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Instagram Is Now Posting 10 Photos A Second

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:55 AM PDT

Here at TechCrunch Disrupt Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom has just announced a new milestone for photo service Instagram, at 10 user photos posted per second, up from 6 photos per second officially announced couple of months ago.

“We’re like that growth we saw last time was really large, until we saw today,” said Systrom. When asked whether Tumblr founder David Karp had any advice for Kevin, “Kevin seems to be a few steps ahead of me.”

Instagram currently has 3 million users after only six months of existence. “It turns out if you make something that people want it spreads really well,” says Systrom. "People wanted to take pictures and have them shared across multiple networks all at once."

Bing Gordon: The Zynga/Facebook Credits Battle Was The Cuban Missile Crisis Of Tech

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:51 AM PDT

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, gaming industry vet and KPCB partner Bing Gordon took the stage with our own Michael Arrington for a special fireside chat that covered a broad range of topics, including Gordon’s investment strategy and ngmoco, which was his first exit as a Partner. And the conversation got particularly interesting when it steered toward a company that’s very near to Gordon’s heart: Zynga.

Gordon, who aside from leading KPCB investments in Zynga is also a major fan (he’s reached the top level in CityVille), recounted some of the drama that went on last spring, when the gaming company came very close to breaking away from Facebook entirely over a dispute involving Facebook’s Credits system. In fact, when Arrington suggested that it was a sort of Cuban Missile Crisis of tech, Gordon agreed.

The dispute revolved around Facebook Credits, Facebook’s own online currency that game developers must use. Credits have an upside — they give users a consistent experience for purchasing virtual goods — but developers have to hand over a 30% cut. And Zynga, which was already raking in money hand over fist, obviously didn’t want to do that.

This led to some intense arguments both inside Zynga and between the gaming company and Facebook. Gordon recounted one night when “something happened… a server went down… and the rockets [from Facebook] were on the radar”. “There was a finger on the red button”. Gordon didn’t explicitly say what that red button actually was, but it was likely Zynga’s off-Facebook portal called Zynga Live, which didn’t rely on the social network nearly as much.

Obviously that red button never got pushed. “It would have been exciting, but it would have been a disaster for both sides” Gordon said. The two sides resolved their issues, with Zynga agreeing to a five year partnership during which it would use Facebook Credits.

Lark’s Silent Alarm And Sleep Monitoring System Lands At Apple Retail Stores

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:30 AM PDT

Lark, a silent waking system that wakes you silently and naturally, is announcing big news today. After launching at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last Fall, the company is announcing the public availability of its product and a retail deal with Apple stores in North America.

Lark’s system involves an iPhone app and a small band that you wear across your wrist while sleeping. You set the iPhone app to the time you need to wake up and the app will transform your phone into a night time alarm clock. The band includes a small device and sensor with bluetooth technology that will vibrate at the time you are supposed to wake up. Plus there’s no more jarring, loud alarms; so your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, or husband won’t be woken up by your alarm.

Since launch, the startup has also added sleep monitoring to the device. Not only will the device include a sleep monitor, but Lark will offer personal sleep coaching and a seven day sleep assessment, to advise you on the best sleep patterns for your health, lifestyle and schedule.

Founded by Julia Hu, Lark had been working with a Harvard Medical School sleep expert, Dr. Jo Select, to test the app with students; and the app has been producing positive results. Not only are wearers of the device able to wake up from the vibrating technology, but their partners are reporting a better night’s sleep when their sleeping partner is using the vibrating device.

Lark, which has raised $1 million in funding from Lightspeed Ventures and other strategic investors, will set you back $129 for the alarm-only product, and $189 for the alarm and sleep monitoring product.

Every morning, I wake up to 40 minutes of my boyfriend's alarm clock... Snooze... Snooze... Over 75% of Americans, we put someone else in the room and we're ruining each other's sleep, day in and day out.

In fact, a National Sleep Survey found that 38% of couples experience high relationship tension because of their partner's sleeping habits; that's 88 million Americans who wanna do something about it. Well, LARK and we help couples sleep better together. You can think of us as the disruptive technology that un-disrupts. A company that takes away all your unnecessary disruptions in your life but makes sure you get the critical information that you need.

Let's go back to sleep because sleep, that's where disruptions are the most harmful. There are two fundamental problems with the way we wake up. One, I get my sleep continually disrupted and rented, leaving me less and poor quality sleep. And two, my boyfriend is woken up in the most ineffective way possible, leaving him feeling groggy all day.

Today, we're proud to announce LARK Up. LARK Up is a silent and completely natural feeling waker. And all you need is our LARK wristband and your Smartphone. So let me take you through this. Most of you already have an iPhone and you use the iPhone to set your alarm clock anyways. You'd do the same thing, just with our LARK Up.

Set it for the time and then you just stick it on to your LARK dock, this fits on your night stand and it becomes your night time alarm clock. You can throw everything else. Two, wear a LARK. So, we designed this with our team of Stanford and MIT engineers but, we brought in a French designer to really style it to make it beautiful, simple, comfortable of a wrist band. Because you're interacting with the phone to do everything, you know, look at the time snoozes. There really doesn't have to be anything on here. So no buttons, no clasps, no screens. Just something you put on and forget about. And three, in the morning, the LARK wristband gently nudges you awake. It's peaceful, it's silent and best of all, she gets to sleep in.

So let me take you... Thank you. So let me take you a little bit through the core technology. The [xx] technology was developed with the Harvard sleep expert, Dr. Jo Select, she's top Sleep and Noise expert. Her work was just in Push just in Wired magazine and was developed with our MIT and Stanford engineers and it was tested by a couple. It's 100% effective in waking you in all phases of sleep. We've done this with all types of people including an 18-year-old college freshman boy, totally sleep deprived, sleeps through earthquakes, very skeptical, and he woke up to it.

It also feels like a natural wake up. It's a 2-1/2 times more peaceful than a regular alarm. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on a Wednesday morning.

Why? So, an alarm clock joules you up with adrenalin. Because of that, you get stress hormones, you get heightened blood pressure, heighten heart rate, and that crashes you almost immediately. By circumventing this LARK Up creates a peaceful and natural feeling wake up. So, today we are happy to announce that LARK Up is ready for pre-orders. We've been working day and night with a world renowned international manufacturing company.

We've been working in China, getting it tooled up so you can enjoy this in the new year and start the new year fresh. All you need to do is go to and turn the PC 2010 special code. You guys are the first one to hear about it. For $10 down for the $99 pre-launch special price For $10 down for the $99 pre-launch special price and be a hero to the person you love most because we all know how hectic life can get. But, we still deserve those simple moments of happiness that we should share everyday and that what drives our team because sure we're making mobile wearable accessories that talk to your mobile phone.

But, we're here to make sure we deliver solutions to you so that you can sleep better together, live better together, and be happy wherever better together, live better together, and be happy wherever you are in life. LARK-UP is just the beginning but with your pre-orders, your vote, and your confidence in us will launch a sleep revolution. So, let's wake up to new day. Thanks so much. That was LARK that I suspect may have prompted some cheerers in the audience and according to one side, it was 2.5 times more peaceful which is great. It's like 33% more delicious. I have no idea how you measure that. Sure, you know, you're shaking your head.

Yeah, I mean that was a charmingly corky presentation, but I'm not sure. I mean, is this a company?

This is a real a company? This is like something you're actually gonna build and you're gonna ship this product or is this just like something that you're gonna announce at TechCrunch because it's sort of cookie and weird. Sure. We fully planned to launch this company. In fact today, we just did and, we have been working with very strong ,a manufacturing partner, who has been ramping up as a strategic partner all of our tooling and manufacturing in China and we have partners at Harbor Medical and MIT Medicals.

I just have a hard time believing you're serious. I love it when somebody asks the question, "Are you [xx] kidding me?" That's when you know you've done a controversial pitch. Go ahead. My question is about the technology and, help us understand what's hard about it and what's defensible. What's to stop, you know, I guess, what's hard about it and what's defensible from a technology perspective, that was not clear.

Sure. Sure. So, it's actually a [xx] technology which is a different type of vibration that is extremely effective at waking you up. Okay.

Regular vibration does not wake you up effectively and so what we did was, we did a lot of work with Dr. Select in creating a special type of vibration profile that gently nudges you awake so that you're woken up in all phases of sleep. Victoria?

I was gonna ask you that, a number of companies that do this sort of thing recently, so that was probably my question. I guess, the other thing I was wondering, you put... And, this may help answer your question about "Are people gonna buy this?" "Is this a big problem?"

You put a setup early on a presentation about how many people have sleep problem and want to solve them but I imagine a good part of it is trying to get to sleep...

Waking up. So, I'm wondering, what part of the grand number is people that are frustrated by waking up probably or being woken up by their partner have bigger problem is this and how many people are clambering for this kind of solution? Right, right.

That was so much more tactful than like... No, I'm sorry. Yeah, I totally agree. So, our first market is really busy professional couples who wake up at different times in the morning who have smart phones and just different jobs. So, nurses who have, you know, very to call challenging sleep schedules you know the IBanker.

And so we're focusing on young professional couples first and, we're focusing on the disruptions that are the easiest to handle, like the alarm clock. But in our future lines, that will be be targeted to different types of couples.

We will be focusing on snoring issues, we'll be focusing on insomnia issues, we'll be focusing on other types of disruptions like the phone calls in the middle of the night.

So we're going to build a platform on top of this. This is really a wireless platform with a haptic and, you know, a censor platform that talks to the mobile phone. So...

How do you make it stop snoring?
Do you have to, sort of, put it in your nose or does it send out a vibration to stop snoring.

We're looking into that right now and We have no idea. We're trying to find out, but wouldn't it be cool if it did?

So, yeah.


We're looking at the dynamics right now. I have a few quick questions. One is why is this called LARK? Second question is, if the wake up process is more peaceful, could this actually just, could this also apply to people who sleep alone and not necessarily to couples. And my last question is, what do you think about Lars Orick from Metallica as a spokesperson?

Nice. Nice. So.

You can do better than that, come on.

I was gonna say Foxy Brown for Voxy, but I thought that was too [xx].

That's actually better. What?

Yeah, that's better.

All right.

Yeah, so their answer LARK. LARK is actually a cheerful morning bird. It's also a medical term for a person who wakes up naturally in the morning as oppose to a night owl. So, it's a genetic type of person. and the 3rd reason is LARK was the that woke up Romeo and Juliet in their first night of love together. So second question, Metallica sounds great. I think there would be some good partnerships there.

I don't get along with those guys, just so you know. And...

I can't introduce you to them.

And third question. Yes, this is a natural way to wake up. We have several people who are singles who definitely wanna use this product. But we feel like the most immediate problem is, your wife waking up because you have to wake up and so it's really about making relationships better.

That was what drove Romeo and Juliet far in the end, was that? What do you think about spokesperson being Shawn Parker the Larker.

What does that even mean?

Is it heavy? I mean, like, that would bug me, I have to say. If I was... I can't sleep with that. I'd be, it would give me sleep problems, which I guess is the opposite of what you're trying to achieve. Sure. So because we took out all the parts that were on a watch and put it on to the phone. We were really able to reduce the profile and the weight of this product.

Okay. All right. Does anybody have anymore... Hey, Sarah it has a special kind of vibration. I'm sorry. If anybody didn't read it yet, it has a special... maybe you didn't explain it. Can you just describe the vibration in some way, I mean, what makes is special?

Yes. So it's a dynamic vibration... Right, right, right.

But you don't have to strap your phone to your wrist. That would... MG Right, right, right.

But you don't have to strap your phone to your wrist. That would... MG has his phone strapped to his wrist all the time but, other people haven't strapped their phones to their wrists. What is special about the vibration?

So, it's a dynamic vibration profile. You never get used to it and, it wakes you up with a, kind of, so it's random, basically.

Yeah, it feels random. It's feels like a nudging. Okay, well we're exactly out of time let's have a round of applause for LARK. Okay. Well, we reached the end of the prepared, the prepared pictures and we are now left with the start up alley audience choice.

This is the... you've been vouching all day. This is the one you've chosen

Microsoft Officially Announces Windows Phone 7.1 Mango With 500 New Features

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:23 AM PDT

Today at Microsoft's Windows Phone VIP Reception, president of mobile communications Andy Lees and senior Windows Phone product manager Derek Snyder gave us a quick rundown of what to expect out of the newest version of the Windows Phone platform, WP7.1 or "Mango."

Though he didn't have time to cover all 500 new features, the focus will certainly center around communication, applications, and the way we use mobile internet. Along with the current service offerings in People Hub such as Facebook, Hotmail, and Gmail, Microsoft has gone ahead and added LinkedIn and Twitter. Mango will also bring with it a Groups feature, allowing multiple people to communicate across a multiple platforms, while simultaneously integrating those people's profiles, pictures, and a group history of all events and communication shared. Instead of only being able to communicate with groups that all share the same hardware maker, Mango employs Windows Live Messenger and Facebook Chat to keep you connected with friends, including those with other phones.

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What Investor Ashton Kutcher Looks For In Tech Companies

Posted: 24 May 2011 08:09 AM PDT

What many people do not know about actor and angel investor Ashton Kutcher is that he’s been interested in science and technology from a young age, starting out at the University of Iowa as a biomedical engineer. That obviously didn’t work out and he went the “Dude Where’s My Car” route until years later he launched Blah Girls at TechCrunch 50, which did not work out so well.

Kutcher said that he’s learned a lot of lessons from Blah Girls during an interview with Charlie Rose at TechCrunch Disrupt today, namely to listen people smarter than himself, specifically investors Ron Conway, Paul Graham, and Marc Andressen, “The failures that we have are sometimes expensive educations,” he said.

In addition to his company Katalyst <edia, Kutcher now has his own investment firm, AGrade, as a partnership between Ron Burkle, and Madonna’s manager. Kutcher has invested in Blekko, Flipboard, Milk and Zaarly thus far and also has another 12 undisclosed investments.

“So were you bringing more talent than money to the table [initially]?” Rose asked. Kutcher replied, “What I’ve become good at is bringing things that aren’t necessarily mainstream to the mainstream. What I did see on Twitter was a potential for mass publication, it’s a mainstream consumer broadcasting device. It transforms customers and companies. You have to be transparent or you fail.”

Since Kutcher is serious about his imprint in the valley, Rose asked him what his criteria for investments were and Kutcher outlined them:

a) Problem solvers — Are you solving a problem for a large subset of people?

b) Who the founders are — The Paul Graham maxim.

Extra credit: Investing in companies that can keep their servers up.

Said Kutcher, "One of the things I've become immune to is people talking about market cap and social media platforms," being more concerned about solving the more pressing issue of finding a way to separate signal from noise.

Kutcher also intelligently likened investing to making a movie, asking himself, “What does the market need or want? Like in a script, every character has a need or want.”

Yandex Opens At $35 Per Share With A $11.2B Market Cap (Bigger Than LinkedIn)

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:56 AM PDT

After pricing its IPO at $25 per share a few hours before the market opened, the Russian search giant’s share price jumped close to 40% immediately after its flotation.

The price per share opened this morning at $35, giving Yandex a market cap of roughly $11.2 billion at its debut. That means its value currently far surpasses that of LinkedIn, which went public last week (successfully, too).

As Reuters remarked earlier this morning, an IPO at $25 per share would have already valued Yandex at more than 500 times its worth (!) when investors bought into the company back in 2000. Let the “is this a big, medium or small tech bubble” debates begin.

For the sake of comparison, LinkedIn was valued at $7.8 billion when it went public, and boasted a market cap of roughly $8.17 billion when the markets opened this morning.

Yandex, founded in 1997, today operates the most popular search engine and the most visited website in Russia (it is also the largest Russian Internet company by revenue). In 2010, the company generated 64% of all search traffic in Russian, trumping Google.

Yandex is among the largest high-tech companies in Russia, with an estimated workforce of about 2,500 employees. Currently, Yandex has branches all over Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan), Ukraine (Kiev, Odessa, Simferopol) and in the United States (in Palo Alto, CA, to be exact).

Today, the company joins the likes of Baidu, Google, Cisco, Microsoft and Apple on the NASDAQ stock market. We’ll see how it fares.

We’ll keep tracking Yandex’s share price throughout the day (and beyond, evidently).

(Photos below via freeerror on and dest1k on yfrog)

Facebook Ad Sales Chief: There Are 50 Million Likes Per Day For Brands

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:49 AM PDT

Today, TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld sat down with Moat’s Mike Walrath, Facebook’s ad chief Carolyn Everson, Medialets’ Eric Litman and RadiumOne’s Gurbaksh Chahal to address the disruptions in display advertising on social and mobile platforms. On the panel, Everson revealed some interesting information about where advertising on Facebook is heading, particularly with brands.

Everson, who joined Facebook from Microsoft in February, says that advertising can be brought to life digitally through peer to peer recommendations and friend to friend experiences on Facebook. The social network is trying to work with top brands to help capitalize on this experiences. As she tells the audience, the “holy grail for branding are recommendations.”

Likes of course are a huge opportunity for Facebook when it comes to advertising. Everson says that there are currently 50 million likes per day for brands on Facebook, which is out of a billion or more likes per day across the web.

Everson says that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks advertising has to be as compelling as sharing a status update or sharing a photo. The social network recently launched sponsored stories, which turns status updates, Likes, checkins and application activity on Facebook into advertisement for a brand. Everson says that the more progressive brands are starting to adopt this ad format, but of course display ads still reign supreme on the network. “We’re one percent done on our ad products,” says Everson.

That’s an impressive outlook, considering that Facebook is minting money from advertising currently. It’s hard to imagine that a company making billions on advertising thinks that they have only touched a small percentage of a market. Clearly, there will be more to come from Facebook on the advertising front.

Investors Bet Another $10 Million On Fring’s Ability To Rival Skype (+ Microsoft)

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:47 AM PDT

Exclusive - Mobile communications startup fring, fresh off the heels of launching group video calls for smartphones, has raised a Series C round of financing from existing investors, TechCrunch has learned.

The amount that was raised is actually not being disclosed, but sources close to the company tell us that fring secured another $10 million in venture capital, bringing its total of funding raised to well north of $30 million.

We were also told fring’s annual revenue run rate currently hovers around $10 million – the company makes money from advertising and voice calling service fringOut.

The new financing will be used to further expand the company’s product portfolio, and to bring its video communication suite to a range of new devices and segments of users.

Fring says it is currently adding more than 1 million activations a month (with more than 40% of new users located in the USA), powering upwards of 10 million video call minutes per month and more than 100 million voice minutes per month.

Fring’s earlier backers participated in the Series C round, including North Bridge Venture Capital, Pitango Venture Capital and Veritas Venture Partners.

The startup’s biggest competitor is obviously Skype, which, as I’m sure you know by now, was recently acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in cash.

Y Combinator’s Paul Graham: We’re Looking For People Like Us

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:34 AM PDT

The second day of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC just kicked off with a bang as Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham sat down with world-renowned interviewer and journalist Charlie Rose. The topic of conversation: what is Paul Graham looking for when it comes to identifying the people who are most likely to succeed?

Graham says that when people come to him and say they’ve got a great idea, his first response is, “Tell me about your cofounders”. In general the idea is less important, though he says that if it’s a really terrible idea that might reflect poorly on the founders, and a really great idea might lift them up.

“There are some people who just get what they want in the world. If you want to start a startup you have to be one of those people. You can’t be passive and wishy-washy,” Graham says.

Rose followed up with a key question: how can you tell which people have that kind of determination in ten minutes (which is how long YC interviews are)?

Graham says that it’s hard to tell. “We can be fooled about determination — you can usually tell how smart people are in ten minutes. But people can put on an act for determination for ten minutes.” The YC partners also look for mental flexibility — they’ll ask a company to rotate their idea 90 degrees to see how they respond. “Some people will say yeah, that would work. Others will say, ‘Oh no, actually we wanted to do the other thing.’”

Another key factor: Naughtiness. “Startups often have to do slightly devious things,” Graham says. “You can tell if people have a gleam in their eye. You don’t want people who would be obedient employees… we’re not looking for people who did what they were told in life.”

Graham recounted his initial interactions with Loopt founder Sam Altman, who he first spoke to when he was only 19. (“19 going on 40″, Rose added). Altman was actually initially rejected, but he “pushed back like a 40-year old” and told Graham that he would be joining the program.

Asked about the recurring arguments that we’re in a bubble, Graham said, “I worry prices are high, but I’m reluctant to use the word bubble. Things are not crazy. I warn people that prices are high and that they should raise money now, because things could change tomorrow.”

Overall, Graham says that YC partners are “looking for people like us”, explaining that many VCs are MBAs, whereas YC partners are mostly entrepreneurs. This, Rose later added, appears to be the lowers common denominator uniting the people that YC invests in.
Some other interesting notes from the conversation:

  • The latest YC round includes 62 startups, 9 of which are YC alumni
  • YC was initially going to do typical angel investing, and actually only did the ‘batch’ model initially so that they could learn what to invest in
  • Graham says that angel rounds end and VC begins at a million dollars
  • YC’s acceptance rate is around 3%
  • Asked to list ten of YC’s best successes, Graham listed off: Dropbox, Airbnb, Loopt, Heroku, Scribd, Grepplin, Xobni, (it sounded like he could keep going)
  • Y Combinator keeps track of the successful companies that they initially rejected. One anecdote: Graham says that MIT Professor and YC Partner Robert Morris is a notoriously low grader for the applications. He had given one app a ‘C’, which sunk it in the ratings, and it went on to be successful. Now YC double-checks every app Morris gives a low grade to.
  • The total value of YC companies is now around $3 billion — YC has invested a total of around $5 million.

B&N Unleashes A New Nook: Touchscreen E-Ink, 2 Month Battery, $139

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:30 AM PDT

Barnes & Noble just unveiled the latest and greatest Nook ereading device at a special NYC event. It’s a simple device, really. In fact B&N stated that this revamped Nook is the easiest to use ereading device on the market. The touchscreen enabled Nook, sorry Kobo, is said not to feature any page turning latency and a battery that last up to two months, which is double the current Kindle’s battery life.

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Brightcove Launches App Cloud. It’s Not Just For Videos Anymore

Posted: 24 May 2011 07:15 AM PDT

Brightcove is no longer just for videos. Starting today, it is launching an entire new product line for making mobile and web apps called Brightcove App Cloud. Developers will be able to use App Cloud to create their apps once and then deploy them to the iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, and beyond. It creates HTML5 apps as well as mobile touch websites, and it is not limited to video apps.

In the video above, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire explains what App cloud is and answers some questions about what appears to be a departure from the company’s primary focus of providing an online video platform. The App cloud apps don’t need to be video apps, but they are geared towards media apps. Just as Adobe spits out iPhone apps from its Creative Suite, so too will Brightcove App Cloud—except, as Allaire points out, Brightcove App Cloud isn’t based on any proprietary technology. It is all open technologies such as HTML5, CSS and Javascript.

Brightcove App Cloud creates an app tablet, and then customizes it depending on which platform it will be deployed on.

Live At The Barnes & Noble Event In New York

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:59 AM PDT

We’re coming at you live from the Barnes & Noble superstore/cafe/public bathroom on Union Square where we hope to see an update to the Nook line. It’s my understanding that we’ll be seeing a new Nook Color Device with priced at about $140. Update this page as we live blog the event with bated breath.

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Siano Raises Another $20 Million For Mobile TV Receiver Chips

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:44 AM PDT

Israeli startup Siano Mobile Silicon, a developer of mobile digital TV receiver chips, has just raised a $20 million in funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. This brings the startup’s total funding to $95.5 million.

Founded in late 2004, Siano develops and markets silicon semiconductor chips for reception of digital TV on mobile, portable and hand-held devices. The company’s chips are mainly used for the implementation of mobile TV in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and Europe. In fact, Siano says it has a 50 percent market share in China and Latin America for its chipsets that allow the reception of TV on mobile devices. The company supplies its chips to Samsung, Motorola, ZTE, Huawei, Mio, Garmin, Dell and others.

The new funding will be to expand its product to the North American mobile market. The company just raised $23.5 million in funding a year ago.

SV Angel Partners with Lerer Ventures to Cross Syndicate Valley/NYC Deals

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:43 AM PDT

Yesterday, Mike broke the news on stage at Disrupt that SV Angel is doubling down with Yuri Milner once again to invest in all willing Y Combinator grads. Today, SV Angel is announcing another partnership, this time Ron Conway & crew are looking east. SV Angel and Lerer Ventures– which also announced a new fund yesterday– will announce today that the two are entering a formal partnership to invest in one another’s deals.

There are limits to how cozy they are getting. The funds are still distinct, with no direct financial stake in one another. And there’s no requirement or quid pro quo. Indeed, SV Angel’s fund is much larger, so there will likely be more West Coast deals being closed between the two. Like the Y Combinator deal, this is just an offer on the table for all new SV Angel and Lerer Venture portfolio companies. “It will always be at the discretion of the entrepreneur,” said SV Angel’s Ron Conway backstage at Disrupt.

So with such loose assurances, how do we know this partnership will amount to more than a nice marketing announcement? Because the two firms– while pretty established in their own spheres– have a lot to gain from one another. When you’re talking about being the very first money into a company one thing matters: Amazing dealflow. And if you aren’t living day-to-day enmeshed in a startup community you are miss the serendipitous moments that lead to robust deal flow. No matter how good an investor is things fall through the cracks. It’s the most intensely local part of being a venture capitalist, and if you are out of sight that’s an opportunity for a competitor. Lerer Ventures knows it can never match SV Angel’s deal flow, so it’s not going to even try. Likewise, even a firm as established as SV Angel doesn’t have Lerer’s tentacles into the New York media and advertising world– particularly now that former Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau is managing the fund full time. “We’ll be each other’s eyes and ears on each coast so hopefully we don’t miss the next great company,” Hippeau says.

Think of the random stories you hear about Conway solving a problem for a portfolio company by making a phone call to a well placed friend at a tech giant. If one of his companies takes Lerer’s money, Hippeau could make the same call in the media sphere. And for New York-based startups, it’s vice-versa. “This is all about creating more leverage in our relationships,” says David Lee, SV Angel managing partner.

I asked Conway and Lee if this was a continuation of the Yuri Milner strategy, and we should expect more deals like these when appropriate. One word: “Absolutely.”

Opera Mini 6 For iOS – A Better Browser For iPhone And iPad? (Screenshots)

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:00 AM PDT

Opera Software makes some damn fine browsers, as tens of millions of people around the world can attest. Apple products like the iPhone 4 and the iPad, of course, come with a decent mobile version of Safari, so users only get to enjoy Opera’s products when they actually visit the App Store and look for a replacement browser.

Nevertheless, when the Opera Mini iPhone app hit the marketplace back in April 2010, it proceeded to get downloaded 1 million times in its first day.

The company is today releasing Opera Mini 6 for iOS (iTunes link), and I had the chance to test it on a second-generation iPad. My guess it will get downloaded by masses of people once again – or at least it should IMHO.

Available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad now free of charge, Opera Software says the browser features up to 90% compression of data traffic for faster browsing, improved display and a refreshed user interface to accommodate the screen size(s).

Most noticeable as far as I’m concerned: Opera Mini 6 for iOS comes with faster and smoother panning and zooming, handy share buttons for quickly sharing pages on a variety of social networks, and the nicely redesigned menus.

Check it out and tell us what you think!

Also read:

Opera Mini Had Over 85.5 Million Users In December, Up 84 Percent From 2009

Watch TechCrunch Disrupt Live Day 2!

Posted: 24 May 2011 06:00 AM PDT

If you’re not at TechCrunch Disrupt, you’re seriously missing out. I mean even MG flew in all the way from Iceland to finally get here for the festivities. But incase you are stuck at, ugh, work we’ve embedded the livestream above.

You can also follow along by tracking the #TCDisrupt hashtag on Twitter, watching the TechCrunch Disrupt backstage videos or you know, reading TechCrunch. So what are you waiting for, go ahead and Disrupt!

The e-G8 Talks Of A New Industrial Revolution – But Where Are The Steam Engines?

Posted: 24 May 2011 05:38 AM PDT

We’re in the middle of a new industrial revolution. Over 2 bilion people are connected to the Internet – a third of the world’s population and three billion have cell phones. Internet and mobile use is exploding in emerging economies, even contributing to the Arab Spring this year. Meanwhile the worlds developed economies are dealing with the breakdown of copyright and IP because of the Web, and the radical transparency brought by things like Wikileaks and the subsequent amplification of news via social media. So it’s almost amazing that it’s taken this long to have a special “e-G8″ conference to address the rise of technology as a new force in globalisation before the ‘real G8′ meeting.

Hopes are high. Some 1,500 people – tech gurus, entrepreneurs, VCs, big brand tech companies – are attending the event, which is in several huge tents in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. Attendees include Eric E. Schmidt of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp.

And the agenda, at least on the face of it, looks high minded enough.

But there is also the political aspect. President Nicolas Sarkozy has no doubt timed this to amplify his prestige prior to the G8, and to kick his political opponents while they are down – namely former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who languishes in New York. And chairman of Publicis, Mauarice Levy, said Sarkozy wanted the conference to be like the Internet: “Open Participative and, in a word, free.”

But is it?

Yandex Prices IPO At Higher Than Expected $25 Per Share, Raises $1.3 Billion

Posted: 24 May 2011 04:03 AM PDT

Yandex, one of the leading Internet companies in Russia, this morning announced the pricing of its initial public offering of a little under 52.2 million Class A ordinary shares at $25.00 per share.

The shares will begin trading later today on NASDAQ under the symbol "YNDX".

The offering would give Yandex a market cap of roughly $8 billion.

The company is thus raising a little over $1.3 billion, and has granted its underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 5.2 million shares to cover eventual over-allotments. Earlier this month, Yandex had priced its IPO at $20 to $22 per share.

LinkedIn, which went public last week, had also increased the price per share right before.

Yandex is selling 15.4 million shares (pocketing $385 million), while some of its shareholders are selling an aggregate of roughly 36.8 million shares ($920 million).

Yandex operates the most popular search engine and the most visited website in Russia (it is also the largest Russian Internet company by revenue). In 2010, the company generated 64% of all search traffic in Russian, trumping Google.

In March 2011, website attracted 38.3 million unique visitors. Aside from Russia, Yandex has operations in Belarus (, Kazakhstan ( and Ukraine ( Total revenues for 2010 hovered around $440 million.

Founded back in 1997, Yandex has been reported to be preparing an IPO before, with talks dating back all the way to 2006. In 2008, the company planned for an initial public offering but quickly moved to indefinitely delay those plans due to the global economic turmoil.

Yandex is among the largest high-tech companies in Russia, with an estimated workforce of about 2,500 employees. Currently, Yandex has branches all over Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan), Ukraine (Kiev, Odessa, Simferopol) and in the United States (in Palo Alto, CA, to be exact).

Conversocial Secures $2.4m Series A Round From DFJ Esprit To Grow Social Media Tools

Posted: 24 May 2011 02:56 AM PDT

Conversocial is a real-time social media management system which lets companies run marketing and customer support through Facebook Pages and Twitter. While competitors like coTweet, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Context Optional and Socialite also let you manage Facebook fan pages, Conversocial’s emphasis on enterprise tools somewhat mark it out from the pack.

Today it announces a series A funs raise to the tune of £1.5 million ($2.4m) from European venture capital firm, DFJ Esprit. The London startup plans to grow its platform and extend internationally with this extra firepower. Nic Brisbourne, partner at DFJ Esprit, will be joining the board at Conversocial as non-executive director.

Twitter Buys TweetDeck For $40 Million

Posted: 23 May 2011 09:50 PM PDT

Word has been circulating for weeks now that Twitter was soon to be swooping up the popular third-party app, TweetDeck. In early May, Mike Arrington reported that the deal was as good as done, but the two companies were not yet willing to publicly release the numbers. Today, CNN and CNET broke the news that TweetDeck has been acquired by Twitter for $40 million. Twitter has yet to officially confirm, but judging by what we’re hearing from sources close to the deal, it’s done and done.

As you may remember, the story of TweetDeck’s acquisition has changed a bit since February, as reports indicated at that point that TweetDeck was on the verge of being acquired by Bill Gross’ UberMedia — the price speculated at between $25 and $30 million. And, as it seems, Twitter was having none of that. They apparently rushed in with a counteroffer — an offer now proved to be on that TweetDeck couldn’t refuse. You can check out TechCrunch EU for the full story on how it all went down.

It seems that Twitter just wasn’t comfortable with allowing UberMedia to snatch another chunk of market share. After all, Twitter can’t just go allowing Twitter-related startups and products to fall into the hands of those companies that aren’t Twitter. Just ask UberTwitter and EchoFon, for example. As Mike reported in early May, sources close to Twitter revealed that an UberMedia acquisition would give them too much leverage over Twitter, and so the bidding war (or really, non-war) was on.

For an alternative perspective, check out Nova Spivack’s thoughts on Twitter and TweetDeck, in which he advised Twitter against buying TweetDeck, saying their money could be better spent elsewhere.

What do you think? Is this a win, lose, or draw for Twitter?

Jeff Jarvis: When It Comes To New Journalism, ‘Transparency Is The New Objectivity’

Posted: 23 May 2011 08:58 PM PDT

Jeff Jarvis is the creator of Entertainment Weekly, a San Francisco Examiner columnist, the Associate Publisher of The Daily News, and a consultant to new media companies — in other words, a veteran of the old school and a proponent of the new. Jarvis took to the stage today at Disrupt NYC for some banter with TechCrunch Big Kahuna Mike Arrington. The two writers talked about their past, including Jarvis’ history of calling out Arrington publicly for saying the New York Times was in the pocket of a startup, among other things. As such, their conversation was candid and casual, and focused on the fluctuating definition of what a journalist is (and what it should be) in the age of new media.

To kick things off, Jarvis flatly asked Arrington (full disclosure: Mike is my boss) about whether he would consider himself a journalist. Mike replied by saying that he does not consider himself a journalist, likening the current identity of journalist’s to that of priests. “When I think of journalists”, he said, “I think of people who are biased, hiding their bias between theoretically objective text”. That is to say, journalists misappropriate words like “objectivity”, and sometimes tend to be self-righteous about their role as objective observers (my words), when in fact, all reporting is advocation. And, inherently subjective. (Again, my words.)

To elucidate, Arrington then cited the example of a particular journalist telling him that he would not share his political leanings, or how he voted, because it would negate the objectivity in his reporting and how people viewed his content. Both writers were in agreement that this is a common misrepresentation among journalists today — that true objectivity is “bullshit”. Instead, Jarvis said, paraphrasing David Weinberger, that “transparency is the new objectivity”, that being transparent about one’s investments and personal affiliations should be standard in presenting content to one’s readers, and is what readers should expect. But it not exactly tantamount to calling one’s self “objective”, at least in the way the term is used by many journalists today.

Arrington then asked Jarvis if a reporter covering Obama should, say, disclose their political affiliation in the footer of the column. Jarvis said that he thinks they should, and that he has had similar conversations with various editors, including at the New York Times. Those he’s talked to tend to disagree, saying that their best arguement being that if one’s personal philosophies are reduced to a single word, like “Democrat”, it is counterproductive to reporting. Jarvis cited the example of a reporter covering religion and disclosing that they used to be a Catholic — in the end this information is irrelevant — just because someone is Catholic, doesn’t mean that you can immediately deduce exactly where they come down on the issue of, say, abortion.

Jarvis went on to say that the architecture of journalism is beginning to mimic the Internet, in that journalists are becoming curators of a conversation that would go on without them; it is a matter of adding value and plucking the best parts of news and conversation that a journalist may not be breaking themselves. Even though journalists may like to think otherwise. Therein seems to lie the reason why there continues to be a perceived gulf between “journalists” and “bloggers”, even though the differences today, thanks to the Web, are far more nuanced.

The two then went on to discuss the validity of Arrington investing in startups that he and we other writers at TechCrunch cover frequently. (Mike discussed the change to his investment policy in a recent post.) Arrington then touched on an announcement that Arianna Huffington made on stage in an earlier panel, in which he revealed that the two are in talks over creating a site (presumably among prominent bloggers and journalists), in which issues like disclosure and (as Mike said) “whether he has the right to do what he does” will be discussed at length.

Arrington asked Jarvis to participate, and also mentioned that they are interested in bringing Jay Rosen into the conversation as well. It is the beginning of a long discussion about what journalism and blogging will look like going forward, and how they (could one day?) exist symbiotically from top to bottom.

For more, check out the whole video below:

People don't know why you're here. How many people have read Jeff's book "What Would Google Do?" Tell us about that book and why it's important for everyone in here to read it.

It's not a book about Google. It's a book about all the changes in our world, that this group understands well but the rest of the world doesn't understand well, so i hope it serves to translate a little bit.

So you, besides this book which was a huge hit, came out about a year ago?

A year.

You don't know this, but you've been a mentor to me in the sense of, from the very beginning I looked up to you. There was a session in '05 I think, or '06 somewhere back east.


You took me out.

Well you took the New York Times Out. And then I took you out for the way you took out.

I just said something about the New York Times is, what did I say? That the were biased.

You said that they were in the pocket of a start up.

Something like that. And you, you actually like took me out on stage and I felt like I'd been...

But we hugged.

Yeah. made up later. But the point is that you've never given me any wiggle room in terms of, you don't have to say yes to whatever. So, over time, I've learned to ask you for advice on things about journalism, and should I blow a source who something like that and you've always given me good advice.

So you are, what is your current job, Director of Interactive Journal, what is that?

No, I'm Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York, Graduate School of Journalism. This morning, my students presented their pitches for their new businesses. Trying to prove that journalism and entrepreneurship are not an oxymoron.

You are also a consultant to a lot of mainstream journalism, and they look to you sometimes for advice on how to handle the new world.

Or as a target for spitballs, depending, yeah.

Yeah. So you come from both worlds, old school, dead, dying media, and vibrant, new, awesome blogging type things.

Time crunching media.

Yeah. So, what I want to talk to you about is the conflicts of interest issue, which I don't wangaze too much, at all really. But I think there's a bigger topic. So I have disclosed that I am making investments and competitors have freaked out about that and tried to make a big deal out of it, and that's fine.

I can defend myself. But there's this issue of transparency in journalism that bothers me as a consumer of journalism.


How big of a problem do actual journalists see that?

Well, let me ask you a question first. Are you a journalist?

No. Absolutely not.

Why do you eschew the title?

I see journalists as priests. They're the only ones that are allowed to tell us what the news is.

But you reject it rather than taking it over. Why not take it over? Why not say that you are a new kind of journalist?

Why do I need to do that?

So, the title means nothing to you.

It doesn't mean a whole lot to me, no. And I understand.

What does it mean to you?

Pardon me?

What does it mean to you? What does it convey?

When I think of journalism I truly think of people who are very, very biased hiding their bias behind theoretically objective text. But I see that the adjectives that they use, what they choose to cover and not cover, shows who they really are. And I remembered at a dinner once in New York, I met a guy who had been at CNN forever, before that the Washington Post.

And he was telling me how he had covered politics for a long time. And I said, "So are you a Republican or a Democrat?" He said "oh I can't tell you". And I said "why?" And he goes. "Well that would be, you know if that got out, what I was and effect how people view my content." I have a right to know what your actual views are so that I can read your supposedly objective content in light of that." We absolutely agree about that, that I said it one way and then David Weinberger said it better, that transparency is the new objectivity.

That objectivity was bullshit, there's no such thing.


It's impossible to do. And transparency is the least you owe your audience and your readers and the least they should expect from you. Right, so there's two issues for you and the actions recently. One, transparency, I think you did the right thing. The second question is whether or not people think you should or shouldn't not invest in companies, and whether that affects your reputation with them.

How many of you think that it's perfectly fine for Michael, as the head of Tech Crunch, to invest in companies. How many people think it's not fine?


How many don't give a shit? Somebody's not raising their hands.

But that's an issue that I'm not interested in discussing.


Mostly because I don't really care. I assume like what Tim just said. If I screw up on that, we'll lose our audience.

I agree. I agree.

What I'm more you're interested in is.

Well and actually you go back to the earliest days of TechCrunch, people forget that it was not a content product. It was you, investing, and using it a way to get out.

But should the NY Times, should a reporter for the New York Times reporting on say, Obama, put their political affiliation, ey voted. in the by liner down by the bottom.

I believe so. Now Ibest argument, I think is if it's reductive to a simple word it's not very helpful. In other words if you're covering religion, and you used to be Catholic, then you say that? I think it's relevant. But can you presume what that person's attitude toward abortion is based on that fact?

No you can't. So if you say "I voted for Clinton" or "I voted for Obama", or I voted for " McCain". I voted for Clinton first, Obama next. What does that tell you? Well, you know that's part of the story but I think we should do it, if expecting the rest of the world to be transparent.

Did you vote for Gore?


Even Gore? So you vote Democrat no matter what?

I voted my first year, voting I voted for Gerry Ford.


Jimmy Carter was that bad.

You're that old?

Oh, fuck you. You're looking older.

I didn't start voting in the seventies, I'll tell you that. So there not going to ever do that?

No, there not going to do that but I think that they should. If you go to my blog at Buzzmachine .com, the 'about me' page is obnoxious in it's telling you too much information about me, but it does that for a point. That we should tell people anything that is possibly relevant. about what we do?

Well, you see, I can't be that transparent. I mean if I'm transparent as to who my sources are on a story, I'd lose my sources. If I have buddies out there that they help me with stories. I never disclose that. Clear conflict of interest, right? Because then maybe they end up speaking at our conference or I cover something that maybe I almost wouldn't have covered otherwise.

When can you make judgments about what's worth covering, and what's not. I can't disclose that.

Well. If you If I just made a list of all my friends, it would be a disaster.

Do you have some?

I set myself up for that.

Sorry, yes you did.

But, I don't know, I'd push you harder on that and you pushed transparency as the salve for this issue of investment. I think you should try to push it as far as you possibly can as long as it doesn't affect your reporting.

Well, see my opinion, I'm transparent about financial conflicts of interest because I have to be. And it makes sense.

Right .

I'm not transparent about who my sources are, even though I argue that, that makes me biased. What I think, is that we're never going to get people to disclose. I'm just one of my sources. Or I like this guy because he spoke at my conference. I think the best thing we can do is to educate an audience into thinking everyone is biased.

There is no such thing as an unbiased piece of reporting.

Absolutely, and the idea is are you an advocate? Everyone's an advocate. The reason that journalists pick the stories they pick is because its going to have some impact on the world, right? So, I guess the rule for you was that you should be transparent about everything possible that doesn't directly affect your reporting and that the reader shouldn't have a proper right to know to judge your work.

None of our competitors will do that. That's what I say almost every day.

That 's the only thing to me. I don't really care about the definition of journalism. I don't really care about that. But, to me, I find that very interesting that you don't aspire to taking over that world, you just ignore it. Because you think it's devalued.

I'm trying to point out some of your tweets here. I think that I do see it as a priesthood in that priests are the only ones that can talk to God, and you're not allowed to read the Bible and etcetera, etcetera. That's ridiculous. anybody that wants to become a blogger can become a blogger, and report news.

What's wrong with that?

Yeah, absolutely.

I wrote a post this weekend about the idea that I think that the architecture of journalism is starting to mimic that of the internet. So, the witnesses are telling the world what they see and they carve it. If you don't follow Andy at MPR ACRVIN, he's looking at it from above and plucking out all the good stuff from Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia and so on.

That's the new role of the journalist. The conversation goes on without us. We in journalism thought the conversation needed us. That's not the case anymore. It's end to end, like the internet. e can add value to that in all kinds of ways. We can vet and find good people and find nodes and networks, and give perspective to journalism.

In journalism school is that what they're teaching?

The old stuff. The facts and I don't know whatever.

The way we put it in CUNY is that we still teach the eternal varities.

What does that even mean?

It means completeness, fairness, the obvious things, but I learned all kinds of new ethics from the blog world. I learned the ethic of the correction. You don't see corrections on the evening news. They make mistakes. I've learned the value of a conversation. I've learned a lot of things in this world.

Arianna, I think that her insight, I asked myself why no major media company, aside from the Guardian, started a Huffington Post and nobody bought it. And I answered my own question, concluding that because they don't think it's content. Because content is that what content people make. She's not a content person.

This is the hoi polloi talking. There's a disrespect to the public.

It's basically an aggregator.

Right, this is disrespect to the public which in turn, brings a disrespect.

I also kind of go "eh" about that. I mean, aggregators they have their value, but we tend not to aggregate. If a story's been overcovered, we tend to leave it alone and move on. So I'm kind of with the other people on that. Arianna and I have been talking about doing something, and she actually announced it on stage, although I didn't know she was going to.

We're going to put together a site to have a discussion around this, and we really want you and Jay Rosen to be a part of this.

We'd be delighted to.

And so, we're going to be, anyway, it's already been announced. We're going to be doing something over the next couple of weeks.

Arianna does that, doesn't she?

Yeah, she tends to...

She just announces things.

She just announces things, yeah, so. And so I think this is the beginning of a very long, ongoing discussion that I'm fascinated with, which really comes down to, "Do I have the right to do what I do for a living?" And I think I do.

Well you certainly have a right to do it, and the question I think is, "I would, I would love to see you change your mindset a little bit and imagine if you called yourself a journalist, how would you define that?" 'Cause I think that's, that's listen: you are a model for my entrepreneurial journalism students.

The idea that the industry of journalism is going to be saved by the big old institutions is far Innovation is going to come from entrepreneurs. Journalists have to make their own jobs. They've got to disrupt the industry. So you're, you're a role model.


Scares some people. But you need to be a role model because you're an entrepreneur and a journalist. I would say.

You know that sounds like how are we going to protect the buggy whip manufacturers, too.

No I don't want to protect them.if I would've dropped them then you were the model for doing that. That's what I'm saying.

We're doing our best. We have one question and then we're going to have to end.

I say this as a colleague of Mike's and afriend of Jeff's but...

So say, just say who you are.

I'm Saul Stencil from the Huffington Post Media Group And previously with the New York Times.

Previously with the New York Times and I couldn 't agree more with all of, where you want things to go. Transparency and clarity and the end of the priesthood and the multi-part communication but I think you were throwing a baby out with the bathwater in your dismissal of everything in the past, and the key thing is...

Who are you talking to?

I'm talking to both of you. Yeah.

I don't think I'm dismissing everything in the past.

There is a skill that transcends technology in eing able to go and talk to someone and make it clear that whatever you thought before that conversation, you're putting that on hold, so that you understand hat they're saying, and you can describe it to someone else and to say that, you are, where you come from, is true, but the professional skill of listening is good for people in business, it's good for people investing, right?

You're a better investor if, even if you think that it's a stupid category to be in, you turn that part of your brain off and you listen.

Amen Saul, of course.

And the whole professional ethic of journalism is all about making all...

Are you going let him say that about you?


He just attacked everything you

So the problem here is, A, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water, so maybe you didn't listen well enough today.


B, I think the journalists have done a very bad job of listening. Look at your former boss Bill Keller's obnoxious leak baiting column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine this weekend on Twitter. Right? It's just trying very hard to say "Fuck You!" to the entire world. And say we I don't want to hear you.

Your conversation to us is noise. That's what Keller said. Not good listening. The technology provides new tools and new ways to listen and journalists are starting to learn that you were key to that. You changed the voice of The New York Times itself by blogging there. You were more open to the whole world.

You changed it a great deal but still have a long way to go. Sold it.

I like how you tore him down and then you built him back up.

It's like classroom.

So this is to be ...You 're good? He doesn't look like he is good.

No he is not. He goes like that. It's alright.

He is going to make my life Listen, this is the beginning of a conversation. Thank you so much for coming. I know you're jumping on a flight now. I really appreciate it. Thanks Jeff.

Sure. That was good, guys. Okay, well this is my favorite part, the battlefield, and we're going change things around, we're going to bring a panel of

Symantec Continues Move Into eDiscovery, Acquires Clearwell Systems For $390 Million

Posted: 23 May 2011 04:18 PM PDT

Symantec, the computer software security giant, has announced that it will be acquiring enterprise-class eDiscovery management platform maker, Clearwell Systems for $390 million.

Symantec is probably best known for its widely proliferated (perhaps even ubiquitous) Norton security products, but of late it has been making a play at eDiscovery platforms, a strategic move, considering Gartner values the market at around $1.7 billion, and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 14 percent. What’s more, Symantec spent $2 billion last year in acquisitions, $1.25+ billion of that coming in its acquisition of VeriSign, Inc.

While the company’s stock languished last year, and shareholders and more pushed for the company to break up, Symantec has pushed on. Symantec expects Clearwell to increase the company’s ability to provide its customers with archiving and backup services, considering that Clearwell is one of the more well-known information management platforms out there. I mean, hey, it was worth $390 million. Symantec’s acquisition should also reduce the amount of time and latency for getting important information to its customers.

"Archiving and eDiscovery are two critical elements of information governance," said Aaref Hilaly, president and chief executive officer, Clearwell Systems, in a press release. "By joining forces and combining the industry's leading archiving solution with the industry's leading eDiscovery solution, we will be uniquely positioned to deliver a seamless, integrated information governance workflow, benefitting both Symantec and Clearwell customers."

Startup Battlefield At Disrupt: Day One, Session One

Posted: 23 May 2011 03:59 PM PDT

Our first batch of Startup Battlefield presentations is available for you to watch. Click on through for the “Disrupting Search and Discovery” range of companies and let them shock you with their brash disregard for search paradigms. The companies in this group are Do@, Rexly, Weotta, Skylines, and Deja.

Do@ is a search engine that serves up results from your apps instead of from the web, served up in a delicious HTML5-based swipeable interface.

Rexly is a social media recommendation engine that automatically ranks recommendations based on trusted relationships, and unlike some others, is cross-platform. Right now, they’re just doing music, but they hope to index movies, books, and anything else you can buy and trade online.

Not sure what to do? Put in what sort of outing you have in mind and what mood you’re in, and let Weotta pick a plan for you. Integrates with Facebook so you can easily include friends and let them veto or suggest places.

A photo stream that’s based not on people you know, but on topics or events you’re interested in. Pick “wine” and get the latest wine pics, or pick “Disrupt” and get all the pictures from this event.

Haven’t you always felt like you could be wasting your time more efficiently – and with a flashier interface? Deja lets you navigate through tons of videos with a slick zooming wall of video, organized by user or topic.

That’s it for the first session. Stay tuned for the rest.

Happy Toy Machine Allows You To Build Your Own Plush Toys

Posted: 23 May 2011 03:52 PM PDT

The TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley audience choice winner today is Happy Toy Machine, which allows you to design and create plush toys online.

The site allows adults and children to customize their plush toys by colors, size, body parts, shape, type, build and more. When you are satisfied with your design, you can actually have your creation built and sent you. It’s sort of like the Build-A-Bear on steroids.

Price ranges from $30 to $50, which is comparable to Build-A-Bear’s prices. The startup says the design element of the site is designed specially so that children can interact with the site and be able to design toys on their own.

In the future, the company would like to partner with video games or other entertainment properties to leverage Happy Toy Machine’s platform.

Here’s their presentation

BillGuard Will Track Hidden Fees And Billing Errors On Credit Card Bills

Posted: 23 May 2011 03:35 PM PDT

My Mom meticulously scans every credit card, cable or cell phone bill to ensure that no errors have been made or hidden fees have been issued. I, on the other hand, don’t have the time or the patience to do this. And I’m sure along the line, I’ve been overcharged or scammed in some way. BillGuard, a startup launching to the public today at TechCrunch Disrupt, aims to alert users of unwanted charges such as hidden fees, billing errors, scams and fraud on credit card bills.

The essentially crowdsources scams by alerting you when a charge on your bill is flagged by anyone else using BillGuard or posting scams on online forums. The startup will also take into account its own analysis (which the company has been working on for the past year) and monitor the web for any complaints about credit card scams.

Here’s their presentation.

Here’s how it works. You sign up your credit card accounts on BillGuard. The startup’s proprietary algorithm then aggregates, mines, normalizes data from its own reports and from its crowdsourcing engine. BillGuard will then scan your card activity daily, and email you when your attention is required for a suspicious transaction on your monthly bill.

While many credit card companies have fraud protection services, it’s up to the consumer to be vigilant about any billing errors or hidden fees on credit card bills. Plus, I can’t remember how many times I’ve signed up for a ‘free service’ only to be be charged when the terms of the service expired (and I’ve conveniently forgotten to cancel my subscription).

The same way in which an identity theft service monitors your credit report for fraud, BillGuard tracks your credit card bills so you don’t have to. The site is already in discussions with a number of major banks and identity theft companies to distribute and recommend BillGuard’s service.

And the site has caught the attention of a number of well known investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Chris Dixon, Ron Conway, IA Ventures, Howard Lindzon and Yaron Galai; raising $3 million in funding.

Q: I thought that was awesome. No questions.

A: I Agree, a home run.

Q: We send you a monthly scan report, whenever we have alerts, we email you.

Q: I think you’ll have a huge interest in this from the general population because you are going against the bad guys.

Q: What did you to before this.

A: I built Pando, we have a team of security experts, data scientists, mathematicians.

Q: How far back do you go?

A: Last 90 days.


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