Archive for the ‘Widgets’ Category

Breaking: Clearspring gets another $5.5 million

March 5, 2007

Widget world keeps booming. This time the big news comes from Clearspring Technologies, the widget syndication and distribution platform. Clearspring has received $5.5-million as part of its Series B round of funding. The round was led by existing investors Phil Bronner of Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Miles Gilburne of ZG Ventures. AOL founders Steve Case, Mark Jung, and Ted Leonsis also participated in the investment round. Jung, who previously served as COO of Fox Interactive, becomes Clearspring’s new chairman of the board. Clearspring has earlier received $2 million in April 2006.

Clearspring is part of my earlier list of 8 startups to watch-out for in 2007. Late last year I had a talk+Demo session with Hooman Radfar, founder of Clearspring. The end-end solution takes widgets from providers like RockYou and delivers them to social networking platforms like MySpace. Clearspring platform also includes range of analytic capabilities to measure the viral impact of widgets, a much need missing metric in the widget foodchain.



Yourminis set to launch API

March 2, 2007

It has been just over 4 months since I wrote about the launch of Yourminis widget based homepage service and it is already gaining lot of traction with users. In this short time Yourminis has registered almost 1 million users and served 13+ million widget impressions. I think all this user response is well deserved. But what does all this mean to us? More features! Come next week Yourminis will be launching important updates to the flashy platform.

Looking to get developers working on the scene, Yourminis will open up its API that touches all of the end-user platforms. Developers would be able to write the widget once and deploy it almost everywhere – on, in the browser using the Firefox extension, your blog/MySpace page as an embedded widget, and on your desktop(pc/mac/linux) through Apollo. The last part of being able to take widget onto your desktop through Apollo is a major accomplishment in respects. First – from Yourminis, to Musestorm, to Netvibes, to Google IG, everyone is pushing is this direction. Second – some of the most promising products including Yourminis and Virtub  are being built on the next generation application development platform from Adobe. This gives Yourminis quite a bit of lead as compared to any other service planning to venture onto this platform. Coming back to the API- On the technical side of things it will also provide the ability to store and retrieve data for widgets from the Yourminis servers and offer the ability to proxy web requests to avoid cross-domain issues. Besides this the API will deliver useful components such as an RSS parser to make dealing with RSS and ATOM feeds a breeze.

Also as part of the new release Yourminis will get a new tab specifically for RSS feeds. This will offer all of the same features as widgets and pages, ie browse, sort, search, rate, comment on, details, etc but just pertaining to feeds. Users will be able to create their own feed widgets through a simple wizard and publish it into the community – making it available in the Yourminis start page, embeddable and ultimately able to accessed via the desktop. Before blog owners jump to any conclusions, Yourminis has the blog feed ownership part covered. Blog owners will be able to claim their feed and design the default look and feel and content which will be featured when someone searches for that blog, even though there might be multiple versions of that widget. Sounds like a neat strategy to me.

Personally I have always liked the flash based Yourminis over the other JavaScript based services. Cool GUI effects aside, from the very start Yourminis enabled resizing of widgets which is not possible is Google IG, and Pageflakes. Also last month Yourminis had turned on the option for users to take the widget code anywhere on the web to enable reuse of your favorite widgets. Even otherwise the Flash based service has its own advantage over JavaScript/Ajax based in terms of widget deployment and is becoming more of an standard everywhere.



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!


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.


vFlyer launches commerce widgets

February 27, 2007

vFlyer, the ad and content creation, management and submission platform, that I have extensively written about has added support for widgets to its comprehensive platform. vFlyer new series of commerce widgets include Real Estate Listing Widgets, Promotion Widget, and Job Listing Widget. All in all covering a wide domain of ads generated through vFlyer. Nice part of the release is that widgets codes are available for both Flash and JavaScript based widgets, with the ability to customize the look and feel. vFlyer will also be adding support for premium widgets and launching the widgets through widgetbox in another week.

vFlyer has also extended its support to include online videos that can be embedded within classified ads or “virtual flyers.” Basically you can grab embed codes from Youtube,…and add them to your flyers. vFlyer has also added support for Yahoo Map mashups, enabling sellers to easily drop a graphical map onto their virtual flyer so that buyers can readily find the seller’s business or listing location.

The rate at which vFlyer is innovating and growing just amazes me. On the whole the strong touch of enterprise experience of its co-founders, Aaron Sperling and Oliver Muoto, gets reflected in each new build from vFlyer.

vFlyer adds revenue stream
vFlyer targets real estate companies – adds FeedExpress
vFlyer officially launches

Netvibes UW; Koolanoo funded; CellSwapper in Canada; Cruxy goes virtual

February 26, 2007

Netvibes: The home page service startup is ready for push into the Universal Widget space, where any Netvibes widget will work across all platforms and APIs, namely Google IG, Pageflakes, Apple Dashboard, Vista……However most of the widget centered startups are already working in this direction. Israel based widget syndication and analytics startup Musestorm had already launched cross platform support for widgets last month. Widgets generated through Musestorm platform currently work on web, Google Desktop, Yahoo Widget Engine, with support for Mac, Vista, Mobiles, and IMs under works. Besides this Pageflakes and Yourminis already allow uses to take their widgets beyond the homepages services, and I am pretty sure each of these startups would sooner or later hit the universal ground.

Koolanoo: The Israel based Jewish social network has raised $3 million from Giza Venture Capital. What can be expect next in the social net space? Sites targeting Jewish Adults, or Christian Teens,….Anyway traffic graphs for Koolanoo look poor as ever everywhere- Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa.

CellSwapper: The cell contract escape mechanism platform CellSwapper has now started offering its services in Canada. It has been only 2 months since CellSwapper launched and its claiming that hundreds of plans and contracts have been posted and transferred. CellSwapper is claiming to have a damn good posting to transfer request times, which are averaging at 3 days currently.

Cruxy: More virtual life news for the day. Cruxy is now playing music in SecondLife. As they say “Cruxy Player for Second Life is a portable music player for use at listening parties, as a promotional giveaway, or for just some relaxing downtime in your personal parcel of land.” You start playing music, you can load and play music from your mp3 playlists. I ain’t virtual right now, so can’t really tell how that works out.

Can someone build a working Gravatar?

February 24, 2007

There is nothing worse everyday for me than coming across a new product or webservice, trying it out for 30 mins, and finding out that it doesn’t work. Gravatar is one of those. What really is Gravatar? Simply put – “globally recognized avatar”. You upload your avatar image at Gravatar, generate the URL and use it everywhere.  Later you feel like changing your avatar, just upload your new image and change gets reflect everywhere. Does sound simple except there are few issues. First there is no easy way to get it working without little bit of scripting background. Second even if you get it onto your blog you should count yourself lucky if it works. For no apparent reason, your avatar fails to load. Can it be more frustrating than that?

But why am I ranting about Gravatar? Cause they released their V2.0 on Feb 15th and since than 250 people have commented on their blog post announcing the release. That is lot of interest for a lesser known service. However more than half of the commentors are complaining that the service doesn’t work as promised. I think this sounds like an opportunity for someone to fill up the space. To start with get the remote avatar part working as a widget based service without scripting issues, make the service scalable, add ratings, ranking, commenting,  and more. Partner directly with Automatic(this would be much better option than Snap), Six Apart….. and maybe you are sitting on the next MyBlogLog. There might be similar attempts at providing this service but I can’t recollect coming across anything that has caught on significantly. Sitepal, Rapleaf, Gizmoz, Meez are in the same market but trying to solve different problems. How about just a simple avatar service that doesn’t try to solve customer support issues or become e-commerce reputation system? I would for sure use such a service.

pbWiki traffic climbs; Launches plugin support

February 16, 2007

pbWiki, the angel funded wiki based collaboration platform provider, has been getting lot of traction with educational institutions and businesses for the its peanut butter manifesto. Last time I talked with Ramit at pbWiki in November 2006, they had just disclosed their $350,000 in funding and they were a team of 3. Within a short span their team size has grown to 6. Which means either they are doing exceedingly well with their paid plans (plans ranging from free to $9.95/month to $34.95/month) or they have raised more funds.

Speculation aside, lets get to the real point. Earlier in this week pbWiki finally added support for WYSIWYG editor. Also as part of the change is the support for plugins. pbWiki plugins enable users to add Youtube videos, 30boxes calendar, Google Gadgets, slideshow from Slide, chat box…..It was only few weeks back that Wetpaint had announced similar support for external widgets, and Atlassian community had done that sometime last year. On the whole it feels like a general direction everyone is moving towards. Actually any platform not being able to support widgets feels like a misfit in current times. Let me think who can’t do this right now. ammmm. Oh! It’s Microsoft Office and Google Docs&Spreadsheets. Time to catch up guys.


Teqlo Launches; Widget world transforms

February 15, 2007

Teqlo has opened its platform for users to signup and tryout the extensible and interactive mashup canvas. Teqlo was part of my list of 8 startups to watch-out for in 2007. After trying out the application for the past hour, I very definite I was right on that. Netvibes, Pageflakes, Google IG have put in lot of hard work in the last couple of years and got the well deserved attention by enabling users to bring in content and services from anywhere into one single location. Only problem with is that services on those platforms can’t talk with each other, which in my opinion is a very big limitation in terms of how a user gathers and consumes data.

Teqlo offers similar experience but which is far-far more extensible. Teqlo can make these same services talk and interact with each other to move data across them so seamlessly that makes the end user think as if they are from the same provider. Take the case of Leads and Calls, one of the default applications added to each new account created at Teqlo. You can interact with LinkedIn, DabbleDB, Google Maps, Google Calendar, and Teqlo lists all in one place. These are 5 entirely different apps from 4 service providers that you might use everyday. The biggest pain is to get them to work together. Lead search results going your address list or spreadsheet, call scheduling ending up in your Google Calendar, addresses getting mapped on to Google Maps, and many more of these banal tasks that require whole deal of copy/pasting. Teqlo’s mashup canvas brings the search, mapping, save part all to one place. And this is just the start of a new way of work management. Give Teqlo Builder a try and you can find yourself building something interesting and useful.



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.