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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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How Can Technology Impact Social Change?

Posted: 26 May 2010 09:19 AM PDT

As digital tools create communities, how will they meet society and the larger world? That’s the question that an interesting trio tried to answer at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

This is what Scott Heiferman (CEO of Meetup), Chris Hughes (co-founder of Facebook and now Executive Director at Jumo) and Reshma Saujani, Congressional Candidate for the 14th district in New York, had to say on the topic.

Erick Schonfeld: Chris, you were the developer of President Obama's campaign website and social media campaign for the 2008 Presidential election. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Chris: It was all about creating a culture of sharing, of which social networks like Facebook were really only one piece of the puzzle. We tried to empower people to speak up using their favorite online services and build relationships on the Web and beyond. It’s also what we’re trying to do with Jumo, for non-profits specifically.

Erick: How do you use the Web to engage citizens beyond giving money?

Chris: Giving money is really what happens last – the first two pieces are helping people understand why an entity is important, and keeping up with it through email, Facebook, MySpace. You have to get in front of people as often as possible, foster relationships, build understanding. It’s not just about donation.

Erick: Reshma, what did you learn from the Obama campaign, and how are you using the Web for yours?

Reshma: First of all, Scott and Chris have really been trailblazers, they changed the process. As for me: I knew I was running against incumbents, and I realize that technology has the ability to disrupt establishment. It’s harder for an outsider like me to run against these embedded heavyweights, and digital tools helps me out a lot. We knew we needed 30k votes to win, so we had to build our own machine for that. We asked ourselves how we could get people engaged, not just through Facebook and Twitter. So we use a platform called pro.act.ly to keep track of supporters, to find out where they are, what they’re doing for us, you know, basically measure the intensity of commitment.

Erick: So it’s like a dashboard for your campaign managers?

Reshma: And other people, but yes.

Chris: In my opinion, this is what campaigning is all about.

Erick: Pro-act-ly looks a lot like marketing campaign tools used by advertisers online.

Reshma: Yes, we’re constantly engaging with and monitoring the movement.

Erick: Scott, can you talk about how you think the online and offline world are converging? How do you see that accelerating?

Scott: In my view, social change goes way beyond politics. Using the Internet to get off the Internet is a larger notion. You know, how is it that people are more powerful, beyond being consumers or a passive audience, getting involved in something?

Scott on stage also introduced Meetup Everywhere.

Scott: we have nearly 50k meetups a week, only 1% of which i tech related. Everywhere is a brand new platform, an easy way for any organization to spark meetups everywhere, about them. It’s about turning followers into a movement. Seth Godin is an early adopter.

Scott: Meetup Everywhere lets you sort meetups by number of people attending, location and date. It’s basically an easy way to connect people (and more powerful than the iPad, too). Early users are Foursquare, Groupon, fred Wilson, The Huffington Post and … TechCrunch (more about that here).

Erick: Chris, what could you have done with this?

Chris: I think it’s great. It’s the type of thing that holds more potential for smaller, more agile campaigns.

Reshma: We’re absolutely going to use this.

Chris: If I may … the big question of this panel is: how can technology accelerate and impact social change? With existing networks and startups, it’s easier to build movement, but I’m focused on how do you make sure that energy turns into practice and action. At Jumo, we’re thinking about how individuals can more easily connect to their supporters, and building the infrastructure for all types of organizations to benefit from this.

Erick: What do you think the next presidential election campaign’s going to be like?

Chris: I think we’re going to see what we saw with the Obama campaign, but amplified. You’ll see a lot more people putting budget into these tools, more data mining efforts, more attention paid to relationship-building. I’m sure Facebook Connect will play a big role there.

Erick: Reshma, what’s the most effective way to engage people online in your view?

Reshma: I talk to a lot of people who tell me: “Washington is not listening to me” – they have a sense of not being part of the government. So we’re going to change that by having things like online office hours, reach out to people proactively, crowd-source ideas, making accountability a key part of the whole thing.

Erick: Do you see online tools also being used to govern rather than get someone in office?

Chris: Well, what’s happened at the federal level recently is pretty impressive, opening the data sets, provide more oversight, etcetera. I think this would not have happened under another administration, they’re moving really fast. But I acknowledge that some people are a bit disappointed in technology’s ability to sustain movements. Technology can’t do it on its own, it’s all about creating this culture of sharing.

Scott: I think the 2012 election campaigns will look a lot more like the tea party movement (which uses Meetup). You’ll see a lot more depth at the local organization levels.



Google’s Gundotra On Apple, The Fight For Developers’ Hearts [Video]

Posted: 26 May 2010 09:17 AM PDT

After wrapping up Tuesday’s panel on the future of mobile with Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley and Facebook’s Chris Cox, Google’s Vice-President of Engineering Vic Gundotra joined us backstage for a brief video interview. We discussed the development of location based services, the challenge of penetrating developing markets, Google TV and of course, Google’s little tiff with Apple.

I pressed him on his Apple “jabs” at this month’s Google I/O, which was well documented by this site and several others. Amusingly, he said his jokes and comments were not “necessarily jabs at Apple,” but rather a way to outline the companies’ distinctions and “done in a spirit of good fun.” It was certainly a lot of fun but come on Vic— you can call it a “jab,” a “swipe,” a “dig,” a “poke” (a delicious dessert treat?) and no matter how you dress it, Google was making clear, well articulated criticisms against Apple.

So what does he think Apple will do? I asked him whether he thinks Apple will eventually try to become more open after receiving a fair share of criticism from developers. After acknowledging that he could not predict Apple’s next move, he did say that he expects Apple to  “adjust to market dynamics.” You’ll have to watch his body language n the video below to read more into his words.

Beyond the Apple fun, Gundotra made several interesting comments that could point to Google future direction:

-location will be integrated in virtually everything that we do

-LBS market will naturally segment

-potential of a super hyper local and event driven LBS  (i.e. if you’re at an airport, your phone could tell you what gate you’re at, or if you’re at a venue, your phone will tell you about the event, nearby events)

-The challenge of serving emerging markets where the dominant computing device is the mobile phone and it is not a smartphone but a more limited device. He predicts smartphone prices could drop dramatically in the next few years.

-Google is looking closely at the tablet market, they are doing some interesting work in this space. More announcements to come.



Meetup Everywhere: Turn Your Followers Into A Real Movement. And Celebrate Our Bday!

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:54 AM PDT

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Scott Heiferman, the CEO of Meetup showed off his newest product with potentially big real world ramifications: Meetup Everywhere.

Meetup, an online way to establish real world meetups, has seen success with its core product. There are now some 50,000 meetups a week going on almost everywhere in the world thanks to the service, Heiferman says. But Meetup Everywhere is a brand new platform — it creates an easy way for an organization, company, or movement to spark a meetup simultaneously anywhere, not just in one location.

As you might expect, TechCrunch is a launch partner for the product. And we’re using it for a good reason. On June 11, TechCrunch is celebrating its 5th birthday. We have a birthday party every year, but it’s always limited to some place in the Bay Area. Now, those people who wish to celebrate as well but can’t make it to the Bay Area, can host their own gatherings around the world. And we can track them all through Meetup Everywhere.

There are already TechCrunch birthday meetups set up in 52 cities around the world. Hopefully we can send out some stuff to help celebrate.

And there are 14 other launch partners for this platform. They include VC Fred Wilson, author Seth Godin, Foursquare, and the Huffington Post.

This is more important than the iPad — it’s more powerful than the iPad,” Heiferman says. It’s a way to “turn your followers into a real movement.”



Google’s Arora: We May Be A One-Trick Pony, But It’s A Pretty Good Trick

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:40 AM PDT

Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, TechCrunch Editor Michael Arrington sat down to chat with
Nikesh Arora, President, Global Sales Operations and Business Development, for Google. Michael started the conversation off focusing on Google’s $24 billion revenue (which flows through Arora’s office), and its considerable growth in revenue since 2004 (When it hovered around $2 billion).

Michael called upon Yahoo CEO’s famous quote indicating that Google is a one-trick pony of sorts. She stated earlier this year search is 99 percent of Google’s business, saying that the search giant has to grow “Yahoo” per year. Arora was quick to respond that ‘if we are a one trick pony, we have a pretty good trick.’

But it’s no secret that Google is looking at other revenue streams besides search, including Android, Video (YouTube) and Google Apps. While Arora declined to state YouTube’s revenue, he did say that there is going to be a tremendous amount of innovation around video and video advertising, stating that “online video will be a big part of our lives.”

When asked if cloud based productivity suite Google Apps is the company’s “second trick,” Arora said that Google hopes for Apps to be a billion dollar revenue stream in three to four years. Google’s forecasts come as no surprise, as the company has been aggressively lobbying enterprises and small businesses to move to the cloud.



Ogmento First AR Gaming Startup To Win VC Funding

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:37 AM PDT

Some pretty big news on the Augmented Reality gaming space today. Ogmento Inc. has closed $3.5 million in Series A equity financing to expand its AR game platform and its operations in New York and Los Angeles. The round was led by Chart Venture Partners with participation from CNF Investments and other private investors. Perhaps the reason this is most significant is that this appears to be the first time such a company has received significant venture funding.

So far Ogmento has developed AR experiences for Penguin Publishing, SAP, Orange Telecom, Smith and Nephew, and PBS, and is doing games with CPG, and other sports enterprises.

Chart has already made investments in hardware and software areas related to AR so this closes the loop quite nicely.

Matthew McCooe of Chart Venture Partners and Joe Del Guercio of CNF join Ogmento's board, along with founders Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, and Inbar. Cole Van Nice, a partner with Chart, will also join Ogmento's management team.



Clickable Introduces The Master Campaign At #TCDisrupt

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:19 AM PDT

It’s the last day of the first edition of the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, and our awesome program continues to be, well, awesome.

Earlier this morning, we had Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey do a demo of Square, and we also had David S. Kidder, CEO of search advertising startup Clickable, show off a brand new product the company is cooking up.

Kidder kicked off by saying that there is tremendous potential in social advertising, which commands about 50% of ad spend in the United States today (the other half goes to search). Clickable sees friction in the marketplace, which makes things complicated for many advertisers, particularly first-timers, who don’t always know where to start spending their first dollars and what works best.

Kidder demoed an alpha version of the new product, dubbed The Master Campaign, which will basically allow advertisers to launch campaigns across a variety of search engines and social networks in one go.

Customers will be able to use the Web-based dashboard of The Master Campaign to indicate what they’re trying to achieve (branding or customer acquisition), set a monthly budget, define their target audience based on age, gender and location and enter keywords.

Clickable will then mine all that data and pre-build campaigns across Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter, Yahoo Search Marketing and Facebook. Advertisers can tweak the settings, edit the ad copy if warranted, launch campaigns across all those platforms with a single click and get custom performance reports.

The Master Campaign will be launched in public beta in Q3 of this year.

NY-based Clickable launched at TechCrunch40 back in 2007, has since raised over $20 million in venture funding and has former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller on its board.

The startup said on stage that it now employs over 140 people full-time (and aims to grow by another 100 in the next 12 months) and has over 1,000 paying customers.



Zynga Continues To Expand Beyond Facebook, Forges Major Partnership With Yahoo

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:15 AM PDT

If you thought Zynga’s recent peace treaty with Facebook meant the end of its efforts to expand its reach beyond the social network, think again. Today, Zynga has announced that it has forged a deal with Yahoo to feature its games throughout Yahoo’s network — a move that will put Zynga’s games in front of Yahoo’s 600 million users.

At this point details on the deal are a bit vague — the games aren’t rolling out onto Yahoo for a couple of months, and neither company has announced which games will be integrated. That said, we can likely expect Zynga megahits like Farmville to be featured prominently, perhaps even on the Yahoo Homepage (which would be a huge win for Zynga). Yahoo also says that games and/or updates will be available through many of its properties, including the Yahoo Games portal, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Messenger. Games will be deployed in the US first, followed by a global rollout.

All of this comes just a week after Zynga agreed to enter into a five-year partnership with Facebook to continue its presence on the social network, after tensions between the companies almost led to war. Details of the deal weren’t disclosed, but we’ve heard rumors that Facebook was pushing to keep exclusivity over Zynga’s games, which obviously hasn’t happened.

This isn’t the first time Zynga has expanded beyond Facebook. Last fall it launched a Facebook Connect-enabled version of Farmville at Farmville.com, and it integrated its games into MSN Games back in February. And there’s also Zynga’s rumored independent game portal Zynga Live looming in the future.

It’s also worth pointing out that today’s announcement is coinciding with Yahoo’s Investor Day, and will probably be pitched as part of its recent drive to increase its social functionality.

Update: I spoke with Cody Simms, Yahoo’s Senior Director of Product/UED for Yahoo! Social Platforms, about the news. When I asked if Zynga games would be featured prominently on the Yahoo Homepage, Simms said that details are still being worked out, but that it would be to the benefit of both companies to have users playing Zynga games on Yahoo. In other words, don’t expect these games to be buried under a hard-to-find menu.

Simms also explained how notifications from the Zynga games will be integrated deeply into Yahoo’s suite of services, allowing users to receive updates directly from Yahoo’s web apps and Messenger client. As detailed in the Yahoo Developer Blog:

Both the Social APIs and YAP will also allow them to easily tap into Yahoo! user identities (including the aggregated identities we're enabling across our network), share to Yahoo! Updates, and automatically leverage these new notification channels. (We'll be providing more details on these new notification channels soon — and they, like so many of our products, will be open for all.)

With these integrations, users who enjoy Zynga games will now have the ability to use their Yahoo! ID and access Zynga’s top titles across Yahoo!’s many products — including Yahoo! Homepage, Yahoo! Toolbar, My Yahoo!, Yahoo! Games, Yahoo! Profiles, and Yahoo! Messenger. YDN is proud to provide the infrastructure enabling these experiences to seamlessly plug into these products.



Video: Jack Dorsey Shakes Down Arrington, Calacanis, And Google In Seconds

Posted: 26 May 2010 08:09 AM PDT

Today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, Square co-founder Jack Dorsey took the stage to show a demo of Square running on the iPhone. To do the demo, Dorsey had a good idea: take money from Michael Arrington.

Dorsey took $100 from Mike with the swipe of a credit card. Mike was concerned about Dorsey’s intentions for the money, but it will actually go towards Charity Water as a donation, Dorsey assured. He then sat down to talk a bit with Mike and Erick Schonfeld about Square, and his experience raising funding.

At the end of the interview, Mike asked the audience if anyone would be willing to use Square to donate $1,000 to Charity Water. Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis graciously volunteered. Then, after being humorously called out, so did Google (thanks to developer evangelist Don Dodge).

Funny stuff for a good cause. Watch it all in the video below.

Watch live streaming video from disrupt at livestream.com



Bieber On Twitter: He’s Talking To The 2 Million Girls At His Disposal

Posted: 26 May 2010 07:46 AM PDT

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, talked about the megastar’s usage of Twitter. It was brilliant. “What other way is a teenage boy going to talk to girls?,” Braun quipped.

Bieber currently has around 2.7 million followers on Twitter, making him one of the most-followed people on the service. But more impressively, Bieber has seemed to dominate Twitter’s Trending Topics area lately. Or rather, he did. Then something happened. “Twitter, if you’re here. You changed your algorithm,” Braun half-joked.

Braun noted that for most of the tweets it is actually Bieber tweeting. In fact, Braun is the only other one with the password to the account — and those tweets are clearly not from Bieber. And of course Bieber is going to tweet for himself: “He’s talking to the 2 million girls has at his disposal,” Braun said.

More seriously, Braun said that the usage of Twitter is actually pretty important. It shows that he’s ”the same person who was talking to them before he got huge, is still talking to them now,” Braun noted.

He noted that there may be a random girl in Iowa who never thought she’d ever talk to Justin Bieber, then he responds to her on Twitter. “That’s something she’ll remember for the rest of her life.”

Bieber spends a least two hours a day on Twitter, Braun noted. “He likes doing it. That’s what kids do.”



Intel Leads $18.2M Round For Media And Marketing Research Company TRA

Posted: 26 May 2010 07:27 AM PDT

Intel Capital is investing $10 million in TRA (which stands for ‘True ROI Accountability for Media’), a media planning, measurement and analytics software company. Funding for the investment comes from the $200 million Intel Capital Invest in America Technology Fund.

Intel’s capital injection is part of an $18.2 million Series C round, which includes participation from existing investors Arbitron and WPP.

TRA will use the funding for market expansion, data acquisition and to ramp up recruitment.

TRA provides a Web-based business intelligence platform called Media TRAnalytics, which enables advertisers, agencies and media organizations to enhance marketing accountability and measurement by matching 1.5 million households of TV data with 54 million households of purchase data for what it touts as the largest single-source database — 370,000 households.

In TV, TRA uses tuning data from set-top boxes, household purchase data from scanner cards and advertisers, and household demographic data. TRA's ASP platform collects, measures, integrates, analyzes, and creates customized reports for each advertiser.

TRA’s database currently contains consumer packaged goods data, but the company says it will be loading additional purchase data in the future (such as pharmaceutical, automotive, consumer electronics and financial services purchase data).

The company was launched 2 years ago.



Jack Dorsey’s Advice On Raising Funding

Posted: 26 May 2010 07:22 AM PDT

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, Square co-founder (and Twitter creator) Jack Dorsey took the stage to demonstrate Square working on the iPhone. He also sat down with our own Michael Arrington and Erick Schonfeld to talk a bit about his success. And Dorsey had some advice for new entrepreneurs looking to raise money.

Mike noted that Dorsey is sort of a celebrity in the tech community now so raising money for Square was pretty easy. That’s true. Dorsey said that he took two weeks and scheduled 25 meetings in Silicon Valley and New York to talk to venture capitalists about Square. This resulted in Square being valued at $40 million before it even launched.

But Dorsey said his past success (with Twitter) was also a bit of a detriment. He wasn’t sure if people were actually interested in Square, or if they were just thinking about Twitter and his past success. It was important to him and his new co-founder that Square was the focal point.

Dorsey then went into a bit of history with the Twitter funding, and had some advice for new entrepreneurs: “You wanna see that engagement.”

What he means by that is that some of the early Twitter funding meetings were “terrible” because they weren’t questioned hard. The VCs didn’t really seem interested in the product or didn’t get it — so Twitter knew they weren’t the right fit.

The one who was? Fred Wilson, Dorsey took no time saying.

Fred was one of the only people we saw that was a user of Twitter on a daily basis. 20 times a day in some cases,” Dorsey said. Mor e importantly, Wilson asked the tough questions about the long-term goals for the company. He wanted to know the product plan, he was agressive in his questioning, but he got it.

I want someone on the board that will push the company in ways that I’m not thinking about. They need to guide us,” Dorsey said.

Another bit of advice: “Get something you can demo.”

Dorsey said that while most people go into VC meetings with a PowerPoint presentation, that should only be a back-up to what you’re presenting. Instead, you should show the site or the product. And it has to be something you’re proud of, he noted.

He said that they had been using Square for seven months on a day-to-day basis before they hit the road for the funding. They were ready. “We could go into a meeting and take money from someone,” Dorsey half-joked.



Lady Gaga’s Manager: We Make Music Videos For YouTube

Posted: 26 May 2010 06:47 AM PDT

At TechCrunch Disrupt this morning Troy Carter, Founder & CEO, Coalition Media Group and worldwide Manager for pop star Lady Gaga sat down with Scooter Braun, Founder & Chair, SB Projects and worldwide Manager for fellow pop star Justin Bieber to discuss the digital era’s implications for musicians.

The hot topic of the conversation was YouTube and Twitter. Carter said openly that he and Lady Gaga “create music videos for YouTube.” Braun agreed with Carter, saying that Bieber represented a new strategy of creating a breakout teenage star. Braun said that previously teenage music stars has to have a show on Nickelodeon or Disney. But Bieber changed this; he was found on YouTube and his first videos singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect saw 55 million views by the time the artist signed a record deal with Universal Music. He ended up going Platinum shortly after.

Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead), and Carter has now discovered a new star on YouTube, Grayson Chance. When asked about advertising, carter says that Lady Gaga’s videos include pre-roll and post-roll advertising (thanks to Vevo) but said that advertising isn’t a large revenue source. Record companies keep the bulk of the money made from ads and the remaining trickles down to the artists. Carter and Braun both agreed that concert tours are the main revenue stream for artists.

And what about Twitter? Both managers said that Twitter is a great way to connect with fans, especially for artists who were discovered by fans on YouTube. Twitter breaks down the layers between the artists and the fan, says Carter. Braun says that Bieber loves talking to his fans over Twitter (perhaps that’s why he’s always a trending topic!).

E: That last video was Grayson Chance,
T: We found him on YouTube
E: Is YouTube the new MTV. How do you find the new pop star?
S: You get lucky. I was managing Akon, and Justin happened to be on YouTube singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect. We thought how are we going to break him with an online strategy vs. a Nickelodeon or Disney show.
E: So how did you do this-
S: I had this gut feeling about Justin-we started strategy of creating more content online, when we talked to major labels, the thought was without a TV show you can’t break a teenage star. We wanted to be the first artist to break off of YouTube, Even when we had 55 million hits on YT, no one wanted to sign. We are signed with Universal, We went platinum, no Disney or Nickelodeon.
E: With Lady Gaga, was YouTube instrumental.
T: Actually it was MySpace. Interscope heard her on MySpace. It was always MySpace, YouTube. That was four years ago.
E: Has marketing channel shifted from MySpace to YouTube.
T: We make our music video for YouTube.
E: Would videos now made it on MTV years ago?
T: Now we know that if we make a ten min video for YouTube, people will watch it.
E: There is some product placement in LG’s video?
T: Virgin Mobile is a tour sponser,
E: Did the product placement pay for the video?
T: Sometimes it makes a profit, but most of the time it breaks even
S: No one uses MySpace anymore.
T: Everyone was sending me links to Grayson Chance, and I jumped on it.
E: Now you are just sitting on the computer to find artists on YouTube?
S: Now its about discovery-fans have been watching musicians now for years on YouTube before they become famous. People wonder how do you monetize, deal with piracy. But kids are going to buy the product if they really support the personality. When I say Justin;s name, people know his story.
E: How is it that Justin Bieber is always a trending topic on Twitter?
S: He’s a teenager so he likes Twitter, so he’s on Twitter talking to two million girls at his disposable. There are time where we go over stuff, but the only people who has his passwod are me and him. Kids like that the same person who they like is talking to them now.
E: There is a immediacy that people feel with celebrities on Twitter. Can you talk about the close relationship between the fan and the artist on social media?
T: GaGa is a digital baby-that’s how they communicate. There cant be any layers between the artists and their fans.
S: It’s a way to connect with fans, he likes doing it.
S: Music has to become a multimedia business. We are interested n what you do. We have brands that can bring people into technologies. If you have a great product-
E: The lady gaga videos-do they have prerolls, advertising?
T: It’s pree roll or post roll on Vevo. The record company makes money off of that and then it trickles down.
E: is that a significant source of money?
T: Not at all. The main money resource is concerts.



BillShrink Tackles TV, Makes Ordering Cable & Satellite Services Less Of A Headache

Posted: 26 May 2010 06:00 AM PDT

When it comes to billing headaches, there are few industries that can rival the cable companies: from the dizzying array of channel packages to actually figuring out which services you can get at your house, ordering cable or satellite service is often a major pain (and you inevitably walk away from the experience feeling like you’re somehow getting ripped off). Now BillShrink is launching a new feature that looks to make these headaches a thing of the past, putting its cost-cutting engine against a huge database of television service options to help you pick out the best one.

Using the new feature is simple: enter your address and how much you currently pay for your television service. Next, tell BillShrink what categories of channels you’re interested in; options include entertainment, lifestyle, movies, and sports. If there are some channels you absolutely have to have, you can list those too (you can even enter the name of your favorite TV shows, and BillShrink will figure out what channel they air on).

Finally, you tell BillShrink how many TVs you will be hooking up (you can designate options like HDTV and whether or not you want that TV to have a DVR). The whole process takes around two minutes.

Once you’re done inputting your information, BillShrink will look through the TV services available in your area (including both cable and satellite) and tell you what the optimum plan is for you.  BillShrink has data on 9 providers covering around 80% of the market, and plans to add more.

The site makes it easily to quickly look up which channels are included in each suggested package, and BillShrink shows you how much each option in the plan costs, both during your initial signup period (when the cable companies give you a steep discount) and once your rates jump up to the “normal” (read: gouging) prices. Once you find a plan you like, BillShink gives you a phone number to call and tells you what plan to ask for.


This is a great addition to the BillShrink lineup, but it’s still missing a few features. For one, the site doesn’t currently show the prices for bundle deals that cover multiple services (e.g. Television service + Internet). Fortunately it’s not hard to add Internet service to the packages BillShrink suggests — just ask for it when you call the cable/satellite company — and CEO Peter Pham says that bundles are on the way. He also says that the site will soon offer a way to sign up for these cable/satellite packages online, without having to call the companies.

This is BillShrink’s sixth vertical, and Pham says more are on the way — its other cost-cutting tools include  support for savings accounts, gas stations, credit cards, and phone bills. The site also recently scored a deal with Walmart, which features Billshrink on its in-store cell phone kiosks.




PayPal Goes On The Defensive After MasterCard Opens Platform To Developers

Posted: 26 May 2010 05:51 AM PDT

Yesterday MasterCard announced a definitive plan to open up its credit cards payments platform to developers to build innovative online and mobile apps. Of course, this has been the territory that PayPal has basked in, thanks to a much hyped launch of its API, PayPal X. PayPal senior director of PayPal X, Damon Hougland was quick to defend its place in the arena, saying that since its API was released last Fall, “thousands of developers have signed up, hundreds of apps have been built, and millions of dollars have transacted over our platform.”

While this is at the forefront of innovation for MasterCard, PayPal says that the developers who are building off of its platform are ahead of the curve. The company cites Bump, a technology to swap information between smartphones by tapping them together, which is used in PayPal’s iPhone app, allowing people to "bump" iPhones to transfer money (the app was downloaded more than one million times in the first three weeks it was out).

PayPal, which cites Facebook, Salesforce and IBM as users of its API and technology, says that next month it will offer developers the ability to collect credit card payments from within their PayPal X based application.

So is MasterCard a real threat to PayPal? Of course, MasterCard has not been known as the most developer friendly in the past, whereas PayPal has spent the past year reaching out to the developer community, even holding a conference completely for developers. But it also may come down to the revenue share numbers. PayPal said last year that it charges developers a $0.50 cents flat free per transaction or 0.75 percent of transaction depending on user cases. MasterCard hasn’t yet released numbers on revenue share (the platform won’t be released until later this year).



Mobile App Recommender Appsaurus Raises $850K From Mitch Kapor, Chris Sacca And Others

Posted: 26 May 2010 05:50 AM PDT

Hello, Chair, the company that develops a social app recommendation engine within an iPhone app, has raised $850,000 in funding from Harrison Metal Capital, Mitch Kapor, Chris Sacca, and Wilson Sonsini. The startup previously raised money from Y Combinator and David Parker.

Hello, Chair’s Appsaurus competes with the Apple Genius feature, serving as recommendation service for mobile apps on the iPhone. Here’s how it works. After launching the application, you'll be presented with a handful of semi-popular apps from the App Store and asked to pick the one you like best. Once you pick your favorite, it shows you another round of apps. After four rounds or so, the app begins to learn your preferences, and you keep ranking more apps to help fine-tune its recommendations. In essence, it's trying to build a profile based on your entire library of apps, not just one. If you're presented with an application that you've never heard of, you can hit an arrow to read its summary and see screenshots.

The startup is also releasing a new version of the app that now recommends iPad apps, helping users discover which apps they want. The App Store has not yet switched on the Genius feature for iPad apps, so this functionality is definitely compelling. The new version also includes Lists, a comprehensive library feature for organizing your apps. Appsaurus will also serve you recommendations based on any of your lists.

One of our pain points with the App was that it didn’t have a syncing functionality to import your current apps, making you manually have to input your apps. The new version of the app includes Cloud Sync, which allows users to sync their phone’s apps from the Appsaurus Sync desktop app directly to their “Installed” list in Appsaurus for instantly relevant recommendations.

Hello Chair has considerable experience in developing mobile app recommendations. In 2008, they launched Appalanche, which shared some similarities with Appsaurus in that it was meant to help surface interesting apps, but was a web app rather than a native download. The precursor to Appalanche is an ad voting engine called Adpinion.



GeeksOnAPlane Get First Crash Course On Asia’s Internet Market In Shanghai

Posted: 26 May 2010 05:43 AM PDT

Traveling around the world, learning, networking, sharing – that's what GeeksOnAPlane (GOAP), a field trip of sorts (which takes place a couple of times a year), is mainly about. This time, the tour is leading a group of 30+ geeks (mainly from the US) to no less than five tech hot spots in Asia: Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo. I am joining the trip as an embedded blogger, exploring the current trends in Asia's web and mobile world, and the implications of the Asian tech revolution for the industry in the US and elsewhere.

The GOAP already got a first crash course on China’s Internet landscape from a number of local VCs, entrepreneurs and tech journalists we met in Shanghai, the first leg of the tour (which ended yesterday). This part of the tour included Silicon Valley-based investor Dave McClure (who brought GOAP to life) pitching the StartupVisa movement to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Shanghai Expo 2010 (see picture above), an “East meets West” blogger meetup, witnessing the first ever “Ignite” show in Shanghai, taking part in a Mobile Monday event, and networking at a Startup2Startup Dinner/Fast Pitch event in downtown Shanghai.

One of the main takeaways is that the web and mobile market in Asia is not only huge already, but that it’s poised to become even bigger in the future. The spectacular growth is fueled by a large reservoir of entrepreneurs, a huge potential customer base and both local and international investors looking for the next big thing to come out of Asia.

Everybody the GOAP met in Shanghai was bullish about Asia’s online future – for a good reason. Take some recent web usage statistics, for example. Asia already boasts the most Internet users in the world (764 million out of a global web population of 1.8 billion people at the end of last year). And while North America has an Internet penetration of around 76%, many Asian countries are still largely offline: according to some sources, the Internet penetration for Asia as a whole stands at a mere 20%.

There is little doubt that China in particular will continue to play the biggest role in the region. The country has 400 million (and counting) Internet users and a whopping 770 million cell phone subscribers. In other words, China not only boasts the world's largest Internet population (the US is second with 248 million web users), but it's the world's biggest mobile nation, too – by far (there are 585 million handsets used in India, and 285 million in the US).

And even in China, there’s still a lot of room for growth. Take the mobile market as one example. According to some pundits the GOAP met in Shanghai, many Chinese people with low income (especially those living in rural areas) skipped buying laptops in recent years but access the web through their cell phones instead. Yet, “just” 200 million people access the web through their cell phones, and just 20 million Chinese users are on 3G currently (that number is said to balloon to 150 million next year).

But enough with crunching numbers. Check out this (excellent yet slightly dated) presentation from Shanghai-based consultancy and incubator Web2Asia for an overview on China’s Internet and how it differs from the rest of the world:

Make sure to check out the rethink: Shanghai homepage for substantial information about what’s currently happening in China’s tech scene. I'll be summarizing what the GOAP learn in Beijing (the next stop of the tour) and the other cities over the next few days here on TechCrunch.

For information in real-time, follow the adventures of the GOAP via the #goap hash tag (the official Twitter account is here). GOAP pictures are being uploaded regularly over on Flickr.

Photo credit: Kris Krüg, Static Photography



Live From Copenhagen – TechCrunch Europe Nordic Meetup #TCNordic

Posted: 26 May 2010 05:24 AM PDT

TechCrunch Nordic – Copenhagen – 26th May 2010 TechCrunch Europe is hosting its 3rd TechCrunch Nordic event - joining the Seedcamp startup programme on their European tour in Copenhagen. Below you'll find our live stream from the event which kicks off at 2.30pm Copenhagen time.


BBC Adds Twitter And Facebook To Socialise Its On Demand Service

Posted: 26 May 2010 03:13 AM PDT

The BBC's video on demand service, iPlayer is introducing social networking features which should further boost the uptale of Twitter and Facebook in the UK - as if they needed any boosting. The new iPlayer Beta is set to go live officially at the end of June. Twitter, Facebook and Windows Live Messenger will be linked to a user's "BBC ID" which they get when they register on BBC.co.uk. Users will be able to share what they're watching over social networks (queue lots of "Watching Britains Got Talent" updates) while Windows Messenger will show in real-time how many minutes a user is in to a program on iPlayer and allow them to sync viewing with friends and chat about the show in realtime. The features will also work for BBC radio stations.


A Taste of Startup Alley

Posted: 25 May 2010 10:08 PM PDT

A hundred startups lined-up the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt. Here’s just a small taste of some of the interesting companies that over 1,700 attendees were able to see:

6rounds

6rounds, which we wrote about in a previous post can be best described as a snazzy one-on-one video chat product.

At TechCrunch Disrupt, 6rounds announced a new API for developers of game, entertainment and collaboration-based apps. With the API, developers can easily integrate all the rich and interactive functionality of 6rounds, including gifting, video effects, and the ability to add multi-user functionality to single player games and videos.

AppFirst

AppFirst provides real-time visibility into the performance of individual applications within application stacks. The idea behind AppFirst’s SaaS-based performance management is to provide visibility into the performance and operational characteristics of applications regardless of language, application type or location (cloud, physical or virtual servers).

With this type of visibility organizations can flag changes before they become problems and have a negative impact on internal users, or external customers.

AppFirst is NYC-based with backing by FirstMark Capital and First Round Capital.

RankAbove

Seven months after we wrote about its closed beta, RankAbove is pushing its automated SEO analysis product, Drive, into open beta.

Drive is intended for sites with a minimum of 1000 pages, up to several million. It performs everything from keyword research and on-page analysis, to link building and acquisition.

For the open beta, RankAbove made some product improvements such as new backlink analysis tool, daily updated competitive analysis, opportunities to find organic relevant backlinks and a new UI. If you’re at Disrupt, stop by their booth for a free site analysis.

sProphet

sProphet (Sports Prophet) lets fans share sports knowledge by predicting outcomes of real sporting events. For example, they can predict which baseball batter will have the longest batting streak in the MLB this week.

Users play with virtual money to challenge their friends and arrange group prediction tournaments.

sProphet is offered through a destination site, via a Facebook application and soon through a widget which will be offered to partners such as sports sites and portals.



Survival Of The Fittest: The Startups That Made The Second Round At #TCDisrupt

Posted: 25 May 2010 06:03 PM PDT

We were fortunate enough to witness a lot of fascinating startups strut their stuff here at TechCrunch Disrupt, not just on the main stage but also in the Startup Alley and beyond.

But of course the event is and remains a competition, so the experts have been working hard to select those startups with the most potential to be genuinely disruptive, and vote them into the second round of the pitching contest. Just ten of the original twenty startups have been invited back to round two.

The final few startups will be announced tomorrow, and they’ll be back on stage for the final round of demo and rapid-fire Q&A with our experts.

Appbistro

Appbistro is an application marketplace for Facebook pages. At Appbistro, page administrators can quickly find applications that they can easily plug into their pages and quickly increase the engagement and reach of their pages. The applications within the marketplace are built by known and vetted Facebook developers, and feature applications for Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and more.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

Betterment

Betterment is the replacement for your savings account. It's a smart investment that's easy to use, and you have access to your money at any time. You invest in our two portfolios—a diverse basket of stocks and a portfolio of ultra-safe bonds—in a blend of your choosing. There's no minimum balance, no transaction fees, and no investing experience required. So you earn more from your savings with fewer hassles.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

Compass Labs

Compass Labs is a social e-commerce company, which increases the effectiveness of social networks for both users and advertisers. Users obtain timely, highly relevant information, and advertisers to precisely reach users at the right moment. Compass Labs’s solutions are effective in extracting precise meaning from social media communication, and leveraging that for timely and precise ads targeting, and for enabling content/user discovery.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

LiveIntent

LiveIntent‘s mission is to help you create meaningful connections on social media. It helps answer the question: “Who do I follow?”. For publishers, having a LiveIntent window on your site is opening the door to let in engaged and repeat users to your site, significantly increasing pageviews, ad impressions, unique visitors, and revenue.

For advertisers, it’s an enabling technology that builds stronger and longer lasting relationships between brands and consumers in social media.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

MOVIECLIPS

MOVIECLIPS.com is a premium online video destination offering audiences the largest and most diverse collection of movie scenes. It allows fans to find, watch and share more than 12,000 movie clips. Each clip is tagged with up to 1,000 pieces of data (dialogue, actor, director, action, mood, etc) to make the most searchable collection of movie scenes on the web. Users can also compete in movie trivia games and create hilarious movie mashups.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

Plantly

Plantly is a risk-aware investment tool. They use a lot of advanced tools to show users exactly what will happen to their investments based on various scenarios. "We want you to touch this to get a feel for what will happen to your money," is the way they put it.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

Publish2

Publish2 is an ambitious new project trying to find a fix for the Associated Press nightmare that newspapers are forced to deal with because of a lack of any viable alternative. It is the easiest way to share and distribute news for print and web publishing. Publish2 News Exchange enables newspapers to create a comprehensive, customized newswire for print, combining content sharing networks with the highest quality free and paid news sources. Publish2 Link Newswire captures the collective editorial judgment of journalists, based on what they read every day, to create engaging news aggregation features for multichannel distribution.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

Soluto

Soluto brings an end to the frustrations PC users encounter, with transparency, honesty, killer technology, and your help. Its software combines advanced technology with collective wisdom, to detect PC users’ frustrations, reveal their cause, learn which actions really eliminate them and improve user experience. Soluto is mapping the PCGenome, a knowledge base of frustrations and solutions built automatically through the usage of Soluto software, for the benefit of all PC users.

Here’s our review + CrunchBase profile + video.

UJAM

UJAM (CrunchBase) is a cloud-based platform that empowers everybody to easily create new music or enhance their existing musical talent and share it with friends. Like Jason wrote: “it can turn your humming, whistling, kazoo-playing or not-so-in-tune vocals into something people might actually want to listen to. And it's really, really cool.”

Here’s our review (there are links to other coverage from around the Web in there).
Bonus: a video of Chris Sacca singing.

WeReward

WeReward is a mobile incentive platform that rewards consumers for actions they take in the real world. Consumers earn points for photo-verified location check ins or performing tasks. Each point is worth a penny, consumers can cash out directly from their mobile device. Businesses utilize WeReward's self service platform to incent customer purchases and drive loyalty. The platform lets them see who their customers are, what their experience was and how often they purchase.

Here’s our review + video.



LinkedIn Deepens Integration With Twitter; Becomes A Full-Fledged Client

Posted: 25 May 2010 03:57 PM PDT


It’s been no secret that LinkedIn has been steadily trying to make its platform more social and interactive with users. LinkedIn integrated with Twitter last fall, allowing users to Tweet from the platform and pull Tweets into the network with a #in hashtag. In fact, over one million users have tied their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. And this year the network added the ability to “follow” companies, taking a page from both Twitter and Facebook. Today, LinkedIn is furthering its Twitter integration by allowing members to easily find and keep track of their LinkedIn connections on Twitter and more, essentially becoming a full-fledged client.

Once you’ve installed the Tweets application, the “Overview” tab on your homepage will allows you to see everyone you currently follow on Twitter, view their Twitter feed, and Tweet from your own account. A new feature, Connections to Follow, has been added to recommend new people for you to follow, based on your LinkedIn connections. You can easily see all of your LinkedIn connections who have added Twitter accounts to their LinkedIn profiles and allows you to see who you are and aren’t following on Twitter.

You can also see the Twitter information for any of your connections, follow or unfollow them, and even see a sample of their last tweet by hovering over their Twitter ID. And now you can save your LinkedIn connections as a dynamic Twitter list. When you choose to save your connections as a Twitter list, LinkedIn will create a private Twitter list for all of your LinkedIn connections that have added Twitter accounts. LinkedIn will keep this list up-to-date, adding and removing Twitter accounts to the list daily based on your LinkedIn connections.

Clearly LinkedIn has added much more functionality to its Twitter platform, which seems to be popular. Of course while one million out of nearly 70 million users is still only a portion of its userbase, it still represents a large portion of members who have downloaded the app. LinkedIn is making a strong push to encourage users to share content on the site, and becoming a full-fledged Twitter client will only increase sharing on the platform. The obvious next step would be to integrate with Facebook in some way, but we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.



Facebook Like Buttons Pop Up On Yahoo Sports

Posted: 25 May 2010 03:35 PM PDT

Interesting. Despite all the brouhaha about Facebook seizing control over the entire Web and putting an end to privacy as we know it, publishers are – still – fast adopting the “like” button and other social plug-ins.

Latest to apparently add Facebook “like” buttons is Yahoo, which as we’ve written before seems to be happily outsourcing all that social nonsense to Zuckerberg & co lately.

To see the integration in action, go to any MLB team on the Yahoo Sports website (e.g. the Cleveland Indians).

On the right, right below the Teamtracker frame, you can “like” the team, after which your status will be updated with a link back to the page you’re on. Also shown is the number of people who have clicked the button before you.

As far as we can tell, the deep integration of Facebook Connect buttons was publicly announced but the addition of like buttons to Yahoo Sports was not, or at least not yet.



Steve Case: AOL/Time Warner Merger May Have Worked Had I Played A More Active Role

Posted: 25 May 2010 03:27 PM PDT

This morning at TechCrunch Disrupt, AOL cofounder Steve Case sat down for an interview with our own Michael Arrington to discuss an array of topics, including his current venture Revolution, his motivation to stay involved in entrepreneurship, and even a story about AOL’s offer to buy Yahoo for $2 million back in 1995 (they turned it down, but Case said Jerry Yang and David Filo probably would have agreed to $3 million).

One of the more interesting topics to come up during the conversation was whether or not Case thought the Time Warner merger was a good idea. Case hasn’t been directly involved with AOL for years — he left his role as CEO when AOL merged with Time Warner in 2000, and left the board of directors in 2005 — but he didn’t shy away from speaking about the company. Case said it was obviously clear in hindsight that the deal has been a disappointment. But he said that it’s hard to say whether he would have done anything differently with the merger, as AOL was at its peak at the time (Case and AOL shareholders did quite well). He also said that he thought the merger might have gone better had he been more involved with the transition.

“It’s hard to say given the dynamics of the time particularly as Mike mentioned, the market cap of the company — it was really the peak of the Internet boom, and it felt like a good time to trade what we had for what we would get. So I can’t really say I regret that. I’d like to think but it’s probably arrogant and presumptuous that if I had played a more active role on driving integration maybe it would have been better. But part of the deal was that I stepped aside as CEO and was Chairman without any operating responsibility.”

Watch live streaming video from disrupt at livestream.com

Here are my notes from the talk:
Arrington: What keeps you going?
Case: I love building stuff. For 25 years I was focused on AOL. Now instead of playing a direct operating role working with entrepreneurs, I’m funding around a dozen companies, and they’re all interesting to me.

Arrington: You’re not doing it for the money, so it’s almost a hobby for you?
Case: Yes. Our mission is to invest in people/ideas that can change the world, sometimes through philanthropy, sometimes entrepreneurship.

Arrington: Last night we were talking about early days of AOL. You were talking about the number of users AOL had..

Case: We started in 85, went public in 1992, when we had 184k users. 7-8 years later it was like 25 million customers. And the nice thing was that each of those customers were paying 25 dollars a months. We like to say, those were the good old days.

Arrington: Let’s talk about Revolution. What exactly is it?
Case: The genesis really was… I stepped down as CEO as AOL almost a decade ago and said, “so what do I do next?”. Revolution is a holding company. It has three parts. One part is Revolution Capital (30-40 million bets each). As for the fat vs lean startups, I think both are right. Our sweet spot tends to be fatter companies. Companies with higher barrier to entry. We also have Revolution Ventures which are smaller ventures. LivingSocial, ClearSpring, TweetUp.

Case: Zipcar has 7000 cars. About 200 cities. It’s crazy to own a car in cities. Relying exclusively on taxis doesn’t work either. Instead of going to Hertz you can just walk a block away.

Arrington: Of all the companies you’re invested in, which do you think about most?

Case: LivingSocial is really on a tear. There were companies doing this 10 years ago, and it was mostly right but they didn’t have the right context. I think social media is changing that.

Case: About three years ago a company wanted to do Facebook apps… LivingSocial. They tried figuring out how to monetize that, and about a year ago they pivoted. Went from being a thin to a fat ‘speedup’. 30 employees to 130 in the last six months. I think ‘grouponing’ will be an important segment. Probably a few big companies built.

Arrington: Is the idea at all relevent to Amazon?

Case: I don’t think it’s irrelevant. I think they probably look at it as more an opportunity than a threat. These companies are really picking a deal or a market. Interesting business or interesting business model. Merchants like that it generates new customers and zero risk.

Arrington: What do you think about Tim Armstrong as CEO for AOL?
Case: So far so good. But I’ve been out of AOL for ten years. Everybody gives AOL up for dead because they have so many challenges over the last decade. But if you put the past aside it still has 100 million users in the US, 250 worldwide users. That’s a pretty good hand to be dealt with. Seems like he’s doing that.

Arrington: Yesterday on stage John Doerr talked about the ‘third wave’. What do you think, does that ring true?

Case: I think what we’ve shifted to is that having spent a lot of timing building core infrastructure and platforms, now you can shift to different things. Embedding these things in other areas. ZipCar for example, it’s enabled by the internet and couldn’t make it without the internet. These companies don’t have to be on the Internet itself, but how you build on it in other industries. Healthcare will probably be a big thing here.

Q&A:
Q: Since the start of your career what do you consider your greatest failure/mistake?
A: I’ve had a lot. Obviously merger has been a disappointment. It was smart, but was disappointed with how it played out. But AOL was like many other companies. There were a lot of ups and downs to it. perseverance was key. Today… isn’t focused on enough. There’s too much tendency on moving to next big things. Too many companies built to flip vs built to last.

Q: Looking back on merger what would you have done differently?
A: Hard to say. Felt like the peak, so I can’t really say I regret that. I’d like to think but it’s probably a bit presumptuous. That if I played a more active role it maybe would have gone better… but part of the deal was that I would have less of a direct role.

Arrington: If you hadn’t merged where would the company be today?
Case: We recognized broadband would be big, we recognized having ownership of cable would be important. But the key lesson, which Edison said, is that vision without execution is hallucination.



“Plantly Is An Investment Tool That Aims Not To Suck”

Posted: 25 May 2010 03:04 PM PDT

That quote in the title is completely from Plantly, not from me. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, the company won the audience award to get on the stage and give their pitch.

Title aside, Planty is a risk-aware investment tool. They use a lot of advanced tools to show users exactly what will happen to their investments based on various scenarios. “We want you to touch this to get a feel for what will happen to your money,” is the way they put it.

They are not a broker, this is just a tool. If you have a broker, you can put their fees in the tool to add those into the system as well. The whole idea is to put a plan in place — it’s not about rushing to invest.

The business model mainly resides in the follow-up services. For example, you can use other tools to see how your investment is actually doing versus how you thought it would do. They also charge $10 for access to the system — but that’s just a one-time fee.

But again, the key to all of this is the design and simplicity of the service. Plantly wants to make what’s going to happen to your money obvious. They don’t care if you invest or not — they just hope that by showing you this info, that if you do choose to invest, you’ll use some of their more advanced (paid) tools.

———-Q&A With The Judges—————-

Jason Calacanis, CEO & Founder, Mahalo
Brad Garlinghouse, President, Consumer Applications Group, AOL
Tolman Geffs, Co-President, JEGI
Megumi Ikeda, SVP, Peacock Equity Fund
Shervin Pishevar, Founder & Chairman, SGN

Q: This is great. It’s like the good things about Mint. You expressed it well.

Q: It was a very nice product. Very easy to use. Who is your competition in this market.

A: We’re learning about more and more of them — like Betterment, which launched here yesterday. But we’re not brokers, they are. We’re about our interface design.

Q: Is this only ETFs?

A: Yes, only ETF.

Q: How it’s different from something like MorningStar.

A: The information is different and we’re heavily involved in the plan for the future. The information in advance is important. MorningStar has too much information. This is about just the right amount of information. Smart decisions are the key.

Q: I think these are the two best product guys we’ve seen all day. At the end of the day it’s clear what your proposition is. I love the product.

Q: You guys didn’t earn your way onto stage — but you were the best presentation of the whole group. You guys were elegant with how you think about the space. Where are you guys from?

A: Originally from Israel. Now in Brooklyn.

Q: What’s your qualification in the financial space.

A: No, it’s all from my MBA and working at Proctor & Gamble.

Q: This is about protecting people and protecting their money.

——– The Monetization Plan —————–

They’re still in beta so they’re figuring out the monetization strategy. They’re thinking about some 40% of investors in the longtail. $10 is cheap enough for people to get into this, they think. Again, the idea isn’t to push people to invest, but if they do, give them more tools.

“Affiliating through need is the wrong thing for our customers,”

—————– Second Q & A —————

Q: How will you acquire customers?

A: Again, around 40% of people first go to friends and family. And being here is a good start.

Q: What wealth level are you talking about?

A: $5,000 for a single investment. For the middle class small investors.

Q: So you should go to Walmart or get people through 401k.

Q: Protecting wealth is a great message, you could do all sorts of things — make videos.

Q: Plantly in some ways reminds me of a social game. Maybe as you’re managing it, a plant grows. The leaves represent your financial life.

A: Thank you, we are having discussions about game mechanics.

Q: You guys are brand-able too. Make videos!

Watch live streaming video from disrupt at livestream.com


Keenkong Manages The Social Media Overload For Marketers

Posted: 25 May 2010 02:38 PM PDT

Now more than ever, marketers are using tools to monitor and keep track of the conversation about brands taking place on sites like Facebook and Twitter. While many of these tools monitor sentiment around Tweets and updates including a brand’s name, Keenkong takes a slightly different approach. Launched at TechCrunch Disrupt today, Keenkong seg­ments the con­ver­sa­tions taking place on Facebook and Twitter by topic (what), by inten­tions (why), by net­work size and more.

So when you click on a seg­ment in Keenkong, you can see the related con­ver­sa­tions according to a particular topic. Keenkong’s linguistic processing engine extracts live why people are talking, what are they talking about, who they are and it segments messages accordingly. Keenkong automat­i­cally cap­tures, parses and groups incom­ing mes­sages from Twit­ter (includ­ing lists and searches) and Face­book. For example, Keenkong will segment Tweets about users choosing between your brand and another into one category. Or Keenkong will create a segment of Tweets and updates where a brand should thank the consumer for highlighting a positive aspect of a brand.

It essentially allows marketers to break down conversations by actionable insights vs. sentiment or even topic. And the categorization of these actions makes it fairly simple to marketers to prioritize actions. Plus, Keenkong provides users with analytics around engagement and interaction with a brand on Twitter and Facebook.

The social media monitoring space is crowded-with a number of worthy competitors in the space, including Scout Labs, PeopleBrowsr, ViralHeat and more. But, Keenkong’s application seems to provide a unique approach to the monitoring space, so many brand marketers are sure to find the application useful.

Q&A

TG: What’s different about what you are doing?
KK: We are breaking down the conversation into actionable segments.
TG: Still not hearing how it’s different than other dashboards out there.
BG: What is your marketing, sales strategy?
KK: We want this to be a open model, want marketing, PR agencies to use it.
SP: I invested in Klout, which would be interesting to integrate in this. You should also integrate with Rapportive.
JC: Great job with the presentation.Sentiment is hard to track. This has existed and has been expensive and wrong. The CRM piece is what people want. You should make this free and let everyone have it. Maybe you can be the person who cracks sentiment.
KK: We built this fore custom metrics and segments.
JC: It was good that you have visual stuff.

Watch live streaming video from disrupt at livestream.com


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