Friday, October 21, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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Ruby On Royals – The Digital Duke And The #TechBritannia Startups

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 09:21 AM PDT

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Last night London’s technology startup community – entrepreneurs and startups were invited to Buckingham Palace, the official home of Queen Elizabeth the Second. To say this was an unusual event wold be a significant understatement. But it is better understood in the context of the incredible outreach the UK government has made to technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the last 18 months. There is more context: at EG8 recently, I happen to know that the French Government had to scramble to find French startups to at attend. They simply didn’t know who they were – despite a thriving scene covered by my colleagues at TechCrunch France. By contrast, Her Majesty’s government managed to come up with a guest list which pretty much mapped to the startup ecosystem in London. No small achievement.



Blackhawk Network Buys Gift Card Marketplace Cardpool

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 09:00 AM PDT

card

Y-combinator-backed gift card marketplace Cardpool has been acquired by Blackhawk Network, a subsidiary of Safeway and one of the largest distributors of gift cards in the world. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Cardpool, which launched in 2010, buys people's unwanted gift cards, and sells gift cards at large discounts. They judge the buyback and selling amount by how desirable the cards are. For example, you can sell a BestBuy's gift card, which is highly desirable, to CardPool for 90 percent of its value. And on CardPool's site, you can find a Best Buy gift card for 5 percent off its original value. On the other hand, 1-800-Flowers' gift cards, which are not as popular as Best Buy's cards, are discounted by 30 percent on the site.

Cardpool has consistently been innovating on its model, and trying to make exchanging and selling gift cards a more seamless experience. For example, the startup gave its members the option to purchase instant redemption gift cards, instead of waiting to receive them in the mail for use. Cardpool also launched the ability to sell a gift card online without having to mail it in via snail mail.

Additionally, the startup debuted Cardpool Gift Cards, which allows users to buy cards on the gift card marketplace. And Cardpool’s mobile app allows customers who have an iPhone or Android phone purchase discounted gift cards that are instantly delivered to their phone so they can use them in store or online immediately.

This is co-founder Anson Tsai’s second acquisition. He developed online music player Anywhere.com, which was acquired by Imeem in 2008.

Cardpool has raised angel funding from a number of well known investors including Jeff Fluhr, Ron Conway, Max Levchin, Mitch Kapor, Alfred Lin, Naval Ravikant, Chris Dixon, Chris Sacca, and Paul Buchheit.

For background, Blackhawk Network provides gift card, prepaid, telecom, and financial products. Every week, the company says it reaches more than 200 million consumers spanning 17 countries in a network of leading
grocery, big box, convenience, pharmacy, and specialty stores including Safeway, Kroger, Tesco, Giant
Eagle, Ahold, and GiftCardMall.com.Cardpool will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackhawk Network and will be run as an independent business.


Company: Cardpool
Website: cardpool.com
Launch Date: October 21, 2011

Cardpool is a gift card exchange marketplace where anybody can buy, sell, or trade their new or pre-owned gift cards. Customers can buy gift cards up to 30% off their face value, sell their gift cards for up to 90% of their face value in cash, trade their gift cards for an Amazon.com Gift Card, or donate their gift card to charity. Cardpool provides free shipping for both buyers and sellers, a 100-day return policy, and policy of...

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iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Go Live In 22 New Countries

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 08:57 AM PDT

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If you’re one of the many Apple fanbois outside of the original seven countries in which Apple initially launched the iPhone 4S, I feel your pain. Though I placed my pre-order early, “complications” at AT&T have forced me to endure another 18-21 days and suffice it to say, I’ve turned a nice pukey shade of green with envy. But it’s possible you may get your new iPhone 4S before I do.

Apple has today opened up pre-orders in 22 new countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The 4S will be available in-store next Friday, October 28, reports MacRumors.

However, a good number of those new countries don’t have an online Apple store, meaning that the option to pre-order an unlocked version of the handset direct from Apple only extends to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Still, if you’re from Estonia, Latvia, Leichtenstein, Lithuania, or Slovakia, you may still be able to place a pre-order on a subsidized on-contract iPhone 4S through your local carrier of choice.

Though the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be available October 28, Apple doesn’t seem to be standing behind that so firmly at this point. The 4S sold 1 million units in its first 24 hours of pre-order availability, and a record-breaking 4 million units over its first weekend of in-store availability. With demand like that, it’s no surprise that Apple is merely giving a “1-2 week” estimate for shipments.


Company: Apple
Website: apple.com
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 21, 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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Video: Tie-Wearing Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Pitches IPO To Investors

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 08:50 AM PDT

mason

Andrew Mason (30), who co-founded Groupon and currently serves as its CEO, hasn’t often been spotted wearing a business suit and tie. But when you’re pitching investors on an initial public offering, looking to raise over half a billion dollars at a $11.4 billion valuation, I guess you kinda have to.

This morning, Groupon’s IPO roadshow video presentation was published and is publicly available here (via The New York Times).

Unfortunately, the clip can’t be embedded, but if you’re interested in learning how Mason and other Groupon executives will be pitching investors on the company’s IPO, it is well worth your time.

I’ve embedded some screenshots of the investor presentation slides:

















Company: Groupon
Website: groupon.com
Launch Date: November 11, 2008
Funding: $1.14B

Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 565 cities around the world. By promising businesses a minimum number of customers, Groupon can offer deals that aren’t available elsewhere. Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way that offers the consumer an unbeatable deal, and businesses a large number of new customers. To date, it has saved consumers more than $300 million and claims it...

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Person: Andrew Mason
Website:
Companies: Groupon, The Point

Andrew Mason is the founder of Groupon as well as The Point, the collective action platform from which Groupon was born. Andrew is originally from Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Mason moved to Chicago in 1999 to attend Northwestern University and graduated with a degree in music. He went on to attend University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy only to drop out three months later.

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Photo Sharing App For Fashion Pose Raises $3 Million From True Ventures And Others

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT

Pose.com

Pose, a mobile platform for real-time discovery and sharing of fashion, shopping and style, has raised $3 million in Series A funding from GRP Partners, True Ventures and Mousse Partners. This brings the company’s total funding to $4.6 million.

As we wrote in our initial review of the app, Pose wants to help you share what you're buying (or thinking of buying) with your friends. When you're in a store and you come across and item of clothing you may want to buy, Pose invites you to take a snapshot. You can then tag it with your current location and the item's price, and share it with friends. Friends can then leave their comments on the photo, and you can browse photos your friends have shared in the app's style feed. Users can share their images to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Pose is available as a free app for iPhone and Android (as of today). Pose has already partnered with a number of brands including Aerie by American Eagle, DKNY, Jewelmint.com Levi's and True Religion. The startup has also enlisted a number of fashion experts, designers, bloggers, and stylists to share content on the app for anyone to see.

Pose isn’t the first photo sharing app for fashion and style. Fashism and Snapette also offer photo sharing apps for fashion, shopping and style.

The new funding will be used towards hiring and product development.



Chupa Launches Mobile App Component Marketplace With Support For iOS, Android & Web

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:58 AM PDT

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Chupa is a newly launched mobile app component marketplace that joins the ranks of sites like TechCrunch Disrupt finalist Verious and Appcelerator’s Open Mobile Marketplace. However, there is one key difference between competitors’ sites and Chupa: in addition to native applications (iOS and Android), it also supports a variety of frameworks, including Appcelerator’s Titanium, PhoneGap, JQuery and Sencha Touch.

Like Verious and Appcelerator’s Open Mobile Marketplace, the idea with Chupa is to help developers speed their time to market by offering app components they can license and use in their apps for a fee, instead of having to write their own code.

Based in Italy, Chupa was first launched in July as an invitation-only marketplace, where it quickly acquired over 300 mobile app component developers wanting to sell their code on the site. It’s now exiting its private beta period and is open to all as a public beta.

The site lets you browse, search and filter the listings by platform (iOS, Android, Titanium or Web app) and it further breaks down the components into categories based on function (e.g., utilities, audio, image, video, navigation, UI elements, etc.). Prices appear to be reasonable, with some components available for as little as $12.00 (USD).

Unfortunately, it appears that although support will be provided for a wide variety of platforms, the site is still lacking an abundance of actual code. Many of the sections are currently empty, making Verious the better choice for now for those looking for sheer quantity in terms of resources. (Verious launched with 1,000 components, for example, while Appcelerator launched with 50).

Developers who write app components themselves can list them on Chupa for sale. Chupa took a 20% commission on component sales during its private beta, which is in line with the offer Verious was providing to its charter members. (Verious may go up to 40% over time, however). Appcelerator, meanwhile, takes the standard 70/30 (developer/app store) split, which is what Chupa is listing on its site now.

Chupa was founded by Stefano Argiolas and Paolo De Santis, who are also the co-founders of Dlite, a multimedia digital marketing company which has previously provided mobile campaigns to brands like Nike, Renault, 20th Century Fox and Nokia.



TomTom’s iOS Navigation App Gets iPad-Friendly Makeover

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:44 AM PDT

tompad2

The weekend is nearly upon us, and what better way to celebrate than going for a long meandering drive into the middle of nowhere. Roadtrippers may want to take their iPads along for the ride too, as TomTom has just announced an update to their U.S. iOS app that optimizes it for use on Apple’s tablet.

TomTom has tweaked their layout of their navigation app to make better use of all the screen real estate that the iPad offers. It can now, for example, display both the full-on route display and the lane guidance window at the same time — great news for people like me who can never seem to get those lane changes down pat.

Aside from the tab-friendly interface, a new map update is included, so you’ll never miss a far-flung Waffle House again. The app, as always, will run new customers $49.99, but existing users can download the app to their iPads free of charge.



Microsoft Looks To Cut Windows Phone Production Costs… In Half

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:41 AM PDT

mango2-511

Microsoft is looking to cut manufacturing costs on its Windows Phone 7 handsets, according to statements made by WinPho boss Andy Lees in Hong Kong today. The company has struggled through its push into mobile since the launch of the Windows Phone platform last year, which honestly made more of a ripple than a splash in the market.

Now that Mango is ready to emerge as a “third mobile ecosystem,” as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams would put it, Microsoft wants to step up its volume, and cutting production costs seems to be the means to that end. Lees said Redmond is looking to cut manufacturing costs in half, taking them from around $400 per handset (which was the cost when the software debuted last year) to less than $200 per handset.

Strangely, though, Microsoft seems to be fine with the catch involved with cutting these costs. Due to Microsoft’s royalty structure, vendors pay the company for handsets based on a percentage of manufacturing costs rather than a fixed rate. If Microsoft can really bring its production costs down to less than $200, it may very well be making half of what it did last year per handset.

But for every goal, sacrifices must be made. And in the case of Windows Phone, profit isn’t necessarily the name of the game. Microsoft already makes plenty off of Android courtesy of patent royalty deals — in fact, last time we had specific numbers Redmond was seeing upwards of around $150,000,000 on Android from HTC alone, and that was before they signed a deal with Samsung.

In the words of Lees, the goal here is “volume, volume, volume,” reports Bloomberg. “We are supporting componentry that will allow us to go below $200.” But if volume is the plan here, there may be some other obstacles for Microsoft to worry about. In the opinion of some Windows Phone enthusiasts, namely Robert McLaws, vendors seem to push the iPhone and Android devices much harder than they market Windows Phone 7 handsets. McLaws even created a website dedicated to harping on retailers for poor WinPho sales.

If the issue McLaws outlines is, in fact, a real problem, perhaps volume (x3) coupled with the much-improved Mango platform will help turn the tide.


Company: Microsoft
Website: microsoft.com
Launch Date: April 4, 1974
IPO: NASDAQ:MSFT

Microsoft, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a veteran software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software. Starting in 1980 Microsoft formed a partnership with IBM allowing Microsoft to sell its software package with the computers IBM manufactured. Microsoft is widely used by professionals worldwide and largely dominates the American corporate market. Additionally, the company has ventured into hardware with consumer products such as the Zune and...

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Steve Jobs Biography Reveals Reflections On Apple, Contempt For Android

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:34 AM PDT

sj2

Last night at least two news outlets —The AP and The Huffington Post— revealed that they had obtained copies of the Steve Jobs biography penned by Walter Isaacson. Jobs gave Isaacson unprecedented access, making time for over 40 interviews spanning everything from his early life to his final weeks. The book will be released on Monday, after its publisher bumped up its release date shortly after Steve Jobs passed away on October 5.

As expected, the book is full of anecdotes and insight into what made Steve Jobs tick, including everything from the way he challenged authority to how he came up with the name ‘Apple’ while he was on “one of my fruitarian diets.” And, yes, the fact that he really, really hated Google’s Android.

Details contained in the book are scattered across dozens of news stories (you can see a good roundup on Techmeme here). Below are some particularly interesting snippets — though none of these capture the more subtle things that the biography will surely offer. In other words, read the book.

On Apple’s lawsuit against Android and its OEM partners:

“I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,”

Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google you fucking ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,’” Jobs said, according to Isaacson. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

(during a meeting between Schmidt and Jobs in front of a Palo Alto coffee shop)

“I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

On the dismantling of HP:

“Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands,” Jobs told Isaacson. “But now it’s being dismembered and destroyed.”

“I hope I’ve left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at Apple,” he added.

On Jobs’ meeting with President Obama late last year and again at a dinner at Silicon Valley this past spring. The relationship was apparently contentious at times.

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

On Jobs’ being  ousted from Apple in the mid-80s, and the people who took over the company:

Jobs calls the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after his ouster in 1985 “corrupt people” with “corrupt values” who cared only about making money. Jobs himself is described as caring far more about product than profit.

He told Isaacson they cared only about making money “for themselves mainly, and also for Apple – rather than making great products.”


Company: Apple
Website: apple.com
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 21, 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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Person: Steve Jobs
Website:
Companies: Pixar, NeXT, Apple

Steve Jobs was the co-founder and CEO of Apple and formerly Pixar. Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco, California to Joanne Simpson and a Syrian father. Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, California then adopted him. In 1972, Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. One semester later, he had dropped out, later taking up the study of philosophy and foreign cultures. Steve Jobs had a deep-seated interest in...

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BrandTable Concept Shows NFC At The Food Court

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:08 AM PDT

BrandTable

Australian design firm S-Digital has created an interesting concept application for the use of NFC (near field communication) in food courts. Yes, food courts – like those found at your local mall. The project, dubbed “BrandTable,” involves circular stickers containing NFC tags secured to the tabletop that, when tapped with an NFC phone, launch a menu and ordering page for a particular restaurant.

Using the mobile site, customers can place their order and even pay, without having to visit the counter or wait in line. When the order is ready, the phone buzzes so you can go pick it up.

BrandTable uses NFC in combination with Java and the Android SDK to pull up menu ordering system, and is demonstrated (see below) using Google’s Samsung Nexus S.

S-Digital built and designed the concept in conjunction with the University of Sydney, Mojo and Amnesia Razorfish.

Although NFC’s widespread adoption is still several years out, it’s concepts like this that help us to envision what the world may be like when the technology is more ubiquitous and accessible than it is today. And, admit it – doesn’t that look like a fun way to order food?



European Online Shoe Store Spartoo.com Projects $139 Million Turnover This Year

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:06 AM PDT

spartoo

We don’t often enough shine a light on Spartoo.com, an online retailer of shoes and footwear.

This ‘Zappos of Europe’ was founded in France by three young entrepreneurs in 2006, and is now active in 20 countries, including United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.

Today, the company revealed that its internationalization efforts have led to significant growth. In fact, Spartoo.com says it sold more than one million pairs of shoes in Europe in the first months of 2011 (the company offers about 15,000 models and 400 brands).

Read the rest of the story over at TechCrunch Europe.


Company: Spartoo
Website: spartoo.com
Launch Date: October 21, 2011
Funding: €17.5M

Spartoo is a European online retailer of shoes and footwear. Created three years ago, Spartoo.com is the European leader in internet footwear sales with over 600 000 regular customers and over 4 million unique visitors (Nielsen, November 2009). In a European market estimated at over €50 billion, Spartoo.com has seen its turnover multiply by 70 over the past three years and has recently been nominated amongst the fastest growing companies in Europe by GP Bullhound Media Momentum. Spartoo operates...

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Usabilla Launches New Mobile UX Testing Tool

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:46 AM PDT

03_visual-feedback

Usabilla, makers of usability testing tools for websites, is today launching a new mobile tool that lets companies test how their apps or mobile websites perform on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android devices.

The new tool overlays questions or notes on top of the mobile app or website’s user interface, like “where would you click to filter the search results?,” for example. The testers can then tap a part of the app or mobile site’s webpage in response.

As the testing takes place, Usabilla’s mobile web UX (user experience) tool collects the aggregated feedback from the participants, analyzes it, and presents it to the site’s designers using charts and heatmaps.

To set up the tests, designers and developers must either provide the mobile URL or a screenshot of the mobile app. It does not support live app testing, however. But the tool does have a unique social feature – it lets you recruit participants to join the test by posting links to Facebook and Twitter.

You can see an example of the tool in action in the video below or take a sample test for yourself by clicking here.

Usabilla raised $1 million in funding earlier this summer, in a round led by Dutch venture fund Boralis and five undisclosed investors. The company’s customers now include Disney, Levi's and Electronic Arts.


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Venture Firms Put $8.4B In U.S. Companies In Q3 Of 2011; Up 29 Percent

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:39 AM PDT

Dollars

According to the latest Dow Jones VentureSource report, venture funding in U.S. companies was on the rise in Q3 2011. Investors put $8.4 billion into 765 deals for U.S.-based venture companies during the third quarter of 2011, a 29% increase in investment and 8% increase in deals from the same period last year. The median amount raised for a round of financing during the third quarter was $6 million, up from the $5 million median a year earlier.

Dow Jones says these levels of investment put the industry on pace to near pre-recession investment levels by the end of the year. The report shows that investments in ‘Consumer Information Services’, which includes online search, entertainment and social media companies, totaled $1.3 billion for 104 deals during the third quarter, more than double the financing collected for 94 deals during the same period last year. Thus far, the consumer information services sector has raised $3.8 billion total in 2011, and is o pace to exceed the $4.2 billion companies raised in 2010.

Within the Consumer Internet sector, deal activity for young start-ups was strong as 57% of deals were seed- or first-rounds. While 30% of deals went to later-stage companies, these companies accounted for $1 billion of the $1.3 billion companies in the sector collected. Thirteen percent of deals were second rounds.

Dow Jones explains that VCs are pouring significant amounts of capital in later stage deals but second rounds are ‘lagging.’

Companies in the software and information technology industry raised $2.1 billion for 227 deals in the third quarter, which is a 9% increase in financing but 7% drop in deal flow. The Software sector continued to be a bright spot for IT and collected the lion's share of investment as 165 deals raised $1.3 billion. While investments in the Semiconductors and Hardware sectors declined, deal flow for Communications and Networking companies showed some strength as 25 deals raised $354 million, up from 22 deals that raised $246 million in the same period last year.

Deal flow for Business and Financial Services companies rose 7%, and capital invested spiked 65% as 139 deals collected $1.5 billion. Business Support Services saw the biggest jump, primarily driven by interest in marketing, advertising and data management companies. Business Support Services start-ups raised $1.2 billion for 104 deals in the third quarter.

The Energy and Utilities industry raised $635 million for 33 deals, an increase from the same period last year when 23 deals raised $381 million. Renewable Energy companies claimed almost all of the industry's investment as 30 deals raised $621 million.

In the third quarter, Medical Device companies raised more venture financing than Biopharmaceutical companies for the first time since 1998. Sixty-eight Medical Device deals raised $857 million, a 15% rise in deal activity and 30% increase in capital invested from the same period last year. In the Biopharmaceuticals sector, 78 deals raised $715 million, a drop in capital invested from the year-ago period when 71 deals raised $865 million. Overall, the Healthcare industry raised $1.9 billion for 184 deals, an 11% decline in capital invested and 9% increase in deal flow.

Early-stage deals continued to boom in this quarter. Seed and first-rounds accounted for 42% of deals and 21% of capital invested during the third quarter, compared to last year when early-stage rounds claimed 36% of deals and 22% of capital raised. Second rounds dropped from 23% of deal activity in the third quarter of 2010 to 20% in the most recent quarter. Later-stage deals accounted for 37% of the quarter's deals and 58% of total capital raised, compared to last year they accounted for 39% of deals and 57% of capital raised.

Photo Credit/Flickr/Images_Of_Money



Must Watch: The Battlefield 3 Launch Trailer

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:33 AM PDT

You’ve watched the videos, played the beta, and read the storyline. Battlefield 3 gets real next week and this final trailer shows the insane single player mode. Oh, and enjoy the remake original Battlefield theme music. It gave me chills.



Videos Not Interactive Enough For You? Make Them Go Up to 11 With Viewbix

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:16 AM PDT

Viewbix

I love finding services that bring value to small businesses. Viewbix falls squarely into that category.

ViewBix comes from the founders of Qoof, who gave agencies and advertisers a way to easily create interactive videos. The need for customization, however, tended to bring a lot of friction to the selling process.

For SMBs, it was pretty much completely out of scope. This was frustrating for Qoof’s founders, who were noticing growing demand in that vertical.

Viewbix was created to dramatically reduce the aforementiond friction that came with customization, allowing videos to be wrapped-up in a variety of features quite effortlessly. Here’s how it works:

Step one is to select an existing video. ViewBix currently supports YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook video. Step two is to customize the player in terms of colors, size, call to action, etc.

Step three is really where the promise of ViewBix resides: interactive features that can be easily added to videos, including music, additional videos, photos from services such as Facebook, Flickr & Picasa, and more. The ones I found most compelling for a small businesses are the ability to include a Twitter feed, eBay auctions, coupons, and Skype integration.

Once the player is created, it can be embedded and shared anywhere, including inline on Facebook. It will even display in HTML5 on mobile devices (iOS and Android).

You can check out ViewBix in action, here and here.

Viewbix tracks every action that occurs in the player, so more savvy users can dig into the data and optimize their players with the best performing apps.

The service is based on a freemium model with a base product that is currently free. In the near future, Viewbix plans to charge a monthly fee, starting at $14.95/mo, for branded players, premium apps and detailed analytics.



Video: Unlock Any iPad 2 With Just A Smart Cover And 5 Seconds

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:14 AM PDT

ipad

Apple, you got some ‘splainin’ to do! But no, seriously, this is big. Mark Gurman, from 9to5mac, just posted a video showing how incredibly easy it is to unlock an iPad using just a Smart Cover (or magnets, really). Worse yet, it’s stupid easy to perform. Any Smart Cover could unlock any iPad 2 and jump into the last used screen. Not that I have anything to hide on my iPad. The only reason I use a passcode is to prevent my four-year old from messing up my Jelly Defense game.

This iPad security flaw joins the one concerning Siri found just the other day. In that case the voice tools allow users to send emails and place calls all while the phone is technically locked. Hopefully both flaws make their way to Apple HQ and it will be addressed immediately.


Company: Apple
Website: apple.com
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 21, 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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Nintendo Gets Serious About Streaming, Announces Hulu Plus Will Soon Hit The Wii, 3DS

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:53 AM PDT

nintendo-hulu-plu

Hulu Plus has long been missing from the Wii leaving Netflix as the only major streaming service on the gaming console. But that changes soon. Nintendo just announced that Hulu Plus will soon be available on both the Wii and the 3DS. The exact launch data wasn’t announced, but the release states that that the service will hit “both systems by the end of the year.”

This comes as Nintendo is prepping for the next generation Wii, the Wii U. But that system isn’t going to launch for months and Nintendo still has to move Wii units while fighting off the 360 and PS3. Adding a major new streaming service like Hulu Plus will certainly keep some owners happy.

The Hulu Plus service costs $7.99 a month and opens access to content from ABC, NBC, Fox, Comedy Central, MTV and more. The service is often criticized for having a limited selection but more content is constantly being added. Between Netflix and now Hulu Plus, the Wii’s streaming lineup will be rather complete but still not has robust as the PS3 and Xbox 360, which got into the streaming game a lot earlier. Nintendo isn’t moving slowly again.

Neflix was already announced for the 3DS. Now, with Hulu Plus, the 3DS has an early lead on the PS Vita, which doesn’t have any 3rd party streaming support yet. Netflix or anyone else has yet to announce support for Sony’s next-gen portable, leaving some wondering if it will ever come. Nintendo, however, has both Netflix and soon Hulu Plus streaming to its portable system, which might help the company move several more units.


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Company: Nintendo
Website: nintendo.com

Nintendo, a technology company widely known for its line of game consoles, was actually founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi. It began as a Card Game company and evolved into one of the largest Japanese companies with a Market Capitalization of over $85 billion. It’s most recent game console, the Wii, has been one of the most difficult consumer devices to buy, because of such high demand.

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37% Of Published Android Apps Were Later Removed, Compared To 24% Of iOS Apps

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 04:55 AM PDT

talking android

Research firm research2guidance this morning published a (free) report, offering key findings from an analysis of mobile applications store Android Market.

According to the firm, the number of active mobile apps in Android Market stood at 319,161 at the end of last month, compared to 459,589 apps that are available in Apple’s App store (the company claims there are 500,000 apps, actually).

Android developers appear to have more appetite for distributing multiple apps than iOS developers, however.

Research2guidance asserts that the average Android Market app publisher has made more than 6 applications available since the launch of the store, compared to just over 4 apps that have been published by iOS developers, on average.

Also worth noting: 37% of the applications that were published on Android Market were later removed – for a variety of reasons – while Apple has kicked off only 24% of published apps, as of the end of September 2011. Here’s how the research firm explains the discrepancy:

Although Apple regularly cleans up its store from inappropriate or outdated content, its active application share still exceeds that of Android. It is likely that the more rigid application submission requirements prevent developers from publishing multiple trial or low quality applications whereas publishers in the Android Market place a lot of market testing, trials, demo and malware content.

Over 78% of the apps removed from the Android Market were free, which could mean that publishers put more effort into the applications they place with the pay-per-download business model, thus ensuring that it is kept longer in store.

Still according to research2guidance, the total number of applications that have been published on the Android Market to date surpassed 500,000 in September 2011. Apple’s App Store clocks in at just over 600,000 successful submissions (or 20% more).

Considering Android’s growth rate (190 million Android devices and counting), it’s safe to assume there will be more applications for Android than iOS at some point next year.


research2guidance is an independent mobile industry market research and consultancy provider. We provide market reports, bespoke research and strategic consultancy helping our clients to be successful in the mobile industry. Our services include: regional market analysis, developer surveys, expert interviews, app store evaluation and comparison, mobile application strategy development, market entry strategy, etc. For all our engagements we leverage our broad contact base into the industry to the benefit of our client.

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Company: Android
Website: android.com

In July 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android other than they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter...

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Why Is It Still Web 2.0?

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 04:18 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-10-21 at 4.57.12 AM

Web 2.0 Summit went down in SF this week and, with the exception of a few speakers who ducked out because of pre-IPO jitters, a good portion of upper echelon Internet notables were there, including final speaker and Web 3.0 proponent Reid Hoffman.

Since Hoffman famously holds that we’ve already surpassed an era defined by social sharing straight into an era defined by the implementation of the data generated by social sharing, why still call it Web 2.0 Summit?

Curious, I spoke to Techweb CEO Tony Uphoff about a potential change in nomenclature for the conference, “What's happened is that this particular event has become a brand,” he responded, “The average person that attends this doesn’t stop to think of Web 2.0 as a technical term —  they think that this has become the gathering place for the Internet economy.”

When asked if he felt pressure to move up a version number because of Hoffman’s push into Big Data and the general touting of 3.0 terminology, Uphoff replied, “Technically speaking, is Reid reflecting that there's a new level of infrastructure and fusion between applications and a technical layer that we could argue is like 4G? [Well] He's right technically ….” Uphoff acknowledged. He then went on to reiterate how Web 2.0 attendees do not think of the conference’s branding in the technical sense.

In an earlier interview, conference host John Battelle described how Web 2.0 could contribute to Web 3.0 as such, “As an industry and as a society we need to have a conversation about what it means to have all of this information, created, applicable, leveragable [and] exploitable."

The most important conversation topic at Web 2.0 Summit? Ironically, Web 3.0.


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Groupon To Sell 30M Shares At $16-$18 A Pop, Valuation As Much As $11.4B

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 03:21 AM PDT

groupon

And so it begins. Groupon this morning published the expected price range of its shares, to be sold in an upcoming initial public offering, in an SEC filing.

The daily deals company plans to sell 30 million shares at $16 to $18 a pop, which would see Groupon raise between $480 million and $540 million. This would give Groupon a valuation as high as $11.4 billion.

As rumored yesterday, the Chicago company will trade on NASDAQ, under the ticker ‘GRPN’.

Groupon filed to raise $750 million in its IPO back in June 2011, but has since scaled down the offering substantially as many industry watchers have raised valid concerns about its accounting practices, the sustainability of its business model and the fact that the company has seen its share of executive departures recently. The market is also weak, overall.

There is one huge silver lining. The revised prospectus shows that Groupon is actually nearing profitability, as revenues are rising and marketing expenses are dropping.

The New York Times offers a detailed look on the company’s updated financials, which are suddenly looking remarkably strong. Who’d a thunk it? Andrew Mason, that’s who.

Perfect timing, too; Groupon’s IPO roadshow is expected to kick off next week.


Company: Groupon
Website: groupon.com
Launch Date: November 11, 2008
Funding: $1.14B

Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 565 cities around the world. By promising businesses a minimum number of customers, Groupon can offer deals that aren’t available elsewhere. Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way that offers the consumer an unbeatable deal, and businesses a large number of new customers. To date, it has saved consumers more than $300 million and claims it...

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