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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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OneRiot’s Realtime Search API Now Indexing Facebook Likes And Shared Content

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 08:00 AM PDT

Unsurprisingly, real time search engine OneRiot is now tapping into Facebook’s recently launched Open Graph API. So now, actions made by Facebook users who publicly share links on their profiles or like stories across the web will now be indexed in realtime search results available through OneRiot's API and the the third party developers who build apps on top of the search engine’s API.

To date, OneRiot, which just revamped its search engine, has been indexing and ranking links shared by users on Twitter, Digg and MySpace. Last month, OneRiot rolled out a small bucket test on its site to test the addition of Facebook shares/likes and now the startup is opening this data stream via the API for the developer ecosystem to innovate with.

Facebook likes and shares from users who have made their actions completely public will now contribute to the ranking of realtime search results available through OneRiot's API. For example, a search for "World Cup" on OneRiot will reveal the most popular links about the soccer tournament being shared by Facebook users right now.

The API, which powers over 100 realtime web and mobile applications, has also been updated with improved monetization algorithms to optimize revenue for every individual third party developer. One Riot has added self-optimizing algorithms to determine which ads will be displayed to different third party applications, based on the behavior of their users, helping to increase click-through rates and engagement.

It’s not surprising that that OneRiot is now tapping into the Open Graph API for its own API. The startup’s API, which is used by over 100 applications, drives close to 97 percent of OneRiot's search volume.

OneRiot has also ventured into the advertising world with RiotWise, an ad format which places content in an emphasized position in their realtime feed. The search engine also launched a pilot program of RiotWise Trending Ads, a stream of ads that correspond to trending topics as they emerge across the social web, that has since been integrated into the search engine’s API. And the startup recently launched self-refreshing realtime trending ads and a self-service version of RiotWise.

Millennial Media: Apple OS Drops By 33 Percent In May But iPad Impressions Grow 160 Percent

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 06:02 AM PDT

Mobile ad network Millennial Media, which claims that its network reaches 82 percent of 72 million mobile web users in the U.S., is reporting that iPad ad requests grew 160 percent from April to May with global Apple ad requests dropping 33 percent in May. Apple OS U.S. ad requests dropped by nearly 14 percent month-over-month after an 8 percent decrease in requests in April.

That being said, the Apple OS is still the leading mobile operating system in Millennial’s U.S. network, with a 48 percent share of Smartphone impressions. RIM’s BlackBerry remained the second largest OS on Millennial’s network for the tenth consecutive month with a 3% increase month-over-month and a 19 percent share of impressions. Android’s share rose by 5 percent to a 15 percent share of impressions for the month of May.

Android total ad requests grew by 15 percent in May, which is slower growth than the OS has seen. Last month, Android saw a 77 percent jump in impressions, and a 72 percent jump in May. But the jump in impressions for Android over the past six months is staggering, with requests having grown by 338 percent since January.

Android Smartphone manufacturer, HTC received the largest share increase month-over month for the second month in a row with a 2.5% impression share increase in May, rising to the fourth spot of the Top 15 Manufacturers. Apple leads the manufacturing list but dropped by 10 percent in terms of device impressions. In terms of type of device, the majority of ad impressions took place on smart phones (46 percent), with Feature Phones seeing 35 percent of ad impressions, and Connected Devices, like the iPad, seeing 20% of impressions.

Millennial added a new measurement this month, focusing on mobile developer channels and trends. For May, Gaming apps placed in the number one spot and accounted for 58 percent of app revenue on devices. Social Networking claimed the number two spot and experienced a 124 percent growth on Millennial’s network since the beginning of 2010. The Entertainment channel, which placed in the number four position, has experienced the largest percentage of growth in 2010 – a 648 percent increase since January and is expected to grow with the summer blockbuster movie season. In May, of the developers who focused on a single platform, 56% were focused on Apple and 29% were focused on Android.

If Millennial’s numbers are accurate, Android impressions may be slowing down in terms of growth. Of course, we need to see another few months of slow growth before determining making any definitive judgements but it should be interesting to see if Android’s growth plateaus. The significant growth in iPad impressions is also significant as the device is growing in usage.

As one of the largest mobile ad networks in the arena, Millennial has been seeing strong growth, just launching an iPad SDK, and is now one of the largest mobile ad networks in the space. The Baltimore-based startup is growing; in February Millennial Media acquired mobile metrics and analytics firm TapMetrics. Additionally, the ad network raised $16 million in Series C funding last November.

However, with Apple’s iAd platform entering the mix, the mobile ad network space may be facing some significant changes. At the moment Millennial seems to be in a good place with Apple’s new iAd policies on outside networks advertising on the iPhone. But Millennial’s future may be in question if the network is looking to be acquired by a major tech giant, like Microsoft. But the FTC is reportedly looking into Apple’s iAd policies to determine if they are anti-competitive, so an big exit for Millennial could still be a possibility.

CrunchGear Reviews Toy Story 3

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 05:51 AM PDT

We don't do many movie reviews here at CrunchGear, mostly because we're into gadgets and movies are, in a way, the anti-thesis of the physical. Semantics aside, Toy Story 3 was great.

The story is simple: Andy, the toys' owner, is leaving for college. His toys, resigning themselves to a life in the attic, prep themselves for the coming change but, instead of the must and heat of the rafters, they end up in a garbage truck. Only Woody is going with Andy to college, and when he sees his friends in danger he runs to save them.

The tale winds through a day care center overrun by misfit toys, the home of a little girl who owns a gruff toy unicorn and a sad clown, and then to the very maw of heck itself – the incinerator at the city dump. All of this is tinged with the sadness of growing up and leaving behind things that you loved as well as hope for better things to come.

Read more…

Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital Opens For Business with $8.5 Million Angel Fund

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 05:28 AM PDT

Last August we broke the news that angel investor Chris Sacca was expanding his operation and bringing in outside capital to leverage his investments. This has been a bit of a trend recently – successful angels like Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier and Mike Maples have all transitioned from pure angel investors to raising funds.

Sacca’s fund, called Lowercase Capital, was meant to be a $6 million fund. But he’s closed on a total of $8.5 million based on heavy demand, he says. Part of that demand is surely due to the fact that Sacca has transferred some of his earlier angel investments – including Twitter – to the new fund. His investments include SimpleGeo, Fanbridge, DailyBooth, Posterous and Stickybits.

Sacca’s investment philosophy is fairly simple – It’s cheap to create new companies relative to ten years ago, and there are lots of investors to choose from. He promises to invest more than money, though. Like other hyper-successful angels, Sacca says he’ll go to work for you, too:

We dive in to work with teams that obsess over user experiences, customer happiness, and that, to quote Paul Graham, “make something people want.” Along with relatively small amounts of money, we give them the time, attention, and the empathy that catalyze winning outcomes for all involved. Rolling up our sleeves, we help design front pages, invent new services, prioritize product features, negotiate partnerships, and deal with the everyday professional and personal challenges of startup life.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Uses Twitter To Announce Execution

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 04:25 AM PDT

A sign of the times, although many may find it distasteful, or much worse: Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff used a mobile Twitter client to send out a tweet announcing the impending execution by firing squad of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner.

As the BBC notes, quite a modern way to announce a very old-fashioned death.

In total, the AG sent out 3 tweets about the event from his iPhone only a couple of hours ago, the most recent one an all-too-familiar (on Twitter) self-promoting one.

1) A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice

2) I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.

3) We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at www.attorneygeneral.Utah.gov/live.html

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in comments.

Does The iPad Change Everything? Publishers Chime In

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 10:45 PM PDT

We’ve fiercely debated the merits of the iPad (here and here and here and here) and whether Apple’s “magical” device will transform the mass market. The question, of course, is not whether the iPad is the leader in the tablet market but whether the iPad will become the iPod of its market. And if the iPad is indeed the iPod, how does that shape the digital strategy of publishers?

At the Big Money Untethered conference in New York this Thursday, a cluster of top publishers including Donald Graham (CEO, Washington Post), Carolyn Reidy (CEO, Simon Schuster), Vivian Schiller (CEO, NPR) and Sarah Chubb (President, Conde Nast Digital), gathered to answer those questions and evaluate the explosive tablet market (according to Forrester Research, there will be 59 million tablets in use by 2015). We pitched a simple question to the panelists, does the iPad change everything and how is it transforming their business? Their answers in the video above.

Excerpts :

Vivian Schiller, CEO, NPR

It’s definitely a transformative device…[iPad] is the most distributed, well known tablet, there’s no question other manufacturers will come in with other variations of the tablet but the idea of this new form factor is a really exciting one.

And for us, the way that it’s transforming our business is we have created an application for the iPhone, excuse me for the iPad, there’s too many i’s out there! That is really designed specifically for the form factor of the tablet…and it is designed for the size and scale of the iPad…it’s been tremedously popular we’ve had over 350,000 downloads so far and there are only 2 million iPads in circulation. So what is that 1 in 6?

I would never bet against Apple.

Carolyn Reidy, CEO Simon & Schuster

I would say that it has transformed our industry because it is the first reader that has enabled us to combine text with video…It’s the first thing that will enable us to do children books, to make digital children books, to make enhanced e-books, and to actually make a combination of video and reading book that is not an app. In our world it’s very difficult to do an app it gets lost…the audience for a book is not the size for most of these apps that sell hundreds of thousands.

Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, The Slate Group

I think when the history of the era is written, it’s the Kindle that will be seen as the breakthrough device…even though it’s already been superseded in many ways by the iPad…It was really the Kindle that ushered in the post-Gutenberg and showed that a printed book was no longer necessarily the best way to read a book.

The iPad is a great toy…Everybody wants one, but the question is, is everyone going to need one?…In the short to medium term, I think the iPad is going to be very dominant…but long term I’m not sure I would bet on it as the dominant device because I think Apple does have the tendency to make the same mistake again and again, which is that it likes closed systems….It doesn’t like the messiness of the internet but unfortunately messiness is part of what makes the internet the internet.

Sarah Chubb, President, Conde Nast Digital

I think that the iPad is transformative because it’s changing how consumers think about the mobile web and how they think about content consumption…

To me it’s not really about the iPad itself, it’s about consumers seeing that they can do things differently and enjoying it which will make them do it more…Even just one year from now, we’re going to look back on it and many, many things will have changed as a result of that.

Y Combinator Gives A Crash Course On What It’s Like To ‘Work At A Startup’

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 08:31 PM PDT

Tonight at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, Y Combinator invited dozens of programmers to a new event called Work at a Startup. The event, which was announced last month, is meant to help expose programmers to what they should expect when they go about joining a startup (YC’s Paul Graham thinks that a lot of them tend to join more established companies like Microsoft simply because startup life seems so nebulous). The event is complementary to Y Combinator’s Startup School, which is meant to help entrepreneurs start a company from scratch. My notes from the event are below, and you can watch an archived video of the event here.

The event kicked off with a talk from Graham, who detailed what programmers should think about when they’re debating whether or not to join a startup.

Graham says that the two main things that prospective employees should be gauging are fun and money. You obviously want to maximize both, and the startup end of the job market is the “bargain”, because you can have fun and make a lot of money. Assuming, of course, you pick the right startup.

The second thing you need to figure out, Graham says, is whether or not the startup lifestyle is really for you. In general, he’s found that startup founders who join a large company after being acquired aren’t as happy in their new home as they were when they were running the show. The reason? Bureaucracy. There are meetings and you have to ask for permission to get things done — things that aren’t issues at most startups.

Graham says that some people (and all founders) are like that. But others aren’t. The way to tell, he says, is to ask yourself if you like the prospect of having (and implementing) many ideas at work, in which case a startup is probably the place for you. If you don’t think having ideas are a part of the job, then he says you’re probably better suited for corporate culture.

The next step is figuring out which startup you want to work at. Graham says this is actually a lot like being an investor, the difference being that investors are giving startups their time and money, while you’re giving them your work. So how do you tell which startups are promising? The secret, Graham says, is to look at the founders — even if they have an unsexy company or domain, if you have great founders, the company is more likely to go on to great things.

Alright, so you’ve found a great startup — can you expect to make a lot of money? This varies a lot, depending on how early you’re joining. Graham says that if you’ve found a startup that you want to join, you should do it quickly, because things can change fast (and the amount of equity you can expect can drop precipitously). He relayed an anecdote about a company Yahoo was thinking about acquiring for $1 billion a few years ago. After mulling it over for a few months, Yahoo agreed to pay $1 billion, at which point the company told them they’d grown and now wanted $2 billion (the unnamed company sounds a whole lot like Facebook). Moral of the story: don’t sit around thinking about things too long when startups are involved.

As for how much equity you can expect, Graham says that at the high-end, for a one-founder company with no employees, you may be able to get 50%. From there, things drop quickly — if you’re talking to a company with two founders and angel funding, you may be able to get 5-10%. Post series A, it’s hard to get more than 1%. The trade-off here is risk — most companies never get to their Series A.

Ultimately, Graham says that when you’re joining a startup, you’re looking for a company that is undervalued for the stage it is at, and that’s most likely to eventually IPO. Of course, that’s all easier said than done.

The event then switched to pitch mode, when over thirty startups gave a whirlwind series of presentations telling the audience why they should join them (it was like a speed dating job fair for startups).

AT&T Will Count Micro-Cell Usage Towards Your Data Cap

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 06:21 PM PDT

Just when you thought it was safe to love AT&T again, we have another interesting tidbit about their famous 3G Micro-Cell, AKA the “rip-off box.”

As you recall, AT&T’s MicroCell is being marketed as a way to repair bad connectivity in areas with little or no AT&T reception including, but not limited to, basements, attics, Manhattan, and San Francisco. It essentially piggy backs on your own home network to provide data service and voice to your phone.

Read more…

Win A Ticket To See Arrington Spar With ‘Facebook Effect’ Author David Kirkpatrick

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 05:58 PM PDT

Next week, the Commonwealth Club will be holding a special event that will include our own Michael Arrington interviewing David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, with an introduction by Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff. And it’s a double feature: following the Arrington/Kirkpatrick interview, there will be a second conversation asking if ‘Google is Making Us Stupid’, featuring Peter Norvig, Google’s Director of Research, and author Nicholas Carr, with an introduction from Josh McHugh.

Want to go? We’ve got four free tickets to give away.

If you want a shot at one, click the handy ‘Like’ buttons below to become fans of TechCrunch and The Facebook Effect, then leave us a comment below saying why you want to go. Feel free to suggest questions for Michael to ask David (though obviously he’ll ultimately ask what he wants).

The event will take place in San Francisco on June 23, with check-in starting at 5:15 PM. For full details (or if you want to buy tickets), check out this page.

We’ll pick the winners tomorrow at 5 PM — make sure to use a valid Email address (or Facebook Connect) for your comment so we can contact you should you win.

Twitter ‘OAuthcalypse’ Moved To August Thanks To The World Cup

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 05:13 PM PDT

According to a note posted to developers, Twitter is moving the oAuth switchover date to August, thanks to recent downtime and overload caused by the World Cup in South Africa.

Twitter Platform Team leader Raffi Krikorian writes:

We want to make sure that you all have calm waters to test your new codebases where you’re not dealing with whales, robots, and whatnot. with the world cup ending on july 11th, you will all have over a month’s time of calm waters and site stability to finish the switch over. also, with the vast majority of media providers already switched over to OAuth Echo, you now also have an additional month of time to work out your integrations with them.

Twitter developers were supposed to move over to OAuth by June 30. Twitter notified developers that it would be moving to oAuth and shutting off basic authorization. All third-party developers are need to to make the switch over to oAuth, as they won’t be able to use basic authentication, which allows users to hand over their username and password to a third party. oAuth is considered to be more secure because it allows you to connect to a third-party app without having to give out your password and username. As you can see the countdown to the oAuthcalypse has also been updated.

Twitter has been facing increased downtime over the past week thanks to increased usage of the network because of record usage numbers with the World Cup.

Wait, A Hollywood Exec Actually Making Sense With Regard To Movie Rentals And The Web?

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 03:56 PM PDT

Wait a second, what’s this? I must not be reading this correctly. An executive for a major Hollywood studio is actually making sense and speaking logically when talking about DVD rental windows and the web? This is a joke, right? A bargaining tactic?

If I’m correctly reading what Paramount Home Entertainment President Dennis Maguire told the LA Times, I don’t think so.

After rival studios Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox all signed deals with both Netflix and Redbox to put a 28-day window on new DVD releases before they could be available for rent, Paramount is going the other way. They have signed a deal with Redbox to make the films available to rent same day they come out for purchase — you know, the way things have always been done. Why is Paramount taking such an old school stance? Because they actually did some tests and realized these stupid windows will do nothing to help them sell more DVDs. Imagine that.

And it’s not just that — giving new releases to services like Redbox have actually helped Paramount make more money. Here’s the two key quotes from Maguire:

“There hasn’t been a cannibalization of DVD sales from Redbox, and Redbox was allowing us to expand our business and ultimately make more money.”

“Those people who want to rent are going to figure out ways to rent, and us restricting them from renting isn’t going to turn it into a purchase.”


Of course, I’ve been saying both of those things for months after I first heard about the idiotic 28-day window. But a few of the Hollywood studios reached out to essentially say that I was wrong. Or to try and explain their rationale by suggesting this wasn’t just about trying to regain the DVD sales figures they’re bleeding. Now I can just direct them to Paramount which actually did a test (for almost a year), and came to the same conclusion.

While Maguire doesn’t actually say the word “piracy,” we all know what he means by: “Those people who want to rent are going to figure out ways to rent.” At least part of that is addressing the “rent for free” crowd, as in, steal.

Further, the idea that restricting movie rentals for 28 days would lead to more sales (what this is really all about) is asinine. I’ll repeat my stance: the vast majority of people haven’t stopped buying DVDs because you can rent them — they’ve stopped buying them because most are simply not worth owning. The new methods of distribution have simply highlighted that fact. But it’s too late to put the cat back in the bag now.

Paramount, rather than attempting to drive backwards to take miles off the odometer, is actually thinking ahead. Why not strike a deal with Redbox that they will actually make them some money off of from new release films, rather than praying you can force people to start buying DVDs again? Ingenious.

Nice work, Paramount.

[image: Paramount Pictures]

Rdio Fairly Rocks (The Complete Review)

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 03:22 PM PDT

Earlier this month, the founders of Skype (and Joost and Kazaa) soft-launched their latest startup, an online music subscription and download service called Rdio. It is still invite-only, but I’ve been testing it out for the last few days. My initial take: Until Apple launches iTunes as a jukebox in the cloud, it could learn a few things from Rdio. While the new music streaming and download service has many shortcomings, it points to how digital music should be consumed on the Web and mobile devices.

Rdio is literally an online jukebox with 5 million songs which you can stream in full. It competes with Rhapsody and Spotify (which is not yet launched in the U.S.). You pay $5 a month for Web-only access, and $10 a month to access the service on a mobile phone through Android, Blackberry, or iPhone apps. Curiously, Apple won’t approve the latest update to the iPhone app. Finally, there is a small desktop AIR app that lets you go through your songs and sync to iTunes.

One of the first things you do when you sign up for Rdio is match up your iTunes song library to the service, where it is stored in your collection. All of the songs which Rdio can match are available in your collection for streaming. One thing Rdio has over the original Joost video service at launch is that it is coming out of the gate with great licensing deals. I’d say it matched between 70 and 80 percent of my iTunes songs. All the major label artists are there, but it is missing some key indie bands like The Pixies and Vampire Weekend. Over time, these gaps should disappear.

Any album or song on Rdio can also be added  to your Collection, which has a handy bubble visualization showing the artists you play the most as the biggest bubbles. There is a list view as well. The Collection serves as a way to bookmark the songs you own or like the most. But there are other ways to find and organize songs, including search, album charts, recommendations, and playlists.

Rdio has a social layer built into every part of the service. Which brings us to the other thing you do immediately when you sign up: find friends and people to follow.  The reason you want to jump-start your collection with what is already in your iTunes (or Windows Media Player) library is so that other people can see what kind of music you listen to.

It is possible to find your Twitter or Facebook friends who are also on Rdio and follow them for starters (warning: you may be horrified at what your Internet friends actually listen to). You can create your own playlists or listen to other people’s playlists. Each song and album also has stats showing how many times it’s been played, as well as the number of listeners, reviews, collections, and playlists it is associated with. If you click on a stat, it shows you the underlying people, playlists, or collections, which is another way to find people to follow or playlists to subscribe to.  

Once you start following people that helps you find new music. The home page of Rdio highlights albums in heavy rotation among your music network (so don’t follow someone with crap taste in music just because you are Twitter buddies). You can also toggle to see just the music you’ve been playing a lot recently, or the songs popular across all of Rdio. Below the heavy rotation is the recent activity stream from you and your network on Rdio—songs played, added to collections, playlists created, etc. It is basically organized as a music stream. But unlike the text-only streams on Twitter, Rdio uses the album covers to make browsing the stream a more visual experience. Of course, when you click on an album cover, you get to listen to the stream as well. Rdio also uses your collection and listening history to recommend new music to you based on what other people with similar music taste seem to like. For each recommendation, Rdio will tell you the artist in your collection or listening history it matches.

As I mentioned, Rdio isn’t perfect. The navigation takes some getting used to. For one thing, there is no easy way to get back to the main home page. I found myself resorting to clicking on the Rdio logo at the top left for lack of a home button. From the homepage dashboard there are quick links to your collection, playlists, people you follow, and reviews (if you are into that). There are also links to your “queue” (which is a less formal type of playlist where you can just dump songs and albums you want to play continuously). The fact that there is both a queue and playlists seems redundant. That is, until you launch the desktop AIR app. All it does is play songs from your queue and ones you’ve purchased (MP3 downloads cost $0.99 to $1.29). It can’t access your playlists, search, or any of the social features.

The iPhone app is a more fully featured. It’s got your collection (which overlaps with the songs in your iPod app), playlists, search, and iTunes syncing. The social features are also missing, but perhaps that is what is in the yet-to-be-approved update. The idea of being able to choose from 5 million songs to stream to a device in your pocket is a powerful one. My jukebox in the sky should be accessible anywhere I am.

But would I pay $10 a month for that? I don’t know. That is 12 albums a year, and I don’t buy that many albums anymore. But I would pay $5 a month for the Web-only version. That seems to me to be the right price point. The way I would price it is if a Web-only subscriber ends up buying more than six albums a year on top of that Rdio should upgrade them for free to the mobile access plan. After all, the point of having so many songs at your fingertips with social recommendations built into the service is so that it is easier to discover great music. If Rdio helps me discover new songs I love with little or no effort, I would happily pay extra to own them as downloads.

Ultimately, the music industry needs to look at free or low-cost streaming services as a discovery mechanism which leads to album and ticket sales. Rdio is a good first step in that direction.

In The Midst Of Microsoft’s Office 2010 Launch, Google Upgrades Sharing For Docs

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 02:26 PM PDT

It’s probably not a coincidence that Google is making a significant upgrade to Docs the same week that Microsoft rolls out Office 2010 to the public. Not to be left out, the search giant has modified sharing, visibility and the interface for Google Docs, which is also part of its Office 2010-competitor, Google Apps.

Google is now giving users more clear cut options for sharing documents: private; anyone with a link; or public on the web. All documents start out as private, with the creator as the sole administrator. You can then share your document by setting it as "Anyone with the link," which allows anyone who knows the web address or URL of that doc to view it. You can set your document as ‘public on the web,’ which allows anyone to find the document on the web. Google says that Public docs are automatically indexed by search engines so they may appear in search results.

Google is also enhancing the visibility options for docs, making it fairly clear to the administrator which document is set to private, semi-private or public. The options now appear next to every doc title and in the docs list. You can also see the full list of editors and viewers by clicking on the ‘visibility option’ next to the doc's title or on the Share button. And Google has improved the sharing interface and allows you to reset any link you’ve shared, so that you can move a document back to private even if you’ve shared the document.

It’s probably wise that Google has improved its sharing options, considering that Microsoft is now attacking Google in the cloud with the web-version of Office 2010. It should be interesting to see if the use of Word will gain traction in the cloud as Office 2010 is rolled out more widely.

MySpace Co-President Jason Hirschhorn Out

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 01:21 PM PDT

Less than a month ago I asked the MySpace Co-Presidents, Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn (pictured left), if it was possible to effectively run a company with two equal leaders. Their answer – they’ve made it work. I asked if they were both there for the long term. Jones said “Assuming News Corp. will have us we’re going to stay heavily engaged.” I’ve added the video clip below.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions. Tomorrow MySpace will announce the departure of Jason Hirschhorn, we’ve heard from multiple sources inside and outside of MySpace. And we’ve also heard that Jones will be named CEO sometime soon, although likely not tomorrow.

The two were promoted to co-presidents in February when previous CEO Owen Van Natta was fired. Van Natta held the CEO spot for less than a year – he was hired to replace founding CEO Chris DeWolfe in April 2009.

Yes, it’s been musical chairs at MySpace. Or, a less charitable description: rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The company hasn’t just lost the cultural significance of being the top social network – a title they lost to Facebook long ago. They are also losing page views and users at a rapid clip. MySpace Music is hemorrhaging money to the labels. And their lucrative search deal with Google is ending in two weeks, and the company has yet to announce how they’ll replace that revenue.

For all those reasons and more, I’ve argued passionately that MySpace needs to be spun off into a private company. They can’t please News Corp. and find a way to win with users at the same time. Publicly Jones says he disagrees. Who knows what he thinks privately.

Update: Statement by Jon Miller, Digital Chief for News Corp.:

Statement from Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corporation Confirming the Departure of Jason Hirschhorn, Co-President of MySpace

Los Angeles, CA , June 17, 2010 — We fully respect Jason's decision to leave and his personal desire to return to New York. As many people know, Jason is like family to me, and as expected, he's done everything we asked of him and more. We're incredibly grateful for the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the company. And as I know Jason agrees, Mike Jones has done an outstanding job leading MySpace into its next evolution and is the right person to take the reins. There are no plans to bring in additional management.

WordPress 3.0 Is Now Available

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 12:49 PM PDT

WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging software, has just released WordPress 3.0, codenamed Thelonious — the software’s thirteenth release in its history. Beta releases have been available for the last few months, but now it’s official. To give an idea of how popular WordPress is, version 2.9 was downloaded 10.3 million times.

Among the features listed in the official blog post: a default theme called Twenty Ten (the old default was looking quite dated), a lighter interface, and 1,217 bug fixes. Theming has gotten quite a bit of attention, with APIs that make it easier for theme designers to allow for customized menus, post types, headings, backgrounds, and more.

Another big change is the fusing of WordPress Multi User (MU) and the core WordPress install. WordPress MU is a fork of WordPress that allows for one install to administer multiple (even millions) of blogs, but until now it was separate from ‘regular’ WordPress. Now you’ll get the functionality of both from the same install.

One other interesting point: the WordPress blog notes that the team is going to “take a release cycle off” to focus on the things “around WordPress” as opposed to the platform itself. From the post:

Over the next three months we're going to split into ninja/pirate teams focused on different areas of the around-WordPress experience, including the showcase, Codex, forums, profiles, update and compatibility APIs, theme directory, plugin directory, mailing lists, core plugins, wordcamp.org… the possibilities are endless.

Here’s a video showcasing some of 3.0′s new features:

For a look at how WordPress has evolved, check out our post detailing WordPress 2.0, which we covered back in December 2005.

Introducing WordPress 3.0 \"Thelonious\"

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

HTC Threatens Handset Hackers With Legal Action For Distributing ROMs

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 12:21 PM PDT

Leaks happen — especially in the mobile world. There are just too many people involved in the process of creating a mobile device to keep things under wraps. Take any given new phone’s OS installation package (known as its “ROM”), for example; when something is as easily copied and distributed as any other piece of software, it’s bound to find its way out eventually.

When these ROMs pop up on developer/hacker forums, it’s generally no big deal — in most cases, the manufacturer doesn’t notice or, if they do, don’t bother to do anything about it. Once someone makes an effort to gather up all these ROMs and distribute them from one unified outlet, however, things get hairy. Such is the case for the popular HTC ROM distribution site Shipped-ROMs, who allegedly just received a Cease & Desist order straight from the desk of HTC’s Legal Counsel.

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >>

Facebook Also Said To Have A Deal With Localeze For Facebook Places

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 12:04 PM PDT

On Monday, Twitter rolled out Twitter Places, its attempt to add a layer of actual venues to its geolocation data. This was made possible by a deal with Localeze, a local business listing service with over 14 million businesses in their database. Now we’re hearing that Facebook has struck a similar deal with Localeze to roll out their own Places area in the near future.

Essentially, what we’re hearing is that Facebook will use this data to populate some new kind of fan pages for places, that businesses will be able to then claim on the network. This is in line with the information we uncovered back in May on Facebook’s mobile site. The code on that page (since removed) pointed to a previously unseen Places tab coming to Facebook.

That code also pointed to some check-in functionality coming to Facebook — obviously, that has yet to show up on the service. We’ve heard whispers that Facebook’s big location push may have been postponed due to the recent privacy flare ups. But more recently we’ve heard that Facebook was also missing a vital component needed for any kind of location service: place data. Obviously, this deal with Localeze would solve that problem.

Still, just how soon this new Facebook Places area would launch is not clear. One source thinks it will be very soon, another thinks it could be several weeks before all the data population occurs.

We’ve reached out to both Facebook and Localeze for comment, but have yet to hear back.

Update: And here’s the typical “no comment” from Facebook:

We don't comment on any speculation around future products.

Like This Wouldn’t Happen: AT&T Canceling Orders Made “In Error”

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 11:39 AM PDT

Reader Matthew just confirmed our worst fears: not only was the pre-order experience at Apple and AT&T a big pile of poopfail, they’ve started cancelling “orders made in error.” Why in error? Well, presumably because things have gotten so fouled with eligibility in their systems that folks are getting knocked out of the pre-order queue.

Here’s the email Matthew got today:

Your recently placed AT&T Premier order was cancelled. If you believe your order was cancelled in error, please call us at 1-866-499-8008 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thank you,
The AT&T Premier Team

Read more…

At The World Series Of Poker Two Founders Are Betting The Company — Literally

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 10:50 AM PDT

You’ve heard the term “betting the company,” but have you ever known anyone who has actually done that? I mean literally. As in, they’re playing poker with shares of the company on the line. Because that’s exactly what Yammer founder David Sacks and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis are doing at The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

When Calacanis first tweeted about it, I thought it was a joke. He wrote, “Got a sick @WSOP Main Event Prop bet with @DavidSacks: 10,000 shares of Mahalo vs. 10,000 shares of @Yammer–whoever lasts longer #poker“. But I emailed Sacks to confirm, and sure enough, the bet is on. “Of course. Sucker born every minute,” Sacks wrote to us. He continued, “To be clear, these are personally-owned shares we’re betting.”

Of course, you have to assume they’re not betting the entire company. I asked Sacks exactly what percentage of Yammer 10,000 shares constitues. Not surprisingly, he declined to answer that. But you’d have to think it’s a relatively small share or the Boards of the two companies might have something to say about the deal. Can you imagine if Calacanis took a controlling stake of Yammer because he lasted longer in the World Series of Poker? That’d likely be worth a lot more than the grand prize if he won the entire tournament.

Obviously, this isn’t an official bet for WSOP, it’s a side bet the two men are making. This is a much more interesting way to trade shares than SecondMarket.

Some may recall that Yammer had a bad spell of downtime while Sacks was playing in the tournament last year. Calacanis has played before as well. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous.


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