Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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AisleFinder Launches Supermarket API, An Open Source API For Groceries

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 09:30 AM PDT


Ask any developer working in this space, and they’ll tell you that accurate grocery product information is hard to find via an API. To help solve this problem, the team from shopping list creator AisleFinder have launched Supermarket API, an open source API for the grocery industry.

The new API contains product details on over 150,000 grocery items as well as aisle info for over 2,400 supermarkets in the U.S.

Currently, the API provides access to supermarket aisle info from Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Safeway, CostCo and Wal-Mart in the U.S. and promises additional data for stores in Canada and Europe soon.

In terms of product listings, the API offers descriptions, photos, categories and aisle numbers for over 150,000 grocery items. And because it’s open source, the team promises there will always be a free version of Supermarket API to use.

It should be noted that Supermarket API isn’t the first product info service to attempt to solve the difficulties surrounding accessing grocery data info through programmatic means. In August, mobile app makers Pushpins, Inc. launched SimpleUPC, which contains data on over 120,000 food, beverage, personal care and household goods from over 15,000 brands and nearly 5,000 manufacturers. The difference is that SimpleUPC does not contain aisle information, while Supermarket API does. It’s also designed more for use with UPC and barcode scanner apps, than with shopping list or aisle navigation apps.

Supermarket API is still in the early stages of development, but if you’re in need of a service like this, head over to for more info.

ThingLink Launches Labs, First Project: Printable NFC-Enabled Images

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 09:28 AM PDT

ThingLink logo

ThingLink, a startup that lets you add rich media tags to online images, is today announcing the launch of an internal incubator called ThingLink Labs which will be a dedicated environment to create and productize innovations in the field of image interaction.

The Labs’ first project is Rich Media Notes, a printed version of ThingLink images, which will also include NFC tags.

The new Notes, built-in collaboration with designer Klaus Haapaniemi, are being shown off today and tomorrow at the Wired 2011 conference in London. Delegates will receive their own Rich Media Notes, which, when read by an NFC-enabled smartphone, will link through to an online profile on

In case you’re unfamiliar with ThingLink, the company lets you add tags to online images that show up as small blue dots when you move your mouse over the image. The dots can link to URLs, include text, or link to a number of services, including  Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, EventBrite, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, SoundCloud, Spotify, Wikipedia, Etsy and more.

These hotspot-laden images have been popular so far with indie record labels, big-name bands and promoters, including, for example, music artist promoter TopSpin. There are a couple of big deals with labels in the works, too. Some artists use ThingLink images that allow users to play tracks directly from the photo itself, while others link out to the artist’s social networking presence elsewhere on the Web.

By turning these ThingLink images into printouts, there is the possibility of wider distribution with NFC-enabled posters, flyers, handouts, and other material. Record labels may even use them in the future to create interactive physical album covers, to bring back that sense of engagement that used to come from perusing a CD or record’s liner notes.

Rich Media Notes have been created in collaboration with UPM RFID, providers of NFC tags, and TagAge, providers of NFC printing solutions.

Company: Thinglink

Thinglink is an image engagement tool that makes it easy to add clickable tags to any image on the web and share the tagged images on social networks. Any publisher or brand can distribute tagged images to bloggers and other publishers and still receive traffic back to the original image source.

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iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Sold Out At Sprint, Verizon, And AT&T

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 09:01 AM PDT


Heart set on that brand spankin’ new iPhone 4S? Sorry, but I come bearing bad news. Your window for placing a hassle-free pre-order may have just closed, hard. AT&T has extended its shipping time to 3-4 weeks, while Sprint and Verizon are fresh out of the 16GB model. In other words, it looks like you may be bundling up for a wait in line.

According to Bloomberg, it’ll be a 3-4 week wait before your iPhone 4S ships when you order from the blue carrier, and a 1-2 week wait from Apple. Verizon says its shipping date is slated for October 28.

If you’re headed out to an Apple store, might as well get yourself packed up now, ask off work, and head over early. With over 1 million pre-orders recorded in one day, you can bet tomorrow will be a long day.

New Mobile App Eye-C Lets You “Play” Twitter Hashtags

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:51 AM PDT


Eye-C is a new mobile application for iPhone and Android that lets you “play” Twitter hashtags on your phone, TV, PC or set-top box. The service looks for any media associated with a particular hashtag, then creates a playlist of sorts (a “taglist”) which allows you to watch the videos, listen to the music or view the photos associated with a particular hashtag. For example, a search for #occupywallst brings up a playlist of photos and videos of the protests alongside associated news reports.

I have to admit, the pitch for this service left me a little underwhelmed at first. The company clearly struggles to define what this service is and what it does in layman’s terms. Don’t believe me? Read the app’s description in iTunes or the Android Market. Better yet, read the press release, if you want to see overly flowery PR speak gone bad. (People, why is it so hard to say “it does X?” It doesn’t “take the work out of deciding what to play next.” It plays the media associated with a Twitter hashtag. KISS.)

As I understand it, though, the new app lets you search for keywords or Twitter hashtags in order to find media people are sharing, like YouTube videos on online photos. Then, you press the “play” button at the bottom to begin watching. The content can also be streamed to other devices, like TVs, via DLNA or AirPlay.

Because Apple’s iOS5 has built-in Twitter integration, the idea is that people will begin tweeting a lot more about the multimedia content they’re viewing on their phones. This app makes that content easier to find and watch, in theory.

The idea itself is not a bad one – turning Twitter hashtags into a playlist. But the app itself, like the pitch, needs work. In tests, I found things were slow to load and the interface confusing. (Why does the Timeline include some non-hashtagged items, for example? Why does the hashtag show up underneath the “taglist” in some search results? Aren’t they the same thing? See photo to right.) Frankly, the app’s design wasn’t all that appealing, either.

That said, there’s still promise in this idea of making playable Twitter lists that can be streamed to iPads and TVs in addition to being played on mobile. I was just hoping for something a bit better executed than Eye-C.

More info on Eye-C is available here.

The app is the creation of Eyecon, which has been focused on more geeky “connected home” offerings until now. That explains a lot.

BlackBerry Service Is Restored As RIM Co-CEOs Field Questions

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:42 AM PDT


In a press conference held today RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie confirmed that BlackBerry service has been restored worldwide, and users will be receiving all of their delayed emails and messages shortly.

Other than that the press conference was light on answers, mostly because it seems RIM’s upper brass don’t have any yet. In fairness, they’ve had a lot on their plate during the past few days. Lazaridis was reportedly overseeing the response team himself, and only managed to tear himself away from the goings-on early this morning.

The outage was the largest in RIM’s history, and the company is still trying to figure out why the backup system didn’t kick in when the core switch failed and knocked out service on three continents. Not exactly heartening news for the millions of BlackBerry users who were stuck without data service for over three days.

The pair was also asked if the company’s network woes could have been brought about by a spate of recent layoffs. Balsillie and Lazaridis quickly denied any connection.

Travis Eldridge
Thank you Blackberry outage for making me go ahead and pre-order the iphone….can't make the switch soon enough

The issue of compensating customers was raised a few times thanks to scores of upset BlackBerry fans taking their complaints to Twitter. Thanks to the outage, many once-ardent users are now considering switching to other platforms, something the already-ailing RIM can’t really handle.

Lazaridis and Balsillie admitted that the service issues have affected customers’ trust in the BlackBerry brand, but wouldn’t go into specifics about compensating affected users other than mentioning that it was a “priority.”

The press conference came right on the heels of a video apology filmed by Lazaridis.

Understanding How Dilution Affects You At A Startup

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:35 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.

Everybody knows that when you raise money at a startup your ownership percentage of the company goes down. The goal is to have the value of the startup go up by enough that you own a smaller percentage of a much larger business and therefore your total personal value goes up.

The simplest way to think about this is: If you own 20% of a $2 million company your stake is worth $400,000. If you raise a new round of venture capital (say $2.5 million at a $7.5 million pre-money valuation, which is a $10 million post-money) you get diluted by 25% (2.5m / 10m). So you own 15% of the new company but that 15% is now worth $1.5 million or a gain of $1.1 million.

But understanding how you’re likely to get diluted over time is a more difficult concept. And figuring out how much your equity may be worth over the course of a 5-year stint at a startup is even more complicated.

I’ve had to simplify a bit, but to make it easier to understand I’ve teamed up with Jess Bachman at If you want to see a view of the power of their work check out this Steve Jobs infographic. I’m a huge believer in Infographics and the ability to create deeper understanding of complicated topics through visual means. As “Big Data” becomes more pervasive the power to visualize will become increasingly important.

And Jess is awesome at his trade. His personal blog with some great example is here.

So here is our crack at explaining the world of dilution to you. Let us know what you think. And if you want more goodness like this don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter and to follow Jess on Twitter. We’ll bring you some more goodness again. Let us know what topics you want us to break down for ya.

Listen, understanding the world of valuations and how equity gets split on a sale is a whole lot more complicated than the graphic depicts. I hope it gave you a flavor. If you want a deeper dive I shot some video on calculating ownership and dilution over time. And make sure to read VentureHacks.

Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 after having worked with GRP for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Most recently Mark was Vice President, Product Management at (NASDAQ: CRM) following its acquisition of Koral,where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, the largest independent global content collaboration company focused on the engineering and construction sectors, which was acquired by SWORD Group (PARIS: SWP). Earlier in his career, Mark spent...

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Ushi, China’s Answer To LinkedIn, Raises $3 Million From GLG, Others

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:10 AM PDT


Marketplace for business expertise Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) has partnered with and acquired a minority stake in Ushi, a China-based business social networking service provider.

GLG’s investment, which was part of a recent $3 million funding round, brings Ushi’s total of capital raised to $4.5 million. Earlier backers of Ushi also participated in the financing round, which is the Shanghai-based company’s second to date.

Those earlier investors include Milestone Capital founding partner Yunli Lou, Endeavor co-founder Peter Kellner and Jose Cheng, managing director of Li & Fung private equity.

Based in Shanghai, Ushi offers a social networking service that caters to Chinese businesspersons and entrepreneurs, with a member base that the company says includes over 40,000 CEO-level and 10,000 CTO-level exes and key individuals from over 85 percent of the country’s VC and PE firms.

The investment and partnership with GLG make sense on a strategic level. In China, GLG boasts a network of more than 25,000 subject matter experts who can be engaged real-time and on-demand to assist in deal sourcing, research, due diligence, etc.

Ushi members will be invited to join the GLG marketplace to expand the company’s expert network in China. GLG will advise Ushi on the commercial development of and Ushi Answers.

The latter is a new, invitation-only collaborative Q&A service recently launched to a select group of Ushi members. Think Quora for business topics, evidently focused on China.

Company: Ushi
Funding: $1.5M

Ushi is a private and invitation-only business social networking platform connecting China's influential professionals and entrepreneurs via mobile phones and PCs. Ushi makes it easier to find new customers, partners, employees, jobs, and experts, and enables members to share and discuss information. 优士 [yōu shì] means ‘outstanding professionals’ in Chinese, with a double meaning of ‘competitive advantange’. Ushi is focused on helping its members to expand and maximize the value of their professional networks, to achieve greater success....

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Launch Date: October 13, 1998

Gerson Lehrman Group, Inc. operates a technology-enabled platform for institutions to consult and collaborate with experts in various industries and disciplines in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company offers GLG Councils, a network of academics, scientists, industry practitioners, and other professionals. It enables clients to engage council members through telephone consultations, educational events, and conflict and disclosure management systems; written offerings, including GLG News Analyses, which are the reviews of industry developments by Council Members; GLG Q&A...

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HP Turns To Bing For New webOS Maps App On Smartphones

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:09 AM PDT


Though webOS products have been somewhat shelved going forward, there are still plenty of people out there using HP and Palm phones running the OS. For them, getting map information and directions has been quite the task with the webOS Google Maps-powered app. But today that should change, as the company has opted for a Bing Maps-powered mapping application for the OS.

This is the same Maps app you’ll find on the now discontinued HP TouchPad. According to MobileBurn, the app loads much faster, and comes with new features from Bing. For instance, users can choose between standard map view, satellite view, or birds-eye view, which are pretty gorgeous as far as maps go. The app now provides driving, walking or public transit directions, along with access to your address history and saved locations.

The new app is available for all webOS smartphones, which includes the original Pre, Veer, and Pixi smartphones. Just search “Maps” in the App Catalog and download the new app.

It’s really wonderful to see that HP hasn’t washed their hands of webOS entirely. Plenty of loyal webOS customers deserve a solid Maps application, especially since their OS of choice is on its way out the door.

Gartner: Lenovo Replaces Dell As No. 2 PC Maker, HP Still On Top And Growing

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:07 AM PDT


What’s that noise about living in a post-PC era? The personal computer market is actually growing per a new preliminary Gartner report. The research company found third quarter PC shipments as a whole are up 3.2% over the same period in 2010, totaling 91.8 million units. This number is slightly less than Gartner’s earlier projections and the Western European market is partly to blame. But save Acer and Dell, computer manufacturers increased shipments from a year ago and Lenovo, thanks to several acquisitions and partnerships, overtook Dell and now trails just HP in the worldwide PC marketshare pie.

Per this report, HP still holds the most worldwide and US marketshare. While Dell was catching up a year ago, the company saw a decrease in shipments while HP managed to ship even more. This comes even as HP previously announced that it was considering spinning-off its PC division.

Lenovo’s marketshare growth is partly attributed to recent deals. The Beijing-based computer manufacturer recently merged with Japan’s NEC and acquired Medion, a growing German consumer electronic company. Plus, Lenovo is aggressively stepping up marketing and releasing products that tend to ride above the industry standard.

Acer had a rough third quarter worldwide where shipments dropped a staggering 23.2% and 25.4% in the US market due to an inventory buildup issue.

Apple is still lagging behind the top five computer manufacturer on the worldwide stage, but it’s growing rapidly in the US where it holds the third largest marketshare. Apple’s third quarter shipments are up 21.5% over Q3 2010, which helped increase its marketshare to 12.9%. HP saw similar growth with a 15.1% shipping increase and now holds 28.9% of the US marketshare while Dell dropped to 21.9% thanks to a shipping decrease of 7.2%.

The US market saw the third straight quarter of year-over-year growth. Gartner notes that inventory buildup wasn’t an issue as industry expectations foresaw weak back-to-school sales. Apple grew the most in the US in part because of the success of MacBook Air.

These numbers are still preliminary. Gartner will soon release the final stats to its PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program.

Company: Lenovo
Launch Date: October 13, 1984

Lenovo Group Limited, an investment holding company, engages manufacture and distribution of IT products and services. It offers laptops, desktops, workstations, servers, batteries and power, docks and port replicators, carrying cases, software, monitors, touch-screen devices, and printers. The company also provides accessories and upgrades, such as audio and video, cables and adapters, carrying cases, keyboards and mice, memory, projectors, security, storage, and wireless and networking products. In addition, it involves in the property holding and property management, procurement agency,...

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Company: Dell
Launch Date: October 13, 1984
IPO: Nasdaq:DELL

Dell develops, manufactures, and sells personal computers and other computer-related products including servers, data storage devices, network switches, software, computer peripherals and televisions.

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Company: Apple
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 13, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with...

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Company: Acer
Launch Date: October 13, 1976

The Acer Group is a family of four brands – Acer, Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines. It ranks as the world’s third-largest company for total PC shipments, is No. 2 for notebooks, and has a global workforce of more than 6,000 employees. Revenues in 2008 reached US$16.65 billion. The successful mergers of Gateway, Inc. (October 2007) and Packard Bell, Inc. (March 2008) by parent company, Acer, Inc., completes the group’s global footprint by further strengthening its presence in the U.S....

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Company: Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly referred to as HP, is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA. HP is one of the world’s largest information technology companies and operates in nearly every country. HP specializes in developing and manufacturing computing, data storage, and networking hardware, designing software and delivering services. Major product lines include personal computing devices, enterprise servers, related storage devices, as well as a diverse range of printers and other imaging products....

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Union Square Ventures, Others Invest In Alternative Search Engine DuckDuckGo

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 07:33 AM PDT


In a blog post, Union Square VenturesBrad Burnham just announced that the firm has invested in DuckDuckGo, a startup building a nifty search engine with less clutter and more privacy.

Scott Banister, Jim Young, Jeff Miller, Joshua Schachter, Kal Vepuri, Joshua Stylman and Peter Hershberg also invested in the round, writes founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

USV Managing Partner Burnham will be joining the fledgling company’s board. He writes:

The company is young and under staffed so there are definitely holes Gabriel hopes to fill, but his observation that “traditional algorithmic signals are not the only authority on the web,” and his clever use of real authorities to curate search results makes Duck Duck Go an interesting alternative to your everyday brand.

It’s unclear how much USV invested in the company, but we’re digging for more info.

From Weinberg’s blog post on the fundraising:

My original plan was to delay raising capital until I saw a compelling reason to do so, perhaps forever. For better or worse, I stuck to that plan, which ended up being about a 3.5yr delay.

So why now? At the end of last year I noticed that the search engine started to really click with a greater percentage of people in a way that it hadn’t before. Don’t get me wrong — we still have a long way to go to reach our vision — but it was obvious that some things were really starting to become compelling, e.g. our Zero-click Info, privacy policy and goodies.

And here’s how DuckDuckGo is growing, according to its internal stats.


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Financial-organization: Union Square Ventures
Launch Date: January 11, 2004

“Union Square Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm based in New York City. We invest in young companies that use information technology in innovative ways to create high growth business opportunities in the Media, Marketing, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Healthcare industries. Our venture capital firm was conceived as a place where a small number of very experienced investment professionals, working collaboratively from a single office, could build a portfolio of promising startup companies and then put our experience...

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New Beats By Dre Monster Headphones Are Wireless, Colorful: We Go Ears-On

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 07:09 AM PDT


I was lucky enough to get a look at Monster’s new Beats by Dre headphones at their Holiday Launch party recently, and it’s safe to say they’re pretty sweet cans. The company has developed two new sets of headphones: the Beats Wireless on-ear Headphones and the Beats Studio HD Powered Isolation Headphones, which come in a number of color flavors.

I got the chance to go ears-on with both of the new products, and I can honestly say I enjoyed my time with each of them. Both sets are super comfortable, too.

The Beats Wireless headphones come with controls on the ear cups, allowing you to adjust the volume, skip tracks, and power the headphones on and off. Since the cans use Bluetooth technology, you can even sync them up with your phone so that the music stops each time you receive a call. The headphones are battery-powered, and can be recharged.

The Beats Studio headphones are the flagship cans over at Beats, but for the holidays the company has thrown in some extra colors. What once was only available in black, white, and red is now offered in blue, orange, magenta and purple. They come with an extra Monster iSoniTalk headphone cable with a built-in mic and call answer button to let you chat on the phone if you get a call while rocking out.

The colorful new Beats Studio cans will be available on October 16 with an MSRP of $299, while the Beats Wireless headphones will be available exclusively at Apple Stores later this year, with an MSRP of $279.

Crashlytics, A Crash-Reporting Solution For Mobile Developers, Raises $1 Million

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 07:01 AM PDT


Crashlytics, a crash reporting solution for mobile developers, today announced it has closed $1 million in seed funding in a round led by investment firms Flybridge Capital Partners and Baseline Ventures. The new service, available as an SDK for iOS developers (Android soon), is currently in private beta testing.

Angels investors in the round include David Chang (COO at Where, a PayPal company), Lars Albright (cofounder of Quattro, now Apple iAds), Chris Sheehan (Managing Partner at CommonAngels), Ty Danco (Founder, eSecLending and FX Aligned), Jennifer Lum (former VP at Quattro, now Apple iAds), Roy Rodenstein (founder of and a former Director of Business Planning at AOL), Joe Caruso (Managing Partner at Bantam Group), and others.

Crashlytics aims to address the needs of app makers to better understand what sort of bugs their mobile applications are experiencing. Today, when an iOS app crashes, the user does one of a few things – they delete the app, they head to the App Store and leave a bad review, or they do nothing at all. Although Apple has a built-in mechanism for handling crash reports, the roundtrip takes a couple of weeks before it shows up in the developer’s dashboard. That’s a long enough take to fully infuriate a lot more users, while the developer is oblivious to the problem.

To access crash logs faster, many developers today are using open source or ad-hoc solutions of their own, like those that send crash reports via email, but often quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of data there is to parse. Which crashes are the top issues? Is the app only crashing on jailbroken devices? Maybe it’s just affecting those running older versions of the iOS software? And so on.

With Crashlytics’ service, which includes its own online dashboard, crash logs are distilled down, highlighting the real issues, detailing the device’s state at the time of crash (software version, orientation, model, etc.) and it even shows developers the exact line of code that the app crashed on. That feature alone will probably make the service worthwhile for many.

The lightweight Crashlytics SDK (around 75KB) works alongside other SDKs without any problem. At launch, the pricing model will be freemium, but details are not yet available. An Android version is also in the works, but is not available at this time.

Crashlytics was founded by Jeff Seibert and Wayne Chang, both serial entrepreneurs. Seibert co-founded Increo Solutions, Inc., which was acquired by in 2009. He also worked for Apple in the past. Wayne Chang founded i2hub, a popular file sharing company, in the mid-2000′s. He’s also an active angel investor, a mentor at TechStars, and serves as an advisor to startups.

Chasing Skype: Rebtel Looks To Put An End To Dropped Calls With New iPhone App

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT


You may not be well-familiar with Rebtel, but the company is currently the largest independent mobile VoIP provider now that Skype is under the Microsoft umbrella. Rebtel, which routes international calls made from mobile phones and landlines to local numbers (specifically to minimize the cost of calling abroad), counts more than 13 million connected users and offers its services in more than 200 countries around the globe. (Not to mention an expected run-rate of $75 million by December of this year — and profitability since 2010.)

When Robin interviewed Rebtel CEO Andreas Bernstrom back in June, he expressed respect for companies like Viber “and the speed at which their mobile applications have gone viral”, but he held that dependence on WiFi and 3G would continue to “make for a poor user experience”.

“VoIP is essentially an improved fixed line service”, Bernstrom continued. “Mobile VoIP, however, has not been cracked due to the limitations of the data network”.

Well you can guess Rebtel has had a little something to say about that. The company launched its first versions of its iPhone and Android apps in 2010, followed by Blackberry in 2011, and today is announcing the launch of version 2.0 of its free iPhone app, which allows users to make and receive free international calls using WiFi, 3G, or local minutes. The app also allows texts and calls to be made to any non-Rebtel users (on any phone) for what Bernstrom says are 90 percent cheaper rates than standard international calling on an average carrier.

And perhaps the coolest feature of Rebtel’s app is a new proprietary technology called “KeepTalking”, which allows users to transition (mid-call, mind you) from WiFi/3G to local minutes. The iPhone and desktop apps will add to the Rebtel free call network already including Android and Blackberry apps, as well as facilitating free calls between existing platforms.

With the mobile VoIP market expected to reach $36 billion in revenues by 2016, and with 70 million mobile VoIP users expected to be in operation by the end of the year, Rebtel’s ability to call any phone or PC anywhere over WiFI/3G or local minutes and seamlessly switch between them if coverage deteriorates, seems to lend it a significant value proposition.

What’s more, the app also enables platform-independent free calls between Rebtel users, labeling these contacts as “free” in the app’s contact list to make it easy to see who’s already using the service. Whenever someone downloads Rebtel, the app automatically sends you a push notification and enables SMS to any mobile phone number, with an average cost savings of over 60 percent, according to the Rebtel team.

For more, check out the Rebtel app here.

Company: Rebtel
Launch Date: January 7, 2006
Funding: $20M

Rebtel is a mobile VOIP company offering cheap long distance calling FROM mobile or landline phones TO mobile or landline phones by changing international phone numbers to local numbers (rebtel numbers). There is no need to download anything which is a huge plus especially for mobile phones. And the biggest plus is you don’t need a WIFI or internet connection to make the calls. Competitors include Skype, barablu, ConnectMeAnyWhere, jajah, [GizmoProject] (, [Vopium] (, truphone.

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SoundTracking 2.0 For iOS 5 @ Replies The Artist When You Share A Song

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 06:00 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-10-13 at 3.27.30 AM

Musical snippet sharing app SoundTracking joins eight other featured apps in the Apple App Store today, highlighting its deep iOS 5 Twitter integration alongside those of Instagram and Flipboard.

The new SoundTracking for iOS 5 has the usual suspects in terms of Twitter integration, letting users automatically log in and customize their SoundTracking tweets (like taking out the hashtag #soundtracking for example) using the new and nifty Tweet Sheet feature.

Steve Jang
Powwow jamz ♫ "All of the Lights" by @ (from San Francisco)

In addition to the basic Twitter for iOS stuff and a streamlined UI (and a “glossy wood soundtrack button”), SoundTracking 2.0 also lets you post songs to a Facebook fan page, which means that the multiple admins of something like a brand’s or an artist’s page can now soundtrack.

What’s more interesting than the new Facebook integration, auth and customization features however, is that SoundTracking 2.0 allows you to follow the artists you listen to on Twitter from within the app — giving you the option to follow @Beyonce for example, after you’ve soundtracked one of her songs. In addition, SoundTracking automatically @ mentions a given artist when a user tweets a soundtrack, if that artist is on Twitter that is.

This feature alone could mean a lot for SoundTracking’s scale, bringing the app, which just surpassed 750K downloads after seven months, into the awareness of musicians with massive Twitter followings like @ladyGaga and @KanyeWest. At the very least the automatic @ mentions are a simple but brilliant way to facilitate a connection between fans and artists.

Schematic Labs co-founder Steve Jang tells me that these deeper integrations are fitting because SoundTracking users can’t seem to get enough of Twitter (the app is currently the most tweeted about musical service, he says).

Jang plans on further expanding SoundTracking’s social features and is looking into other APIs which is exciting — I would love it if Spotify users could listen to an entire song in-app or add songs from SoundTracking to Spotify for further listening down the line.


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TwinStrata Raises $8 Million For Cloud Storage, Backup Solutions

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 05:51 AM PDT


TwinStrata, which offers cloud-based data storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions, this morning announced that it has secured $8 million in a Series B round of funding led by Avalon Ventures. The company will use the fresh capital to ramp up sales and marketing efforts for its CloudArray solution.

TwinStrata’s CloudArray cloud storage gateway connects customers’ applications and backup infrastructure to the cloud, enabling them to store, and recover data instantly to any location.

CloudArray supports public and private cloud storage providers like Amazon, RackSpace, OpenStack, EMC Atmos, Nirvanix and Scality, among others.

The new funding brings the company’s total of capital raised to roughly $14.5 million.

Company: TwinStrata
Funding: $6.45M

TwinStrata is a market innovator producing storage solutions for the data center enabling application data flexibility and agility for today's business needs and tomorrow's growth. Its flagship product, CloudArray software, enables companies to take advantage of dynamic and cost effective Cloud storage resources and accommodate application data growth with little to no capital investment in IT infrastructure. TwinStrata solutions are designed to meet the needs of mid-sized businesses on up to large enterprise infrastructures. TwinStrata offers its products through a...

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CyanogenMod 7 Released For The TouchPad, Still In Alpha And Not For The Timid

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 05:41 AM PDT

touchpad android

The TouchPad just got a little more functional. The mad scientists behind CyanogenMod 7 just posted an alpha build of their popular tablet Android 2.3 firmware. But this isn’t for the general public. No, this build is for the diehard modder. The majority of the release note is a warning with talk of potential data loss, bricking and the general nastiness that’s always associated with alpha builds. In fact, the creators chose to note the working items citing that the list of non-working items is much longer. But the major things are present: WiFi, camera, Bluetooth, dual-core support, Netflix, even charging via the Touchstone.

Thankfully you don’t have to risk your precious Touchpad with this early CM7 build. The 8:20 minute video after the jump should give you a taste. I still think you’re all crazy, but see the appeal of owning a tablet without a dead operating system.

Product: HP TouchPad

TouchPad works like no other tablet. It allows users to move back and forth between apps, see related activities grouped together automatically to stay organized, answer calls and texts from HP Pre3 smartphones, share websites with other HP webOS devices, experience more of the web with Adobe Flash Player 6 and 7. TouchPad tablet includes essential productivity apps right out of the box. Users can collaborate with colleagues using Google Docs or, print wirelessly to compatible networked HP printers,...

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Citrix Acquires ShareFile, The “Dropbox For Enterprises”

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 05:08 AM PDT


Citrix Systems has acquired ShareFile, a cloud storage, file sharing and collaboration solutions provider, the companies announced this morning.

ShareFile enables businesses to securely store, sync and share business documents and files, both inside and outside the company, across multiple devices.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

ShareFile CEO, Jesse Lipson, will become VP and General Manager of the newly-formed Data Sharing product group at Citrix, which will be responsible for the ShareFile product line.

The move is in keeping with Citrix's vision of a so-called “personal cloud” – a collection of files, apps and personal data unique to every person and accessible from any location and device.

ShareFile competed with the likes of Dropbox and, but was more focused on selling its offerings to IT departments within organizations of all sizes, rather than consumers and small businesses. Other alternatives include Egnyte, Nomadesk, Mozy and Syncplicity.

Company: ShareFile
Launch Date: October 13, 2011

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, ShareFile allows businesses to create a custom-branded, password-protected area where files can be exchanged with clients easily, securely, and professionally. The initial version of ShareFile was released in 2003 under a different product name and was distributed to a limited number of clients, many of whom where based in the local Research Triangle Park area. In November of 2005, a completely rebuilt version of ShareFile was released. In just four years, ShareFile has grown from...

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Company: Citrix Systems
Launch Date: October 13, 1989

Citrix Systems is an American multinational corporation with a focus on software and services specialized in virtualization and remote access software for delivering applications over a network and the Internet. Citrix desktop virtualization, application virtualization, server virtualization, application networking, cloud computing and Software as a Service offerings are designed to simplify computing for millions of users, delivering applications as an on-demand service to any user, in any location on any device.

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Backed By $10M In Funding, Lets You Store, Organize Your Receipts In The Cloud

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 04:43 AM PDT


Today sees the formal launch of Lemon, a free cloud-based receipt organizer and spending tracker for Android and iOS devices (Blackberry and Windows Phone versions ‘coming soon’). The service lets users store and organize email and paper receipts in the cloud to help them keep track of purchases, eliminate clutter and start spending smarter.

To upload paper receipts, people can download a mobile app and simply snap a picture of the receipt. Lemon will subsequently digitize and store the data.

Digital receipts – from any retailer, the fledgling company claims – can be sent directly to one’s Lemon account (which comes with a personal email address).

Someone please alert AOL!

Lemon goes beyond merely storing data, though:

Lemon squeezes out all the juicy details [receipts] contain to help you stay organized, see where your money goes and save some cash along the way. Lemon extracts data from each receipt down to the product-level detail to generate insightful reports andgraphs that illustrate spending trends, make it easy to prepare for tax time or submit expense reports.

Over time, Lemon will also offer users targeted discounts and promotions from relevant brands and retailers based on their spending habits, giving users access to exclusive deals, future discounts on products they purchase often and personalized offers from their favorite brands.

Lemon was co-founded by co-CEO Wenceslao Casares, serial entrepreneur (Bling Nation, MECK, Wanako Games) and angel investor (Qik, IndexTank, MyGengo).

The company has already secured $10 million+ in funding from Lightspeed and Balderton Capital.

Lemon soft-launched at the most recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference's startup alley.

For similar services, check out Shoeboxed, MyReceipts, Expensify and KEEBO.

Company: Lemon
Launch Date: November 7, 2011
Funding: $10M

Organize all your purchases into one simple place with Easily scan your paper receipts and Lemon will turn the images into useful information that's taggable and searchable so you can get organized and know where you’re spending your money. You can also get your personal address for all your digital and e-receipts. Give this address to merchants and keep your inbox free of spam!

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Founders Fund Leads $33 Million D Round In Learning Startup Knewton

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 04:30 AM PDT


In what is certainly one of the largest funding rounds of an education startup in recent years, Knewton closed a $33 million D round led by Founders Fund. (Another education startup also based in New York city, 2Tor, raised a $32.5 million series C earlier this year). Education publisher Pearson also invested, as well as existing investors Accel, Bessemer, and FirstMark. The valuation was easily north of $150 million.

Like many education startups, Knewton got its toes wet with online test preparation (GMAT, LSAT, SAT). But it’s real strength is in creating an adaptive learning algorithm which can be applied to any curriculum. “Our ultimate vision is to power all education,” says COO David Liu. This Fall, Knewton began powering an online math readiness course for 10,000 incoming freshmen at Arizona State University. It plans to expand throughout both higher education and K-12 in partnership with schools and education publishers. The company also wants to open up its APIs so that publishers can plug in their electronic textbooks and coursework to Knewton’s technology platform, and eventually create a marketplace for adaptive learning apps and courses. .

Through questions and quizzes, Knewton personalizes the learning experience and adapts what it presents to each student based on how they learn. So if you are having trouble with a certain type of algebraic formula, it will take a step back and give you simpler versions until you master it. Or if you are blasting through questions, it will make them progressively harder until you are sufficiently challenged. Already, some ASU students are working through the math course way ahead of schedule.

It may seem odd at first that the Founders Fund, whose partners also encourage kids to “stop out of college,” would back an education startup. But Knewton is harnessing technology to improve how people learn. General partner Luke Nosek tells me he has little interest in education as it stands today, “the whole bureaucracy, the buildings, the teachers. What I am most interested in is maximizing and personalizing learning for every person on the planet.” He thinks Knewton has a shot at being that company.

Knewton already has 70 employees and is growing rapidly. If it can get paid between $100 and $200 per student/per course/per semester for a platform that helps them learn faster, that could scale very quickly into a very large business. Education is broken. There is a big opportunity, and a lot of money, for startups like Knewton to step in and try to fix it.

Company: Knewton
Launch Date: October 13, 2011
Funding: $87M

Knewton is a technology company based in NYC. Their Adaptive Learning Platform™ customizes standardized educational content to meet the unique needs of each student. Knewton analyzes learning materials based on thousands of data points—concepts, structure, difficulty level, media format—and uses sophisticated algorithms to piece together the perfect bundle of content for each student. The more students who use the platform, the more accurate it becomes. It's similar to Pandora's music recommendations or Google's search results. Last year Knewton was named...

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Financial-organization: Founders Fund

Founders Fund is a San Francisco based venture capital firm which invests at every stage in companies with revolutionary technologies. The firm's six partners, Peter Thiel, Sean Parker, Ken Howery, Luke Nosek, Bruce Gibney, and Brian Singerman have been founders of or early investors in numerous well-known companies such as Facebook, PayPal, Napster, and Palantir Technologies. Founders Fund was formed in 2005 and has launched three funds to date with more than $500 million in aggregate capital...

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Father Of C And UNIX, Dennis Ritchie, Passes Away At Age 70

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 03:39 AM PDT


After a long illness, Dennis Ritchie, father of Unix and an esteemed computer scientist, died last weekend at the age of 70.

Ritchie, also known as “dmr”, is best know for creating the C programming language as well as being instrumental in the development of UNIX along with Ken Thompson. Ritchie spent most of his career at Bell Labs, which at the time of his joining in 1967, was one of the largest phone providers in the U.S. and had one of the most well-known research labs in operation.

Working alongside Thompson (who had written B) at Bell in the late sixties, the two men set out to develop a more efficient operating system for the up-and-coming minicomputer, resulting in the release of Unix (running on a DEC PDP-1) in 1971.

Though Unix was cheap and compatible with just about any machine, allowing users to install a variety of software systems, the OS was written in machine (or assembly) language, meaning that it had a small vocabulary and suffered in relation to memory.

By 1973, Ritchie and Thompson had rewritten Unix in C, developing its syntax, functionality, and beyond to give the language the ability to program an operating system. The kernel was published in the same year.

Today, C remains the second most popular programming language in the world (or at least the language in which the second most lines of code have been written), and ushered in C++ and Java; while the pair’s work on Unix led to, among other things, Linus Torvalds’ Linux. The work has without a doubt made Ritchie one of the most important, if not under-recognized, engineers of the modern era.

His work, specifically in relation to UNIX, led to him becoming a joint recipient of the Turing Award with Ken Thompson in 1983, as well as a recipient of the National Medal of Technology in 1998 from then-president Bill Clinton.

Werner Vogels
UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity – Dennis Ritchie, who was a genius,RIP

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