Archive for February, 2007

Gizmoz to announce funding soon

February 28, 2007

Gizmoz, the service that lets users create 3D avatars, will soon be announcing closing of another funding round. I am trying to get more details on who all participated in the funding round and the amount raised. Currently the Israel based startup has couple of products under works including Gizmoz HeadMaker and an avatar based personalization widget for bloggers and social networks.

I know we have Sitepal and couple of more options, but Gizmoz feels much more fun. Virtual life seems all set to expand beyond SLs and Habbos!

Links:
Gizmoz

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Videosharing site Fliqz closes another funding round

February 28, 2007

Fliqz, the social video sharing site has raised $2.5 million in Series B round of funding, according to PEHub. Mohr, and Davidow Ventures participated in the investment. Last year Fliqz had raised $1 million in its Series A round. Fliqz, which has a pretty basic design claims to be focused on being longer media storage platform. Their plans aside, I am not able to play videos on Firefox. On whole can’t see where exactly Fliqz is headed a very tight market.

Links:
Fliqz

Izimi p2web; Obopay with Citibank; adManager bait

February 28, 2007

Izimi: is another peer-to-web application in making. Right now in private beta and launching early next month, Izimi will enable users to serve files, photos, videos right from their PC. The UK based startup is supposed to have raised a small amount of funding totaling £150k from Star Capital just under $3million. Earlier I had written about Boxcloud and PurpleNova operating in the same space.

Citibank+Obopay: The mobile payment startup has finally hit gold. Obopay is running a pilot program with Citibank to enable its credit and debit card customers to instantly send and receive money via any mobile phone. Besides this customers will be able to remotely track and manage their mobile payment accounts by checking balances, viewing payment histories, and adding funds directly from their mobile phone. Last time I had written about Obopay, the startup had raised $10 million in funding. Since than Obopay has acquired BillMonk and undergone major management additions.

Microsoft adManager: The software giant is throwing out a bait for existing and new Microsoft Office Live subscribers to get them hitched onto the Microsoft adManager. As part of a new offer all those users who activate Microsoft Office Live adManager beta between February 20, 2007 and July 31, 2007 will get a $50 Microsoft adCenter credit. As I have said before, I am completely lost in this Microsoft+Office+Live mumbo jumbo. I mean what has a word like “Office” got to do with a word like “adManager”? Does anyone ever listen over there? Anyway these offers fall far short of what Google has been doing to promote Adwords and Checkout.

Wiki leader Confluence finally gets hosted version

February 28, 2007

All along I had hoped that Atlassian will one day offer hosted version of Confluence, one of the best and most popular Wiki based collaboration platform. Given the fact that Google has been making aggressive moves in the hosted space with the recent Premier version release and buyout of JotSpot earlier last year, Atlassian has more than 1 reason to go online. Well today Atlassian announced that it has launched hosted version of Confluence. As expected Atlassian has not included a free plan in its offering although you are free to try out with a DEMO account for 30 days. Plans are priced from $49/month or $490/year for 15 users and go upto $449/month or $4,490/year for 500 users. Users get host of features along with the service including ability to create unlimited spaces and pages, upload files, create blogs, content and attachment search, robust ACL, and backups. Some important features that have been missed out in this release include Plugin support and LDAP integration. I am trying to get more details from the Atlassian team about the possibility of future addition of these features.

However the service is in DoA state right now. I think Atlassian didn’t plan for the rush it was going to get hit with. Once the site gets stable, I will try taking a deeper dive. As per Atlassian, only the hosted demo had issues due to application updates. The production paid version hosted on different set of servers is running fine.

Update: I finally got response from Atlassian team informing me that they do have plugin support some of the most request ones including IM Presence Plugin, Blogging RPC Plugin, Vote Macro, Google Calendar, RSVP Plugin, Excel Macro, Word macro, Chart macro, and will be adding the webdav plugin soon. Its just that they won’t allow users to be installing plugins themselves. They are also including SOAP / XML-RPC interfaces, and planning to add API access soon. Sounds great to me.

Links:
Confluence Hosted

Mabber relaunches; How about interacting with users now?

February 28, 2007

Yesterday Mabber launched a new release of its mobile and web based instant messaging platform. New features include a widget that you can place on your blog and enable people to connect with you while you are on Mabber web or mobile. Nothing new about this feature since it is already offered by few other startups including Wambo, and Meebo. Besides this Mabber has added support for getting alerts for RSS feeds through instant messages and also upgraded its mobile client. I am not sure what new the mobile client upgrade really offers since there are very few details on the site. Even this area is not without major competition that now includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Fring, Nimbuzz, Jargong, and few more.

Earlier on I had tried creating an account at Mabber which failed ’cause of some dumb database reason. Emailed Mabber team, since I was not able to post that on their forum which in the first place requires a Mabber Id. Mabber team never cared to reply, but did get the signup part working. Checking now, besides other things I think RSS alerts feature needs some work as it totally lacks notification support of what it is doing when you try adding a new feed. Even otherwise Mabber site gives a feel of ghost town, with almost no real interaction between the product team and the users either on the blog or in the support forums. Would need much than a working product to get users to hop on.

Update: As it seems right now from Nico’s comment below that he did reply to my email, which I never got. Email charge dropped for now 🙂

Links:
Mabber

Cellblock remote media refresh takes on both worlds – Desktop+Web

February 28, 2007

Widget based media sharing service Cellblock has been around for a while all along building cool new features. Today Cellblock added another significant feature to the service that extends the scope of the widget to the desktop space and in process adds disruptive real-time collaborative capabilities to the widget space. With just a few clicks, you can download a cellblock to your desktop that requires the recent version of JRE to work. Just as with the Flickr upload tool, you can upload content by simply dragging and dropping into the widget. Big difference is that you can upload photos and as well as videos onto the desktop widget. After this is when the real magic happens. As soon as you upload, the content updates instantly everywhere – on every desktop and on every website it’s embedded on. I think this is a pretty significant feature release ’cause it blurs the line between desktop and web widgets while making it easier to send content updates remotely, an important feature that was ignored in number of cases notably Youtube video widget. So now you can find yourself attaching a Cellblock Desktop Widget to a email that takes up almost no space but still displays an unlimited amount of photo and video content, streamed in real-time.

Few companies have already been working on enabling this feature set including Google, Splashcast, Preclick with each of them targeting a different market with a unique implementation. As expected Google is focused on pushing Adsense video ads through such a widget, while Splashcast has taken the traditional show->channel->player approach, and Preclick is using the Instant Messaging way to remotely refresh media content. However I am impressed by the Cellblock implementation that gets things done without requiring end users to install a new application.

Links:
Cellblock

Key UMA innovator Kineto raises more funds

February 28, 2007

Fixed mobile convergence rally continues to gain momentum even when we have yet to come across large scale successful deployment stories. Yesterday Milpitas, CA based Kineto Wireless announced that it has raised $10 million in Series C round of funding. The funding round was led by  InterDigital with an investment of $5 million, and also participated by Kineto’s existing investors including Sutter Hill Ventures, Venrock Associates, 3i, Oak Investment Partners, SeaPoint Ventures and Storm Ventures. Kineto is one of the key innovators of UMA(Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology that enables call handover between WiFi and wireless operator network on a dual-mode handset.

We also have Seattle-based Sotto Wireless looking to take FMG over to SMBs. Selling any new technology to SMBs is tough ’cause of the obvious lack of resources for implementing and maintaining new systems. Anyway, Sotto will be providing both hardware and software piece to enable the VoIP part. Right now they are testing out their product on Nokia’s dual-mode handset E61 and also looking into some Linksys options. Biggest part that will hold back Sotto uptake is that it has yet to implement hand-off of voice calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Still Sotto is proceeding ahead with implementing its plan while also working towards round 2 of venture funding. Sotto had earlier raised $8 million in funding from venture capital firms Ignition Partners and Vantage Point Venture Partners.

Last month I had written about Mountain View based Nuvoiz showcasing its enterprise targeted softphone at DEMO. Simens and DiVitas Networks are couple of other companies competing in this space. All said and done, one of the biggest challenge each of these service providers will face is as they go alone is that nothing stops major wireless carriers from implementing these solutions. With Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T-Mobile, BT, Orange already offering consumer facing WiFi-wireless call switching plans, I am not about the strategy for these upstarts. Basic idea of going for the lower price path would again be a loosers game for everyone. However working as technology partners for carriers, just like Kineto, beyond US should prove to be more effective.

Joyent partners with Corel; Newsgator Desktop launched

February 27, 2007

Joyent has partnered with Corel to provide data backup service for Corel WordPerfect Lightning, a note taking software from Corel. Any user backing up his/her notes from Lightning onto Joyent will get 2 complimentary Joyent Connector accounts and 200MB of storage for free. As always, good and bad news accompanies any new partnership. Bad news – Corel Lightning UI totally sucks. At least I can’t see myself using it. If you compare it to Evernote or Microsoft’s OneNote, the software has lot of catching up to do. Good News – You get to try Joyent Connector for free for the first time. If you haven’t already tried Joyent, the product set includes web-based Mail, Calendar, Contact Management, Bookmarks, and obviously file storage applications.

Newsgator: The Colorado’s coolest startup has launched beta of its new product – Newsgator Desktop. As expected, any feed post you read from Desktop gets synced backed to your Newsgator account and will show up read everywhere including FeedDemon, Windows RSS Platform, and Newsgator Online. In my PoV, the application is targeted at users having maybe 20 or fewer feeds otherwise pop-up notifications loose their significance. Newsgator team does provide controls around this by adding support for choosing feeds for which you want the notifications to be displayed. So, in case you are not already using FD, Desktop can be good alternative to get tuned to RSS. Can we expect personalized push as the next move from Newsgator?

Verizon Mobile TV from March 1

February 27, 2007

Come March 1st and Verizon will finally go live with its mobile TV service. This news comes after Qualcomm’s announcement earlier this month that top wireless carriers in US including Cingular and Verizon will be using its MediaFLO mobile TV network to deliver mobile TV capabilities to its users. The service from Verizon will be branded as “Vcast Mobile TV”, and will be available on 2 handsets – SCH-u620 from Samsung and the VX9400 from LG. Verizon had announced last month that it would offer shows from CBS, Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC News, NBC Entertainment and Nickelodeon as part of the mobile TV service.

Not much details are available in terms of coverage area, which is supposed to be patchy to start with. Also no details about pricing have been released, which I think will play a significant role in uptake of the service besides the overall quality and limitations imposed by the service.

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Outside.in – Local news aggregator gets funded

February 27, 2007

Union Square Ventures has invested in a 6 month old startup, Outside.in, a localized media content aggregation startup. Outside.in received $900K as part of the investment. Other investors who participated in the funding round includes Marc Andreessen, John Seely Brown, Esther Dyson, Village Ventures(firm of Tripod founder Bo Peabody), Milestone Venture Partners, and angel investors George Crowley, John Borthwick, and Richard Smith. Pretty long list, huh? As for the founding team of Outside.in, it includes Steven Berlin Johnson, co-creator online magazine FEED and the Webby-Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and John Geraci who previously worked on Neighbornode, Pheeder and Foundcity.

Idea of Outside.in is to aggregate blogosphere and other media content around your neighborhoods. As an initial push in this direction, Outside.in launched their service today in 63 cities, and 3217 neighborhoods in the U.S. As a user you can bring in stories to Outside.in and associate them with a area. Or as a blog publisher, you can use the FeedBurner “geotag this post” flare to easily get the post tagged, which will than show the number of posts tagged for that location. From a reader perspective you can enter your city, neighborhood, or zip code to start exploring your local community

Craigslist and Topix Forums are some of the sites which has done exceedingly well in fostering localized discussions. But automation of this task to get content from blogosphere is a great idea. Issues can still arise from the incorrect geo-content associations, spam blogs rolling up geo-tagged pharma ads into Outside.in, and more of such types. Would be interesting to watch how Outside.in deals with the challenges of dynamic and expanding world of blogs.

Links:
Outside.in