Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kyte Launches: More Rich Media Streaming Presence

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.


OpenDNS Adds Short-Cut Service

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).


Tiny Startup Mozy Nails Multi-Million Dollar GE Storage Contract

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


JS-Kit: Web 2.0 For Lazy People

We first covered JS-Kit last November when we talked about their quick embed code that lets you add comments to any site where JavaScript is accepted. Since then, JS-Kit has been creating more widgets making adding user interaction to any site dead simple (2 lines of code per widget). JS-Kit has also grown from a one-man-show into a full company after adding 5 of the 12 engineers from Filmloop (which shut down earlier this year). Since then, they’ve been turning out a new widget every two weeks.

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.

JS-Kit’s current widget suite consists of comments, five-star ratings, and a polling widget added this week. The new polling widget supports an unlimited number of questions, an expiration date, and only becomes visible after the site owner publishes it. Each widget has a fully customizable look through CSS and consists of two lines of code. The first line is a “div” tag brought to life by a second line of JavaScript code.

Each widget is by default differentiated by the URL of the page it is installed on, but can also be given a unique identifier by the user so that a page can have multiple instances of a widget, such as founder Lev Walkin’s photo site. JS-Kit is combating fraud by logging a combination of user cookies, IP, and user agent. The degree of this security can be throttled by the administrator. However, one major disadvantage of the JavaScript implementation is that it will not run on sites that break JavaScript code (MySpace).

spotlight.pngEach 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.


Ten Minutes with ShoZu

Shozu-logoWhat 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.

Shozu2My 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.

Shozu1Once 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.