14 April, 2012




eBay shifts into social overdrive at IndyCar event #ebayracing (exclusive)

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 09:00 AM PDT


In an effort to rev up the social engines of race car lovers everywhere, eBay is launching an extreme Twitter conversation hub for the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach.

eBay, in partnership with social media experience generator BumeBox, is going all-in on social with an eBay Motors’ branded microsite that aims to bring the live and behind-the-scenes drama of the IndyCar event to viewers at home.

eBay Motors Racing

click to enlarge

The eBay racing page, which pulls in Twitter content with #ebayracing and other hashtags, includes official photos and videos from event participants, fan tweets and photos, a live leaderboard, tweets from the track, a Twitter-powered voting module for cheering on drivers, and social sharing options for site visitors.

“We think the needs of the consumer have changed,” BumeBox founder and CEO Jon Fahrner told VentureBeat. “The consumer wants a compelling real-time experience, especially if it’s from a premium brand, and we’re the framework for those types of experiences.”

BumeBox, the mastermind behind eBay’s Twitter-ific racing page, makes a sophisticated application that powers real-time social experiences for large companies that want fully-branded “Twitter parties on steroids,” live video experiences, and interactive events on their own websites or Facebook Pages. The one-year-old Palo Alto-based company counts 20th Century Fox and Marc Jacobs as clients.

For eBay Motors, already a sponsor of IndyCar events, the social media push is designed to make gearheads think of eBay for their car parts and accessories needs, Fahrner said. This weekend’s Grand Prix is just the first of several #ebayracing events BumeBox and eBay Motors are collaborating on.

“We want to make it so that the experience means something to someone at the race and to someone at home,” Farher said. The companies have even put the #ebayracing hashtag on a race car. “It may be the world’s fastest hashtag.”

And, according to Fahrner, the campaign should slip in nicely with the existing Twitter culture of racing events. “This is just a natural progression, a reaction to what was organically happening for racing fans.”

Filed under: social

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Welcome to the world of startup fan fiction – the anorexic edition

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 09:00 AM PDT

over a 
 under the mess,

helping inept attorneys open 
 an opportunity 

I've wired
code. The
 space, over‐priced


Mike Frankel is a student at Columbia Business School. When he's not busy crunching numbers, he runs Melted In Marketing, a digital strategy consulting service. He also runsFreeIndie.Com, a free music website. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook. Check out how the story ends at theanorexicstartup.com

Filed under: dev, Entrepreneur, offBeat

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Founders beware: accelerators offer upside, but only if you’re ready

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 05:36 AM PDT

This spring alone, over 100 companies will graduate from startup boot camps, accelerators, incubators, or other similarly named programs. As my own company Dibsie prepares for demo day with Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) in NYC, I want to share some thoughts with the founders thinking about applying. Do your diligence, and make sure you're an educated buyer. Here's what you need to know…

First of all, these programs are venture funds at the core. They can help you develop as an entrepreneur, but ultimately they're designed to make money for their investors. No doubt the mentors, advisors, and VCs involved enjoy working with entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. But the truth is, like any investor, they require a return on their investment of time, money, and connections. This point should go without saying, and it actually helps align your incentives to build a successful company. But, don't be surprised if you experience "tough love" in the program—it may be personal, but it's definitely business. Think boot camp, not band camp, and be prepared for rigorous feedback over an intense few months.

This brings me to my second point, which is: haters are going to hate, and advisors are going to advise. One of the common pain points I've heard from friends in all the top accelerators is that they get tons of feedback, much of which is confusing and even conflicting. If you ask for a critique, you get criticized—and knowing what to filter is on you. Have conviction in your decision-making, or risk paralysis by analysis. Never have I taken so many meetings in such a condensed timeframe or chatted so much about Dibsie and social commerce. And some folks just don't get it (which has sometimes made me wonder if I do). But what I've learned is to seek out the folks that really understand our space and our goals, and to elevate their feedback above the noise.

Accelerator programs tend to do exactly what they advertise—they accelerate your business. The downside is that they don't promise which direction that acceleration will work in. Accelerators are in the business of picking strong entrepreneurs and strong ideas that (hopefully) can become strong companies. But as I said, this is business—and I've had plenty of advisors tell us what won't work, and when we're wasting our time. If your concept holds water, you should emerge a stronger company than when you entered. If your model is weak, try to fail quickly and pivot.

I'm not sure who decided that three months was a magic number for accelerator programs. In my opinion, the number seems arbitrary, and it presents challenges. Three months is not much time to grow your fledgling user base, close huge deals, or in some cases raise money—especially if you're still iterating on the product development side. Your time in the incubator can provide a good window to hone your pitch and stress-test your hypothesis, but it's helpful to go in to the program with your idea as well-formed as possible. Move as fast as you can, and start gathering metrics early so you have the building blocks to demonstrate progress. Blink, and your three months can be over.

Whether you're ready or not, "Demo Day" waits for no one. All programs culminate in a one to two-day pitch event (ahem, looking at you 500 Startups and Y-Combinator) with graduating companies announcing all of the great progress they've made in the previous three months. Demo Day typically draws a phenomenal lineup of professional investors who want to review multiple companies and founders in one efficient presentation. It's a great opportunity for companies like Dibsie to kick-off discussions with a number of potential investors—but there are drawbacks to keep in mind.

For one thing, Demo Day builds transparency into the market, which can be both a good and bad thing. Investors get a look at who's attending, who's interested—and who's not. Companies can showcase their product and business to a large audience, but give up the option of working in stealth. Demo Days also dictate timing in ways that can prove challenging. In most cases, they build in a free time-option, since investors have low incentive to commit ahead of Demo Day presentations. On the upside, they can provide a useful catalyst for your investment round. The challenge and the goal should be to make the schedule work for you.

Net-net, accelerators are an amazing addition to the startup landscape. They provide some timely capital, and amazing access to top investors, advisors and industry professionals. It's tough to downplay one-on-one access to figures like Fred Wilson, Peter Stern, and Chris Dixon—all of which I've had the pleasure of pitching at ERA. But remember these folks also regularly attend meetups, conferences, and post blogs and videos online—and therefore, should not be the sole reason you apply. Programs are not about idea validation, personal recognition, group dinners, or speakers. Accelerators are about building a successful business. Or as Ronnie Coleman so eloquently puts it: if you want to be a bodybuilder, "you gotta lift that heavy-ass weight".

Garren Givens is co-founder and CEO of Dibsie (http://dibsie.com), a social shopping site you browse and curate with friends.  He previously co-founded CampusDibs, the first daily deal site focused on students.  You can check out his writing here (http://garren.me).

Filed under: dev, Entrepreneur

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Nokia releases software fix for Lumia 900 data bug, begs for your forgiveness

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 09:29 PM PDT

Lumia 900 owners can rest easy, as Nokia has just released a software update that fixes the data connectivity bug in its new flagship handset.

A crippling data bug probably wasn’t the best news for Nokia shortly after launching the Lumia 900 — Windows Phone’s potential savior, and a device that I called the best $100 smartphone yet. But at least the company has made good by offering a $100 credit — effectively making the phone free — for anyone who buys it until April 21.

The update fixes a memory management issue in the Lumia 900 that led to a loss of network connectivity. Nokia’s swift response to the issue is commendable, though I’m surprised the company didn’t notice the issue before the phone actually launched.  Nokia already apologized to users for the issue earlier this week, but the company made sure to do so once again on its new Lumia 900 update site.

You can get the Lumia 900 update by going through the Zune software on PCs, or the Windows Phone Connector on Macs. Nokia is also going the extra mile by letting Lumia 900 owners swap their phones for an updated model in any AT&T store.

Photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Funding daily: Men’s pants and the smartphones in their pockets

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 05:11 PM PDT

bonobos mens clothing

At VentureBeat, we come across a lot of funding news every day. In order to bring you the most information possible, we're rounding up the quick-and-dirty details about the funding deals of the day and serving them up here in our "Funding daily" column.

Veracode grabs $30M

Veracode, which provides mobile security software, has closed a $30 million funding round. The company tests applications and other mobile software for malware and other risk factors.  Meritech Capital Partners led the round with Atlas Venture, .406 Ventures, and StarVest Partners.

Bonobos grabs funding for men’s clothing

Bonobos, an online clothing brand, has raised $16.4 million in funding from Nordstrom. The menswear company launched its products exclusively online at first, and is now moving offline. Bonobos will begin selling its wares in Nordstrom stores.

If you’ve got a funding tip for us, send it to tips@venturebeat.com

Filed under: deals

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Facebook justifies its support for CISPA, a bad cyber security bill

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 05:08 PM PDT

Toy soldiers, security

After lots of public outcry, Facebook has published a letter today explaining its support for controversial cyber-security legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA (PDF).

CISPA intends to grant companies more leeway when it comes to collecting and sharing data about their consumers (or users, in the case of social networks) — specifically, data regarding security threats. Essentially, the bill’s goal is to enable companies to share this information with the government to help fight and prevent cyber security attacks. Currently, most businesses are hesitant to share such precious information with third parties for fear of violating antitrust laws. The bill has broad support from over 100 House co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

Critics of CISPA often incorrectly refer to it as a new version of international copyright infringement bill SOPA, which would have given the government the authority to shut down websites accused of internationally committing acts of piracy. But while CISPA only intends to thwart security threats, many believe it could end up paving the way for copyright holders to begin policing the net. Critics also point out that it promotes the idea of companies creating extensive user databases, intercepting or modifying communications under the guise of security, and blindly complying with government requests for private  user information.

Facebook, however, believes CISPA’s cyber security benefits greatly outweigh any of the potential negative impacts critics have cited.

“We recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill – in particular about provisions that enable private companies to voluntarily share cyber threat data with the government. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity,” wrote Facebook VP of Public Policy Joel Kaplan in the letter. “Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 [a.k.a. CISPA] in the first place — the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users.”

Facebook isn’t alone in its support of CISPA. Other companies that support the bill include AT&T, Microsoft, Verizon, IBM, Intel, and over 25 others.

Facebook’s entire statement follows below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Via Facebook:

“More than 845 million people trust Facebook with their information, and maintaining that trust is at the core of everything we do. Keeping the site secure to protect our users and their information requires a combination of technological innovations; around-the-clock coverage from our dedicated staff; and relationships within the broader security community.

A successful defense against bad actors also requires that we have timely information about cyber threats. One challenge we and other companies have had is in our ability to share information with each other about cyber attacks. When one company detects an attack, sharing information about that attack promptly with other companies can help protect those other companies and their users from being victimized by the same attack. Similarly, if the government learns of an intrusion or other attack, the more it can share about that attack with private companies (and the faster it can share the information), the better the protection for users and our systems.

A number of bills being considered by Congress, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (HR 3523), would make it easier for Facebook and other companies to receive critical threat data from the U.S. government. Importantly, HR 3523 would impose no new obligations on us to share data with anyone –- and ensures that if we do share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to safeguard our users' private information, just as we do today.

That said, we recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill – in particular about provisions that enable private companies to voluntarily share cyber threat data with the government. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place — the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users.

The overriding goal of any cybersecurity bill should be to protect the security of networks and private data, and we take any concerns about how legislation might negatively impact Internet users' privacy seriously. As a result, we've been engaging directly with key lawmakers as well as industry and consumer groups about potential changes to the bill to help address privacy concerns.

The bill's sponsors, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, have stated publicly that they are working with privacy and civil liberties groups to address legitimate questions and concerns about how information might be shared with the government under the bill. They've made clear that the door is still open to change the bill before it comes to the House floor for consideration.

We hope that as Congress moves forward in considering this and any other cyber legislation, the result will be legislation that helps give companies like ours the tools we need to protect our systems and the security of our users' information, while also providing those users confidence that adequate privacy safeguards are in place.

Plastic toy soldiers photo via jcjgphotography/Shutterstock

Filed under: media, security, social, VentureBeat

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How JackThreads grew from a bootstrapped bedroom startup to 2M members

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 03:18 PM PDT

Jason Ross Launched JackThreadsAfter working from his bedroom for two and a half years, Jason Ross launched JackThreads — a men’s online shopping club that had yet to establish a payment system via credit cards — in 2008. His first online sale featured a single brand and only sold three items, but the company quickly acquired several hundred members in the first three months. Today, JackThreads has almost 2 million members, over 500 brands and over 60 employees. The flash-sales company was bought by Thrillist in 2010 for an undisclosed amount, but Ross continues to lead the company’s daily operations. Here, Ross shares his highs, his lows, his best advice and what he thinks is next for the online retail industry.

Q: Where did you get the idea for your business?

Jason Ross: Growing up, I had always been into clothing inspired by the street, skate, and surf worlds, especially during my college years. I realized that there was this huge hole in the market for guys like myself who were looking to buy the brands that we loved — but at affordable prices. I began to research the private shopping club model that was taking off in Europe, and I set out to bring it to the U.S. and address the lack of online retail options for guys.

Q: How did you fund your startup?

Ross: With no initial investors, I worked endless odd jobs at night trying to make ends meet, took out credit cards and personal loans, and I relied on the support of my family and friends. In total, there was $85,000 in personal debt — however, the money I earned from night and weekend jobs, as well as bootstrapping the business, ensured I was always chipping away at the debt I had accumulated.

As a young entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel stuck when there is little to no funding in a project. One of the best things I did was to constantly seek help and advice from mentors, retail professionals, and e-commerce experts. I had a great relationship with a professor at Ohio State who assigned the production of my website to his class. This helped cut costs on web development.

Q: Which startup hires were crucial for your company’s success?

Ross: For the first two and a half years, I was the only JackThreads team member. I met my first employee a few days after launch the site — a young guy who had just graduated from Ohio State. He fixed every bug on the website in only two weeks! Then it was just the two of us until we hired someone to ship packages full-time. As different tasks in the company became too much for either one of us to handle, we have hired new team members and watched our company continue to grow.

However, I learned pretty quickly that hiring someone to fit a job function — rather than a role in the bigger picture — is a huge mistake. Hiring slow and waiting for the person who was the best match proved to be a much better strategy.

Q: What has been the lowest point/biggest struggle for your startup?

Ross: As the company grew, I approached more and more brands and develop relationships with vendors at trade shows and conferences. Showing up at every event helped to cement these relationships, and they have proved invaluable to the business. But further down the line, I realized that I had focused so much on growth that I didn’t pay attention to the technologies we used to support customer demand. This nearly destroyed my business; we got to a point where we outgrew our technology platform and had to rebuild a brand new one in order to operate the business most efficiently. Even this has come with challenges.

Q: What has been the proudest moment of your company career…so far?

Ross: One proud moment arrived when five suitors simultaneously sought to either invest in or acquire JackThreads. It was difficult to choose who to work with and who to pass up, but I trusted my gut instinct to make one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. We were acquired by Thrillist.com in 2010, and have been working closely together ever since. I’ve learned important lessons from Thrillist’s management and business model. Even more so, there is so much value in our collaboration, since our brands and products are featured in Thrillist's daily e-newsletters that are sent to over 3 million subscribers. Today, we’re a $50 million dollar business with offices in SoHo, NY and separately in Columbus, OH.  Our 80,000-square-f00t warehouse is located in Brooklyn. We’re constantly expanding the network of brands we’re working with, acquiring new customers, and growing our team.

Q: What unique piece of advice can you pass onto other entrepreneurs?

Ross: One of the toughest careers out there is being an entrepreneur, and the only way to get through it is to be genuinely passionate about what you’re doing. I’d heard this advice a million times before, but ignored it early in my career. You have to love what you do every day, and you have to be extremely passionate about it. I created a company that was truly an extension of who I am and something I honestly cared about. That alone got me through all the hurdles that inevitably go with starting a company.

Q: What common misconception about entrepreneurship have you think is untrue?

Ross: I think it’s a misconception that you need a substantial amount of financial backing when initially launching a business. You definitely need to raise some sort of capital, but my experience creating JackThreads is proof that there are definitely ways to limit costs and do it on a bootstrapped budget. For example, instead of hiring a company to build the website, I worked with a professor in the computer science department at Ohio State University to have his students build the site as part of a class project. I also had no marketing budget in the first year, and so I cold-called blogs and other online publications with hopes that they would promote JackThreads by offering their readers special membership codes or links. In that first year alone, we reached 35,000 members without spending anything on marketing.

Q: How do you see the experience of online retail/shopping clubs changing in the future?

Ross: The men’s online shopping space is currently thriving, but it’s definitely close to reaching a saturation point. I think that the trend of retailers trying to be all things to all people will eventually burn out, and the sites that really focus on a niche demographic will gain loyalty from their audience and continue to do well. JackThreads focuses on a very specific group of guys — ages 18-35. I think there will be longevity in specificity, personalization and consistently delivering consumers products that are directly relevant to their needs.

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads  #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.

Filed under: Entrepreneur, VentureBeat

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GamesBeat Weekly Roundup

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 02:41 PM PDT

If you follow VentureBeat, but don’t regularly check our GamesBeat site, here’s a list of the best games stories we ran over the last seven days that you may have missed. With all the PAX East 2012 previews and downloadable game reviews hitting, this was a busy week.

Among the news, Commodore founder Jack Tramiel passed away at 83, and Sony killed off its Qore digital game magazine.

Other GamesBeat stories included:

Kinect/voice support coming to Skyrim

PAX East 2012: Loadout game is like a Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Quentin Tarantino (preview)

UK-based startup game company reaches one million players…and counting

Sony kills off Qore digital game magazine

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is creepy enough while it lasts (review)

Spec Ops: The Line is hiding something (preview)

Retro graphics and relaxing puzzles help Fez rise above a troubled history (review)

PlayJam partners with Miniclip to bring gaming to Smart TV

The 4 best finds at PAX East 2012

Spirit Camera: A scary event for a scary game (video)

Why Max Payne 3 could be this year's next big blockbuster video game

PAX East 2012: BioWare faces its (not-so) angry fans

And the following stories also appeared on VentureBeat:

Game sales fall 25 percent in March despite hot sales of Mass Effect 3

At 2.5B games played a month, King.com reaps benefits from its casual Saga titles on Facebook

Health insurer Aetna to give away Mindbloom Life Game

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes enters open beta

GameStop stores in California to require DLC warning on used games

Why video games are good for you — the cheat sheet

Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

PAX East 2012: Storytime with 20-year game veteran Jordan Mechner

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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ThoughtLeadr creates self-serve social ad platform, hooks up with Imgur

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 02:36 PM PDT

imgur gallery

While attempting to make ads into engaging stories, Twitter’s Promoted Products and Facebook’s Sponsored Stories are changing the way advertisers reach social networkers. Smaller social sites lacking the resources to build their own story-themed ad platforms have a new partner in ThoughtLeadr, a startup exiting stealth mode today.

San Francisco-based ThoughtLeadr has created a self-service ad platform for small to mid-sized social properties with limited resources. The company is announcing its first partnership with Imgur, an image hosting and sharing service that generated 2 billion page views in the past month and is widely popular with Reddit users.

ThoughtLeadr’s ad platform, launching in May, lets the Imgur’s of the world make cash off their creations in a mostly-holistic fashion. The startup builds custom social-ad units, similar in style to a Sponsored Story on Facebook or a Promoted Tweet on Twitter, to provide partners with their own plug-and-play ad networks.

sample ad

sample Imgur ad

“[Companies] give us access to their firehose of data. We break it down and we understand what all the users are interested in, and then they … treat us like a traditional display ad,” ThoughtLeadr founder and CEO Todd Cullen told VentureBeat. “They put a little snippet of our Javascript on their site, and we’ll build custom social ad units that look just like their system.”

So with the Imgur partnership, for instance, ThoughtLeadr will run a promoted image in the top left-hand slot on Imgur’s gallery page. The image will resemble typical Imgur content but include a marker to denote that it is sponsored content. The end goal is to create an ad that Imgur visitors engage with and share out to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and so forth.

When the product officially launches in May, ThoughtLeadr advertisers can run and manage ad units across partner sites using the administrative dashboard seen below.

ThoughtLeadr is currently self-funded. The startup has seven employees and has been working in stealth mode for 12 months.

Filed under: social

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Who is the hottest startup at Under the Radar? Vote now!

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 01:39 PM PDT

You'll feel like you just won the Stanley Cup if you win VentureBeat's People's Choice Award at Under the Radar

VentureBeat is happy to be sponsoring the “VentureBeat People’s Choice Award” at the Under the Radar conference on April 26, 2012.

There are 32 startups presenting at Under the Radar, from AppFog to Zadara. The companies are tackling a wide range of markets (mobile security, platform-as-a-service, performance monitoring, database scalability, and more), and they’re at varying stages of growth. But for this award, only one thing matters: Who can collect the most votes?

Check out the contestants’ profiles or see below for links to each company’s website. Then scroll down to the poll below and cast your vote!

The winner will be announced at the Under the Radar Award Ceremony, hosted by VentureBeat. The winner will receive an interview in VentureBeat as well as the glory and envy of fellow Under the Radar participants. (Alas, we will not be able to present you with the Stanley Cup.)

Voting opens immediately and closes at noon on April 26th. I’ll be presenting the award at 5pm that evening, so get your votes in now!

Good luck and happy voting!

And, you can get $200 off your ticket to Under the Radar if you use the code 'vbeat' when checking out. Here are some more details on the conference.

Under the Radar: Consumerization of IT
April 25-26 2012, 8am-5pm | Microsoft Campus, Mountain View, CA
Under the Radar Conference is Silicon Valley's most effective innovation showcase and business development conference. Leading decision makers are brought together with pre-vetted startups that are disrupting the way traditional business is run. Through an intense vetting process, Dealmaker Media selects a handful of the industry’s most compelling emerging startups to present to experts and CXOs looking to partner with, buy or acquire new technologies.

Enter promo code “vbeat” to receive $200 off!  Register Link: www.undertheradarblog.com/register/

Here are links to each of the companies in the contest:

Top photo credit: Justin Henry/Flickr

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Spotify to launch branded apps from AT&T, Intel, McDonald’s, others

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 01:21 PM PDT


Streaming music startup Spotify will soon launch branded applications from AT&T, Intel, McDonald’s, Reebok, and more. The move will help the company find greater revenue possibilities.

Adding apps from big brands presents a great opportunity for Spotify to make more money. Chief executive officer and founder Daniel Ek recently confirmed that his company had posted losses of about $96 million in its two years, and that it will continue to spend money to make money. The cost of licensing music for streaming is so expensive Spotify has to attract a huge number of paid users so it can eventually become profitable. The company has 3 million paid users across 13 countries, but many more free users that listen to advertising to get access to music.

Apps are one of the best things now offered inside Spotify’s platform, and I regularly use them to help find new music or re-visit old classics. Here’s hoping that these branded apps, which will also take a stab at curating music, will match the quality of other apps presently available.

The branded apps will appear inside Spotify’s PC and Mac programs in the coming weeks, with Ek planning to introduce them on stage at Ad Age’s Digital Conference in New York.

Spotify branded app image: AdAge

Filed under: media

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Coupons coming to a Facebook News Feed near you

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:26 PM PDT

facebook offer

Coupon-junkies can soon skip the newspaper and instead get their fix from the News Feed — no manual clipping required.

Facebook has partially turned on its Offers program, a new initiative that lets brands and businesses disperse discounts and promotions throughout the social network. Brand fans can simply click to digitally clip the offers from their News Feeds.

Here’s how the program works: Local businesses and brands can create offers — not to be confused with deals of the Groupon variety — from their Facebook Pages, and then push those discounts out to the folks that “like” their Pages. You, the Facebook user, are greeted with offers from the Pages you “like” in your News Feed. You can click “Get Offer” to claim — a.k.a. clip — the promotion, and Facebook will follow-up with an e-mail that you’ll need to show to redeem the discount.

So say, for instance, you “like” Joe’s Java on Facebook. Should your coffee spot post a discount, like $1 off your next latte, you would find that offer in your News Feed, click the “Get Offer” button to claim it, check your e-mail, and then head off to Joe’s to present your electronic coupon. You can also share the offer with your Facebook friends.

Of course we’re talking about Facebook here, so be wary of one little catch: For every offer you claim, a story is posted to your Timeline (profile), though you can adjust the settings to limit who sees this activity.

As with any new Facebook feature, we expect a mixed reaction from Facebookers. There’s bound to be vocal group of users who hate the idea of coupons in their News Feeds, and a crowd of happy campers anxious to save a few bucks at their favorite haunts.

Facebook first announced its new Offers program in late February when it revealed its reworked advertising products. The product is in beta, meaning that only a select group of businesses can currently run offers through Facebook.

“Facebook has been rolling out Offers since fMC and it's now available in Beta in Japan, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore,” a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. A handful of U.S. clients also have the ability to run offers, we’re told.

Photo credit: sdc2027/Flickr

[via The Verge]

Filed under: social

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Facebook’s mobile shopping spree: First Instagram, now Tagtile

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:19 PM PDT

Facebook acquired another mobile startup Friday, just in time for the rollout of its Facebook Offers feature. The newly purchased company, Tagtile, focuses on customer rewards and mobile marketing.

Tagtile helps physical stores connect to customers over smartphones. Businesses install a small Tagtile cube, which visiting customers can tap their phone on to get rewards points and discounts. Shoppers must download the Tagtile app first (available on iPhone and Android), which then pushes targeted marketing material to their phone based on stores they visit. The box also provides data to the business to help them find out what marketing efforts actually work, as well as how many people are using the service.

The company will run its normal service for the time being, thought it is no longer accepting new business. Tagtile also notes that its offerings will eventually cease since “Tagtile as it exists today won’t be part of what we do at Facebook,” according to a post by the company. It seems the team does hope to be able to expand the product within Facebook, however, and “do it on a much, much bigger scale that we could have on our own.”

Facebook released its Offers product today, which allows customers to purchase deals directly from their news feed. These can be redeemed using Facebook’s mobile app at the store. Whether Tagtile’s technology and team will be integrated into this area of Facebook commerce remains to be seen.

The social network also recently acquired mobile photo app Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Facebook is rightfully getting more focused on its mobile front. Terms of the Tagtile acquisition have not been released.

hat tip TechCrunch

Filed under: mobile, social

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Judge spanks Apple over kid-baiting apps

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:11 PM PDT

kids playing with tablet

Last year, Apple tried to have a court case thrown out from a group of angry parents whose children were racking up large iTunes bills from in-app purchases. Now, a District judge in California is saying no to Apple’s request and letting the case stand in court, reports Paid Content.

The problem started with children downloading free apps and games, then using their parent’s iTunes accounts to purchase credits in the form of coins, prizes, or other cartoony currency. The apps were considered “bait apps” because, while free in the App Store, they often required in-app purchases to play the game. When parents began receiving bills as high as $338.72, they became upset because the apps were supposed to be free, Paid Content wrote.  Because of a fifteen-minute login window that used to exist, children didn’t need to ask their parents to approve the purchases. Apple has since removed the 15 minute window loophole.

A series of class-action lawsuits were brought against Apple and later combined into one lawsuit. Apple then fired back, asking for the case to be thrown out.

U.S. District Judge Edward Da Vila made a ruling on March 31, 2012 saying the parents who filed the class actions suits had suffered sufficient harm for the case to stand. The case didn’t grab attention until tech lawyer Venkat Balasubramani covered it on Eric Goldman's Law Blog.

As it stands, Apple is expected to file its defense May 24. The company will rely on contract law to uphold its iTunes Terms of Service, which the company believes covers it in the case. However, there is a dispute about how the Terms of Service apply to minors, which may affect the outcome.

You can read the full court documents below.

Children playing with tablet image via Shutterstock

Filed under: games, mobile

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The forecast for RIM: cloudy, with a chance of success

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:00 PM PDT

A BlackBerry Bold smartphone: what does the future hold for RIM?

There is no doubt RIM's fortunes have been receding of late. The share of BlackBerry smartphones in North America is plummeting (although still strong in other parts of the world) and revenues are down. Competition is fierce. Can new management and stated objectives for future products at RIM turn things around or is it too late?

Despite what some believe, I don’t think it's necessarily over for RIM and BlackBerry. It still has a loyal, if shrinking, following in the enterprise and government. And in other parts of the world like Latin America and Indonesia, it’s a leading consumer smartphone brand. However, without being a leader in North America, long term prospects are bleak. RIM needs to recover from a market perception of being old, clunky and uncool. And it needs a compelling user experience fueling that perception change before it can regain momentum.

To that end, RIM needs to start executing on its long delayed vision, including getting BlackBerry 10 out to market post-haste on new, compelling and competitive products that replace the stop-gap BlackBerry 7 devices (but without turning off its current loyal fans by offering a completely radical new design). If BB10 slips past the fall of this year, we expect it will get even uglier for RIM. We believe the new management team (led by new CEO Thorsten Heins) understands the urgency of their current situation, and they seem to be making some moves that weren’t taken before, including management shakeups and bringing in some new faces. (Although the team certainly wasn’t brave enough for former co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s radical plan to reinvent the company.)

Heins seems to be open to exploring all kinds of business models from licensing to ODM outsourcing, which we see as positive. Despite the doom and gloom, it is important to note that RIM is still making money (the last quarter would have shown positive earnings if RIM hadn’t booked a loss for write-down’s), so they are not without resources, nor are they without some compelling technologies (e.g., QNX, Balance, Cascade).

Management recently stated they would focus less on the highly competitive and cut throat consumer market. However, RIM can’t afford to completely ignore the consumer space, as so much of business buying is now influenced by consumer attitudes and desires. We believe RIM should focus on pro-sumers, while decreasing focus on the lower end of the consumer market (it’s hard to make money in low end smartphones and tablets, which is becoming a key market for the Android camp).

RIM refocusing on its strengths is a good thing. It’s okay to be a smaller company with good margins, and that seems to be the direction RIM is pursuing. Further, its core business users are willing to spend more than consumers, so targeting these higher margin accounts is a smart move.

One positive note for RIM did emerge recently. RIM stated that they sold about 500,000 PlayBooks last quarter. Part of that substantial increase in sales was due to the fire sale price used to clear out inventory. But there's a significant number of units in the market (>1.5 M) to potentially leverage if RIM can keep the momentum going. Of course, this is nowhere near iPad numbers, but at least RIM is moving forward with a device that has potential for its core business users.

Further, the PlayBook with OS 2.0 indicates what the BB10 experience will be like (they both share the same core OS DNA), so continued acceptance of the PlayBook may be a leading indicator of how well BB10 devices will be received (assuming the final device hardware is as compelling as the OS).

Bottom line: RIM needs to execute and get the new OS out quickly. It will continue to bleed market share until then. And if the new devices with BB10 aren’t compelling, it won’t be able to keep the business users they now have for long either, given the increased momentum to other platforms. A lot is at stake here. BB10 is really a make or break for RIM. RIM seemsto understand this.

Now it just requires execution. Most organizations (and users) are in a wait and see mode until the new devices become available, after which RIM will be judged accordingly.

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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Google+ to live stream Republican National Convention

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 11:51 AM PDT

Republican mascot

Continuing efforts to push its new social network into the mainstream, Google will live stream this year’s Republican National Convention on Google+, the company announced in a blog post today.

Google+ will also serve as the official social platform for the convention. Google+ and YouTube users will get an exclusive backstage pass to connect with Republican leaders off the podium via Google+ Hangouts, as well as streaming key events. The 2012 RNC is schedule for late August in Tampa, Fla.

This is hardly the first time Google has offered up Google+ live streaming coverage of a political event. Back in October, the social network live streamed a Hangout between leader of Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. More recently, President Barack Obama participated in a Google Hangout for the social network back in January.

Adding coverage of political events/discussion to Google+ is a smart move for the company, because it may actually draw in people who normally don’t like to explore new social platforms. It’s also a good way for the company to gain a slight advantage over Facebook in the political race.

Republican mascot photo via VIPDesignUSA/Shutterstock

Filed under: social, VentureBeat

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They’re in! Meet the DEMO Spring 2012 Speakers

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 10:19 AM PDT

DEMO talk

Box's Aaron Levie speaks at DEMO last year

DEMO hits Silicon Valley on Tuesday!

We’ve got a blockbuster lineup of companies — about 80 of them — set to demonstrate new products.

We’ve also got a star lineup of investors, executives, and entrepreneurs to provide feedback. Others, including the CEOs of Netsuite, Box, Intuit and more, will provide insights into core trends right now.

VentureBeat co-produces the event.

Below are some of the speakers and sages. Most of the action will be Wednesday and Thursday. And no, it’s not too late to register for the event, to join the 1,000 or so folks on hand to see the action. A host of tech press, investors, and biz and corporate development ecosystem players will be networking in the halls.

 Aaron Levie is the CEO and co-founder of Box, which he originally created as a college business project with the goal of helping people easily access their information from any location. Aaron will be talking at DEMO about how he keeps his company on the cutting edge of innovation, as well as about the powerful force that is mobile. Mobile is transforming the enterprise, and the field is wide open for companies like his, that are delivering simple-to-use apps, and not trying to cram everything down a single pipe in bundles, like legacy players SAP and Oracle.

 Brad Smith is Intuit‘s president and chief executive officer. Intuit is not only a leading provider of finance software, but it’s also taking on Square and PayPal in the hugely dynamic area of mobile. Intuit has consistently ranked as one of the most-admired software companies and best places to work in Silicon Valley. Smith became CEO in January 2008, culminating a five-year rise through the company where he successfully led several of its major businesses. Intuits serves small and mid-sized businesses, financial institutions, consumers and accounting professionals.

Zach Nelson is CEO of Netsuite, which has emerged as the leading cloud provider of ERP software. The little-known secret about Netsuite is that it has one of the highest value multiples of any software company right now, because of its significant growth rate. After going public right before the downturn hit in 2008, its stock has risen straight upwards. Nelson will be talking about how the real value for new tech companies lies in owning the “core transaction” of the business that it’s in. And playing in the cloud, as well as mobile and social — well, that’s just table stakes.

David Lawee is the Vice President of corporate development at Google. David manages a worldwide team responsible for all of the company’s acquisitions and investments. He’ll be talking about DEMO about how Google makes those acquisitions with an eye to keeping entrepreneurs engaged for years after the transaction, and will argue that Google has done this particularly well (think Android, for example). Before joining Google, David co-founded four start-ups, the most recent being Xfire, a fast growing social gaming service that was sold to Viacom in early 2006. Previously, David co-founded Mosaic Venture Partners, a leading Toronto-based venture capital firm.

Claire Lee moved to Silicon Valley in February 2011 to lead industry partnerships for the Emerging Business Team at Microsoft, engaging partners globally to support early stage software developers and startups. Claire formed part of the team that created the BizSpark program in November 2008, now with over 45,000 startups in 110 countries and 2,400 partners. BizSpark partnerships comprise leading incubators, accelerators, Government agencies, universities, entrepreneurship groups, foundations, technology community associations, banks, and organizations that enable and support early stage technology companies. Examples include HSBC and Startup Weekend.

Bill Gurley has spent over 10 years as a General Partner at Benchmark Capital. Prior to Benchmark, Bill was a partner with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.  Before entering the venture capital business, Bill spent four years on Wall Street as a top-ranked research analyst, including three years at CS First Boston focusing on personal computer hardware and software. His research coverage included such companies as Dell, Compaq, and Microsoft, and he was the lead analyst on the Amazon IPO. Current Investments and Board Seats: Demandforce, GrubHub,Linden Lab/SecondLife,  LiveOps, Nanosolar,  NextDoor,  OpenTable,  Scale Computing, Tropos Networks, Uber, and Zillow.com.

Aileen Lee is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; she joined in 1999. Her primary area of focus is working with consumer-oriented digital companies. Aileen has worked closely with the teams at companies such as ShopKick, Zazzle, Bloom Energy, Miasole, Blue Nile (NASDAQ: Nile), Friendster (acquired by MOL Global), Good Technology (acquired by MOT), and Tellme (acquired by MSFT). She currently works with companies including Callaway Digital Arts, Offermatic, One Kings Lane, Plum District, Rent the Runway and RMG Networks (formerly Danoo), where she was founding CEO for two years.

JJason Krikorian is a General Partner of DCM. He brings an entrepreneur’s perspective to DCM and its portfolio companies. Before joining DCM as a General Partner, Jason co-founded Sling Media, the pioneering digital media and device company. Among its many accolades, Sling Media received an Emmy Award for the Slingbox, the device that first introduced the world to the concept of placeshifting. Sling Media was acquired by EchoStar in October 2007.

Dana Stalder knows what it takes to turn a scrappy start-up into a strong, independent company. Dana has managed nimble ventures as well as 2,500-person teams. He has sat on both sides of the table in acquisition talks and sold to consumers, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike. His experience cuts across multiple disciplines including sales, marketing, finance, technology and product management at companies such as eBay, Netscape and PayPal.

Mike Abbott joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner in 2011. He focuses on investments in the firm's digital practice, helping entrepreneurs in the social, mobile and cloud computing sectors rapidly scale teams and ventures. Mike serves as an expert resource on enterprise infrastructure, cloud computing and "big data." He also helps entrepreneurs win the race for talent in a hyper-competitive recruitment environment.

Joe Kraus has been with Google Ventures since 2009, and his primary areas of focus are mobile, gaming, and local services. Prior to Google Ventures, Joe was a two-time entrepreneur. In 1993, he co-founded Excite.com, an early Internet search engine, holding multiple positions in the company, including leadership roles in product, business development, and marketing. While at Google, Joe had multiple product management roles including Blogger, Picasa, Sites, Friend Connect, and OpenSocial.

Peter Pham is a partner at Science Inc. He is a passionate entrepreneur and advisor with roots in Southern California starting his career with 8 years in the enterprise hardware and software space. He moved to Silicon Valley in 2005 building companies like Photobucket. Peter then turned his energy in helping people save money as CEO of BillShrink from inception to their 1st Million users in a little over a year. Peter was also the Co-Founder of Color exploring the future of mobile and social interactions through proximity.

Frank Chen is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz.Previously, Frank was the VP of products at Opsware. There he gained expertise in enterprise software development and sales, product marketing, change management, and competitive strategies. Prior to that, he was a director of client services at Loudcloud, where he ran data center operations for name of brand customers including Fox Sports, Nike, Fandango.com and Blockbuster.

David Friedberg is the founder and CEO of The Climate Corporation, a unique technology platform that helps people and businesses adapt to climate change. The company protects a $3 trillion global agricultural industry from the financial impacts of adverse weather – the cause of 90% of crop loss – with real-time customizable insurance. He was also one of the founding members of Google's Corporate Development team, identifying and leading several of Google's largest acquisitions. At one point he functioned as Business Product Manager for AdWords, which became Google's primary revenue source.

Chuck Ganapathi, the man who created Salesforce.com's Chatter, the company's largest product development effort ever, has left to join Accel Partners as Entrepreneur in Residence. During his time at Salesforce.com, he championed and led the acquisition of two start-ups: Dimdim, a real-time collaboration platform, and GroupSwim, a community platform with semantic filtering technology. He also integrated the acquired technology and teams from two file sharing and collaboration start-ups, Koral and SlideAware.

David Gutelius is Jive in the interesting title of chief social scientist and was previously founder and chief executive of Proximal. He was trained in economics but is a specialist in social network theory, developed machine learning at SRI International, working to help the U.S. military analyze data and people in a network and surface critical information.

Matt Thompson is General Manager of Microsoft's developer & platform evangelism efforts. His time is split between working with this influential community of technologists as they adopt Microsoft technologies advising a number of early stage startups; and working with Microsoft customers & partners as they implement solutions on top of the breadth of the Microsoft platform offerings.

Jeff Mullen founded and seeded Dynamics in 2007. Under Mullen, Dynamics sold arguably the largest paid pilots for on-card technology in the history of banking and closed one of the largest Series A investment rounds in 2009 in payments ($5.7MM). Mullen has won many of the world's most prestigious international business plan competitions, including the Rice Business Plan Competition, Carnegie Mellon McGinnis Venture Competition, and the University of San Francisco Business Plan Competition.

Ross Fubini was the Co-Founder and a Board Member of Cubetree, a Gartner Visionary enterprise social collaboration company which is used by the Fortune 100 including SAP, Intuit, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He currently serves as an advisor to Kapor Capital, Palantir Technology, Facebook Causes, and other early stage technology companies. From 2010-2011 Ross was a Vice President for SuccessFactors which acquired his company CubeTree in 2010.

Tom Gillis is CEO of Bracket Computing, a company he founded in December 2011. Gillis started Bracket with a vision to re-imagine enterprise computing. Before starting Bracket, Gillis was VP/GM of the Security Technology Group at Cisco Systems. This Technology Group included the business units responsible for Cisco's entire Network and Content Security product portfolio, including firewalls, IPS, VPN, and email security and web security gateways. Prior to Cisco, Tom was VP of Marketing and part if the founding team of IronPort Systems which was acquired by Cisco in 2007. He has also worked at Silicon Graphics, the Boston Consulting Group, and Raytheon Corporation.

Christine Herron is a Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur. She is currently a Director with Intel Capital and a Venture Advisor at 500 Startups. Previously, Christine was a Principal with First Round Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm, where she worked with companies such asBillFloat, Double Verify, Get Satisfaction, Mint, and Xobni.

Will Price is the CEO of Flite, an online advertising technology company.  Flite pioneered the category of cloud-based advertising, helping brantds and publishers deliver ads, powered by the real-time web, that outperform traditional display by 10+ times.  Today, the company powers advertising solutions for Yahoo!, LinkedIn, IDG, CBS, L’Oreal, Microsoft, Toyota, Schwab, and other leading companies.

Larry Augustin is CEO of SugarCRM, the leading provider of Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. One of the group who coined the term “Open Source”, he has written and spoken extensively on Open Source worldwide. Prior to SugarCRM, he spent five years as an angel investor and advisor to early stage technology companies including JBoss, XenSource, DeviceVM, Fonality, Hyperic, Pentaho, and SpringSource. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Appcelerator and DotNetNuke. From 2002 to 2004 he was a Venture Partner at Azure Capital Partners. In 1993 he founded VA Linux, where he served as CEO until August 2002. While CEO he launched SourceForge.net and lead the company through an IPO in December 1999.

Bill Nguyen has spearheaded seven technology startups. In 2009, Bill led the sale of Lala to Apple. Lala was the first full-service cloud music experience and the only online music service ever acquired by Apple. Prior to Lala, Bill founded SEVEN Networks. Under Nguyen’s leadership, SEVEN achieved successful commercial deployments of its mobile email software with over 100 of the world’s largest mobile operators. Bill has been named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list, MIT’s Technology Review 100 and the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow.

Jean-Francois "Jeff" Clavier is the Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, one of the most active seed stage investors in Web 2.0 startups. Since 2004, Jeff has invested in close to 100 consumer internet startups in areas like social media, monetization, search, gaming or B2B/B2C web services. In September 2007, after successfully investing as a business angel, Jeff announced the formation of SoftTech VC II, L.P. a $15M seed fund backed by a mix of institutional and private investors to invest in 60+ consumer Internet companies over 3 years.

John Lilly joined Greylock as a partner in 2011. Prior to Greylock, John was CEO of Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, an open source Web browser used by more than 450 million people. John also co-founded Reactivity, an enterprise security infrastructure company acquired by Cisco in 2007, where he served as founding CEO and later CTO. Earlier in his career, John held positions on the executive team at Trilogy Software and as a Senior Scientist in Apple’s research labs.

Harshul Sanghi is the managing partner of American Express Ventures, Enterprise Growth at American Express, with extensive corporate venture and mobile experience and relationships. He's focused on strengthening American Express’ existing online and mobile services through partnerships with the technology and venture community with the goal of retaining American Express' strong leadership position.

Nirav Tolia is Co-founder and CEO of Nextdoor.com, a consumer Internet startup that is dedicated to helping neighbors create stronger and safer neighborhoods. Nextdoor is funded by Benchmark Capital, where Nirav served as an Entrepreneur in Residence. Prior to Benchmark, Nirav was COO of Shopping.com, a company created through the merger of Dealtime and Epinions, where Nirav was Co-founder and CEO. Prior to Epinions, Nirav was an early employee at Yahoo!. He graduated from Stanford University and is originally from Odessa, Texas.

Jody Holtzman has more than two decades of experience helping companies develop and implement competitive strategies and achieve their strategic market goals. At AARP he leads AARP’s new Thought Leadership efforts which support the organization’s new brand positioning around a focus on living not just aging and for people 50+ to live their best life. Previously, Jody led AARP’s research, competitive intelligence and strategic analysis functions.  Jody is a member of AARP’s Leadership Team and Brand Council.

Sheila Jordan is senior vice president of Communication and Collaboration IT at Cisco Systems, reporting to CIO Rebecca Jacoby. Sheila is responsible for delivering and integrating key IT services that touch Cisco's global workforce.  Her goal is to drive productivity and a superior, holistic end-user experience for all employees through an integrated architectural approach. She oversees a worldwide team of more than 500 IT professionals.

Shervin Pishevar joined Menlo Ventures as a Managing Partner in 2011 after a successful career as an entrepreneur and angel investor. His focus is on consumer technology investments, specifically in the gaming, mobile and social web industry sectors. Shervin works closely with portfolio companies Uber, Shaker, Warby Parker and Mr. Number, and was the driving force behind Menlo’s investment in Tumblr. During his first few months at Menlo Ventures, Shervin helped launch the Menlo Talent Fund, a $20M seed fund that invests in innovative early stage deals within a 24 to 72 hour timeframe.

James Slavet's primary areas of investment focus are e-commerce, online advertising and Web-enabled business services. James has been a founder and early employee of several startups, as well as a senior executive leading business units with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. James' investments include Cardspring, Coupons.com, Groupon, High Gear Media, One Kings Lane, Redfin, Revision3, and TellApart. He previously represented Greylock in its investments in Auditude, Farecast  and Kongregate.

Filed under: DEMO

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Here are Intel’s specs for the next big Windows 8 tablet

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 10:08 AM PDT

Intel unveiled an impressive list of specs for upcoming Windows 8 tablets at a conference in Beijing today.

The specifications are Intel’s blueprint for tablets that should be in consumers’ hands later this year. On paper, at least, the tablets seem iPad-competitive — or better.

Weighing in at a fairly standard 9mm thick and 1.5 pounds (or lighter), the tablets will be available in 10-inch models and 11-inch hybrids with physical keyboards.

The magic comes in the form of Intel’s Atom Z2760 “Clover Trail” chip. We first saw prototypes of this 32-nanometer chip earlier this year at CES, where Intel execs showed the technology paired with Windows 8. Intel has been experimenting with mobile chip capabilities a lot over the past few years, and that testing is definitely paying off.

The dual-core-capable chip seems designed with high performance and small devices in mind. It brings features like a burst mode and hyperthreading to the table, both of which allow for temporary performance enhancements on an as-needed basis.

Connectivity options include WiFi and 3G/4G, as well as NFC features and WiFi Direct. Gamers and mediaphiles will appreciate the advanced imaging capabilities, and Intel is also touting advanced security features for business applications.

Here’s Intel’s full list:

Earlier this week, Intel announced the launch of Studybook, a tablet just for students.

Fueled by strong sales in its core PC chips business and bolstered by its newer focus on mobile chip research and development, Intel recently reached its highest overall chip industry market share in more than 10 years with 15.6 percent of the total market, up 2.5 percentage points from 13.1 percent in 2010.

hat tip: Cnet

Image courtesy of rangizzz, Shutterstock

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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In spite of $96M in losses, Spotify seeks new investors, better revenues

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 09:49 AM PDT

Streaming music service Spotify hasn’t made many friends in the music industry, mostly because it’s bringing fewer paid subscribers to the table than record labels had anticipated. But, that isn’t stopping the startup from trying to pick up more funding.

In an interview with Swedish business-focused daily newspaper Dagens Industri, Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek confirmed that his company had posted losses of around $96 million in its two years of existence, saying, “The question of when we’ll show a profit actually feels irrelevant.”

Nevertheless, Ek said, Spotify is still open to taking more high-dollar rounds of venture capital funding from big-name firms.

But first, the company will be focusing on, if not turning a profit, at least beefing up revenues. Saying the company is focusing on sales and is expecting to show more than $800 million in revenue for 2012, Ek continued, “We know we are making money on each new user we get, whether it’s a free user or paying. Therefore, all user growth [is] positive for us.”

Like most businesses, Spotify has had to spend money to make money. Ek revealed that one of the company’s biggest barriers to profitability has been coming into new markets, including the U.S., which has taken a heavy toll on the company’s coffers. “Every time we enter a new market, it is extremely capital intensive because we need to invest in local music rights,” the CEO told DI.

As for funding, Ek said, “We have no need of more capital in the current situation in order to operate the business plan we have. But I have learned to always take the money when you do not need the money. We utilize the principle that if an investor can add strategic value and the valuation is good, we are interested.”

And by a good valuation, Ek means something in the range of $4 billion.

But don’t get your hopes up for a Spotify IPO. “We want to build this company long term. Therefore, the stock exchange is not an option for us,” Ek concluded.

Image courtesy of ra2, Shutterstock

Filed under: Entrepreneur, media

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Microsoft & Edgar Wright team up on Brandon Generator, an interactive story project

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 09:27 AM PDT

If you need proof that not everything that happens on Friday the 13th (today) is bad, then look no further than Microsoft’s Brandon Generator.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator, which launched today, is a four-part animated story done entirely in HTML5. It’s part of an attempt by the giant technology company to highlight the vast creative possibilities available to web developers without the need for third-party plugins, like Adobe Flash. It should play across any device with an Internet connection and a modern web browser that supports HTML5. The production contains various references to Microsoft products, like Bing and Internet Explorer.

The story was written by the brilliant Edgar Wright (who is responsible for Shaun of the Dead, the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim, and British TV show Spaced), and follows the tale of comic book artist Brandon as he fights a nasty case of writer’s block. The noir-esque artwork is done by Tommy Lee Edwards (illustrator of Batman and Hellboy comics) and voiced by Julian Barratt, who is perhaps best known for playing man about town Howard Moon on The Mighty Boosh.

It’s quite possibly the greatest thing that’s ever happened on a Friday the 13th ever — a conclusion I reached after hearing the following quote from the first episode: “An infinite number of monkeys were out there somewhere creating Shakespeare, and kicking his ass. He had to come up with something.”

While Wright has written a plot for the series, the Brandon Generator allows users to interact with the story by submitting prose, drawings, and audio messages to help guide the character in future episodes. The best of these submissions will end up getting added to a gallery. Part one of the story is available today, with the next three episodes debuting every few weeks to incorporate the submitted materials.

Check out some screenshots from the project embedded below.

Images via Microsoft; Via The Verge

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

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