web 2.0

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Salesforce Launches A Simple Way To Organize Leads With WordPress

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 09:08 AM PDT

If you run a website that accepts Salesforce leads directly, chances are it’s running on WordPress. Chances are also that you’re getting emailed each of those leads, which you then have to copy-and-paste back into Salesforce, to put them into your system. Not anymore.

Salesforce has just launched a WordPress-to-Lead plug-in that allows you to place a sign-up form on any WordPress post or page, which then automatically puts that data into your Salesforce account. No more email required. It’s the first “Consumerprise” play that Salesforce has attempted.

Like all WordPress plug-ins, it requires a little bit of work to install WordPress-to-Lead, but it’s relatively simple. You download the plug-in here, upload the files to your server through FTP, then go into your WordPress set up to activate it. You then need to enter your Salesforce.com Organization ID, and then you’re all set. You can use the [salesforce] WordPress shortcode to display the form anywhere on your site. And yes, the form is customizable with different fields.

This seems like such an logical addition for Salesforce that it’s somewhat surprising they didn’t have something like this earlier (though there have been other work-arounds). Especially in today’s world where we’re all bombarded by email, and some are easily overlooked — or you have to hire someone to be in charge of moving these leads from your mail over to Salesforce. This is much, much simpler.

The video below has more:

Docstoc Adds Well Known Publishers, 100K Books To Its Premium Docstore

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 09:03 AM PDT

Docstoc, an online document sharing site that caters primarily to small businesses and professionals, has just added a big dose of new content to its premium Docstore. Through a partnership with digital media distributor Overdrive.com, the site has added a collection of 100,000 books from a smattering of well known publishers as well as 150,000 new ‘professional’ documents, which include research reports, legal forms, and other content you’re probably not going to find sitting at your local bookstore.

Among the publishers that are included as part of the Overdrive.com partnership are McGraw-Hill, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. Included in the collection are book series like the ‘For Dummies’ books, Frommer’s travel books, and Microsoft guides.

Docstoc’s Docstore launched in August 2009, but was initially only available to select publishing partners. Earlier this year the site added a marketplace for “Professional” documents (like the reports and forms mentioned above) which anyone can sell their content through.  The site competes directly with Scribd, which has also inked deals to feature content from many mainstream publishers.

CEO Jason Nazar says that he believes Docstoc is seeing stronger conversion rates on its premium content than its competitors, which he attributes to the site’s focus on professional content and extensive A/B testing. He notes that Docstoc is now able to buy traffic profitably.

Why The Co-Developer Of The World Wide Web Isn’t On Facebook (Video Interview)

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 08:39 AM PDT

One of the most interesting speakers that took the stage at The Next Web conference held in Amsterdam this week was Robert Cailliau, a Belgian computer scientist who, together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, developed the World Wide Web now almost 20 years ago.

After his talk, I had an interesting conversation with the man, which I captured on video.

I was admittedly a bit unprepared, but we talked about everything from his dislike of modern mobile phones, the way social networks suck you in and never let you out, the iPad’s browser and Javascript to Web browsers that don’t adhere to standards. For instance, around the 5:38 mark in the video he explains why he isn’t on Facebook: “I can get in, but I can’t get out. I don’t know what happens to my data.” He also has issues with Skype.

Needless to say, it’s something you want to watch.

Check out his completely standards-compliant website, too.

True story: when we were done with the interview, Cailliau insisted that I check out the digital clock he programmed some time last week because he was dissatisfied with the clock on the hotel room TV.

Let me just say that it was utterly surreal to hear the co-creator of the World Wide Web boast about how quickly he programmed that clock and how beautiful the code looked.

And that I love my job.

The App Store Now Counts 4,870 iPad Apps

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 06:36 AM PDT

App store analytics startup Distimo has taken a deep look at Apple’s App Store today. The number of iPad apps are growing rapidly since the release of the device nearly a month ago, with the App Store now counting 4,870 iPad apps. That’s a 32.7% increase in apps over the past two weeks. To break down the stat further, there are now 3,437 iPad-specific apps, with 1,433 universal apps that work on both the iPad and iPhone. You can download the report here.

Unsurprisingly, the largest application category on the iPad is Games with 1,577 titles (32%), followed by Entertainment and Books with 455 and 396 titles, respectively. From the launch of the iPad, gaming apps dominated the iPad App Store.

In terms of pricing, the iPad is still seeing the majority of its nearly 5000 apps as paid offerings. Of the 186,414 applications in the Apple App Store for iPhone, 73% are paid, while 80% of the 4,870 applications in the Apple App Store for iPad are paid. An application in the Apple App Store for iPhone costs $3.82 on average, as opposed to $4.67 in the Apple App Store for iPad.

In fact, on the Apple App Store for iPad, Medical and Finance applications are the most expensive at $42.11 and $18.48 on average, respectively. This is significantly more than the average price for applications in these categories on the Apple App Store for iPhone ($10.74 and $5.74).

Steve Jobs wrote in a post yesterday that there are now 200,000 apps in the app store, but Distimo evaluated these numbers as of April 26, which could account for the discrepancy in the number of total apps. Of course, we expect the app store to continue to grow steadily as developers flock to the platform. In fact, there are still any major apps missing from the iPad, such as those for Facebook and Foursquare.

IMVU’s Virtual Cash Cow: Doubling Revenues, Focused On Gaming (Video)

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 06:00 AM PDT

Just three years ago, IMVU was burning cash at a rate of half a million per month and still not profitable. The 3D virtual world, where souped-up avatars run amok, was gaining users but not on a path to sustainability.

Fast forward to 2010, IMVU is increasing its staff by 50% (going from 60 to 90 employees) and is on track to double sales this year. Currently, the company is at an annual revenue run rate of $40 million— and according to CEO Cary Rosenzweig the Palo Alto based company should hit a $60 million annual revenue run rate by the end of this year. For the last two years, revenues have roughly doubled from $11 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009 and now $40-plus million in 2010. That’s a lot of real world dough for a company whose fortune is based on virtual currency and an endless factory of avatar accessories.

The key in 2007, Rosenzweig says, was a basic two-prong strategy: simplify the service and concentrate on creating new payment options.

“Before, a lot of the activity was both on the IMVU website and then we had a downloaded client and our users had to go back and forth. And especially for someone who’s new, just coming in, they were a little bit confused, in fact many of them weren’t even sure that they could buy virtual goods. The second thing is we had a lot of users who had money in their pockets and they wanted to buy virtual goods but we weren’t providing mechanisms to do it. Because at that time we offered credit cards and Pay Pal.”(See Video Above)

IMVU started selling pre-paid cards at outlets like Target and Wal-Mart and offering SMS payments abroad. The payments change alone, according to Rosenzweig, has accounted for roughly 30% of all growth.

Like its closest competitor, Second Life, IMVU is a 3D world where avatars congregate, chat in a variety of settings and make new connections. The company makes the bulk of its profits from users buying credits for IMVU’s virtual catalog, a digital warehouse of some 4 million items including pet dragons, clothes, and new eyebrows. A normal payment is $19.95 for 20,000 credits— to give you an idea of how far that goes in IMVU land: something described as a vampire corset outfit will run you 699 credits. In recent years, many virtual worlds have receded (like There.com, which hit the deadpool March 2010 and shares a mutual co-founder with IMVU, Will Harvey), overshadowed by traditional social networks and bogged down by the recession. However, strangely, both Second Life and IMVU have thrived this past year, Second Life logged a record first quarter with user-to-user transactions up 30% to $160 million.

Looking ahead, IMVU’s CEO says the next stage of growth will be driven by three catalysts: the company’s expansion into several new languages, the debut of a Mac product (and possibly an iPad client) later this year and a shift to gaming that will be tied to a more aggressive Facebook campaign. IMVU has been late to Zuckerberg’s party— the company’s only footprint on the site is a relatively young profile page. Rosenzweig says the gaming component is critical to the long term strategy. He estimates that the domestic virtual world market is worth roughly in the hundreds of millions, becoming a real player in gaming unlocks a multi-billion dollar market. Gaming and by extension Facebook are also critical to fostering user loyalty, which has been one of IMVU’s weaknesses. As of today, the company has 2 million active users, just 4% of its 50 million registered users.

Opera Software Acquires Email Service Provider FastMail.FM (Updated)

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 02:15 AM PDT

The Norwegian software company has yet to make any announcements of its own, but Opera has acquired email service provider FastMail.FM, according to a message posted on the latter’s company blog.

The terms of the agreements are not disclosed, but the Australia-based company in a notice said it will continue to run its email service, which has been in operation for over 10 years.

Here’s the announcement:

Some exciting changes will be occurring with FastMail.FM. FastMail.FM has been acquired by Opera Software, the developers of the Opera web browser. For more information about Opera, please visit www.opera.com.

This is great news for FastMail.FM users. FastMail.FM will continue to run and grow as the reliable email service you've known for over 10 years. We'll be combining forces with Opera's technical teams, expertise and products to develop new and innovative products.

FastMail has included a FAQ, in which it says that users who wish to NOT transfer their accounts over to Opera have to go into settings and indicate just that. Not acting upon the email the company sent out to its users or actively accepting the transfer will result in Opera assuming control over the mailbox and the account registration details.

As to the reason for selling, FastMail says the market was getting increasingly competitive and that Opera's expertise in web browsers and especially the mobile market would help the company grow and take on the next big challenges in running and building an email service.

Some FastMail.FM staff will be making the move to Norway, and the company says it has already been working with Opera's technical teams to exchange expertise, and to develop new products. It will be interesting to see what eventually comes out of this deal.

This is Opera’s second acquisition this year – it had earlier spent $8 million in cash to buy mobile advertising startup AdMarvel.

Update: the official release just hit our inbox:

Oslo, Norway – April 30, 2010 – Opera Software today announced that it has acquired Web-based e-mail provider FastMail.fm. The acquisition will enable Opera to expand its current messaging product portfolio and deliver cross-platform messaging to a wide range of devices, including computers, mobile phones, TVs and gaming consoles.

Headquartered in Australia, FastMail.fm has forged a reputation for responsiveness and reliability. The company already offers some of the most advanced Web-based e-mail platforms for consumers and small business customers and has been lauded for its approach to security, focus on innovation, and support for open, interoperable standards.

Since the release of Opera 4 in 2000, Opera’s desktop browser has included its own innovative e-mail client. Following this acquisition, Opera will be able to offer a consistent e-mail experience across all products. Opera currently has more than 50 million users of its desktop browser and more than 55 million users of Opera Mini, a mobile Web browser that works on almost all handsets available today.

“The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device. Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and FastMail.fm can offer messaging on any device. This will enhance the value Opera provides to consumers, while assisting our operator partners in reducing customer churn,” says Rolf Assev, Chief Strategy Officer, Opera Software.

Please Pass The Bong, Carol

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 12:59 AM PDT

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz bristles at outsiders opining on what Yahoo should be doing and not doing. An example – just a couple of days ago, when asked about our post saying that Yahoo shouldn’t buy Foursquare, she told TechCrunch EU editor Mike Butcher “I think it’s very easy for people to talk about what somebody else should do, but when confronted about it themselves they look at it a little differently.”

Along with lots of swearing, that’s been her key message since day one. Her first day on the job, in January 2009, she said "It's been too crazy. People outside Yahoo deciding what Yahoo should do, shouldn't do. That's got to stop."

But that didn’t stop her from giving out a little advice of her own yesterday. Her target? That one-trick pony Google. Says Bartz to the BBC:

Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do…Google has to grow a company the size of Yahoo every year to be interesting.

An interesting argument. But even if all of Google’s non search endeavors are ignored, like Apps, Android, Chrome, YouTube, etc., they still beat her test.

In the last year, Google’s share price has gone from about $393/share to $532/share. That’s about $44 billion in market cap gain. Yahoo’s market cap, including those fat Asian assets, stands at a little under $24 billion today.

By my math, Google grew by almost two Yahoo’s in the last twelve months. And my guess is they aren’t sweating growing one or two more Yahoo’s in the next twelve months, either.

Bartz also isn’t afraid of Facebook dominating all that social stuff:

“They certainly are taking people’s attention and time,” she said. “But what is kind of wrong about the conversation is that social just means Facebook. “Social is interaction. Social is commenting on news stories. It’s blogging. It’s sharing photos. “So there are social capabilities running throughout all of our sites, including Twitter feeds and Facebook feeds.”

I actually wonder if Bartz has ever visited Facebook. She certainly doesn’t understand what the core of Facebook is all about. And I don’t see a whole lot of social going on at Yahoo, and the stuff I do see is being brought in from as Bartz says, Facebook and Twitter.

The yelling and the rhetoric are entertaining, certainly. And trashing competitors that are crushing you is probably cathartic. But Rome is burning, and words won’t put out that fire. So pass the bong, Carol, because I want some of whatever it is that you’re smoking. We can watch Rome burn together and laugh and laugh about how uninteresting Google and Facebook are.

The State Of Web Development Ripped Apart In 25 Tweets By One Man

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 12:19 AM PDT

There are few people who know the ins and outs of the web as well as Joe Hewitt. For the past decade, he’s had his hands deep in everything from Netscape, to AOL, to Firefox, to Facebook (where he currently works). Hewitt also knows a thing or two about the iPhone. He’s the one who first built Facebook’s excellent iPhone web app (before there were native apps on the iPhone), and then the native app — which is one of the best apps on the platform. So when he rants about something (as he does from time-to-time), people listen. And today he went on one such rant.

Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ post about Flash this morning, Hewitt went on Twitter and started going off with some of this thoughts. I asked Hewitt if I could recap them; his response, “sure, why not.” Hewitt, some may recall, quit iPhone development over his distaste for some App Store policies. Today, seeing a wave of anti-Flash talk on Twitter spurred by Jobs’ post, Hewitt started out:

Redirect your hatred of Flash to the W3C, whose embarrassingly slow pace forced devs to use a plugin because the standards were so weak.

Also, I am looking at you, developers who bitch whenever a browser offers “non-standard” but innovative APIs.

Browser makers need to go nuts with non-standard APIs and let the W3C standardize later. Waiting for the committee to innovate is suicide.

So basically, Hewitt’s take is that Flash (and all plug-ins) only exists because the W3C (the governing body for web standards) is too slow to formalize and approve innovative new technologies. He urges browser-makers to break away from the W3C constraints and start going crazy with new APIs.

He then comes in defense of Microsoft, the company that once all-but destroyed (through what just about everyone including the U.S. government thinks were unsavory means) the company Hewitt started his career at (Netscape).

10 years ago we bullied Microsoft into stopping innovation on IE so the W3C could take over. How’d that work out?

For those too young to remember, IE was innovating like crazy from 4.0 -6.0, right up until the DOJ and web standards commies intervened.

@jeff_lamarche Oh c’mon. Aside from ActiveX, Microsoft moved the web forward faster from 96-00 than any other browser maker has.

I don’t know why MS abandoned IE, but I do know that web developers were begging them to stop innovating and just follow the committee.

Hewitt’s take here is that the antitrust action against Microsoft halted innovation in Internet Explorer. In 1996, when Hewitt says IE innovation really started, that browser didn’t even have 10% share of the market, while Netscape had nearly 90%. As an underdog, IE had to innovate. Until, of course, they took over the web, and then Microsoft inexplicably all-but abandoned the product.

Hewitt then turns to the rise of the app stores (including, yes, the App Store).

Why are app stores threatening the web and luring developers like me away from it? “Evil” proprietary tech is blowing the web away.

I want desperately to be a web developer again, but if I have to wait until 2020 for browsers to do what Cocoa can do in 2010, I won’t wait.

The “‘Evil’ proprietary tech is blowing the web away” quote is pretty compelling (I’m still kicking myself for not using it in the headline). Again, Hewitt’s point here is that the web is nowhere near where non-web technologies like Cocoa are — and won’t be for a decade.

@KuraFire Did Microsoft patent their non-standard html/javascript/css extensions, preventing other browsers from implementing them?

@johnfoliot True, they [w3c] don’t dictate, but developers shame others who use non-standard APIs. That’s the problem.

He wonders here why some of Microsoft’s standards weren’t adopted by the W3C? Then blames the web developers for shaming other developers who use tech not sanctioned by the governing body.

I am ranting because I want to drop Cocoa and go back to the web, but I am upset about how much power I have to give up to do that.

How it should go: browsers innovate differently, users pick the best one, later W3C standardizes what users chose, losing browsers conform.

The core of Hewitt’s argument. Web technologies aren’t moving fast enough, and why should he have to use a less powerful language to conform to web standards? Again, he hopes that browsers will start to innovate and force the W3C to conform to them.

@joseph_wanja I love what Cocoa can do, I just don’t like C-based languages for UI programming.

The reason why Hewitt doesn’t just stick with Cocoa if he finds it superior to web-based languages.

@eston Users might be aware of their choices if more developers wrote browser-specific sites. Developers really pick the winner.

An urging for developers to take action to reverse the trend.

@JamesWatch IE6 was fucking amazing in 2000. It’s not fair to compare it to modern browsers.

A word of caution for those who bash IE6 — remember what it was like when it came out.

@joseph_wanja unfortunately I would recommend Cocoa [rather than web languages] at this point. Wish I didn’t have to say that.

Cocoa, while not perfect, is better than web languages.

@michaelvillar So launch a different browser. Not a big deal. Know what is a big deal? Having to buy a different phone for each app store.

An interesting point. Hewitt is saying that while it may seem like a hassle to have the web coded for different browsers, it’s much more of a hassle to have apps coded for different phones.

@jjathman I’m not justifying ActiveX, but the html/css/javascript side of IE which at one time was state of the art.

Again, more defense of IE back in the day.

From here, Hewitt goes into a series of thoughts on web vs. native apps.

@ppk Yes, exactly. I’d rather developers had forced users to launch different browsers instead of making watered down x-browser sites.

@ppk That’s sort of what is happening with mobile web vs. native mobile apps, except app stores don’t extend the browser, they replace it.

@slauriat “best viewed in X” was not as bad as “buy another phone”, which is what we got for letting the web go to shit so apps could rise.

@ppk As someone who has tried to do both cutting edge native and web iPhone apps, iPhone Safari is a joke compared to iPhone Cocoa.

App stores replace the web, simply because their languages are better, in Hewitt’s mind. And it’s our own fault for letting the web go to shit, and letting this happen. His last tweet is particularly powerful: Hewitt does have a lot of experience on both sides, and considers iPhone Safari to be a “joke” compared to what you can do natively. This is a sentiment a lot of developers whisper about, but seldom say publicly.

Finally, Hewitt qualifies some of his statements a bit.

I’ve been hard on Flash, but we should all thank Macromedia/Adobe for 10 years of picking up the slack of the W3C, Microsoft, and Mozilla.

And really, how screwed would we be if the WebKit team weren’t so god damn competent? Ok, signing off now, thanks for listening. :)

Fair enough, plenty of juicy post-worthy comments for one day.

Apple To Shut Down Lala On May 31, iTunes.com Launch Impending?

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 11:44 PM PDT

Lala – where music will stop playing …

In a brief message that was just posted on the Lala.com website, Apple has announced that the service will be shut down on May 31st, 2010. Apple will not be accepting new users, and existing users will be able to log in only until the end of next month.

Does this mean we can start raising our hopes for iTunes in the cloud?

At the bottom of a Wall Street Journal piece published back in January 2010, the paper suggested that Apple was gearing up to launch iTunes.com as soon as this June, citing sources familiar with the matter.

For an extensive view on how far-reaching that could prove to be, check out this guest post by Michael Robertson, the former CEO of MP3.com, who laid out Apple’s cloud-based media strategy going forward.

An iTunes-in-the-cloud offering – which is basically what Lala’s value proposition boils down to – is the central part of such an endeavor. Late last year, we wrote about how a move to the cloud was inevitable for iTunes. With the imminent shutdown of Lala, it’s safe to assume something is brewing at Cupertino.

Will Apple be the first company to turn online music subscription services into a sizable business?

Perhaps Apple, which acquired Lala late last year, will be making an announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 7 in San Francisco.

Update: here’s what it says when you’re logged in (click for larger image)

Update 2: and this is the email that was sent out to users:


The Lala service will be shut down on May 31st.

In appreciation of your support over the last five years, you will receive a credit in the amount of your Lala web song purchases for use on Apple’s iTunes Store. If you purchased and downloaded mp3 songs from Lala, those songs will continue to play as part of your local music library.

Remaining wallet balances and unredeemed gift cards will be converted to iTunes Store credit (or can be refunded upon request). Gift cards can be redeemed on Lala until May 31st.

Click here or visit Lala.com/support for more information, or to view Lala’s Terms of Service.

Thank you.

(Thanks for the tip, Josh)

Hewlett-Packard To Kill Windows 7 Tablet Project

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:28 PM PDT

Hewlett-Packard has killed off its much ballyhooed Windows 7 tablet computer, says a source who’s been briefed on the matter.

The device was first unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010 in January and was supposed to hit the market in mid 2010. But our source tells us that HP is not satisfied with Windows 7 as a tablet operating system and has terminated the project (something CrunchGear mentioned months ago).

HP may also be abandoning Intel-based hardware for its slate lineup simply because it’s too power hungry. That would also rule out Windows 7 as an operating system.

So what will HP use as an operating system? Look for Google-powered devices, which have already been announced. And HP really does seem determined to make a go of the Palm WebOS. They said how important it was to them yesterday, and they will likely experiment with porting it to a slate-type device.

Will WebOS emerge as a successful operating system for tablet devices? That seems very unlikely given the dominance of the closed Apple OS and the likely success of the open Android and Chrome operating systems from Google. To get traction from third party developers with WebOS HP will need to sell a lot of units. And it’s not clear what they’d gain from all that effort, anyway. HP knows how to build and sell hardware, not operating systems.

We’ve reached out to HP for comment. Here’s the video promoting the HP Windows tablet from January:

Odd YouTube Banners Mislead In The Facebook/Google Identity War

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 07:00 PM PDT

Early this morning we got word of what sounded like a pretty major change for YouTube: some users are seeing banners inviting them to “Sign up for YouTube with your Facebook account!“.

That sounds a whole lot like YouTube is allowing users to skip having to create a Google account by letting them simply log in with their Facebook accounts, which would be a strange move strategy-wise. As it turns out, it’s simply a case of some questionable wording.

I’m not seeing the banner myself, but a YouTube spokesman says that clicking it will take you to the standard YouTube registration screen, where you fill out your information as usual. Once you’ve done that, your newly created YouTube/Google account will automatically be connected to Facebook via Facebook Connect, so that it pulls in your friends’ shared items. But you aren’t actually logging in using Facebook’s Single Sign-on feature, which is an important distinction.

And YouTube probably won’t be doing that any time soon — Facebook and Google are increasingly fighting over the future of identity on the web; accepting Facebook logins on YouTube would hurt Google’s cause and bring Facebook one step closer to becoming the web’s ubiquitous login standard.

That said, YouTube has been gradually integrating some Facebook Connect features since last summer, beginning with an autoshare feature in June 2009 and more recently allowing users to see what their friends have shared from YouTube to Facebook. In other words, YouTube is embracing Facebook’s sharing functionality, but it isn’t going all the way.

Thanks to Cole Turner for the tip

Bottom image via DidIKnow

Gowalla Checks-In To The iPad Before Foursquare

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:46 PM PDT

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling. I’m addicted to all these location-based iPhone apps, but of the big ones, really only Loopt has had a native iPad app ready to go from the beginning. Today that changes with the launch of Gowalla’s iPad app.

As we first previewed a month ago, the app looks amazing. The main page is a giant Google Map, and on it you can see where your friends are nearby. Clicking on their faces reveals where they are — or where they were when they last checked in. And how long ago they checked-in at that location. There’s also a side menu (in landscape mode — or a pop-over menu in vertical) that shows the stream of all your friends’ check-ins. From here you can do some of the newer Gowalla functions such as comment on check-ins. And yes, of course, you can check-in yourself.

And, of course, you can do all of your other Gowalla stuff, such as check your Passport (your profile) to see you Stamps, Pins, and Items. Naturally, on the iPad’s big screen, they look even better. And that may be one big selling point of the app on the iPad over rival Foursquare, which isn’t quite as pretty.

Speaking of Foursquare, while they may be in the midst of making a difficult decision (whether to sell or take more funding), Gowalla beat them to the iPad. Just how much anyone is going to use the iPad as a location-based device remains to be seen. Obviously, it’s much larger than the iPhone and as such, much less portable. But the 3G version should be in people’s hands tomorrow for the first time which will make taking it outside much more enticing.

Find the new Gowalla app in the App Store here. It’s a free download.

The PayPal Mafia Convenes At Startup2Startup To Talk About Past Blunders & Current Ventures

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:45 PM PDT

Two nights ago, three former PayPal execs took the stage at Startup2Startup to look back at the early days of the payments company (and some of their blunders), as well as the culture at their current companies. The speakers included: Max Levchin, who co-founded PayPal and is now founder/CEO of Slide; Jeremy Stoppelman, who was PayPal’s VP of Engineering and is now the cofounder/CEO of Yelp; and David Sacks, who was PayPal’s COO and is now founder/CEO of both Yammer and Geni. Moderating the fireside chat was Dave McClure (a former PayPal employee himself), who cofounded Startup2Startup with Leonard Speiser.

The PayPal alums talked at length about the company’s history, including some of the horror stories they took part in (Levchin recounted one incident where he accidentally wiped out the only copy of PayPal’s master secret key used to decrypt every credit card on file at PayPal). The conversation then turned toward company culture, and which hot companies in Silicon Valley seemed poised to breed the most entrepreneurs. We’ve embedded videos of the full discussion below.

Part 1

Part 2

Before The FTC Blocks The Google-AdMob Deal, Maybe It Should Read Apple’s iPhone Licensing Agreement

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:00 PM PDT

The Federal Trade Commission is seriously thinking about blocking Google’s proposed $750 million acquisition of AdMob on antitrust grounds. A decision on whether this is where the government will make its antitrust stand against Google is expected in the next few weeks. But before the FTC makes that decision, it might want to take a look at Apple’s new licensing terms for iPhone developers. If I were Google’s lawyers, that would be Exhibit A to show how little market power AdMob and Google really have when it comes to mobile advertising.

In order to show that an AdMob-Google combination raises antitrust issues, the FTC would need to show how it would impede competition. Last year, the mobile ad market share of Google and AdMob combined was an estimated 21 percent. Google’s portion is mostly in mobile search, whereas AdMob’s is mostly in mobile apps, specifically iPhone apps.

But that was before Apple (which tried to buy AdMob) bought another mobile ad network, Quattro Wireless, and announced the impending launch of official Apple iAds for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0. While other ad networks are not barred specifically from the iPhone and iPad, language in the terms of service (TOS) could effectively neuter them. Section 3.3.9 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement prohibits apps from containing third-party software that collect and send data to other companies and services “for processing or analysis.” (The agreement also block other third-party analytics and development tools like those used to make Flash apps). If ad networks like AdMob cannot collect data from the apps which use them, it makes it very difficult to serve and target ads.

Any analysis of the mobile advertising market must take into account not only ads on the mobile Web, but also ads inside apps. And when it comes to ads in mobile apps, the iPhone is really the only game in town in terms of real revenue. So if the FTC is going to argue that the AdMob acquisition concentrates power in the iPhone ad market by only giving app developers two real choices (AdMob-Google and Apple), it might have to think again. And if two dominant advertising networks is too few, then having only one would be even worse. So maybe the FTC should be looking at Apple instead of Google if it is worried about mobile ad network monopolies.

But that would be absurd. The mobile advertising market is not limited to one device or one OS. The FTC needs to show the potential for Google’s unfair domination of all mobile advertising, which includes the mobile Web, mobile search, and mobile apps. And new forms of mobile search are emerging, as Apple’s recent acquisition of Siri suggests. The broader the FTC defines the market for mobile advertising, the less concentration it will find.

If anything, the quickly shifting landscape in the iPhone portion of the market shows that an early leader one day (AdMob) can be displaced by the whim of an even more dominant rival (Apple) the next.

Hugo Chavez Joins Twitter As “The Devil”; Immediately Follows Castro

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 05:28 PM PDT

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has modest goals. He wants to rule forever (term limits were ended last year). But he also wants to rule Twitter. His head of communications said as much a few days ago. Or, at least, those around him think he will rule Twitter. “I'm sure he'll break records for numbers of followers," Diosdado Cabello told Bloomberg. Of course, at the time, he didn’t yet have a Twitter account set up. Now he does. And he’s gaining users fast.

Chavez’s account (freshly verified) is here. As you can see he already has over 100,000 followers after just two days of tweets — and just two (rather mundane) tweets. That’s pretty solid considering that it took famous Americans Conan O’Brien and Bill Gates months to reach just 800,000 followers. Still, Chavez has a ways to go before he gets anywhere near the top of the Twitter mountain. Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears are currently racing to be the first users to 5 million followers.

Meanwhile, Chavez is following just 5 people. One, unsurprisingly is the one tied to Cuban leader Fidel Castro (though someone else tweets for him) Chavez’s mentor. The others Chavez follows appear to be fellow Venezuelan political leaders. As his background he appears to have chosen the same red found on the Venezuelan flag. His bio reads, “President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Bolivarian Soldier, Socialist and Anti-Imperialist.” And he’s tweeting using UberTwitter which means Chavez (or whomever is handling his account) may well be a BlackBerry user.

The best part though is his Twitter username: chavezcandanga. “Candanga” apparently literally translates into “the devil” — though, I’m told, people also use it to describe someone who is strong-willed, or fearless.

Yahoo Taiwan Still Loves The Sex

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 03:57 PM PDT

Last October Yahoo apologized for having “female dancers” at its Hack Day event in Taiwan. They said “As many folks have rightly pointed out, the "Hack Girls" aspect of our Taiwan Hack Day is not reflective of that spirit or purpose. And it's certainly not the message we want to send about our values here at Yahoo!. Hack Days are about making everyone feel welcome, including women coders and technologists.”

Yep, they’re sorry. But they still love the sex at Yahoo Taiwan. Check out this soon to be removed video which shows two people having one heck of a good time before the Yahoo guy shows up and sits on their couch. It’s all embedded in this Yahoo marketing site, too.

Good times.

VCs Get Serious about the Emerging World as Deals in India and China Soar

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 03:52 PM PDT

Venture capital investments aren't just picking up in the US, according to new numbers from Dow Jones VentureSource. The amount invested was up 13% globally in the first quarter of 2010. The sole exception was Europe: Where they fell 7%. It was the lowest number of deals since Dow Jones started tracking European deals in 2000 and the second lowest amount invested. Ouch.

This isn't a huge surprise given the paucity of capital for new deals among London-based firms, and the fact that there's bigger market growth elsewhere in the world. Like, say, China, which saw a staggering 35% increase in capital. The total invested in the quarter was $579 million, according to the numbers. So much for concerns about the Google debacle chilling relations between China and the Valley.

India—which has been more of a venture capital rollercoaster than China— roared back to life this quarter. Investments in the country more than doubled to $259 million in the quarter, up from $113 million the first quarter of 2009.

The news was mixed for Israel, which saw a drop in deals, but 21% increase in sheer capital over the same period last year. Again, this shouldn't be a huge surprise as Israel is home to some amazing entrepreneurs who know how to play the startup game well, but a chill in returns over the last decade has dampened enthusiasm to invest in the country broadly.

Interestingly in all markets except the US, the median deal size was way up. In the US it declined from $5 million to $4.5 million. Europe's rose 23% but was still the smallest in the survey at $3.4 million. Israel's more than doubled to $8 million, India's spiked from $3.2 million to more than $10 million per median deal. And China's median deal price was a whopping $12 million. This can easily be the result of a few big deals that happened to close in the first quarter, but taken across several geographies it seems to be a sign of maturity when it comes to global investing.

Not counting Israel and Western Europe, it's only been about five years since most Silicon Valley venture firms started investing in other countries, dramatically bucking a multi-decade approach of only investing within an hour’s drive of their Sand Hill Road offices. A lot of dumb money flew around for many years and there was a lot of concern that China and India in particular might be black holes where the same investing logic of the Valley just didn't hold true. But now investors seem to be focusing, with better local teams, for the most part, or at least more mature local firms to co-invest with. Entrepreneurs too have evolved in these countries. The increased deal size is a sign that they're not racing around throwing money all over the country, but finding some good deals in which they're comfortable making big bets.

The numbers disprove a common misconception that the advantage for emerging markets is doing things on the cheap. These increasing deal sizes show instead that the trend is about big bets on big opportunities.

PETA Sends Steve Jobs Vegan Chocolate Seals For Rejecting The Seal-Clubbing App

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 02:25 PM PDT


While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is just fine with Google using goats to cut their grass (as long as they get perks), the organization will not stand for applications in which you virtually hurt animals. As such, they’ve sent Apple CEO Steve Jobs a thank you note (below) and some vegan chocolate seals (I’m not kidding) to show their appreciation for Apple’s rejection of the app iSealClub.

PETA was excited to read in your article that while the Canadian government is still fumbling for excuses to justify the bludgeoning of baby seals in its country, Apple CEO Steve Jobs won’t tolerate such cruelty in an iPhone app,” a PETA representative tells us.

When iSealClub was rejected, developer Matthew Smyth actually made an interesting point: why are apps that allow you to kill deer, fish, and even humans okay, but seals aren’t? Yes, the killing of seals does seem barbaric, but it’s a little hard to draw the line. Plus, shouldn’t PETA be against all of those apps as well? (I’ve emailed them to ask that very question.)

Also, I miss the Google Goats.

Below, find PETA’s letter to Jobs:

Dear Mr. Jobs,

On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters worldwide, thank you for rejecting the proposed iSealClub iPhone application, which has drawn a great deal of attention to Canada’s annual baby-seal slaughter. You are in good company. Global leaders as diverse as Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and the Dalai Lama have taken a stand against the slaughter, and the European Union recently voted to ban seal fur.

As a token of our appreciation, we will be sending you some vegan-chocolate seals.

Kind regards,

Dan Mathews
Senior Vice President

Update: Here’s PETA’s response to my question about other animal-killing apps:

You're right; PETA is opposed to any kind of violence toward animals, including in video games and other apps. But we're thankful that Mr. Jobs and Apple drew the line when it comes to the seal slaughter. Their decision to reject the seal clubbing app reflects the opinion held by the majority of people around the world – that bludgeoning baby seals with clubs and hooking them through the eyes with hakapiks before they've even had their first solid meal is excessively cruel.

[photo: flickr/ed bierman]

Microsoft Cancels The Courier, The Internet Sheds A Tear

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 01:35 PM PDT

The Microsoft Courier will never make it out of Microsoft's labs and into consumers hands. The project is dead. Kaput. Finished. At least that's what two sources told Gizmodo. Apparently the Courier team got an email from Microsoft execs that stated the project will "no longer be supported," which pretty much means the project is dead. Even though it's somewhat surprising that the project was axed seeing as it was reportedly close to completion, it's not unheard of in other industries for companies to spend untold fortunes on a concept just for the hell of it.

Six Months After Acquiring It, Playdom Is Killing Off Lil Green Patch

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 01:14 PM PDT

Last November, popular social game developer Playdom followed up its $43 million funding round with news that it had acquired two smaller game developers, Green Patch and Trippert Labs. Green Patch is best known for its game Lil’ Green Patch, a gardening simulator that attracted users by promising to contribute to the Nature Conservancy.  And now, less than six months after acquiring the game, Playdom is killing off Lil Green Patch and a handful of other games that fall under the Green Patch brand, like Lil Eco Racer and Lil Blue Cove.  The lone survivor will be Farmville competitor Lil Farm Life, which has around 3.4 million monthly active users.

Here’s the message that was posted to Playdom’s community forums:

After much discussion between the developers and the executive suite, we have sadly decided to close all Green Patch games except Lil Farm Life (which will remain and will be receiving much more attention). The main reason to discontinue these games, including Lil Green Patch, is that we no longer have the resources to support Lil Green Patch in the way that makes sense for us and for our players.

Our different studios are working on both existing and new games, and at this point, we are not able to support the Green Patch games to the degree that we expect of ourselves.

Logistically, you’ll see a pop-up added into the game that you need to check that you’ve read and understood. This includes the fact that any real currency spent in the game will not be refundable per our Terms of Service agreement. The final date that these games will be available on Facebook is June 10th, 2010.

If you do have any specific needs, please go to http://support.playdom.com/home, and the support team can communicate with you on a one-on-one basis.

As of June 10th, 2010, we will also be closing this forum as well as our support channels. Thank you for your support and loyalty through this entire process.

In its late-2008 heyday, Lil Green Patch was the top ranked game on Facebook. It’s since waned in popularity — as of today the game has 371,856 monthly active users.  But those who are still playing the game are understandably upset. One user tell us that Playdom “strung out the players of this game along for months and only recently started saying things like ‘we can’t integrate the back end’”.

Decoding Steve Jobs’ Dressing Down Of Flash

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 12:40 PM PDT

Steve Jobs doesn’t blog often, but when he does, it’s always entertaining. Today, Apple’s CEO has taken the time to write a 1,700 word post about why Apple (or perhaps more precisely, he) doesn’t like Adobe Flash. And why Apple doesn’t support it in new products. And more importantly, why Apple won’t support it in new products.

The post is full of great quotes (whether you agree with them or not). Jobs both directly or indirectly rips Adobe at least two dozen times. It’s hard to imagine anyone at a company, let alone the CEO, doing that. Sure, Adobe has a few times over the past several months, but that’s only because they’ve had the rug swept out from under them. And those public responses are probably the exact reason we’re seeing this response from Jobs. Here are some of the choice quotes from Jobs’ piece and a rough translation of what Jobs likely really means (just in case it’s not clear enough).

Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products.

Translation: Two roads diverged…

Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers – Mac users buy around half of Adobe's Creative Suite products – but beyond that there are few joint interests.

Translation: Despite some calls for Adobe to boycott Apple, this won’t happen because they need the Mac users buying CS. In fact, that’s the only thing we still have in common.

Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true.

Translation: Adobe are running their mouths because they’re being defensive — the fact is they can’t cut it technology-wise. The “open” framing of their argument is laughable. And they need to shut up.

Adobe's Flash products are 100% proprietary… By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Translation: No translation needed.

Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards.

Translation: Apple has the best of both worlds. An OS we can completely control for the great user experience, and the web for those who want to go outside the sandbox. Adobe only has the sandbox.

HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Translation: This is reference 1 to the others who support a move beyond Flash. Also a reminder: Flash is proprietary.

Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android's browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft's uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

Translation: Back to that “open” argument: we made an open technology, WebKit, which all the major mobile players besides those idiots at Microsoft are now using. This is reference 2 to the others who are supporting technology beyond Flash.

Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access "the full web" because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don't say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Translation: That is bullshit Adobe spin.

YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web's video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others.

Translation: Reference 3 to the others in support of the move beyond Flash.

Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.

Translation: It’s true, but who cares? We have more games, and they’re better.

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009.

Translation: Use at your own risk.

We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don't want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.

Translation: If you see a bug, squash it. We have going forward.

In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.

Translation: Adobe had the chance to put up — they couldn’t — so now it’s shut up time.

Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we're glad we didn't hold our breath.

Translation: Vaporware. Related: did you catch my sarcasm?

Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

Translation: Reference 4 to the others in support of the move beyond Flash.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.

Translation: Too little, too late.

When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Translation: Reference 5 to the others in support of the move beyond Flash.

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers… Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

Translation: Flash is a technology of yesteryear. The future is now. If you’re going to support the future, why code for the past?

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn't support touch based devices

Translation: A reminder up until this point of why Flash sucks.

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.

Translation: If you build iPhone apps using Flash, they’re going to suck. More importantly, they hold everyone else back. So we’re blocking them.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms.

Translation: We’re not going to let Adobe, or anyone else, hinder our development.

It is not Adobe's goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps.

Translation: We want “best” they want “most”.

And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple's platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

Translation: Again, Adobe is stuck in yesteryear. With Flash it will be the same.

Everyone wins

Translation: Everyone wins — except Adobe.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice

Translation: The iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are the future. The PC and Flash are the past.

The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple's mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content.

Translation: Have I mentioned how many others are supporting a move beyond Flash? Just to make it clear, I’ll use “avalanche” this time.

And the 200,000 apps on Apple's App Store proves that Flash isn't necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

Translation: And here’s a new juicy stat as a thank you for reading this entire post. Also, remember to forget about Flash games.

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

Translation: Just to add insult to injury, while you may have the PC market locked down, that one day too will shift beyond Flash. Maybe you should get your house in order before it collapses. Also, shut up.

As I’m well aware, sometimes it feels good to get a nice big rant off your chest. That’s exactly what Steve Jobs did today. Sometimes, three-word cryptic emails can only go so far. Sometimes you need to really spell it out to people. And sometimes you need to post a giant link to it on one of the most-trafficked sites in the world.

AdWhirl Now Lets Developers Tap Into As Many Mobile Ad Networks As They Want

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 12:00 PM PDT

AdWhirl, the AdMob-owned service that allows mobile developers to quickly switch between mobile ad networks without having to update their applications, has just given developers even more flexibility: they can now include as many ad networks as they want, including both the default built-in set of networks and any other networks they want to integrate themselves.

This comes as a followup to AdWhirl’s decision in December to Open Source its iPhone SDK and server, which was the first time developers could use ad networks that weren’t already built into the service. However, up until now there was a catch — devs could only use one ‘external’ ad network in addition to the default set. Now they’ll be able to include as many as they want.

AdWhirl ships with support for AdMob, JumpTap, MDotM, Millennial Media, and Quattro Wireless for its iPhone platform and comes with support for AdMob and Quattro for its recently-launched Android version. The company also notes that it now supports Apple’s upcoming iAd format.

In the last four months, AdWhirl has seen the number of applications integrating the platform grow from 1,300 to 1,700, and daily ad requests have jumped from 40 million to 100 million since the platform was open sourced in December.

AdWhirl’s push toward openness is something of a necessity — ever since it was acquired by AdMob, which is itself the largest mobile ad network, the company has moved to quell concerns over possible favoritism by making the AdWhirl’s system transparent. And now that Google is acquiring AdMob pending approval from federal regulators, it’s more important than ever to keep things open.

Gift Card Giant InComm Acquires fbFund Startup GroupCard

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 11:29 AM PDT

GroupCard, a startup that lets friends and coworkers jointly create a greeting card and give gifts, has been acquired by InComm, a company that specializes in operating pre-paid gift cards for major retailers. Founded in 2007, GroupCard was a fbFund winner in 2008 and later took part in the fbFund REV incubator program. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

GroupCard originally launched as website and Facebook app that allows users to create group greetings and gift. More recently, the startup has moved into the merchant gifting service as well, allowing retailers to offer gift cards directly from their own Web sites and Facebook Pages.

In fact, it’s GroupCard’s Facebook-focused platform that InComm is interested in, says John Anderson, founder and CEO of GroupCard. InComm, which operates pre-paid giftcards for a number of major retailers and companies including Apple, American Express and Barnes and Noble, wants to use GroupCard’s social gifting platform to sell and distribute gift cards on Facebook. The plus for InComm is that they can offer this technology to retailers in-house; and retailers can then access the 400 million plus users on Facebook.

The sell to InComm could be a wise decision for GroupCard. InComm appears to operate a booming business as one of the U.S.’ largest providers of provider of gift cards, prepaid wireless products, reloadable debit cards, and digital music downloads. In 2009, InComm’s gift cards helped generate $10 billion in retail sales transactions. InComm also recently acquired virtual currency company Zeevex.

Interestingly, GroupCard recently worked with InComm competitor BlackHawk Network, to launch an application that brings gift cards to Apple’s iTunes to Facebook. The application's front end UI was built by GroupCard, the backend was handled by BlackHawk. As a Facebook preferred app, GroupCard was also selected as one of the early testers of Facebook’s payment system, Credits, last year.

GroupCard isn’t the only fbFund alum to get acquired. Weardrobe was acquired by Like.com last fall and WedSnap, the developer of Facebook app WeddingBook was bought up by the Knot.com.

Yahoo SVP Consumer Products Bryan Lamkin Resigns

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 11:12 AM PDT

Yahoo’s product group continues to see turmoil – Bryan Lamkin, the SVP Consumer Products Group, has resigned. He joined the company just a year ago after working as an entrepreneur in residence at both Sutter Hill Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

The word on the street is that Lamkin made a big push for the Chief Product Officer position that was recently filled by former Microsoft executive Blake Irving. When that didn’t work out, says a source, he decided to leave and work on his own startup.

Lamkin ran a huge part of Yahoo’s business, including all consumer facing sites and services like Mail, Messenger, Front Page, Flickr, News, Sports, Finance, Listings and Mobile products.

Yahoo says “Bryan Lamkin, SVP, Consumer Products Group, has decided to leave Yahoo! to pursue a new entrepreneurial venture. His last day will be May 28, and he’ll spend the next several weeks focused on ensuring a smooth transition. We wish him all the best in his new endeavors.”

Lamkin’s official statement: “My time at Yahoo! has been extremely valuable and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished since I started. While on a personal level, the time is now right for me to transition to a new, entrepreneurial-focused venture, I firmly believe that Yahoo! is in a unique position and has the right strategy in place to create an exciting new wave of consumer experiences.”

Yahoo also recently lost CTO Ari Balogh and EVP Ash Patel. But there are still a group of execs effectively running product. The real issue is whether Irving can take control of that group, and figure out which direction Yahoo wants to run.

Update: email from reader:

You missed the best part of his resignation email! The subject of the first email sent was \”Moving Up\”. About 10 minutes later a second email was sent by Bryan that read:

No, the subject line was not one last tongue-in-cheek jab from Lamkin. I meant to say "MOVING ON"!!!!

Picwing Reboots With An iPhone App That Prints Photos For Your Mom

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 10:38 AM PDT

Digital picture frames are nice, but they are not for everybody. Y Combinator startup Picwing found that out the hard way when not enough people bought its cool, but pricey, social digital picture frames which constantly updated with photos from the Web. But Picwing learned its lesson and rebooted earlier this year with a much better product centered around making it easier to print and share photos taken on your iPhone.

Picwing’s new product is an iPhone app (there is also an Android app) that lets you pick photos taken on your phone and upload them at full resolution to Picwing’s new Website. Every month, it prints and mails up to 15 uploaded photos to anyone you want. You pay a subscription starting at $5 a month, and once you set it up all you need to do is keep adding pictures via the app or your computer.

The service targets parents who never send enough photos of their kids to their own parents. This service was designed for me. I have thousands of photos of my kids, increasingly they are taken with my iPhone, and I never print them out. The only time I buy photo prints it is to send them directly to my Mom, and I never remember to do it until she asks for more. Picwing is definitely appealing in that I can simply select the best photos on my iPhone, upload them, and it takes care of the rest. Minimum friction, and Mom is happy.

Y Combinator’s Paul Graham who has a one-year-old baby goes so far as to say “Picwing
has changed my life more than any other startup we’ve funded.” He explains why it is appealing to parents with young children like the both us:

The reason this is so valuable for new parents is that you suddenly have (a) lots of things you want to take pictures of, (b) lots of people who want to get them, and (c) no time. If we’d had to mail prints to our families, they would have gotten zero of them.

Yes, he is an investor, but it is true. There is a definite need here. You can sign up to have pictures delivered once or twice a month, and Picwing is offering a special Mother’s Day promotion where you can try it out for free and it will send any pictures uploaded by May 1 to your Mom.


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