web 2.0

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Funny Or Die Pulling In Tens Of Millions In Revenue Thanks To Freedom, Cheapness

Posted: 24 May 2010 08:46 AM PDT

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, there was a panel with the video comedy house Funny Or DieMark Kvamme, a partner at Sequoia Capital (which invested in Funny Or Die) moderated a panel with Funny Or Die’s Dick Glover, Chris Henchy, and Andrew Steele. The topic was the disruption of old media with this new model of short, cheap videos. All seemed confident they would not only be able to compete with the old guard but would change the business growing forward.

Funny Or Die is already doing “tens of millions of dollars in revenue,” according to Kvamme. When he tells that to people, they don’t believe him. But advertisers are starting to come with million-dollar deals as the site grows in popularity. And while the revenues still may be nothing compared to what traditional Hollywood gets, the key is that the overhead costs are a fraction of the costs of what they are in Hollywood. Kvamme says that when he recently showed off a video to Fox, they thought it cost them tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to make. It actually only cost them $2,200.

So why would anyone want to work when they’re not getting paid as much? “We offer something that traditional companies don’t have. We offer freedom, more than money,” Steele says. That’s appealing to some big Hollywood stars because they’re vain, Steele half-jokes. But it’s also appealing to the up-and-coming generation of actors, actresses, writers, and directors, because it’s a platform that gives them a faster route to opportunity than they’re going to get in the traditional Hollywood system.

When Kvamme asked if this would kill the system in which a show like Mad Men (an expensive show to make) gets made. Steele said he thinks they can make their own Mad Men in the future. It’s all about the advertising. That’s what makes Mad Men possible on AMC, and that’s what will make it possible on the web, he says. It’s not there, yet, but it’s coming. Currently some 90% of FunnyOrDie’s revenues come from ads.

Kvamme also brought up what he thinks is the key to a successful online video company: the library. He notes that MGM is being sold for something like $2 billion even though they rarely make movies anymore. The value of the company is entirely its library. Web content houses are still too new to have large libraries, but over time that will grow. And that will make these companies’ value continue to grow.

Revealed: Google Keeps Less Than Half Of AdSense Revenue

Posted: 24 May 2010 08:45 AM PDT

Google has (finally) released its revenue share breakdown for AdSense.

For your background: AdSense has two products: one is AdSense for Content, which allows publishers to generate revenue from ads placed alongside their content.

The other is AdSense for Search, which allows publishers to place a custom Google search engine on their site and generate revenue from ads shown next to search results.

The majority of AdSense publishers are using the content product, says Google. Publishers apparently earn a 68% revenue share worldwide, meaning Google pays 68% of the revenue that they collect from advertisers.

Since launching AdSense for Content in 2003, this revenue share has never changed. For Search, partners see a 51% revenue share for the search ads that appear through their site. The AdSense for search revenue share has remained the same since 2005, when Google increased it.

While Google says it has no plans to change the rev share for now, it can’t guarantee that the revenue share will never change in the future.

Twitter To Prohibit Any Third Party To Advertise In-Stream

Posted: 24 May 2010 08:12 AM PDT

Twitterjust put up a blog post talking up its platform approach and long-term strategy. In that same post, however, the company has made some decisions that are sure to irk a couple of third-party developers and startups.

Here’s the big news: aside from (its own) Promoted Tweets, Twitter says it will not be allowing any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API. The changes will be reflected in an updated set of Terms & Conditions, which is due to be released ‘shortly’.

This is not so good news for Twitter-focused advertising startups like Ad.ly and Twad.ly (and others). It also definitely perked the ears of TweetUp, who had just launched its live beta at TechCrunch Disrupt.

You can see their initial reaction to the news below.

Here are the reasons Twitter says it decided not to allow third-parties to advertise in the stream:

First, third party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created. They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform. For example, a third party ad network may seek to maximize ad impressions and click through rates even if it leads to a net decrease in Twitter use due to user dissatisfaction.

Secondly, the basis for building a lasting advertising network that benefits users should be innovation, not near-term monetization. Twitter is uniquely dependent on and responsible for the long-term health and value of the platform. Accordingly, a necessary focus of Promoted Tweets is to explore ways to create value for our users. Third party ad networks may be optimized for near-term monetization at the expense of innovating or creating the best user experience. We believe it is our responsibility to encourage creative product development and to curb practices that compromise innovation.

It is important to keep in mind that Twitter bears all the costs of maintaining the network, protecting the Tweet stream against spam, supporting user requests, and scaling the service. Indeed, Twitter will bear many of the support costs associated with any third-party paid Tweets, as Twitter receives support emails related to anything a user sees in a tweet stream. The third-party bears few of these costs by comparison.

Twitter adds that when its new Annotations feature launches, there are going to be many new business opportunities on the Twitter platform in addition to those currently available. The three guiding principles the company touts it abides by are:

1) no control or ownership over what users tweet
2) other companies have enough opportunities to sell ads, build vertical apps, offer analytics, etc. aside from injecting paid tweets into the stream. Twitter explicitly says it’s perfectly fine with display ads and other mobile advertisements around the timelines of Twitter clients.
3) the company says it doesn’t always need to participate in the ways in which other companies monetize the network

The company does recognize that for a few companies, the new Terms of Service prohibit activities in which some have invested resources. It will be interesting to see how those companies will respond to the news.

TweetUp CEO Bill Gross, for one, says they never planned to advertise in-stream anyway, so this won’t affect them as much as you would think – and we thought – at first.

Nevertheless, it shows that certain decisions Twitter makes along the way as it moves forward with its platform and how to monetize it most efficiently should keep startups that base their entire business model on the Twitter platform on high alert.

Yahoo Finds A New Lover In Match.com, Dumps Personals

Posted: 24 May 2010 08:10 AM PDT

Match.com and Yahoo are going steady now. Yahoo Personals is out. This morning, Yahoo announced that Match.com will become the exclusive online dating site on Yahoo. Yahoo’s current online dating site, Personals, will be folded into a new co-branded site called "Match.com on Yahoo." Match already powers Yahoo Personals in a number of European markets.

Yahoo Personals users will be encouraged to migrate to Match.com on Yahoo and given the opportunity to seamlessly migrate their Yahoo Personals accounts over to the new site. Match.com on Yahoo will offer users mobile access, daily personalized matches and more advanced search tools.

Match was rumored to be interested in acquiring Yahoo Personals, but this partnership makes sense considering Yahoo can retain part of the brand. And perhaps gain advertising dollars.

Match just bought online dating site SinglesNet, and scooped up highly-targeted dating site network People Media last year for a whopping $80 million.

TweetUp Launches “AdSense For Twitter” Product At #TCDisrupt

Posted: 24 May 2010 07:28 AM PDT

TweetUp, the Twitter-focused search and advertising startup that was incubated by idealab – the original Overture founders – is launching today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City.

Serial entrepreneur Bill Gross took the stage for the event’s first ‘for show launch’ and publicly debuted TweetUp’s core service – the startup had earlier opened the gates for early-adopting advertisers only (their blog post is up too).

TweetUp’s destination site ranks Twitter search results by time and via an algorithm to determine if a result should go higher than other more recent tweets containing the keyword queried. Users will also see targeted (paid) advertiser results within that stream.

Gross explained that advertisers paying for ranking for specific keywords will also tend to be good results, since bad ads will be bid out of the system. TweetUp’s business model is based on a 50/50 revenue share system, which is a pretty compelling offer for advertisers.

TweetUp also offers any publisher embeddable widgets and other contextual layers filled with relevant live tweets based on given keywords – you can see an example in the TechCrunch.com sidebar on the right-hand side.

Additional benefit: analytics. Advertisers can use the TweetUp system to track in which Twitter clients their advertisements appear, the number of impressions served, aggregate of followers reached, and more.

The elephant in the room is of course that Twitter is experimenting with an ad platform of its own – not to mention other bidders such as Ad.ly and Twad.ly – and if TweetUp is going to be able to compete with that.

Time will tell, but Gross’ pedigree and some of the (at least for now) unique features of TweetUp might make a bigger impact than you would think at first glance.

Investors seems to agree: TweetUp has recently closed a $3.5 million first round of funding led by Index Ventures, and have taken investments from SV Angel (Ron Conway), First Round Capital, Betaworks, Steve Case, Jason Calacanis and Jeff Jarvis.

Yahoo, Nokia To Launch Co-Branded Services Around The World

Posted: 24 May 2010 07:09 AM PDT

While we already knew the subject of this news, Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz officially announced Project Nike, a distribution partnership with Nokia this morning. Nokia will build Yahoo email, search, and other applications into their devices.

As part of the agreement, Nokia will be the exclusive, global provider of Yahoo’s maps and navigation services, integrating Ovi Maps across Yahoo properties, branded as “powered by Ovi.” Yahoo will become the exclusive, global provider of Nokia’s Ovi Mail and Ovi Chat services branded as “Ovi Mail / Ovi Chat powered by Yahoo!”. Nokia and Yahoo also plan to work on ID federation between their services. Select, co-branded service offerings are expected to become available from the second half of 2010, with global availability expected in 2011.

The announcement was made at the NASDAQ in New York City. Bartz highlighted the importance of Nokia’s mapping technology integrated into Yahoo’s properties. Bartz also said they are looking to make similar partnerships with other mobile phone companies.

As my colleague MG Siegler wrote last week, this play seems to be more of a short-term gain. In terms of the long-term, the future is in smartphones, a sector where Nokia is declining. Nokia is strong, however, in sales of feature phones, which are phones that people still mainly use to do things like make phones calls and send text messages. For now, thanks to the evolving markets in third-world countries, this remains an important segment and it’s certainly a compelling opportunity for Yahoo.

Also, catch Carol Bartz speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt today about the deal and future of Yahoo.

DST’s Yuri Milner: Facebook Is Going To Be The Social Graph That Unifies All Civilization

Posted: 24 May 2010 07:09 AM PDT

If you hadn’t heard of Russian Internet holding company Digital Sky Technologies one year ago, you probably weren’t alone. But last May — almost exactly one year ago — DST took the tech industry by storm with a $200 million investment in Facebook. It followed that up with a huge investment in Zynga, one in Groupon (and another in Facebook). Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, renowned interviewer Charlie Rose is sitting down with DST co-founder and CEO Yuri Milner to talk about Facebook’s dominance, social gaming, and more.

Rose: You were on your way to becoming a physicists, then you ended up at Wharton, then the World Bank. Where did you think your life was heading.
Milner: Back to Russia.
Rose: You put together the company in 99? What was the idea?
Milner: Internet was becoming big everywhere in the world. Russia is the place I thought it would thrive. There are only 4 countries in the world other than US: China, Russia, Japan, South Korea. There were a couple of exceptions. In Russa, the main reason is engineering talent. Backstaging I looked at ACM championship (Olympics for programmers). Russia got six out of ten top places in the last decade.
Rose: When you put together the company. You wanted to create a company, DST , that would invest in Internet Companies, what is the model? How does it differ from traditional VC firms?
Milner: 10 years ago it was no different. In the last few years, it evolved toward late stage investment. This is valuation of around a billion, avg. investment of something like $100 million.
Rose; In other words, you want to see an established business. And you make this investment looking for, a payout from an IPO?
Milner: Yes. Either IPO or acquisition. I think the kind of investments we’re doing in the last 12 months are helping comkpanies to delay IPO. Get another 1, 2 years to run to focus on the product.
Rose:Why Facebook?
Milner: It was the most fascinating company we had ever met. We’ve made investments in 5 social networks before Facebook. We though we knew a few things about social networks. Facebook was a logical step.
Rose: Backstage you told me about an article in the NYT that spoke to you when we think about why social networking has become such a phenomenon.
Milner: Story was that human civ. started to develop with first social network. Emerged where population conc. was high. Helped propel to where we are now. Facebook is next step of creating huge human brain to embrace hundreds of million, possibly billions of people. Facilitate exchange of information never seen in hisotry of civilization. 10,000 pieces of information exchanged every day. In one year Facebook grew 3x. Three fold increase in information sharing per person.
Rose: You think FB will be one of most valuable companies on the internet. what would prevent it from doing that.
Milner: I think FB is important globally because it’s going to be one social graph that is unifying all civiziaiton, maybe with a few exceptions. The company that creates one global social graph will be very important going forward. It will be Facebook, with maybe 2-3 local social networks able to sustain competition long term.

Rose: You believe in Russia they’ll skip email and go right to social networks.
Milner: Russia is one of the places where sig. presence of social networks are driven by domestic players right now.
Rose: If Facebook is not dominant, where will it be?
Milner: THere are certain places in the world where the answer is out there whether FB will dominante — the four countries I already mentioned. Other places where there will be a tough battle.
Rose: What did you get out of the John Doerr Interview?
Milner: I agree that this will really change the way… When my wife bought the iPad her pattern of using the internet changed dramatically. She’s using it 10x more than before because it so useful and convenient.
Rose:Some people look at the iPad, there will be competitors. Does having the early start.. does that mean that this has not only the adstart but likelihood of gaining majority share?
Milner: I think so. I think the pace of change is really accelerating. You can become very big very fast.
Milner: I have this ration that if you divide age of entepreneur by market cap of company. For Facebook it’s one. Every year of his life Zuckerberg has been making $1 billion for investors.
Rose: What advice to you give to people like Mark Pincus?
Milner: I’m not in business of influencing them… I’m influencing by them. I can bring some global perspective. Because we’re global we can potential bring global perspective to the table.
Rose: Where are the opportunities on the Internet?
Milner: A lot of it will be driving by US, picked up elsewhere..
Rose: Are there restrictions in terms of international? Will we see some kind of loosening of who has access to the market? Or does access present a problem?
Milner: I think China is going to go its own way. Russia is completely open as far as competition is concerned. Facebook is competing with a whole bunch of local networks. FB is blocked in China.
Rose: Do you think that will change?
Milner: I don’t know. It’s a tough question. In Russia, I don’t see any signs of it changing.
Rose: Finally, Facebook privacy. Where are we.
Milner: I think the definition of privacy is changing as everything else. People view privacy now different as opposed to five years ago. There’s something called Zuckerberg law. Similar to Moore’s law. Every 12-18 months the amount of information being shared between people is doubling. Basically means that people at large don’t really see that as a huge concern. But when they do I think Facebook is providing the tools to limit the information. I think the WP article today talks about making them more visible.
Rose: You want to be in this for a long time, how do you define a long time?
Milner: I think the companies we are investing in are in 5-10-15 year trend. I do want to stick around and watch them grow..
Rose: What is it about these goldman sachs people, you’re 75% Goldman Sachs.
Milner: They didn’t give me a job 10 years ago so I’m taking their people *laughs*.

Watch TC Disrupt Live Right Here

Posted: 24 May 2010 06:59 AM PDT

Couldn't make it to TC Disrupt? You'll miss all the hallway deals, but you don't have to miss the show. Watch our full coverage right here livestreamed all day, for the next three days. Starting with Charlie Rose and John Doerr through to all the Startup Battlefield launches, we'll have live and archived video. So stick around and watch. And if your boss asks you what you are doing, say that it is market research.

Fotolia’s Flixtime Throws A Few Punches At Animoto

Posted: 24 May 2010 06:58 AM PDT

Earlier this year, we covered the launch of Flixtime - an Animoto-like slideshow generation platform developed by Franco-American online stock photo giant Fotolia. When Flixtime first came out, the service naturally seemed basic in comparison to Animoto - which has been in the slideshow space since 2006. However, only a few months into its existence with over 50,000 free videos created on its site, it seems Flixtime is already throwing punches at Animoto with some new features that go live on the site today.

John Doerr To Charlie Rose: I Use My iPad In Church

Posted: 24 May 2010 06:23 AM PDT

Today’s the opening day our of TechCrunch Disrupt conference, and we’re starting it off with a bang. Famed interviewer/journalist/host Charlie Rose is talking to John Doerr, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Doerr is known for his massively successful investments in companies such as Google, Amazon, Intuit, and more recently Zynga (among many others).

Rose asked Doerr for his thoughts about what’s coming next. Doerr says that’s we’re on the third great wave of innovation. The first was the microchip/PC in the 80s. The second was the Internet in the 90s. And now we’re entering a wave of social, mobile, and new commerce, Doerr says.

And what’s leading that wave? The iPad.

Doerr (who invested in Apple) clearly loves this device. He had one on stage with him and kept picking it up over and over again throughout the Internet. He says it will change the way we interact with everyday things such as television. And it will charge health care. But maybe most importantly, it will change education, he says.

Rose also asked Doerr about Facebook. He asked if there will be other social networks that rise, or if Facebook will rule them all. Doerr isn’t sure. He thinks there could be a federation, or that Facebook could be the one.

That said, he does consider Facebook to be one of the “four horsemen” of the Internet right now. According to him, those are: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple — yes, all Kleiner Perkins investments.

Branching off from Facebook, Zynga, another Kleiner Perkins investment, is the fastest growing investment that Kleiner has ever made, Doerr says. He believes they’ve nailed the mixture of social with a business model. It isn’t just about advertising, it’s about virtual goods. And they’ve used it for good too – to raise millions for Haiti.

Rose asked Doerr what worries him the most right now. Doerr is worried about energy. Specifically, he’s worried that he U.S. if falling too far behind in energy technology. We may dominate the web, but other countries dominate the future of energy right now, and we’re going to be buying our future from them unless this changes, he reasons.

Below find my live notes of the conversation (paraphrased):

Charlie Rose: I come to this area as a laymen. But I’ve talked to a lot of people in the space. Recently Mark Pincus of Zynga. Steve Jobs did a program with me a while ago, even before he was Steve Jobs. John Doerr and I got to know each other in the 90s. Now we’re friends.

Where are we in the revolution? What comes next?

John Doerr: Great question. I think we’re on the verge of a third great wave of innovation. The first was the microchip and the PC in the early 80s. The second wave was 1995: the Internet. Marc Andresseen brought Netscape Navigator to the world. Then Amazon came. Then in 1999 we saw the 15th search engine called “Google.”

This third wave is social, mobile, new commerce. We don’t have a name for it yet. We could be on the verge of reinventing the web. It’s people, it’s places, it’s relationships. It’s exciting.

CR: What will influence its velocity.

JD: One key thing is apps. Steve Jobs has transformed everything. It’s turning this world upside down.

CR: In the first hour with the iPhone and app, you were in right? You knew.

JD: I did. These smartphones change everything. They’re always connected, always on. It’s a powerful new platform. 85 million iPhones and iPod touches – we’re there. And now we have the iPad. It took just 28 days to sell a million of them. It’s not a big iPod. It’s a new paradigm. Imagine 10 years forward.

CR: Go ahead take 10 years forward. Steve Jobs told you “this is the best work of my life.” Why does he think that?

JD: It’s not a computer. You don’t need files. You don’t need mice. It’s magic, what you see is what you touch. I don’t want to call it a computer. It’s a magical surface.

CR: Go ahead take 10 years forward. Steve Jobs told you “this is the best work of my life.” Why does he think that?
JD: It’s not a computer. You don’t need files. You don’t need mice. It’s magic, what you see is what you touch. I don’t want to call it a computer. It’s a magical surface.

JD: I found I can take it to concerts. And church. (laughs)

CR: You own Apple stock.

JD: Regrettably (laughing). We raise $100 million iFund 14 companies from 5,000 that applied. This year those ventures will do $100 million in revenues. 80 million minutes a day in those applications. In 14 months we ran out of money. So we went back to the piggy bank to get another $100 million.

CR: What’s with Steve an Adobe?

JD: He has a note on his site about it? Flash is buggy and power problems. The iPad runs for 10 hours.

CR: Is battery improvement coming?

JD: No, it’s coming really slowly. There are some disruptive things, but it’s coming slow.

CR: What else does the iPad need to make it better?

JD: There’s the obvious things like a camera. It will be 5 times as fast, a terabyte of storage. And that’s just a few years from now. It won’t have a phone in it.

CR: What does Mark Pincus and others like Zuckerberg have in common with some of the greats?

JD: They were nerds. They had no social life whatsoever. They have a love affair with their companies. They were missionaries not mercenaries.

CR: Bill Gates was more Rockafeller then Edison.

JD: They’re passionate about product. It’s the most important thing.

CR: Talk about Kleiner Perkins. Some investments are successful, some are not. Talk about Zynga.

JD: We invested in Zynga 20 months ago, and it’s the fastest growing venture we’ve ever had. The people there are extraordinary. They can monetize these new social networks. Advertising is one part, but it’s more than that. 2% will pay for virtual goods. They also raised $3.6 million for Haiti in just a few days. It’s powerful stuff.

In any day there are 30 million people playing Farmville — that’s more than watch 60 minutes.

CR: So what can you do with that?

JD: A lot. There’s not branded place on the Internet right now to have fun. It’s about life. They become a habit that connects you.

CR: Is the core of the third wave the convergence of social and mobile?

JD: That’s at the core, but it’s changes in consumer behavior. New commerce is included. Mark Pincus’ wife Ally has a company called One King’s Land, there they find limited sale — you better get it now. It’s an idea.

CR: Social networking is an old idea, that Facebook brought into the future. Will there be one?

JD: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. There may be one, or there may be a federation.

CR: What does your history tell you?

JD: It tells us that one of the key to all of this is network effects. When you have 500 million people and you square that — it’s a huge number.

CR: Will there be more?

JD: I don’t know. Let’s see.

CR: Let’s talk about media. What about Google TV?

JD: It’s the best version of what it is that I’ve seen. For the last time we’ve watched the Super Bowl with out the Internet in your lap or on the screen. The Internet are finally coming together.

CR: Let’s talk about China.

JD: They now have more Internet users than we do. They’ve been ahead in user pay. But Google is leaving the mainland, the state is soverign. The leading players are Chinese companies. It’s a tough market for Western Companies.

CR: What does that mean for Google?

JD: (pauses) Google takes a very principled point of view. You can’t buy position in their network, for example. For a state to not let things be ranked automatically didn’t work. They stepped away from the largest market.

Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are the Four Horsemen of the Internet. Each of those have huge market and can innovate.

CR: What’s disruptive looking down the pipe?

JD: I haven’t talked about new immersive relationship between you and the medium. Again, I’m not talking about computers. It’s like the iPad. This is a fluid experience. New ways of interacting, things from Apple, Cooliris, there are others. These will improve. We’ll look back at these devices today as if it’s the stone age.

I’m excited about what the iPad can do with healthcare. The government is spending $20 billion on this. We need this information in the cloud. Every doctor and nurse needs an iPad.

CR: But someone has to teach the doctors how to do this, right? They’re too busy.

JD: Sure. Another thing is education. This tablet will transform education.

CR: But the potential in schools hasn’t taken place yet, right? But this will do it?

JD: That’s correct.

CR: Russia wants to create a Silicon Valley — so does China.

JD: I talked to one of the Russian guys behind this. He said it’s not going to work — because it’s hard.

CR: What excites you about the future — where are we missing something? What worries you?

JD: My worry isn’t about innovation in tech — the iPad is transforming things. But I worry about energy. We continue to spend too much money overseas, and we’re hurting the environment. The U.S. was the leader in the Internet.

But in new energy tech, 4 of the top 30 in new green tech re in the U.S. It’s like if Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook were all outside the U.S. Only Amazon would be American. We have to get in this game. Or we’ll be buying our energy from the world. That worries me.

That’s a wrap.

Mark Zuckerberg On Facebook’s Privacy Controls: “We Just Missed The Mark”

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:52 AM PDT

This morning in a letter published in the Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the barrage of criticism that has been directed toward the site since its set of announcements at f8. The key message: Zuckerberg says that with respect to its privacy controls “[Facebook] just missed the mark.”

The letter isn’t particularly apologetic — you won’t find words like “sorry”, “fault”, or “mistake”. Instead, it’s more of an acknowledgment that Facebook has heard the criticism and will be responding to it. Soon, Facebook will be rolling out a new set of simplified privacy controls and an easy way to “turn off all third-party services”. Here are some key quotes from Zuckerberg’s letter:

We have heard the feedback. There needs to be a simpler way to control your information. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. We are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible.

The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.

We have also heard that some people don’t understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don’t want. I’d like to clear that up now. Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.

None of this should have come as a surprise to anyone at Facebook. I’ve been writing about the looming backlash for months. Not because I’m especially prescient, but because it was really obvious to anyone paying attention. Facebook made a gamble, and it hasn’t worked out very well. At least for now — expect them to try to push the envelope again in, oh, about six months. Hopefully users will be better educated about their privacy and how to control it when that time comes.

Top photo by Steve Maller Photography

Steve Jobs’ “Non-Disappointing” Keynote Will Begin Monday, June 7 At 10 AM

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:51 AM PDT

So mr. Jobs is saying we won’t be disappointed by the announcements that will be made at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

And now the company has been gracious enough to also let us know when exactly he’ll be delivering.

Mark the date: the man’s keynote address kicks off on Monday 7 June at 10 AM PST.

We know a new iPhone is coming – but what else?

Check back here for extensive coverage of the whole event from before it starts until way after. Yes, we’re a little magical too.

Press release below:

Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs on Monday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m. This year’s WWDC sold out in a record eight days to over 5,000 developers.

The five-day event running from June 7 to June 11, is focused on providing advanced content for skilled developers across five key technology tracks: Application Frameworks; Internet & Web; Graphics & Media; Developer Tools; and Core OS. Apple engineers will deliver over 100 solutions-oriented technical sessions and labs.

WWDC 2010 gives an incredibly diverse community the opportunity to connect with thousands of fellow iPhone®, iPad™ and Mac® developers from around the world.

Constant Contact Acquires Social Media Inbox Startup Nutshell Mail

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:43 AM PDT

Email marketing company Constant Contact has acquired NutshellMail, a FbFund-backed startup that provides an innovative web-based service that lets users send and receive your messages from social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, in your email inbox. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2007, NutshellMail was one of twenty startups incubated within the 2009 class of fbFund REV, Facebook’s joint program with Accel Partners and Founders Fund aimed to help foster quality applications on Facebook Platform.

Constant Contact will use Nutshell to compliment its email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools for small businesses and nonprofit Constant Contact also announced it will open a Bay Area office.

A number of fbFund startups have seen exits over the past year or so. Groupcard was just acquired by InComm, Weardrobe was acquired by Like.com last fall and WedSnap, the developer of Facebook app WeddingBook was bought up by the Knot.com.

Flash Kills Browsing In Android 2.2 Froyo

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:43 AM PDT

Brian at PocketNow posted a browser comparison video showing the iPhone, the Nexus One, and the HTC HD2 all viewing the same websites. He installed Froyo on the Nexus One and downloaded the Flash beta which allows him to run almost all Flash content. It's really long.While I do enjoy a long video of a man playing with Android phones, 11 minutes worth of a man playing with phones (found after the jump) might be a bit tiring. However, the money shot comes at about 1:40 where you see some Flash games playing in the wild. I think the most interesting part of that part of the video is how close Flash games running on a good processer are to standard, natively written games. So fine, you say, things look great. Why not run Flash?

SCVNGR At TechCrunch Disrupt: Win The Trek, Win An iPad

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:30 AM PDT

SCVNGR, the location- and mobile-based social gaming platform, has an offer for those of you lucky enough to be here at TechCrunch Disrupt. They’ve created a trek (a set of challenges, to the uninitiated) based on locations in and around Disrupt, and if you’re game, you stand a chance of winning a shiny new iPad.

I’m guessing there will be a number of check-in missions in addition to more involved ones like making a tower of Red Bull cans. I’d throw my hat into the ring, except I’ve already got more iPads than I know what to do with. I’m considering building a sort of shrine. But if you could use an iPad, and you have an iPhone or Android device, go download the SCVNGR app and start trekking.

If you’re really into this kind of thing, you’ll probably be happy to hear that you’ll get a badge (pictured in all its glory right over there –>) for completing enough challenges. The winner will be the one with the most points at the end of the conference. Get to it!

IBM Acquires Sterling Commerce From AT&T For $1.4 Billion

Posted: 24 May 2010 05:15 AM PDT

IBM is acquiring Sterling Commerce from AT&T for approximately $1.4 billion in cash. Sterling Commerce applications streamline the commerce lifecycle from selling to fulfillment to payments. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2010.

IBM says the acquisition of Sterling will expand its ability to help organizations connect and communicate with customers, partners and suppliers both on-premise or through cloud computing delivery models.More than 18,000 customers use Sterling Commerce offerings.

This year, IBM bought up cloud computing company Cast Iron, health care data management firm Initiate and Intelliden. Last year, IBM acquired six companies, including Guardium, RedPill Solutions, SPSS, Ounce Labs, Exeros and Outblaze.

The List Of Startups Launching At TechCrunch Disrupt

Posted: 24 May 2010 04:00 AM PDT

We are only a few hours away from kicking off the first ever TechCrunch Disrupt conference and we are thrilled to announce the 20 startups that were chosen out of hundreds to present their applications over the next few days. We will also hear pitches from the two StartupAlley companies that receive the most votes over the next two days.

These startups will battle it out over three intense days, with one of these startups eventually taking home $50,000.

Audioo: The Audioo platform allows users to auto-stream, publicly share, and store voicemails from handsets and services including Google Voice.

Appbistro: Appbistro is an application marketplace for Facebook pages.

Art.sy: Art.sy is the destination to discover and share original fine art online.

Betterment: Betterment is intended to be a replacement for your savings account, allowing you to invest in two portfolios.

ChompOn: ChompOn allows any business to run its own social flash sales.

Compass Labs: Compass Labs is a social e-commerce ad network for Twitter.

Fluidinfo: FluidInfo is a Wikipedia of databases – a shared online always-writable cloud database.

Geotoko: Geotoko is a promotional campaign management platform for geo location based services.

Keenkong: Keenkong is a social media monitoring engine that extracts why people are talking, what are they talking about, who they are and then segments messages accordingly.

Live Matrix: Live Matrix is a guide to video events and streams taking place on the web.

Movieclips.com: Movieclips.com is an online database of movie clips.

NoiseToys: NoiseToys is a software company uses games and competition to encourage users to share and discover music.

Off & Away: Off & Away is an online travel site that offers exceptional travel experiences in fun and unique ways.

Publish2: Publish2 allows newspapers to create a comprehensive, customized newswire for print.

Soluto: Soluto’s software aims to detect PC users’ frustrations, reveal their cause, learn which actions really eliminate them and improve user experience.

Textingly: Textingly provides a texting address, a web management console and apis for businesses to create immediate, two-way dialog with their customers.

Tickreel: Tickreel is a web filter that makes the web less of a black box and significantly improves how users consume the web.

UJAM: UJAM is a cloud-based platform that allows users to create new music or enhance their existing musical talent and share it with friends.

VideoGenie: VideoGenie allows companies to customer-source video testimonials.

WeReward: WeReward is a mobile incentive platform that rewards consumers for check-ins or performing tasks.

“Evil” App Displays Cell Numbers Of Unwitting Facebook Users

Posted: 24 May 2010 03:27 AM PDT

Back in the early cretaceous period - ok, make that 2006 - users of Facebook thought they were using a private social network. As a result they did all sorts of things which they probably wouldn't have made public. Of course, now we know that Mark Zuckerberg believes that "if people share more, the world will become more open and connected". In plain English that means Facebook wants to open up much of your data to the outside world, assuming you haven't gone through your privacy settings with a fine-toothed comb. And as we all now know "Public" on Facebook effectively means "On Google". Now, London-based developer Tom Scott has created a Web app called, simply, Evil which randomly displays the private phone numbers of unsuspecting Facebook users.

TechCrunch Disrupt: The Whole Event (And More) Streaming Live On TC

Posted: 24 May 2010 12:44 AM PDT

The waiting – as they say – is almost over.

In a few short hours the starting gun will be fired for the very first TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Over 1500 attendees have registered to join us in New York for a three day program of keynotes and panels featuring some of the most disruptive names in technology, plus the startup battlefield where 22 would-be disruptive companies will compete head to head for the Disrupt Cup (and $50k in cash). The buzz on Twitter speaks for itself – #tcdisrupt is the conference that everyone is talking about.

But if you can’t make it to NYC, we have some great news: we’ll be live streaming the entire event right here, beginning at 8:30am Eastern (5:30am Pacific).

But at Disrupt, ‘live streaming’ doesn’t mean we’re just pointing a camera at the stage. Oh no. For a start, there will be three cameras broadcasting all the action from the main stage. But also, during the gaps between sessions, and over the lunch and coffee breaks, our own Evelyn Rusli will be hosting a series of exclusive backstage interviews with judges, speakers, panelists and contest participants. We’ll also be covering all the action from start-up alley and the conference hallways, plus highlights of the after-parties and a few extra surprises that are too awesome to spoil here in advance. Joining Evelyn, expect to see a star-studded line-up of TC writers and editors on screen throughout the day(s).

All in all, that’s nine hours of live and uninterrupted Disruption each day, for three days.

In fact we’re expecting the live stream to be so great that even those lucky enough to be at the conference will still want to watch the coverage back when they get home. Which luckily they will be able to do as every single panel, keynote, start-up battlefield session, backstage interview and awesome surprise will be available to watch again on demand, minutes after each one ends. AND for those of you who aren’t on Eastern Time, we’ll be re-running the best of the conference overnight too.

Of course, all of this impressive programming requires some equally impressive technology. And for that we’re eternally grateful for the support of our broadcast partner, Livestream. Livestream has sent a full crew – plus a ton of technology – to Disrupt to ensure that you don’t miss a moment of the action. We couldn’t have done any of this without them, particularly CEO Max Haot and Head of Production, Otto Cedeno.

Speaking of people we couldn’t have done this without – this seems like a perfect time to give credit to producer Sophia Kittler who will be coordinating over 27 hours of video over the next three days, and also to Evelyn Rusli who will be in the studio for most of that time. Sophia and Evelyn have been working their assess off these past days and weeks, in addition to their day jobs preparing for the imminent launch of TechCrunch TV. I’m nominally the ‘creative director’ – whatever that means – of the on-screen programming, but really it’s Sophia and Evelyn who have done all of the hard work – both creatively and logistically. Kudos to them both.

One final thing: you too can be part of the Disrupt TV action simply by ensuring that you use the hashtage #tcdisrupt when you tweet about the event. We’ll be picking our favourite tweets and scrolling them across the bottom of the screen throughout the conference. We’ll do our best to read some of them out on air too.

Ok – that’s all until 8:30am. Stay tuned!

Printing Objects Is A Snap With MakerBots (Video)

Posted: 23 May 2010 11:19 PM PDT

Now, for under $1,000 you can print your own objects in 3D. Just take a look at how it’s done in this video, which I took over the weekend before Disrupt got started. We had a Hackathon with about 300 engineers who came to cobble together software and hardware products in 24 hours. Among them was Zach Hoeken of MakerBot Industries. His MakerBot is making an open-source toilet holder (which may not be something the world really needs, but it sure does look cool).

The MakerBot can print almost any small object from a design file on your computer: open-source toilet holders, open-source bottle openers, human figurines. It prints it out in layers of plastic. The designs are open-source, allowing anybody to manufacture them without paying a royalty. People share their 3D designs on Thingiverse. Come on, you know you want one.

The Third Disruptive Wave #tcdisrupt

Posted: 23 May 2010 09:05 PM PDT

Warning: Long post ahead. If you just want the trailer, it’s this – “Everything is changing. Again.”

Tomorrow morning we’ll kick off our most ambitious event to date, TechCrunch Disrupt, in New York. The event is sold out, but we’ll have tens of thousands of people also tuning in to the livestream of the three day event. If you’re not attending, watch that livestream from the comfort of your office, living room or wherever it is that you people spend your time. There are some things happening at the event that you don’t want to miss.

We’ve called the event TechCrunch Disrupt, but we weren’t thinking about the name as a theme for this particular event. It’s our go forward brand name for our three-times-a-year launch and tech conferences.

And yet, as I have conversations with the launching startups and the amazing speakers lined to to talk at Disrupt, it’s become clear to me that we are indeed in a massively disruptive moment. And by moment I’m not talking about a generation or a decade. I’m talking about things happening right this moment in time.

These conversations are why, for the first time, I am extremely nervous to go on stage tomorrow morning.

Until the last few days it hasn’t crystalized for me. It’s sort like when you’re getting the flu and you feel the symptoms come one by one. Stomach ache, no problem. Headache, ouch. Cold sweat – uh oh, I’ve caught something.

The “symptoms” I’ve noticed are only there because I’ve been sitting down with these people – leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and others – and just listening to what they have to say. Putting it all together in my head. Discounting for bias. And after all that, what they are saying is making a lot of sense to me.

You are going to hear a lot over the next three days about how our world is changing in a fundamental way. It’s easy to think about what’s happening now as just a further evolution of the Internet era. But the disruption from this change is more profound than that.

Before I dive deeper, here’s a taste of what I’m talking about. Venture capitalist John Doerr, who is arguably the most successful venture capitalist of all time, told me this during our briefing call for Disrupt:

Zynga is the fastest growing business Kleiner Perkins has ever invested in.

That was said by a man who’s firm has invested in Google. And Amazon. And AOL, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Flextronics, Genentech, Intuit, Lotus Development, LSI Logic, Macromedia, Netscape, Quantum, Segway, Sun Microsystems, and Tandem, among many, many others.

Zynga. The fastest growing business Kleiner Perkins has ever invested in.

First thing tomorrow John Doerr is going to outline why he thinks that is happening. He’ll talk about the Third Wave.

The First Wave was personal computers and the wave of disruption that caused. The second wave was the Internet, ditto. We are now, says Doerr, in the Third Wave.

What exactly is the Third Wave? It’s the tectonic shifts we’re seeing in mobile platforms (read his post here about the iPad), the social graph (particularly Facebook), and online commerce. All of these things are related and being accelerated by each other (Facebook is the largest mobile application, Zynga leverages Facebook and also stokes Facebook growth, Groupon is social/flash commerce, etc.).

Yuri Milner, who is second on deck on tomorrow morning’s agenda after John Doerr, made sense of all this to me over lunch yesterday.

Milner is investing in the fastest growing consumer Internet companies, and he’s doing it more aggressively than anyone else. He has stakes in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. His method is fascinating and we’ll be diving deeper into it tomorrow.

But what shocked me into realizing that Doerr is very, very right and that real disruption is happening right now wasn’t the how he invests, but why he invests, and in who. Why is he so confidently investing hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in companies at multi-billion dollar valuations?

The Internet was a tremendous business accelerator, he says, but Facebook is another accelerator on top of that. Zynga’s Farmville grew to 75 million users just a few months after launching last year, and the company went from near zero revenue a year ago to hundreds of millions of dollars today.

It wasn’t that Zynga invented the killer game (every single Zynga game was copied from someone else, in fact). It’s that CEO Mark Pincus understood better than anyone else how to leverage that Facebook accelerator and ride that tsumani.

And when I asked him what Groupon, his third U.S. investment, has to do with the Facebook accelerator effect? He says that they grew so incredibly fast simply by advertising on Facebook.

Groupon tweaked and tweaked their model endlessly until they got it right – they felt real traction. Then they turned on the advertising. And what worked wasn’t television spots or Google ads. It was Facebook.

That must be freaking Google out right about now. It’s also the cornerstone of my belief that we are entering into the Age of Facebook. At no point in history has such a large number of people interacted so intimately with anything. Facebook’s half a billion monthly visitors is probably far more meaningful (although not yet as lucrative), as the nearly 1 billion people who visit Google each month.

The depth of interaction with Facebook is unprecedented. And it explains a lot of the privacy hysteria we’re all going through with them right now.

Ok, Back To Earth

The Third Wave is happening, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Twitter and a few others are the only winners, or even the biggest winners. Facebook may have created a monster that it simply cannot control, for example. The social graph, over time, may well become more of a federated model with many players. Listen closely to what both Milner, a Facebook investor, and Doerr, who isn’t, have to say about that tomorrow.

But those are just the historical details about who wins and who loses. The shift is happening right now. Groupon is blowing away Amazon’s early revenue and profit milestones by a scary factor, for example. Don’t think Amazon isn’t looking at Groupon with the same wary eye Google uses on Facebook.

And when you look at the world in this way – a Third Wave – it becomes easier to understand the strategic moves by the incumbents from the Second Wave. Yahoo is fleeing, looking for a warm place to hide. AOL is BFFing Facebook. Facebook is trying to set up the chess board so that they win all of this in the long run. And Google is standing toe to toe with Facebook and will not be backing down any time soon.

Meanwhile, the only mobile platforms that matter even a smidgen right now are the iPhone and Android. And that war looks too much like the Windows/Apple wars in the 80s over dominance of the personal computer.

There is so much creation going on around us. With that comes destruction, too. Nobody dies quietly in an all out war.

It’s Not Just Twitter And Facebook. Disrupt Is An App Platform, Too.

Posted: 23 May 2010 08:04 PM PDT

Facebook, Twitter, and other places people gather, socialize and share, have turned out to be ideal app platforms. At TechCrunch Disrupt, we’re taking this trend offline.  Disrupt is our media and technology conference starting tomorrow. Check out our amazing agenda. And yes, we will sell tickets at the door. Disrupt-as-platform started yesterday with our developer-packed Hack Day and Scrapyard Challenge, whose winners—including a team that built an app to play Super Mario Brothers by blinking—will be returning to Disrupt to demo to the 1,500-strong (and still growing) crowd on Wednesday.

Disrupt will continue as a platform tomorrow during the show, with a load of interactive apps and experiences designed to engage our guests—from apps to help the audience vote for the best startups onstage and in the Startup Alley to geo-mobile games based that can only be played by attendees . I’m going to call out the sponsors specifically who’ve thrown a lot of energy, talent and moolah at making Disrupt their platform.

SecondMarket is turning our audience into a quasi-secondary market for a few hours each day during our Startup Battlefield competiton. They’ve created an audience-voting app that will tabulate real-time voting by simulating a marketplace. If you like the startup you see, you buy their stock. If you don’t, you sell it. Prices rise and fall based on audience action. At the end of each round of demos, the results determine the audience-choice vote. Cool, huh?

SCVNGR is using their geo-mobile game to turn Disrupt into a treasure hunt of sorts.  If you complete enough challenges, you win a TC Disrupt badge—and one winners gets an iPad. It will be interesting to see whether this transforms the usual coffee-swilling, networking vibe into a dash for points.

Twilio is setting up an SMS-based system to vote for your favorite startup, from among the early-stage startups exhibiting throughout the venue in Startup Alley. The crowd’s favorite joins our onstage Battlefield.

Friends Around has a mobile app that combines their ‘Nearby’ and ‘Chat’ features to help you meet people at the conference, identify a secret code and be entered into a raffle for a grand prize. For more info go here and download the app here.

Knight News Challenge is fishing for innovative folks shaking up the news business at Disrupt. They are hosting an interactive lunch entrepreneurs in media, news, publishing and related fields. And they’re distributing $25 million to the top news innovators.

uGallery is turning our venue, a gutted Merrill Lynch office, into an art gallery of sorts with cool and edgy NYC-themed canvasses. The chic-but-affordable art startup will be onsite, in case your startup needs transformation from a cubicle farm into, well, a cubicle farm with nice art.

See you at Disrupt!

Zynga And 7-Eleven Strike Branding Deal, 10% Of The U.S. Now Playing FarmVille

Posted: 23 May 2010 05:58 PM PDT

Zynga has had a busy week. The social gaming giant struck a five-year partnership with Facebook, acquired Chinese social gaming company XPD Media and opened an office in Beijing. And today, Zynga is announcing its first retail and product partnership in the company’s history. 7-Eleven has partnered with Zynga to offer FarmVille, Mafia Wars-and YoVille-branded items on many of the convenience store’s products, including on Slurpee and Big Gulp cups in its 7,000 stores.

In total there will be more than 30 branded items in store, ranging from cups, bottles water, a signature ice cream and more. Consumers will be able to connect back to the social games by using their product redemption codes for limited edition 7-Eleven goods within FarmVille, Mafia Wars and YoVille. This revenue share deal stemmed from the recent launch of Zynga gift cards in 7-11 stores. The campaign will begin on June 1 and will last for six-weeks.

Zynga says this partnerships represents a way for Zynga to bring its brand to the masses offline. And the company released a new stat showing that 10% of the US is playing FarmVille and 80% of its players are engaging every day with either FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and YoVille.

While Zynga is still tied to Facebook for now, the gaming company has made it abundantly clear that it still plans to maintain its independence as a business, through its Zynga Live project and other avenues. This branding and promotional partnership should certainly help to make its brand more of a household name.

An Inside Look At Facebook Questions, The Next “Killer App” Of Facebook

Posted: 23 May 2010 05:52 PM PDT

When word first got out that Facebook was working on a question & answer service, the immediate reaction was that it would a “Quora killer.” That’s an obvious and sexy statement to make since Quora was built by former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo and engineer/manager Charlie Cheever. And it’s even more sexy since Benchmark invested in the service at a $86 million valuation (and it’s not out of private beta yet). But Blake Ross, the Facebook employee (with quite the illustrious history of his own) behind the project quickly poured water on those fires — on Quora, naturally.

So what is Facebook Questions? If it’s not a Quora-killer, is it an Aardvark (recently purchased by Google) eater? Or is it something else? Only those lucky enough to have access to the very limited test know for sure. So we got the story from one of them.

Sid Yadav, a Facebook users in New Zealand, has been using Facebook Questions within his Facebook social circle for the past month or so. His take-away? It could be “the next killer app of Facebook,” he says.

He also confirms that it feels different from Quora because it “seems to be more intimate/fun/terse than intellectual/useful/detailed.” Here’s his full run-down in his own words — complete with pictures of what it looks like. Notably, you’ll see that “Questions” has been added to left-column of Facebook, where many of Facebook’s main functions lay. Yes, this is going to be a big product.

Here’s Yadev:

For the past month, I’ve been a part of what seems like a secret beta of Facebook Questions, as have most people in my network. If its recent push to making status updates a front-facing feature was a swipe against Twitter, and its planned check-in feature is one against Foursquare, this seems to be the equivalent to a Q&A site like Quora or Aardvark.

In the sidebar, among ‘News Feed’, ‘Messages’, ‘Events’ and ‘Photos’, there’s a ‘Questions’ tab. Clicking on it brings up a page full of questions and answers. At the top is a “What do you want to know?” box, akin to its “What’s on your mind?” status update box. I can ask a question, and attach what’s known as ‘question topics’ to it. These topics, Facebook claims, will “show your questions to the right people” — a feature that is at the crux of a service like Aardvark.

The question then appears on my friends’ (and appropriate answerers’) ‘Questions tab, which they can then answer. So far, some popular questions among my network include “Who is your favorite glee character?”, “Why do people still push when the door says pull?”, and “Where do people get good massages in Christchurch [New Zealand]?”.

Unlike Quora, which is in private beta right now and one of which I’ve been also a part of, the quality of questions and answers on Facebook Questions seems to be more intimate/fun/terse than intellectual/useful/detailed. When rolled out at a large scale, I can definitely see it becoming potentially the next killer app of Facebook. Whenever I have something to know I think my friends can help me with, or even a fun ‘Pirates or ninjas?’ discussion, I’d look no further than Facebook Questions. It may end up taking off among Facebook’s more intellectual users whose utility of the service is slightly beyond operating a virtual farm and tagging party photos.

Unveiled: The TechCrunch Disrupt Cup

Posted: 23 May 2010 10:40 AM PDT

The countdown to the official launch of TechCrunch Disrupt in New York is down to the last several hours. Things kick off Monday morning at 9 am EST with Charlie Rose and John Doerr, and we run from there for three days.

Half of the event is a startup launch battlefield where 22 new companies and products will show their stuff to the world for the first time on stage. Startups are eliminated over three rounds until we have a “final four” for best of show. Eventually an overall winner will be chosen.

The winner receives a cash prize of $50,000, although that has paled in importance to the massive press and user awareness that the companies will get from their time at Disrupt.

But we’ve also decided to add another award into the mix – The TechCrunch Disrupt Cup. This is a 16 inch tall sterling silver cup trophy weighing in at nearly six pounds – more than five pounds of pure silver. It holds 15 pints of your favorite beverage.

Like the Stanley Cup in hockey, this is an award that the winner will only be able to keep until someone else wins it. In our case, for 3-4 months until the next TechCrunch Disrupt (which will be in September 2010 in San Francisco). Winner’s names will be engraved onto the trophy and it will be handed down from winner to winner over the coming years and, hopefully, decades. We will have replicas of the trophy made for the winners to keep forever as well.

There’s a fascinating history behind this trophy as well. It was created by the Gorham Manufacturing Company in 1920 and awarded in 1934 for a bowling championship.

After a very long search for the perfect Trophy Cup, we found it and bought it.

We’ve had the initial engraving removed by Jeffrey Herman, the founder and executive director of the Society of American Silversmiths. The Disrupt Cup will be re-engraved with the TechCrunch Disrupt master logo next week. Until then, we’ve slapped a TechCrunch Disrupt sticker on it.

If you’ve been to our annual Crunchies event you know we like to give crazy awards away. We’re hoping the Disrupt Cup will be an exciting award for Disrupt startups to aim for. And for those winners, we hope that it serves as a good luck charm extraordinaire.

You’ll see lots of pictures of the Disrupt Cup over the next few days. Now you know the story behind the award.


Post a Comment