Since bought StumbleUpon’s traffic has dropped seriously down; now climbing back

Since the time StumbleUpon was bought by eBay for $75M in cash there was little to no news on the company until today. Apparently in a quest for media attention StumbleUpon (or eBay) has contacted TechCrunch with some new numbers to show off with. We are not sure what StumbleUpon is up to and why they need media coverage, but there must be something. It could be either some new plans or products in the pipelines for which they are seeking coverage or it could also be the fact that the site has just started to recover from a deep dive in the traffic late last year for which the company now wants to let the world know.

Obviously ignoring their drop in the traffic, according some traffic measurement companies, (including comScore), they seem to drag the attention of influential technology bloggers to the number of their registered users and the number of their stumbles.

After del.icio.us StumbleUpon seems to be the second popular web site from the web 2.0 generation that tries to undermine the factor unique visitors. Interestingly only companies that see decline in their traffic (the same is the case with del.icio.us) try to do that while other sites that keep on growing seem to love the unique visitor measurement standard.

They boast about already having close to 5 million registered users, but they do not clarify what is the number of the active users among them. During the first quarter of 2008 their users, they claim, have already stumbled more than one billion times and the site is on its way to reach its five billionth stumble in total somewhere during the next months. However, the truth about their unique visitors does not look that good.

At the time eBay acquired the company for $75M in cash the site had reportedly less than 2M uniques per month, which puts the value of each of their users at close to $38 or something. comScore’s number for the May 2007 was close to 4M uniques, while Compete reports for less than 1M for the same period. We don’t believe either of those numbers to be very accurate and since the company has no word on their actual traffic we are taking the average number of what is publicly available as information. Few months after the acquisition StumbleUpon’s traffic has significantly dropped down to just 1.8 million in December 2007, which in any way represents a serious and worrying decline for the eBay’s web property, which might explain their PR activity today. Since then the site’s traffic is slowly recovering and is now close to 3.2 million per month, which might still be below the traffic at the time the acquisition took place if we take the comScore’s numbers for real.

In matter of honesty one must pay attention to the fact that some users at StumbleUpon are using their site through browser add-ons and are not often visiting the site, just like what del.icio.us’s founder Joshua Schachter has explained a few weeks ago in a answer to a question why their site is declining in traffic.

Whatever the case with StumbleUpon might today be it still remains one of the few great examples for hefty exits that many of the newer web 2.0 sites try to repeat with little to no luck so far. Having raised only $1.5M in angel money StumbleUpon has managed to sell itself to eBay for $75M all in cash.

More

http://stumbleupon.com
http://www.quantcast.com/stumbleupon.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/stumbleupon.com/?metric=uv
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/23/five-million-users-and-nearly-five-billion-stumbles-later/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/stumbleupon
http://2008.thenextweb.org/agenda/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/14/stumbleupon-may-be-for-sale-50m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/10/delicious-not-shrinking-but-another-problem-looms/ 
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/31/some-of-the-web%e2%80%99s-biggest-acquisition-deals-during-2007/ 

Sony acquired digital media identification company Gracenote for about $260M

Sony has today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Gracenote for about $260M plus other contingent consideration. Gracenote provides a range of music-related solutions including MusicID, which detects which song is currently being played by an application and loads track information for the user. MusicID leverages a database of over 6M CDs and 80M tracks and the technology has been in works since 1995 known previously with the name CDDB.

“Gracenote is a global leader in technology and services for digital media identification, enrichment, and recommendation, and these capabilities will be essential to the next wave of innovation in content, services, and consumer electronics,” said Tim Schaaff, SCA Senior Vice President, Software. “Sony sees tremendous growth potential in developing Gracenote as a separately run business unit, and by broadly embracing Gracenote’s platforms, Sony expects to significantly enhance and accelerate its own digital content, service, and device initiatives.”

“We are very pleased to join Sony as its strategic vision is very much in line with our own,” said Craig Palmer, Gracenote CEO. “Having a closer connection with the content and digital services community will accelerate adoption of Gracenote technologies, and the relationship will also give us the resources necessary to rapidly expand development of next generation products for the industry.”

Gracenote’s existing business will continue to operate separately. As a wholly owned Sony subsidiary, Gracenote will continue to develop new technologies in existing as well as new areas of operation. The senior management team will remain with the company. Sony and Gracenote anticipate that the transaction will close in late May, subject to certain regulatory and other approvals.

Many consumer music app services Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, and Winamp use Gracenote for their music detection capabilities. Other consumer electronic brands are also associated with the company such as SonyEricsson, Philips Wireless Music Systems, Cadillac, Apple iPod, among others. 

More about Gracenote

Gracenote is a global leader in embedded technology, enriched content, and data services for digital entertainment solutions within the Internet, consumer electronics, mobile, and automotive markets. Formerly known as CDDB®, Gracenote delivers a substantially improved consumer experience in digital media devices and applications, plus media monitoring and other data services to the recording industry, making it an integral part of the digital media economy. Gracenote powers leading services including Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Winamp; home and automotive products from Alpine, Panasonic, Philips and Sony; and mobile music applications from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, KDDI (Japan), KTF (Korea), Musiwave (Europe), and others. Gracenote is headquartered in Emeryville, California.

Founders

Steve Scherf, Co-Founder & Chief Architect/Vice President of Service Development
Steve Scherf and business partner Ti Kan created the CDDB compact disc recognition service as a hobby in 1995 in order to get personal computers to display information about the CDs they were playing. To their surprise, the service became overwhelmingly popular, prompting them to found CDDB LLC in 1998. Later that year the company was acquired by Escient LLC, and the name was changed to Gracenote. After the acquisition, Scherf took on the role of Chief Architect for all Gracenote services. Scherf has since been the driving force behind nearly every fundamental Gracenote technology, cementing his position as one of the main pioneers of media recognition. Scherf personally designed and built the lion’s share of the current incarnation of the Gracenote service, a modular system that is extremely flexible, scalable and massively redundant, and is capable of easily incorporating new services as the need arises. He architected, designed, and developed the technology behind other Gracenote online products, such as Link, Discover, Music Enrichment, the MusicID® search engine, and others. In addition, Scherf has assimilated a number of third-party recognition technologies into the Gracenote suite, such as Mobile MusicID, re-implementing and improving them from the ground up. His pioneering work in media recognition also forms the basis of Gracenote’s embedded offerings. Prior to co-founding Gracenote, Scherf worked as Unix kernel developer for such companies as Altos Computer Systems, Acer America and Stratus Computer, delving into file systems, I/O performance, SCSI subsystems, networking and fault tolerance. Scherf graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1988 with a B.A. in Math and Biology.

Dale (Ty) Roberts, Co-Founder
Ty Roberts is widely recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and is accredited with producing the industry’s first enhanced CDs. He joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that he founded in 1993. Roberts serves as Gracenote’s chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products and services that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services. While at ION, Roberts produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. He was the company’s lead technologist and innovator in adding multimedia content to traditional audio CDs. ION was also widely recognized as a leading provider of enhanced CD production tools utilized by recording and multimedia development companies. In September 1993, Bertelsmann Music Group created the first interactive record label after acquiring a 50 percent interest in ION. Prior to founding ION, Roberts was a founder and senior manager of LightSource, a software development company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software. Previously, he was a senior engineer at Pixar, where he created several award winning, Apple-based music applications including “Studio Session” and “Jam Session.” Roberts is Gracenote’s representative to the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), organization that is chartered with establishing standards for di gital music and music playing devices.

Ann Greenberg, Co-Founder
A pioneer in the online world, Ms. Greenberg is an inventor on seven U.S. patents, related to the delivery of content synchronized to audio recordings. She joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that she founded in 1993. Greenberg served as Sr. Vice President of Marketing, Business and Strategic Development during her tenure at Gracenote until October 2001. No longer affiliated with Gracenote, Ms. Greenberg currently works as an independent consultant in the Bay Area. While at ION, Ms. Greenberg produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. Greenberg designed the Jump’s groundbreaking interactive video, and produced the world’s first musician-hosted chat with David Bowie in 1994 – a format that has become standard practice in launching albums. Greenberg transitioned ION’s enhanced CD technology and business models into implementations that use the Web and are being utilized at Gracenote today. Prior to founding ION, Greenberg was the head of marketing for the Academy Award winning Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation, whose over 60 films include: Wall Street, True Stories, Talk Radio, Reversal of Fortune, Hoffa, Bad Lieutenant, The Crow and Judge Dredd. Ms. Greenberg studied Architecture and Cinema and earned a degree in Creative Arts & Cinema from California State University at San Francisco.

Scott A. Jones – Chairman of the Board and co-Founder
Scott Jones carefully sculpted the Gracenote company into existence by acquiring pivotal enabling technologies from CDDB, ION, Escient, Quintessential Player, and Cantametrix. He served as the company’s Chairman/CEO from 1998 to 2001 and is now Chairman of the Board. Jones raised significant capital, recruited a talented management team, contributed technology and intellectual property, and strategically guided Gracenote to pursue market segments that are the foundation of the Company’s success.

More about Sony Corporation of America

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., and a 50% interest in Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the largest recorded music companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $70.3 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, and it employs 163,000 people worldwide. Sony’s consolidated sales in the U.S. for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007 were $18.9 billion. 

More

http://www.gracenote.com/
http://www.gracenote.com/company_info/press/042208/
https://doors.gracenote.com/developer/
http://www.sony.com
http://www.sony.com/SCA/index.shtml
http://www.streetinsider.com/Press%2BReleases/Sony%2BCorporation%2Bof%2BAmerica%2Bto%2BAcquire%2BGracenote/3566949.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/22/sony-buys-gracenote-for-260m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/gracenote
http://www.techmeme.com/080422/p141#a080422p141
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_Music_Initiative

Amazon Web Services on its way to surpass $500M in sales this year

In a recent conference call Amazon has announced that it has reached over $131M in sales during the fourth-quarter of 2007 from its Web Services, which much or less means more than $500M in revenues for the entire fiscal 2008 for Amazon coming solely from its Web Services. When compared to the $5.7B for the same quarter coming in from its core business activates that amount looks tiny and small, but it is symbolic for the major transition undertaken at Amazon to shift the focus from simply an online retailer to a broader Internet company and mostly an innovator in the web space. We are also sure that the margins are surely greater in the web services field for Amazon than the profits derived from its traditional retail business. Standing alone the Amazon Web Services’ revenues are certainly huge and newsworthy. Amazon Web Services turn out to be a very successful strategy for Bezos’ globe-spanning empire to drive sales and profits up. The company claims as well there are over 60,000 different customers across the various Amazon Web Services.

What is also interesting and noteworthy from the information that recently became publicly available online is the fact that the biggest users of Amazon Web Services are not the army of web 2.0 start-ups but large-scale corporations from the banking and the pharmaceutical sectors.

More about Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon’s robust technology platform. Build on Amazon’s suite of web services to enable and enhance your applications. We innovate for you, so that you can innovate for your customers.

Amazon WS include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Simple Queue Service.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – Beta

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.  Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon SimpleDB™- Limited Beta

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers. Traditionally, this type of functionality has been accomplished with a clustered relational database that requires a sizable upfront investment, brings more complexity than is typically needed, and often requires a DBA to maintain and administer. In contrast, Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database – real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data – without the operational complexity.  Amazon SimpleDB requires no schema, automatically indexes your data and provides a simple API for storage and access.  This eliminates the administrative burden of data modeling, index maintenance, and performance tuning. Developers gain access to this functionality within Amazon’s proven computing environment, are able to scale instantly, and pay only for what they use.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) offers a reliable, highly scalable, hosted queue for storing messages as they travel between computers. By using Amazon SQS, developers can simply move data between distributed components of their applications that perform different tasks, without losing messages or requiring each component to be always available. Amazon SQS makes it easy to build an automated workflow, working in close conjunction with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and the other AWS infrastructure web services. Amazon SQS works by exposing Amazon’s web-scale messaging infrastructure as a web service. Any computer on the Internet can add or read messages without any installed software or special firewall configurations. Components of applications using Amazon SQS can run independently, and do not need to be on the same network, developed with the same technologies, or running at the same time.

There are many other companies in the sector and among others are Nirvanix (recently received funding from European Founders Fund) and RackSpace’s Mosso.

More

http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-05/mf_amazon
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/21/who-are-the-biggest-users-of-amazon-web-services-its-not-startups/
http://aws.amazon.com/ec2
http://aws.amazon.com/s3
http://www.amazon.com/SimpleDB-AWS-Service-Pricing/b?ie=UTF8&node=342335011
http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Queue-Service-home-page/b?ie=UTF8&node=13584001
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/amazon-earnings-call-details-web-services-use-up-more-bandwidth-than-amazoncom-the-kindle-is-a-hit/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/14/amazon-takes-on-oracle-and-ibm-with-simple-db-beta/
http://www.fabianschonholz.com/2008/03/11/a-hybrid-solution/
http://open.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/self-service-prorated-super-computing-fun/
http://www.nirvanix.com/
https://www.mosso.com/

VC deals show a decline in the first quarter of 2008

While angel investors are taking on venture capitalists and have last year invested as much as VCs did the VC deals show a decline in the first quarter of 2008. According to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, venture capital investment in the United States headed south in the first quarter of 2008.

The report found that venture capital has dropped 8.5 percent to $7.1 billion in the three months ending March 31 from the $7.8 billion invested in the previous quarter, resulting in the lowest quarter since Q4 2006. Funding for early and late stage companies declined in the first quarter, though funding rose for expansion-stage companies. Some sources claim that new startups are being hit the hardest.

In more specific the VC money going into the software sector (including Internet, Web, IT) declined 9 percent quarter-over-quarter and flat year-over-year to $1.264B and is said to be equal with the amount invested in biotech companies ($1.267B). In perspective to the only Internet deals those declined 7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to $1.310 billion, but were slightly up year-over-year. Clean tech investments have gone crazy and hit the peak in third quarter of 2007 during which period more than $851M was invested.

In the context of web 2.0 it could simply be the fact that it is dirty cheap lately to start a new web-2.0 company online and the VC money offered to those is always a bit more than what this company in particular needs from to get off the ground and stabilize. This could be seen as a reason why the VC deals for Internet only start-ups have slightly declined in the last 2 quarters. Another potential reason of this slight meltdown could be the fact that the first quarter of the calendar year is usually the quietest so part of the decline may be seasonal.

Yet, the most logical reason could be the overall economy meltdown in US, which might now have its impact over the VC market too.

More

http://www.pwc.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/18/is-the-venture-capital-party-over/
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/04/19/venture_capital_funding_diminishes/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/04/18/its-official-venture-investment-declined-in-q1/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/20/vc-deals-in-charts-q1-2008%e2%80%94welcome-to-the-slowdown/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/18/angel-investors-have-invested-as-much-as-26-billion-in-start-ups-last-year-almost-as-much-as-vcs-did/
http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2008/04/angel-investors.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/where-have-all-the-bold-vcs-gone/
http://www.nvca.org/ffax.html
http://www.paulgraham.com/googles.html
http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/28/magazines/business2/angelinvestor/

Angel investors have invested as much as $26 billion in start ups last year, almost as much as VCs did

Today we have read over a few technology and business blogs that angel investors have poured $26B in start-up companies for the last year alone. Aside the fact this is an impressive amount of money it is also very close to what VCs did themselves – $29B. Furthermore the number of deals backed up by angels is way bigger than the number of deals venture capitalists closed – 57,120 vs. 3813 deals in behalf of the private investors. The sources also claim there are 258,200 active angel investors in the USA alone. The vast majority of the angel deals go for Software and Internet start-ups. Angel investors continue to be the largest source of seed stage and early stage start-up capital, with 39% of 2007 angel investments going there. Based on those reports it seems the angels most rely on mergers and acquisitions for their exits, while VCs are more inclined for IPOs.

Basically angels tend to invest just like VCs do except they do smaller investments $200K to $2M and they do about 15 times as many deals as VCs. In most cases angels have the same investment criteria and expectations of significant returns as the VCs look for. The average deal size (seed stage) is about $250K.

The larger angel groups in Silicon Valley and Boston do significantly more deals and invest between $350K and $600K per round, and maybe $1.5M to $2M per company.

The conclusion here is that launching a start-up company and then getting it off the ground is a whole lot cheaper today then it used to be some years ago. This somehow leaves most of the traditional VCs out of the game since either angel investors are beating them or the large Internet players are buying those start ups far before the VCs get their hands over them.

As Paul Graham from Y Combinator points out there is is growing gap between the $20K to $100k most angels will put in and the $2 million to $3 million that a venture firm will commit. He argues that what startups need are more investments somewhere in the middle to fill that gap. Most Web startups don’t need $2 million. They need $300,000 or $500,000. But most venture capitalists don’t think those types of investments are worth their while.

Some very active angel pools are as follows Keiretsu Forum, Band of Angels, Beacon Angels, Boston Harbor Angels, Common Angels, eCoast Angels, Hub Angels, Launchpad among others.

Here is an interesting list of tips for you on how to land an angel for your start up business.

(Picture by CNN)

More

http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2008/04/angel-investors.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/where-have-all-the-bold-vcs-gone/
http://www.nvca.org/ffax.html
http://www.paulgraham.com/googles.html
http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/28/magazines/business2/angelinvestor/
http://wsbe.unh.edu/cvr
http://www.keiretsuforum.com/
http://www.bandangels.com/
http://www.angelcapitalassociation.org/
http://www.beaconangels.com/
http://www.bostonharborangels.com/
http://www.commonangels.com/
http://www.ecoastangels.com/
http://www.launchpadventuregroup.com/
http://www.hubangels.com/

Federated Media raises huge round of funding – $50M

 In a period full with launch of new ad networks and deals about such Federated Media has raised a huge amount of money – $50 million in a C round led by Oak Investment Partners and Omidyar Network as a returning investor from their first round. The rumor has it the company has turned down a $100M buy out offer some time ago and apparently they have chosen to go through the investors’ road. The pre-money valuation for this road is rumored to be in the $200M range, which off $22M in revenues the company is brining in per year is not that overvalued at all. The company claims to be reaching a collective audience of over 50M people in US per month, which is an impressive number, yet those eye bolls are under the control of the web publishers and they may leave, together with their visitors, any time they do not like what are being paid for bringing them in. The company’s current investment comes on top of $7.5M previously taken. Federated Media claims profitability reached in September 2007.

Oak Investment Partners is actually buying out a minority stake for their $50M and this is not really a typical funding deal as it turns out.

“Federated Media has a proven, profitable business model with some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people at the helm,” said Fred Harman, general partner at Oak, who will be joining the FM board of directors. “The company has shown clear leadership in the emerging conversational media ecosystem. FM represents some of the best publisher and advertiser content on the Web, and with productive industry relationships, the company is poised to do amazing things going forward.”

With expertise in custom, integrated conversational marketing campaigns, FM has developed deep and long-term relationships with leading brand marketers and advertising agencies. Over the last three years, the company has expanded beyond its technology roots into verticals including parenting, business & marketing, media & entertainment, video gaming, graphics arts, automotive and more.

“We’ve been an early and avid supporter of Federated’s model,” said Casey Jones, vice president of marketing at Dell. “We look forward to continuing our work with the company as it expands its business.”

FM’s full portfolio of digital media brands includes web favorites such as Boing Boing, Ars Technica, Ask A Ninja, Digg, Dooce, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and NOTCOT, as well as social networking applications including Graffiti Wall (in Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and other social networks), Watercooler (in Facebook, Bebo and others) and many more. FM is expanding its portfolio and has just this year brought on diverse sites such as Silicon Alley Insider, Destructoid and Buzzine. FM also manages sponsorship programs for a roster of events such as the twice-annual Conversational Marketing Summit and Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.

“FM and Oak are a great match,” said Chris Albinson, co-founder and managing director of Panorama Capital, an early investor and board member at FM. “Oak will add great value to FM’s board, and we look forward to working with Fred and his team.”

FM generates revenue for its partner sites and event organizers through integrated sponsorships, advertising and other marketing services for global brands and their advertising agencies. Recent examples of premium brand-building programs include BMW’s 1-Series drawing contest, which invited Facebook members to custom paint BMW models using Graffiti’s digital illustrating tools, and the co-publishing and promotion partnership with American Express around their OPEN Forum blog for small business owners.

“We’re proud to bring Oak on board as major investor,” said John Battelle, founder and CEO of Federated Media. “The Oak team understands the media business and has relationships within the media and Internet industries that will benefit FM with insights from Silicon Valley as well.

More about Federated Media (FM)

Founded in 2005, FM represents more than 125 conversational media entrepreneurs who run more than 150 of the world’s most respected websites, blogs, and social networking applications. The company became profitable in the third quarter of 2007.

Federated Media (FM) is an advertisement serving company that works with many of the top blogs on the web. It acts as a middle man that connects medium sized websites/companies with large and small advertisers. FM is essentially an ad aggregator for companies that are too small to have direct relationships with big advertisers yet big enough to demand higher rates than available on services such as Google’s Adsense. It can distribute ads to numerous blogs helping advertisers and ad publishers avoid an overwhelming amount of business relationships.

FM does banner as well as text advertising on a CPM (cost per impression) basis. Pricing varies per blog property and can reach upwards of $30 per thousand impressions.

Founder is John Battelle

John Battelle is an entrepreneur, journalist, professor, and author who has founded or co-founded businesses, magazines and websites. Formerly a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, Battelle, 42, is also a founder and Executive Producer of the Web 2.0 conferences and “band manager” with BoingBoing.net. Previously, Battelle was founder, Chairman, and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), publisher of The Industry Standard and TheStandard.com. Prior to founding The Standard, Battelle was a co-founding editor of Wired magazine and Wired Ventures. Before Wired, Battelle worked at the Los Angeles Times and MacWeek, a unit of Ziff Davis. John is currently CEO and Chairman of Federated Media.

In 2005-6, Battelle wrote The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (Penguin/Portfolio), an international bestseller published in 26 languages. He maintains Searchblog, a daily site covering the intersection of media, technology and the internet at www.battellemedia.com.

Battelle was a founding Board member of the Online Publishers Association and sits on the board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, as well as the Board of his children’s school.

Battelle has been named a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” and “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was a finalist in the “Entrepreneur of the Year” competition by Ernst & Young and has recently been named an “Innovator,” one of ten best marketers in the business, by Advertising Age and one the the “Most Important People on The Web” by PCWorld. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Investors include Omidyar Network, New York Times, Mitchell Kapor, Andrew Anker, Mike Homer, Tim O’Reilly, JP Morgan and Oak Investment Partners, which has given the money for their last and biggest round to date.

More about Oak Investment Partners

Oak Investment Partners is a multi-stage venture capital firm with a total of $8.4 billion in committed capital. The primary investment focus is on high growth opportunities in Internet/new media, communications, information technology, financial services information technology, healthcare services and consumer retail. Over a 28-year history, Oak has achieved a strong track record as a stage-independent investor funding more than 450 companies at key points in their lifecycle. Oak has been involved in the formation of companies, funded spinouts of operating divisions and technology assets, and provided growth equity to mid- and late-stage private businesses and to public companies through PIPE investments.

The space is very crowded and among other competitors Technorati is one of the companies holding greater chance for turning its fairly popular online brand into an ad network for blogs

More

http://federatedmedia.net/
http://www.federatedmedia.net/press/2008/04/federated_media_receives_inves.php
http://www.oakvc.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/federatedmedia
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/federated-medias-50-million-c-round-confirmed%e2%80%94no-plans-to-buy-up-blog-partners/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/21/federated-medias-battelle-slams-rival-hints-at-investing-in-publishers/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/21/federated-medias-battelle-slams-rival-hints-at-investing-in-publishers/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/john-battelle
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/02/technorati-is-rumored-to-be-in-preparation-of-blogger-ad-network/

Nice exit for Sphere.com

While AOL is trying to shop itself around they seem are not stopping the shopping spree themselves and keep on buying second tier web companies. After snatching Bebo last month, they have bought yesterday the related content engine Sphere, which is mainly used across blogs on Web.  So it seems to be official already: AOL has acquired sphere.com. Despite financial terms of the deal were not disclosed the price was rumored to be in the $25M range that comes on top of Sphere’s $3.5M total funding to date. That is supposed to be a nice exit for Sphere’s existing investors. There are bunch of angels and a couple of institutional investors in Sphere’s two rounds of funding. The first one was in the $500K range and the participating private investors then were Radar Partners, True Ventures, Winton Partners, David Mahoney, Scott Kurnit, Vince Vannelli, William Randolph Hearst III, Kevin Compton and Doug Mackenzie while their institutional round was closed by Hearst Corporation and Trident Capital and was in the $3M range. Well, other sources claim the company has taken over $4M in funding so we are not really sure which number is the correct one.

Sphere is basically providing contextually relevant content tools that make connections between text, video, photos and ads and according to the company is currently integrated into over 70,000 leading sites and is live on over 2 Billion monthly article pages across the web. If true that is pretty impressive number and should have been able to command a price way higher than the $25M rumored to have been paid for the company.

According to their blog “we are very excited about becoming part of AOL and wanted to share with you what it will mean for Sphere and our publisher partners, including “mainstream” media, micro-publishers and blog sites.”

Sphere has always been a publisher/ blogger -centric company, even in our early days as a fledgling blog search engine. We founded Sphere with a mission to make contextually relevant connections between all forms of content (mainstream media articles, archived articles, videos, blogs, photos, ads) that enable the reader to go deep on topics of interest. We also, by virtue of our starting point, set out to be a vehicle to enable the individual voice to join the conversation as well as expose their voice to a broader audience of readers. The benefit of joining the ‘sphere is straightforward: publishers/ bloggers who successfully promote distribution of their content and that of others will be in a position to derive more value (aka….make more money, gain more influence, etc.) from media distribution.”

We humbly thank everyone involved: our awesome team; advisors (Josh Macht; Toni Schneider; Matt Mullenweg; Mike Monteiro; Ron McCoy; Mary Hodder; and Scott Kurnit); investors, many of which wear halo’s (True Ventures; Trident Capital; Radar Partners; Hearst Interactive; Blacksmith; Phil Black; Will Hearst; David Mahoney; Mike Winton; Scott Kurnit; Vince Vannelli; Adaptive Path); our board (Venetia Kontogouris; Phil Black; Darcy Bentley; Scott Kurnit); publisher/ blog partners; the gang at Oddpost who showed us the way to build frugally/ intelligently; OM Malik, Mike Arrington, Kara Swisher, Dan Farber, Matt Marshall and the many other bloggers who’ve partnered, written, and given us advice; our attorney (Stefan Clulow); Howard Zeprun and Ira Parker who insured the dialog kept moving forward; Jen Consalvo who understood our potential and introduced to a number of AOL groups, Lewis Dvorkin and Bill Wilson who paid us the nicest compliment of all in offering to acquire our company and then doing so, family and friends. We’re thrilled to be part of this new genesis!

Sphere was founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and Toni Schneider in 2005 and is based in San Francisco. Sphere uses its contextual-search platform technology to make connections between content from blogs, video, media, photos and advertisements. These contextual results are then displayed in a pop-over window or an integrated widget that lets publishers enhance articles by incorporating related articles and blog posts from archived content and across the Web.

Prior to the acquisition, AOL partnered with Sphere to offer its widget technology on AOL News and the myAOL service, Mgnet. Sphere’s third-party network includes more than 70,000 content publishers and blogs and is live on an average of more than 2 billion article pages across the web every month.

“Our focus at AOL is providing consumers relevant content wherever they are on the Web, and Sphere’s capabilities fit in perfectly with this effort. Not only will it let us enhance content on our own sites, it will let us distribute our content across Sphere’s growing third-party publisher network,” said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. “In addition, this acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere’s network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget.”

Sphere will be integrated in Bill Wilson’s organization, the EVP of Programming at AOL. His division controls AOL’s content properties (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.).

Competition include Proximic, Lijit, Adaptiveblue, LinkedWords, somehow NosyJoe, Jiglu, among others. Other, although remote, players in this space include Attendi, Diigo, Twine and Freebase.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://www.sphere.com
http://www.sphere.com/blog/
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/04/aol-acquires-sphere
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere-content-engine/
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/sphere
http://www.sphere.com/blog/2008/04/15/aol-buys-sphere/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/05/22/timecom-adds-sphere-it-links/
http://www.tridentcap.com/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/category/radar-partners/

Pageflakes is acquired by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe

Pageflakes, an Ajax home page that once was a real competition to Netvibes, is being rumored to have been acquired by Live Universe for an undisclosed amount. Both companies refrain themselves from publicly announcing the deal nor made any comments on the technology blogs that mentioned about it, which tells us the deal is most likely in the very low-range not worth mentioning. What makes us think so? Pageflakes has surely lost the battle with Netvibes and is having just a fraction of the traffic Netvibes reaches. The rumor has it the company was seriously running out of money while maintaining a burn rate of over $300,000. It also became publicly known fact that the company failed to raise additional money and they were sort of forced to undergo the fire sale road, which is never a good one and leads to little to no premium on the price. 

Based on both Quantcast and Compete the Pageflakes’ traffic is relatively low (below 100K) when compared to some of the company’s competitors, which is by far not enough to go for your Series B round of funding.

Of course, Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen, formerly of Yahoo, denied that the company was running out of cash by replying to rumors that way: “All startups are up for sale! We frequently receive inbound M&A inquiries”. 

According to our own research across the web it seems the price is perhaps above $500K and may be not much over $1M. A couple of facts lead us to the thinking that the deal is not high-profile one 1) The Colorado-based NewsGator was also said to have been bidding for Pageflakes, but the rumored price was in the $500K range; 2) Brad Greenspan’s vehicle is known to be buying web companies on the cheap and 3) both companies did not announce the deal, yet.

The buyer Live Universe, which was founded by MySpace founder Brad Greenspan, has made a number of acquisitions to spur growth. Most recently, they acquired video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range), in February 2008.

More about Pageflakes

The company was founded in Germany and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company was co-founded in October 2005 by Christoph Janz, Omar AL Zabir, Ole Braundenburg and Shahedul Huq Khandkar. Benchmark Capital Europe (now Balderton Capital) invested $1.3 million in Pageflakes in May 2006, and followed up with a $2.8 million bridge taking the company’s total funding to the $4.1M mark.

Pageflakes is the easiest way to read, see, discover and share your favorite things on the web. Start by easily creating a web start page that keeps you up to date on the many blogs and news sources that you read daily. Add photos, videos, a calendar, email, a to-do list and more to make your page even more personal. You can even make special pages that you can share with friends, family, or post on the web for everyone.

Pageflakes has thousands of Flakes (widgets or modules) including Facebook, a universal News Search, YouTube, Twitter, message board, blog, and hundreds of RSS feeds to choose from. Design and create a page that you can have for yourself or share with anyone you choose.

Pageflakes was founded in Germany in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, California. Pageflakes draws on the rich experience of its executive team, comprised of seasoned professionals who have helped shape the Web today. Backed by Balderton Capital, Pageflakes is led by Dan Cohen, an innovator who fashioned the way that both Google and Yahoo sought to personalize the Web.

From what we read below the company’s CEO is obviously a very experienced guy in the personalized content space so we have no idea what’s gone wrong, where and when.

Dan Cohen oversees all aspects of Pageflakes’ rapidly growing worldwide business and has an integral role in driving the company’s product vision. Dan is a seasoned entrepreneur and startup CEO, and is an expert in personalized homepages. Prior to Pageflakes he was the head of My Yahoo!, Yahoo’s personalized homepage, and before that led product management for personalized products at Google, including the Google Personalized Homepage. Previously, Dan was the founder and CEO of two technology companies, Personity and USConnect, and led their acquisitions by Openwave and IKON, respectively. He also held key senior management positions at IKON Technology Services, including Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Director of Applications Development. Dan holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dan is staying on his CEO position and is said will be reporting to Greenspan, and the company will remain at their current offices in Germany and San Francisco.

Competitors include Netvibes, My AOL, Microsoft, My Yahoo! and of course iGoogle.

More

http://pageflakes.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/insider/
http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.balderton.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/company/exec_team
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/dan-cohen
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/balderton-capital
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-acquired-by-live-universe/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pageflakes
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-out-of-cash/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2265800,00.asp
http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/01/02/top-ajax-start-pages-reviewed/
http://www.benchmark.com/news/sv/2007/06_07_2007a.php
http://gigaom.com/2007/01/25/ex-yahoo-exec-now-pageflakes-ceo/
http://www.quantcast.com/pageflakes.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pageflakes.com/?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/

The $250M pre-money seems did not work for Meebo and they go now for $175M

The rumor has it that Meebo fails to sell to date and is may be trying to raise new round of funding instead and not at the initial $250M pre-money valuation they were hoping for but at $175 – $200M. Some sources claim that companies like Fox/MySpace and AOL have taken a long look at the company, but ultimately passed based on the price. Perhaps it has something to do with the simple fact Meebo has only generated $1M in revenues since it launched.

Meebo is now said to be looking for private equity funds and major internet companies to possibly raise their next round at the whopping pre-money they have set for themselves. The same rumor is now saying that the same potential buyers that have passed on a possible acquisition deal are probably going to participate in Meebo’s new round. 

Meebo is a popular and rapidly growing web based instant messaging start up that was backed up by Sequoia Capital and is said to have roughly 4.6M unique visitors per month according to comScore’s publicly available stats. That’s valuing each of their visitors at the $54 mark, which is significantly more than what AOL has just recently paid for each of Bebo’s 22M visitors – $39 according our simple math. Many industry experts, commentators and bloggers have expressed their negative feelings about the potential deal and more concrete about its pre-money valuation. Anyone remember Slide and their pre-money valuation of $500M? Yet it was said then they had over 150M or so users worldwide, which, if true, valued their users at the $3 range.  

There is however something most of the technology blogs seem to have overlooked. Joshua Beil from Level 3 Communications has commented on one of the tech blogs that Meebo’s per user valuation could change quite substantially if one takes into account their unique visitors of the MeeboMe rooms widget. I’ve seen, he says, numbers in the 10-14M range and counting for just this application. Factor this in to the 4.6M uniques to Meebo.com and it’s at a discount to Bebo. We have no idea where he does take his numbers and what his affiliation with the company is, but if we take those numbers for real the $250M valuation does not sound ridicules anymore. In addition to that Venturebeat reports that Meebo has attracted 29 million monthly unique users worldwide, but they also say that some investors remain quite skeptical about Meebo and their business model. We have no clear idea where Venturebeat has come to that number of visitors.

The rumor is that Meebo has hired Montgomery & Co. to represent them in a new fundraising round that may value the company at a $250M. An interesting competition is forming on the scene there between Montgomery & Co. and Allen & Co., which is lately the investment bank behind pretty much all hot start ups that sold (got funded) or about to for hefty amounts (hefty valuations) in the valley such as Digg, Bebo, Slide, Technorati, among others.

What is also being said is that the company is looking to raise $25-30M in venture funding and if the valuation numbers are taken for real it means the VCs will take no more than 10% from Meebo. This is a whole lot more than the $60-70M that it was reportedly worth after a funding round last year.

More about Meebo

Meebo launched in September 2005 and received funding from Sequoia Capital in December 2005 and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in January 2007. Today, Meebo’s users exchange over 100 million instant messages daily.In early 2007, Meebo gets another $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. Skype’s lead investor and YouTube’s lead investor are teaming up. Tim Draper, one of the early investors in Skype, did the deal for DFJ. Meebo’s total funding is now $12.5 million.

More about Montgomery & Co.

Montgomery and Co. was founded in 1986 with a vision of providing strategic capital-formation advisory services to leading aerospace, defense and related technology companies.

Montgomery & Co. took advantage of the technology downturn and consolidation in the banking industry in 2000 to establish its reputation as the “go to” bank for growth companies that wished to evaluate their strategic options and raise capital. In doing so, Montgomery & Co. fulfilled its initial vision of providing a range of advisory services that encompassed M&A, private placements, comprehensive business-development analyses, and other value-added services.

In 2002 the firm was strengthened by investments from the world’s biggest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, and West River Capital, of Seattle, WA. In 2003 the firm opened offices in Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. At that time, the firm also significantly expanded its banking expertise within the healthcare and media industries, especially in the M&A practice.

In 2005, the firm was further strengthened by an investment from Tudor Investments which is the venture capital and private equity arm of Tudor Investment Corporation, an internationally recognized diversified investment management firm with $11.7 billion in assets.

We think a deal is on the go and might not be a funding one, but the price would definitely be much lower than the $200/250M they were hoping for.

More

http://www.meebo.com/
http://blog.meebo.com/about
http://www.monty.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/09/meebo-cant-get-their-price-go-for-a-fundraising-instead-of-sale/
http://www.conceptualist.com/2008/04/09/1-million-in-revenues-200-million-valuation/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/18/meebo-tries-to-raise-25m-in-return-of-only-10-equity-valuing-the-company-at-the-whopping-250m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/meebo-turns-chat-rooms-into-a-web-service/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/17/meebo-raising-round-valued-up-to-250-million-bear-stearns-sold-for-236-million/
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9896718-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/is-meebo-worth-half-a-slide/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/18/im-service-meebo-growing-quickly-raises-more-cash/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/16/meebo-confirms-sequoia-funding/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/22/meebo-received-funding-from-sequoia-capital/
http://blog.meebo.com/?p=78
http://venturebeat.com/2006/08/02/meebome-lets-you-chat-directly-from-any-homepage/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/10/web-20-shakeout-continued-whats-up-at-insider-pages-meebo-others/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meebo
http://www.techmeme.com/080318/p7#a080318p7
http://quantcast.com/meebo.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/meebo.com?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/18/slide-gets-their-huge-valuation-and-raises-50-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/montgomery-co
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/06/meebo-partners-with-videoegg-to-help-app-developers-make-more-money/

MeeVee put itself up for sale

An interesting approach is taken at MeeVee. They are trying to sell themselves through a press release. This morning we have seen a short press announcement put up on Yahoo through BusinessWire giving relatively short details about the company and soliciting interested parties to contact a person at his email as indicated in the pr.

MeeVee is all about personalized TV guides and the company was said is having over 1.1 million organic unique users in March up from 480,000 in August 2007. The Company uses its editorial voice and proprietary technology to scour a curated list of thousands of sources to connect consumers with customized video, blog and TV programming content that matches their interests. The Company has significant issued IP, community, media relationships, a TV listings personalization engine, streaming TV directory and a compelling product roadmap. The Company has 7 full time employees, all in product and engineering.

So, what’s so interesting in here one may ask. First off in the press release the company claims is engaged in multiple discussions with potential acquirers that provide the greatest long term upside and synergy, but are giving a public announcement where they solicit more such interested parties to discuss with them. It is either nobody is interested in the company to date and they are trying to attract such interest or the interested parties are setting their offers too low and MeeVee is trying to establish sort of bidding war in order to drive valuations up.  You don’t normally ask for interested parties to contact a company re a sale unless the current talks (if any) aren’t going well.

So far so good, but when you go into some more details about the company you realize there is something wrong with the whole situation around MeeVee.

The company is known to have taken $25M in total funding to date and having just 1.1M ungues per month off $25M in venture capital appears no longer that attractive as in it was in first reading. That sort of information is skipped in their original press release. Their last round of funding (Series D) was taken just late last year and was in the $3.5M range, which means they have spent most, if not all, of the money they have previously taken. As to what is only left in the company from their last round remains unclear. To top it off the company has gone through some significant layoffs.

Some of MeeVee’s unhappy investors include DEFTA Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Venture Capital, WaldenVC, Labrador Ventures, The Bay Area Equity Fund (Effective January 24, 2008 the private equity investment professionals of the Bay Area Equity Fund have left JPMorgan to form DBL Investors LLC) and FCPR Israel Discovery Fund.

Over the past years we have been witnessing not only one deal where a web site with over 1M unique visitor per month has commanded acquisition prices in the $20M range, but in the MeeVee’s case we do not think that is the case. Why? Well, MeeVeee has spent $25M so far, has laid off its employees and is on its way down. If you have spent $25M the expectations for your company are for much larger reach and audience than just 1.1M visitors per month, so in the case their 1M users per month can be considered quite a failure in the context of the resources being allocated to the company.  The picture is already quite different if you take for an example a web site that has reached the 1M uniques per month mark off say less than $1M of money invested in so far, did not lay off its employees and is not on its way down as a trend on the traffic graphs of sites like Quantcast and Compete.

Whatever the case is it is hard for us to believe that 1.1M uniques per month can command a price anything above the amount of money they have taken from an army of venture capitalists. So what is then the case here? It is perhaps that the VCs are looking for a way to effectively liquidate the company and recoup whatever is possible leaving the founders with literally empty hands.

More about MeeVee

Discovering what’s online and on TV.

MeeVee is the leader in helping people navigate the growing world of online and television entertainment. Each month, over a million tech savvy, affluent and educated online users visit MeeVee to help make their entertainment choices.  These people are passionate about entertainment, and visit MeeVee again and again to track their favorites and to discover and share new entertainment choices.

Why? Today’s consumers are overwhelmed by the millions of online videos and hundreds of digital TV channels now available. MeeVee is the first destination to bring together traditional TV listings and online video from hundreds of sources in one place. Using our patented technology, consumers can personalize MeeVee to search for new TV and online video based on their interests. At MeeVee, our mission is to help them discover more of what they want to see.

Located in Burlingame, CA, MeeVee initially launched in 2005 as a television listings provider.  Using innovative new technologies, MeeVee changed the way consumers find TV programming by enabling them to personalize their guides to surface new programming choices based on people, shows, hobbies and keywords of interest. Now MeeVee is applying that same technology to the growing world of online video, helping individuals to cut through the clutter and discover interesting videos.  Today, MeeVee employs more than thirty enthusiasts who are passionate about our mission of helping consumers discover and enjoy the media they want to see. 

Supported by leading advertisers, including CBS, Netflix, Radio Shack and more, MeeVee also syndicates and licenses our television search and personalization services to leading newspapers, major online content providers and cable operators around the country. Our partners include some of the largest integrated media companies, including Gannett, Hearst and Media News Group. Our list of syndication partners is growing daily and includes USA Today, The Chicago Sun Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Times.  Our investors, who have supported some of Silicon Valley’s most successful ventures, include JP Morgan, Labrador Ventures, Walden Venture Capital, Defta Partners, and Rothschild Ventures.

TechCrunch has called MeeVee, “an easy-to-use application and…a nice model for building a personalized web experience.”  MeeVee is a 2007 “Always On” Media 100 winner.

Well, in some of the latest posts about MeeVee on Techcrunch are surely not as positive as the sentence above and MeeVee is as of today put in the dead pool watch list.
More

http://meevee.com/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080407/20080407006076.html 
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/25-million-later-meevee-in-trouble/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meevee
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/16/meevee-cuts-20-of-staff/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/20/meevee-takes-35-million-series-d/
http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=17395
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2006_Feb_27/ai_n16085490
http://www.techmeme.com/080407/p95#a080407p95
http://www.deftapartners.com/
http://www.labrador.com/
http://www.waldenvc.com/
http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/investbk/global/na/baef

Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap for reportedly less than $5M off more than $10M in venture capital taken by the company!

An acquisition that was announced in late February has today been confirmed. Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap. As we have then written Snocap has been in a long quest for a buyer (at least since Sept last year) and has gone through some massive layoffs, so it was clear the company had little to no options left but to sell off. Rumors have it that no other competitive buyers have ever shown up on the horizon and Imeem was the most logical buyer for Snocap.  Just like in February official terms were not disclosed, but some insiders have speculated the price tag has been less than $5M. What we do not understand is how a company with over $10M in venture capital money and quite solid technology has ended up selling itself under fire. Imeem is known to have been licensing the company’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

Other rumors have it the total investment in Snocap is way over $10M with CSV II that is known to have made its first investment, leading a $15 million Series C round in Snocap, which happened in early 2006. Other technology bloggers have meanwhile speculated it has been a payday for Fanning (also the founder of Napster), but it is hard for us to believe in this knowing it’s pretty rare to see VC terms these days without some liquidation preferences that protect them against fire sales like this.

Imeem is being said it depends on Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology for its entire business model, which has surely forced Imeem to buy the company. The Snocap technology matches the music to its database of 7 million songs, which then allows Imeem to allocate a portion of its advertising revenues to the music companies who own the copyrights to the songs.

After all being said for the two companies it still remains quite unclear for us why Snocap needed to sell. Pressured from investors or what? The lesson learned here for Imeem is that startups should not rely on other startups for the key technology that their business is built upon.

Snocap was founded in 2002 by Napster creator Shawn Fanning and Jordan MendelsonRon Conway is perhaps their angel investor. The company is known to have taken $10M million from Conway, Morgenthaler Ventures and WaldenVC. Just like Imeem’s deal with Universal Snocap has also signed a distribution deal with MySpace. In fact Imeem and Snocap have also partnered in the past where Imeem used Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

More about Imeem

Imeem is an online community where artists, fans & friends can promote their content, share their tastes, and discover new blogs, photos, music and video. Here are some of the things you can do on imeem:

Discover
-Enjoy the latest videos, music, photos, or blogs posted on imeem.
-Stay up-to-date with your personal network of fans and friends with “What’s New” notifications.
-Get in-depth stats for all your content and track their popularity.

Interact
-Tag, comment, rate, and share any of your friends’ cool (or embarrassing) content.
-Create or join groups for your favorite band, event, topic, and more!
-Start discussions with other imeem users and make new friends.
 
Share
-Embed your media on other pages (such as your blog, Bebo, etc.).
-Recommend stuff to your friends or add it to your “Favorites” list.
-Easily add media to your Del.icio.us, WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Imeem is hoping to make money from advertisers, a portion of which will be shared with its music partners. It has signed up Puma, Nike and Microsoft among others, though it does not disclose revenues.

This is Imeem’s second acquisition after they acquired Anywhere.FM in January. Imeem has raised two rounds of capital, although the size of the second round was not disclosed.

Imeem is based in San Francisco and takes its name from “meme” – a term coined to describe the ideas that communities, adopt, and express. Dalton Caldwell is the CEO of the company and the co-founded together with Jan Jannink. The company used to be in Palo Alto and is known to have launched in 2004. Known investors in the company are Morgenthaler (Series A founding) and Sequoia Capital, the venture capital fund that supported Google and YouTube.

It is interesting to know what Imeem’s total funding is considering the fact Snocap has raised $10M. Imeem’s first round was only for $750K. Imeem does not disclose revenues.

Some competitors and similar companies include Skreemr, Seeqpod, Deezer, Pandora, Lala, MOG, we7 and Wixi.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/01/snocap-has-been-acquired-by-imeem/
http://www.stanwichadvisors.com/docs/CSV%20Press%20Release.pdf
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/17/who-bought-rupture/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/imeem-confirms-snocap-acquisition/
http://snocap.com/
http://Imeem.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/imeem
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/imeem-acquires-snocap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/10/exclusive-imeem-inks-a-deal-with-the-worlds-largest-record-company/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/09/02/myspace-gets-into-music-biz/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/20/imeem-now-officially-legitimate/

Apparently not all companies find April Fools Jokes funny

This is certainly the case with Bill Gates’s privately held company Corbis Corporation. The company’s PR guys out there have certainly taken them far too serious and have last week threatened a tiny Norwegian micro stock photography agency called Crestock with legal action over an apparent April Fools joke made by the company in a recent press release.

Ok, what’s the story all about after all. Lets put it that way: Crestock has put up a press release announcing the acquisition of Corbis in a deal valued over $600M rebranding their logo and giving Corbis independency after the deal closes. Here is the original press release as it initially appeared on Web.  Today there is clarification on the web site

Bill Gates’ Corbis Corporation is one the worlds largest stock photography sites and being acquired by a small player in the sector was kind of distasteful for them to see and they have reacted almost immediately by threatening the tiny company with legal actions.

We think Corbis has gone too far and the “megalomanic” press release, as the Norway company describes it, is more suitable as label for the Corbis’s behavior.

On the other side there is something that bothers in the press release on first reading – its seriousness and a few high-profile investors and institutions claimed to have been involved into the acquisition. Compared to Corbis with its $250M revenues per year Crestock appears quite a start up like company and perhaps no one would have taken their announcement for real if it was not the claim there are some large-scale and high-profile organizations and investors being involved in to the foolish press release such as “Scandinavian group of investors”, the Norwegian government fund organization: Innovation Norway and the European Union’s Media II Programme, whose purpose is to encourage the development and distribution of European audiovisual works. 

We think this is what made the press release read and look beyond the common April Fools jokes and have Corbis’s lawyers and PR guys pissed off.

Over the past several years corporate April fools jokes became a trend among rivals. Around April 1 every year there are thousands of April fools press releases and announcements about potential deals, acquisitions and beyond, but perhaps none is ending up in the court, if any.

Not long after the press release was posted, Corbis Corporation was notified about the story. Dan Perlet, Director of Communications, promptly went to action, emailing Crestock Public Relations representatives:

“On behalf of Corbis Corporation, I strongly suggest that you remove the April Fools press release on your website that suggests Crestock has purchased Corbis. We ask that this release be removed from your website immediately, or we may be forced to consider legal action.”

“We in no way intended to mislead or otherwise conduct ourselves in an illegal or inappropriate manner,” Crestock CEO, Geir Are Jensen stated in a statement early today.

“Receiving emails like this spices things up in your everyday work routine” Jensen, Crestock CEO continued, “Of course we didn’t remove the obvious April Fools joke, but in case the second richest man in the world comes after us with his pack of lawyers after him. We’ll have to set aside a monthly sum to cover the expenses.”

More about Creystock

Crestock`s aim is to play a leading role in the micropayment stock photo business.

The photography trade is undergoing a revolution as digital cameras and internet distribution lower the prices to a minimum. There are a few succesful companies in this particular sector of the photo business. Our goal is to be among the most sucessful  – as soon as possible. And then move further.

We emphasize:

– A high level of image quality – in fact the highest in the business
– An inspiring, fast and utterly relevant search experience for buyers
– A strong and vibrant community, based on forums and the unique and personal member console
– A friendly and warm service, even though we are the northernmost photo bureau we know of

More about Corbis

Corbis is a creative resource for advertising, marketing and media professionals worldwide, helping to bring creative work to life with the highest quality photography, footage and rights services. Corbis offers a preeminent collection of more than 100 million creative, entertainment and historic images, a comprehensive footage library, the world’s deepest rights and clearances expertise and an award-winning media management solution, as well as empowering SnapVillage, an innovative microstock web site. Based in Seattle, Corbis serves more than 50 countries worldwide. Corbis is privately held by its Chairman Bill Gates, who founded the company in 1989.

Story picked from EPR Network

More

http://www.crestock.com/news/crestock-stock-photos-acquires-corbis-for-625-million-175.aspx
http://express-press-release.com/48/Corbis%20threatens%20Crestock%20with%20legal%20action%20over%20April%20Fools%20Joke.php
http://www.crestock.com/
http://www.crestock.com/blog/
http://www.corbis.com/
http://www.crestock.com/news/corbis-threatens-with-legal-actions-over-april-fools-joke-176.aspx
 

fix8 takes more money to fiddle around animated avatars

It was just a few months ago when fix8 took their first round of funding from Vickers Venture Group. The amount taken was then $3M. Vickers Venture Group is a Singapore-based private equity firm. This time the company says it has landed SK Telecom, which is a leading South Korean telecom, taking some $3M more to make it $5M in total funding. Fix8’s first part of the funding took place last year in October. 

SK Telecom has also awarded Fix8 a contract “to lead the development of SKT’s 3D avatar animation technology to enhance mobile and online communications.”

Fix8 is a web cam avatar community that lets you create animated avatars with your web cam by reading your expressions and gestures. When we took a look into their web site we have discovered tons of tools that you can play around with, including fix8’s wide selection of pre-made avatars and other accessories like voice manipulation, graphics and editing tools. Those clips can easily be embedded in your website or social networking profile, or use it for your instant messaging client like AOL, MSN, Skype or Yahoo Messenger.

Fix8 has recently teamed up with a couple of other companies like Pringo and Stickam. fix8 has also expanded its signature technology through a key partnership with Shanghai Media Group (SMG) offering Auditions(TV) to create a new world of Interactive TV where audiences can submit fix8 content for insertion into LIVE or taped programming. fix8 will further bridge the gap between communication devices with the launch of fix8 MOBILE.

Fix8 has also teamed up with Camfess, the premier site for online confessions. The ability to choose your own level of “incremental anonymity” and “confess” without anyone knowing who you are makes Camfess and Fix8 the “perfect fit.”

While we kept on researching around for more information we came across the following user review on the service. Gave it a try for fun. The idea is great but they have a way to go.

  1. It does not work if you have glasses on, and some people’s eyes do not work with them off.
  2. I did not play around long enough to have my body in the picture also, but from the image above it seems the avatar sits in front of the user. It needs to be placed around them so that when users turn their heads sideways, you can not see their head, but the side of the avatar’s head.
  3. It could not see my mouth moving unless I tilted my head backwards so as to get more light on my face (I have a fluorescent light above me so my room aint dark).

Fix8 is based in Sherman Oaks, CA and is a division of Mobinex, Inc.

More about fix8

Fix8 is a unique interactive communication application that allows people to customize their on-screen virtual appearance in real-time using avatar technology and creative accessories. Fix8 integrates human expression analysis and rendering capabilities, avatar/facial sculpting and animation technology, voice manipulation, and one click 3D face maker design capabilities in one package. Fix8 can create live streaming enhanced video to integrate into IM or other broadcast (such as TV) experiences, or record still images and fully-rendered videos.

While certain elements of the Fix8 product line can be found in the competitive landscape, the core technology to provide real-time animation in a consumer oriented application is unduplicated. Further, the specific feature set(s) offered in the Fix8 product line is unique and disruptive.

Fix8 differentiates itself from the competitive set by offering a unique easy to use application that incorporates avatar technology, 2D/3D facial accessories and flash animated accessories, voice masking and altering, and the ability to for a user to create their own individual set of avatars through use of photorealistic images all married with Fix8’s own IP that analyzes and renders human expressions so that the rich animated creations match the movements of the user in real-time for use in video and streaming.

Fix8 has coined the term user-generated reality to define the broad spectrum of creative self-expressive user-generated animation in real-time. Fix8 enhances the entertainment and enriches the communication experience of its clients’ customers by breathing new life into digital channels across multiple mediums.

The team

Linh Duy Tang, but you can call him “TANG”
President / CEO
 
Mr. Linh Tang is a senior executive (but he is really quite young at heart) with a demonstrated record of accomplishment in worldwide business operations. Tang’s vast experience in technology, operations and management make him the ideal fit to lead Fix8 on its mission to revolutionize virtual communication and expression. Tang is responsible for more than just Fix8’s vision and strategy; he is responsible for driving the “Innovation Bus” all the way to the user. A veteran of several startups with 15+ years in IT and consumer goods industries, Tang is – quite simply – THE MAN.
 
Chuning Ho, our very own voice of reason
Vice President of Operations
 
Ms. Chuning Ho brings over 17 years experience in application development, project deployment, executive management and business operations to the Fix8 team. As a founding member of the management team from initial start-up to present, Chuning knows where all the bodies are buried. Her main responsibilities include (but are not limited to) resources management, process standardization and communication strategy establishment and implementation. Chuning also manages to keep the entire team in check almost effortlessly. She is Fix8’s own secret weapon.
 
Scott Freeman, he sees dead people
Vice President of Finance
 
Mr. Scott Freeman brings extensive financial management experience to the Fix8 team. Scott did hard time with Deloitte & Touche, working in their entrepreneurial division, before he made his move to California Suncare, Inc. where he was instrumental in growing the company from $3M in revenue to $45M and assisted in its sale to a private equity firm for approximately $88M. Long story short, Scott knows how to make money and can see a deal well over a mile away. With a wife that is a successful interior designer, a daughter who is an artistic savant and a son who is a terror on the soccer field, Scott doesn’t have to work but he believes in Fix8 and, honestly, someone needs to keep Jake and Dinesh in check.
 
Dinesh Bhatia, proving that there are nice guys in sales
Vice President of Sales
 
Mr. Dinesh Bhatia brings direct experience in the wireless, television, Internet and software industries to the Fix8 team. Dinesh is a pretty smart guy; he graduated from Washington University with double degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College, London. Dinesh loves the disruptive creation and generation process of the software development community and is responsible for building strong partnerships to enhance the Fix8 user experience through added competitions and connectivity. In his spare time, he loves fiddling around with computers, gadgets, his saxophone and keyboards, photography, astronomy and spending time with his family. Dinesh also loves long walks on the beach – but this is not a personals ad – so let’s stop here.
 
Raphael Ko, it is rumored that he has brothers named Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo
Vice President of Engineering
 
Mr. Raphael Ko brings extensive experience in software development and information technologies management to the Fix8 team. Directly responsible for Fix8’s engineering activities, Raphael has drawn upon his 10+ years in software development as well as managing key projects in wireless applications, ERP, and IT services. Raphael’s love of photography and digital imagery fit right in with the Fix8 mission. Not much is known about Raphael’s past, in fact we can’t exactly put our finger on his start date either. One day he just suddenly appeared, fully formed and working (in all honesty) harder than the rest of us, so we let him stay. We still don’t know how he has the time to do what he does and still read all those issues of “Conan the Future Boy;” but some questions are best left unanswered.
 
Hao Zhou, Kevin Bacon stole the idea of six degrees from this guy
Vice President for Sales – China
 
Hao Zhou is a senior executive with an outstanding background in digital television and the new media industry. Shortly after learning how to crawl, Hao began his career as a system engineer, and quickly his work history grew to include sales and promotions of CATV, digital TV, broadband business, indoor and lift media and wireless value-add business. You know that guy who can do anything and has somehow managed to have successfully had every job available in the time it took you to pour your morning coffee? Yeah, well, Hao’s that guy. Hao’s ambition is what has brought him to the Fix8 team with one simple mission: Make Fix8 the next star shining over greater China. If anyone can do it, it’s certainly Hao. He’s our very own Hercules.

About Vickers Venture Partners.

The Vickers Financial Group is the venture capital arm of the Vickers Capital Group, an Asian investment house investing in alternative assets. Vickers Venture Partners is a leading venture capital firm focusing on early stage, high growth companies focused on Asian markets. The firm’s competency stems from the fact that its decision-makers have been part of and hence well-acquainted with the pulse of diverse domains.
 
The market

From what we were able to dig up it seems the space is extremely crowded. The competition include weblin.com, Meez.com, SecondLife, mypictr, gizmoz.com, miieditor, simpsonsmovie.com, gickr.com, Gravatar.com, imvu.com, Zwinky, digibody.com, Faketown, doppelme, SitePal, gaiaonline, imbee, myrl.com, Kaneva, blogoscoped.com, mojikan, frenzoo.com, clickbeurs.nl, Mr. Picassohead, whyrobbierocks.com, weeworld, and voki.com, among others.

More

http://www.sktelecom.com/
http://fix8.com/
http://www.vickersfinancial.com/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=11271
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/03/fix8-takes-2-million-series-a/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/17/fix8-has-taken-3m-for-animated-avatars-for-your-cam/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/fix8-funded/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/15/fix8-raises-3-million/
http://mashable.com/2007/09/12/avatars/
http://mashable.com/2007/06/26/fix8-stickam/
http://webmaster.stickam.com/2007/06/fix8_partners_with_stickam_to.html
http://www.camfess.com/contents.php?cid=16
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/31/fix8-brings-computer-generated-animation-to-the-webcam/

 

Despite rumors Microsoft is highly unlikely to increase its bid for Yahoo

When last week we wrote about Yahoo’s shares going up on rumors that Microsoft is going to increase their bid for the Internet giant it seems those rumors were not very accurate. This week Microsoft gave Yahoo a very strong signal it won’t happen.

Sources “close to the company” tell the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is standing firm on its initial offer of $31 a share (which has now declined in value, in step with Microsoft’s stock price, from $44.6B to about $42B).

“There’s no reason to bid against ourselves,” one of these people said.

Microsoft’s strategists believe that time is on their side, the people close to the company say. The strategists argue that Yahoo’s recent roadshow failed to dazzle investors and nothing in its presentations will justify a higher price, the people say. In addition, the strategists argue that the worsening economic downturn and stock-market weakness make the original bid look even more generous.

The WSJ is also saying that Microsoft won’t reveal its alternate slate of directors until it has to—and that won’t be until ten days after Yahoo announces the date of its 2008 shareholders meeting, which it has yet to do.

Despite the fact those rumors were the reason behind Yahoo’s recent increase in their share price with 4.4% to $28.73 the company’s stock price did not fall much on today’s trade and remained close to $28 compared to the moment the rumors were broadcasted publicly.

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer
 

Looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money, Nuance enters their niche

Everything leads us to the simple conclusion that Nuance is taking on SpinVox’s voice-to-text technology. It has always been interestingly enough to see how pouring big VC money into an idea, market niche, product or solution is always attracting some bigger player to try and exploit it. It seems the case with SpinVox today is pretty much the same. Nuance Communications, Inc., (the bigger player) announced today at CTIA Wireless 2008  the “Nuance Voicemail to Text” . Offered via wireless carriers, transcribed messages are sent to users as SMS or email messages. This news is hard not to connect to SpinVox’s massive round of funding that took place just a few weeks ago.

“Converting voicemail to text is a powerful and simple concept. But implementing a highly scalable semi-automated service is far more complex and requires highly accurate speech recognition – technology that takes decades to develop,” said Steve Chambers, president, mobile and consumer services division, Nuance. “The Nuance Voicemail to Text Service integrates speech technology with over 3,000 Nuance transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility, with proven security, scalability, and reliability.” 

Nuance’s telco-grade Voicemail to Text service delivers high-quality readable messages in minutes, giving you quick access to accurate transcriptions of your voicemail messages. Your entire voicemail message is transcribed and delivered directly to your mobile device. Users don’t have to worry about writing down or losing information while on-the-go. Messages can be saved, indexed in an archive and retrieved anytime, anywhere.

Nuance has revolutionized voicemail to text through high levels of automation. Nuance can deliver the world’s most accurate solution for turning speech into text with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the world’s leading proprietary speech recognition engine, backed by 400 patents worldwide and proven by millions of users over 10 years. Nuance’s own state-of-the-art speech technology is supported by 3,000 in-house transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility with “five nines” (99.999%) uptime and reliability.

While the early, direct to consumer model of voicemail to text services was needed for a proof-of-concept, Nuance is changing the model to bring speech-enabled services to the mobile consumer through carriers. Nuance hosts the Voicemail to Text for service providers, integrating it with any standard voicemail system. Callers simply leave a message on a voicemail system that’s Nuance-enabled, and the message is transcribed to text and sent back to the voicemail platform, which delivers it to users through different messaging mediums such as email or SMS.

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NUAN) is a $3.8B market capitalization company that generates over $600M (2007) in revenues per year.

As just like some other technology blogs have already noticed and commented on, we also think all this looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money to justify its huge valuation of $500M pre-money!

SpinVox, a London based voice-to-text technology has just recently raised $100M round of funding from a bunch of high-profile investors among which are Goldman Sachs, GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. Some of those venture capitalists have surely been seriously upset today.

The service can basically be described as a solution that transcribes voicemails to text so that they can be more easily digitized, searched, and manipulated. SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.

More about Nuance

Nuance Communications, Inc. (Nuance) is a provider of speech-based solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. The Company’s speech solutions are designed to transform the way people interact with information systems, mobile devices and services. Nuance offers businesses and consumers value-added speech, dictation and imaging solutions that facilitate the way people access, share, manage and use information in business and daily life. The Company provides speech solutions to enterprise speech, mobility, and healthcare dictation and transcription markets. Nuance markets and distributes its products indirectly through a global network of resellers, including system integrators, independent software vendors, value-added resellers, hardware vendors, telecommunications carriers and distributors, and directly through its sales force and through the Company’s e-commerce Website.

More about SpinVox

We launched in 2005 through The Carphone Warehouse, The Link and other retail channels. Pretty soon we had over 130,000 regular users, with an unprecedented customer retention rate of 80%. People who started speaking through SpinVox soon found they couldn’t live without it.

SpinVox has since won major industry awards from people like the GSM Association, Red Herring and Ernst & Young. No, we’re not boasting, we’re just pleased. In fact we’re amazed at how SpinVox is changing people’s lives.

At the heart of SpinVox is our patented Voice Message Conversion System™ (or VMCS to keep it simple). It underpins everything we do – our retail, enterprise, service provider and global carrier services. It’s maintained on an enterprise-class hardware infrastructure by an expert management team, to meet the rigorous demands of global carriers and their customers. Which means it just works, brilliantly.

From retail brands and direct customers, to global carriers and Web 2.0 brands, we are leading the way in converging voice and screens. SpinVox products are used on five continents, in five languages, with new carrier and technology partners joining us every month. SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

Some other competitors include Jott, Pinger, SimulScribe, among others.

More

http://www.nuance.com/
http://www.nuance.com/vm2text/
http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/
http://finance.google.com/finance?&q=NUAN
http://wirelessspeech.blogspot.com/2008/04/nuance-challenges-spinvox-in-voicemail.html
http://mashable.com/2008/04/01/nuance/
http://www.ctia.org/conventions_events/wireless/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/21/spinvox-raises-100m-at-a-whopping-500m-valuation/
http://www.spinvox.com/
http://blog.spinvox.com/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-secures-over-100-million-in-new-funding-round..html
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-voicemail-to-text-firm-spinvox-raises-100-million-500-million-valuation/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-translates-voice-to-text-service-into-a-100-million-round/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-funded/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/it-looks-like-spinvox-has-raised-50m/
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKN1932303420080319?rpc=44
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/your-phone-is-your-mic-spinvox-lets-users-talk-to-twitter-facebook-and-jaiku-europe-only/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-targets-cambridge-for-speech-recognition-skills..html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Domecq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Domecq
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/spinvox

Yet another Digg clone

Reading the blogs today we came across a new Digg like service (clone) called Publish2. Essentially the service is Digg meets del.icio.us aimed at journalists where anyone is said to be able to seed links in the system but only journalists are given with the chance to vote for them. However, one person testing the service has said about Publis2 “It’s like Delicious, I would never use the public part of the service, I’m too competitive to share my research with other journalists.” There are way too many Digg followers lately trying to catch up on the huge popularity (traffic) Digg generates, – well over 22M unique visitors per month. While every new start up in the same space holds its chances and brings some new interesting features on the table it is hard for us to believe anyone will ever get closer to what Digg’s today popularity is. The ideas are many, the executions are good but even Digg has yet to prove its business model, let alone those smaller players.

Publish2 has today announced $2.75M in series A round of funding coming from Velocity Interactive Group. The company’s founders are Robert Young and Scott Karp who are former GigaOm contributors. 

Other companies in the space include Digg, Reddit, Netscape’s Propeller.com, MSNBC’s Newsvine, Mixx, Pligg, among others.

More about Publish2

Publish2 is an online news aggregation platform, designed to empower journalists to discover, organize, and rank the most important news — to benefit their own reporting, their newsrooms, and all news consumers on the web.

If you are a journalist, you can register for the Publish2 Beta.

1. Easy Online Bookmarks

Bookmarking Tool

You can save interesting articles and story research with one click, tag your bookmarks to keep them organized, and access your bookmarks from any computer.

Private or Public

If you like, you can save your bookmarks privately for your own personal use. No one else will see your bookmarks. Or you can choose to save your bookmarks publicly to influence what others read.

For Reporters

Publish2 makes your research and reporting proccess a lot more efficient.

For Editors

Publish2 bookmarks can also be published on a blog or web site as “recommended reading” or article references (using an RSS feed of your bookmarks).

2. A Powerful News Aggregator

Power of the Link

Links determine what gets read online. Google’s search engine gets its power by interpreting links to content as “votes” for importance.

Front Page

Because Publish2 is exclusively for journalists, combining all of the bookmark “links” creates a powerful aggregator of the best articles. The more journalists bookmark a story, the higher it ranks in Publish2’s news aggregation — just as content rises higher in Google’s search results as more people link to it.

Take Back Control

It’s like Digg for professional journalists, who understand the news and are experts on their beats. By using Publish2, you’ll help promote high quality journalism and take back control from amateurs and algorithms.

For Reporters

You can influence what others read by choosing to save your bookmarks publicly.

For Editors You can use Publish2 as an editorial platform for creating compelling topical news aggregations, powered by the collective intelligence of journalists.

3. Professional Profile

Resume

Manage your online identity as a journalist

My Clips

Showcase links to your best reporting

#1 Search Result

Have your profile appear first when someone searches for you online

More

http://www.publish2.com/
http://publish2.com/register
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/31/heres-a-screenshot-of-publish2/
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/31/publish2-velocity/
http://gigaom.com/2007/08/14/publish2-joins-the-social-news-party/
http://gigaom.com/author/gigarobertyoung/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/31/publish2-raises-a-round-aims-to-bring-more-journalists-to-the-web/
http://www.velocityig.com/