Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch


The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Cloud Storage Platform Box.net Raises $81M From Salesforce, SAP At $600M-Plus Valuation

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:59 AM PDT


Cloud storage platform Box.net has raised $81 million in Series D funding from strategic investors Salesforce.com and SAP Ventures with Bessemer Venture Partners, NEA, and prior investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth participating in the round. The new investment brings Box's total capital raised to $162 million (the $50 million round we reported on a few weeks ago is part of this D round). We’ve heard from sources close to the company that the Box’s valuation was above $600 million.

Box, which has 7 million users and stores over 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.

The company was founded in 2005 by Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith out of their dorm rooms in 2005 with the goal of making it easy for people to access and share all their content, from anywhere. Today, the company provides storage solutions for 77% of the Fortune 500. Currently, 100,000 businesses are using Box’s service with 250,000 new users joining each month. This year, Box landed its biggest enterprise deal yet (and one of the largest cloud SaaS deals ever) with 18,000 seats with P&G.

Josh Stein, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, was an early believer of Box back in 2006. He says that two things stood out then that showed that the idea born out of Levie and Smith’s dorm room had potential. First, he explains Smith and Levie had one of the best work ethics he’d seen.

He recalled that when the firm would ask Levie and Smith questions about the product and business, the two fledgling entrepreneurs at the time would respond with thoughtful several page emails at all hours of the day. And second, the quality of the early product, which at that point was aimed at the consumer as well as businesses, was intuitive, well-designed and had a valuable functionality.

So why has Box been able to scale from an idea in a dorm room to a nearly billion dollar business? Stein says that Box’s cloud storage platform is a ‘terrific product’ that meets needs for variety of industries. He says that in the past few years, Box has created a new category in enterprise products of what the company intranet could have become.

NEA partner Kittu Kolluri agrees with Stein that Box has become an extension of the intranet, but adds that Box has also become a next generation extranet, as Box allows companies to share files and communicate with clients outside of the company.

Kolluri also highlights the growing trend of the consumerization of IT. He said that NEA looked at a few other companies in the enterprise storage and collaboration space but Box had the most compelling solution that offered enterprises both security as well as ease of use.

And because of its compelling product, growing revenue and strong user base, the company has even become a pricey acquisition target, receiving acquisition offers of $500 million. Kolluri says it was a smart decision for Box to turn these acquisitions down (NEA invested after these acquisitions were rejected). And Kolluri wholeheartedly believes that Box can and will be a public company.

Stein also believes in Box’s potential strength in the public markets. “Box absolutely should be a public company,” he says and confirms that an offering is in the company’s future plans. Stein says that as an SaaS company, Box’s recurring revenue model makes it an ideal public company. Of course, raising this growth round gives Box the flexibility of when they want to enter the public markets, adds Stein.

Levie hasn’t planned on raising additional funds this year after picking up $48 million from Andreessen Horowitz and others earlier this year but because of the strong venture market, the company’s strong performance, and the growth in the cloud, an expansion round made sense.

“There’s so much change taking place in the enterprise, and we’re trying to build out go-to platform for how people use data, work, and collaborate,” Levie explains. Part of this is taking on more established enterpruse players like Microsoft. "We're redefining how enterprises share and manage content on Box, while also building a powerful, open ecosystem of partners and developers to help our customers get more value and flexibility from their information than ever before possible."

Part of this is creating an ecosystem around the platform. 
In November, Box plans to launch the Box Innovation Network, which will provide funding, consulting and other resources to developers building off of Box. Today, Box integrates with 120 applications, including leading cloud solutions including Salesforce, SAP StreamWork, Google Apps and NetSuite.

Box plans to use the new funding for product development, international expansion, and to further build out its infrastructure in the U.S., opening a third data center in 2012. 

Of course, with this expansion will come challenges, says Stein. Growing fast can put strain on an organization. Box has rapidly scaled its team from 125 to nearly 300 employees in 2011 to date, including key senior hires from companies such as Cisco, EMC, Microsoft, NetSuite, and Oracle. Of course these executives has experience with high-growth companies and can help the company innovate while continuing to grow.

As far as strategic partners go, Salesforce and SAP are interesting choices. Salesforce, in particular, as a partner makes sense says Levie considering both of the company’s bets in the cloud. Box will be debuting integrations with Salesforce’s social network for the enterprise Chatter, and will continue to roll out deeper integrations in the future. And Levie says that most of Box’s customers user Salesforce as well.

"Box is helping organizations make better decisions faster by bringing new innovation to business information," said Jai Das, managing director, SAP Ventures. "As an investor and partner, we're excited about how Box is reinventing content management and collaboration, and look forward to working with them to make customers more productive."

In the end, we want no more limits for businesses, says Levie. But he knows that to do this Box needs to innovate fast. “Steve Jobs reminded us of challenges of time,” he explains. “We’re trying to make the best use of our time and do a large amount of things rapidly. The ability to capitalize on this growth in the cloud is dependent on how quickly we can go to market.”

We can definitely expect more products and features coming out of Box in the next few months. And clearly, we could also see a public offering as soon as next year. 2012 should be an interesting year for the cloud storage company.

Checkout our recent video with Levie below.

Grooveshark Signs Deals With DashGo & NuGroove Records

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:38 AM PDT

Image (1) grooveshark.jpg for post 161910

Streaming music service Grooveshark is today announcing it has signed new licensing deals with worldwide distribution network DashGo and indie label NuGroove Records. DashGo is the larger deal, representing 115 labels, more than 4,5000 banks and over 50,000 tracks. NuGroove, meanwhile, is a small label with just over two dozen signed artists.

DashGo’s top labels include Delicious Vinyl and Time Records, and its top bands are Coconut Records and Rock Mafia. NuGroove is more jazz-focused, with acts like Michael Lington and Bob Baldwin.

Grooveshark now has a library of over 15 million songs and sees over 35 million unique visitors monthly. However, its questionably legal service has resulted in its app getting rejected by Apple and even banned by the Android Market in the past. It’s now available as an app for jailbroken iPhones and via the mobile Web at m.grooveshark.com.

Full mobile access is available for $9/month, which is an increasingly hard sell when for just a buck more you can get still large, but legal, catalogs from MOG (12M), Rdio (12M) or Rhapsody (13M), for example.

That said, Grooveshark’s fans love the selection, the app’s design and offline access the service provides via its apps and websites. And considering its issues, growing to 35 million uniques per month is rather impressive.

Company: Grooveshark
Website: grooveshark.com
Launch Date: January 3, 2006
Funding: $1M

Grooveshark is a web-based music application built for anyone on the internet to listen to music on-demand at no charge. Users have the ability to listen to single songs from over 15 million songs, save playlists, and embed both on other websites, blogs, and social media profiles via the Grooveshark Widget. Grooveshark offers users the option to access their Grooveshark accounts remotely with mobile applications for Android, jailbroken iOS, BlackBerry, and HP Palm WebOS devices. Grooveshark also allows artists and record...

Learn more

Topsy Launches Realtime Search Engine For Public Google+ Posts

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:20 AM PDT


Realtime search and analytics platform company Topsy Labs this morning announced that it has added Google+ as a source in its index.

A dedicated search engine for public Google+ posts, available here in beta, lets users search and access realtime and historical conversations occurring within the social network.

Topsy emphasizes that posts are ranked by the startup’s proprietary relevance and influence-ranking technology. You can find some screenshots below or give it a whirl right now.

Topsy’s algorithms calculate who the experts are for specific keywords, terms and links, updating influence graphs based upon the attention generated from Google+ and Twitter posts.

Says Vipul Ved Prakash, cofounder and CEO of Topsy Labs:

“We are proud to be the first search engine to provide comprehensive search over public Google+ posts. Beyond the 220 million daily tweets we are currently indexing, with the addition of Google+, we’ve extended our search technology to deeply index and rank long-form social conversations.

On Topsy, people can now search Google+ and Twitter for realtime, relevance-ranked results, and businesses can be better informed about what¹s important by using our APIs to mine the collective intelligence of posters on both Twitter and Google+.”

Headquartered in San Francisco and founded in 2006, Topsy has raised about $30 million from BlueRun Ventures, Ignition Partners, Founders Fund and Scott Banister.

Product: Google+
Website: plus.google.com
Company Google

A Google project headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is designed to be the social extension of Google. Its features focus on making online sharing easy for users. “Circles,” think social circles, akin to Facebook’s lists “Sandbar,” a user-unifying toolbar “Sparks,” a search engine for sharing content between users “Huddle,” a group messaging app that allows users to share with certain “Circles” “Hangouts,” group video chatting designed to allow up to 10 users video chat at once Each Google+ user can replace his...

Learn more
Company: Topsy
Website: topsy.com
Funding: $29.9M

Topsy, which launched on May 26, 2009, is a real-time search engine, with a focus on social media sites like Twitter. The site’s underlying technology examines popular links as well as the influence of each person citing a link. Topsy augments traditional search engines by finding information that people are talking about.

Learn more

BlackBerry Internet Outage Strikes Again While Investors Get Antsy

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:16 AM PDT


Oh boy. As if yesterday’s BIS outage wasn’t bad enough for RIM, it looks like whatever solution they managed to cook up isn’t quite doing the trick. Reports of yet another outage have begun to make the rounds, and users in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are once again unable to browse the web, send emails, or fire off BBM messages.

RIM has acknowledged the issue via their official BlackBerryHelp Twitter account by saying that “some areas have messaging delays and impaired browsing.” Their tweet doesn’t make it sound too bad, but representatives from T-Mobile UK, Vodafone Egypt, Bahraini carrier Batelco, and Kenyan operator Safaricom have all confirmed that their customers are being affected.

While RIM scrambles for a fix, they may also be facing some issues a bit closer to home. Activist investor Jaguar Financial has been calling on RIM to enact some drastic changes for about a month now, but Reuters reports that the company has managed to gain the support of other BlackBerry shareholders. As it stands, Jaguar claims to have the backing of enough investors to account for 8% of RIM’s total stock.

Jaguar Chief Exec Vic Alboini has mentioned that with the support of those shareholders, Jaguar will be able to demand a shareholder meeting to gain more traction for their vision for RIM. And what exactly is that vision? Jaguar wants RIM to undergo a “value maximization” process that could involve selling RIM’s patents, or even the entire company. What’s more, Jaguar is calling for a shake-up in RIM management that would begin with ousting co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

At this point, it’s beyond crucial for RIM to get their affairs in order, because things are starting to look grim. It certainly wouldn’t be impossible for RIM to turn things around, but these days their road just seems to be getting rougher and rougher.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Gets Listed For Pre-Order

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:11 AM PDT


When Samsung first announced the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus WiFi-only tablet, they failed to mention anything about pricing or availability. We assumed that meant that there would be a bit of a wait before we got the chance to get up close and personal with the slate, but maybe we were wrong. J&R electronics retailer has listed the device for pre-order in both the 32GB and 16GB flavors.

At J&R you can pre-order the 16GB model for $399.99, while the 32GB Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will cost you $499.99, reports Unwired View. The 32GB model is listed as “out of stock” at the moment, while the 16GB model seems to still be listed as available. Either way, the “Add To Cart” button for the 32GB version is still functional, and seems to just be another way of placing your pre-order.

As a refresher, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus sports a 1024×600 WSVGA touchscreen, Android 3.2 Honeycomb, a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, a 3-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing shooter for video chat. It features support for a microSD card and packs the Netflix app straight out of the box.

Unfortunately, J&R offers up no time frame for shipments, but simply states that they are waiting on shipments from the manufacturer. Still, if you’ve had your heart set on a 7-inch Honeycomb tablet from Samsung, a pre-order at J&R’s will surely put one of the very first Galaxy Tab 7-inchers in your hands.


Learn more

Zenprise Raises $30 Million In New Funding

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:05 AM PDT


Mobile device management company Zenprise, Inc. today announced it has raised $30 million in new financing. The round was led by Silicon Valley-based Greylock Partners, with participation from all of Zenprise's existing investors.

The investment will be used to support the company’s growth, and accelerate product development, sales and marketing efforts.

As part of this new funding round, Zenprise also announced that Asheem Chandna has joined the company’s board of directors. Asheem, a partner at Greylock Partners since 2003, was previously VP of business development and product management at Check Point Software.

Current and prior company investments and board seats include: AppDynamicsAruba Networks (ARUN)CipherTrust (Intel),DelphixImpervaPalo Alto NetworksPort Authority (Websense)Securent (Cisco), Sourcefire (FIRE) and Xsigo Systems.

Last month, Zenprise debuted a new product to lockdown iPhones and iPads in the enterprise, and plans to extend that solution to Android in the near future.

Earlier this year, it was one of the vendors selected by analyst firm Gartner as a “visionary” in its Magic Quadrant ranking. Companies designated as visionaries demonstrate “long-term strategies that point to the product and service approaches that will be most competitive in the future,” Gartner said.

The company was also named as a top new security vendor by HP at HP Protect 2011, a top 50 startup winner by TiE Global and has expanded its U.S. HQ with a new 24,000 square foot facility in Redwood City, CA. It also has a new European HQ in Paris, and new sales offices in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, Germany, the Netherlands and The United Kingdom.

Company: Zenprise
Website: zenprise.com
Launch Date: October 11, 2011
Funding: $34.5M

Zenprise, provider of award winning mobile device management and security solutions, enables enterprises to confidently secure, manage and grow their mobile deployments as they mobilize their workforce. Zenprise protects the enterprise at more points against more threats than any other vendor in the market. Supported smartphone platforms include BlackBerry®, iPhone, iPad, Android, Palm, Symbian, webOS and Windows Mobile devices. Zenprise was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Redwood City, California.

Learn more

News Reader Pulse Debuts Cross-Platform Syncing

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT


Pulse, an innovative news reading app for mobile devices, is debuting a new cross-platform syncing feature that allows users to access their accounts and saved sources across devices.

Pulse, which is developed by Alphonso Labs, launched last year via an iPad app as a more seamless (and visually appealing) way to read your RSS feeds. But Pulse ditched RSS in favor of hooking up with APIs to access content. Pulse's home screen renders stories from your feeds on a dynamic mosaic interface and via a touch interface, allows you to swipe up and down to see headlines from various sources, and right and left to browse stories from a particular source. Pulse users can also bring in their news from 60 sources.

Recently, Pulse debuted the ability to create a personal account where you can save stories for reading later. Once you're signed up, you can bookmark a story on your Android phone or the Web using a bookmarklet feature, and read it later on your another device. With this release, Pulse allows you to sync your sources across devices as well.

Basically the update allows a more unified reading experience across devices. Each source added will sync to all the devices you have Pulse on, including the service’s iPhone, iPad, Android and Android tablets apps.

Company: Pulse
Website: pulse.me
Funding: $9M

Pulse is an elegant news reading application for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. It incorporates colorful panning story bars and fills them with content from your favorite sources. Pulse redefines news, giving you the opportunity to experience the news you desire from traditional sources, your favorite blogs and social networks – all in one beautiful interface.

Learn more

First Look At ImageSocial, The Photo-Sharing Network That Just Scored $15 Million In Funding

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:50 AM PDT


Earlier this month, Australian-based Mooter Media took in $15 million from San Francisco investment firm La Jolla Cove Investors, Inc. in order to launch a new social photography platform. The platform, called ImageSocial, will be built with technical development partner Hot Shot Media and, unlike traditional photo-sharing networks, will also include a gaming element.

Instead of just friending users and uploading photos, at launch, ImageSocial users will be able to participate in what Mooter says is the “largest online photo contest ever conceived.” The contest will involve a search for the most defining moments of our generation, and will award “big” prizes.

The investment in ImageSocial is one of the largest in Australian tech companies in recent history. Australia is more often a geographic region that’s under-represented in the tech startup world in relation to its vast size. In the agreement with La Jolla, Mooter will receive five committed, sequential and non-renounceable convertible notes of $3 million each to provide the company with capital injections. The initial drawdown will be $200,000 per month, with the ability to increase to $1 million per month as the share price increases. (Mooter Media is a publicly traded company).

Clearly, the company plans for this new photo-sharing platform to be huge.

The funding is also being used to build out the company’s San Francisco-based development and marketing arm, plus rapidly develop and commercialize the ImageSocial platform.

When it launches in Q1 2012, ImageSocial will encourage users to share photos on the network via desktop, tablet or mobile devices and will encourage them to vote on others’ images.

The photo-sharing contest is being positioned as an “American Idol” style reality contest, explains Chris Jermyn, CEO of Hot Shot Media:

“Nearly 10 years ago, 'American Idol' captured the hearts, minds, imaginations and voting hysteria of television viewers from around the world, compelling a generation to compete, to dream and to become involved. As a concept, 'Idol' has stood the test of time, defining a genre in which there have been many imitators but few conquerors…Our similarities to Idol run deep, harnessing the power of social media to allow interactive competition on a massive, global scale – but those who were once just viewers can now become direct participants – to create, to compete and to win on their own accord.”

We’re a little concerned about the “Idol” reference – don’t they know we’re all tired of that show?

OK, I kid (well, sort of). But while there’s still plenty of room for more photo-sharing startups, apps and platforms given the ubiquity of digital cameras and camera phones, the idea of a photo-sharing network where gaming is the primary draw is still a bit of a risk, at least on this scale. And ImageSocial isn’t the first to “gamify” the photo-sharing experience, newly launched Piictu, Snapr’s Capture the Flag, Where Am I?, Kept, and dozens of others are experimenting with making photo-sharing more game-like.

Below, we’ve got the first few screenshots of what ImageSocial has in the works as it will appear on desktop and iPad.

Fab.com Is Growing Like Crazy, Debuts Android And iOS Apps

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:17 AM PDT


Fab.com, which started out as Fabulis, a social networking site for gay men, has not only recently changed its name but also started from scratch with an entirely new business centered around online flash sales of design items. After raising a $1 million seed round, and another $8 million in Series A funding, back in July, the company has seen absolutely stunning growth after the pivot.

The startup’s CEO, Jason Goldberg, says the site now boasts over 750,000 members, of which 40,000 signed up over the course of last weekend alone. And with 18% of its traffic (and 12% of its revenue) currently coming from mobile devices, the time was ripe for Fab.com to launch some apps.

Today, the company is doing just that, debuting applications for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Fab.com is already generating about $100,000 in sales on a daily basis, and Goldberg expects this number to shoot up quickly after the launch of the mobile apps, which are evidently free of charge.

The app enables users to receive daily notifications when new sales go live, browse and purchase items, and share products on Twitter and Facebook, among other features.

Screenshots galore:

Company: Fab
Website: fab.com
Funding: $11.3M

Fab.com features daily design inspirations and sales at up to 70% off retail. Fab.com was started by Jason Goldberg, who founded SocialMedian and Jobster, with design industry veteran Bradford Shellhammer, contributor to Dwell and formerly of Blu Dot and Design Within Reach in New York, NY, along with Deepa and Nishith Shah in Pune, India and Veerle Pieters in Deinze, Belgium. Fab.com's headquarters are in New York, NY. The Fab.com website offers daily design inspirations and sales of up to...

Learn more

AT&T Adds Five New Android Phones To Their Lineup

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:11 AM PDT


If you thought that AT&T’s Android lineup was a bit lacking, then today’s announcement just may change your mind. AT&T has pulled back the curtains on a fleet of five new Android-powered smartphones that should hit wireless retailers just in time for all that holiday commotion.

The new Samsung Captivate Glide may bear a resemblance to its distant cousins the Stratosphere and the Epic 4G, but the similarities are purely cosmetic. While this Gingerbread handset packs a similar 4-inch Super AMOLED display, it also has a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor under the hood and 1GB of RAM to help keep things running smoothly.

As you can tell, it also sports a comfortable-looking four row keyboard, but perhaps less obvious are the HSPA+ radio, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.3-megapixel frontfacer.

Motorola’s Atrix 2 actually seems like a mixed bag as far as upgrades go. It rocks a sleeker body than its predecessor, not to mention an new HSPA+ radio so users can finally push the limits of AT&T’s Faux-G network.

An unnamed 1GHz dual-core processor is calling the shots, which is a bit odd considering how proud they were of the original’s Tegra 2 chipset, and the display has been bumped up to 4.3 inches without a similar bump in resolution. That bit of stretching means that the Atrix 2 is working with a slightly lower pixel density than the original model, which may be a disappointment for current Atrix fans. It indeed runs Gingerbread, and an 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video rounds out the package.

These two are the new heavyweight additions to AT&T’s portfolio, but let’s not forget the company’s new mid-and-low-range options.

Pantech joins the fray here with their Gingerbread-powered Pocket. It follows some of the design language used in some of Pantech’s other phones, which is my polite way of saying that it’s awfully squarish.

It’s got a 4-inch SVGA display, a 2GB microSD card, and a 5 megapixel rear camera. The Pocket lives up to its namesake by squeezing everything into a slim frame that’s only 11.3mm thick, so even the skinny jeans fans among you shouldn’t have too much trouble toting this thing around.

The Samsung DoubleTime gains the dubious distinction of being the only phone here to be stuck with Android 2.2/FroYo. Really? Even the ZTE gets Gingerbread?

In any case, the DoubleTime’s big gimmicks are its flip-open design and the internal and external touchscreens mounted on either side of the top half. It rocks a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, comes with a 2 GB microSD card, and will only be available in white with pink trim.

The AT&T Avail, made by ZTE, is the company’s second prepaid Android device. It’s pretty blase as far as smartphones go: it features a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and a 5 megapixel camera. That’s it. It seems like even AT&T is having trouble getting excited over this thing but in fairness, it’s probably meant to sell at a low off-contract price.

Subscription Service For Kids Activities Kiwi Crate Raises $2 Million

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT

Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Crate, a new subscription service for kids activities, has raised $2 million in funding led by First Round Capital. Additional investors in the company include the Mayfield Fund, Comcast Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Consigliere Brand Capital, UJ Ventures and 500 Startups. Individual angel investors include Raymond Tonsing and Seth Goldstein.

The company, which launched today, has developed a subscription-based service that produces and delivers hands-on activities boxes for kids. The products are science activities, and arts and crafts projects that are designed to be educational but also entertaining for kids. And Kiwi Crate provides all the necessary materials, ideas and instructions for themed activities.

Kiwi Crate’s monthly subscriptions are $19.95 per month, or $220 for an annual subscription. Gift subscriptions for 3, 6 or 12 months are also available. The startup says each crate is designed by a community of parents, reviewed by team of experts, and tested by kids.

Kiwi Crate’s founding team comes with extensive experience in e-commerce and children’s services. Founder Sandra Oh Lin was GM of eBay Fashion and prior to that, launched PayPal Mobile and led product marketing for PayPal's Merchant Services business. Other co-founders include Yu Pan, a PayPal co-founder and early employee at You Tube, and Yael Pasternak Valek, an ex-Yahoo! product manager who was on the founding team at Maya's Mom, which was later acquired by BabyCenter.

Kiwi Crate faces competition from BabbaCo.

Pearltrees Brings Visual Content Curation And Discovery Platform To The iPad

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT


Content curation and mapping service Pearltrees is launching a dedicated iPad app today to allow users to cultivate and share their interests from the web on the tablet device. For background, Pearltrees is a visual social bookmarking service that allows users to organize, discover and share everything they like on the web.

Content can be dragged and dropped into Pearltrees and the service will organize this via a string of 'pearls,’ which can then be moved around, organized and shared. Launched in December 2009, Pearltrees has gathered more than 10 million pearls. The company has says it has been growing at average rate of 15% month over month, with over half a million visits in September.

Considering the visual nature of the iPad, Pearltrees founder Patrice Lamothe says that the device is a natural home for Pearltrees. Via the apps, users can collect and retrrieve their favorite content from the web.

The app also includes a real-time collaborative curation feature that let users spontaneously team-up with others on their favorite topics. And you can access the curation of Pearltrees’ community of over 200,000 active curators.

Pearltrees faces competition from Pinterest.

Company: Pearltrees
Website: pearltrees.com
Launch Date: January 3, 2009
Funding: €3.8M

Pearltrees is the best way to organize, discover and share the stuff you like on the web.

Learn more

Xyologic Releases Hundreds Of Reports Detailing Worldwide Mobile App Trends

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:58 AM PDT


App search company Xyologic is today releasing a total of 220 app download reports, featuring detailed data on Android, iOS and Windows Phone trends across 29 countries worldwide. The reports track statistics like the number of downloads per platform/per country, growth rates, country rankings, number of paid vs. free apps published, app revenue and details regarding app publishers’ individual rankings.

Unlike app store rankings, Xyologic’s reports use raw download numbers to rank apps, as opposed to complex algorithms often meant to boost app discoverability. Ranking by downloads per month also means that some of the most popular apps will be lower on the list because the majority of their install base already has the app on their phones. That’s why Facebook clocks in as the #18 free app on iPhone in the U.S., for example, while game maker Zynga comes in at #15.

As an example of some of the trends these reports can help spot, Xyologic doled out some interesting tidbits of information, like how Apple saw 1.45 billion app downloads globally in the month of August versus 0.64 billion app downloads on Android. If Android’s current growth rate continues, it’s on track to catch up with Apple in June 2012, says Xyologic, at which point each platform will reach 3.2 billion downloads. (See chart).

In select countries, Android is already beating iOS in monthly app downloads, including in the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal. However, the mobile market in these countries is not fully developed.

Xyologic also forecasts that Android will catch up to iOS in terms of total app downloads by May 2013 and number of apps by August 2012, if current trends continue. (See below charts).

Digging into the reports for the U.S., you can find details as to the top 100 app publishers per platform, including number of apps (free and paid), downloads per month (free and paid) and estimated revenue. Reports are broken down into categories, with separate reports for top apps, new apps and an in-app purchase economy report. These are provided for each platform (iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone) where available, for 29 countries.

Frankly, there’s a lot of data to digest here, so much that even Xyologic claims that it expects its partners and community to discover even more than it could on its own. That, in part, is why the company decided to make these app reports available for free and will continue to do so on a monthly basis. Yes, 220 reports, 4 platforms, every month, for free. Not bad.

If you work in the  mobile industry, this treasure trove of reports is definitely worth a look. You can access them all from here.

BOLT Mobile Browser Exits Beta, Launches Version 3.0

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:44 AM PDT


Today, the BOLT Mobile Browser for Android is exiting its private beta period and becoming commercially available. The new version, BOLT 3.0, continues to offer the increased speeds and social features the browser has become known for, including the integrated Web apps and built-in Facebook integration.

For those unaware, BOLT is a popular WebKit-based alternative browser which runs on Android phones and tablets. It’s known to be fast because of the way it compresses webpages to reduce data transfer speeds. Using a client/server architecture, BOLT claims speeds that are consistently 25-50% faster than its competitors. It also supports the playback of HTML5 and Flash videos (even if your particular device doesn’t support Flash), and it takes advantage of adaptive streaming technology to make that playback even quicker.

The browser has a social element, too, with included Web apps for services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Wikipedia as well as something it calls the “Social Tab.” This feature lets BOLT users connect to Facebook so that information like websites, YouTube videos and status updates can be shared from the BOLT interface directly with the social network.

There are dozens of other features in BOLT, like support for RSS feeds, support for JavaScript, support for Facebook apps and games, pinch-to-zoom, copy/paste, keyboard shortcuts, desktop-style browsing and more. In the two years since its debut, BOLT has served over 6.5 billion pages and 244 million videos, the company says, and now claims “tens of millions” of users. The Android Market, however, shows just over 700,000 installs.

The new version of BOLT is available in the Android Market here.

Amazon Expands To Science Fiction, Horror And Fantasy With Seventh Publishing Imprint 47North

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:34 AM PDT


Amazon is launching its seventh publishing imprint today—a science fiction, horror and fantasy-focused vertical called 47North. This joins Amazon's other imprints, including Amazon Encore, AmazonCrossing, The Domino Project, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, and the New York imprint in the Amazon Publishing family.

47North, whose name is based on the latitude coordinates of Seattle (where Amazon is based), launches with a whopping 15 books, including “The Mongoliad: Book One,” the first in the ambitious, five-book, collaborative Foreworld series led by Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear, science fiction and fantasy writer Dave Duncan’s “Against the Light”, and a new edition of the first book in Evan Currie’s military space opera Odyssey series entitled “Into the Black: Odyssey One.”

Amazon says that all of these books will be available to English readers in Kindle, print and audio formats as well as at national and independent booksellers. 47North will publish original and previously published works, as well as out-of-print books. And Amazon says that science fiction, fantasy and horror books are particularly popular amongst their customers so the imprint made sense for the company.

The e-commerce giant started its publishing arm in 2009, giving Amazon greater control over producing original content for its readers.

Amazon most recently launched Thomas & Mercer, which is a mystery and thriller focused vertical. AmazonEncore publishes works from emerging and new writers, AmazonCrossing translates foreign language works, TheDominoProject is a partnership with Seth Godin for publishing works relating to innovative ideas and Montlake Romance publishes romance novels.

Company: Amazon
Website: amazon.com
Launch Date: October 11, 1994

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is a leading global Internet company and one of the most trafficked Internet retail destinations worldwide. Amazon is one of the first companies to sell products deep into the long tail by housing them all in numerous warehouses and distributing products from many partner companies. Amazon directly sells, or acts as a platform for the sale of a broad range of products. These include books, music, videos, consumer electronics, clothing and household products. The majority of Amazon's...

Learn more

Vente-privee’s Plans For U.S. Domination Exciting Enough For Google TV Execs To Jump Ship

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:15 AM PDT


Vente-privee, the French flash sales juggernaut, announced in May 2011 that it had teamed up with American Express to form a joint-venture for its U.S. operations (dubbed vente-privee USA). Earlier today, the company announced the latest members of its management team, which is headed by vente-privee USA CEO Mike Steib.

The hires that I thought were most notable were those of John Saroff and Jill Szuchmacher, who both previously served in leadership roles to grow the Google TV business.

Saroff has joined vente-privee USA as VP of Digital Factory and Sales Production – he will lead the creative development and production of each sale event including photo shoots, music, trailers and online boutiques for each partner. At Google, Saroff headed TV Ads and Strategic Partnerships.

Jill Szuchmacher will be leading business development for vente-privee USA as Vice President. She previously served as Director of Business Development at Google, most recently heading up commercialization for Google TV, leading engagements with partners such as Sony, Vizio, Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, they left Google around the same time, which speaks volumes about Google TV, which has seen very slow uptake since its introduction earlier this year.

Update: Google points out that TV Ads and Google TV are separate divisions, and that TV Ads is an online platform for buying ads on TV that is unrelated to Google TV. My bad.

Other hires include Robin Domeniconi, who joins as VP of Marketing after servering as SVP and Chief Brand Officer at Elle Group, and Nicolas Genest, a former Microsoft engineer who is making the jump from vente-privee to vente-privee USA to serve as VP of Technology.

Other new members of the company’s leadership team are Laure de Metz (formerly VP of Licensing for Marc Jacobs International) and Tim Quinn (formerly VP Investments, Integration and Measurement at American Express).

No word about the launch date of vente-privee’s dedicated US site.

Vente-privee.com is an invite-only online retailer, focusing on special deals for members. Vente-privee.com organises exclusive designer brand sales in all product categories: fashion, fashion accessories, homeware, sports products, electronics and wine, among others. They have direct partnerships with more than 850 designer brands across Europe.

Learn more

Best Buy To Offer Full Fleet Of iPhone Models

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:13 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 9.08.44 AM

Best Buy today announced that it will be offering the iPhone 4S, with in-store pre-orders available now and availability beginning October 14.

Just like at Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, the iPhone 4S will cost $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, and $399 for the 64GB model. All three carriers offering the 4S will be represented.

If the 4S seems a bit to pricey at the moment, Best Buy is also offering the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, which have been marked down considerably. The iPhone 4 comes in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB flavors and is available for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint starting at just $99 on-contract.

The 3GS, meanwhile, can be had for free with a signature on the dotted line.


Learn more

Sony Japan Prices First Playstation Vita Games

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:08 AM PDT


The launch of Sony’s new handheld console Vita in Japan is just two months away (December 17), so it’s about time big S made some official announcements regarding software prices. In a nut shell, the first batch of titles will not be sold for cheap.

To be more concrete, the prices for a total of four launch games are now fixed, namely:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss: 5,980 Yen/US$78 for the cartridge vs. ¥4,900/US$64 for the download version
  • Hot Shots Golf: 4,980 Yen/US$65 vs. 3,980 Yen/US$52
  • Ridge Racer (pictured): 3,980 Yen/US$52 vs. 3,580 Yen/US$47*
  • Katamari: 4,980 Yen/US65$ vs. 4,480 Yen/US$58*

*Ridge Racer’s download version will, between December 17 and March 31 next year, cost just 2,980 Yen/US$39. Katamari’s downloaded version will be discounted to 3,980 Yen/US$52 in the same time frame.

Prices for games to be sold outside Japan are not yet fixed, but keep in mind the retail prices listed up above are usually undercut by 10-15% (especially by big Japanese electronics discounters) once the games are actually ready to hit stores. Another thing worth mentioning is that the dollar amounts appear to be high partly because of the crazy exchange rate between the dollar and the yen currently (1US$=76.73 yen).

The console itself will be sold in Japan for 25,000 Yen/US$326 (its price will be US$250 in the US).

After 10 Million Total Mobile Downloads, TripAdvisor Launches 20 City Guide Apps On Android

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:04 AM PDT

Tripadviser Hong Kong

When it comes to travel apps, it helps to have a brand name like TripAdvisor. The top travel advice website also boasts some of the most popular travel apps across most mobile platforms. Its mobile apps have been downloaded 10 million times, with the bulk of those on the iPhone and iPad (it also supports apps for Android, Nokia, Windows Phone, and even Palm). Its iPhone app is currently the No. 4 travel app in iTunes. And if you include the mobile web, which is about half of its mobile users, TripAdvsor is well above 10 million unique mobile users per month.

Today, TripAdviser is launching 20 new City Guide apps for Android. These are standalone apps, which don’t require a connection to the network. They include maps, restaurants, hotels, and attractions (with ratings and reviews), as well as walking tours. The app was created by the EveryTrail team, which joined via an acquisition in February.

EveryTrail specialized in walking tours, and that is a big part of these apps. It even includes a compass which points you in the direction of your next destination. The 20 cities include London, Paris, New York City, Hong Kong, Rome, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

TripAdvisor is in the process of getting spun off from Expedia. Mobile will be a big part of its growth going forward.

Company: TripAdvisor
Website: tripadvisor.com
Launch Date: January 2, 2000

TripAdvisor is a free travel guide and research website that offers reviews and information TripAdvisor operates sister sites in other countries (the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland, Japan and India). Apart from the obligatory reviews of hotels and other attractions, TripAdvisor has some nifty features. Users can quickly and easily post their vacation videos and travel marketers can showcase their properties by featuring their videos on TripAdvisor for free. They also offer a personalization tools allowing users to save...

Learn more

Online Video Ad Network DBG Acquires Digital Sports Ventures

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:00 AM PDT


Digital Broadcasting Group, one of the biggest producers and distributors of branded web video content, today announced that it has acquired Digital Sports Ventures, a multimedia content platform that delivers college sports video, like highlights, plays of the week, conference recaps, draft previews, and other premium content to websites across the country.

This is Digital Broadcasting Group’s first acquisition, and marks a important step in the company’s move to create and distribute original video programming in niche verticals across the Web. As Digital Sports Ventures is an official syndicator of Division I college sports video across the Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA, this allows its new owner to leverage this original sports video content against its own stable of over 2,600 publishers.

DBG has, in the past, created original branded programming for brands like Infiniti, Hewlett Packard, Ford, Spring, Coca-Cola and more, and has recently become one of the top 5 largest video ad networks, according to comScore, drawing over 107 million monthly active visitors to the pre-roll inventory it distributes from its advertisers as well as its original programming.

The acquisition was led in part by DBG Chief Product Officer Matthew Corbin who was formerly Global VP of Platform Solutions at Tremor Media and Head of Global Strategic Partnerships at Google/YouTube. Corbin also played a leading role in developing CLiP, DBG’s Content Library Platform which launched this August. As a content syndication solution, CLiP is designed to give publishers access to the company’s content library as well as a customizable video player and suite of management tools, including hosting and support, enabling them to significantly boost the video ad inventory on their sites.

By integrating Digital Sports Ventures’ portfolio of publishers, which includes McClatchy, The
Seattle Times, and The Detroit News, as well as its content management system and customizable
video players, CLiP will now be able to get its paws on that much-coveted niche: premium sports content. As the company says that it expects to stream 100 million videos monthly across nearly 300 websites, reaching approximately 10 million consumers each month, this will surely be of interest to the big athletic (and complementary consumer) brands that advertise to this sizable demographic.

“The introduction of DBG CLiP marked the first step towards alleviating the drought of premium content available for publishers to bring to viewers”, said DBG CEO Chris Young in a statement. “Adding Digital Sports Ventures and its syndication capabilities to our already existing stable of premium content, DBG can provide a more complete offering that serves the needs of publishers of all sizes in a growing number of verticals”.

For more on DBG, check the company out at home here as well as Erick’s interview with DBG COO Rick Kleczkowski here.

Website: dbg.tv
Launch Date: October 11, 2011

Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG) is a digital network specializing in the production and distribution of video content across the Internet and other digital media. A comScore rated top 5 video network comprised of close to 107 million monthly unique visitors, DBG distributes advertisers' pre-roll inventory as well as original web programming across the 2,600 sites and properties that are within the network. DBG's Emmy Award winning in-house production team produces original programming that aligns with a brand's communication goals....

Learn more

No comments: