Friday, April 27, 2007
A new service called ScratchYourself came to our attention today. It’s a fairly simple Flash application that lets users upload an image and build a lottery-style scratch card from it. During the beta period people have a chance to win some very limited cash prizes that total $90 or so per day across all winners.
Once a scratch card has been created, users can email it to friends or embed it on their site. I created a quick scratch card with our logo and have embedded it below.
What interests me more than the front end, which would easily be duplicated, is the business model and payments infrastructure they’ve put in place. Users have an incentive to create and embed these on their blogs, MySpace page, etc.: if you create a scratchcard and someone wins a prize, you get the same prize as the creator of the card. Prizes are awarded, at the winner’s choice, via paypal, mailed check or amazon gift certificate.
The company’s business model is to attract advertisers to sponsor prizes (cash, products, coupons). If ScratchYourself turns out to be trustworthy and can circumnavigate the rather complicated federal and state regulations governing sweepstakes, brands could be attracted to this. You get a good long look at the image underneath the scratch area, which is more than can be said for most banner advertising. And publishers will like the ability to win the same prizes as their readers.
Posted by Augustine at 10:22 AM
Red Swoosh (acquired by Akamai for $15 million earlier this month) released v1.0 of FoxTorrent today. This is a fully functional BitTorrent client for Firefox that works cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and has a very cool additional feature - the ability to stream files as they are downloading.
This is no Azureus (my BitTorrent client of choice), but it does the job and saves time by allowing you to manage torrents directly from the browser. I tested it on a few (non-copyright infringing, of course) files and it worked great on the standard BitTorrent functionality. Streaming just didn’t work, although with the way the BitTorrent protocol breaks files into pieces and reconstructs them in a non linear way means you may have to wait until the file is mostly complete to even begin streaming. I’ll try it again once the files are nearly complete.
Posted by Augustine at 9:28 AM
Posted by Augustine at 9:27 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Flickr co-founders Stewart Butterfield and wife Catarina Fake.
"He says many casual Flickr users want to sell their pictures but aren't sure how to proceed with copyright or payment. On the flipside, media companies would love to tap into the wealth of material but can't always find it or the photographer."
Posted by Augustine at 4:24 PM
Posted by Augustine at 3:41 PM
London is host to one of the coolest and most functional partnerships we've seen recently. A collaboration that lets people share cars and parking places! It's hard to believe it's taken so long for something like this to come around...
ParkAtMyHouse is a new service that provides affordable and penalty-free parking around public venues by enabling property-owners to rent out their empty driveways, garages, car parks and other spare pieces of land to drivers needing somewhere to park. Anyone can register to rent out their parking space to consumers and/or businesses.
The new service has just partnered with ZipCars - another progressive company that allows users to rent cars by the hour or day. Users can book a Zipcar online or over the phone at any time, any day of the week. Then all you have to do is walk to the nearby car, unlock it by swiping your unique Zipcard across the windscreen and drive away with the minimum of fuss.
Posted by Augustine at 3:02 PM
Jungle Disk puts a virtual drive on your computer that looks like any another hard drive. Unlike "regular" backups systems, you can browse, open, check and confirm the validity of every file in your backup by simply opening the folder, and using the files as if they were on your local hard drive. They're not locked away in a cryptic, proprietary system.
The Jungle Disk application lets you set up automated backups, which looks for any file changes in the files or folders you specify, then backs up any modified files at the frequency you set. You set it and forget it.
Jungle Disk is free while in beta; down the road it'll cost you $20 or $1 per month. As for S3, it's a pay-as-you-go service that costs 15 cents per gigabyte of storage and 20 cents per gigabyte of data transferred.
Those are pretty affordable rates, but you can accomplish almost exactly the same thing with MediaMax and Mozy, both of which are free. What do you think? Put your online-backup thoughts where they belong: the comments! —Rick Broida
Posted by Augustine at 2:15 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Posted by Augustine at 9:44 PM
excerpted from Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection Thursday, March 01, 2007 Getty Images vs. Flickr Let's take this a step further though and look at Creative. This is the side of stock photography where marketers go to get images to sell things. Below are three searches that I selected at random. Las Vegas, candle and clouds. Now click through to the search pages for these terms at Flickr and at Getty Images. Which one is better? Is it clearly better? If you were a marketer would it make a difference to you which one you pulled your images from? Las Vegas Getty Las Vegas Flickr Candle Getty Candle Flickr Clouds Getty Clouds Flickr Now let's take this a step further and enter into the long tail of stock photography let's do a search for Tujunga (a small town in the San Fernando Valley where I grew up) and Mount Tam (a local mountain in Marin here in the Bay Area). Tujunga Getty Tujunga Flickr Mount Tam Getty Mount Tam Flickr Interesting what you get here isn't it? You see with 400 million images in their library Flickr is the better stock agency for long tail stuff for sure. The problem just is that Flickr hasn't figured out how to turn this on yet.
source: http://blogs.business2.com/beta/2007/04/can_amazoncom_p.html by Owen Thomas excerpt "FlickrCash, a service which searches Flickr, likewise neglects to mention Yahoo's interest in the name."
Posted by Augustine at 1:42 PM
by Darren Herman (4/4/2007)
Paul Graham of Y Combinator success has released an insightful essay about traits he’s studied with the early stage entrepreneurs he deals with each day that are part of his program up in Boston.
The essay didn’t just strike me about founders, but it struck me about Y Combinators success rate as well:
We’ve now been doing Y Combinator long enough to have some data about success rates. Our first batch, in the summer of 2005, had eight startups in it. Of those eight, it now looks as if at least four succeeded. Three have been acquired: Reddit was a merger of two, Reddit and Infogami, and a third was acquired that we can’t talk about yet. Another from that batch was Loopt, which is doing so well they could probably be acquired in about ten minutes if they wanted to.
That’s pretty darn solid if you ask me. I do not know anyone personally who has been through the Y Combinator, but based on the essay that Paul has written and the statistics, the numbers certainly look positive.
In the essay that Paul has written, he talks about many reasons why people do not become entrepreneurial and talks about why those reasons should be ignored. The topics covered are:
- Too young
- Too inexperienced
- Not determined enough
- Not smart enough
- Know nothing about business
- No Cofounder
- No idea
- No room for more startups
- Family to support
- Independently wealthy
- Not ready for committment
- Need for structure
- Fear of uncertainty
- Don’t realize what you’re avoiding
- Parents want you to become a doctor
- A job is the default
HandBrake can turn DVDs into iPod-friendly MPEG-4 or H.264 video files. It includes iPod, Apple TV and even Sony PS3 presets, but you can also customize various audio and video settings to your liking. (Needless to say, the ripped files will also play on Zunes and other devices.)
Windows users can choose between GUI and CLI versions; both require DVD43 to be installed if you want to rip copy-protected DVDs (the ones you own, of course). Also, be sure to choose the VIDEO_TS folder when you browse the DVD, and then select the "title" that contains the actual movie (it's usually the longest one). For Windows users in particular, HandBrake definitely makes easier work of copying DVDs to your iPod, though the overall process still takes a few hours.
Still in beta, HandBrake is free; it's available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. —Rick Broida
Posted by Augustine at 12:34 PM
When I see a lot of Google traffic coming to my blog, I check the feedburner stats and yesterday the search term Fluorescent Adolescent was generating some meaningful traffic. Flourescent Adolescent is the name of my favourite track on the Arctic Monkeys new record which is coming out next week. I don't have the record, but I've heard most of it on the Hypemachine.
So I googled Fluorescent Adolescent and sure enough my post linking to the track was number one. Number two was this video, taken at an Amsterdam show last month, probably on a cell phone or something like a cell phone.
First of all, this song has not been released. But this video has been viewed almost 16,000 times on YouTube in the past month. I am sure some people have watched it multiple times, but surely over 10,000 people have gotten introduced to this song in the past month, some portion of whom are likely to buy the record.
Second, this is not the first single, that would be Brianstorms, a good track, but not my favourite. But in effect, there's already a "video" on YouTube promoting this track.
Third, this was shot by a regular fan, uploaded to YouTube, and the quality and sound are pretty damn good for someone five or six bodies back.
Fourth, this was shot at a club in Amsterdam and is available to the entire world via YouTube instantly (or as soon as the person who shot it uploaded it).
Fifth, check out how many others in the crowd are taping the performance with their cell phones and cameras. Has to be at least five or ten others in the video doing that.
Lefsetz says in one of his recent posts:
And trust only grows person to person now. NOBODY trusts the machine.
Let's look at what just happened here. Somebody got a hold of the Fluorscent Adolescent track and uploaded it to their blog. It made the Hypemachine. I heard it there and reblogged it. My post went to the top of Google for that search term. I googled it (but you could have too) and found the YouTube video posted by another fan. I saw that and reblogged it just now.
Person to person marketing. No machine other than the web and google at work here. The rest is us, enjoying a song, a band, and music on the web.
Posted by Augustine at 7:49 AM
Skype’s lack of desire to release a mobile client has opened a small window of opportunity for a few start-ups - iSkoot, Mobivox, and EQO. These companies are creating clients that run the Skype service inside a server farm, and allow you to make and receive Skype calls on your mobiles. It is no surprise, that they have received major infusion of venture dollars.
The latest to get a big fat round of funding is EQO, that just announced that it has raised $9 million from Venture West, Growth Works and BDC Capital. The company has raised over $12.5 million in funding.
EQO is also benefiting from VC interest in mobile VoIP, though I have some serious questions about the potential payoff. The big question, however, is that which of these three will emerge as an eventual winner. Will it be Skype, that will finally release a mobile client of its own? (Skype currently offers a Windows Mobile version of its client, though its functionality is limited.) Have your say in our poll.
Posted by Augustine at 7:23 AM
Seattle-based news site Newsvine will relaunch this afternoon with significant changes to the user experience. They’re calling the release “Evergreen.”
Among the changes: like Netvibes, Pageflakes and other personalized homepages, users will now be able to move most modules on the Newsvine home page around, or delete them altogether. Users can also add whatever news feeds they want to the home page by adding a RSS feed module.
Until now, web services that allow customization generally put the feature in a standalone area. Yahoo has my.yahoo, for example, but doesn’t allow users to make changes to the main Yahoo home page. Like their often-copied feature of allowing user comments to news items, this may be another way that Newsvine reshapes the online news industry. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the New York Times, USA Today and other sites allow users to create their own version of the newspaper, possibly even allowing outside RSS feeds in, in the next year or so. This builds intense user loyalty and makes it much more likely they’ll spend even more time on the site.
Other features include the addition of local headlines and weather and a slideshow called “News In Pictures” that shows a continuous stream of AP pictures.
Newsvine also just got bigger, stretching from 900 to 1240 pixels. The extra width can be collapsed with a click.
Newsvine has raised just $1.25 million in a single round of financing in July 2005 from Second Avenue Partners. They have six employees. The site currently brings in 600,000 monthly unique visitors generating 3.5 million monthly page views.
Posted by Augustine at 7:21 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
M:Metrics says that the number of cameraphone owners has climbed to 106 million in the United States, crossing the 50% threshold. Cameraphones are even more ubiquitous in European markets, led by the United Kingdom where three out of every four mobile subscribers own a camera phone. The measurement firm reports that the proliferation of this technology is driving a decline of one of the first sources of mobile entertainment revenue: the sale of wallpapers and phone graphics, as increasing numbers of people personalize their phone with photos taken on the device.
Cameraphone Penetration and Graphics Purchases: February 2007
|Country||Penetration||% Who Purchased Screensaver or Wallpaper||% Who Saved Camera phone Photo as Screensaver / Wallpaper|
"While a cameraphone in the pocket of most mobile phone owners may have picked the proverbial pockets of graphics publishers, the penetration of this technology has a positive impact on operator data revenues overall as consumers increasingly purchase photo messaging bundles," said Mark Donovan, senior vice president and senior analyst, M:Metrics.
Despite a slackening of demand for graphics, Donovan notes that such content is used to good effect by purveyors of off-portal content to entice subscribers to sign up for subscriptions. "Graphics remain a preferred type of content because of the more attractive terms typically associated with licensing of branded graphical content compared with the revenue splits that music labels and publishers expect from ringtones. However, graphics publishers have to work a lot harder and offer compelling, branded content to generate consumer interest."
Photo messaging has consistently been among the most popular mobile applications across geographies that M:Metrics measures, with as many as 31.3 percent of mobile subscribers sending photos or videos to other phones, e-mail addresses or posting to blogs.
Used network services for photos/videos
|August 2006||February 2007|
Posted by Augustine at 8:57 AM
5 mins combines several different smartmobby ideas and technologies in an excellent way: User-generated short videos, collective knowledge creation, peer-to-peer media sharing, open educational content:
5min is a place to find short video solutions for any practical question and a forum for people wanting to share their knowledge.
The vision behind 5min is a very simple one: any solution can be visually explained in no more than 5 minutes. Our aim is to create the first communal Life Videopedia allowing users from all over the globe to contribute their knowledge by sharing visual guides covering arts, business, fashion, sports, health, tech, food, and much more.
5min's basic philosophy is that everybody is an expert in something. The video era gives us the technological opportunity to share our collective knowledge and gather it onto one platform. This is what 5min aims to be – a platform for users, a platform for creators, a platform for talent and anyone that has something to teach.
In order to bring to life our vision of creating a comprehensive Life Videopedia, 5min gives each creator a private promotional Studio – a space to show his/her skills, and share his/her secrets.
Posted by Augustine at 8:54 AM
Keeping everyone aware of what you are up to every fleeting, uninteresting moment of your life is a hot area for startups right now. Newly launched Kyte seems to fall somewhere between Twitter and Ustream, two services that let users send a constant stream of data about themselves to interested friends (albeit in very different ways).
Kyte is at its core a media player. Users create an account and set up channels. They can then drag photos, video and text into the channels and interact with people viewing the content.
The service is extremely flexible in its approach to getting content into and out of the service. Users can access their account and add content from their (java enabled) mobile phone, the browser or via email. Viewers can interact with content on the Kyte website, their phone and other websites where users embed content via a widget player.
Kyte can be a place users put occasional content, or a live, Usstream-style live stream of their life. The company says “You could even create a “LifeStream”, a minute-by-minute live show that is published in real-time directly to your MySpace page, website, blog, or mobile phone.”
The company has raised a round of financing ($2.25 million, says Om Malik) from Atomico Investments, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Draper Richards and Ron Conway.
Posted by Augustine at 8:07 AM
DNS is boring, but OpenDNS has added a new Shortcut feature that lets you visit URLs without all that nasty typing. Shortcuts are short, multi-letter abbreviations for your favorite sites. Instead of typing “www.nytimes.com,” you can just type “NYT.” You can also create short-cuts for popular search sites (”g monkeys” to search Google for Monkeys, for example).
Posted by Augustine at 8:02 AM
Online backup and storage service Mozy has quietly grown to 175,000 customers since launching in April 2006. That’s not bad for the Utah-based company that runs the service, Berkeley Data Systems, which raised just $2 million in venture capital back in 2005. The company went big time today, however, when they announced a multi-million dollar deal with General Electric, which bought MozyPro (the enterprise version of Mozy) for all of its 300,000+ worldwide employees.
MozyPro is similar to the consumer Mozy service, but includes server backups, 24/7 support and admin control for the IT department. The service launched last December and 3,200 businesses are now using. GE is now one of those businesses.
Mozy and MozyPro are administered through a desktop client and automatically backs up data on the PC every two hours. Thirty days worth of versions are retained, and users can go back and restore any of those versions.
Rate card pricing for consumers is free for up to 2GB of storage, and $5/month for unlimited storage. Businesses pay $4/month for each employee, plus $0.50/GB/month of stored data. Bandwidth is free. As a side note, GE certainly didn’t pay rate card rates - a deal this large would have a substantial discount.
The company is backed by Wasatch Partners, Tim Draper and Drew Major. They have 25 employees.
We first mentioned Mozy back in 2006 when we covered the major online storage providers. On the consumer side, Mozy competes with Carbonite and others. At the enterprise level, Iron Mountain and EVault are the entrenched competitors, although Mozy says they have a 10x cost advantage over those services. Google and Microsoft will also have products in this space.
A very large untapped market for online backups are the OEM PC manufacturers, who should be providing a free trial with every PC. Mozy is now positioned nicely to land such a deal. After a grueling due diligence process by GE, the PC guys should be confident that Mozy is as secure as their competitors. And charging 1/10 of what they do is great for the bottom line.
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
Posted by Augustine at 7:59 AM
JS-Kit is growing a suite of widgets that will help site owners optimize their website content, eventually allowing website owners to easily optimize their site based on how people surf their site. Think Baynote, but for the little guys.
Each widget also has administrative capabilities, assigned by cookie to the first computer to accesses the widget code. The administrator is able to moderate any comments that Akismet’s spam filter may miss or create new polls. JS-Kit has a user settings page that lets you view your activity across JS-Kit sites and reclaim administrator rights on a domain if you switch computers or lose the JS-Kit cookie.
To make these more than just website web 2.0 “bling”, JS-Kit is letting the widgets talk to each other. So far they’ve integrated comments and ratings into one widget that allows people to leave comments along with their individual rating, which combine on the server side into one overall rating for the object the widget is attached to. On top of these widgets, JS-Kit will be releasing a meta-widget later this week so that surfers can receive recommendations for your site’s top content (pictured right).
Comment and rating widget after the jump… (more…)
Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Posted by Augustine at 7:57 AM
What is it: ShoZu is a free service to ease uploading of video, photos and music from your cellphone to the Web. The company calls itself “a provider of mobile media exchange services” and describes its services (quite succinctly as) allowing “consumers to download and upload photos, videos, music, text and other digital content to and from the handset without the need to open a mobile browser, wait for pages to load, interrupt phone calls, start over in the event of a dropped connection, or sync to a PC.”
Exec summary: It does what it promises to do. Well.
My ten minutes: Sign up is easy and free of dodgy and misleading byways (“invite your friends! Oh, we already have!”) Once you’ve given the basics and have an account (free) you need to download the software. This is usually where things get painful, but I didn’t find them to be with ShoZu. Enter your phone number, get an SMS message with a link in it, and download it from there. The software works with most phones, although I noticed Palm OS is not supported (Windows Mobile Treos are.)
ShoZu doesn’t actually host the photos and stuff, so you need to have an account with another provider. In fact, this is a blessing: Who needs another account? It’s an impressive list of services that ShoZu works with, from Flickr to the BBC’s news photo submission service. You can configure settings with your accounts on any or all of these services, either on a computer or on your phone.
Once the software is installed on your phone, just take a photo or video and a menu pops up asking whether you want to post said multimedia work there. Say yes and off it goes in the background. The only sign that something is happening is, at least in a Nokia phone, a little arrow in the corner of the screen.
There are other parts of ShoZu worth a look. You can, for example, back up all your phone contacts securely to a website, if you like. You can add GPS tags to photos, if your phone supports it. There are things called ZuCasts which are like mini TV programs downloaded to your phone in the background.
Quibbles? Couldn’t see any easy way of adding more than one phone to an account, meaning you’d have to have more than one account. Who doesn’t have more than one phone these days? Also, I could never be quite sure on my phone what photos had actually been uploaded. I only discovered I’d backed up my contacts when I wandered around the website. Would be better to get some email notification of this, although one can subscribe to an RSS feed of everything one has uploaded.
Verdict: If you take photos on your phone and haven’t found an easy way to share them away from your computer, give it a shot.
Posted by Augustine at 7:47 AM