Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Box.net Ups The Ante Against Microsoft With In-Depth Google Docs Integration

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Cloud storage and collaboration startup Box.net is upping the ante against competitor Microsoft SharePoint today with the launch of an in-depth integration with Google’s productivity suite Google Docs and Spreadsheets directly within the platform. Essentially, the integration allows for users to create, update and collaborate on Google docs within the Box platforms.

Box, which has 6 million users and stores 300 million documents, is a cloud storage platform for the enterprise that comes with collaboration, social and mobile functionality. Box has evolved into more than just a fils storage platform, and has become a full-fledged collaborative application where businesses can actually communicate about document updates, sync files remotely, and even add features from Salesforce, Google Apps, NetSuite, Yammer and others.

Considering that most businesses that use Box are storing documents and spreadsheets on the cloud, the ability to actually create and edit these documents from within Box makes a lot of sense. And CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie says that most of the businesses using Box are Google Apps users. See our TechCrunch TV interview with Levie discussing the news below.

With the integration, all Box users can can apply Google's real-time, concurrent editing to the more than 50 million Word and Excel files already stored on Box, and also create Google Docs and Spreadsheets directly within Box folders. Users can then share these files with other Box users, view document updates in Box's real-time activities feed, and leverage Box collaboration tools like commenting and tasks. Box is using Google Apps’ core API for the integration.

Box, which just raised $48 million in new funding, sees this functionality as an alternative to Microsoft’s cloud document platform, Microsoft Office 365, which will come out of beta next week. Clearly teaming up with Google is part of Box’s strategy to gain marketshare from Microsoft SharePoint

Levie tells us the integration makes sense considering that many Google Apps customers are already familiar and comfortable with the cloud. So there is a lot of crossover in user base. But I also wonder if this integration will be able to draw additional users (perhaps Microsoft customers).

Levie also doesn’t seem to be too worried about Apple’s foray into iCloud, telling us jokingly that ‘Jobs is jealous of our business model.’ He explains further ‘We think it’s going to be a very powerful application for iOS devices, but it will be a challenge to extend it beyond the Apple ecosystem.’ Levie says that Box offers functionality on the iPhone, Android, PC, Mac and iPad.



MindJolt Taps Former Google, MySpace Mobile Exec To Lead SGN Studio

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:59 AM PDT

As we reported in April, MindJolt, the game distribution company that was acquired by MySpace founder and former CEO Chris DeWolfe, bought Social Gaming Network (SGN). SGN’s founder Shervin Pishevar recently announced his move to the venture world, joining Menlo Ventures as a partner. Today MindJolt is announcing a new head of SGN’s social mobile game development studio—seasoned mobile vet Ulf Waschbusch.

For background, SGN creates a number of popular games for iPhone and Android devices and social platforms like Facebook. SGN’s hit online and mobile games (which have seen 30 million downloads to date), include Mini Tycoon Casino, F.A.S.T., and Skies of Glory. MindJolt bought SGN to create a cross-platform game distribution empire, and SGN brought a solid set of mobile titles and technology and a number of talented engineers.

Waschbusch has held senior mobile product roles for Google, MySpace and T-Mobile, most recently serving as Chief Product Officer at Garena, one of the largest gaming community platforms with more than 60-million registered users.

At Google, he was Mobile Marketing Product Manager. As a sidenote, back in 2008, Waschbusch publicly criticized Google’s Android platform. He claimed phone's physical design hasn't changed in 2.5 years, and called it ‘ugly and old fashioned.’

And of course, DeWolfe has prior experience working with Waschbusch at MySpace, where he helped lead mobile product development.

Mobile is definitely a key component of DeWolfe’s strategy for MindJolt’s expansion. In April, DeWolfe told us that the gaming studio would be partnering with with movie studios and entertainment companies to create cross-platform branded, game titles. As gaming on smartphones heats up, mobile is a big part of this plan.



Want A 90% Drop In Site Visitors? Yes Folks, You Too Can Implement EU Cookie Law!

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:47 AM PDT

Fancy a 90% drop in website visitors? This amazing offer could be yours thanks to a wonderful new law about cookies from EU regulators. Yes folks, the people who brought you regulations about the bend in a banana are back!

The new law applies to all EU websites and requires website owners to get a user’s consent before cookies are saved onto a device.

Guess what that means? It means putting something like this on your site:

This is exactly what the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has done on its own site. Thus over 90% of site visitors have declined to accept a Google Analytics cookie, thereby disappearing from their analytics, writes marketing site Chinwag. Awesome!



RIM, You’re Done Here

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:10 AM PDT

Research In Motion is done. They’ll be bought in the next year or so, their products will roll into whoever buys them – Microsoft, most probably – and they’ll go the way of Nokia, Danger, and countless other mobile platforms. They’ll exist independently for a while and then be subsumed. It’s over.

Here’s why.

Read more…



Loopt Turns The Daily Deals Game On Its Head With U-Deals

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:00 AM PDT

Mobile social network Loopt is turning on the revenue streams by going after the daily deal space. It already partnered with Groupon to show users nearby Groupon Now deals via notifications, but today it is launching its own twist on daily deals. Loopt is calling them U-Deals.

Instead of going out and getting a large inventory of deals at local merchants, U-Deals lets users request their own deals. And they try to rally their friends and other people to support the deal as well through Facebook, Twitter, email, and whatnot. Once a deal hits a tipping point, then Loopt will contact the business and request the deal. This will require a sales force, but not one as big as a traditional daily deal provider. “One of the things we like about this is that it’s neither self-serve nor a pure sales force model,” says Loopt CEO Sam Altman. “In our beta testings, businesses respond well to a phone call like ‘we have a check for $2000 and 100 new customers for you if you agree to this deal.’”

Loopt is working in partnership with ChompOn, a white-label daily deals platform that launched at TechCrunch Disrupt last year. A New York City-based startup called Ringleadr that is about to launch is also targeting the reverse-deals concept.

In order for this to work, Loopt needs to get enough deals requested and then turned on. “Liquidity is certainly the key issue,” admits Altman. Also, local commerce is a hard nut to crack. U-Deals has the advantage of being an easy sell, as Altman says. Loopt is basically coming these small businesses with pre-qualified sales. But many of them have probably never heard of Loopt. (“Is that like Groupon?”) My guess is he will need a larger salesforce than he expects, and that’s if he’s successful. Are people even looking for deals inside Loopt?

Here is the big issue with this model. The people who say they want a deal at a restaurant or store are probably already customers of that merchant. The appeal of daily deals for local merchants is to get new customers in the door. It’s customer acquisition. Where Loopt can make this work is if the people who initially request the deals can convince other people who aren’t already existing customers to buy in.



Songkick Hits 100,000 Downloads Of Its iPhone App Inside Two Weeks

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:00 AM PDT

So, one normally judges high growth in consumer apps by traction early on. Instagram, which is killing it lately, had 100,000 downloads in one week. Soundtracking has the same inside two weeks.

Adding to this roster is Songkick, which is telling us they’ve had 100,000 downloads of their new iPhone app – which lets you find gigs around you – in the first 2 weeks since we broke the launch of the app two weeks ago [iTune link].



Shazam Raises A Huge Round To The Tune of $32 Million

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 07:45 AM PDT

Shazam, the application that lets you identify nearly any piece of recorded music by holding your smartphone within earshot of a speaker, is swinging for the fences: the company has just raised a new $32 million funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from DN Capital.

Shazam surged to popularity on the iPhone and is now also available on Android, Java, BlackBerry, Windows, and Symbian, and has been used by nearly 150 million people since the application launched. And its growth isn’t showing any signs of waning: the company says that it’s seen weekly installs double over the course of the last year, and that users are now tagging four million songs per day.

But music is only the beginning for the company — next, they’re taking on television.

Through a program aptly titled Shazam for TV, the company is working with select partners including MTV, NBCUniversal, and various advertisers to integrate Shazam with their content. TV shows are prompting users to ‘Shazam’ a certain segment by firing up the app and holding it up toward screen, and ads are beginning to do the same (see the video below for some demos).

Once the app recognizes what the viewer is watching, it can present them with any number of things: information about the scene they’re watching, special deals, and other related content. Shazam isn’t the only one using this kind of technology, though — a startup called Intonow also does something similar, and just twelve weeks after it launched, Yahoo acquired the company.

Given the traction Shazam for TV has gotten already it seems like content providers are happy with the results (after all, it isn’t trivial for them to actually embed the ‘Shazam this!’ prompt during a show). I’m curious to see if it lasts: there’s obviously a novelty factor at play, and eventually users are going to expect compelling content each time they ‘Shazam’ a show or commercial. If they’re just getting ads, they’ll probably stop doing it.




What Does A Russian Startup Look Like? Just Like One In The Valley

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 07:15 AM PDT

Russia’s startup scene is still growing but with a potential market size of 170 million users in the next 18 months, it’s white hot. There remain hurdles – like payment mechanisms and door-to-door delivery in a market known for corruption in the postal servce. But these are gradually being eroded by entrepreneurs.

Yesterday I had lunch with a VC who hits Moscow once a month now, such is the potential for even ‘normal’ business models like old fashioned e-commerce. Meanwhile, there are lots of categories in Russia waiting to be filled and one of them is travel.

Ostrovok.ru is still being built right now, and remains in private beta. Its aim is simple – to be the most convenient online hotel reservation platform for Russian users.



You Can Now Turn Your Own Computer Into A Pogoplug

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 06:59 AM PDT

Pogoplug is today releasing new software that basically turns any PC or Mac into a Pogoplug device, no additional hardware required.

The software could be useful to stream pictures, music or movies to another computer or a mobile device (Android, iPhone, iPad, etc.), and since multiple devices can be linked to a single account, you can access files from any of them individually or see all the files across multiple computers in a single screen (called One View).

Access to all your files (to download them remotely or share them with others), and also the streaming of photos to any device, is free with the software. To stream music or movies, however, you’l need a premium upgrade ($29.00 fee). One purchase of a Pogoplug Premium software license can be installed on all computers tied to a single account.

In essence, Pogoplug’s new software can turn your personal computer into a personal cloud storage device, with no additional hardware required. This is, needless to say, a very crowded space to operate in what with Dropbox, iCloud, Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive and the plethora of alternative cloud storage services out there.

The company behind Pogoplug, Cloud Engines, was founded in 2007 and currently has 50 employees. The company has raised a total of $25 million in funding to date, from investors like Foundry Group, Softbank Capital and Morgan Stanley.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with a satellite office in Tel Aviv.



Virtualization And Cloud Security Startup Bromium Raises $9.2M From Andreessen Horowitz And Others

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 06:58 AM PDT

In March we wrote about new Andreessen Horowitz partner Peter Levine’s first investment for the fund in Bromium, a stealthy startup that was at the intersection of "security and virtualization.” Today Bromium is formally announcing the funding and merging from stealth with more details about its business.

The virtualization and cloud security company has closed a $9.2 million series A round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Founded by Gaurav Banga, Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt, Bromium is focused on the delivery of infrastructure products that allow enterprises to safely adopt consumerization and cloud computing.

Bromium says that now more than ever enterprise data faces security risks with the growth of new devices and application access as well as the increasing mobility within businesses. But cloud computing also leaves enterprise data and applications vulnerable to attack. Bromium's technology promises to bring a more trustworthy computing infrastructure to enterprises who want to move to the cloud.

And Bromium’s founders combined have a considerable amount of experience in virualization and the cloud. Banga was previously CTO and SVP, Engineering at Phoenix Technologies. Crosby was formerly Citrix’s CTO of the Data Center and Cloud Division. And Pratt was the vice president of advanced products in the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix.

Bromium says that its product will debut in the second half of 2011.



On Bubbles … And Why it Will All be Fine

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 06:50 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 his Startup BlogBothSidesoftheTable.

I recently spoke at the Founder Showcase at the request of Adeo Ressi. I asked what the audience most needed to hear and he said, “They need an unbiased view of the fund raising environment because there is too much misinformation and everything seems to be changing fast.”

This was an audience of mostly first-time entrepreneurs. They have seen one side of a market where many of us have seen the ebb and flow multiple times. Still, market amnesia by ordinarily rational actors always surprises me.

I spoke about a lot of things during the keynote. If you are interested the Vimeo is here. I spoke about whom to raise capital from (funding options), how much I thought they should consider raising (18-24 months), how fast they should spend it (lean until product/market fit, then fat when they’re ready to scale), how fast they should raise it (now, now, now) and at what valuation (at a fair price that I call “the top end of normal“).

I spoke about how Amazon Web Services deserves far more credit for the last 5 years of innovation than it gets credit for and how I believe they spawned the micro-VC category. I said that I felt that Micro-VCs were the most important change in our industry. I believe that. It is great for entrepreneurs and great for VCs.  I will write more about this in the next 2 weeks.

I also spoke about why I believe we’re in a “localized” bubble. I suppose I should have imagined that this line would get more press than all other comments combined. Fair enough.

But a certain amount gets lost in the headlines – especially when not everybody actually heard the video and knows the nuance of the message.

So here is what I have been telling entrepreneurs privately for the past 6 months.

1. Why I believe we’re in a bubble
People get too worked up over the word. I’m no great scholar on bubbles – I have more interesting things to spend my time worrying about than the exact definition, but having been around a few I have at least given them intellectual consideration. I know that most people who are close to them tend to deny their existence, as we saw in the great housing bubble of 2002-2007 and the dot com bubble of 1997-2000.

I believe a bubble occurs when a market is willing to pay greater than intrinsic value for an asset class. That asset class need not represent the broader market. As any historian of bubbles will tell you – there were periods of bubbles in assets as arcane as tulips, South American trading companies, dot-com bubbles & housing bubbles. They are often bound by geographies and asset classes. But they also often have a rippling effect on broader markets as all of our economies seem to be intertwined these days. I said that at the Founder Showcase, too.

The fact that today’s Internet bubble does not represent all companies does not disprove its existence.

Ah, but today’s Internet companies have real revenue! and profits! Sure, that makes them better companies than those of 12 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that people are paying rational prices as investors based on intrinsic value. Rational people can disagree and some may argue that today’s prices are rational and under-pinned by economic drivers. That’s fine. It’s just not my judgment based on the data I see.

In the past I have publicly commented on some specific companies that seemed over valued. Responses ranged from, “hey, they’re in a HUGE market” to “it is an amazing company and their technology rocks.” Sure. But everything has intrinsic value. And you may choose to overpay hoping that the future value will be worth your while. That doesn’t mean it’s not a bubble. It’s like people arguing that there’s a beautiful beach house in 2006 that represents great long-term value due to scarcity of similar property. All of that might be true, but the 2006 price might still be over-valued

What I believe is happening is that private-market investors are getting ahead of themselves for fear of FOMO: fear of missing out. If you are an early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Tumblr, GroupOn, LivingSocial, etc. – you’re very well positioned as a fund. I guess that makes USV, Spark Capital, Foundry Group, Accel, Benchmark, Revolution (along with several others) pretty happy right now. And well they should be.

But this mania to not miss out on the next big thing is driving some investors to pay growth-equity prices for traditional market risk (as in, they’re paying up before it is clear there is product / market fit). And so on down then line.

In addition to FOMO it is partly driven by massive increase in valuations for earlier-stage companies who raised money at bit seed prices but who still have product risk. If a company that would traditionally raise $500k at a $3.5 million pre-money valuation is now raising $1 million at a $12 million valuation the next investor has nowhere to go but up (or sit out the investment). Just because the valuation in absolute terms isn’t a big difference does not mean that people aren’t paying higher than intrinsic value for these investments.

And this is happening in mezzanine (pre-IPO) deals as well. And post IPO deals, although these tend to correct more quickly.

Why does all this matter?

2. There are fewer big deals than people imagine
If everybody is over-paying for early-to-mid stage deals you’d imagine that these all need to feed into a frenzied M&A and IPO market that will garner big returns for these risks investors are taking. Perhaps this will trend up massively but historical data doesn’t bode well.

source: Capital IQ

In any given year there are about 50 venture-backed companies or so that are bought for $100 million or more. And for many of these they were (over) funded 7-10 years ago and don’t necessarily all represent great returns for investors or founders. I would guess (I don’t have the data) that less than 5 companies / year are purchased above $100 million that have been funded within 5 years of the being started and have raised less than $10-15 million in capital.

And as you probably guessed the data aren’t any better on IPOs with less than 20 / year average for the past 10 years. Yes, everybody expects a continued uptick given the euphoria of  LinkedIn & Pandora and long anticipated Facebook, Zynga, GroupOn and one day, Twitter. But it’s not enough to justify over-paying for deals.

source: Capital IQ

3. What a bubble means for each entrepreneur
To anybody who asks my advice I repeat the same line, “I don’t know whether this party will last 6 weeks, 6 months or 18 months. But it will end. And when it does the market will shut off immediately. Investors will focus only on protecting existing deals. They will enter the “triage phase” of the market where they figure out which of their existing deals will survive. Many good companies will not get funded. New investors hate down rounds. Vultures will start circling looking for deals. Get funded now, if you can.”

Note: I did not say, “funding is easy” as some people have quoted me. I said, “It’s much easier now than it was in 2008/09.” That’s a fact. And for some it is actually easy. For others it feels like a two-speed economy, where rules apply to hot tech startups that don’t apply elsewhere. Huge structural under-employment in much of the country and full employment in some niche tech markets where it’s impossible to hire developers, designers or sales professionals. You know what I’m talking about. You feel it, too. It’s surreal.

So I’m not advocating panic or a need to rush your funding round. I just think that some entrepreneurs try to “optimize” too much for short-term prices. They hope to delay fund raising (or only raise small amounts now) so that they can raise at a much bigger price later. That may happen.

That’s the problem – you never know when the party’s over. And time is the enemy of all deals so start sooner rather than later, as anybody who was planning to raise in October 2008 will tell you.

And for some that means that despite waiting they may see worse valuations in the future than now. Or worse yet they may never get financed. That happened a lot in 2002 and again in 2008.

I tell people to raise money when you can, but don’t ramp up your spending in a crazy way afterward. Have a cushion. Raise at “the top end of normal” but not so high that future financings in a corrected market become impossible.

4. Bubbles are inevitable
I guess it’s an inevitable process that we seem to go through where markets heat up, get euphoric & irrational and then external market drivers remind us all at once that we were being irrational as a market. We go through our “Bear Stearns moment.” I learned long ago at the University of Chicago where I got my MBA that investors tend to want to invest when markets become over-valued and sell when they become undervalued. Exactly the opposite of what a rational investment strategy would advise.

Why?

In a booming market your investment is worth more than you paid almost instantly. You come in at a $10 million price and somebody else invests at $50 million 6 months later. Feels good.

In contrast, when the market is falling, by definition your investment is worth less THE DAY AFTER you have invested. In a public market this is measured immediately. You are “catching a falling knife.” You have to have patience, which is hard when you see red. So people sell or at least don’t invest.

Some people argue that we’re not in a bubble because the prices are not as crazy or as inflated as they were in the late 90′s. That may be. It may also be that this lasts another 18 months. But when it’s all over and they define the era of this mini run up in stock prices I suspect they’ll include 2011 in the “over valued” category.

5. Good things may come out of bubbles
Bubbles are not all bad. There are great societal benefits that sometimes come out of bubbles. One example is that the telecom bubble of the late 90′s left both the US and the international markets with a greatly expanded footprint of fiber-optic cables laid at the expense of many an over-zealous investor and entrepreneur. I can’t argue that this is better than slow, rational growth. I only point out that there are side benefits of the bursts of energy, enthusiasm and investment dollars.

And the bursting of bubbles isn’t bad for everybody. Those with strong business models suddenly stand out when the tide goes out. An obvious example is Google who may have gotten less market attention if there would have been 8 well-financed competitors during the 2001-2005 timeframe. Or Salesforce.com who rose to prominence in this same period where they were ramping up PR and shouting from mountain tops when everybody else in the market was mute.

6. Why the bad side of bubbles affects entrepreneurs & investors alike
Another misconception of bubbles is that they only hurt investors. That’s not true. When you’re building a startup and can’t hire the engineers you need, can’t retain staff, can’t get press coverage and can’t hire sales people – it certainly affects you. When your competition does irrational things to grow fueled by low-cost capital it makes it harder for you to compete by playing by the conventional rules.

I remember in the late 90′s trying to charge fair prices for software when my well-financed competitors were giving things away for free.

7. Why the bursting of bubbles also affects more than investors
I also point out that bursting of bubbles also affects us all. Sometimes callous observers say, “Who cares if some VCs lose money in a bubble?”

Um …

  • many people also lose their jobs when bubbles burst
  • some founders lose their life savings
  • people who poured their hearts into projects see their efforts vanish over night
  • customers who paid for services often get burned
  • many ancillary businesses (legal, real estate, services) are affected
  • and those VCs are actually investing money from places like state pension funds & university endowments

Trust me, we’re all hurt when bubbles burst. Just think about how you felt the impact of the real estate bust even if you didn’t own property or if you bought well before 2006/07. This market will be the same.

8. The road ahead

I’m not an alarmist person, I’m rational. The sky isn’t falling. There are many things to be encouraged about.

I see opportunities for disruption all around me and am meeting amazingly talented entrepreneurs. I’m looking for ones that understand that in order to build huge, meaningful companies they’ll need to likely build through these boom years and some lean ones. When I find people like that it’s great chemistry.

When I look at the headwinds we face as a country and as a society they are also big. This concerns me about the growth rates we can anticipate for the next 5 years.

I’ve wrote about this 9 months ago. If you want a more detailed analysis see that post. Nothing has changed in my mind since then but it does go to show how difficult it can be to predict the timing of economic impacts. In economics we call these “exogenous events” and if they happen (Greek debt crisis, problems raising the US debt ceiling, trouble in Saudi Arabia) – you will not be shielded.

That said, for every set of global challenges there are entrepreneurs dreaming of solutions, solving big problems and ready to lead us into the next 20 years. It’s what I love about entrepreneurship and about venture capital. We get the opportunity to serve these amazing talents that hold our futures in their hands & minds.

9. Why I will still be investing
I know prices are higher than the norm right now. I am confident they will be lower at some point on a relative basis. But as an investor you cannot simply sit out period of great innovation. As Fred Wilson once pointed out to me, he invested in both Twitter & Tumblr during a high-valuation period.

So at GRP Partners we’re very active now. We’re just conscious to invest in realistic entrepreneurs who know that it will take years of hard work, who are committed to building large businesses over time, who have exceptional skills & passionate about the disruption they’re causing and who are cost-conscious enough to be around for the long haul. Building billion-dollar businesses requires 7-10 years which means operating through at least one full economic cycle, if not two.

We may invest at the “top end of normal” but not at such a high price that we create future problems. We’re not cheap, but we’re disciplined. We are definitely still open for business.

Bubble image courtesy of Fotolia.



New Data For The Daily Deal Value Debate: “1/3 Of Buyers Are Brand New Business”

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 06:30 AM PDT

Research firm ForeSee Results put its analysis spotlight on the daily deal industry, concluding that discount distribution services offered by companies such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Google do in fact bring lots of new customers to merchants’ doorsteps.

According to ForeSee, 38 percent of the people purchasing daily deals were already frequent customers of the merchant in question (which could be bad news for retailers since they give discounts to people who already buy its products and services at full price that way).

However, 31 percent are brand new business, and 4 percent were former customers, which translates to 35 percent new business. Furthermore, since the remaining 27 percent are described as ‘infrequent customers’, you could even argue that, in total, 62 percent of daily deal buyers are the people merchants are most keen to reach.

It’s that 62 percent, you see, that businesses offering discounts on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, should be trying to convert to regular customers by giving them a good experience and a taste for more (preferably at non-discounted prices).

By the way, we recently ran a guest post written by a BBQ restaurant owner who was very excited about his experience with Groupon – he said that 70 percent of the 1,200 customers the deal had brought to his doorsteps were actually new customers.

(We also ran a series of candid guest posts by a self-described daily deal hater, of course).

The data cited above comes from ForeSee’s Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index (Spring 2011). This is annual research conducted by ForeSee with regards to customer satisfaction with the to 100 American e-retailers, and comprises data from surveys of some 22,000 online shoppers about a variety of topics.

According to ForeSee, about two thirds of those ‘Top 100′ site visitors are enrolled in at least one daily deal email program (or 65 percent of the 22,000 respondents).

Unsurprisingly, Groupon is the most popular site among those who subscribe to daily deals, with about twice the number of subscribers as its closest competitor, LivingSocial, and more than twice the number of purchasers.

Of those who subscribe to daily deals, ForeSee posits that nearly half (46 percent) subscribe to more than one service, leading the firm to the conclusion that there may be enough room for a host of competitors in this particular space.

Still according to ForeSee’s data, nearly two-thirds of subscribers to daily deals have purchased at least one deal in the past 90 days, regardless of what site they’re subscribed to, and 89 percent have redeemed their purchase during that time.

More stats and charts are available over at the ForeSee Results blog.

Also read:

Why Daily Deals Are Becoming A Raw Deal

Why I Want Google Offers And The Entire Daily Deals Business To Die

Why Groupon Is Poised For Collapse



LinkedIn: Men Are More Savvy Networkers Than Women

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 06:00 AM PDT


LinkedIn has taken another deep dive on its user data, comparing women and men’s networking skills on the 100 million-plus member professional network.

The verdict: LinkedIn says that that men are overall more savvy networkers than women, but men and women behave differently in online professional networking. To evaluate LinkedIn "networking savviness" index, the Analytics Team diced data of current industry, current company, and professional connections for members in the US. While users don’t have to designate whether they are a male or female on their LinkedIn profile, the networked had to guess a person's gender using their first name and matching this against a database of baby names.

LinkedIn measures networking “savviness” based on the the ratio of one-way connections that men have to connections that women have, and the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members. For example, LinkedIn will label an
industry as "female savvy" when 45% of the industry is female and where women
have 70% of the connections.

Companies where males are more savvy networks include Walmart, Kaiser Permanente and Mary kay (big surprise considering its a women;s cosmetics company). On the other hand, Best Buy is female savvy company, as are Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Comcast falls in the middle.

In terms of industry, the top professional areas for for male savviness are Law Enforcement, Capital Markets, and Cosmetics. For women, the female sex reigned in savviness in Alternative Dispute Resolution, International Trade, Alternative Medicine, Tobacco and Ranching. Neutral industries include Market Research, Media Production, Dairy, Individual and Family Services and Paper & Forest Products.

LinkedIn’s measurements and data are by no means a perfect science, but it is interesting to see how the network evaluates networking and where each gender falls in specific industry. And I’m still not convinced that men are better networkers on LinkedIn. But I’m biased.



Professional Content Sharing Platform SlideShare Deepens LinkedIn Integration

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:59 AM PDT


SlideShare, a sharing platform for business documents, videos and presentations, and LinkedIn have been partners for some time now. In 2008, SlideShare launched an app on LinkedIn that allows professionals to share slides and documents with their network. Because of the professional focus of SlideShare, leveraging LinkedIn’s network makes sense for the company. Today, SlideShare is deepening its LinkedIn integration, making it easier for users to share and engage with professional content on the 100 million-plus member social network.

First, SlideShare has added a LinkedIn Share button, which is similar in functionality to Twitter’s Tweet button, to all SlideShare presentations, documents, and videos, so you can share content with your professional network in your stream. The button joins Twitter and Facebook buttons, all of which will be available on content both on SlideShare as well as embedded SlideShare content on blogs.

LinkedIn is also adding SlideShare content to its social news reader LinkedIn Today. As we wrote in March, LinkedIn Today aggregates the most shared news from professionals in your network. Now SlideShare content that is actively shared on the network can also be found in the news reader. And SlideShare is the first source of content in LinkedIn Today that isn't from a publisher, but is user-generated.

On the technology front, LinkedIn has upgraded the ability to view SlideShare content in the Update Stream. So if you see a SlideShare document shared in your LinkedIn stream, you can view and engage with that content by clicking on a link or thumbnail, without having to leave the LinkedIn site.

Interestingly, LinkedIn and SlideShare compare their relationship to Chocolate and peanut butter for professionals. That’s also how LinkedIn described its relationship with Twitter when the network first integrated the communications platform in 2009.

SlideShare and LinkedIn as partners actually make a lot of sense considering the crossover in userbase. And SlideShare is growing fast, now seeing 55 million unique visitors a month with 3 billion slides viewed each month. SlideShare VP of business development Ross Mayfield says that there are more integrations with LinkedIn to come in the future.

Perhaps LinkedIn should just buy SlideShare with that boatload of cash the network recently raised in its IPO?



To Help Companies Curb Their Environmental Impact, Enablon Raises $15 Million

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:58 AM PDT

A French software company with U.S. headquarters in Chicago, Enablon, has raised a series A round of $15 million from the Environmental Technology Fund (ETF) in the U.K. Enablon’s enterprise software helps companies understand how much water, energy, chemicals and other resources they use, and how much they waste or pollute so that ultimately they can defray costs— financial and otherwise— associated with their environmental footprint.

In April, Enablon gained accreditation from the Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent not-for-profit organization that collects climate change data from thousands of companies. CDP maintains a comprehensive database of corporate greenhouse gas emissions and climate change information, and helps governments and corporations understand the risks of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a CDP report earlier this month:

“[Of 42 of the world's major cities] 93 percent recognize significant physical risk from climate change and 79 percent of cities believe that the physical impacts of climate change could directly or indirectly threaten the ability of local businesses to operate successfully.

Cities are feeling the immediate impact of climate change, with 43 percent identifying that they are already dealing with the effects of climate change in their areas…[including] temperature changes resulting in more hot days, increased frequency of heat waves, more intense rainfall, increased severity of storms and floods and rising sea levels…62 percent of [these] cities are establishing climate change action plans and 57 percent are adopting greenhouse gas reduction targets, today.”

The trend among city governments should compel companies that seek to do business there to report more about their emissions, which is good news for Enablon in terms of increases in demand. The company faces fierce competition, however, as the field grows ever more crowded with energy-management and carbon focused software providers like: Hara, ENXSuite and Silver Spring Networks in North America.

Enablon’s client roster includes more than 250 companies among them: Accenture, Nike, UPS and American Airlines.

Chief executive and co-founder of Enablon, Phil Tesler, explained in a phone interview:

“Our typical customers have been global 2,000 or multi-billion dollar businesses with offices in multiple locations. Reporting has become increasingly important to them, internally and externally.

Depending on the breadth and depth of reporting a company wants to do, Enablon software and systems can be installed and running within as little as two weeks, or an install may take as long as 9 months.

We will use the series A funding to work on some cloud computing initiatives, and to internationalize. We have experienced very strong growth in Europe and the U.S. and now we need to replicate this in Asia.”



PeerIndex Hits 45 Million Profiles Tracked, Aims Out-Clout Klout

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:40 AM PDT

The race to create the gold standard of measurement for social media influence continues. The last we heard from Klout was that it was now tracking around 60 million profiles. But today it would appear PeerIndex is in its rear view mirror with 45 million profiles and counting.

PeerIndex, which identifies experts who use social media like Twitter to expound on their chosen topics, is effectively building an opinion former marketing service which lets marketers and brands access these highly influential individuals.

While Klout gives us an overall score for an individuals’ influence, PeerIndex goes after the actual subjects people are expert in and ranks them accordingly with a proprietary algorithm. They say that avoids brands using social media to target the wrong people. This is all part of the brave new world knownn as “opinion former marketing” – something I slightly shudder to even repeat, but it does appear to be a growing sector.



Involver Lets Brands Engage With Fans On Facebook Based On Their ‘Klout’

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:37 AM PDT


Social marketing platform Involver is partnering with Klout, a startup that measures influence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to allow brands to interact with and reward their fans on Facebook based on their Klout score.

Basically, Involver allows brands to create a Klout widget on their Facebook page that engages users to measure their Klout score. Brands can then see which of their users have the most influence on Facebook and the social web, and reward users for signing-up and/or interacting with the brand. And brands can see which fans have Klout in their particular product area.

Klout evaluates users’ behavior with complex ranking algorithms and semantic analysis of content to measure the influence of individuals on social networks. On Twitter, Klout's influence score is based on a user's ability to drive action through Tweets, Retweets and more. On Facebook, Klout will examine how conversations and content generate interest and engagement, via likes, comments, and more, from the network's nearly 700 million users.

For example, Audi USA has deployed the new Klout app to engage with its nearly 4 million fans on its Facebook page. Fans of Audi will receive a customized brand experience, tailored to them based on their Klout score. On Audi's Facebook page, fans who sign up to get their Klout Score will receive a reward.

The Klout app is available as a free application and will be a part of Involver's Professional, Business, and Enterprise offerings.

Klout CEO and founder Joe Fernandez tells us that this is the most in-depth integration of Klout for the brand experience thus far. It’s certainly an interesting way for brands to actually parse out which of their fans on Facebook not only has ‘Klout’ but also has Klout in a specific area that relates to the brand.



Can You Tweet Your Way Into A Job? Labels.io Introduces Social Authority Scores

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:27 AM PDT

Labels.io, the recruitment startup that wants to simplify the resume, has surfaced its social authority algorithm through the introduction of a Labels Weight score on user profiles. Perhaps similar to PeerIndex or Klout, the Labels Weight attempts to measure a job candidate's "online professional authority" by measuring the impact of their social web activity - Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the site's own internal metrics.


Social.com Reportedly Sold For $2.6 Million. Who’s The Buyer?

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:40 AM PDT

This was the topic du jour on some domain name industry blogs yesterday, but I haven’t seen much coverage beyond that. According to DN Journal, a contract for the sale of the domain name Social.com has been signed by both the seller (an individual named Scott Carter) and the buyer (undisclosed for the time being). We’re trying to confirm this with Carter.

You may remember that the domain was to be auctioned off on at DOMAINfest Barcelona with an opening bid of $5 million. The high reserve wasn’t met before the auction ended, but a bid for $2.5 million did come in at one point.

Now it appears a $2.6 million deal has been forged in the wake of DOMAINfest Barcelona, which DN Journal reports was co-brokered by Moniker.com’s John Mauriello and Marksmen’s Cyntia King on behalf of the latter’s new sales division at NameQuiver.com.

And to think you could have bought it for $50,000 back in 1997.

Still according to DN Journal, the buyer is an unidentified individual or company based in the UK. The domain name industry blog points out Marksmen provides IP and trademark protection for businesses, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Anyone care to venture a guess about the identity of the buyer?



Glympse Raises $7.5 Million To Help You Share Your Location, A Few Hours At A Time

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:30 AM PDT

Location, location, location.

Between Foursquare, myriad deals apps, Google’s Latitude, and all the rest, you’ve got plenty of ways to tell your friends (or anyone following you on Twitter) where you’re going. Of course, oftentimes you don’t really want to tell all of your friends where you are, and even then you may only want them to be able to see your whereabouts for a short while. That’s where Glympse comes in.

The service, which is based entirely around ‘sharing your where’ with select friends a few hours at a time, has just raised a $7.5 million Series B funding round led by Menlo Ventures and Ignition Partners.

So far, the service offers applications for iPhone and Android that let you create ‘Glympses’, which include a map of your location in real-time. You then share these Glympses with friends via SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter — clicking on the link will take them to a webpage that shows a map with your location updating in real-time (the Facebook widget actually updates directly in the News Feed). You get to set how long you want each Glympse to last — it can be as long as four hours, though the average Glympse is around forty minutes. Once it expires, they can no longer see your location.

Say, for example, you were running late for a meeting and wanted your coworkers to have a sense for when you’d be arriving at the office. Instead of having to send a series of text messages (“15 minutes..”, “traffic bad, make that 30 min”, and so on), you could just send a Glympse that let them track your progress on a map. Then, when you arrived, you could turn the Glympse off and the map would stop updating.

We should note that Google’s Latitude actually has some of these features, as far as being able to limit how long you’re sharing your location. But Glympse’s core focus revolves around these temporal shares, whereas Latitude has a lot of other things going on.

So where is Glympse going next? The company isn’t sharing much about its future plans, other than to say that they’re working with partners to integrate the product into “the everyday life experience”. In other words, expect them to move well beyond their own iPhone and Android apps in the near future.



GameSalad Now Supports HTML5 On Game Creation Platform

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:00 AM PDT


GameSalad, formerly Gendai Games, offers a simple game creation tool that allows non-programmers to build, develop and publish 2D casual games games for the web and iPhone and iPad. Today, the startup is announcing the availability to publish games using HTML5.

For background, GameSalad allows developers to design, publish and distribute original games for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Web without needing to write a line of code. To date, 160,000 developers have used GameSalad to create 18,000 titles in the iTunes App Store including more than 40 top 100 U.S. Games in Apple's App Store.

So why is HTML5 support important? GameSalad is one of the first game creation platforms to offer HTML5 publishing, and thus makes it extremely simple for users to share games to all the platforms that don’t support Flash games (i.e. Apple).

Steve Felter, CEO of GameSalad, says that the benefit of HTML5 published games also extends to the developer, improving the reach of games to a variety of platforms, browsers and devices.

With the new HTML5 publishing platform, each game has a unique embed code, which allows it to be embedded and played on both websites (we’ve embedded a GameSalad game below) and within apps. In addition, games can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

GameSalad has raised over $7 million in funding.



“Will You Invest?” – LinkCloud’s Funny Braveheart Investor Pitch (Video)

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:54 AM PDT

Well, this is one way to solicit interest from potential angel and institutional investors: German startup LinkCloud made a funny video based on a famous scene from the movie Braveheart. It’s out been out for a while, I noticed, so apologies if you’ve already seen it.

Oh, by the way, LinkCloud offers a way to compose a custom start page based on visual bookmarks (logos of websites and applications rather than mere links).

There’s nothing special about it, but hey, at least they give homage to the Internet.

So, will you invest? Or did you not come here to risk your money?



85 Percent Of Firefox Users Have Installed Add-ons (Oh, And Firefox 5 Is Ready, Too)

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 02:46 AM PDT

I think we all know that add-ons have grown integral to the Firefox experience — and popular, to say the least — but we didn’t know just how popular until now. Today, Mozilla said through its blog that 85 percent of Firefox 4 users have installed add-ons. Mozilla equates this to more than 60 million people using its add-ons every day.

But before you start rolling your eyes, Mozilla adds-on, “This number doesn't include Personas, and even excludes popular add-ons bundled with other software that the user hasn't actively agreed to install”. So apparently these aren’t force-installed add-ons then. I think. The company then went on to say it had expected the percentage of add-ons downloaded on Firefox 4 (which was released on March 22nd) to drop as time went on, but the figure “has stayed between 89% and 85% since launch”. (I’m surprised that this little self-congratulatory admission didn’t come with 5 exclamation points.)

Mozilla has also found that, on average, users download 5 add-ons, and that Firefox has racked up 2.5 billion total downloads and that 580 million add-ons are in use every day on Firefox 4. (Which does seem to be slightly higher than Mozilla’s add-on data available here.)

Back in April, Mozilla announced that it was moving to a rapid-fire release cycle, as well as introducing another channel called “Aurora”, which as my colleague MG Siegler pointed out, is the equivalent of Chrome’s “Dev Build”. Aurora falls in between Mozilla’s “Nightly” build and their “Beta” build, because users had come to expect that “Nightly” (which they had even renamed “Minefield”) would be closer to a beta or ready-to-release build — which it often wasn’t. Aurora is intended to be the version in which users and developers can play a greater role in participating in the building of new Firefox releases.

This announcement also came on the heels of Google’s announcement that it would be releasing a new version of Chrome every six weeks. Now, it seems that Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla have all sped up their release cycles to get new versions of their browsers into the market faster.

Thus, staying true to their promise, Mozilla also announced today that Firefox 5 is available for download on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

According to the company’s statement, Firefox 5 “includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements that make it easier to discover and use all of the innovative features in Firefox”. The release includes added support for “more modern Web technologies” that will enhance developers’ ability to create “Firefox add-ons, Web applications, and websites”.

Firefox 5 also adds its “Do Not Track” privacy feature to Android, “making Firefox the first browser to support Do Not Track on multiple platforms”, the company said. The “Do Not Track” feature was designed to give Firefox users greater control over how their browser footprints are tracked and used across the Web. The feature essentially tells websites that users have chosen to opt-out of tracking — and is now “easier to find in Firefox Preferences”.

However, while Mozilla boasts improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas, as part of its new support for “more modern Web technologies”, according to PCMag, Firefox 5 is still scoring the same as version 4 on HTML5test.com, which measures the overall level of HTML5 support and performance. Firefox 5 scored 240 out of a possible 400, compared to Chrome, which comes in at 291.

So, Firefox 5 may not knock your socks off. After all, the IE Team decided to send Mozilla a celebratory cupcake for the Firefox 5 release. (More like a sarcastic cupcake, methinks. Though still delicious, no doubt.) But this release is, at the very least, good to see Mozilla living up to its promise to keep its release cycle quick and cunning — like some sort of fox. Because when it comes to the Web — and mobile, and most things these days — quicker is better.



FriendFeed Lives On (In Spirit): Tornado 2.0 Released

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:56 AM PDT

When Facebook acquired FriendFeed in September 2009, my heart sank a bit. I was happy for those guys, but I knew FriendFeed would never be the same despite the talk of FriendFeed staying alive. Now, nearly two years later, it’s clear that my fears were not unfounded. But not all has been lost.

A month after the deal, Facebook did something refreshing. They took much of the technology behind FriendFeed, bundled it up, and released it as Tornado, an open source real-time frame work for the web. Developers have been putting it to good use ever since — Quora and Hipmunk use it, for example. And today brings version 2.0.

Ben Darnell announced the new version earlier this evening in the Tornado Google Group. As he notes, the major changes are as follows:

  • Template output is automatically escaped by default; see backwards compatibility note below.
  • The default AsyncHTTPClient implementation is now simple_httpclient.
  • Python 3.2 is now supported.

Yes, that’s all pretty technical. And no, I don’t know what a lot of it actually means. But the folks in the Tornado Google Group seem excited. There’s a bit more on the Tornado website, including the warning that “Tornado 2.0 introduces several potentially backwards-incompatible changes”.

It’s great to see Tornado not only still alive and kicking, but being updated. What’s not entirely clear is if Facebook has any role at all in it anymore? At first glance, it doesn’t look that way, beyond the code residing in a Facebook folder on GitHub. Originally, Facebook was all gung-ho about the project, with a post on the Developers blog and a personal post from (now Facebook CTO) Bret Taylor. Now we just get a Google Groups announcement. But who knows, maybe Facebook will have more to say tomorrow.

Right now, it looks more like Darnell is the man fully in charge. On the Commits page, I see only one person’s face that is not Darnell’s in the past month.

The former Googler/former FriendFeeder was put in charge of the project while he was still at Facebook after the acquisition. But he himself left shortly thereafter to join the startup Brizzly. Brizzly was then acquired by AOL last year (right before they acquired us). I actually have no idea if Darnell is still with AOL or not (you think I would given that I too work for AOL). I’ve asked him current/former boss, Jason Shellen, but haven’t heard back.

In other words, I have no clue who is actually doing what with Tornado. But I suppose that’s the beauty of open source. A little piece of FriendFeed lives on.



Nokia Integrates NAVTEQ With New ‘Location & Commerce’ Business, Closes Accenture Outsourcing Deal

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:25 AM PDT

Nokia this morning announced that it is establishing a new ‘Location & Commerce’ business unit, which will be formed by integrating the NAVTEQ business with its social/location services operations. Effective July 1, 2011, Michael Halbherr will become executive vice president of the new unit and spearhead Nokia’s self-described “revised mission in mobile and location-based services”.

Halbherr will be reporting directly to Stephen Elop, chief executive officer of the beleaguered mobile phone giant.

In other news, Nokia and Accenture have finalized an agreement for the former to outsource Symbian software development and support activities to the latter, plans which were first announced at the end of April 2011 (alongside significant job cuts).

First, about that ‘Location & Commerce’ business. Nokia says the business unit, which will now comprise its entire NAVTEQ digital mapping business, will lead the development of a “new class of integrated social location products and services for consumers, as well as platform services and local commerce services for device manufacturers, application developers, internet services providers, merchants, and advertisers”.

This includes Nokia products with Windows Phones, the company said in a statement.

Halbherr, who will be at the helm of the new business unit, has been with Nokia since 2006, most recently leading the product unit in Nokia’s Services business. He joined Nokia when his company gate5 was acquired by the Finnish mobile juggernaut.

NAVTEQ was purchased by Nokia in 2007 for $8.1 billion – the company had been operating independently from Nokia since then.

Nokia said that Larry Kaplan, who has served as CEO for NAVTEQ, will continue to support the transition work for the new Location & Commerce business through year-end (the wording suggests he will be heading elsewhere afterwards).

Under the agreement with Accenture, the company will provide Symbian-based software development and support services to Nokia through 2016.

Approximately 2,800 Nokia employees located in China, Finland, India, United Kingdom and the United States, are expected to transfer to Accenture at closing, which is expected to take place in the early part of October, 2011.

The original plan was to transfer 3,000 employees, we should note.

Accenture will also work with Avanade, a technology service company that is majority-owned by Accenture and focuses on Microsoft technologies, to provide further services to Nokia.

Accenture says it will “seek to retrain and redeploy transferred employees”.



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