within the experience. So we really wanted to create this beautiful reading experience where you then have this context shifting of going out of the browser of getting half text here, getting a little bit there, about snipping here.

We want to give you the whole experience so you can read the whole article in line.

Right, The way our business works is we pay publishers, right. So, we advance six hundred and sixty publishers that we signed up and launch. And we're giving them, for every time you click through and look at an article and read an article, we pay them a little bit.

So you have some publishers who are behind the pay wall like the New York Times and you get the full view.

Correct. The full view. So, I think one of the big challenges for, you know publishers as well as for readers is that, there is only so much mind share I can give to you know, apps in general and reading apps. So just like, you know, if I'm going to have like say a few apps I use For reading the News.

I think that there's, you know, for everyone it's different. But maybe it's three apps, maybe it's five apps, it's definitely not ten apps, right? And I'm going to pick either like my favorite publication and if that's The Daily,or that's The New Yorker or that's The New York Times I'll pay for that maybe or the other view is I want one app where I can get everything that's, I think more your approach, so I almost feel like you're You know, the single title approach, you have a higher barrier to... a higher huddle, right, to go over because anyone publication doesn't have to do that great for me to go to News Me because I'm getting a wider variety of news and that's socially curated as well it's not curated from the editor right.

Right I think that the Geo point it's a different a very different product for very different audience. There are absolutely people who aggregate their content and I have a manicured list of RSS feeds and very active on Twitter, and I use I click on your face and your face all the time, by myself, poking you guys in the morning.

Thanks Greg.

That how you build an app, it's cool.

There's definitely an audience for that and for people that are using Twitter in that way. There's also an audience, and we think it's actually a very large audience, for an edited, curated product. Your point I think is a good one. Which is peoples' favorite magazine might be the New Yorker, people's favorite magazine might be Newsweek.

We wanted their favorite magazine to be The Daily. We want to be on your first page. We want to be in your tray. We want to be one of the magazines that people go to. And what's amazing is, one of the things that really has surprised us when you look at the distribution of the iPad in general, I think, there was a perception, I certainly had it, that the iPad is this sort of early adopter medium, and it's tech geeks, you know, it's going to in New York and San Francisco.

And when you look at our subscribers and you map them out over the U.S., what we find is that They're everywhere.

I mean as we have as many subscribers between Florida and Texas as we do in L.A.

You know, large groups of people in Chicago and in Tennessee, they're all over the country.

As you begin to talk to analysts about iPads and who buys them,
what you
discover is that it really isn't an early adopter, .
Early adopters have them, I have them, you have them, but they're owned by normal people, right?

Throughout the country there is a socioeconomic..

Do you think "news.me" is too complicated for normal people?

You know, I think it's a different product.

I do.

I think that there are people who are active on Twitter, there are people that aren't.


Because personally I'm a news junkie so I'm maybe not the right target, but I get a lot more from the "news.me"'s of the world, the thing is is that I can open up "news.me",
I can open up Twitter app for iPad, open up clipboard.

Essentially I'm getting similar stories, it's becomes like a.. presentation layer, although you have some interesting ways to sort of look at different views. But if I open up one, I'm not going to open up the other one. I've got those stories, but I get I get a fuller sense of what going on because it 's really spread across hundred of publications.

Let me jump in. I mean, I think we've seen this before, right? So as we move into the new world, the tablet world, it does change everything, but I think, actually, there are so some lessons we can draw from the web. And this discussion was alive and well at the beginning of the web. Like, will people go to a destination site?

Will they go to a thing, remember those things called portals we used to write about? So, will it be aggregation? Will it be destination? The answer was yes, right? The Huffington Post did a fabulous job of aggregation to some degree and some original content. They were kind of in the middle. There were people who were pure aggregators and then there people who were a mixture.

And from our vantage point of betaworks, we came at this from two angles. So weNews .me is a very much an aggregation thing. We also made an investment, a seed investment in something called Onswipe. And OnSwipe is enabling CMS blog platforms like WordPress and Tumblr to be able to tabletize your blog.

And the view there is that you may have a blog that you want, in one click you want turn that into a tablet-friendly experience.

Just on the browser.

On the browser, right?

Right.

You know, just good old HTML. Just do it on the left, right?

So you're betting on both?

We're coming at it both ways, because my view is: the answer to this is yes. It is much more fun to have these knock-down-drag-out fights, but it is happening from both directions.

The thing that is critical, that you pointed out at the top of this, is looking at the tablet without necessarily having any other legacy media or assets behind you. I mean, starting--and this is true with News.me and it's certainly true in spades on the daily, so every day, you know, we have an editorial team that sort of looks at the tablet, when they're looking at what stories to cover, and looking at photographs, and they're looking at, they interviewed the Endeavor astronauts today, and got, you know.

Right, but even even though there is no legacy, it very much feels like a magazine, I mean and the people who are building it come from the magazine you can tell we 've got, we've got, you've got video, and you've got interactive browsing, No, these different people, and we've got a lot of our line people, actually, magazine people, it's, it's not, and it's funny, every day it's new,

Right, Every single day, you Template the template is very much a magazine template that you are putting on the iPad as oppose to,I mean I don't feel like News-Me is a magazine or a newspaper I feel like it's a different UI "Flip Forward" I feel is sort of a magazine but they're trying to figure out a way to combine both worlds. The other thing I want to talk about because we only have two and half minutes left.

Its subscriptions versus advertising. So both of you have decided to go the subscription route. I kind of understand, I kind of understand why you did it, because, you know, that's sort of the legacy of, where, you know, you're coming from, and newsgroup likes to charge for their publications. They don't want to give up on that.

I don't understand why you went the subscription route, and A, I wonder, has that been a dampener on adoption, and B, you know, let's talk about the potential subscriptions versus advertising, because I think that you're leaving a lot on the table. I mean, you, you have this opportunity for, like, actually having amazing, beautiful ads, right ?.

You could actually take from the print ad budgets, which I think you're doing.

Right.

Right? And those people, I would think, want as big an audience as possible, and you could charge them through the nose, especially right now. You know, and the same thing with you.

You can create beautiful ads in that, and the tablet allows for, you know.the type of full page ads that we saw in magazines,
but in a digital form that is not available online.

And so you can really bring that all that print budget onto the tablets and it seems like you're really limiting that by, by saying well, you have to subscribe, so, you, when you have a subscription, you're cutting your audience by how much, right?

So, a couple of different thoughts.

The first is, we wanted to create a beautiful reading experience, right?

We really wanted to create this experience where you could read everything full text in the app, and so that was sort of a design principle number one.

Number two is, is that we said, in order to do that, we have to revenue share with the publishers,
and we don't want to be in the business of competing with them,
the publishers, on their advertising.

Secondly, and almost more importantly, is from a user perspective, is that I think I think we've way over indexed on the breadth and the power of advertising online, and I think we've, you know, the web, when the tables first arrived and you look through some web pages on the tablets, it was remarkable just how pitiful some of the web pages looked.

You just, look like to check out counter like Wal-Mart, right, I mean there, just, there were products everywhere, and the content was, like, down to this, right? And when we're on a PC we'd almost trained our brains to be able to zoom in and see that, now you can't even see that. So, what we want to do, is create this beautiful reading experience, where we're not competing with the user's attention.

We are actually, we've got, what I consider to be a very sort of consistent business model with the user, which is, you pay us and we give you a clean reading experience, and we're not competing to try and push ads into the attention stream.

So, how is that working for you? How many downloads have you had, since you launched?

So, it's going, it's going well. It's going to, it is a, it is going to, our view is that this is going to take time and that it's over time where more and more people will see. As they start using the tablet, that having a experience which is a full-on reading experience that works online and offline, a lot of our users benefit from the fact that we cache, we pre cache stuff.

But what's well? Is well for you tens of thousands, is it hundreds of thousands?

You know if we can create... the myth of these massive sort of, millions of user businesses, those have to be monetized through advertising because you're monetizing a little little bit.

Right.

Right, and so getting to hundreds of thousands, a million users, I'd be very happy. That's a nice business.

How many paying subscribers do you want to be break even?

I want, I mean, I'd like to have millions of paying subscribers.

Yeah.

But, the point though, that you made, which is a good one,
Is Rupert happy with the progress that you've done on monetization?

So far, yeah.

Yeah?

Yeah, so far. Things are going very well for us.

You still have a job?

I still have a job. Things are going, things are going very well for us. And our audiences, to just follow On your point our audiences are very engaged. I mean you are talking about people that spend a half hour, you know, on average a day actually with the app and it's not just ours, this is what people are spending on, you know, engaged apps.

Especially apps that they pay for.

You know, if you pay some money for it, and I don't think either of us think that 99 cents is, you know, a tremendous amount of money to pay for content that you enjoy, and people spend a tremendous amount of time with advertisers love that. Advertisers love an audience that sits and spends a half hour a day looking at a product to serve them exactly what you were talking about, which is these sort of rich, magazine-like ads.

We're sort out of time, you have a product announce you want to do right? You add a new feature today?

You have a product announcement?

We do.

I didn't bring a product announcement.

Oh crap.

You know.

So we're launching today a feature which, if you sign up through either the email product, which is free, or you sign up through the iPad product, we actually showOn the products we show what are the stories which you clicked on that [xx] actually read yet today.

So like you described a few minutes ago the normal news saw the experience it's showing you what you could have read right, so it shows whats in our stream and now we are actually exposing what are the things
Its a better signal.

What are the things.

Can I see what they put on?

Absolutely.

It's a great signal.

Mike you put it.

So.

That's all from the Bitley data.

It's all from the Bitly data and so, you can actually see it on screen right now.

So s the email product, right, so what your friends read in the last twenty four hours, so you can see that, you know, Josh Arabeck just read something, about Tom something.

Right, so that's a strong statement.

Yes.

One last question, you're an investor in TweetDeck.

Yes.

Is that deal closed? The forty million dollars?

You know, it, I haven't looked at the press lately. I mean there' a lot of press on it. There's nothing to announce yet. I don't believe anything has been announced.

Nothing has been announce, but but you've written the story four times now so maybe you can get the extra story.

Are we, are we wrong?

Are we wrong?on which story?

You are many veran. You can't write the same thing four times.

How about the most recent one? The deal has been signed and the acquisition price is forty million dollars.

So I have no comment, we love TweetDeck, TweetDeck's a fabulous product. It's doing great, it's the pro experience for Twitter users, and Ian and the team and are going to figure out
what the right next step for TweetDeck whether it to stand independant or marry up with somebody.

Okay, well, please give a round of applause to Greg and to John and thank you very much for being with us. And next up we have Kevin Systrom and David Karp

At the “Disrupting Publishing from Tablets to Links” panel at TechCrunch Disrupt, ‘The Daily’ Publisher Greg Clayman revealed an interesting milestone about Rupert Murdoch’s foray into tablet publishing. When asked by editor Erick Schonfeld whether or not the iPad app was doing well, Clayman revealed that it has been downloaded close to a million times, in the sixty days since its launch on February 2nd. “This puts us in the large pantheon of large news apps … We are consistently now in the top grossing apps, in the top ten or top twelve. Today we’re number three” Clayman said.

The Daily started charging for its content on the 21st of March, with a $1 a week and $40 a year subscription model, which Clayman didn’t reveal any numbers on. He did however emphasize that The Daily’s model of original content could succeed in a tablet format, “There’s aggregators for people that are heavy users of Twitter and RSS and then there is editorial product, like TechCrunch. The Daily is an editorial product.”

You can watch the entire panel, above.



Since 2009 Kickstarter Funneled $60 Million To 24,000 Crowd-Funded Projects

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:12 AM PDT

Kickstarter started as a way for bands to fund projects without asking for money from Grandma. Now it’s the go-to site thousands any self-funded projects and the company recently surpassed the facilitating of $60 million in funding of random music albums, films, and gadgets created by ordinary people.

At TechCrunch Disrupt NYC John Biggs sat down with Kickstarter’s Yancey Stickler along with several successful Kickstarter gadget makers: Dan Provost from Glif and Cosmonaut, Rafael Atijas of the Loog, and Sean Bonner from Safecast. It was through the magic of Kickstarter that all these gadgets were funded and later created. It’s rather scary to think of a world without the Glif, right?

Read More



With 3.5 Billion Page Views A Month, CloudFlare’s Speed And Security Hit Your Apps

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:08 AM PDT

Speed and security are essential for the success of any website, so a free service that supercharges your site and protects it from those many web-born threats? Priceless. This is why CloudFlare was a runner-up at Disrupt SF last year, because it is attempting to bring speedy load times to the average site owner.

Though CloudFlare may not be the sexiest business in the world, it’s a service confronting a real problem, and for that very reason, nearly 12 percent of the Internet's users (approximately 50 million unique monthly visitors) passed through CloudFlare’s network since its launch in September, according to CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince. CloudFlare, he continued, has been providing a 40 percent performance boost on average, and has stopped nearly 1 billion attacks launched against its users' websites. Though the CEO did not specify what kind of attacks these are, the statistics (including 3.5 billion page views per month) are impressive nonetheless.

Today, at Disrupt NYC, CloudFlare announced plans to extend its security and speed boosting service to web apps. The new product, called CloudFlare Apps, is a service that makes installing web applications fast, safe and one-click-simple. Prior to CloudFlare Apps, using web apps required a website owner to change their code and, potentially, decrease performance and increase security risks as a result.

CloudFlare works with app providers to ensure CloudFlare Apps perform at full functionality and don’t create conflicts with other code. The best part? CloudFlare Apps are automatically updated to the latest version without the website owner needing to make a change. The service, which will begin rolling out June 1st, includes applications from VigLink, Clicky, Apture, Smartling, UserVoice, SnapEngage, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Central, and more.

CloudFlare is also announcing a second product called “Rocket Loader”, which will allow a user to sign up in 5 minutes, triple their site’s performance, protect it from attacks, and starts off … by being free. Oh yes. Free. In other words, Rocket Loader will automatically optimize the code on a user’s site so you can get app-like page load speeds. CloudFlare wanted to do something for apps that you won’t find in the app store and that is browser agnostic, so they created their own version of SPDY — for every web browser. In fact, Prince said that Rocket Loader was actually inspired in part by Google’s work on its SPDY protocol, as SPDY enables multiple resources to be served via a minimum number of network connections, it was a matter of applying it to CloudFlare’s tech, and making it universal.

CloudFlare Rocket Loader ensures websites load as fast as possible based on the device and code on the page, even if that code is pulled from a third party service. Third party services, like ad networks, the Facebook "Like" button, or the "Tweet" button have previously been performance-robbing speed drains, even if the site owner has optimized their own code.

CloudFlare is provisioned via DNS, meaning web admins are excused from having to add hardware, software, or change code to get the benefits of CloudFlare, including Rocket Loader. So, no longer will you have see that “waiting for…” text at the bottom of your browser, for your web apps or your websites.



Airbnb About To Launch Sublets As Service Is Exploding With Activity

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:29 AM PDT

Today at our TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky had some news to share on stage when talking to our own Erick Schonfeld. Apparently, Airbnb will be launching a new option, sublets, in the next few days.

Chesky didn’t dive into many details, but people will now be able to lease out their apartments for longer periods of time on the site (around 30 days). Airbnb has risen to prominence by allowing users to rent out their homes/apartments for short periods of time. Now they’re apparently expanding on that model, leveraging the popular site they’ve created.

Alongside that news, Chesky had some big numbers to share. Airbnb now has 60,000 listings active on the site (and 110,000 that have been created overall). This is doubling every few months. Meanwhile, bookings are up 40 or 50 percent every month, Chesky said.

Also notable, Chesky said they’ve been hiring 2 or 3 people a week. The team is over 85 people now. Not bad for a company that could not get funded in 2008 and resorted to creating fake cereal.

“In New York City alone, tonight we’ll provide more accommodations than any hotel,” Chesky said. Insane.

Erick joked that the most impressive stat he’s heard is the billion dollar valuation for Airbnb. “Can’t comment on that,” Chesky said with a smile.



Uber CEO: I Think I’ve Got 20,000 Years Of Jail Time In Front Of Me

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:11 AM PDT


Today at our TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky took the stage with our own Erick Schonfeld to talk about the disruption they’re offering up in their markets. Notably, both have products that are so disruptive that they have legal challenges from not just other companies, but governments (on the city and state level).

“I think I’ve got 20,000 years of jail time in front of me,” Kalanick half-joked when Schonfeld asked him about Uber’s highly publicized legal challenges (which actually made them change their name from UberCab). Kalanick came to that number because the city of San Francisco is threatening Uber with 90 days of jail time for every ride they offer. Oh, and there’s a several thousand dollar fine for each ride as well.

Obviously, Uber is fighting that threat. The state of California has also since threatened Uber.

Meanwhile, Chesky noted that New York City also raised issue with the basic Airbnb model. The issue really is that you’re not supposed to rent out your own space for more than 30 days (if you’re not a hotel, obviously). After a 500-person rally in support at NYC city hall, the city looked into the issue and realized that what Airbnb was doing was actually pretty interesting.

Chesky says that Airbnb just has to make sure people are renting out their primary residences and not working some loopholes to create de-facto hotels.



Millennial Media Acquires Mobile Data Startup Condaptive

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:46 AM PDT

Mobile ad network Millennial Media is making a purchase today— mobile data startup Condaptive. Condaptive’s technology focuses on audience formation and development through the innovative analysis of location and data. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Condaptive takes a deep data dive on location-based, mobile data. It’s focus is not just on where their customers are, but also on who they are and what they need. The startup’s platform allows developers to build build location and context aware applications.

Millennial, which just raised $27.5 million in new funding, says that audience formation within mobile is an area of key value for both developers and advertisers. Condaptive’s technology will help the company’s advertisers and developers deliver more relevant mobile experiences for consumers.

The full Condaptive team will be integrated into Millennial Media's Technology and Innovation Group; Condaptive Founder & CEO, Hemang Gadhia, will assume the position of Senior Vice President, Audience Intelligence for Millennial Media.

As one of the last (and largest) independent mobile ad networks, Millennial has been reportedly considering an IPO in the near future. The mobile ad space is highly competitive and clearly, Millennial is using some of its cash to help boost its own offerings. Last year the company acquired analytics startup TapMetrics.

As the company told us earlier this year, Millennial tripled revenue in 2010 from 2009 and achieved profitability. According to IDC research published last December, Millennial Media was on target to make $35 million in U.S. mobile advertising revenue for 2009, so revenues could be well over $100 million.



BuyWithMe Buys San Francisco Daily Deal Site Groop Swoop

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:42 AM PDT

On the heels of its recent acquisition of DealADayOnline in Chicago, BuyWithMe today announced that it has acquired Groop Swoop, a social commerce company focused on San Francisco. BuyWithMe rivals Groupon and LivingSocial in the United States, and currently offers daily deals in 13 cities nationwide.

The company says it expects to double its regional footprint by the end of this year.

Terms of the acquisition of Groop Swoop were not disclosed.



Google Commerce Chief: We’re Making A Huge Bet On NFC As A Company

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:35 AM PDT


Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt, editor Erick Schonfeld took the stage to interview Alex Rampell, TrialPay; Stephanie Tilenius, VP of Google Commerce and Payments, and Lewis Gersh, Metamorphic Partners; addressing online to offline mobile commerce. The panel was particularly interesting considering Google’s reported announcement regarding its near field communications and mobile payments service announcement this Thursday.

When asked about NFC and its potential, Tilenius said that the technology is an important opportunity for Android, telling the audience, “we’re making a big bet on it as a company. There is a lot of potential there.”

She added that there is a ton of activity around NFC in international markets, giving the example of a successful trial of the technology that Starbucks ran in London.

When Erick asked for confirmation of Google’s partnership with Citibank for its NFC platform, Tilenius declined to reveal any in-depth details but said it would be a partner announcement around mobile and local commerce.



The Top 10 VC Firms, According To InvestorRank

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:34 AM PDT

Any seasoned investor knows that past performance is not indicative of future returns. That is as true with public stocks as it is with venture capital firms. But if someone were to ask you to rank the top VC firms today based on their probability of success, how would you do it? Remember, looking at past returns won’t help you.

Chris Farmer, a VC at General Catalyst Partners, has come up with a method which he calls InvestorRank. Just as Google’s PageRank orders search results based on how many links each page gets from other sites, InvestorRank looks at the connections between VC firms. Whenever two VC firms co-invest in the same deal, that creates a bond between them. If one VC firm follows another one in a later round, that boosts the rank of the earlier investor.

The more that a VC firm invests in syndicates with other highly ranked firms or even before they do, the higher its InvestorRank. There is some research which suggests that mapping out the network of investors is a better way to predict performance. InvestorRank is not based on previous returns. Rather, it is based on how connected and trusted a VC firm is.

Today at TC Disrupt NYC, Farmer revealed the top 10 VC firms based on InvestorRank. They are:

  1. Andreessen Horowitz
  2. Sequoia Capital
  3. Accel
  4. Benchmark Capital
  5. Union Square Ventures
  6. General Catalyst Partners
  7. NEA
  8. Kleiner Perkins
  9. Khosla Ventures
  10. Greylock

What is interesting about this ranking is that not only is Andreessen Horowitz on top (a relatively new firm), but that Kleiner, perhaps the most storied VC firm of all, is near the bottom.  Union Square Ventures is smack dab in the middle at No. 5.

If you look at the top VC firms to emerge over just the past ten years, Andreessen Horowitz is still No. 1, but Union Square jumps to No. 2.  The full list is:

  1. Andreessen Horowitz
  2. Union Square Venture Partners
  3. General Catalyst Partners
  4. Khosla Ventures
  5. First Round Capital
  6. Spark Capital

Much of the data Farmer used to analyze investor networks comes from CrunchBase. Below is a deeper dive into the data for the top 15 VCs. It breaks down co-investors by class—top 10, top 25, top 50. The top firms (blue and purple) tend to stick together and invest in the same deals.

Historically, a small number of firms have been responsible for outsized returns. During the PC boom, 13 percent of the VC firms created 44 percent of the IPO value. By the time the Internet boom came around, only 4 percent of the top 50 VC firms captured 66 percent of the IPO value created. How many big winners will there be this time around?



TechCrunch Disrupt, Day 3, Livestreaming For You Right Here, Right Now

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:24 AM PDT

Hey, we’d love to hit 3 billion views today, too.

It’s the third day of TechCrunch Disrupt, and it just keeps getting better and better.

Tune into the event live below – you can check the agenda for the day right here.

You can also follow along by tracking the #TCDisrupt hashtag on Twitter.




YouTube Turns 6 Years Old, Daily Views Shoot Up To 3 Billion (Yes, 3 Billion. Daily.)

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:00 AM PDT

YouTube is celebrating its sixth birthday this month, and the Google subsidiary is doing it partly by sharing some big numbers that underscore its overwhelming dominance in the online video streaming space.

YouTube says global daily views have gone up 50 percent in the past 12 months, which means they currently handle a whopping 3 billion views per day.

To put that in some perspective: comScore said last week that the total U.S. Internet audience engaged in roughly 5.1 billion viewing sessions for the entire month of April 2011 (which also tells you something about YouTube’s global appeal).

Or as the company puts it in the announcement blog post:

"That's the equivalent of nearly half the world's population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day."

Also worth noting: YouTube says it has exceeded over 48 hours of video uploaded to the site every single minute (which, they add, represents a 100 percent increase year over year).

The company names three main reasons for this growth, citing an increase in live streaming events, longer upload times and also faster upload processing times.

According to comScore’s Video Metrix, YouTube ranked as the top online video content property in April (U.S. only) with 142.7 million unique viewers, followed by VEVO with 55.2 million viewers, Yahoo Sites with 53.2 million viewers and Facebook with 46.7 million viewers.

Also read these recent posts for more perspective:

Google Partners With Sony, Universal And Warner Brothers For YouTube Movies

Royal Wedding Viewed More Than 100M Times On YouTube

Citi: Google's YouTube Revenues Will Pass $1 Billion In 2012

comScore: 170 Million U.S. Internet Users Watched Online Video Last Month

YouTube Passes One Billion Subscriptions



GigaOm Raises Another $6 Million At $40 Million+ Valuation

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:00 AM PDT

Tech blog and research startup Giga Omni Media (GigaOm) has raised another $6 million in venture capital, on top of the $8.33 million previously raised. New investor Reed Elsevier Ventures led the round, with participation from previous investors True Ventures and Alloy Ventures.

The rumored valuation of the company, we’ve heard from sources, was over $40 million. They aren’t commenting on valuation.

This round is to help fuel growth of GigaOm’s research arm, which now has more than 20,000 subscribers and is “growing fast,” says founder Om Malik. Ten of the companies 41 employees are on reasearch full time. Malik says the number of research employees will grow rapidly in the near future.



TinyCo Launches $5 Million Fund To Invest In Casual Mobile Game Developers

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:58 AM PDT

Andreessen Horowitz-backed mobile gaming company TinyCo is launching a new $5 million investment fund, called the TinyFund, to help support mobile game developers.

TinyCo, which just raised $18 million in new funding, has created a number of popular, casual iOS games including hits Tiny Chef, Tiny Zoo and Tap Resort, which have all appeared on the Top 10 free games charts in the App Store. In total, TinyCo’s games have over 20 million downloads.

The TinyFund will give developers up $500,000 per title, to help create innovative, engaging games played on the iPhone, iPad or Android including paid and free titles. In addition, TinyCo will offer marketing, development and business assistance as needed. Funded games will also gain access to TinyCo’s userbase.

A fund is a virtuous way to give back to the game development community, and is certainly noble considering that the games developed could be competitive with TinyCo’s own titles. But if TinyCo believes in the potential virality of a particular game that it funded, the TinyFund will give the company the opportunity to poach the title and talent pretty easily.



Social Advertising Startup BuzzLogic Tries A New Business Model, Raises $7.8 Million

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:54 AM PDT

BuzzLogic says it is no longer an online monitoring company, and that it has pivoted to an “online media company that improves brand metrics and ROI through its media index and analytics platform”. I’m not quite sure what that means, but investors seem to believe in it.

BuzzLogic this morning announced that it has secured $7.8 million in a Series C round of funding led by Bridgescale Partners and joined by Adams Capital Management, investment banker Bob Colman, Bridge Bank (which provided debt funding) and others.

The funds will be used by BuzzLogic to introduce “new advertising products for today’s social and conversational web”, and to expand the company’s sales force.

BuzzLogic CEO Dave Hills attempts to explain what it is they do:

“BuzzLogic is a very different company than it was two years ago and growing revenues greater than 50 percent a quarter proves that.

Before we were helping brands understand what consumers were saying, now we’re helping brands engage with the consumers by activating media for them. Before we were listening. Now we’re listening and engaging at huge scale.”

So if I’m reading this correctly, they went from social media monitoring company to blog advertising network to a conversational media activator. I have no clue what that means either, but BuzzLogic says it basically wants to help large brands reach consumers online.

Which I figure used to be called, simply, Internet marketing.

To date, BuzzLogic's funding totals $28 million.



Soluto Now Helps You Lighten Your Web Browser And Heal All Application Crashes

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:47 AM PDT

You may remember TechCrunch Disrupt winner Soluto, which helps bring an end to PC user frustration from printing problems, annoying add-ons, apps that crash, resource hogs, and those frustrating applications that randomly cause your mouse to become useless for a few seconds at a time. As we’ve written in the past, the advantage to using Soluto (which is focused purely for the PC) is that the SaaS records which applications were running at the time of the hiccup, and analyzes low-level events to track things users aren't even aware of, like which applications are competing for memory. Today, the company is launching an iteration of its software, which includes a browser product and application crashing product, that makes its even more powerful.

Basically, once downloaded, Soluto analyzes your PC, suggests numerous fixes, including 'like omitting certain applications from your bootup. It can show you your computer's speed over time, mapping out when you installed a certain application — so you can see what led to the problem.

Soluto takes user-submitted data from its application and uses it to figure out which software works best on each computer. It can identify which hardware has had issues with which software. It can also help you pick out software that runs well on the specific model of PC you're using, based on other users.

As we wrote above, Soluto allows you to discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to improve this experience by disabling these applications.

Today, the company is launching a tool for your browser that will show you which toolbars, add-ons and plug-ins are on your browser, what they do, and what they look like. With a single click you can remove unneeded ones. It also lets you revert back to your search provider of choice (Yahoo, Bing or Google) in case it was ‘hijacked’ by other software. The new tool will also show you what percentage of users removed each add-on or toolbars so users can determine if it makes sense to remove the plugun.

Another addition to the Soluto product changes the way you experience application crashes (that is, when applications unexpectedly 'die' and prompt Windows to send ‘Crash Report’ dialogs). Soluto analyzes application crashes against tens of millions of crashes already collected, and finds solutions to prevent them from recurring.

While some application crashes don’t have a solution, Soluto will show you what probably caused the crash and allows you to send in a form so that Soluto can possible crowdsource the answer to the problem. This anonymous technical data is gathered and sent to Soluto’s PC Genome, a knowledgebase containing statistical insights about PC software and hardware behavior, as well as remedies to alleviate PC usage frustrations.

Soluto, which is free, has had 2 million downloads since the company debuted its product to the public last year. And that’s without any real marketing or advertising for the software. What makes the application so successful is that it is incredibly easy to use, even for those with limited technical knowledge. Next up, the company says it will be tackling other platforms (Mac OS, please?), including mobile.



Young Entrepreneurs Rule – Meet Peter Thiel’s First “20 Under 20″ Thiel Fellows

Posted: 25 May 2011 03:26 AM PDT

Well-known tech executive turned high-profile investor Peter Thiel, former PayPal CEO and an early backer of Facebook, this morning announced the appointment of the first 24 Thiel Fellows.

These are remarkable young entrepreneurs and creative minds that, as inaugural members of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, will pursue “innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow”.

During a two-year tenure, each of them will receive $100,000 from the Thiel Foundation as well as mentorship from Peter Thiel’s obviously impressive network of people.

Originally, the organization planned to award only twenty fellowships, but James O'Neill, who heads the Thiel Foundation, says the number of outstanding candidates far exceeded their expectations. Below are the names of the 24 ‘chosen ones’, who were selected from more than four hundred people – all younger than twenty – who applied to be Thiel Fellows.

I’m not including their bios as it would make this post a bit long, but do yourself a favor and check out these extraordinary youngsters here.

BIOTECH: Laura Deming, Darren Zhu and Alexander Kiselev

CAREER DEVELOPMENT: Daniel Friedman, Paul Gu, Eric McKay and Dale Stephens

ECONOMICS & FINANCE: Jeffrey Lim and Faheem Zaman

EDUCATION: Nick Cammarata, David Merfield, Andrew Hsu and John Marbach

ENERGY: Tom Currier, Jim Danielson, Eden Full and Sujay Tyle

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: James Proud, Christopher Rueth, Ben Yu and Sebastien Zany

MOBILITY: Gary Kurek

ROBOTICS: David (Jiageng) Luan

SPACE: John Burnham

I’d wager they’re all in for a life-changing, two-year experience that will be hard to match.

Or do you think they should go to school instead? Discuss.



Gootip: You Know What’s Hipper Than Hipster? Actually Launching

Posted: 25 May 2011 03:03 AM PDT

You know what's hipper than Hipster? Actually launching. OK, that's not quite what the three-person team behind new local Q&A site Gootip said but it's true that this tiny French startup launched this week has got their product out in the wild in full before their US-based rival. Ignoring the host of other location-based Q&A offerings, Gootip is also keen to point out that it isn't a Hipster clone and that the company started work on their product before the Hipster buzz. Unlike Hipster, Gootip hasn't taken funding either.


Tumblr Revamps ‘Directory’ To Better Surface Great Content (Video)

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:43 AM PDT

Exclusive - In a conversation with TechCrunch writer Jason Kincaid after his panel on scaling fast-growing Internet businesses, Tumblr CEO David Karp talks not only about his lazy dog but also some new product developments that should be going live right about now.

In short, Tumblr has given Directory, where people looking for great content on the network have had the chance to find their fix for years now, a decent upgrade.

As Karp says, Tumblr Directory as a source for unique content and users on Tumblr blogs has gone through a lot of iterations over the years, going all the way back to the introduction of something called ‘Tumblarity’ in May 2009. The biggest problem so far has been finding a way to prevent people from gaming the system.

The new Tumblr Directory is based on two main pillars:

On one side, the startup has developed algorithms to suggest people and blogs to users based on a ton of metrics, and on the other side there will be some sort of editorial spotlight with Tumblr staffers suggesting content that “really stands out”, helped by community activity.

At the rate Tumblr’s been growing, the discovery of great content is certainly going to become harder over time, so let’s hope for the Tumblr community that the new Directory helps obliterate eventual issues with gaming the system for solid content recommendations.

To be perfectly frank, I have no idea if the new Tumblr Directory is already live (Karp mentioned it should be going live “in the next few hours” at some point during the interview) but here’s a screenshot I just took:



Brightpearl Scores Further $5M For Its Cloud-based Solution For SMEs

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:34 AM PDT

Brightpearl, which provides a cloud-based integrated suite of applications for SMEs, has secured $5 million in Series A funding from Notion Capital and Eden Ventures. Both VC firms have previously backed the Bristol, UK-based startup to the tune of $1.5m. Founded in 2007 by Chris Tanner, Brightpearl's pitch to SMEs is that its SaaS helps take away the pain of implementing information systems and lets business owners get on with actually running their business. The new investment will be used by the company to expand faster in the U.S. and other markets and further its cloud offering that includes accounting, CRM, order and stock management, ecommerce and helpdesk capability.


Ex-MySQL, Nokia Execs Close $60 M Fund For Europe-Focused VC Firm Open Ocean

Posted: 25 May 2011 01:18 AM PDT

Exclusive - Open Ocean, a recently established venture capital firm co-founded by the investors who closed the $1 billion sale of MySQL to Sun Microsystems, has just finalized its Fund Three with approximately $60 million (40 million euros) in capital in the first closing, TechCrunch has learned.

The fund kicks off the first widespread outreach from the former MySQL and Nokia team members to founders and startups primarily based in Europe; the focus of the new fund will be squarely on community and open source software ventures.

Open Ocean's strategy is to start investments at approximately $1 million – with additional performance-based rounds totaling up to $8 million – usually translating to a 10-40% stake in portfolio companies. The target size for the fund is $80 million (60 million euros).

Current investments include SkySQL, WOT, MoSync and Ironstar Helsinki.

The firm is led by partners Patrik Backman, Ralf Wahlsten (who both previously worked for MySQL) and former Nokia executive Tom Henriksson, as well as Michael "Monty" Widenius, the original developer of the MySQL database and co-founder of MySQL.

Good news for the European startup ecosystem.

For your further reading pleasure:

MySQL founders invest in Swedish mobile tech startup Mobile Sorcery (Sept 2009)

Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos Joins Benchmark As EIR (Sept 2009)

Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos joins Index Ventures as EIR (Jan 2010)



Ron Conway: ‘New York Tech Is Here To Stay’

Posted: 25 May 2011 12:47 AM PDT

Today, at Disrupt NYC, CEO & Co-founder of Hunch Chris Dixon, Ron Conway of SV Angel, CEO of Betaworks John Borthwick, Managing Partner of High Line Ventures Shana Fisher , and former CEO of The Huffington Post Eric Hippeau took to the stage to discuss the current entrepreneurial landscape in New York and how it’s changed in recent years.

Ron Conway began the discussion by referencing a fairly dramatic change in his own portfolio of companies, saying that only 5 percent of his portfolio was based in NYC 5 years ago, whereas today, that number has grown to 20 percent. He attributed the growing success of NYC as a tech hub to the fact that the city is today seeing the founding of second and third generation companies, which indicates a growing level of maturity (and experience), as well as a stability of the city’s overall startup network, that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

When asked whether NYC now has enough momentum to survive through another down-cycle or bubble crash, which arguably the NYC startup scene of 10 years ago was lacking, Conway said that the difference today is that New York startups have “real business models” and that those companies are building audiences quickly and are monetizing — which is the best insurance policy against a bursting bubble or a significant downturn.

On the other hand, while the global financial crisis of 2008 wreaked havoc on the national economy, and particularly crippled our credit and financial systems (most of which is based in New York), it may have had an upside for startups — even if it is a silver lining.

Eric Hippeau explained that NYC startups’ biggest competition for talent has traditionally come from high paying jobs. Typically, those high paying jobs can be found in financial services, on Wall Street, or in New York’s massive media market. But, because of the dissolution of high profile investment banks and the struggles of traditional media over the last few years, New York businesspeople are discovering that, instead of waiting in line for the next high paying job, they are eschewing corporate environments and opting to start their own companies. “The number of people trying this is gigantic”, he said, “especially compared to the ’90′s — or even ten years ago”.

John Borthwick added that, because New York has always been a fertile ground for media companies, the first wave of web startups in NYC (reflecting the industry as a whole) became “intoxicated” with media services. Yet, 20 or 30 percent of their revenues (proportionally very high) would go to billboards and pushing into traditional forms of media, rather than building infrastructure or innovative, social platforms. Which simply isn’t happening as much today he said. In line with Conway’s assertion, this is due in part to the “bench strength” of second and third generation entrepreneurs and startups. “It’s remarkable how quickly it’s snowballed” he said of innovation in NYC.

Hippeau also attributed the change in the NYC landscape to the current perception that there is “real capital” this time around. Comparatively, in the early 2000s, there were few angel investors and hardly any VC firms based in New York, he said, and West Coast professionals weren’t flying to New York, or collaborating with New York startups. Today, that’s changed, he said, as there is a solid professional angel community and VCs are well-established.

Dixon then cited the recent announcement that Lehrer Ventures would be partnering with SV Angel as a corroborating example of the escalation in cross-continental collaboration. “There’s no longer the animosity between the 2 coasts that there once was, and there’s far more collaboration”, Hippeau agreed.

While the panel collectively agreed that NYC is in a far better position in terms of available capital, a networked community, and a maturity of entrepreneurial talent, Shana Fisher posed an interesting caveat. Until Facebook has a real presence in New York, she said, NYC won’t quite be able to compete top-down with Silicon Valley. Though Google has established a presence, Facebook has yet to claim offices in NYC.

So, with the proliferation of startups building companies based on Facebook’s platform, she sad, without that close connection and ease of communication that they would have were Facebook to have a presence in New York, there’s just not quite the same access or, really, quality in NYC’s social businesses.

Dixon then added that he had talked to Chris Hughes (a co-founder of Facebook), and that he had echoed similar sentiments, saying that, the tipping point would truly be reached (presumably in perception as much as in reality) for the NYC startup and tech scene were Facebook — or the next big web company — to come to Manhattan.

All in all, it was a very interesting discussion, and contained some very positive outlooks for NYC — even rallying points — for New York startups. (Though some might call it spin.) The whole video is below, so be sure to check it out:



Introducing Your TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield Finalists

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:04 PM PDT

Thirty new startups have battled it out in front of a live audience and judges over two days at TechCrunch Disrupt: New York. Tomorrow at 3:30 EST six of those startups will show their stuff again in front of a new set of judges. One of them will take home the Disrupt Cup and $50,000 in cash.

These are the finalists, in alphabetical order, based on judges’ scoring:

1. Billguard (Israel) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video)

2. ccLoop (San Francisco) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video)

3. Do@ (Israel) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video)

4. Getaround (San Francisco) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video)

5. InvoiceASAP (New Orleans) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video) (audience choice/startup alley)

6. Sonar (New York) (Crunchbase) (launch post/video)



Amazon Fires Back With $164 Kindle 3G With Offers

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:05 PM PDT

Amazon is now offering the Kindle 3G, originally $190, for $164 with “offers.” This new version integrates 3G wireless alongside Wi-Fi, something the new Nook pointedly does not have. This new version will also include offers aka advertisements, allowing you to see a bit of flimflammery with your regularly scheduled ebook.

The Kindle Wi-Fi with offers costs $114, twenty dollars less than the Wi-Fi Nook. Both are available now.

Read more…



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