Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Crunchies Tickets Available Now

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 10:00 AM PST

Davies Symphony Hall by Orange Photography

It’s time!  The first batch of tickets for the 5th Annual Crunchies Awards are available now. 200 tickets have been released for the annual event honoring the best achievements in tech brought to you by GIgaOm, VentureBeat and Techcrunch for general admission purchase. The Crunchies has a bigger, grander home this year at the Davies Symphony Hall with the after party to immediately follow at the same venue. Last year the Crunchies brought together Dick Costolo, Andrew Mason, Marissa Mayer, Yuri Milner and Mark Pincus, to name a few. You can check out all of last year’s Crunchies Awards happenings here.

This year promises to be even more irreverent, festive and fun.  Stay tuned for surprise announcements! Tickets will sell out quickly.  Don’t delay in getting your seat for the hottest party to kick off the new year in tech. If you miss your chance to get your tickets today, we’ll release another batch of tickets before the holidays. Stay tuned for future ticket release announcements.

More than 300,000 nominations are in. Today is your last chance to nominate those deserving startups, tenacious entrepreneurs and clairvoyant investors. Nominations close at 11:59pm PT tonight.  Your vote may be the difference that makes your favorite a finalist. All finalists will be announced in early January and ready take the main stage at the Davies on January 31st.

The 5th Annual Crunchies Awards

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne [at] techcrunch [dot] com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.

Tickets are on sale here. Be sure to act fast and get them now!

Image credit: Orange Photography

Kixeye Hires Ex-Zynga Exec And Lionside Co-founder Brandon Barber

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 09:31 AM PST

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 9.10.19 AM

Back in August, social game developer Kixeye raised $18 million in series C financing, and added Zynga Andrew Trader to its Board of Directors. And today the self-proclaimed “largest maker of online strategy combat games” has announced the addition of another ex-Zynga exec into the fold.

Brandon Barber will be joining Kixeye as the SVP of Marketing, where he will report directly to Co-founder and CEO Will Harbin. Barber brings significant gaming experience to Kixeye, as he previously co-founded online sports game developer Lionside, which was acquired by ngmoco (qua DeNA) in June of this year. Behind Barber (who was also VP of Marketing and Production), Lionside brought sports games to Facebook, and created titles like NBA Legend and Lionside Football.

Before founding Lionside, Barber was the first VP of Marketing at Zynga, establishing the company’s initial communication, brand, and product marketing strategies. Zynga created that role specifically for him and, considering that he reported directly to Andrew Trader, it seems that the former Zynga duo is linked up again.

Prior to Zynga, Barber served as the Director of Global Marketing at EA, where he was “responsible for the concept, design, deployment and profitability of EA's web services based business model”, among other things.

Kixeye has had a great year, picking up a few key staffers, as well as becoming profitable and cash-flow positive. Look for more big moves in 2012.

Party Earth Lands $4 Million For Personalized City Guides

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 09:29 AM PST


Party Earth, a media company that provides reviews, up-to-date calendars and user-generated photos of social venues (i.e. bars, nightclubs, beaches, casinos and whatnot) in a variety of cities throughout the USA and Europe, has secured $4 million in funding from undisclosed investors.

“Party Earth is the best destination online to discover how to have the most fun offline – no matter where, when, or with whom,” claims president and CEO Sam Altman.

The website currently offers tens of thousands of local reviews, photos, events, and videos across 19 cities around the world, from London to Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Munich, as well as major cities in the U.S. like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Party Earth users can discover places to visit and parties based on their personality, current mood, or who they are going out with. This approach allows the company to deliver hyper-targeted member-exclusive offers, product specials, event and venue recommendations, and more.

With this new funding, Party Earth aims to enhance the site by adding social features for users to interact, check in at venues, share their experiences, create their own social calendars, upload photos and video, and more.

Additionally, the company says it is planning a new mobile platform that will “marry geo-location services with its content”, whatever that may mean.

Report: Android Apps Make Only 24 Percent As Much As iOS Apps

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 09:13 AM PST

Flurry iOS vs Android

Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently boasted at Le Web that “Android is ahead of the iPhone.” And that may be true in terms of how many mobile devices with the Android operating system are being activated daily (550,000 versus 450,000 daily for Apple’s iOS, at last count). If Android has the numbers, why aren’t more developers flocking to Apple?

The answer is simple. They make more money on Apple devices. MG suggested as much in a recent post based on anecdotal evidence, but now we have some real data to back that up as well. Flurry, which has 135,000 apps across both Android and iOS using its analytics, just released some very interesting comparison numbers. It looked at a sample of in-app purchase data from apps with more than a million daily active users with versions on both Android and Apple. Flurry found that the Android apps produced only 24 percent as much revenue as the same apps on iOS.

Flurry doesn’t say what the sample size was, and this only measures in-app purchases, not paid downloads, for instance. So it is not conclusive, but it does suggest why developers are still sticking with iOS. Looking at the 50,000 apps for which developers set up analytics in 2011, iOS continues to dominate, representing three quarters of new project starts in the past six months.

Heads-Up: Lumus Shows Off 720p, See-Through Video Glasses

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 09:08 AM PST


We’ve all see video glasses before – those clunky, Geordi La Forge-looking things that promise to display a 10 foot screen in front of your face. The drawbacks, generally, are size and transparency. Lumus, however, has solved those problems and is working on bringing a pair of see-through, HD video glasses to market that look more Minority Report than 1990s Star Trek.

I talked to these guys in September 2010 and the technology has improved immensely since then. They’re basically offering a pair of light, wearable glasses that will show HD video in front of your eyes and even allow you to interact with the world via augmented reality.

Basically, Lumus has embedded a pair of light pumps into the earpieces that send and refract light down the lens. This moves the electronics away from the eyes, offering a lighter and more stream-lined experience. The lenses are completely transparent (and can be tuned for folks with vision problems) and when enabled the glasses display a crystal clear, 87-inch screen about ten feet away from you. The displays themselves are 1280 x 720 pixels and Lumus has created iPhone-compatible adapters that can display HD video right through the pumps and into the lenses.

The display is stunning. Because each eye display works independently, you can view 3D video in 720p (1080p is on its way) and the clarity is amazing. When you turn them off, the picture disappears completely, leaving perfectly clear lenses. Unlike the Moto ROKR MP3 sunglasses that they used to sell back in the day, the styling and size makes you look less like Dog the Bounty Hunter and more like a Bond villain.

Although these guys will be showing their gear at CES, they’re going the OEM route and are currently looking for partners to use the technology in AR displays, video games, and media players. There won’t be any Lumus-branded “They Live” style super glasses any time soon, although they do have some major players interested in the technology.

Generally, the future of this sort of display is a “Not If But When” problem. At some point wearable displays like this will replace hand-held screens. However, it will take a few years of trial and error to hit the right device at the right time. Lumus is hard at work at military and commercial systems for logistics and battlefield feedback but I’m most excited about the prospect of wearing these on a plane instead of staring at an iPad or laptop.

Display Ad Data Intelligence Startup MixRank Raises $1.5M From Mark Cuban, 500 Startups

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 09:00 AM PST


Y Combinator-incubated MixRank has raised $1.5 million from 500 Startups, Mark Cuban, IAB founder Rich LeFurgy, MediaTrust chairman Peter Bordes, Leadclick founder Robert Afshar, Adify co-founder Larry Braitman, Chart.io cofounder David Beyer, Tom McInerney, Matt Ocko, and Zachary Bogue. The startup’s technology analyzes millions of ads every day to automatically identify the most effective ad copy and traffic sources in any market.

MixRank, which launched in July, is a competitive intelligence research tool for display advertising that uses machine learning algorithms and predictive modeling to automatically identify the most effective ads and traffic sources.

As co-founder Ilya Lichtenstein explains, many businesses end up losing valuable time and money trying out different wordings and approaches when it comes to display advertising. Subtle tweaks to wording and content in ads could help boost clickthrough rates.

Instead of spending time and money running numerous split tests on which wording works best, an advertiser can use MixRank to see what creatives and targeting are working best for competitors. MixRank’s search engine for AdSense crawls pages running Google ads, indexing effectiveness data and estimating ad performance.

Lichtenstein says the startup’s main focus is catering to small brands and advertisers, allowing smaller businesses access to the same premium copy, content, testing and comparative analysis that many larger brands and advertisers have access too. Since launching in July, over 4,000 advertisers have been building display campaigns on the MixRank platform.

The company plans to use the funding (which was raised via AngelList) to grow its engineering team and develop more sophisticated analytics.

YouSendIt Ups Its Game With New Desktop & Mobile Apps

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 08:50 AM PST

yousendit f

YouSendIt, a cloud collaboration company that got its start long before “cloud” was cool, is today launching new mobile applications for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, plus new Mac (beta) and PC desktop clients. The suite of apps will allow users to securely sync files across devices, while also offering unlimited storage.

YouSendIt’s primary value originally came from providing a service that mainly appealed to behind-the-firewall customers who were unable to send large files via email due to Microsoft Exchange limitations. As software developed, for internal corporate I.T. customers and consumers alike, sharing via email became less of a hassle. Attaching a dozen photos to an email, while not the most efficient way to share, is no longer going to guarantee you a bounced email in return.

Plus, there are a number of alternatives to email-based file sharing, especially for consumers, thanks to the rise of social networking services like Facebook, mobile apps, and even good ol’ MMS. That said, consumers have still found value in file storage and syncing services, like Box.net, Dropbox, SugarSync, Syncplicity and others, which serve as easy ways to move both personal and work-related files between an increasing number Internet-connected devices.

With YouSendIt’s refresh, the goal is to now cater to this new breed of file sharers, while differentiating its service via its feature set. One notable feature is YouSendIt’s security, which is a huge focus for the company. YouSendit not only encrypts files during transit (which is common), but also while stored on the company’s servers and on the devices themselves. (Dropbox doesn’t do client-side encryption at this time, meanwhile). Files are locked behind a PIN when on mobile devices, too.

In addition to the file-sharing, folder-sharing and collaboration aspects to the service, YouSendIt also allows users to sign documents (such as contracts) online, something that should appeal to the company’s business users.

YouSendIt now has 23.5 million users in 193 countries. Its service is available as a freemium product, with Pro plans starting at $9.99/month. (Pricing details here). To get started, you can download the YouSendIt desktop apps here and the mobile apps here.

Mindjet Buys Thinking Space, Launches Mind Mapping App For Android

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 08:44 AM PST


Mindjet, a developer of mind mapping, work management and collaboration software, has launched a free Android app. What isn’t mentioned in the blog post announcing the new app, is that it wasn’t actually made by Mindjet. Rather, they’ve acquired the small company behind the Thinking Space app to make their way onto the Android Market more rapidly and build upon an existing user base.

A couple of months ago, Mindjet’s Chief Product Officer, Blaine Mathieu, wrote a blog post on the company’s mobile strategy, highlighting their support for the iOS platform. To date, there have been roughy 325,000 downloads of Mindjet’s iPhone and iPad apps.

Thinking Space has actually seen more success with its Android app, clocking more than 1.1 million downloads.

Mindjet for Android is essentially a pocket productivity tool that helps users capture ideas, create business plans and organize thinking in order to boost productivity.

Update: Financial terms of the acquisition of Thinking Space were not disclosed, but the company did offer a statement on when the deal was forged:

The acquisition of Thinking Space, the leading information mapping solution for Android, was finalized in late summer for an undisclosed price. Key members of the Thinking Space team have joined Mindjet and will lead the continuing development efforts as we integrate it into the Mindjet platform.

Also read: Mindjet Buys Cohuman, To Debut Cloud-Based Collaboration Tool Mindjet Connect

(Founder Stories) Turntable.fm’s Top Priority: “Nail Product & Fix Anything That Is Not Working”

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 08:34 AM PST

Turntable 2-tc_upload.mp4

In episode I of Chris Dixon’s Founder Stories interview with Turntable.fm’sBilly Chasen, Chasen said most of his investors backed Turntable’s transition from Stickybits to Turntable, with the exception being an investor who simply wasn’t a fan of the music space.

In this episode, Dixon says a lack of understanding – or lack of enthusiasm for music startups has been a common theme in the VC community, but thinks the mindset might be changing thanks to companies like Spotify and Pandora. Chasen agrees – and takes a bit of mystery out of how Turntable navigates music rights before fielding questions about Turntable’s plan to monetize.

In a nutshell, Chasen says securing music rights is “becoming easier and easier” and as long as Turntable operates as “digital radio in the US” the rules they have to follow are pretty defined. He notes, if we were “to go international then [we'd] have to start talking to quite a few more of the rights holders.”

As for growing the company, Chasen tells Dixon he is a fan of an organic approach and says any plans to generate revenue would have to “make the experience better.” Options could include “virtual goods” or anything else that adds “to the experience” but at this stage, solidifying a business model is not the primary focus. He tells Dixon, “the top priority right now is to nail product and fix anything that is not working.”

Make sure to watch the entire video for additional insights and be sure to check out episode I of this interview here.

Past episodes of Founder Stories featuring leaders including Mayor Bloomberg & Fred Wilson are here.

Episode III of this interview is coming up.

Jive Software’s Shares Pop 27 Percent On First Trade; Valued At Over $800 Million

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 08:13 AM PST


Social enterprise giant Jive Software started trading this morning on the Nasdaq under the symbol 'JIVE.' The company priced its IPO last night at $12 per share, giving the company a $600 million. -plus valuation. Jive originally set the range between $8 and $10 per share. This morning Jive opened at $15.12 per share, up 27 percent from its pricing. At $15.12, Jive would be valued at over $800 million.

Jive, which raised $161 million in the offering, had previously raised $57 million in funding, but in October existing investors Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins invested $40 million more in the company. Jive sold13.4 million shares, up from the 11.7 million shares originally planned.

Founded in 2001, Jive has been at the forefront of blending social with enterprise software. Modeled to offer Facebook-like features to enterprises, Jive's software combines computing with social collaboration to offer fully-featured social networks for businesses. Its suite of applications help businesses collaborate on a variety of tasks, including holding discussions, communication, sharing documents, blogging, running polls, and social networking features and more.

Earlier this year, Jive added four new board members including former McAfee chairman Charles Robel, former McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt, Facebook's vice president of technical operations Jonathan Heiliger and Google's vice president of product management Sundar Pichai.

For the year ended December 31, 2010 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, Jive's total revenues were $46.3 million and $54.8 million, respectively. The company saw net losses of $27.6 million and $38.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2010, and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, respectively.

For Jive’s CEO Tony Zingale, leading a public company isn’t a new experience. He’s already been a public company CEO twice and served on six public company boards.

Zingale took some time to speak to TechCrunch this morning, and told us that today “is a culmination of a lot of work…being here at the Nasdaq and in Times Square is an awesome once in a lifetime experience.”

As for how the company will proceed in the next year as a public company, Zingale explains that Jive will to continue to ‘exploit the massive market opportunity in enterprise’, needs to meet and or beat wall street expectations and innovate on its technology platform.

Of course, it’s unclear when Jive will achieve profitability but Zingale is optimistic. “We need to break even, then generate positive cash flow and generate a margin that is interesting to shareholders,” he says. “We will get to profitability at a reasonable timeframe but we have to balance this with investment in the business and growth opportunity in the market.”

In terms of product, Zingale says that Jive will continue to focus on taking advantage of big data, bringing the social enterprise to other platforms such as Microsoft office and embracing more community aspects inside and outside the enterprise.”

“With a $26 billion market opportunity in the social enterprise, we think Jive’s prospects as a public company are bright,” says Zingale.

Topsy Launches Realtime Search Engine For Mobile Devices

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 07:59 AM PST


Topsy Labs is releasing a social, realtime search engine for mobile devices today, enabling users to discover relevant chatter about any topic based on data from Twitter and Google+.

The search engine comes with a nifty "Social Time Machine" feature that enables users to look up results on a timeline that can be controlled with a slider (see screenshots below).

Also useful: search queries can be automatically saved so users can revisit specific results at any time, and any piece of social content can be referenced historically for any topic, term or link.

Topsy cites a Performics study that says 32 percent of people search more on mobile phones than they do on computers, and that 75 percent of people think that mobile search makes their life easier.

Headquartered in San Francisco and founded in 2006, Topsy is backed by BlueRun Ventures, Ignition Partners, Founders Fund and Scott Banister.

Also read: Topsy Launches Realtime Search Engine For Public Google+ Posts

Jotly Lives! Parody App Goes Live In iTunes

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 07:37 AM PST


You remember Jotly, right? The hilarious and absurd spoof of our mobile/local/social app obsession? To refresh your memory, Jotly’s humor was so on target, people wondered if creator Alex Cornell (founder of Nosh) was actually making fun of Kevin Rose’s Oink with this parody videoHe swears he was not, just of the “proliferation of absolute ridiculousness when it comes to apps and startups these days.”

Well, guess what? Jotly is now an app itself. Says Cornell, “we just couldn’t help ourselves.”

According to Cornell, the folks over at Firespotter Labs (the team behind Nosh) never intended to make Jotly an actual thing. “But with the absurd amount of ‘rate things’ style apps flooding the market after our video came out,” explains Cornell, “we figured it just had to exist for real. The Oink similarity was hilarious, then Stamped…it seemed to just keep getting better and better…”

So the team spun it up over the last couple of weeks, and it’s launching today here in iTunes.

“People can can finally stop making social apps now. Jotly exists for real and the high watermark has been established,” Cornell jokes.

As it turns out, if you like rating random things like hiding spots and space helmets, the app looks pretty good. It’s attractive, well-designed and easy to use. How funny would it be if it actually came out on topo of Oink and Stamped et al. in the whole “rate things” game?

And for more fun, the description in iTunes carries on with Jotly’s sense of humor:

- Search for nearby items. Even if it’s a piece of lint, it might be really awesome. Jotly will help you find it
- Find the best and worst things at any place. Like ducks? Jotly will show you big and little ducks…

Everything about your life is exciting. To everyone. Ever. Download Jotly.

Dude, consider it done.

Attention, Angel Investors: You Have Until Jan. 1 To Lock In 100% Tax-Free Capital Gains On Startup Stock

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 07:24 AM PST

tax free

Angel investing has been on the rise over the past few years (see Crunchbase chart below), and this year is no exception. A quirk in the tax laws is helping. Any “qualified small business stock” purchased between September 27, 2010 and January 1, 2012 and held for at least five years is 100 percent exempt from capital gains. After January 1, the tax exemption reverts to the normal 50 percent.

So individual angel investors have a huge incentive to invest in startups before January 1 (if they plan on holding onto the stock for at least 5 years). If you are a startup raising an angel round and your investors are rushing you to get it done before the end of the year, now you know why.

The tax exemption is a result of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. It applies to many kinds of small businesses, as long as they have less than $50 million in assets at the time the stock is issued and more than 80 percent of its assets are used in the “active conduct” of the business. However, it does not apply to S corporations. You can read more about the details in this article or on the IRS website.

Between Feb. 17, 2009 and Sept. 27, 2010, the tax exemption was 75 percent. The time period these tax loopholes were in effect coincided with a general increase in angel and seed investing. Once the loophole goes away, will we see a corresponding drop in angel investing? Congress should make the tax exemption permanent to encourage the creation of more startups.

Image credit: Shutterstock/thumb

GOGII Adds Free Calls To textPlus, Celebrates 20 Billion Messages Sent

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 07:23 AM PST


For all the work that GOGII has put into their free textPlus messaging app, they have spent much of the last two or so years letting users do essentially one thing: communicate via text. As of today, that’s no longer the case: with the launch of their Free Calls app, GOGII’s trying to stake their claim in the voice space too.

Sure, GOGII tested the waters with the textPlus’s Voice Note functionality, but the Free Calls app takes that concept and runs with it. Current users will find no reason to fret: they can stick with their existing textPlus phone numbers while new users will get a U.S. phone number of their very own.

Once everything is set up, users can make calls to cell and landline numbers using either WiFi or their phone’s data connection. The app comes bundled with a few free trial minutes, but after that users will have to buy buckets of minutes from within the app itself.

Of course, textPlus has managed to pick up quite a few users since their debut in 2009, so “in-network” or textPlus to textPlus calls will be free.

And that’s not all the the folks at GOGII have to celebrate — they tell us that textPlus has just recently tip-toed over the 20 billion messages sent milestone. Astute readers may remember that it took the company nearly 2 years to hit the 10 billion message mark, so there’s little question that the free messaging service is picking up steam.

The voice shift seems like a pretty drastic one for the company, but it’s not exactly unprecedented for players in the messaging space to branch out into voice service. In fact, competition is getting pretty fierce: Pinger’s Textfree has similar voice call functionality, and big players like Skype have been combining voice and messaging service on mobile devices for a while now.

For now, textPlus’s new calling functionality is limited to devices of the Apple persuasion, but an Android-friendly version of the app should be out before the end of the year.

Security Flaw In Windows Phone 7.5 Kills The Messaging Hub (Video)

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 07:16 AM PST


While most of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is playing catch up to Android and iOS, the Messaging Hub truly shines as a stand-out feature. It allows you to thread Facebook messages, IMs and texts all into one unified conversation — exactly what a messaging app should be.

The only problem is that there seems to be a security flaw that disables the Messaging Hub entirely, all from receiving one malicious text.

WinRumors first reported on it this morning, mentioning that the issue has already been reported directly to Microsoft. According to a video of the attack, the message itself isn’t displayed, but the alert tone/vibration occurs at which point the phone instantly reboots. After that, any attempt to open up the Messaging Hub will prove impossible. The attack can also occur with the receipt of a Facebook or Windows Live message.

WinRumors suspects that this isn’t a device-specific bug, but rather an issue with the Windows Phone OS. No word on a fix yet, but we expect to hear something out of Redmond very soon with regards to a fix.

Comunitee: A New Social News Site For Mainstream Readers

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 06:51 AM PST


Does the world need another social news site? That’s the big question about today’s launch of Comunitee, a new beta destination for tracking the news you want to follow, commenting and sharing stories with your friends. I mean, it’s not like we already have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for this, right?

Well, not exactly. For those who want the full, real-time firehose of feeds for a set of specific topics, there are fewer options on the desktop that don’t involve geeky RSS readers. And given what Google did to Google Reader, a lot of people are still looking for online alternatives.

To be clear, Comunitee is not an RSS reader. It’s a news aggregator. The service tracks several thousand sources across ten major categories, like U.S., World, Politics, Tech, Sports, Health, etc. You can also set up a particular keyword or phrase as a category. (So for example, you could track all the mentions of “Nexus Prime.”)

Comunitee has a lot of competition. On mobile, it comes from apps like Flipboard, Pulse, Zite, Flud, Riversip, and dozens of others. On the desktop, there are other social news sites, social networks, RSS readers, personal homepages and more. What will make Comunitee stand out?

For starters, the news site is smarter than your average RSS reader. That is, it gets smarter the more you use it. Using machine learning, the site tracks your reading patterns in order to surface content more closely matched to your interests as indicated by your reading behavior. That alone could make the service an interesting alternative to a pure RSS solution. How well these algorithms work over an extended period of time, I can’t say. The site is only now launching into beta, and there has been limited time to test.

One thing I did notice, however, was that the site was not as real-time or comprehensive as it should be. The company tells me that the newsfeeds refresh every 60 seconds, but there have been some kinks during the early private beta. (Last week, every article you saw was not older than 2 minutes, I’m told. Today, that’s not the case, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.) Assuming the team can squash that particular bug, then they also need to address the service’s comprehensiveness. For example, using the above-mentioned query “Nexus Prime,” Comunitee can’t find a thing.

That’s a shame because the site itself looks good. It’s easy to set up and navigate. You can see the top news trends on the right, along with info about what your friends are reading (both top stories and a real-time feed), and you can comment directly within Comunitee itself. The site will direct you to the actual news outlet for reading, though, so it’s not entirely publisher-unfriendly.

Comunitee is backed by $170K in angel funding, and is led by serial entrepreneur Dan Daszkowski, who founded BusinessMart, Inc., which was acquired by Internet Brands, Inc. (formerly CarsDirect) in 2009 and Daszign, which was acquired by CoutureCandy, Inc. in 2006.

Request Denied: Verizon Must Pay Royalties To ActiveVideo Without Delay

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 06:43 AM PST


Verizon really can’t catch a break in this ActiveVideo case. After a jury determined that they had infringed upon a handful of ActiveVideo’s patents, Verizon fought to have the court stay their monthly royalty payments. That motion was just recently shot down, and Verizon must start shelling out a few million dollars to ActiveVideo every month beginning on December 16.

What’s that? The case doesn’t ring any bells? Here’s a quick recap: ActiveVideo filed suit against Verizon in May 2010 citing the infringement of a handful of their television service-related patents. ActiveVideo licenses their CloudTV platform (which encompasses said patents) to partners like Cablevision, with whom Verizon competes in markets like New York.

In addition to being liable for millions of dollars in damages, Verizon has been ordered to pay ActiveVideo $2.74 for each one of their FiOS television subscribers, which means a total monthly payout as high as $11 million. There’s a timeline attached to these payments, too: Verizon will have to shell out those royalty payments until either one of two things happens.

Scenario A: Verizon figures out a way to retool their FiOS service in a way that doesn’t use ActiveVideo’s patents. Once they do that (and can prove it in court), there won’t be any need to pay royalties anymore.

Scenario B: In the unlikely case that Verizon can’t make things work, either technologically or in court, they continue to pay ActiveVideo until May of next year. At that point, Verizon will have to shut down their FiOS Video-on-Demand service entirely.

While Verizon’s top brass has probably whipped out the corporate checkbook already, the bigger question is how much work will it take to rid the FiOS service of ActiveVideo’s influence. Verizon’s got a few months to get cracking on the problem, but only time will tell if the new (and hopefully improved) FiOS can stand up to some intense legal scrutiny.

Amazon Extends Free Shipping Cutoff Through The Weekend Before Christmas

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 06:20 AM PST


As more and more consumers are flocking online to shop for gifts this holiday season, Amazon has announced that it is extending the order deadline for its free shipping through the last weekend before Christmas.

Amazon has been offering “FREE Super Saver Shipping” on eligible orders $25 and over. So now, customers can place orders through Monday, Dec. 19 with delivery by Christmas, which is on Sunday, Dec. 5. Usually, Friday, December 16 is one of the last days when merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Amazon buyers can still order past the Dec. 19 deadline but will have to pay for expedited shipping to have the item delivered by Christmas.

Free shipping is actually one of the contributing factors to the significant increase in online holiday spending this year, so this is a wise move for Amazon to capture more consumer dollars on last-minute holiday shopping. Amazon made a similar move last year as well.

Of course, this is not good news for brick and mortar stores, who tend to reap the benefits of last-minute shoppers who can’t go online for free shipping offers the week prior Christmas.

Last week, Amazon announced that users of Amazon's Price Check app will be able to score up to $5 off a purchase of any product if they use the app in-store, another blow to physical retailers.

We’ll probably see other big e-commerce players also extend free shipping deadlines in the coming week.

Pandora Listening Jumps In Top Ten U.S. Radio Markets In November

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 06:00 AM PST


Internet radio service Pandora has posted its November listening stats in the top ten radio markets in the U.S. The company says that it has seen Average Quarter Hour (AQH) gains in each of the top ten U.S. radio markets since September.

Pandora says the gains ranged from 13 to 25 percent listening increases in each market with the biggest AQH gain of 25 percent occurring in the New York metro area. An AQH rating of 1.0 means an average of one percent of a target population was listening to Pandora for at least five minutes within a quarter hour window between 6.00 a.m. and midnight.

In November, among adults 18-34 in the top ten markets, Pandora’s weekly cumulative audience (the measure of the total unique Pandora listeners in each market) reached more than 19.9 percent in each metro survey area. For adults 18-49, the weekly cumulative audience for November for the first time had more than one million unique listeners in both the New York and Los Angeles metro survey areas.

Pandora reported stronger than expected earnings in Q3, with users listening to 2.1 billion total hours of radio for the third quarter of 2011. And the company announced that it has 40 million active users and 66 percent of the country's internet radio market.

Looking forward Pandora is eying local radio ad dollars, and increased usage in local radio markets is only going to help the company attract advertisers and revenue.

Life360′s Family Safety App Grabs $3.5 Million Series A

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 06:00 AM PST


Family safety startup Life360, which makes a freemium mobile security app by the same name, is today announcing it has secured $3.5 million in Series A funding. The round included investment from Fontinalis Partners, Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, Bessemer Venture Partners, Venture51, Bullpen Capital, Social Leverage and Eghosa Omoigui's EchoVC Partners, as well as existing investors LaunchCapital, Seraph Group and Mark Goines.

The latest investment brings the company's total funding to $5 million. The company says it will use the new funding to move into other verticals, including cars and homes.

For those unfamiliar with Life360, the app provides a number of features targeted towards families, including family locator services, private “check-ins,” alerts, neighborhood safety notices, identify protection, and more. Some of the features are available for free, while others are available for the app’s premium subscribers.

The move to freemium caused a big uptick in growth, as Jason Kincaid reported back in January. At the time, the company was nearing 1 million families. Now it has 6 million families (10 million users).

With the additional investment, the company says it’s expanding its focus beyond mobile, with plans to automatically link vehicles and homes to the service, without requiring additional hardware. This would allow users to enable vehicle tracking and home monitoring features which would be accessible via their mobile phone.

Currently, Life360 is available on the Android and iPhone platforms, but is listed as “coming soon” to both Windows Phone and BlackBerry. You can grab a copy for yourself from here.

Correction: The signups number from before was referring to families, not users. This has been corrected.

No comments:

Post a Comment