09 March, 2012



Prepaid card company Green Dot gets Loopt for $43.4M

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 09:03 AM PST

Loopt, a mobile location services pioneer, has been snapped up by an unlikely suitor. Green Dot, a company that specializes in prepaid debit cards, announced today that it has acquired the company for $43.4 million.

Loopt started out as a way to easily locate all of your friends, but the company has since added features like Loopt Qs, an easy way to share your opinion about specific places, and local deals. The acquisition is the end of a long journey for Loopt, which was founded in early 2005, long before check-in services like Foursquare hit the scene.

Despite being one of the first mobile services to focus on location, Loopt never saw the widespread adoption of its younger competitors. Now, though, it may be able to use its experience in the mobile location field to help improve Green Dot’s business.

“We believe that mobile phones have the potential to change the way people interact with their bank, control their money and pay for goods and services," Green Dot CEO Steve Streit said in a statement today. “Loopt has innovative mobile technology, market leading mobile programming capabilities and compelling intellectual property. Meanwhile, Green Dot has a large customer base, a robust enterprise-level financial services infrastructure and retail point-of-sale financial transaction capabilities deployed at major retailers nationwide.”

Green Dot says that acquiring Loopt will help it to increase customer acquisition of its debit cards, create new payments and banking services, and help it to power a future mobile wallet. The company also notes that Loopt “holds several patents that are applicable to mobile marketing in the context of location-based messaging delivered real-time to a mobile handset.”

Loopt is based in Mountain View, California, and raised a total of $17 million in funding. The company’s headquarters will now become Green Dot’s hub in the Valley for mobile products.

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual MobileSummit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of themobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: deals, VentureBeat

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Comcast to Netflix: We don’t need no stinkin’ partnership

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 08:07 AM PST

Netflix Game Rentals

The largest cable TV and Internet service provider Comcast said it has no interest in partnering with video rental service Netflix, the company told trade publication Fierce Cable yesterday.

It’s hardly surprising that Comcast isn’t interested in an alliance with Netflix. Last month the company launched a new complimentary streaming video service called Streampix, which is available for free to premium customers and $4.99 per month for those with a basic cable package. Streampix is Comcast’s answer to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” streaming service, and part of the company’s plans to keep current subscribers from cutting the cord.

And with cable and satellite television subscriber rates showing new growth in the fourth quarter of 2011, Netflix is worried that big companies like Dish and AT&T could start hurting its subscriber growth by offering their own streaming video services — complete with access to exclusive original programming from HBO, Starz, and Showtime. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is even rumored to have started discussions with many of the traditional TV providers on a partnership.

Netflix is now trying to position itself as a premium channel that can be bundled together with a monthly cable TV subscription package, much in the same way HBO does. But unlike HBO, Netflix is available to anyone and doesn’t require that you go through a cable or satellite TV provider for access. That makes Netflix far less valuable to companies like Comcast.

Via New York Times

Filed under: deals, media, VentureBeat

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The DeanBeat: Tips from Ubisoft on making a happy game industry acquisition

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 08:00 AM PST

It’s no secret that 2012 will be a year full of acquisitions in the game industry. Last year, investments grew 96 percent to $2 billion, while the value of acquisitions grew 160 percent to $3.4 billion, according to game-centric investment bank Digi-Capital. The bank expects 2012 to be another big year for deals.

That’s why big companies have to learn how to handle acquisitions. Ubisoft may or may not be a model in this regard, having acquired many companies recently. But the French video game publisher willingly shared its experience in dealing with acquisitions in a panel at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

When it comes to deals, there’s a right way to do them and a wrong way, said Billy Pidgeon, analyst at M2 Research and moderator of the panel.

The top executives of three recently-acquired companies sang the praises of their new parent Ubisoft in handling its acquisitions. Pictured above, the panelists included (from right to left) Anne Blondel-Jouin, director at Nadeo Live; David Polfeldt, managing director of Massive; Tommy Francois (in the kilt), new IP editorial director at Ubisoft; and Tero Virtala, CEO of RedLynx.

The acquired companies were all very different. Nadeo makes multiplayer online games such as TrackMania and is working on an online first-person shooter. RedLynx made Trials HD and is preparing to release Trials Evolution side-scrolling racing game. Francois said that big companies shouldn’t treat acquisitions like toys they can break. Ubisoft Massive makes real-time strategy games such as World in Conflict.

In looking for companies to buy, Ubisoft looks for studios that make games that it loves, said Francois, who scouts for potential acquisitions. It also looks for opportunities to learn. It’s unlikely for the company to buy a studio that makes games that are similar to what Ubisoft already makes because the chance to learn something new is minimal.

“Acquisitions are difficult,” Francois said. “It’s about respecting the creative culture and identity of a company. You don’t want to erase that. An acquisition is like a wedding. You are looking at what new identity you can create together. It’s not about buying a brand, but the people who are creating games and content.”

Ubisoft hasn’t always done everything right. The company bought the film company Hybride in order to take Ubisoft’s games and turn them into movies. But that deal didn’t work out so well, in part because Ubisoft had to learn that it didn’t buy a movie-making machine. Rather, Hybride was just a piece of what it needed, and now Ubisoft is going to work to try to make the acquisition work out better, Francois said.

“We didn’t understand who we were working with,” Francois said.

Blondel-Jouin said that her deal was a good one because Ubisoft allows Nadeo to do what it does best, which is focus on making games. But she said big companies have processes that can hurt startups. For instance, it may require a staff of 20 people to be fully compliant with the parent company’s way of doing things. Sometimes the startups have to push back to get their work done.

One of the lessons is that the best thing you can do when you acquire a new company is listen, Francois said. Nadeo’s team told Ubisoft that they didn’t want to grow their staff quickly after acquisition.

There are plenty of horror stories when it comes to acquisitions. That’s why it’s rare to find companies that are good at them. The smaller the deal, the more likely it has a chance for success, since big acquisitions seem like they’re setting themselves up for failure, Francois said.

Big companies have big distractions. Ubisoft has more than 500 developers working on releasing a new version of Assassin’s Creed every year. But Francois said that the management team at Ubisoft is set up so that it has dedicated people such as Francois to work with small teams. Ubisoft has a lot of centralized expertise in game design and other creative fields to assist its various studios.

“The Assassin’s team knows what they are doing and maybe they don’t need as much support from us,” Francois said. Virtala added, “We get the management bandwidth that we need.”

Francois said that the team that was working on Child of Eden got advice from Ubisoft’s CEO, Yves Guillemot, to use Kinect as the method of control in the game.

“That’s the level of attention that small teams can get at Ubisoft,” Francois said.

Francois said that some people in the company wanted to raise the forecast for brand new games such as Child of Eden. But he said that other seasoned people were in place to say that they shouldn’t do that or else they would wind up disappointing.

Asked if Ubisoft would consider buying an American development studio, Francois said, “There’s no reason it couldn’t. It could happen.” One of the company’s most successful acquisitions was of Red Storm Entertainment, a Cary, N.C.-based studio that makes the Tom Clancy military games.

As for prices for startups, it may be a seller’s market. But Francois said that discussions for acquisitions at Ubisoft rarely dwell on price.

Virtala said that you can actually get more independence by being acquired. For much of its history, RedLynx found it was always trying to raise money for its next game. That process was all-consuming, and that problem was solved when Ubisoft acquired the company and allowed it to focus on innovation, Virtala said.

“We’re more independent now than we have ever been,” he said.

GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat's fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500+ execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry's latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your early-bird tickets here.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Relax, nothing has changed with Android’s Google Wallet in-app payments

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 07:30 AM PST

Shockingly (note the sarcasm), Google seems hell-bent on making its Google Wallets platform the de facto standard for Android in-app payments.

A blistering Reuters report from yesterday claimed that Google was forcing developers to adopt its payments platform, in lieu of alternatives from PayPal, Boku, and others. It’s a seemingly dramatic tale, complete with an e-mail Google sent to a developer threatening to remove their app from the Android Market.

The only problem? When asked for comment about the report, a Google spokesperson tells us,  “Our policies haven’t changed.”

Google noted that it has required app developers to adopt Google Wallet since it’s been made available for Android, and it has been pursuing those who don’t follow the rules for some time,  in a statement to the Verge. The only exceptions are for physical item purchases (from the likes of Amazon or eBay) and transferable digital goods like e-books.

While Android is known for its openness, that freedom has often come back to bite the platform. It has allowed for Android makers to add all sorts of ugly software to their devices, and opened the door for Amazon to create a device like the Kindle Fire, which is based on Android but doesn’t offer every Android app.

When it comes to in-app payments, having too many choices could make it more confusing and difficult for consumers to make purchases. “Although this move by Google might seem high-handed, it reduces the friction for purchases inside Android apps and therefore makes users more valuable,” Appsperse CEO Hugo Troche told Reuters.

Indeed, Apple has been even more heavy-handed with in-app payments on iOS, which has forced major companies like Amazon to rethink how their iOS apps are structured. While annoying for developers, Apple’s strategy has helped spur on the popularity of in-app payments on its platform. If Google is to effectively compete, it will have to play the same ballgame.

But even though Google is trying to push Wallet in Google Play (formerly the Android Market), it’s also worth noting that the platform’s openness allows developers to make their apps available through other app stores, or directly from their website. That’s something that Apple doesn’t offer at all with iOS.

It also makes sense for Google to track down in-app payment violators, because it has no way of enforcing what payments services they use before their apps hit Google Play. Unlike iOS, Google doesn’t have a strict approval process for apps that hit its marketplace. The only way it can enforce its policies is by getting in touch with devs after the fact.

Reuters also notes that Google takes a 30 percent cut from in-app purchases — the same as iOS, but significantly more than some alternative payments services. But according to Google’s documentation, that transaction fee is just 5 percent.

I can’t blame any developer who feels confused by the situation though, as Google hasn’t made it fully clear that Google Wallet is the only choice for in-app payments. In the company’s Android Developer Market Policies, its payment section reads as follows:

Paid and Free Applications
Developers charging for applications and downloads from Android Market must do so by using an authorized Payment Processor. Developers offering additional content, goods, or services for an application downloaded from Android Market must offer an authorized Payment Processor as the payment option.

It sounds like Google is referring to more than one “authorized Payment Processor,” even though Google Wallet is the only option at the moment.

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual MobileSummit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of themobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Find-a-beta-tester startup BetaBait launches new site with better features

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 07:00 AM PST


BetaBait, a service focused on connecting startups with beta testers, has launched a slick new redesigned site to complement a new set of a features that will give early adopters more feedback tools.

One of the company's co-founders is long-time VentureBeat contributor Cody Barbierri. He told us that he started the company because he saw a clear need in the market, with so many startups in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley, but not enough tools to help get testers lined up. But he admits the first iteration of the site looked plain, so it needed a fresh coat of paint to introduce some new features.

When the service launched in mid-December, it was centered around e-mail lists where BetaBait members could receive a single e-mail every day listing several beta apps. But now the company has moved in new direction and launched an “online discovery” service where users and startups can see all the submitted apps online. There are also individual app pages that include more info, a voting mechanism, and Facebook-based commenting.

“The initial design was based on the simplicity of the email service,” Barbierri said. “Now that we are creating an online discovery platform as well, the design needs to reflect a greater user experience for both startups and early adopters.”

Barbierri said that BetaBait has thus far attracted more than 1,000 startups and more than 5,000 testers. Membership is free for startups and potential beta users. Social networking applications are the most popular type of submission, with business-focused apps coming in second.

The Bridgeport, Conn.-based company is self-funded at present. The company is working on a small scale, but it hopes to attract outside funding in the near future.

You can take a look at the new site design below:


Fish kiss photo: Blaj Gabriel/Shutterstock

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Pirate Bay braces for police raid as global filesharing crackdown continues

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 05:20 AM PST

File sharing site The Pirate Bay is no stranger to law enforcement, its offices were raided back in 2006, which led to four convictions. Now the team believes that authorities have obtained new warrants and are bracing for another crackdown. 

Pirate Bay learned from its first brush with the law. “Those who are aware of the site's history know that without a few essential keystrokes in May 2006, The Pirate Bay may not have been here today. When Pirate Bay founder TiAMO heard that something was amiss, he decided to make a full backup of the site before heading off to the data center, where he was greeted by dozens of police officers,” reports file sharing news site TorrentFreak.

The service recently switched from torrents to magnet links for sharing files between users, meaning the entire site is now small enough to store on a conventional thumb drive. It has also put in place a number of failsafes like backup domains and different servers across the globe.

The site recently moved from a .ORG domain to prevent American authorities from pursuing legal action. But the switch to a SE. domain seems to have opened  the door to a new confrontation with local authorities in Sweden.

With typical flair, the team behind Pirate Bay left a message for Swedish law enforcement. “We're staying put where we are. We're going no-where. But we have a message to Hollywood, the investigators and the prosecutors: LOL.”

Filed under: cloud

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How to pitch your startup at conferences

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 10:11 PM PST

I attended the Launch conference in San Francisco yesterday and saw quite a few pitches. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are still making the same mistakes they’ve been making for years.

Here are a few tips for pitching. Because many of the presenters were first timers and early stage companies, I’m not going to name names of companies that I thought did poorly. My goal is to help companies improve.


  • Have a sign! You’re competing with dozens of other startups for attention. People aren’t going to stop and talk to everyone. You’ve already invested money for the booth space and the people to be on site. Spend the money to get a decent sign that talks about what your company does in a few bullet points. See the example at right for a good sign. That’s the right amount of text.
  • Do your elevator pitch and then ask the person you’re talking to what his or her role is. You want to be able to meet their needs. It helps if you know that they’re press, investors, general user or competitor. Then adjust the rest of the pitch from there.
  • Make sure everyone working your booth is familiar with the basics of your company. Things like expected launch, funding, investors. If the answer is that you’re not disclosing something, that’s what you should say. I talked with one company I was interested in and the guy just responded to my questions with, “I don’t know. I’m just an engineer.”
  • Direct people to the right person. If there are others on the team who know the answer, make the connections. The same engineer just motioned at other people who were gabbing among themselves and said they might know the answer, without making any effort to introduce us.
  • Don’t lie. I asked one company if they had an Android app. They said they did. I pulled out my phone to download it. All of a sudden, they didn’t have an Android app. “It’s in development.”
  • Be prepared to answer questions about where you fit relative to the competition. The people most interested in talking to you likely know your competitors. (Saying you have “none” is a bad move.) One of the most frequent questions I ask is “How are you different from…”
  • Pay attention to badges. Many conferences have different types of badges for attendees. If there are a lot of green badges and only a few purple badges, you might want to pay special attention to people with purple badges.
  • Know who the players are in your space. If there are specific press, analysts, or investors your company is targeting, the people at your booth should know about them.
  • Don’t waste money on pens, T-shirts, and other giveaways. Investors and press don’t care about these things. Put your money into product. (Though you may want to get shirts for your own team to make it easier for people to find you.)


  • Grab attention from the get go. Many people are multitasking during these things and if you don’t grab them immediately, you might never grab them. Even if you have a 5 minute slot, that doesn’t mean people are paying attention the whole time. I was sitting next to a VC yesterday. We both would pay attention to the start of each pitch and if it didn’t resonate, start working on email, Twitter or other things. (We were also refreshing our screens to see if the Apple Store was back up; both of us bought the new iPad before the show was over.) Every once in a while we’d tune in or ask each other if the pitch was worth paying attention to.
  • Show your product. We don’t want to see a video of how great your theoretical product might be. Show us what is today, warts and all. Smart people will be able to fill in the blanks and see your vision. Dumb people — well, you don’t want them as investors.
  • Tell us why you are the right person or team to do this. What makes you better than most? What in your background inspired this idea or concept?
  • Be prepared to back up claims you make about traction. If your engagement is through the roof, show us with graphs. Everyone has heard the “we’re in discussions with major retailers” line. No one believes it. If you don’t have traction, don’t claim you do.
  • Have a back up plan if you run into technical difficulties.

Follow up

  • Pay attention to who is tweeting about you during and after the event. I tweeted that a company was interesting last night and because they followed up right away, I was able to meet with them this morning before the founder returned to New York. If you have a larger team, you may want to have someone who isn’t attending the conference monitoring Twitter and filtering leads.

Rocky Agrawal is an analyst focused on the intersection of local, social, and mobile. He is a principal analyst at reDesign mobile. Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He blogs at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.

[Top image: Launch Festival judges table]

Filed under: Entrepreneur, VentureBeat

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Dropbox redesign adds action bar, photo viewer, and more

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 07:44 PM PST


Cloud storage powerhouse Dropbox has redesigned its website and main interface with welcome new features including an all-powerful “action bar”, a Lightbox photo viewer, better search, and more, the company announced Thursday evening.

Dropbox engineer Trevor Berg writes:

One of our main goals was to slim down dropbox.com and focus on the star of the page: your stuff. We've put all the tools you need at your fingertips, but only when you need them.

The new action bar at the top of the screen does it all. Think of it as a multi-tool that adjusts to your needs. You can use it to sort your files by name, date, size, and type. Or, if you select a file or folder, the bar will change to let you perform a variety of actions on your selection.

Another important addition to its revamped interface is a Lightbox photo viewer that allows you to see your photos and videos in full screen. On top of the photo viewer, the company has added thumbnails for all kinds of image and video files so you can actually figure out what the hell “IMG47565.JPG” is without having to open or download it.

Other great features that Dropbox has added include the ability to drag-and-drop files, improved multiple-file selection, and faster search. Plus, the company says to “expect a lot more cool stuff in the next few months.”

San Francisco-based Dropbox has raised around $257 million in funding to date, with the majority of that coming from its massive $250 million round last October. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Greylock Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, RIT Capital Partners, Valiant Capital Partners, and Hadi and Ali Partovi.

Check out more screenshots of the new Dropbox redesign below:

Filed under: cloud

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Reddit nabs ex-Facebooker Yishan Wong as new CEO

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 06:24 PM PST

Yishan Wong

The man balancing a shoe on his head in the photo above is the new CEO of community news sharing site Reddit, the company announced in a blog post today.

Judging by the ridiculous verification photo and the colorful responses on his first submission to the site as chief executive, it looks like Wong will fit in perfectly with the Reddit team. In addition to being an active Reddit user since 2005, Wong previously worked as Facebook’s Director of Engineering, former PayPal Engineering Manager, and consultant to various tech startups. He’s technically the first CEO of Reddit, which became a separate entity (Reddit Inc.) after being spun off from parent company Conde Nast in September 2011.

Wong admits that his background isn’t traditionally what company’s would look for when pursuing someone to fill the chief executive position.

“I don’t have the polish and the poise and the schmoozing, and I don’t play golf. Instead, I’m an engineer and a leader of engineers and I play Starcraft (poorly),” Wong wrote on the company blog. “But as I continued the conversations, I came to understand that reddit wasn’t looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because reddit is not a conventional company.”

Yishan's Reddit Avatar

Yishan's Reddit Avatar

For the first half of Reddit’s existence, the site managed to gain over a billion monthly page views on a miniscule budget with only 4 to 5 employees. The site is currently bringing in over two billion monthly page views and over 29 million unique visitors per month.

Despite the crazy metrics, Reddit remains pretty basic at its core. The default front page is mostly text, with the exception of two advertising spots — a self-serve text submission ad banner along the top of the page and a traditional graphical display ad in the right sidebar. Unlike similar news sharing communities like Digg, Reddit doesn’t sort the submitted links from users into categories. Instead, users submit links and short message posts to sub-sites (called subreddits) focused on a specific idea or subject. And each of these subreddits has its own unique community, which keeps the flow of content from getting stale.

Speaking of Digg, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian shed a little light on why Wong was chosen for the position. In a Reddit submission comment thread, Ohanian writes: “I asked all of the (CEO) candidates I interviewed the question: “Why did digg fail?” Yishan knows.”

Digg experienced an implosion after a rushed site revamp angered many of its long-time active users in August 2010, sending them rushing to Reddit for refuge. Wong said he doesn’t plan on making any big changes to Reddit anytime soon.

“I think reddit is great, so I’m not looking to implement any ‘big, bold new directions’ or redesigns,” Wong wrote in a comment thread. “Right now I am trying to make sure I learn all the nuances and subtleties of the community and product so that I don’t fuck it up.”

Wong said he’ll continue to work with Advance Publications to complete Reddit’s transition to being a standalone company, which will allow the site to manage its own finances and operations as well as offer its employees competitive wages.

We’ve reached out to Wong for further comment about his new role at Reddit and will update the post pending a response.

Photo via Yishan Wong

Filed under: deals, media, social, VentureBeat

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Local marketplace Hipswap sells, delivers your secondhand stuff

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 05:07 PM PST

Hipswap, a Craigslist-like marketplace for local items, has launched its service in several cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.

Craigslist has long been the go-to place to buy and sell stuff locally, but the web site isn’t the least bit visually pleasing.

Hipswap hopes to capture some of Craiglist’s market by offering a website full of pictures of items you can by from people around you. Every item listed on the site has a picture attached, so you can see what you’re buying and avoid surprises. Like oh-so-many sites these days, it’s design looks a lot like Pinterest, and people can create collections of their listings with a certain theme such as woman’s heels or coffee tables.

Hipswap also offers local delivery and shipping over longer distances for those who are nervous about meeting up with a complete stranger to sell or buy an item. Local delivery is limited to Los Angeles now, and your stuff arrives in a cutesy pink vehicle with a moustache on the side.

Instead of paying with cash only, or hoping the guy you’re buying from has Square, Hipswap uses PayPal to process payments and charges a three and a half percent transaction fee to make money.

Hipswap faces competition from Craigslist as well as Etsy, because it presents item listings in a similar way and offers second-hand and vintage items for sale. Etsy also uses PayPal for payments, but shipping is up to the seller.

The company is based in Santa Monica, Calif. and is currently seeking funding.

Garage sale cat figurine image via Flickr user megaul 

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Biologic offers strangest way yet to browse social networks on iPad

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 05:06 PM PST

Bored with the mundane, linear way of reading status updates? Fire up the iPad and load Biologic, a brand new app for browsing social network feeds.

Biologic, which comes from the creative minds at data science startup Bloom Studio, is a scientific experiment in social browsing. The iPad-only application, released Thursday, exhibits an alternative interface where social media activity is symbolized in mutating life forms.

The Biologic user can connect to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, with each existing as an independent entity. Pick a service to browse updates and you’ll quickly discover that each cell represents a person in your social network. The more vocal a contact is in a short period of time, the larger her cell. Touch a cell and you’ll find various particles, which represent individual status updates. There are four different types of particles — photos, videos, links, and check-ins — that designate the type of content contained in each update.

The application’s quirks, which include fun audio and visual effects, are quite delightful. And a little tip for the unhip (ie. folks like me): If you want to switch between your social networks, you’ll need to pinch to zoom out.

Biologic is seriously strange, but in the most fascinating of ways. “It is weird,” Bloom co-founder and president Ben Cerveny admitted to VentureBeat. “We wanted to provoke people into thinking about what these networks are and how complex and messy they can be.”

The app will captivate and delight, so long as you don’t expect it to satisfy all of your social media cravings. It’s not optimized for conversation or off-network content consumption, as links redirect to your iPad’s browser. But Biologic is still the simplest of organisms, and its creators have much more in store.

Bloom Studio is a small San Francisco-based startup dedicated to presenting social and streaming data in playful visualizations with personal context. The company has raised an undisclosed sum of seed funding.

Filed under: mobile, social, VentureBeat

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Rumored Instagram funding may boost its valuation from $25M to $500M

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:49 PM PST

Instagram money

Mobile photography application Instagram may be raising a $40 million round of funding, rocketing its valuation from $25 million to $500 million over night.

The Wall Street Journal’s sources say that venture capitalists are definitely interested in the popular young company, but have some reservations about the high valuation.

Instagram is a photo-sharing application for iPhone. It allows you to take photos in-app, apply filters, and then post the photos to the Instagram photo-stream. It also posts images to a number of social networks including Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, Instagram sends a photo to Facebook six times every second, according to Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.

The app had already amassed 13 million users 13 months after its debut. It may now have as many 25 million members, but the company is still in the midst of defining its business model. The Journal points out that Instagram does have a celebrity following, however, with stars such as Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber using the app. It may be able to figure out a monetization plan for their involvement, or streams associated with a particular brand. Until then, VCs may shy away from throwing money into the startup’s funding pool.

Instagram raised $7 million in funding in February 2011. The round was led by venture firm Benchmark Capital and included Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

Instagram did not immediately return a request for comment.

via The Wall Street Journal

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile, social, VentureBeat

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Zynga’s Dyer invites developers to be publishing partners

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:38 PM PST

Rob Dyer is having his coming out party today. He joined social gaming giant Zynga in October as head of partner publishing, and now he finally gets to tell the world what he’s been doing. Dyer is the man who must convince external game developers to publish their games on Zynga’s newly announced platform for social gaming. Games published on the platform will run on both Zynga.com and Facebook, enabling smaller game developers to reach Zynga’s audience of 246 million monthly active users.

Dyer’s new job is exactly the same thing he was doing as senior vice president of third-party relations for Sony Computer Entertainment America. In that capacity, he promoted console games and scoffed at social games early on. But now he’s a convert to the power of the fast-spreading social game business.

Developers can tap Zynga’s ability to cross-promote games across its network. They can also use Zynga’s technology for hosting games on its zCloud data center infrastructure, which has been custom-built to run games as fast as possible. Today, Zynga is revealing more partners for its third-party platform. Here’s a transcript of our interview at the Game Developers Conference this week.

GamesBeat: What has been the reaction to your news?

Rob Dyer: The announcement has clearly awoken the world right now, and I think everybody’s been very interested and intrigued about what’s going on. I’m pleased with that response.

GB: What’s your approach going to be for rolling out partners?

RD: We’re really looking for games that engage and retain. Our preference would obviously be games that aren’t necessarily in the genres that Zynga already has, but it’s not something that we’re saying no to. You’re going to see a couple partners that we’re announcing on Thursday that will have games and you’re going to say, “Wow, they really match up to what Zynga’s already doing.” But they have high retention, high engagement, and early on that’s really what we’re looking for. My preference would be categories like hardcore strategy and role-playing games and fighting games and shooters and sports, that we don’t do. But they’re not always the easiest to find.

GB: And are they coming from small companies or big ones?

RD: Both.

GB: Is there a logic to doing either one first? Like maybe you want to get undiscovered games, not games that are already out there.

RD: We have both. If you look at the partners we have announced already — MobScience, Row Sham Bow, and Sava Transmedia – MobScience’s game, brand new, hasn’t been seen yet. Row Sham Bow’s game is out there already, Woodland Heroes (pictured right), and then we’ve got Sava, a wily, crafty veteran from EA in Alain Tascan, who’s got some new stuff that they’re doing. So yeah, we’re excited about new, undiscovered stuff that we think can be big breakout hits. At the same time, we want to work with people that have games that are there already that we think we can help energize, introduce to another big group, and blow it up.

GB: So how is your job different at Zynga now, compared to Sony?

RD: Oh, it’s so different. The biggest challenge has been being on the ground floor, starting something. I kind of feel the way Bernie Stolar must have felt back at Sony when he was starting third-party. He was one of the first guys, he was the original third-party head, setting up what the PRCs were going to be; how are you going to have submissions, what are you going to do to get people excited about being on your platform, walking around evangelizing? Talking about Bernie, I was at Crystal Dynamics, and he was out trying to get people excited about this thing called PlayStation. Well, now I’m walking around, figuring out internally, what we are going to do with PRCs, how are we going to handle submissions? And then walking around saying, “You know, you really should be excited about what we’re doing for this cool platform called ZDC.” It’s very different from where I was.

GB: I guess you have to prove certain things to third parties as well.

RD: Well, I think one of the things you want to make sure you’re doing is being consistent and providing a consistent playing field for everybody. You want to make sure that people believe what you’re doing, that everybody’s following those rules and everything’s being handled consistently. That’s, to me, really important here.

GB: How do you make the pitch, as far as what you can do for them?

RD: It’s funny, the pitch really makes itself, when they look at what we bring to the table. I look at it in four categories. First is, we have this huge audience, 246 million monthlies. That gets me in the door right away. That’s the “I’ve got you at hello” line. The next is, we are going to be able to provide a level of analytics that, while some of you might be able to do it, a lot of you don’t. And that’s something we’re really good at; that’s one of the basic tenets of this company, and it’s something that we’re going to be able to provide to help you get better. The third is the whole social network and what we can do to engage and bring people together in playing games. A lot of this is with the Zynga.com site. And the fourth piece, that I think is the the most important, is a whole piece on tech. How much time people spend building out a backbone for their games, it’s staggering. And I think that what we are going to be providing in very short order is game-changing when it comes to game development. And again, if people use this tech, there’s no, “Well, you have to come work on our platform.” That’s not the case. We firmly believe that by doing this, it’s going to make better games, it’s going to make people want to play, and it’s one of the great things about this whole initiative that we’ve put together.

GB: Is the tech going to be able to run pretty much any kind of game?

RD: From what I’ve seen to date, I believe that is the case.

GB: When they’ve described zCloud, the Zynga executives have said, “It’s not a sedan, like Amazon offers, it’s more like a Ferrari for what we do.” And I wonder if that Ferrari, though, is what everybody wants?

RD: Right. On the synchronous side, Poker is probably our biggest example of a synchronous game. But the sedan-to-Ferrari analogy is that Z-Cloud, our backbone, since we own it, we can tune it to whatever the need is. I’ve always said that one size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to game development, but I know that what we’ve tried to do is take the pieces where one size can fit all, particularly on the hosting side, and make that happen.

GB: I’m starting to see some demos that people are showing of very different, 3D graphics-heavy games, and it seems like that’s going to put a different kind of burden on the network, if those games get really popular. Kixeye showed off an example yesterday. If those games are really enabled to run at 30 frames per second or better, it’s going to be a very different kind of platform.

RD: Right. Then you’re talking console-quality games all of a sudden, on a browser, which nobody really thought was … well, which the browser was never really expected to do. And now all of a sudden, voila, you’re playing Street Fighter.

GB: So I guess those capabilities that have been shown off in the Zynga demos on Zynga.com … all those same capabilities carry over to anybody else’s game?

RD: That’s right.

GB: Social stream types of things.

RD: Yes, yes. One thing that you may remember is that throughout 2011, we spent a lot of time with zCloud and our infrastructure architecting it, so that studios can dive on in. External studios. The work that we’ve done there was the proving ground for us, as far as being able to turn that outside.

GB: How many of these companies will you start with, and what do you think it’s going to turn into?

RD: We have a handful. I don’t have an exact number, because literally, it’s been back and forth trying to close stuff today. Once we get to that point, what we want to do is have a manageable group of games that we can spend time on, and then over time … it’s as big as a universe can be. There’s no limit. We’re not suggesting that a hundred games are going to get us to a billion players. What we’re saying is, we want to provide something that’s going to give a billion players a reason to come and play on Zynga.com.

GB: Is it all about Zynga.com, or are you putting them on Facebook too?

RD: No, we’re publishing on Facebook as well. Absolutely. And by all means, I want to make that very clear, we are a publisher for Facebook and for Zynga.com.

GB: Is it same-day publishing, then?

RD: Yes. That would be the optimum. But if we’re ready to go and we have some games that have the Zbar, payments and things in place, they’re already up and running today, we will get those going prior to Zynga.com. But our hope is that we’re going to be able to cinch that up and get that to where they are day and date.

GB: Alex St. John announced Magi.com. He has his own site where he’s giving interesting terms, like the developer keeps 100 percent of the money up to a certain number of users, 25,000. So there’s interesting business models that could be applied here. Are you guys doing anything interesting there?

RD: We’re not really talking about the business terms. That’s something that’s between us and the publisher, and from that side, I want to maintain the confidentiality that we’ve got in place there. But Alex is a ground-breaker. I’ve known him for years and he’s always going to do something interesting, you can count on that.

GB: What, actually, will you do to get the games noticed? Is there a certain standard?

RD: I think the big thing’s just getting them on our network for play. You’re going to get noticed. When we have 67 million DAU yesterday, we’re going to have 240 million monthlies … By being able to turn that on, with the power of our zBar on the top, you’re going to have something that’s…

GB: So you’re rotating through this banner?

RD: Through a lot of things. Whether it’s through that, through ad impressions, what have you, there’s a number of tools in our tool chest that will help us to make sure that somebody’s going to get noticed.

GB: Personally, how did you get sold on Zynga?

RD: One of the things that, first of all, excites me about this, is being on the ground floor. Being able to build something from square one. It offers a lot of challenges, but it’s eminently satisfying when you see something like this come to fruition. And then two, I’m a big believer in the dynamic of social, and what I’m seeing on the old-time consoles, they’re not social. As much as you might have your friends list that you can go play Call of Duty with on XBL, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be having a social experience. I embrace what this business is. Look, I was a complete nay-sayer when it first came out, having been in the console business my entire life, for damn near 20 years. “Yeah, it’s a fad, it’s gonna go away.” Well, shame on me, I was wrong, clearly wrong.

What I’m seeing is the other side, now. They’re not embracing the social piece, and I think that’s going to be a huge. I’ve heard you talk about it, I’ve heard [analyst Michael] Pachter talk about it. Those are some of the big issues. I was at the A-List thing when Michael’s giving his keynote about Wii U’s dead. They’re not going to have a network. They’re not going to have a social experience. He’s already saying it’s DOA. It’s one of those situations where you look at it and say, I hope it’s not true, because I love Nintendo. But at the same time, if he’s seeing it that way, and he’s probably got a lot more insight into it than I do, it just sums it up.

GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat's fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500+ execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry's latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your early-bird tickets here.

[Photo credit: Dean Takahashi]

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Konami and others will make games for Zynga.com

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:33 PM PST

Zynga announced today that three major game companies have joined its new platform for publishing games on Zynga.com and Facebook. The new third-party partners include Japan’s Konami Digital Entertainment, one of the biggest console game makers, as well as Playdemic and Rebellion.

The announcements show that partners are finding Zynga’s pitch compelling. If Zynga publishes their games, it can offer them great cross-promotion to its 246 monthly active users on Facebook and access to its social game publishing technology infrastructure.

Rob Dyer, head of the Zynga third-party platform, announced the news during a speech by Zynga chief operating officer John Schappert at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today. Zynga unveiled its new Zynga Platform and Zynga.com on March 1 as an effort to give users more ways to play and to bring more people into gaming.

During the talk, Dyer (pictured below) said, “We, as a community of developers, have a great opportunity to reach billions of people.”

Dyer said the partners will be able to access Zynga’s distribution channels, social engagement, and analytics as well as its back-end servers in data centers — dubbed the zCloud.

"From Konami, one of the most esteemed game creators of our time, to the talented teams at Playdemic and Rebellion – we're honored to welcome these new Zynga Platform partners,” said Dyer. “All three represent some of the best game development talent in the industry. Zynga Platform is about bringing great games to a captive audience that loves to play, and we're dedicated to creating the best destination for social games for players and developers alike."

Zynga previously announced that Mob Science, Row Sham Bow, and Sava Transmedia would publish their games through Zynga.

"We're very excited to be working with a company of Zynga's caliber," said Jason Kingsley, CEO and creative director of Rebellion. "Our goal is to bring Rebellion games to a broader audience while learning from Zynga's mastery of the social gaming space. Through the Zynga Platform, we'll release our first-ever social game. We can't wait to show players what we've been working on."

Photo credit: Solo/Flickr

Filed under: cloud, games, social

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Core game sales drop like a rock in February

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:40 PM PST

Video game sales fell 20 percent in February, with total industry sales falling to $1.06 billion from $1.33 billion a year ago, according to market researcher NPD Group.

The poor performance in February was a little better percentage-wise compared to January, when sales were down 34 percent year-over-year. Both January and Feburary had light release schedules for core console games. Sales are also likely shifting as the industry transforms to digital sales, which aren’t captured in the retail numbers.

In February, hardware sales were $381.4 million, down 18 percent from $466.9 million a year ago. Software was $464.4 million, down 23 percent from $601.4 million a year ago. Accessory sales were $215.2 million, down 16 percent from $256.9 million a year ago.

Full told, the estimated total consumer spending on games includes physical video and retail games, used games, game rentals, subscriptions, full-game digital downloads, social network games, downloadable content, and mobile games. Not counting hardware, sales were $485.7 million, down 24 percent from $637.4 million a year ago.

NPD is working with research company EEDAR to try to come up with more accurate numbers for global digital and physical game sales worldwide. The top-selling game of the month was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (pictured), which was launched in November and is the top-selling video game of all time.

Anita Frazier, analyst at NPD, said the Xbox 360 was the top hardware platform for the seventh month in a row. Most other hardware platforms posted declines in the year. Sales of hardware were up 50 percent from January.

"There are four days of retail sales reported for PlayStation Vita in this reporting period,” Frazier said. “Overall, hardware unit sales increased by 62 percent over January without the Vita included. Including PS Vita sales, that increase is 87 percent."

She said new releases contributed 22 more unit sales than new launches in February, 2011. The top 10 releases this month were 78 percent of total new release volume, compared to 94 percent last year.

"The top-selling PS Vita game for the month, not surprisingly, was Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which landed in the top 20 for overall title sales for the month,” Frazier said.

The only new intellectual property in the month’s top 10 list was Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning from Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios and Electronic Arts.

"Three of the top 10 accessory items for the month were Skylander character packs,” Frazier said. “In total, these SKU's accounted for more than $17 million in sales for the month, and if added to the sales generated by the software, Skylanders easily claims the top spot for content-related sales."

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Rep. Darrell Issa does Reddit Q&A about ACTA, piracy laws, & more

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:24 PM PST

Rep. Darrell Issa Browsing Reddit

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tackled questions about technology and anti-piracy legislation from users of community news sharing site Reddit yesterday.

Having Issa participate in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) is a big deal because the site generates over two billion monthly page views and regularly conducts discussions that are entirely policed by its own users.

Issa is head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, strong opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as well as the Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and a vocal critic of the European “trade agreement” ACTA. Issa recently published the entire ACTA text online, as VentureBeat previously reported. He’s also a self-proclaimed “Internet defender” with 37 patents to his name. Basically, that makes Issa one of the most qualified members of Congress when it comes to issues involving patent and copyright legislation.

Some of the most popular questions Reddit users asked Issa centered on the government’s involvement in curbing piracy through legislation.

“Any solution needs to be inclusive of everyone involved or impacted — content producers, copyright holders, individual Internet users, digital job creators, etc.,” Issa wrote in response to a question about a valid approach to preventing piracy without having the government infringe on a citizen’s basic privacy rights. He also explained why the OPEN Act, which he authored, is a better alternative than SOPA. “I think the OPEN Act is a good balance of increasing protections for our inventors and artists without giving government new, invasive and Internet-destabilizing powers.”

When asked why so many publishing companies are trying to limit our freedoms on the internet, Issa replied: “Publishers and all intellectual property owners will always take the most strident position, in an attempt to maximize their return on their investment. The Internet will always have those who will seek less restrictions on intellectual property, regardless for the need for a return on the investment of the IP creator.

“I fought to defeat SOPA and PIPA because they were bad pieces of legislation and went too far in harming the Internet,” he added.

SOPA and PIPA were criticized because they would have given federal authorities the right to shut down any foreign-based website accused of infringing on copyrights and committing acts of piracy. Those pieces of legislation were far too vague in regards to how “foreign website” was defined and didn’t offer enough protection to those that were being falsely accused of piracy by copyright holders trying to eliminate competition or negative criticism.

Despite Issa’s attempts to appeal to Reddit’s masses by mentioning his love of gadgets and Battlestar Galactica, the site’s users also drilled the congressman with some hardball questions. For instance, one Redditor asked how Issa could claim to be a defender of the Internet while supporting legislation in 2008 that allowed the government to conduct warrentless wiretapping.

"After 9/11, an extraordinary amount of cooperation by our communications industry was necessary to find out who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, and who continued to pose an active threat to Americans in our country and around the world," wrote Issa. "Americans in the telecom industry were called into classified sessions and asked to help in this effort and were asked to tell no one, not even their own coworkers. Some would say Bush had no right to do that, but that's a fight (with) the Executive Branch and Congress."

While not everyone was pleased with Issa’s responses, the majority of people who had their question answered seemed appreciative. The congressman said he’d attempt to answer more questions from the Reddit post later today.

Photo of Rep. Darrell Issa browsing Reddit via Issa/Flickr

Filed under: media, social, VentureBeat

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Zadara Storage gives your public cloud storage a little privacy

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:18 PM PST

Zadara Storage wants to bring the security, control, and performance of the private cloud to public cloud storage. The move is a good one, as a growing number of companies are realizing public cloud storage is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The company first caught our eye when it won the Innovation Showdown at our CloudBeat conference in December. When Zadara showed the above picture of companies sharing a dirty swimming pool together, we realized how obvious the problem was and how effective this solution could be, if pulled off correctly.

Basically, if tons of companies are using the same public cloud solution, other companies’ data will be brushing up against yours in the same virtual space. The construct is just too rigid and doesn’t offer enterprise-grade flexibility. If you want the granular control and security of a private data center but inexpensive public cloud pricing, Zadara wants to help with its Virtual Private Storage Array offering. VPSAs are connected to your own cloud servers and let you choose between SSD, SAS, or SATA drives.

“The speed we provide is 10 times faster than Amazon’s block storage,” CEO and co-founder Mark Spowart told VentureBeat. “We want to give you complete management of your resources.”

Behind the scenes, Zadara is accomplishing this goal by buying or renting hardware within the data centers of Amazon, Rackspace, and other companies and then selling that storage paired with its own proprietary software. Thus far, the company is up and running with Amazon, Rackspace and OpSource. “We are the only premium storage offering in those clouds,” Spowart said.

Irvine, Calif.-based Zadara Storage is now in beta testing with 10 clients and plans to launch for general availability in mid-April. Ideally, the company would eventually like to licence its software to the big dogs, but first it has to prove the solution works and create demand. The company was founded in early 2011 and has 12 employees. It is in the process of securing its first round of funding.

You can see a well-made (and funny!) video outlining Zadara’s service below:

Filed under: cloud, VentureBeat

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Windows 8′s secret feature: resurrecting old PCs

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:03 PM PST

Microsoft recently released its Windows 8 Consumer preview. Many have written about its features and capabilities, so I won't rehash that for this article, other than to say that while it isn't perfect, this beta version seems quite well done.

However what hasn't been highlighted is Windows 8's ability to not only make new machines shine, but also an ability to resurrect the many old “boat anchor” PCs laying around that so many of us had give up on. While I'm sure that wasn't Microsoft's primary goal with Windows 8, it may be a real benefit to many of us with older, more feeble devices we've not yet handed down to kids/relatives, recycled, or disposed of on eBay.

I've had an Exo PC tablet for about a year. It runs a proprietary touch-interface overlay on top of Windows 7, and uses an older generation Atom chip for its engine (N450 1.66GHz). After experimenting with it for a few weeks I found it extremely slow and frustrating to use, especially after using my next generation Intel Core powered laptop daily for work. In fact it was so painful to use that it has been sitting on the shelf and unused for months (I never quite got around to getting rid of it).

But, since I was itching to try out the new touch-oriented Metro interface in Windows 8, I figured what the heck. Even if it ran slow, I could at least get a sense for how it will work, and it will no doubt work many times better on the properly powered tablets due out later this year. So I loaded up my Atom based ExoPC tablet with Windows 8 preview, which went fairly smoothly.

And what I found utterly surprised me: The machine went from painfully slow to downright spunky (don’t forget it’s running an older Atom chip, so it's all relative). What used to take minutes to boot with Windows 7 now boots in about 10-15 seconds! The touch interface is responsive and no longer hobbles along not being able to keep up with my gestures. Even the battery life seems to have improved (by 40%-50% as far as I can tell).

Windows 8 still needs some work as I had a few minor glitches with USB not being properly enabled (which I was able to correct in the Device Manager, even though it’s not easy to find), and it wouldn't recognize the chip which powers the HDMI video out. But all in all, the machine actually works quite well.

I found the Metro Interface to be very responsive (perhaps even more so than on my Windows Phone) and using the browser is almost as good as on my dual-core Intel i5 powered laptop. I can only guess how much better the production code might be at making this experience even better. I may actually be able to resurrect this machine for some useful purpose. But with its big screen and touch interface, I can certainly see using it around the house for browsing and even watching movies, which it does very well (and will do even better once Microsoft offers drivers for the HDMI output).

Microsoft has been promising that Windows 8 would deliver a new level of performance and work on a modest hardware platform (even with the Metro interface), unlike previous OS versions where hardware upgrades were automatically required. Based on my experience, it looks like Microsoft has delivered admirably. And here is something I haven't said very often and you may not have heard recently – kudos to you, Microsoft!

If Windows 8 works this well in the final version, I can see a lot of users opting to buy just the OS upgrade and resurrecting some of their old boat anchors. The hardware vendors may not like it, but we users will certainly thank you for it.

Jack Gold is the founder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, based in Northborough, Mass. He covers the many aspects of business and consumer computing and emerging technologies.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Offlane is an offline newsreader with a Flipboard style

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 02:49 PM PST

Offlane, a newsstand app for the iPad in private beta, syncs online news content to your mobile device so it can be read offline. The company took the stage Thursday at the Launch Conference to present its new product.

The panel of judges, which included Tim Lee from Sequoia Capital and David Sacks from Yammer, immediately compared Offlane to the popular iOS app Flipboard. It’s obviously why; Offlane has a Flipboard look and feel, with a magazine layout and a full screen mode for reading stories. Just like Flipboard, you can browse popular news categories such as world news, entertainment, and food.

The biggest draw of the app is that with it, you can read paid and free content without an Internet connection. Content is synced to the app while you have a WiFi or data connection and then is stored for offline viewing. You can also purchase magazines with the app, whether or not you have a connection.

While the Launch judges compared Offlane to Flipboard, I immediately thought of Google Currents, Google’s newsreader app that debuted in December 2011. Currents’ main feature is offline syncing of content, just like Offlane.

When Currents launched, Offlane founder Roman Geyzer was nervous that his product would be overshadowed, but was happy that Google put its energy into an offline news app.

“It felt like market validation for me that Google wanted to launch something in this realm,” Geyzer told me at Launch.

Despite have the Google name attached to it, Currents hasn’t gained a ton of popularity. The app is slow to update and sync stories, and people have criticized it for having an awkward interface. Offlane could offer a better alternative than what Google offers, as long as it had a more straightforward and faster sync process.

Offlane will also compete with Pulse, an online magazine article reader. Pulse presents news articles, magazine articles, and other free and paid content, but doesn’t have offline access. Zite is another player, which offers a personalized newsreader app for iOS.

Offlane announced the launch of its private beta today and is currently seeking funding.

Top newsstand image via Flickr user niznoz

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A very intellectual walk-up to SXSW (read: map of parties)

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 02:27 PM PST

South by Southwest Interactive, the legendary and never-too-crowded festival for all things web-related, is upon us. Here’s a list-slash-map of all the big parties you’ll want to go to, courtesy of our friends at Hasai.

We toyed with the idea of constructing some controversial or retrospective commentary about SXSW pre-show, but truth be told, we’re too busy preparing for panels, scheduling meetings, doing research on interviewees, and packing our bags full of comfortable shoes and aspirin.

So, with that, enjoy the map/schedule, and we’ll see you in Austin at TechKaraoke… or Startup Ping Pong… or the Robot Biergarten… or the Pinterest Thunderdome Deathmatch Arena…

click to see full-size image

Top image courtesy of CREATISTA, Shutterstock

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NationBuilder raises $6.25M to help community leaders organize

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 02:00 PM PST

A startup created to help local leaders rally citizens has mobilized quite a bit of support for its own cause.

NationBuilder, a community organizing platform for local politicians, non-profits, and causes, has bagged $6.25 million in a new funding round led by the esteemed venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Andreessen Horowitz partner Ben Horowitz and round participant Sean Parker (of Napster and The Social Network fame) are joining the startup’s board of directors.

Founded in November 2009 and launched roughly one year ago, NationBuilder offers community leaders an all-in-one platform to easily establish a web presence with social hooks, run campaigns or causes, raise funds, and manage volunteer initiatives. The do-it-yourself system, which starts at $19 per month, is said to be used by more than 1,800 leaders who’ve altogether amassed more than 2 million supporters across their 500 “nations” (read: campaigns).

Isn’t this just a dressed-up WordPress copycat for non-profits and small-town politicians, you ask? In many ways, yes. But where NationBuilder excels is in delivering sophisticated features finely tuned to the exact needs of grassroots community organizers. The site, for instance, helps leaders maintain a supporter database that automatically appends public data users have shared on Facebook or Twitter (profile picture, bio, contact information etc.) for an up close and personal look at their cheerleaders.

And, according to CEO Jim Gilliam and President Joe Green, NationBuilder actually works in getting local politicians elected. Alex Torpey, for instance, was elected Village President of South Orange in May 2011. The young mayor ran and managed his campaign entirely using NationBuilder.

“NationBuilder empowers you to find who to talk to and gives you a bunch of different ways … to run a strategic and deliberate operation as a local guy running a campaign on a few thousand dollars,” Green said. “For us, the campaign office is the website,” Gilliam added.

NationBuilder is, of course, a for-charge product, which means the startup is earning revenue with each new customer — making it an especially attractive business from an investor perspective — and some of the extras such as email and text messaging to supporters come with additional fees.

NationBuilder is based in Los Angeles. The young company previously raised $500,000 in seed funding from a handful of Angels, including Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

Photo credit: theqspeaks/Flickr

Filed under: deals, social, VentureBeat

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Facebook Interest Lists: The social newspaper done right

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:27 PM PST

Steal from the best, but make it your own, as the saying goes. Facebook has done just that by co-opting two concepts made popular by others in an effort to make its social network the first place people go to consume the news they care about.

Facebook introduced a new feature called Interest Lists on Thursday as a way for members to turn the site into their own personalized newspaper, featuring only the sections of their choosing. The lists are an intelligent hybrid of Twitter’s list feature and the social news movement, popularized by Flipboard and others.

Interest Lists, created and named by people for people, are topic-themed collections of Pages and public figures on Facebook, and are akin to specialized news feeds for your favorite topics. The company has categorized lists in mostly traditional sections such as News, Music, Business, Sports, Politics, Lifestyle, and Entertainment, with the idea being that they will comprise the sections of your Facebook newspaper.

Interest Lists are yet another extension of Facebook’s Subscribe feature, introduced last September. They live on the left-hand side of the page for easy one-click access. If a story within a particular Interest List you subscribe to is seeing a lot of engagement, however, Facebook will push that story to your News Feed. Recent stories from Interest Lists may be also highlighted in the News Feed on occasion.

The feature is pure genius — even if it does take inspiration from Twitter. Here’s why: Facebook users can either package up the celebrities or things they care about into convenient little buckets, or they can let friends, strangers, and media organizations do the dirty work for them and just happily consume the curated content as it rolls out. And because Facebook appears to have recruited partners to seed lists for its new toy, there’s already a smattering of top-notch lists across a variety of categories just itching to be subscribed to on day-one.

Then there’s the journalist and media crowd. Both groups will love Interest Lists because they promise more exposure for their stories, more subscribers, more traffic, and new audiences that could become regular readers. I’ve previously called Subscribe a gift for publishers and journalists because it’s the ultimate in self-promotion tools. Following that logic, Interest Lists is the gift that keeps on giving. The lists are cyclical in nature. Facebookers ad you or your publication to a list, your personalities and stories net larger audiences, those audiences subscribe to the lists in question, and the cycle repeats itself. There’s also the opportunity for publications to play curator for their readers.

As for Facebook, the Interest Lists are absolutely a home run. Interest Lists have the promise of better distributing Facebook content to the social network’s 845 million monthly active users. More content, that people have an expressed interest in, means users will spend even more time on Facebook, and share, “like,” comment, and engage more, activities that will distribute content farther and wider. Engagement and time spent on site are bottom-line metrics that will eventually translate into more advertising dollars as businesses pump money into Facebook’s enhanced ad-products to draw the attention of these captive eyeballs.

The real kicker is that Facebook’s social newspaper experience, unlike the myriad of apps toying with the same notion, works independently of a person’s platform. On web, mobile, PC, or tablet? No matter. It’s just Facebook, so the experience stays the same and you can continue to get your news sections uninterrupted wherever you are. And because Facebook has made the lists an integrated part of the standard experience, users who forget about visiting sections will still be exposed to list content. The same can’t be said of Twitter’s lists.

Kudos, Facebook.

Photo credit: arvindgrover/Flickr

Filed under: media, social, VentureBeat

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JOBS Act passes: What the new crowdfunding bill means for startups

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:25 PM PST

The JOBS ((Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act that passed in the House today contains some big changes for crowdfunding startups. It now moves on to the Senate.

Before today, it was illegal for a startup to solicit investors on platforms like Twitter or Kickstarter. For startups raising $1 million or less, anyone can now buy up to $10,000 or 10 percent of the annual income (whichever is less) in equity. (Anyone who wants to get in on the ground floor of my bonsai pets business, send your checks to WeWork Midtown, care of VentureBeat.)

One of the principle drivers behind the IPO filings of Facebook and Zynga was the 500-shareholder rule, a vestige of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, which said that any company with more than 500 shareholders has to open its financials to the SEC like a public company. But under the JOBS Act, anyone who gives $10,000 or less will not count toward this limit. The act also raises the shareholder limit from 500 to 1,000.

Startups can opt to raise as much as $2 million in this manner; but if they go the crowdfunding route, they will have to provide audited financial statements to their investors. And while raising capital from the crowd is pretty nifty on Kickstarter, it has some drawbacks for startups. Here are some highlights from our FAQ on crowdfunding:

First, startups must understand that minority stockholders have certain significant rights under state law, including voting rights, the right to inspect the company's books and records, the right to bring a derivative claim on behalf of the company, and certain protections against oppression by the controlling stockholders. Indeed, the more stockholders a startup has, the greater the likelihood that a disgruntled stockholder will cause problems, including filing lawsuits.

Second, having hundreds of stockholders is an administrative nightmare and will be time consuming and costly. Presumably, each stockholder will be required to execute a subscription agreement and/or stockholders' agreement to address key issues such as transfer restrictions, rights of first refusal, and drag-along rights. There will also be administrative issues relating to voting and stock transfer issues.

Third, startups will likely have difficulty raising funds from VCs and other sophisticated investors if they have hundreds of unsophisticated stockholders. Needless to say, few sophisticated investors will want to sit on the board of directors of such a company due to the risks of lawsuits relating to director liability, and I would assume D&O liability insurance rates will skyrocket for these companies.

The JOBS Act also makes it easier for small companies to go public by increasing the offering threshold for companies exemepted from SEC regulation from $5 to $50 million on companies. Additional regulations will be phased in over a five-year period for companies that stay under $1 billion in revenue.

This is a huge win for companies like SecondMarket. Companies can now stay private with twice as many investors and go public with a much smaller revenue stream. That will mean big growth in the small and medium cap IPOs that SecondMarket is counting on to replace the revenue it is losing when Facebook goes public.

Filed under: deals, Entrepreneur, VentureBeat

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Flurry App Spotlight Awards winners to be announced at SXSW

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:02 PM PST

This sponsored post is produced by Flurry.

Flurry prides itself on helping companies make better apps, grow their audience and monetize their business.   As we've grown as a company, we've continued to look for ways to help app developers succeed.  For SXSW this year, we partnered with VentureBeat to put three of the most promising, up-and-coming apps into the spotlight in the Command the Spotlight contest.

Last month, we made a call for submissions to any company that uses a Flurry service, asking them to describe why their application is unique, innovative and improves the lives of consumers.  We received over 700 truly amazing entries.  For their effort, the top three winners will each receive a massive launch party at the Alcatel-Lucent Trend Lounge in the Downtown Austin Hilton Hotel at SXSW this year, including interviews from VentureBeat's own Matt Marshall and Jolie O'Dell.

As we lead up to the surprise unveiling of the top three winner on March 10, 11 and 12 during SXSW, we wanted to pay tribute to the top 20 finalists.  Each of these apps showed innovation and leveraged mobile in a unique and powerful way.  Congratulations to all the Finalists!  We present them by application name in alphabetical order.

CIA: Operation Ajax by Cognito Comics
Draw Something  by OMGPOP
Echoer by Echo Labs Limited
Fooducate by Fooducate
Forkly By Forkly
HotelTonight by HotelTonight
Kwarter by Kwarter
Lemon by Lemon
Mingle!  by Mingle
News.me for iPhone by News.me
Onefeat by Onefeat
Popcorn Horror by Popcorn Horror Ltd
Qello by Qello
Red Stamp by Red Stamp
Scoopshot by Scoopshot
Shadow Cities by Grey Area
SideBets Social BETworking by Blue Ox Entertainment
VoicePark by VoicePark, LLC
Voxer Walkie Talkie by Voxer
Wildchords by Ovelin

Good luck to all the finalists, and we hope to see you all at SXSW this year in Austin, Texas.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company, which is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact garrett@venturebeat.com.

Filed under: dev, Entrepreneur, VentureBeat

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Path launches version 2.1 with open API, new camera and music functions

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 12:36 PM PST

Social network Path has opened its API today, but don’t get excited yet developers. It’s only open to Nike for now, which Path partnered with to create “Step Out.”

“Step Out” allows you to connect your Nike Run application with Path, and publish your daily runs to the application. Your updates from Nike Run and more automatically sync to your Path stream, with your followers able to see the start of your run, cheer for you mid-run, how long your run was, and where you started your run. When your run is finished, Path will show a map of your exercise as well as anyone who cheered for you and where on your run they sent you the love. Users will be able to turn off the automated updates if they choose.

But many are going to ask, why start with Nike? Path chief exec Dave Morin says that Path is supposed to be about personal experiences, and what’s more personal than your health? In the future, Path will extend its API to Nike’s FuelBand so friends can learn more about your exercise habits. There are other kinds of physical-activity-monitoring bands out there today, such as the Jawbone Up, which was recently taken off the market.

“We love what Jawbone’s doing, [but] Nike we think is one of the pioneers here,” said Morin at a press event at Path’s offices in San Francisco. “It’s obviously out in the market now. We wanted to start with health, and Nike is here today.”

Vanity, however, is an issue for a lot of social networks and Path is attempting to keep that down by limiting the amount of “friends” you can have to 150 people. Morin explained that people are actually “begging” Path to keep this limitation, as some believe it grows an environment of intimacy, where small amounts vanity are okay.

In addition to the API, Path enhanced its camera and music functions. Currently, people can share what music they’re listening to at any point in time. Morin wanted people to be able to hear a song they don’t know, however, and be able to share it. Path worked with Gracenote to create a “Music Match” function for the app. Like any music-matching software, you put your phone up to the sound, it recognizes the music, and can pull the name to be added to your path.

But as any Path user likely knows, photos are the most popular kind of content on Path.

“We refined all the free lenses,” said co-founder Dustin Mierau. “They were pretty good before, but we thought they could be better. … I’m much happier with them myself.”

The new lenses allow you to enhance your photos after the fact, but a new camera function allows you to control both focus and exposure while you’re taking a picture.

Path reinvented itself into “Path 2″ 16 weeks ago and since the relaunch, it has acquired around two million users. Morin explained that Path is attracting repeat users, 70 percent of which are return users. These users have already uploaded nearly 100 million moments on Path and have shared over one billion times.

As for how it will continue to make money as the product grows, Path says it will continue to lean on the sale of camera lenses as well as affiliate fees for iTunes sales. In the future, it may turn toward advertising but not in the traditional sense.

“If we were ever to do advertising, it would be some kind of content. Something we haven’t even thought of yet.”

The app upgrades are available for iOS and Android, though the latter will not receive the camera functions yet.

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile

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Loyalty startup CrowdTwist grows revenue 3200% with Sony & Pepsi as clients

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 12:24 PM PST

CrowdTwist CEO Irving Fain

Consumer loyalty platform CrowdTwist, one of the graduates from TechStars NY’s first class, has announced a huge revenue growth of 3,200 percent year over year.

CEO Irving Fain once complained to me that his company didn’t get much screen time on the Bloomberg reality show, since there was little drama in a startup with a steady business. But his investors must be happy to see that things are going well, with revenue up; new blue chip clients like Sony, Pepsi, and the Miami Dolphins; and new executives poached from from big agencies like Digitas and Momentum Worldwide.

CrowdTwist is a white-label software company that aims to help companies extend their loyalty platforms beyond retail store to web sites, social networks, and mobile apps.

“A lot of traditional approaches don’t reach far beyond the brick and mortar,” Fain told me in a phone interview yesterday. “But when you can identify that customer on Facebook, Foursquare and your mobile app, you can tailor the rewards and increase engagement.”

Since launch last October, CrowdTwist work with Sony’s Kelly Clarkson has seen a 40 percent increase in purchase size and a 900 percent lift in engagement among her fans. Across the board, CrowdTwist customers are seeing an average purchase size increase of more than 30 percent and an average engagement lift of 1,000 percent.

The new hires are Adam Trisk, a former vice president of business development at Digitas, and Frederick Brown, who was an executive VP at Momentum Worldwide.

CrowdTwist raised a $6 million round of funding led by Softbank back in September 2011. With young startups, it’s hard to say what 3200 percent growth really means, but it’s worth noting that CrowdTwist entered the TechStars program when it was already a year old and generating revenue, so this isn’t a big jump from nothing to something.

Filed under: mobile, social

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Zaarly swaps anonymity for identity in refreshed mobile marketplace

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 12:00 PM PST

With the rise of mobile marketplaces, outsourcing tedious or mundane tasks to a willing gopher has never been easier. Thursday, one startup seeks to make these mobile conveniences less intimidating for the masses.

Zaarly, one year after making a splash as the mobile app for getting a nearby stranger to bring you a beer, is hitting the reset button and releasing an entirely new 2.0 version that scraps anonymity in favor of identity, expressed through new picture-heavy profiles and reputation stamps. Zaarly, in essence, now hinges around trust.

“This is the culmination of everything that we’ve learned,” co-founder and CEO Bo Fishback told VentureBeat of Zaarly 2.0. “It’s very clearly a different product than it was.”

Zaarly debuted in March of last year as a predominantly mobile and local way for people to make a request for anything (a latte or an iPad, for instance), indicate how much they’d be willing to pay for said request, and specify a time frame for delivery. It’s original model, like Craigslist and Amazon, encouraged anonymity.

With most transactions happening in person, Zaarly discovered early on that identity and reputation would be key factors to its long-term success.

“The whole goal is to get two people together in person,” Fishback said. “We realized that if we did not have the human element inside of our marketplace, then it was never going to be able to turn into what we wanted it to be.”

The new Zaarly, evidenced in the just-released 2.0 versions of the company’s iPhone, Android and web applications, is now a more intuitive marketplace where customers can feel at ease selling to and buying from people who no longer are complete strangers.

Zaarly’s new profiles can be created from scratch or by pulling information from social networks. They feature photos prominently, include basic details about the user (lives at, works at, studies at), and highlight the number of connections a person has on various social networks to establish his or her legitimacy as a real person. Profiles even include reviews of every transaction the person has ever done. The profiles are carried through the entire experience, so that identity is front and center in transactions and member-to-member messages.

“Every listing has a face with it,” Fishback explained. “We’re bringing faces and people to the entire thing.”

Zaarly’s makers also hope to infuse a bit of local serendipity with place-specific recommendations, so that each Austinite launching the application will be greeted with unique recommendations for the best for-hire favors to ask for from their neighboring peers. The idea is to stimulate transactions by making the experience far less intimidating for first-timers.

Zaarly will create custom lists for sellers that include time, date, event, weather, and place-particular suggestions. The recommendations feature is still a work in progress for most regions as the company seeks to glean a better understanding of each locale. Those attending South by Southwest in Austin, however, will get a very rich taste of these recommendations.

“It’s just a really powerful tool for us to start making extremely relevant requests and suggestions to people based on where they are,” Fishback explained.

Altogether, Thursday’s updates represent the startup’s wish to mature into a legitimate marketplace for consumers. “Our eyes are pretty set on Craigslist,” Fishback said of Zaarly’s grown-up ambitions. More than 50 percent of requests are for physical goods, he added.

Zaarly has roughly 300,000 users engaging with its application on a semi-regular basis, Fishback said, making its lofty goal of competing with Craigslist sound like wishful thinking. And then, of course, there’s the competition, an ever-growing crop of anxious upstarts that include the brand-new Exec and the formidable (and well-financed) TaskRabbit.

“The space is super interesting right now,” Fishback nonchalantly said of his competitors. “I think this space is going to be really hot for while.”

San Francisco-based Zaarly has raised $15.1 million and generates a small amount of revenue from credit card transaction fees.

VB Mobile SummitVentureBeat is holding its second annual Mobile Summit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.

Filed under: mobile, social, VentureBeat

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Two new tools make sure your employees’ opinions are heard

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 11:51 AM PST

People used to give their employers feedback by shoving slips of paper into wooden suggestion boxes. Technology has moved those suggestions boxes online where employees can more effectively have their voices heard. Happiily and 15Five are two new employee-feedback services that were introduced Thursday at the Launch Conference in San Francisco.

Happiily keeps opinions anonymous

With Happiily, workers can give anonymous feedback about their company. Employees are asked several questions about how much confidence they have in the company, how they feel in their job, and how they think the company is being run.

Business owners and managers can view the collected survey responses. They can use the data to make changes, even compare results to events that have taken place in the company to find correlations — for example hiring a new employee or partnering with a new service. Happiily is currently raising a seed round for $500,000.

15Five creates short-and-fast weekly employee reports

15Five is a similar concept to Happiily, but it removes the anonymous part and drills down into feedback responses. 15Five has weekly reports with five questions chosen by a company’s higher-ups. Each employee fills out their report, which should take no more than fifteen minutes. Answers can be as long or as short as employees want, and they are encouraged to leave both positive and negative feedback.

Business managers can then review the answers, which should take no more than five minutes of their time says 15Five. Once a manager reviews each employee’s weekly report, they can leave feedback and flag important answers that are pulled together into a report for the CEO. The CEO gets an aggregated report with feedback that the manager felt was relevant or needed immediate action.

15Five touts the tool  “removes the face-to-face intimidation factor that employees can feel when approaching their managers.” At the presentation, David Sacks of Yammer said that he’d be an angel investor in the company.

Happiily competes with existing employee feedback companies such as Inquisite and Confirmit, both of which serve employee survey questions and provide insights based on the answers. 15Five competes the typical internal weekly-reports that many companies use, often created in-house by the company.

Each company presented its idea Thursday at the Launch Conference to a panel of judges (shown above), which included Tim Lee from Sequoia Capital, David Sacks from Yammer, Naval RaviKant from AngelList, and Stefan Weitz from Bing.

Filed under: enterprise, VentureBeat

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Disney, Fox, Universal call for a stop to Megaupload competitor Hotfile

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 11:21 AM PST


File-sharing site and Megaupload competitor Hotfile is in hot water. A group of major entertainment companies has asked the U.S. District Court to make a summary judgement in a year-long case against the company.

Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Brothers filed a suit against Hotfile in February of 2011, saying the file-sharing site isn’t doing enough to deter copyright infringement, and that it operates similarly to Megaupload. The latter company was recently taken down by the FBI, and its executives were arrested for copyright infringement and money laundering. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was singled out for having made a huge profit from copyrighted material, in addition to actually paying people to upload copyright protected content.

According to Ars Technica, these five entertainment companies are also pointing fingers at Hotmail owner Anton Titov, saying he too is receiving financial gain from copyrighted material and not doing enough to stop its distribution.

“Defendants protest that Hotfile is not like Napster, Grokster, Limewire, and other notorious infringers. But the differences make Hotfile’s infringement more egregious, not less. No earlier pirate services had the temerity to actually pay its users to upload infringing content, Hotfile does,” said the companies in their filing.

Hotfile counter-sued in September 2011, saying it had put in place technology from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and provided various avenues for people to complain about copyright infringement. It also claimed Warner Brothers requested the removal of content that did not actually belong to the production studio. The entertainment companies, however, said Hotfile’s practice was “mind-boggling,” citing “billions of infringing downloads.”

A summary judgement would end the case where it stands, either adding to the fire already started by the Megaupload take-down, or giving hope to similar companies preparing for legal battle.

via Ars Technica

Copyright image via Shutterstock

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Angry Birds Space gets geeky with awesome real-life demo from NASA (video)

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 10:46 AM PST


What happens when an astronaut plays a game of Angry Birds in real life on a space station? An awesome new video posted by Rovio showing just that.

The video was released to hype up the much-anticipated launch of Angry Birds in Space. NASA astronaut Don Pettit explains on camera at the International Space Station just how physics affect launching both Angry Birds and spaceships.

Pettit launches a red Angry Birds toy from a catapult while in zero gravity to explain trajectory. To add to the effect, he also blows up green balloon to make an evil pig and lets some “stolen” eggs float in the air in front of him. Of course, he makes the admirable pitch for people to learn math and physics so they can “get a neat job, a job sort of like mine.”

“We’ve got to see all of this in a weightless environment, which is what the Angry Birds Space game is going to be like with gravity fields from planetary bodies,” Pettit says in the video.

Angry Birds Space will be available for download on iOS, Android, PC and Mac on March 22. Personally, I cannot wait to play this installment.

Watch the full video below:

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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