Archive for the ‘SocialNetworking’ Category

Virtual world Gaiaonline raises millions

March 1, 2007

Gaiaonline has raised $12.01 million as part of its Series B round of funding. According to PEHub, DAG Ventures led the funding round which was also participated by earlier backers Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures. Last year Gaia had raised $8.93 million in Series A.

Gaiaonline is one of the highly successful avatar based social platform. Users can create customized profiles, get number of personalization options for their avatars from clothes to hairstyles to eyes and more, and off course make friends. Gaia Gold can get you shopping around in the virtual stores or play games. Gaia has very active discussion forums with over 1 billion posts made till date.

The new round of funding is huge for a virtual+traditional feature mix site. I think we can expect a bigger push on to the virtual side of things at Gaia.


eSnips launches music widgets

March 1, 2007

eSnips the versatile social sharing site has entered the widget world with style by launching innovative music widgets. This feature introduction comes after the launch of eSnips Microportals in January. Couple of Microportals which have really taken off include the DJ and Karaoke communities. eSnips was quick to realize the need of users to share and take the uploaded content beyond these communities. Hence the launch of music players disguised as widgets that enable users to host, share, and promote the uploaded music. Users get option to create widget with only a few clicks from a variety of cool, genre-specific player and playlist styles without leaving the site.

According to eSnips these widgets are already doing rounds of blogs, and major social networking sites while being utilized by musicians to promote their work. And these widgets are not just limited to social sites. You can search and compile your favorite music list and send it out through the eSnips animated email messages. Again all the music is hosted at eSnips that takes the pain out of sending large email attachments. Also as part of the new release, eSnips has upped the free storage from 1 GB to 5 GB for all its users. I think this is great option given the fact that even Google gives only 250MB of free space on Picasaweb, which allows both video and photo uploads.

After this release I can see more and more users moving over to the comprehensive upload platform from eSnips, and beaming their content all over blogosphere.


eBay hookup with Bebo soon

March 1, 2007


The online auction leader will soon be launching an integration with social networking site Bebo. According to WSJ, once the integration goes live Bebo users will be able to post lists of items they want to sell or buy on eBay. Any clicks on these items, will drive users to eBay site.

eBay has also been in talks with MySpace for a similar deal and had launched “Student Superstore” page on Facebook in January. On the Bebo end, the social networking site had earlier launched Amazon-powered Bebo Bookstore.

Social networking sites have become a lucrative option to partner with for bigger businesses. $1 billion plus MySpace-Google deal has been the biggest step in this direction. eBay, Amazon, and other established companies are quickly filling up the space before any startups get their hands on the young and fast moving communities.

Last year eBay had implemented some of its own ideas about social networking but they seem to have been put on backburner for now.


BBC on Youtube; SimulScribe Voice-to-SMS; Sportsvite new look

February 21, 2007

BBC talks with Google: While talks with CBS and Viacom have fallen apart in the last couple of days, Youtube teams continues with the deal making process. According to news reports, BBC is talking with Google to make available its content on Youtube. No details have emerged in regards which content will be made available.

SimulScribe: I don’t think converting voicemail to text market is big enough to support another startup. Nevertheless SimulScribe is planning to take on reQall, Jott, and Spinvox, with its new service that converts voicemail to text and sends it out as SMS your mobile. SimulScribe is pretty much decided about its monetization plans. The service comes free for 7 days, and thereafter costs $9.99/month for 40 messages. Feels pricey to me. 

Sportsvite: The sports social networking startup, which had raised $2 million last week, has gone live with major upgrades to the site. Changes seem to be related more to the UI brush-up side of things, and less on adding new core features. I am unimpressed.

Scouta launches personalized media; Mumspace – yet another socialnet…….

February 21, 2007

Another mommy oriented social network that launched last week. Seems to be using WordPress to drive its backend. Offers ability to choose from alternative themes, adding people to your network,  creating photo albums, and more of the expected  features from a socialnet. I see tough road for the startup ahead since number of players have already entered this space last year including MomJunction, CafeMom, Maya’s Mom, Famster, and MothersClick. 

The Australia based startup launched its recommendation system yesterday that generates personally relevant suggestions of online audio and video, like podcasts, videocasts, online TV, video, etc. Users bookmark favorite online audio and video and Scouta aggregates these to make personalized recommendations. Basically a for everything to anything. CozmoTV is working in similar direction on the video side. Scouta will also be releasing an iTunes plugin that will automatically bookmarks content consumed on a member’s computer, iPod, or Apple TV, and their API to extend the platform to other applications and devices. Sounds like a plan to me, but lot of work is required in terms of UI, user experience, and building a dynamic community.


Vox on mobile; Metro on Google Maps; NetNewsWire V3;

February 20, 2007

Vox/Xanga/LJ on mobile: UK based users of LiveJournal, Xanga, and Vox will be able to access these social networking and blogging services from their mobile phones. This service will be available to Hutchison 3G users which had entered into partnership with Intercasting, which allows mobile networks to aggregate social networking functionality through its Anthem Social Networking Service Gateway (SNS-G). [via]

Google Maps: Google Maps has added support for showing subway stops and building outline for major metropolitan areas including NYC, San Francisco, and London. However these changes have yet to be rolled onto the Google Maps on mobile where it can be better put to use.

NetNewsWire: Newsgators’s NetNewsWire team has launched the pre-beta(>alpha) release of its v3.0 client. The new release for the Mac based feed reader includes interface makeover, full screen mode, Spotlight searching, many other features. Since I am on windows can’t really say where it stands wrt the FeedDemon.

ccube bets on voice socialnet; I doubt it

February 13, 2007

Cupertino, CA, based ccube thinks voice calling is the next higher ground for social networking. Their plan is to let users hear each other’s voice and judge if they are the right match. You get to record a personal greeting for about 15 seconds, in addition to defining your interests. ccube takes your interest lists to match people. Members with similar interests visit your profile, click on your personal greeting, and if they like It, they add you to their Favorites list. To make calls they need to dial the ccube number, access their Favs, and connect to you.

Sounds simple and easy but I think it is too direct. Who wants to talk with unknown people at unexpected times? ccube does provide couple of controls on the site to guard against unexpected calls, but I don’t think they will be really effective in everyday life where your preferred times change at moments notice. Even otherwise you don’t just start talking with someone just ’cause your interests match. If that had been true, all the Web20 followers would be on a conference call right now.

Previously I have written about couple of similar services that enable anonymous calling- Jangl and SubjectTalk. Don’t think both have been really successful at their plans. Anonymous chat using the Wambo widget is the right way to get connected with people. Personally I have been getting far better response with Wambo as compared to Jaxtr’s anonymous calling and voicemail widget that had generated lot of buzz when it had launched late last year.


Mixpo: Another day, another media mashup launch

February 13, 2007

Seattle based Mixpo, which had started off as PiXPO, today announced that it has officially launched its Mixcard service. Simply put, you can add your video, photos and audio to create a Mixcard, which can than be embedded into your blog or MySplace et al profiles. Once created and uploaded, all your Mixcards are available online from where they can be easily updated.

One very big issue with Mixpo is that you need to download the Mixpo client to create your Mixcards, which is similar to the way Smilebox operates. I ain’t  big fan of downloading and installing apps, so had to skip this part.

Looking at the feature set, one thing the Mixpo offers better is the ability to annotate videos. This is not possible in Splashcast with whom Mixpo directly competes with in terms of the target market. However this feature is not that difficult to get done with and has already been implemented by number of other startups including Viddler. Mixpo has time and money to fine tune its offering and possibly move over to a web version, which I feel is the right direction. Mixpo had received $6.5M Series A round of funding in May 2006 led by Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, and including Canadian investors Working Opportunity Fund (managed by GrowthWorks Capital Ltd.), Yaletown Venture Partners, Springbank TechVentures and private investors.


Fonemine: mobile social network

February 12, 2007

From big to small, each and every company wants to create social network in mobile space. Sunnyvale, CA, based Fonemine is another contender. From the feature perspective, once you signup for Fonemine through your WAP browser, you can– create/share pages, create/share albums, upload photos, create contacts, add Fonemine users to your network, add/manage/share bookmarks, send messages, and perform local search. Local search results seem to be struggling ‘cause of the amount of data available at the back-end.

One feature that intrigued me was the ability to make group calls. You can setup a group call from your mobile to reach any number(cell, pstn) anywhere in the world for free. The call duration is maxed at 15 mins. I am not sure what Fonemine has in mind when giving away these minutes for free.

Overall nothing out there that cannot be done from the tech PoV. I mean any startup can cook-up a social network in 3-6 months timeframe. Connect-to-target-market is where the future lies.


Sportsvite’s social network gets $2 million

February 9, 2007

NY based sports social networking startup Sportsvite has raised $2 million in first round of funding from Grace Drive Management, an alternative investment fund based in New York. Sportsvite, which has been around for the past half year, enables people to organize their sports activities. Creating teams & groups, organizing games, being able to search for people with similar interests are few of the activities you can do at Sportsvite. The amount of activity on the site and features available don’t justify the funding, but Sportsvite might have more plans in store to give the startup a definitive direction and market it wants to go after.

Takkle, Traineo, Tired&Tested, Gimme20, and BIMActive, are just some of the social networking based variations for sports enthusiasts available right now.