Category Archives: Virtual Worlds

2008’s Most Popular Web 2.0 Sites

Today we are living in web 2.0 times more than ever before. PR, press coverage, buzz, evangelism, lobbying, who knows who, who blogs who, who talks about who, mainstream media and beyond – all of those words found in the dictionary of almost every new web site that coins itself as web 2.0, but as the global economy crisis is raising upon us promising to leave us working in a very depressed business environment with little to no liquidation events at all for the next years the real question is: who the real winners in today’s web 2.0 space are based on real people using their web properties since 2005 the web 2.0 term was coined for first time. Since then we have witnessed hundreds of millions of US dollars poured into different web 2.0 sites, applications and technologies and perhaps now is the time to find out which of those web sites have worked things out. We took the time necessary to discover today’s most popular web 2.0 sites based on real traffic and site usage and Not on buzz or size of funding. Sites are ranked based on the estimated traffic figures. After spending years in assessing web 2.0 sites applying tens of different from economical and technological to media criteria in an effort to evaluate them we came up to the conclusion that there is only one criterion worth our attention and it is the real people that use a given site, the traffic, the site usage, etc., based on which the web site can successfully be monetized. Of course, there are a few exceptions from the general rule like sites with extremely valuable technologies and no traffic at all, but as we said, they are exceptions. Ad networks, web networks, hosted networks and group of sites that use consolidated traffic numbers as their own or such ones that rely on the traffic of other sites to boost their own figures (ex.: various ad networks, Quantcast, WordPress etc.) are not taken into consideration and the sites from within those respective networks and groups have been ranked separately. International traffic is of course taken into consideration. Add ons, social network apps and widgets usage is not taken into consideration. Sub-domains as well as international TLDs part of the principal business of the main domain/web site are included. Media sites including such covering the web 2.0 space have also been included. Old buys from the dot com era are not considered and ranked accordingly.

Disclaimer: some data based on which the sites below are ranked may not be complete or correct due to lack of public data available for the traffic of respective sites. Please also note that the data taken into consideration for the ranking may have meanwhile changed and might possibly be no longer the same at the time you are reading the list. Data has been gathered during the months of July, August, September and December 2008.

Today’s most popular Web 2.0 sites based on the traffic they get as measured during the months of July, August and September 2008.

Priority is given to direct traffic measurement methods wherever applicable. Panel data as well as toolbar traffic figures are not taken into cosndieration. Traffic details as taken from Quantcast, Google Analytics*, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files*, Compete and Alexa. Press release, public relation and buzz traffic and usage figures as they have appeared in the mainstream and specialized media are given with lower priority unless supported by direct traffic measurement methods.

*wherever applicable

Web Property / Unique visitors per month

  1. WordPress.com ~ 100M
  2. YouTube.com ~ 73M
  3. MySpace.com ~ 72M
  4. Wikipedia.org ~ 69M
  5. Hi5.com ~ 54M
  6. Facebook.com ~ 43M
  7. BlogSpot.com ~ 43M
  8. PhotoBucket.com ~ 34M
  9. MetaCafe.com ~ 30M
  10. Blogger.com ~ 27M
  11. Flickr.com ~ 23M
  12. Scribd.com ~ 23M
  13. Digg.com ~ 21M
  14. Typepad.com ~ 17M
  15. Imeem.com ~ 17M
  16. Snap.com ~ 15.7M
  17. Fotolog.com ~ 15.6M
  18. RockYou.com ~ 15M
  19. Veoh.com ~ 12M
  20. Wikihow.com ~ 12M
  21. Topix.com ~ 11.5M
  22. Blinkx.com ~ 11M
  23. HuffingtonPost.com ~ 11M
  24. Technorati.com ~ 10.6M
  25. Wikia.com ~ 10.8M
  26. Zimbio.com ~ 10.3M
  27. SpyFu.com ~ 10.1M
  28. Heavy.com ~ 9.3M
  29. Yelp.com ~ 8.9M
  30. Slide.com ~ 8.5M
  31. SimplyHired.com ~ 8.5M
  32. Squidoo.com ~ 8.1M
  33. LinkedIn.com ~ 7.5M
  34. HubPages.com ~ 7.2M
  35. Hulu.com ~ 7.1M
  36. AssociatedContent.com ~ 7M
  37. Indeed.com ~ 5.4M
  38. LiveJournal.com ~ 5.2M
  39. Bebo.com ~ 5.1M
  40. Habbo.com ~ 4.9M
  41. Fixya.com ~ 4.5M
  42. RapidShare.com ~ 4.5M
  43. AnswerBag.com ~ 4.4M
  44. Metafilter.com ~ 4.3M
  45. Crackle (Grouper) ~ 4M
  46. Ning.com ~ 3.8M
  47. Breitbart.com ~ 3.8M
  48. BookingBuddy.com ~ 3.7M
  49. Kayak.com ~ 3.6M
  50. Blurtit.com ~ 3.2M
  51. Kaboodle.com ~ 3M
  52. Meebo.com ~ 2.9M
  53. Friendster.com ~ 2.7M
  54. WowWiki.com ~ 2.8M
  55. Truveo.com ~ 2.7M
  56. Trulia.com ~ 2.7M
  57. Twitter.com ~ 2.5M
  58. BoingBoing.net ~ 2.4M
  59. Techcrunch.com ~ 2.2M
  60. Zillow.com ~ 2.2M
  61. MyNewPlace.com ~ 2.2M
  62. Mahalo.com ~ 2.1M
  63. Vox.com ~ 2M
  64. Last.fm ~ 2M
  65. Glam.com ~ 1.9M
  66. Multiply.com ~ 1.9M
  67. Popsugar.com ~ 1.6M
  68. Addthis.com ~ 1.5M
  69. Pandora.com ~ 1.4M
  70. Brightcove.com ~ 1.4M
  71. LinkedWords.com ~ 1.3M
  72. Devshed.com ~ 1.3M
  73. AppleInsider.com ~ 1.3M
  74. Newsvine.com ~ 1.3M
  75. Fark.com ~ 1.2M
  76. BleacherReport.com ~ 1.2M
  77. Mashable.com ~ 1.2M
  78. Zwinky.com ~ 1.2M
  79. Quantcast.com ~ 1.2M
  80. StumbleUpon.com ~ 1.1M
  81. SecondLife.com ~ 1.1M
  82. Magnify.net ~ 1.1M
  83. Uncyclopedia.org ~ 1M
  84. Weblo.com ~ 1M
  85. Del.icio.us ~ 1M
  86. Reddit.com < 1M
  87. Pbwiki.com < 1M
  88. AggregateKnowledge.com < 1M
  89. Eventful.com < 1M
  90. Dizzler.com < 1M
  91. Synthasite.com < 1M
  92. Vimeo.com < 1M
  93. Zibb.com <1M

Web 2.0 sites having less than 1M unique visitors per month even though popular in one way or another are not subject of this list and are not taken into consideration. We know for at least 100 other considered really good web 2.0 sites, apps and technologies of today, but since they are getting less than 1M uniuqes per month they were not able to make our list. However, sites being almost there (850K-950K/mo) and believed to be in position to reach the 1M monthly mark in the next months are also included at the bottom of the list. Those sites are marked with “<“, which means close to 1M, but not yet there. No hard feelings :).

If we’ve omitted one site or another that you know is getting at least 1M uniques per month and you are not seeing it above, drop us a note at info[at]web2innovations.com and we’ll have it included. Please note that the site proposed should be having steady traffic for at least 3 months prior submission to the list above. Sites like, for example: Powerset and Cuil, may not qualify for inclusion due to their temporary traffic leaps caused by buzz they have gotten, a criterion we try to offset. For other corrections and omissions please write at same email address. Requests for corrections of the traffic figures the sites are ranked on can only be justified by providing us with the accurate traffic numbers from reliable direct measurement sources (Quantified at Quantcast, Google Analytics, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files, other third party traffic measurement services that use the direct method. No panel data, no Alexa, no Compete etc. will be taken into consideration).

* Note that ranks given to sites at w2i reflect only our own vision for and understanding of the site usage, traffic and unique visitors of the sites being ranked and does not necessarily involve other industry experts’, professionals’, journalists’ and bloggers’ opinions. You acknowledge that any ranking available on web2innovations.com (The Site) is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation that you, or anyone you advise, should buy, acquire or invest in any of the companies being analyzed and ranked on the Site, or undertake any investment strategy, based on rankings seen on the Site. Moreover, if a company is described or mentioned in our Site, you acknowledge that such description or mention does not constitute a recommendation by web2innovations.com that you engage or otherwise use such web site.

The full list

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/

 

Gaming is hot in China; 9You raised $100M, talks IPO

After reporting on SpinVox’s massive $100M round of funding it seems there is more to come within the same money range – this time from mainland China.

9You, a Chinese online games operator, has received $100 million in equity investment from Temasek Holdings, among other investors. Well, any time someone talks $100M funding rounds the IPO plans are not that far away in the future. The company says is planning an IPO later this year. The investment was said is to the company to continue transforming its business into an entertainment virtual community. The investment came after 9You’s launch of GTown, a virtual world integrating 9You’s existing online games.

Founded in 2003, 9You is currently operating one of China’s most popular online casual games Audition. By February 2008, the company’s games combined have more than 1 million peak concurrent users. The company claims it has reached over 120M registered users in 2006.

It was hard for us to dig some more public information about the deal. Most of the information came from Redline China, which is operated by Pearl Research a San Francisco based business intelligence and consultancy firm.

More about 9You

Nineyou (www.9you.com) (Shanghai Everstar Online Entertainment Co .Ltd.) is the global’s biggest music online game operator, China’s biggest casual game operator, one of biggest interactive entertainment portal sites in China, which is the first to integrate online game services (MMORPG, massive and medium size casual games, mobile game, etc.), fashional digital entertainment contents, a variety of chatting and community services equipped with Avatar System, wireless value-added services and other premiere services to the Chinese language internet users all over the world. With its wide-coverage for all major types of user needs related with digital entertainment service, the 9you.com represents the latest service style and the newest trend for the digital entertainment provider business in China Market. A series of awards and ranking are obtained by 9you.com in 2005 which include Top 10 Online Game Operator in China, and Top 10 Online Game Developer in China, the Cool Company, Shanghai First-class Service Brand in Information Service Industry, etc.

The major investors in Nineyou are several leading international venture capital funds, including the Carlyle Group, which is the world’s largest private investment group, China Merchant Fortune Ventures, and Dragon Groove Inc. who has the background as international strategic investor.

As an integrated service platform for all types of interactive entertainment services, the major business objective of the 9you.com is to bring the best, fastest, all-covered and coolest digital entertainment services to its subscribers of a wide range of ages, including the hard-cored and the light users, male and female users. As of May 2006, the number of total registered users has reached 120 million and the number of the peak concurrent users has reached 800 thousand.

The 9you.com are providing more digital entertainment products in year 2006 and the number of products and types of services will be the No.1 in the whole China Online Game Service industry in the foreseeable future.

More about Temasek Holdings

Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment house headquartered in Singapore.

With a multinational staff of more than 300 people, we manage a portfolio of over S$160 billion, or more than US$100 billion, focused primarily in Asia. We are committed to fostering a sustainable future for our shareholder, staff, portfolio companies and
the community.

We are an active shareholder and investor in diverse industry sectors such as banking & financial services, real estate, transportation & logistics, infrastructure, telecommunications & media, bioscience & healthcare, education, consumer & lifestyle, engineering & technology, as well as energy & resources.

Our total shareholder return since our inception is more than 18% compounded annually. We have a corporate credit rating of AAA/Aaa by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s respectively.

In 2008, The Economist reported that Morgan Stanley had estimated the fund’s assets at US$159.2 billion

More

http://www.9you.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/21/9you-funding/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-chinese-gaming-site-9you-receives-100-million-investment/
http://www.redlinechina.com/main/?q=node/740
http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temasek_Holdings

A new way to build your Google Maps

These days we came across a tiny French based company called Click2Map that is providing an interesting editor for creating mash-ups with Google Maps. You can there create fully customizable interactive professional online maps from existing data and the editor also offers database and template functionalities. They have just added a powerful template system coupled with a highly versatile database engine that allows professional users to store data and use it wherever they need to in fully customizable templates.

The Metz, France based Click2Map is a powerful online mapping application published by the Click2Map company. Click2Map puts all the power of Web 2.0 at the service of its users: its familiar point-and-click interface makes creating and sharing interactive online maps a snap. Everyone can now create rich and customized online maps without writing a single line of code!

Click2Map’s editor allows users to create markers and POIs using a familiar application environment and provides convenient access to existing markers. Advanced users appreciate the possibility to create an unlimited number of maps including unlimited numbers of markers and optional groups.

Importing groups and markers now takes another dimension with the possibility to use variables extensively: all the information stored in your personal database can now be inserted wherever needed in each and every marker thanks to Click2Map’s dynamic variable engine! No matter how many personal data categories and fields, Click2Map automatically generates the corresponding variables that you can instantly use: creating large quantities of personalized markers has never been easier!

Click2Map’s enhanced import/export system provides an efficient means to integrate existing data into online maps and to exchange information with third party applications. The recent addition of an exclusive statistic engine helps professionals track their maps’ consultations and the way they’re used by visitors: the popularity of each map and marker can now be tracked in real time.

By allowing companies to create fully customized online Google Maps based on their existing data, Click2Map provides them with unprecedented means of promoting their business online.

Click2Map SARL is a leading French provider of GeoWeb Solutions. Click2Map is its flagship product, an easy to use online application to create, manage and publish online professional maps without any knowledge of programming. Click2Map SARL also provides full technical support and customization of its Click2Map Editor and Maps Generator.

Story was picked up from EPR Network.

More

http://www.click2map.com/
http://blog.click2map.com/
http://wiki.click2map.com/
http://express-press-release.com/47/Click2Map%20Adds%20Template%20and%20Database%20Features%20to%20Google%20Maps.php

What is the real reason Automattic bought Glavatar?

As some of you already know w2i (web2innovations.com) is keeping an internal archive of almost all funding and acquisition deals that happened over the past years on web. While we have the ambitions to report on all of them the deals are so many so that we end up only writing about some of the most interesting ones. The same is the case with Automattic when they bought Glavatar some months ago. We kept the news in our archive for quite long time trying to figure out ourselves what is the real motive behind the acquisition of Glavatar and since we came up to no particular synergy and reason we have decided today to simply write about.

First off Automattic is the company behind the popular blog software WordPress. The site is amongst the most popular on web with more than 90M uniques per month. When Matt Mullenweg, announced the deal on the Glavatar’s blog he wrote about so many improvements that Glavatar is going to face with its new owner. Such as scaling things up, they transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to WordPress.com’s infrastructure and servers. Avatar serving was said is already more than three times as fast, and works every time. They’ve also moved Glavatar’s blog from Mephisto to WordPress, of course.

He further said “Basically, we did the bare minimum required to stabilize and accelerate the Gravatar service, focusing a lot on making the gravatars highly available and fast. However our plans are much bigger than that.” Among those are all of the Premium features have gone free, and refunding was offered to anyone who bought them in the last 60 days; gravatar serving moved to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load; Merging the million avatars WordPress had with the 115,000 or so Glavatar brought on the table after the deal and make them available through the Gravatar API; integrate and improve templates and bring features like multiple avatars over; from WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar (Gravatars are only available up to 80px); Adding Microformat support for things like XFN rel=”me” and hCard to all avatar profile pages (that is in particular an interesting move); develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses and not last rewrite the entire application itself to fit directly into WordPress.com’s grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

These days after Yahoo announcing big plans of moving towards web semantics and adopting some of the microformats and hinting LinkedIn for possible better relations with their data set if they adopt them too is a clear signal that web is slowly moving towards semantically linking of data. Automattic is obviously looking forward to that time too with its plans to add microformats like XFN (XHTML Friends Network) and hCard (simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of vCard (RFC2426) properties and values in semantic HTML or XHTML). An interesting example of contextually and semantically linked web data is LinkedWords and, as you can see, the way we use them to semantically and contextually link words across our texts and connect them to their contextual platform.

So far so good, but nothing from the above indicates what is the reason Automattic bought the site called Glavatar. It is definitely neither because of their user base (only 115K) nor because of the technology, obviously. Employment through acquisition? Not really, Tom Werner, the founder of Glavatar is being said to be a big Ruby guy and taking into consideration the fact Matt seems to be moving towards PHP with Glavatar it seems highly unlikely for Tom to stay with Automattic.

From everything being said publicly it turns out that Automattic has decided to help the small site work better, but no clear benefits are seen for their company from this deal, or at least not to us.

We do believe Matt where he says “our plans are much bigger than that”, but what those plans are? Building a social network upon the avatars and the profile data associated with or perhaps having an online identity service built upon. Or, perhaps, simply building a global avatar service (with in-depth profiles) makes more sense for a company that commands over 100M uniques per month rather than for a tiny web site like Glavatar.

Whatever the case is congratulations to the involved. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

More about Glavatar

The web is no longer about anonymous content generated by faceless corporations. It is about real people and the real content that they provide.

It is about you.

But as powerful as the web has become, it still lacks the personal touch that comes from a handshake. The vast majority of content you come across on the web will still be near-anonymous even though it may have a name attached. Without knowing the author behind the words, the words cannot be trusted. This is where Gravatar comes in.

Gravatar aims to put a face behind the name. This is the beginning of trust. In the future, Gravatar will be a way to establish trust between producers and consumers on the internet. It will be the next best thing to meeting in person.

Today, an avatar. Tomorrow, Your Identity–Online.

More

http://gravatar.com/
http://site.gravatar.com/site/about
http://automattic.com/
http://blog.gravatar.com/2007/10/18/automattic-gravatar/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/automattic_acquires_gravatar.php
http://www.quantcast.com/p-18-mFEk4J448M
http://microformats.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://rubyisawesome.com/

fix8 has taken $3M for animated avatars for your cam

A couple of months ago the tiny start up company fix8 has raised $3 million in a series A round of funding from Vickers Venture Group, which is a Singapore-based private equity firm. 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.”

“Our investment in fix8 is in response to ever-increasing consumer demand for User Generated Content from instant messaging to video sharing and interactive TV,” said Managing Director, Jeffrey Chi, Vickers Venture Partners. “fix8 is well-positioned to lead virtual communications for UGC, and we look forward to supporting their expansion.”

In-Stat estimates global UGC revenues will grow from $80 million in 2006 to $1.6 billion by 2011. IDC estimates enterprise IM will grow from 40 million users in 2007 to more than 140 million by 2009, making it the fastest growing communications medium of all time.

“From camera-to-camera chats to webcasting, video blogging to interactive TV — fix8 allows consumers to unlock their creative desire for expression through a new world of unique, rich animated content,” said CEO, Linh Duy Tang. “We are pleased to be aligned with Vickers, which understands the significance and monetization of User-Generated Content, a phenomena that has broad international appeal.”

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://fix8.com/
http://www.vickersfinancial.com/
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/

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

~~~

Troubles and security issues in SecondLife and other virtual worlds

The Mercury News has a story where savvy security researchers have found a flaw in Second Life virtual world that allows them to strip a user’s character of all of its in-world money.

Charles Miller and Dino Dai Zovi, two experienced hackers, claim they have found a vulnerability in the way Second Life protects a user’s money inside the virtual world from being stolen. It has significance because that currency, dubbed Linden dollars, can be converted into real world dollars. But the risks for Linden Lab, the San Francisco operator of Second Life, are limited because the researchers say the flaw can be quickly patched.

Miller, a researcher at security firm Independent Security Evaluators in Baltimore, gained some notoriety this summer when he found a way to hack Apple’s iPhone. He said that he and Dai Zovi found the flaw by exploiting a known problem with Apple’s QuickTime movie playback software, which is used to play movies inside the virtual world. That QuickTime flaw was exposed on Monday and the pair completed their hack in a few days. That gave an opening to Dai Zovi and Miller, who had been mulling over Second Life security for months.

The exploit works because Second Life allows users to embed videos or pictures on their character’s or their virtual property. When someone comes nearby and is within view of the object, the Second Life software activates QuickTime so it can play the video or picture. In doing so, QuickTime directs the Second Life software to a web site. By exploiting the flaw in QuickTime, the hackers can direct the Second Life software to a malicious web site that then allows them to take over the Second Life avatar.

When we last tried to reach the page at ISE where the security problem is said to be explained in details the page http://www.securityevaluators.com/sl did not open.

In another story Swedish authorities said in January 2007 they would clamp down on Swedes earning money through Internet games such as Second Life.

Indeed, while Second Life may have started as a utopian world where gamers, geeks, and technophiles could gather and immerse themselves into the pure and innocent escapism of a genuine second life, the rocketing popularity of Linden Lab’s online world has now begun attracting the attentions of people that intent on destruction, and even violence, reports the Concorde Monitor.

Here are some recent incidents that happen at SecondLife’s and other virtual worlds around Internet.

  1. Australian broadcaster ABC has its luxury island turned into a crater by angry hackers.
  2. Worrying reports of rape and child abuse have started to gather around the supposedly idyllic existence to be ‘enjoyed’ in Second Life.
  3. The above mentioned rape incident, which took place earlier in 2007, caused outrage when with one virtual avatar sexually assaulted by another.
  4. The police in Belgium opened an investigation into, not who perpetrated said rape, but whether an actual crime had been committed.
  5. 17-year-old Dutch teenager was arrested this week on suspicion of stealing furniture worth £2,800 from a hotel room in the three-dimensional world Habbo Hotel, a children’s game that only exists on the internet.
  6. German authorities have also homed in on an incident of sexual abuse involving live images of a child avatar having simulated sex with an adult avatar.
  7. Virtual gangs killing off lone in-game players and stealing their wares, which are later sold on for real-world profit.
  8. Shanghai-based 41-year-old Legend of Mir 3 online gamer stabbing another cheating player repeatedly in the chest after he stole an in-game weapon reportedly worth some $850 USD.
  9. British cops will be going undercover in Second Life to investigate depictions of adult-child sex and track down pedophiles

All of this, of course, promotes the question of whether a virtual world such as Second Life should be governed by a virtual police force.

Independent Security Evaluators‘ mission is to provide the outside technical resources companies need to control their technology risk. The experts at ISE have vast experience in every facet of security. The team includes computer scientists, electrical engineers, and cryptographers. ISE experts have testified before Congress, served as expert witnesses, participated in creating standards, and evaluated systems for both government and private industry.

ISE researchers have published several influential books and dozens of scientific papers in the top refereed conferences and journals. They have also analyzed and helped repair several widely used commercial systems. ISE was formed to offer this expertise to the private sector.

On the other side, in respond to the security issues pointed out by the hackers, Joe Miller, VP, Linden Lab in San Francisco, CA has replied:

I want to reiterate that this is an Apple QuickTime issue, not a flaw inherent in Second Life, and as such, affects all platforms and browsers that use QT. Second Life remains a viable environment for conducting business, with a stable economy and the appropriate Resident and economic controls in place.

Linden Lab alerted all Second Life Residents of this exploit both on the official Linden Lab blog and at log-in on Friday afternoon. In addition, the Second Life community is doing a great job of spreading the word, and letting their fellow residents know about the potential issues surrounding the use of QT. I can assure you that no other affected platform is communicating with their customers as thoroughly as we are.

We have measures in place to deal with this type of exploited vulnerability – including the ability to log and track URLs, identify the attackers and take the appropriate measures, as well as making sure that affected Residents are reimbursed if they should lose any Linden dollars.

We’re hopeful Apple will remedy this problem as soon as possible, and we pledge to alert Residents as soon as the fix has been made.

According to the Second Life’s website, there were 6,491,898 residents in its alternative reality.  Second Life, created by San Francisco technology company Linden Lab, has attracted several real-world companies, including car manufacturers and sports clothing makers, which created 3-D stores.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely created by its Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe. From the moment you enter the World you’ll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you’ve explored a bit, perhaps you’ll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business. You’ll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents. Because Residents retain the rights to their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other Residents. The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world unit-of-trade, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online Linden Dollar exchanges.

Other virtual worlds include:

Entropia Universe ( http://www.entropiauniverse.com/ ), the Swedish virtual world, which had a turnover of $365m last year.

Habbo ( http://www.habbo.com/), owned by a Finnish company, Sulake, boasts more than 80 million members today.

VOY Plaza Virtual ( http://www.voyplaza.com/vpv.html )

There.com ( http://There.com.com )

Club Penguin ( http://www.clubpenguin.com/) recently sold to Disney.

Active Worlds ( http://www.activeworlds.com/ )

Barbie Girls ( http://www.barbiegirls.com/ )

Cyworld ( http://us.cyworld.com/ )

Dubit ( http://www.dubitchat.com/ )

Faketown ( http://www.faketown.com/ )

BBC’s Adventure Rock ( http://bbc.co.uk/cbbc/adventurerock )

World of Warcraft ( http://worldofwarcraft.com )

Gaia ( http://www.gaiaonline.com/ ). The game has just got funded by Sony Pictures.

IMVU ( http://www.imvu.com/ )

Kaneva ( http://www.kaneva.com/ )

Millsberry ( http://millsberry.com/ )

Mokitown ( http://www.mobile-kids.net/ )

Neopets ( http://www.neopets.com/ )

Red Light Center (NSFW) ( http://redlightcenter.com/ )

Webkinz ( http://www.webkinz.com/ )

Zwinktopia by InterActiveCorp ( http://www.zwinktopia.com/ )

Openlife Grid ( http://www.openlifegrid.com/) Public Grid with Opensim Technology.

ViOS – ViOS 3D Internet Viewer ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ViOS )

Whyville ( http://www.whyville.net/top/index.html )

Citypixel ( http://www.citypixel.com/ )

Weblo ( http://www.weblo.com/ )

  

Via

[ http://www.mercextra.com/blogs/takahashi/2007/11/30/exclusive-hackers-say-they-can-pick-pockets-of-characters-in-second-life-virtual-world /]
[ http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/659761 ]
[ http://www.securityevaluators.com/sl/ ]
[ http://secondlife.com/whatis/ ]
[ http://www.thelocal.se/7347/20070518/ ]
[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/nov/17/internet.crime ]
[ http://metasecurity.net/2007/06/05/crime-rife-in-virtual-second-life/ ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/05/virtual-world-hangouts-so-many-to-choose-from ]
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_world ]
[ http://www.virtualworldsreview.com/ ]