Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Watch TC Disrupt SF 2011 Live Day 3

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 09:41 AM PDT

The third and final day of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 has started this morning and you can watch live here. Over the past two days, 31 startups have battled in front of the judges and an audience of thousands to vie for the Disrupt Cup and $50,000. The final seven were chosen this morning for the semifinals and tune in to see who the winner is later today!

Those at home can also keep up with the action by searching for #TCDisrupt hashtag on Twitter, watching the TechCrunch Disrupt backstage videos or refreshing the page continuously until something new comes up.

Wednesday, September 14th

9:00am – 9:10am

TechCrunch opening remarks

9:10am – 9:30am

The Rise of (Profitable) Open Source Hardware: John Biggs moderates with Josh Myer (Applied Platonics), Steve Hodges (Microsoft Research), Luke Soules

(iFixIt.com) and Eric Wilhelm (Instructables)

9:30am -10:10am

Imagine K12's class of startup launch presentations, hosted by education incubator

co-founder Geoff Ralston

10:10am – 10:30am

Fireside chat with John Doerr, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers

10:30 am- 10:45am

Power play with Gokul Rajaram, Facebook Ads

10:45am-11:00am

BREAK and BROWSE STARTUP ALLEY

11:00am – 11:20am

Fireside chat with Mike Schroepfer, Facebook

11:20am -11:35am

Founder Stories with Kevin O'Connor, FindTheBest

11:35am -11:45am

Special Product Announcement

11:45am -12:30pm

@Angels: Ron Conway (SV Angel), Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC), Josh Felser (Freestyle

Capital), Dave McClure (500 Startups), Shervin Pishevar (Menlo Ventures), Aydin Senkut (Felicis Ventures)

12:30pm – 2:00pm

LUNCH and BROWSE STARTUP ALLEY

2:00pm – 2:15pm

Power play with Matt Cohler, Benchmark Capital

2:15pm – 2:30pm

Power play with Hadi Partovi, founder and investor

2:30pm – 2:40pm

Hackathon Highlights

2:40pm – 2:55pm

News from our Startup Battlefield Alumni: Badgeville, Qwiki, Miso Media, Sonar and

GetAround

2:55pm -3:15pm

Fireside chat with Marissa Mayer, Google

3:15pm – 3:30pm

BREAK and BROWSE STARTUP ALLEY

3:30pm – 5:30pm

Startup Battlefield Semifinals

Expert Judges: Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), Matt Cohler (Benchmark Capital), Ron

Conway (SV Angel), Marissa Mayer (Google), Hadi Partovi (founder and investor)

5:30pm – 7:00pm

Cocktail reception in Startup Alley, hosted by Motorola Mobility Ventures

7:00pm – 7:30pm

Closing Awards Ceremony hosted by NEA

Fireside chat with Elon Musk, Tesla Motors and Spacex

Passing of the Disrupt Cup by GetAround, Startup Battlefield Winner NYC2011

9:00pm-Midnight

After Party Hosted by Mindjet

Mighty

118 Utah Street

Conference badge required for admission



U.K. Ad Authority: Apple, Not Samsung, Has Thinnest Smartphone

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 09:01 AM PDT

iphonevsgal2

Last time we heard from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, they had blocked Motorola from claiming that their Atrix handset was the world’s most powerful smartphone since its processor is slower than the Galaxy S II’s. While they came down on Samsung’s side that time, that isn’t the case now: they have ruled that the iPhone 4, and not the Galaxy S II is the world’s thinnest smartphone.

First, a little background: Apple has been referring to the iPhone 4 as the world’s thinnest smartphone in advertising and promo materials for a while now, but a rival for the crown popped up when the GSII was released. Samsung’s svelte new model is indeed thinner at certain points, measuring in at 8.71mm at its thinnest. It’s a considerable enough difference from the iPhone 4′s 9.3mm depth that it would’ve been a clear victory were it not for the Galaxy S II’s 9.91mm thick hump.

The ASA ruled that since the iPhone’s thickest point is thinner than the Galaxy S II’s thickest, Apple has the right to continue claiming the title. Samsung likely isn’t too pleased — save for a single thick bit, their GSII is mostly thinner, and Apple gets to maintain their positioning (in the UK at least) as purveyors of slim, sleek design.

Consider it a small victory for Apple, but there are much bigger battles to be fought. Apple and Samsung have been going at it in jurisdictions the world over, and all this means is that Samsung and Apple will have to find different ways to posture at each other.



TechCrunch Disrupt Live Webcast – Watch Now

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 08:55 AM PDT

disruptSF11-2841-1


Visually Beautiful Recipe Curation Site Gojee Raises $1.2M From Mitch Kapor And Others

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 08:38 AM PDT

gojee

Foodie favorite Gojee, which curates recipes from food bloggers around the web in a visually beautiful way, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Kapor Capital. As part of the round, President and Co-Founder of Ustream Brad Hunstable is joining Gojee as an advisor.

As we wrote in our earlier review of the site, Gojee lets you search for recipes by ingredient, either via ‘cravings’ or by one ingredient you have in your pantry. You can also input your dislikes or allergies and Gojee will make sure to surface recipes without these ingredients.

So say I had leftover chickpeas in my pantry, I can enter that query and Gojee will show me all the recipes that include that ingredient from the many food blogs it curates data from. The site presents a beautiful image of the food along with a list of what else is included in the dish, a short description of the dish, and a link to the full recipe on the food blog. You can also star the recipe to save it to your favorites.

What makes Gojee unique is the visually stunning photography that accompanies each recipe. You actually want to eat the food that you could make via the recipe. Currently the site has under 50,000 recipes, but is focused on adding quality recipes vs. quantity.

I’ve actually tested a recipe on the site and it was delicious. And the site has even received attention from celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. So it’s no surprise that in the first few months of operation, Gojee has doubled its food writer contributors from 80 to 160. Gojee now has members in 199 countries around the world and has 25,000 members registered through it Google Chrome Web App.


Company: Gojee
Website: gojee.com

Gojee is a custom curated recipe website personalized to user preferences and user-specific ingredients.

Learn more


Chris DeWolfe’s MindJolt Expands Gaming Titles, Seeing Growth In Virtual Goods Revenue

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 08:30 AM PDT

mindjolt

MindJolt, the game distribution company that was acquired by MySpace founder and former CEO Chris DeWolfe, is revealing that it will introduce seven additional games this calendar year.

For background, MindJolt recently bought Social Gaming Network and game network Hallpass Media. MindJolt also offers a monetization product called AdJolt, which includes ads and a virtual goods system. Currently, the company is seeing ‘tens of millions’ in revenue and is profitable.

DeWolfe has a clear vision for the company and hasn’t been afraid to shell out cash to help him compete with some of the bigger players like Zynga. MindJolt aims to become a cross-platform game distribution empire, with titles on mobile, web and social platforms.

This year, MindJolt has launched iOS games— Warp Dash, Master Shot, DressUp!-Fashion, and Mini CafĂ©. And more games are to come this year.

MindJolt is also revealing that revenues from the sale of virtual goods now makes up nearly a third of the company's total revenues, which puts it in the millions. Of course, this is a pittance compared to Zynga’s massive revenue from virtual goods, but it’s impressive for the short amount of time MindJolt has been around.

Of course, DeWolfe is going to have to work fast to catch up to Zynga, EA, Disney and some of the other gaming giants who are dominating the space. He says that he plans to acquire more studios, especially for talent.


Company: MindJolt
Website: mindjolt.com
Funding: $22M

MindJolt is a social gaming platform that provides game developers of all sizes a way to monetize their games, and access to a massive gaming audience on the world's most popular social platforms. With more than 20 million unique users across the Web, MindJolt makes it easy for casual and social game developers to bring their games to a massive audience of gamers. MindJolt's catalogue aggregates more than 1,300 of the most popular casual games on the Web...

Learn more


Windows 8 Has A Friendlier Blue Screen Of Death

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 07:38 AM PDT

image23

While Windows 8 was widely expected to have a black screen of death, the developer build released yesterday has revealed that Redmond has opted to stick with the historic blue. It does, however, come with a peculiar twist. Rather than inundate people (who hopefully remembered to save their work) with a breakdown of why their computer stopped working, it seems Microsoft has chosen to take things in a more compassionate direction.

Unlike the classic, wordy blue screen of yore, the latest version instead makes a sad face at the user. In addition to flashing that large frown, the new BSoD also provides some key search terms just in case the user feel likes digging into what just happened. Users are given a few seconds to write it down or commit it to memory before before the PC automatically restarts, and voila: it’s back to business.

It’s a step in the right direction, as the classic blue screen was nigh unintelligible to most users. This latest version manages to make the process a little less headache-inducing, but I (perhaps naively) long for the day when Microsoft can tell me in plain English why my computer just failed.



50 Cent To Serve As CEO Of His Own Headphone Company As SMS Audio Acquires KonoAudio

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 07:22 AM PDT

2011 Billboard Music Awards - Arrivals

Watch out, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent is ready to challenge Beats headphones with his own line of headphones. Curtis Jackson’s vast empire includes a headphone company, SMS Audio, which recently acquired KonoAudio for an undisclosed amount and is set to unveil a complete portfolio of products in the coming weeks.

Sounds sort of familiar, right? Well, 50 Cent previously had a deal with Sleek Audio to produce and distribute a so-called wireless hybrid headphone system dubbed Sleek by 50. Sleek Audio even showed off the model at CES 2011, but that deal feel through last May. 50 Cent’s G-Unit Brands, Inc affiliate, SMS Audio, LLC, then picked up the baton and is now running towards the release with at least three headphones in tow.

The company has yet to revel much about the upcoming headphones besides stating that the line will consist of three product categories: wired, wireless, and earbuds. Reportedly at least one model will feature full on-board playback controls and some sort of shared listening experience described in a press release as allowing “up to four listeners to simultaneously experience the highest-caliber wireless sound from a single source.”

The purchase of KonoAudio gives SMS Audio established worldwide distribution and marketing channels along with the founder of KonoAudio, Brian Nohe, who will bring his 25 years of executive leadership experience to the role of president at SMS Audio. KonoAudio also provides SMS Audio with more experience in headphone manufacturing and marketing of high-end headphones.

I’m told that headphones will debut in the coming weeks, likely in the heat of the holiday spending spree. No word on pricing, but they’ll probably follow the price point proven possible by the Beats line although it remains to be heard if 50 Cent’s headphones will feature the same sound quality — not that sound quality is the most important feature for lifestyle headphones.



Sony Will Offer 28 Titles When The Vita Launches In Japan (Full List)

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 06:12 AM PDT

vita

Apart from fixing the Japan release date for the Playstation Vita (December 17) today, Sony also announced [press release in English] the handheld’s full launch line-up for its home market: a total of 28 different titles (games and applications) will be made available for early buyers of the device.

Sony also said there are a total of 100 different games being developed by companies worldwide for the Vita currently (details), but here’s the full list of which titles will be ready by the time the device launches in Japan:

  • BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend – 2D fighting (Arc System Works)
  • Project N.O.E.L.S. – “music player” app (Arc System Works)
  • 3gokushi touchbattle – MMO/RTS (AQ Interactive)
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – fighting (Capcom)
  • Nature of Night of Kamaitachi – 11th visitor, A Suspect – Adventure: Sound novel (Chunsoft)
  • F1 2011 – racing (Codemasters)
  • Dream C Club Zero Portable – dating simulation (D3)
  • Nico Nicovideo player app (Dwango)
  • Fish On – fishing (Kadokawa)
  • Katamari Damacy – puzzle action (Namco Bandai)
  • Ridge Racer – racing (Namco Bandai)
  • Disgaea3 Return – strategic RPG (Nippon Ichi)
  • Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition (Sega)
  • @field – golf (Sonic Powered)
  • Uncharted: Golden – action adventure (Sony)
  • Little Deviants – mini games collection (Sony)
  • Minna To Issho – “social communications” app (Sony)
  • Hot Shots Golf Next  – golf (Sony)
  • Yuusha No Kiroku – “life management” (Sony)
  • Monster Radar – location-based game (Sony)
  • Shinobido 2: Tales of the Ninja – stealth action (Spike)
  • Army Corps of Hell – action (Square Enix)
  • Lord of Apocalypse – action RPG (Square Enix)
  • Dynasty Warriors Next – action (Tecmo Koei)
  • Dark Quest – RPG (Ubisoft)
  • Michael Jackson: The Experience HD – rhythm action (Ubisoft)


With 600K Members, Fab.com Goes Beyond Flash Sales And Sets Up A Virtual Pop Up Shop

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 06:00 AM PDT

The members-only design marketplace Fab.com is expanding beyond its 72 hours flash-sale model this morning, with its U.S. Design Pop-Up Shop, created in conjunction with Fast Company magazine’s U.S. Design issue. In this issue Fast Company names 76 U.S. designers to watch and Fab has teamed up with many of them to host a curated selection of their products for the next 30 days.

Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg tells me that this will be the first of many virtual 30-45 day pop-up shops, or roaming stores, on Fab.com.

When he stopped by the TCTV studio last week, I interviewed Goldberg about the company’s growth over the past 11 weeks, the pivot from gay social network Fabulis and the startup’s expansion strategy moving forward.

From the company’s “restart” on June 9th, the “One King’s Lane for design” now boasts eight sales a day across hundreds of products. According to Goldberg, the site has seen over 75K orders in less than two months, moved over 150K units and Goldberg says that he expects revenue in the “double-digit” millions in the next six months.  An iPhone, iPad and Android app launch is slated for the end of September.

With its viral invite link system that rewards you for inviting friends, the site has hit 600K members in 11 weeks of existing, adding 5K new people a day. ”The designers that we’re working with don’t have any other way of reaching 600K people in a three-day period,” Goldberg said.

The site in its new incarnation recently raised another $8 million from Menlo Ventures, First Round Capital, SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Rose and others.


:
Website:

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Crime Pays: Red Robot Labs Snatches $8.5 Million From Benchmark

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 06:00 AM PDT

lic_hero_hires

A few weeks ago, we wrote about Life Is Crime, a new location-based mobile game. The premise is pretty awesome: it’s like Foursquare meets Grand Theft Auto. You go around (virtually) beating up friends for money. As it happens, the game has helped parent company Red Robot Labs score some loot of their own — an $8.5 million Series A.

Benchmark Capital is leading the round with current investors Shasta Ventures, Rick Thompson (co-founder of Playdom), and Chamath Palihapitiya (former Facebook exec) participating as well. Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky will be joining the board as a result.

Red Robot Labs launched Life Is Crime at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle and they note that the convention center where the show was held saw some 20,000 virtual crimes committed in the game during that weekend alone. That resulted in thousands of hurt criminals, millions in contraband trafficked, and tens of millions of dollars robbed or laundered. They tout these things in their press release, which is awesome. Clearly the game caught on quickly with its core demographic.

And all of that is just on Android. The iPhone version isn’t ready quite yet but should be out soon. And I can’t wait for that, so I too can get out there and kick some virtual ass.

The funding won’t go just towards this one game though, Red Robot Labs is also building out a whole location-based gaming platform. They hope to have three games done by the end of the year — and one of those will be built by a third-party.

You can find the Android version of Life Is Crime here.



HTC Officially Unveils Sensation XE, The First Phone With Beats Audio

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:51 AM PDT

htc-sensation-xe

First spied in a slide deck last month, HTC’s rumored Special Edition Sensation has been officially revealed today, albeit with a new name. Aside from its snazzy new paint job, the Sensation XE will also be the first HTC device to launch with Beats audio (sorry Runnymede) when it starts shipping to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East later this month.

The original covert reveal was almost entirely spot-on with regard to the XE’s specs: the processor indeed runs at 1.5 GHz (the original was only a 1.2), while 4GB of internal memory and a larger 1730 mAh battery round out the package. The rest of the device’s body remains identical to the original Sensation, though it now sports a rather handsome black and red color scheme.

In addition, today’s announcement shines a little more light on how Beats integration actually works: each Sensation XE ships with its own pair of Beats by Dre headphones with line-in remote, and a 8 or 16 GB microSD card. When the headphones are plugged into the phone while music is playing, the device automatically switches over to a specially-designed Beats audio profile that optimizes sound quality specifically for those headphones.

While I’m sure some of you are waiting with bated breath to see how well HTC executes their Beats integration, domestic fans may have to wait a little longer than the rest of the world: there are still no official details on a U.S. release.



Sony Has Two New iPad Docks For Your Listening Pleasure

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:49 AM PDT

sony-docks

iPhone docks are everywhere. iPad docks? Not so much. Sony just outed two new models that work with both and in true Sony fashion, are loaded with colorfully named proprietary technologies.

The RDP-X500iP features (ready for this?) Clear Phase DSP, DMC technology, Dual Passive Radiators, and Magnetic Fluid Speakers. All that nonsense probably works in harmony to produce a quality sound. With a $299 MSRP, it better sound great, too.

The ICF-CS15iP lacks all the fancy-named technology and instead employs MEGA BASS and Mega Xpand sound modes along with featuring a multi-function alarm clock and AM/FM radio. Expect this model to hit Sony Stores next month for $99.


Company: Sony
Website: sony.com
Launch Date: September 14, 2011
IPO: NYSE:SNE

Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of electronics, video, communications, video game consoles, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets.

Learn more


CSC Acquires Software Testing Company AppLabs

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:38 AM PDT

applabs

Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) this morning announced that it has acquired India’s AppLabs, a provider of software testing and quality management services. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is meant to grow CSC’s applications development and management business as well as extending software testing and quality management services to its clients.

All 2,500 employees of AppLabs will be joining the U.S.-based IT firm.

The company was founded in 2001 by Sashi Reddi and funded with investments from WestBridge Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Clients include American Airlines, Experian and JP Morgan.

AppLabs is headquartered in Hyderabad, India, and has offices in the United States and United Kingdom.


Company: AppLabs
Website: applabs.com
Launch Date: September 14, 2011
Funding: $10M

AppLabs is the world's largest independent Software testing, quality management and certification solutions company. AppLabs emerged as the largest global provider of independent testing services by acquiring US-based KeyLabs Inc and UK-based IS Integration in April 2005 and September 2006 respectively. The company offers a combination of consulting, outsourcing, offshore and specialist services across all types of quality management, testing and certification activity. It serves banking, financial services, insurance, technology, retail, life sciences, and telecommunications industries. AppLabs has...

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Company: CSC
Website: csc.com
Launch Date: September 14, 2011

CSC is a leading global IT services company. CSC is a global leader in providing technology-enabled business solutions and services. CSC has helped its clients manage and profit from every major wave of change in IT since its formation in 1959. CSC provides innovative solutions for customers around the world by applying leading technologies and CSC's own advanced capabilities. These include systems design and integration, IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), applications software development, Web and application hosting, and management and technology consulting.

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Via Local Telco KDDI: Website Builder Jimdo Lands Deal With Google In Japan

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:12 AM PDT

Picture 2

It doesn’t happen too often that a European web startup (or any foreign startup, for that matter) makes it in Japan, but Jimdo is one of the very few examples of those that did. After reading an article on the website building service from Germany on TechCrunch Japan a few years back, a team at Tokyo-based telecommunications giant KDDI (over 30 million mobile subscribers, US$40 billion revenue) decided to bring Jimdo over in 2009.

KDDI unit KDDI Web Communications localized Jimdo into Japanese in early 2009 and has been doing pretty well since (even though details are scarce). And it looks like starting today, things will run even smoother, as the Germans and their Japanese partner just announced a major milestone, namely a cooperation with Google Japan and other local businesses.

Under the deal, KDDI and Google have started operating a service called Minna No Business Online (Everybody’s Business Online) [JP] today. As the name suggests, the service is supposed to make it possible for small and mid-sized businesses to launch their own websites “in 15 minutes”.

This is the first screen you see after pushing the “Get Started” button:


Minna No Business offers a total of 100 designs for companies from over 14 different industries, lets users choose between the most common top-level domains (.com, .jp, .biz, etc.) for their sites, and is free for one year (with monthly charges of 1,470 yen/ US$19 thereafter).

Jimdo is powering the tool itself, while KDDI and Google are handling marketing, distribution and ads (namely by offering AdWords to website owners). The project partners are looking at a big market (on paper, at least): according to Google Japan, just 24% of Japan’s 4.7 million SMEs currently have an online presence. The plan is to sign up 150,000 customers in the first year.

More information (in English) on the Jimdo-KDDI-Google alliance can be found here.


Company: Jimdo
Website: jimdo.com
Launch Date: January 3, 2007

Jimdo is a website editor that lets users quickly create websites complete with blog, photo galleries, video, online store, and more. Jimdo caters to less technical users through its straightforward interface. Jimdo started as a group of three friends selling basic site creation tools for the enterprise. The site creation tools developed into a freemium version and now they have over 4,000,000 sites in eleven different languages (German, English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Polish and Dutch). In...

Learn more


Prescreen Launches As A Social Discovery Platform For Indie Movies

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:00 AM PDT

Prescreen

One of the challenges for Indie movies is getting exposure to consumers. Studio films have massive marketing budgets, and are able to use these channels to get traffic. But movies created by independent producers don’t have a set way to gain buzz. Enter Prescreen, a new startup launching today to give filmmakers and distributors an alternative to traditional advertising and distribution channels.

Basically, Prescreen offers users the ability to subscribe to a daily email alert, which will inform them of one India film per day. The user can then visit Prescreen to view trailers for free and if interested, can rent movies to stream on demand for up to 60 days. Isers can also earn rewards and discounts for sharing movie information on their social networks.

Prescreen also gives filmmakers and distributors demographics and other data for the audience that has viewed their films.

At launch, Prescreen which was founded by Shawn Bercuson, will be debuting Kino Lorber's "The Robber;" a story of a champion marathoner who leads a double life as a serial bank robber, sprinting between fixes (and away from police cavalcades) as many as three times a day.

Bercuson says that while distribution platforms like Netflix and Hulu now include india films, the discovery mechanism for actually finding and advertising these films isn’t great. By using the email per day channel, Prescreen can get more eyeballs, says Bercuson. Of course, this depends on Prescreen getting a large email userbase. But Bercuson is confident that the site is disruptive enough to gain a loyal (and large following).



Big Data Analytics Company Opera Solutions Raises $84M In First-Round Funding

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 04:24 AM PDT

opera

Opera Solutions, not to be confused with browser maker Opera Software, has raised a whopping $84 million in its very first round of outside equity funding. According to the Wall Street Journal, the round values the company at half a billion dollars.

The company, which is in the business of ‘Big Data’ analytics, got a capital injection from Silver Lake Sumeru, with participation from Accel-KKR, Invus Financial Advisors, JGE Capital Management, and Tola Capital.

Arnab Gupta, founder and CEO of Opera Solutions, explains why investors lined up to back them:

"Opera's core value lies in turning Big Data into Small Data – that is, using advanced machine intelligence to extract valuable signals and patterns from massive data flows and turn them into a stream of analytically enriched guidance brought to the front lines of our customers' businesses."

Opera Solutions creates and provides hosted delivery of a suite of analytics solutions to companies in financial services, government, healthcare, and other sectors.

Founded in 2004, the company has 600 employees and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.


Company: Opera Solutions
Launch Date: September 14, 2011
Funding: $84M

Opera Solutions is a leader in applying advanced analytics to Big Data challenges. The firm uses a combination of analytics, technology, large-scale data management, and human expertise to serve large and mid-sized clients in a number of sectors, including financial services, investment firms, consumer goods, retail, manufacturing, distribution and government. According to the company, it delivers predictive analytics via cloud-based lean enterprise platforms, custom projects and strategic affiliations. Established in 2004 by CEO Arnab Gupta, the firm comprises 400+...

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IAC’s Match.com Buys 20% Stake In Chinese Online Dating Service Zhenai

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 04:11 AM PDT

zhenai

IAC-owned Match.com this morning announced that it has acquired a 20% interest in Zhenai, a provider of “online matchmaking services” in China, for an undisclosed sum.

Launched in 2005 by CEO Dr. Song Li, Zhenai provides integrated Internet and telephone matchmaking services to Chinese singles looking for long-term relationships. Zhenai is said to boast a user base of over 30 million registered members.

According to the press release announcing the investment, Zhenai commands “especially high” subscription rates due to subscribers’ access to over 1,000 professional matchmakers at Zhenai’s call centers, who provide subscribers with advice and consultation throughout the dating process.


Company: Match
Website: match.com
Launch Date: January 4, 1995

Match.com pioneered online dating when it launched on the Web in 1995 and continues to lead this exciting and evolving category after more than a decade. Throughout its 15-year history, Match.com has helped millions of singles meet and fall in love. Match.com provides a rich tapestry of ethnicities, interests, goals, ambitions, quirks, looks and personalities from which to choose. Match.com operates some of the leading subscription-based online dating sites in 25 countries, in 8 languages and spanning five continents,...

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Company: Zhenai
Website: zhenai.com

Leading Chinese dating site, a combination of online dating and telephone based matchmaking. It was formerly known as 96333.com. “Zhen” means cherish and “ai” means love.

Learn more


The 2011 Disrupt SF Battlefield Final Round Companies

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 04:07 AM PDT

disrupt

We are two days into Disrupt SF, and 31 startups have battled in front of the judges and an audience of thousands to vie for the Disrupt Cup and $50,000. The caliber of the startups across the board was so strong that seven of them are advancing to the final round.

After tallying up the independent judges’ scores and conferring with the TechCrunch writing staff, Heather Harde and I have selected the following Battlefield companies to present on Wednesday at 3:30 PM PT.

(In the spirit of disclosure, two of the companies, Bitcasa and Prism Skylabs, are CrunchFund investments, but we didn't hold that against them. Along with the other finalists, the judges scored them the highest. The CrunchFund is Michael Arrington's new venture fund. He was not involved in the final selection of these companies).

You can watch their first-day demos below. They are (in alphabetical order):

1. Bitcasa (post)
Presentation:

2. Cake Health (post)
Presentation:

3. Farmigo (post)
Presentation:

4. Prism Skylabs (post)
Presentation:

5. Shaker (post)
Presentation:

6. TalkTo (post)
Presentation:

7. Trello (post)
Presentation:



Over 1 Billion People Use Social Networks Today, And Other Stats

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 03:38 AM PDT

The slidedeck below just landed in my inbox (actually, a link to a Slideshare presentation, which is infinitely better). The sender: InSites Consulting, one of Europe’s finest research firms imho.

The topic: Social media around the world (facts and figures about social media in 30+ countries).

Findings from the research that stood out as far as I’m concerned: according to InSites, the awareness for Facebook is no less than 100% in the respondents’ countries, and more than 1 billion people – or roughly 70 percent of the online population – use social networks today.

Another key finding: it will be incredibly difficult for new social networks to succeed – 60% of respondents say they don’t need new social networks, and 93% say they’re content with what they have today. InSites: “Big social networks will get bigger. Small ones will get smaller.”

Way more social media-related facts and figures in the 167 slides below:



Billy Chasen And Seth Goldstein: Turntable.fm Was Less Of A Pivot And More Of A Restart

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 01:34 AM PDT

Turntable.fm founders Seth Goldstein and Billy Chasen sat down with TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch Disrupt to talk about the rise of Turntable.fm from the ashes of Stickybits, among other things. “It was less of a pivot and more of a restart,” Chasen said, on why he decided to dump the team’s original intent of making random barcode scanning a ubiquitous behavior in order to focus on the more promising Turntable.

“One day Billy came to me and said hey I've got this idea for a chat room with avatars and music and I said, ‘Hey that's genius.’” Goldstein recounted. Fast forward from Turntable’s launch (via a single tweet on May 19th) to today, when the service is hitting a million songs streamed a day, with over 600K users, more than 300K rooms and 25 million songs “awesomed.”

“This taps into something pretty deep, people want to experience music together,” Goldstein tried to explain the app’s success. “The expectations were pretty low, and then when it hit it hit pretty obviously and it grew really organically. Our biggest challenge now is [scaling] the extent to which we have great coverage in the SF, NY and LA in music digital hipster indie community … How do we do we crossover to college campuses and really across the country to become a broader mass market consumer experience without losing this incredible passionate hard-core user base?”

The pair wakes tomorrow morning ready to face this challenge, with a cool $7 million in their pocket and a snazzy new iPhone app in the App Store.


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