Category Archives: video

Sequoia Capital invested in TokBox, hoping for Web’s next big communication tool

Sequoia Capital has recently provided $4 million in Series A round of funding to Tokbox – a new startup providing real-time video chat via a browser. Sequoia joins an already impressive collection of angel investors including founding members of YouTube, Bebo, and Netscape along with execs from Slide, PayPal and Cisco. This investor network alone will likely propel the startup to partnerships and acquisition discussions.

The same backers who helped catapult YouTube to glory wants to do for live video chats what YouTube did for video watching.

The company, TokBox, allows people with Webcams and broadband Internet connections to conduct face-to-face chats inside a Web browser. Users can visit its site, www.tokbox.com, or add a TokBox module to their pages on social Web sites like MySpace or Facebook.

Several other services, including AOL’s AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Skype, allow live video chats but require that each party download the software and be online at the same time. On TokBox, if one party is not present, users can send a video mail message of up to five minutes in length that the other party can later retrieve at the site.

“Video communication has never really taken off, despite the fact that people talk about it as a part of the future,” said Serge Faguet, TokBox chief executive, who is a 21-year-old native of Russia and co-founded the company after attending one semester of Stanford business school.

The six-month-old (by that time – Oct ’07) TokBox would probably be just another dot-com with ambitious dreams were it not for an impressive pedigree that includes many of the same names as YouTube. Jawed Karim, a YouTube co-founder who left the video sharing site early on, is backing the company financially and sits on its board.

Roelof Botha, the Sequoia partner who invested in YouTube, is also guiding TokBox and, not surprisingly, plays up the similarities. “Part of the beauty of YouTube is that we all have browsers and we are all on the Internet, so you can click on a link and video will start to play,” he said. “TokBox offers the same easy solution inside the browser.”

Under no doubt some of the people engaged with the company do know one or more things about the online video market, but it is also pretty clear that if TookBox takes off and gets to be popular it is going to face scale up challenges.

As YouTube’s popularity skyrocketed, it had to keep up with the bulging cost of storing and playing all those videos. TokBox will have to do that as well, and will also have to ensure that live video chats flow seamlessly.

However TokBox has attracted high-profile talented technical advisers to help it overcome those obstacles. Rajeev Motwani, a Stanford professor and an early adviser to Google, is an investor and is counseling the company. Tony Bates, a senior vice president at Cisco, is also an investor and is helping TokBox to develop the underlying technology to support a large number of users.

The company has also a Facebook application that was developed by Ryan Merket and allows you to video chat with your friends or leave video mail and voice mail for your friends directly from your own Facebook profile.

Investors include: Sequoia Capital, Rajeev Motwani, Roelof Botha, Tony Bates and Jawed Karim, presumingly some of the individuals are angel investors.

The company is based in Palo Alto and what is interesting as fact is the company is housed in the same offices that was used by YouTube to start off.

Competitors include Skype, WebEx, Zorap and Userplane, among others. 

Of course, the company did not yet figure out what to make money from but this is not uncommon for most of the start ups in the Silicon Valley. The founders say they are looking at advertising and selling advanced versions of the service to companies that can use it to communicate with their customers online.

More

http://www.tokbox.com/
http://blog.tokbox.com/
http://www.sequoiacap.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/business/media/15video.html?ei=5088&en=59b45c9e60a88aee&ex=1350100800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1192446339-6J23Kqqnew4p1VFrtrkAJg
http://gigaom.com/2007/10/15/tokbox/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/tokbox
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/14/use-tokbox-to-set-up-instant-video-chat/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/14/tokbox-gets-some-nytimes-love/
http://www.crunchgear.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-live-video-web-chat-is-the-latest-next-youtube/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-funding/
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/10/15/tokbox-receives-4-million-in-funding
http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2007/09/19/tokbox-a-useful-video-conferencing-tool-or-something-sinister/
http://lifehacker.com/software/video-conferencing/in+browser-video-chat-with-tokbox-310734.php
 

After Internet Brands, LogMeIn, now Al Gore’s Current TV files for an IPO and plans to go public

It seems it is time for small-sized Internet and technology IPOs. After Internet Brands, Inc. went public on NASDAQ, LogMeIn, Inc. filed to do so now Al Gore’s Current is looking forward to do the same. Unlike Internet Brands Inc and LogMeIn, Inc, Current TV is purely from the web 2.0 age, so it would be of particular interest for all companies from the web 2.0 sector to see how the company goes public and what is going to happen after their IPO. The company is planning to raise $100M on $63.8M revenues for the last year with operating losses in the $6M range.

Current TV is, under no doubt, mostly popular due to its co-founder the ex Vice President Al Gore. The registrant is Current Media, Inc., which is the parent company for current.com and Current TV. It has filed to trade on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol CRTM.

Current is a global participatory media company with the goal of democratizing media by engaging, informing and enriching our young adult audience and encouraging their participation across platforms. The company operates a television network, Current TV, and a website, Current.com, where they all distribute viewer-created content as well as internally developed and acquired content that is relevant to the lives of young adults. The company believes the combination of their television and Internet platforms creates an immersive and interactive viewer experience for our growing global audience, where the audience participates in both the creation and selection of the content it engages with on both Current TV and Current.com.

The company’s primary sources of revenue are affiliate fees and advertising. Affiliate fees are derived from long-term distribution agreements with cable, satellite and telecommunications operators who pay Current Media, Inc. a monthly fee for each subscriber household that receives Current TV. In the United States, the company’s affiliate customers include DirecTV, Comcast, EchoStar, Time Warner and AT&T. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, affiliate customers include British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, and Virgin Media. In the Spring of 2008, the company has plans to launch in Italy on Sky Italia. Advertising revenue is derived from advertisers who pay for sponsorships and spot advertisements. Selected advertising customers include Toyota, T-Mobile, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Geico and L’Oreal. Affiliate revenues accounted for 84% of the company’s total revenues for 2007.

Current TV was launched in August 2005 in approximately 19 million subscriber households in the United States and is now available in approximately 51 million subscriber households in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2006 and 2007, the company recorded revenue of $37.9 million and $63.8 million, respectively where the operating losses were $4.8 million in 2006 and $6.1 million in 2007.

The company intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to repay in full the principal and accrued interest on an outstanding loan from Dylan Holdings, Inc., which amounted to $30.4 million as of December 31, 2007. The loan is in the form of a senior purchase money note, has an interest rate of 9.25% and matures in May 2008. The company issued this note in May 2004 as part of the purchase price for our acquisition of the NWI television network. NWI television network was purchase in 2004 for $70.9 million, including intangible assets consisting of affiliate distribution arrangements valued at $13.7 million.

The company also intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to repay in full the principal and accrued interest on their outstanding promissory notes, which amounted to $6.1 million at December 31, 2007. The entered into a note purchase agreement in September 2006 with a consortium of lenders pursuant to which they issued the revolving promissory notes. All of these lenders are currently equity investors in the company. Under the terms of these notes, they borrowed $5M and have made no payments. These notes bear interest at a rate of 15% for the first year and 18% thereafter, which compounds quarterly. In accordance with the terms of these notes, interest is added to the principal through May 4, 2008, at which time the unpaid principal and interest become payable in full.

The company intends to use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to repay in full the principal and accrued interest on an outstanding note payable to Oracle Credit Corporation, which amounted to $64,000 at December 31, 2007. The company entered into this note payable in May 2006 in connection with the purchase of software and support. The note bears interest at the rate of 9.83%. Under the terms of the note, interest is added to the principal balance. The note requires annual payments of $36,000 on the first day of September of each year until 2009, at which time the final payment of $36,000 is due.

The remaining net proceeds from this offering is planned to be used for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Additionally, the company might also expand their existing business through acquisitions of other complementary businesses, products, services or technologies, although no agreements are currently in place for such acquisitions at this time.

Basically Current relies on its innovative approach, although it is called in their prospectus “innovative but unproven”.

Current was founded with the goal of cost-effectively engaging young adults with news, entertainment and lifestyle programming centered on what is going on in their world. We recognized that to reach young adults it was necessary to reach them via television, where they spend a lot of time and where there is a proven business model, as well as on the Internet, a medium where they are also very active. To do this, we launched a television channel, Current TV, and more recently a website, Current.com. The two serve as distinct consumer destinations, but they are also symbiotic and form a combined platform with which Current engages its audience. Key aspects of our solution include:

Current’s new network model.
Our focus on user-generated content provides a unique connection with our young adult audience. We engage young adults by telling stories in their voices and from their perspectives. We have redefined the scope of “news” for young adults, and broadened our programming to include an array of subjects that are important to our audience.

Current’s programming.
Current has developed a programming model built on several unique content offerings, all designed to reflect the tastes and lifestyles of our target 18-34 year-old audience. Our programming is presented in short segments that we call “pods,” which are typically 2-10 minutes in length, rather than traditional half-hour or hour-long programming blocks.

Current’s innovative advertising solution. 
Our advertising model is designed to appeal to the lifestyles, tastes and needs of young adults. A key solution that we provide advertisers is the ability to let our young adult viewers create commercials that we then air on Current TV. In addition to these viewer created ad messages, or VCAMs, we offer other attractive sponsorship solutions, in which advertisements are integrated with and embedded into our content, providing advertisers a marketing forum that is free from ad-skipping.

Current’s all digital broadcast facility. 
Our TV broadcast facilities are built on an open IP architecture as opposed to traditional broadcast television legacy systems. Unlike high-cost production facilities at traditional cable networks, we have deployed a new, all-digital infrastructure that allows us to produce, acquire and distribute high quality content at a low cost.

Current.com.   
Current.com serves several purposes: it is a news, information and entertainment source for young adults online; it is a real-time connection to programming on Current TV; and it is a platform for collaborative media production. At its core, Current.com is a social news feed.

More about Current TV

Since its inception in 2005, Emmy award-winning Current TV has been the world’s leading peer-to-peer news and information network. Current is the only 24/7 cable and satellite television network and Internet site produced and programmed in collaboration with its audience. Current connects young adults with what is going on in their world, from their perspective, in their own voices.

With the launch of Current.com, the first fully integrated web and TV platform users can participate in shaping an ongoing stream of news and information that is compelling, authentic and relevant to them.

Current pioneered the television industry’s leading model of interactive viewer created content (VC2). Comprising roughly one-third of Current’s on-air broadcast, this content is submitted via short-form, non-fiction video “pods”. Viewer Created Ad Messages (VCAMs) are also open to viewer’s participation.

Current’s programming ranges from daily pop culture coverage to political satire in “SuperNews,” unprecedented music journalism in “The Current Fix,” and unique insights into global stories through Vanguard and Citizen Journalism.

Current is now viewed in the U.S. and U.K. in more than 51 million households through distribution partners Comcast (Channel 107 nationwide), Time Warner (nationwide), DirecTV (channel 366 nationwide), Dish Network (channel 196 nationwide), Sky (channel 193) and Virgin Media Cable (channel 155).

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California and as of December 31, 2007 employed 391 full-time employees. They also have an office in London, production studios in Los Angeles and an advertising sales office in New York City. The company was initially formed as a limited liability company in Delaware in September 2002 named INdTV, LLC. On May 4, 2004, they have purchased Newsworld International, or NWI, a traditional cable and satellite network. This acquisition enabled the company to gain access to cable and satellite distribution as an independent network. In connection with that acquisition of NWI, they’ve changed their name to INdTV Holdings, LLC and concurrently formed a wholly owned subsidiary INdTV, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, and transferred all of their operations to INdTV, LLC. Since that time, they have had no operations because all operations are conducted by their subsidiaries. On April 4, 2005, they changed the name of INdTV Holdings, LLC to Current Media, LLC and INdTV, LLC to Current TV, LLC. On August 1, 2005, they terminated NWI’s existing programming and launched Current TV in the United States.

The company faces significant competition in both the cable television and online markets in which they operate. Current TV competes with other television networks that target young adults. These networks include Comedy Central, Fuse, G4, MTV, Spike TV and other major cable networks that are owned by large media conglomerates, such as Comcast, Disney, Time Warner and Viacom. Current.com faces competition from companies that are consumer destination websites, such as AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo!, online video aggregators, such as Hulu and YouTube, and news and social network platforms, such as del.icio.us, digg.com, Facebook and MySpace.

Executive officers

Albert Gore, Jr. co-founded Current in 2002. He has served as our Executive Chairman and as a member of our board of directors since September 2002, and was elected as Chairman of our board of directors in May 2004. Mr. Gore has served as a Senior Advisor to Google, a global Internet company, since February 2001, and a member of the board of directors of Apple, a consumer electronics company, since March 2003. He has also served as Chairman of Generation Investment Management, an investment management firm, since 2004 and joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, as a partner in November 2007. He has served as a visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University. Mr. Gore served as the 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, during which time he also served as President of the United States Senate and as a member of the Cabinet and the National Security Council. Prior to 1993, he served eight years in the United States Senate and eight years in the United States House of Representatives. Mr. Gore was co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Gore holds an A.B. from Harvard University.

Joel Hyatt co-founded Current in 2002. He has served as a member of our board of directors and as our Chief Executive Officer since September 2002. Mr. Hyatt has served as a member of the board of directors of Hewlett-Packard Company, a computer electronics company, since May 2007 and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution since May 2001. From September 1998 to June 2003, Mr. Hyatt was a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Previously, Mr. Hyatt was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hyatt Legal Plans, Inc., a provider of employer-sponsored group legal plans, and of Hyatt Legal Services, a multi-state legal services firm. Mr. Hyatt holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Mark Goldman has served as our Chief Operating Officer since December 2003. From July 1999 to December 2003, Mr. Goldman served as a consultant in the media and communications industries. Prior to that time, Mr. Goldman served as Chief Operating Officer for Sky Latin America, a division of News Corp., which provides satellite television service to Latin America, and as an executive at MCA/Universal Television, where he was responsible for business development and the launch of several international cable networks. Mr. Goldman has a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Hollerbach has served as our Chief Financial Officer since October 2007. From August 1997 to January 2007, Mr. Hollerbach worked at Yahoo!, a leading global internet company, where he held a broad range of senior financial roles. At Yahoo!, Mr. Hollerbach most recently served as Vice President, Finance and Investor Relations, and previously served as Vice President, Corporate Controller. Prior to Yahoo!, Mr. Hollerbach held various finance positions at Silicon Graphics, a computer electronics company, and served at KPMG LLP and Ernst & Young LLP, managing technology clients in their assurance practices. Mr. Hollerbach holds a B.S. in Business Administration from California State University, San Luis Obispo and is a licensed CPA in California.

David Neuman has served as our President of Programming since October 2004. From October 2003 to October 2004, Mr. Neuman researched the development of several television and feature film projects and incorporated his own production company, Blackrock Productions, working on primetime television and feature film projects. From January 2001 to October 2003, Mr. Neuman was Chief Programming Officer of CNN Networks, an international television news organization. Prior to that time, Mr. Neuman served as President of Walt Disney Television and Touchstone Television, a television studio. Mr. Neuman graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983 with an A.B. in Communication Studies.

Joanna Drake Earl joined us in September 2002 and has served as our President of New Media since October 2004. From September 2002 to October 2004, Ms. Drake Earl served as our Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. From February 2001 to July 2002, Ms. Drake Earl was Vice President, Content Strategy, at Digeo, Inc. (formerly Moxi Digital, Inc.), which develops multi-media devices and consumer media applications. Previously, Ms. Drake Earl served as a senior media industry consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, an international consulting firm. Ms. Drake Earl holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. from Stanford University.

Joshua Katz has served as our President of Marketing since December 2006. From February 2006 to December 2006, Mr. Katz served as Chief Marketing Officer at TiVO, a provider of digital video equipment and services. From July 2005 to January 2006, Mr. Katz was Vice President of Marketing for Lucasfilm, a film studio. From March 1999 to June 2005, Mr. Katz was President of The Halo Effect, a marketing and brand consulting firm. Previously, Mr. Katz served as Senior Vice President of Marketing at both the Cartoon Network and VH1 cable networks. Mr. Katz has a B.A. from Tulane University.

Directors

Richard C. Blum has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2004. He is the Chairman and President of Richard C. Blum & Associates Inc., the general partner of Blum Capital Partners, L.P., a long-term strategic equity investment management firm that acts as general partner for various investment partnerships and provides investment advisory services, which he founded in 1975. He has also served as the Chairperson and a member of the board of directors of CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. since 2001. Mr. Blum holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ronald Burkle has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2004. Mr. Burkle is managing partner and majority owner of The Yucaipa Companies, a private investment firm that he co-founded in 1986. Mr. Burkle has also served as a director of Occidental Petroleum Corp. since 2005, KB Home Corporation since 1995, and Yahoo! since 2001.

Edward Renwick has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2004. Mr. Renwick is a partner of The Yucaipa Companies, a private investment firm where he has worked since 1999. Prior to that, Mr. Renwick served as a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, a strategic consulting firm. Mr. Renwick holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. and M.P.P. from Harvard University.

Mark Rosenthal has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2004. From June 2005 to December 2006, Mr. Rosenthal served as Chairman and CEO of Interpublic Media, the media operations organization of the the Interpublic Group of Companies. From July 1996 to July 2004, Mr. Rosenthal served as President and Chief Operating Officer of MTV Networks, a cable network. Prior to becoming President and COO of MTV Networks, Mr. Rosenthal rose through positions of increasing responsibility in the affiliate sales and marketing organization at MTV Networks and its predecessor company, Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company, ultimately supervising the sales, distribution and marketing for all of MTV Networks’ domestic television networks. Mr. Rosenthal joined Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company in 1982. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of CNET Networks since April 2007. Mr. Rosenthal has a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.F.A. from Yale University.

Orville Schell has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2004. Since January 2007, Mr. Schell has been the Director of the Center on U.S.-China relations at the Asia Society. From January 1997 to January 2007, Mr. Schell served as the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Schell holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Major stockholders include Al Gore, entities affiliated with Blum Capital Partners, L.P., Yucaipa Corporate Initiatives Fund I, L.P., DirectTV, Inc. and Comcast CTV Holdings, LLC. Underwriters include J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., Lehman Brothers Inc. and Pacific Crest Securities Inc.

More

http://current.com
http://current.com/tv
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1424470/000104746908000572/a2182152zs-1.htm
http://current.com/items/88827879_current_files_for_100m_ipo
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-current-media-files-for-100-million-ipo/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/current_files_for_ipo.php
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/current_tv.php
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/al_gore_current_re-defining_television.php
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=technologyNews&storyid=2007-10-16T030718Z_01_N15319230_RTRUKOC_0_US-INTERNET-TELEVISION-CURRENT.xml [the story is down]
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/15/logmein-files-for-an-ipo-hoping-to-raise-86m/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/14/internet-brands-inc-went-public-on-nasdaq/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Gore
http://www.hoovers.com/yucaipa/–ID__40153–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml

Secretive video site has raised $800,000 seed round

A couple of months ago a secretive video site has raised $800,000 seed round from Concept Ventures and its founder and managing director, Julien Nguyen, according to multiple sources on Web. The company was rumored they were in quest for its series A round of funding for some time across the Silicon Valley.

The company name is XillianTV and is based in Santa Clara, Calif. The site is said to be focused on video delivery to consumers. An interesting fact worth mentioning here is XillianTV’s chief executive and co-founder, Mitchell Berman, is a former executive from Home Box Office Inc., E! Entertainment Television Inc. and other television companies, which definitely brings in some practical hand-on experience to the start-up.

We have tried to dig something up for the company but there is basically nothing publicly available on Internet. So we leave the time to tell all us what the company is up to and does it worth the money spent on anyway.
 
The video sector is well overcrowded and was the hottest one for the entire 2007. If we need to guess work what the company is dealing with we would bet on anything but either technology or concept that helps publishers monetize their video inventory. Another possible area the company might be working on could be some vertical online video channel.

About Concept Ventures

Concept Ventures invests in early stage companies in digital media, communications, semiconductors, software and services, and healthtech.

Their Investment Focus is in early stage entrepreneurs, who sometimes only have a rough idea of what to do, and help them formulate a crisp business strategy that addresses an important problem, with a business model that will fuel the growth of the company. The explosion of consumer electronics has created large opportunities in digital media, communications, and semiconductors. Applications for consumer electronics devices are crucial to the success of these devices, and entrepreneurs are coming with new ideas of software and services.

With U.S. healthcare industry consuming $2 Trillion per year of the nation’s resources, we believe that new efficiencies can and must be applied to the healthcare sector. That is why we are investing in companies that deploy scalable technologies to increase the efficiency of healthcare, a sector we call HealthTech.

Call To Action

We work closely with entrepreneurs from as early as the seed level. Startups can benefit from our operational experience to help them define markets and business strategies. We can also help build a top tier investment syndicate for all rounds of financing.

Reading through the profile of their investors could it be that XillianTV is trying to get something worked out within the so-called by Concept Ventures HealthTech sector?

More

http://www.xilliantv.com/
http://www.bandangels.com/members/downloads/Volume13Issue6.pdf
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/10/xilliantv-secretive-video-firm-searching-for-first-round/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/xilliantv-funded/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/5/411/670
http://www.conceptvc.com/

Reach for the stars says a newly launched talent show site

Impersonated.com urges visitors to upload their singing videos for the chance to win fabulous prizes & Be World Famous!! The site is officially in BETA launch and in just few weeks the site claims they had over 8,000 videos played on the site.

Impersonated.com launches exciting new talent show site which allows users to upload videos of themselves singing their favorite songs for a unique opportunity to make friends, have fun and even to earn massive fame and fortune in the process. The premise of impersonated.com’s offer is simple: Submit a webcam or camcorder recorded video of yourself singing along to your favorite song in an attempt to impersonate the original artist, and other members will be allowed to vote on the video submissions. There is no limit to how many videos you can upload, and video submissions are completely free no matter how many times you participate.
 
“Join for free, upload your video for free, and tell all your friends about it so they can vote for your video. There is nothing more to it. If you want to have fun, get famous and win fabulous prizes, you need to start singing and get your videos uploaded.” Says Jessica Ford, the Maestro of Impersonated. According to Ford, the more votes your video receives, the more likely you are to win one of hundreds of fantastic prizes, including $10,000 in cash, an iPod touch, a Sony Camcorder, Celebrity Autographed goodies and many other astounding items. Winning fabulous prizes has never been easier or more fun!

Impersonated.com is clearly one of the most exciting ways on the web today to have fun, make music and possibly even to obtain the fame and fortune that average people could never usually get a chance for. Impersonated.com aspires to bring out the best in everyone.

Created to be a vibrant, exciting & fun way to showcase their talent, impersonated.com claims to be bigger than Pop Idol, American Idol & The X-Factor TV shows for thousands of hopefuls the World over.

Impersonated.com has all the fun with none of the ‘Simon Cowell’ nastiness!

The next Platinum Awards Ceremony will be held in the beautiful and exciting city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The sector is very crowded and some of the direct rivals are Bix, which was acquired by Yahoo! anyway, SingShot, also acquired but by Electronic Arts, FameCast and mainly Yahoo! Talent Show, among others.

The original story has been picked up from EPR Network.

More

http://express-press-release.com/45/New%20Talent%20Show%20Website%20Urges%20-%20%27Reach%20For%20The%20Stars%27.php
http://www.impersonated.com/
http://mashable.com/2006/10/23/yahoos-talent-contest-is-a-sign-of-desperation/
http://mashable.com/2006/07/31/singshot-launches-the-youtube-of-karaoke/
http://talentshow.yahoo.com/
http://mashable.com/2006/07/18/bix-is-the-new-american-idol/
http://webtoys.blogspot.com/2006/12/bix-online-talent-show.html
http://bix.yahoo.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/07/30/singshot-enters-online-karaoke-space/
http://mashable.com/2007/02/12/singshot-acquired-by-electronic-arts/

Technorati’s total funding revealed – $21.6 to date in 3 rounds

Technorati, the blog search engine, has always been quite secretive about the funding it got over the years leaving people like us, always interested in the money behind the Web 2.0, speculate about the right numbers.  

Things changed the last month when we have read over multiple trusted sources on Web that the company has raised $21M so far in three rounds of financing. Those numbers are believed to be the right ones. Our attempt to dig some more information about what are the different numbers for the 3 rounds yielded some results. Who the Technorati’s investors are, anyway?

Technorati is now known to have raised $4.58M in its series A round of funding. However the particular date and who the investor both remain unknown. In September 2004 the company has already gotten its Series B round of funding, which today is known to be $6.50M from Draper Fisher Jurvetson as the only participant known to date. 2 years later, in June 2006, the company already needed to raise more capital and has closed its Series C round of funding this time raising $10.52M from August Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and the returning investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Total funding for Technorati to date seems to be already $21.6M.

The company is most popular with the fact that it was smart enough to be the first one to try and tap into the newly born and rapidly growing trend by 2002 — the blogging and its grown community of bloggers. It then became the first search engine for bloggers and blogs on Web. Today the company is facing huge completion by a number of companies like Google blog search, IceRocket, Feedster, Bloglines, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask.com’s Blogs, Blogdigger and let’s put it that way – pretty much every other company out there that used to be once a search engine has now added a blog search too. You can here find a basic list of blog search engines.

The rivals were some of the leading Internet companies and it was hard for Technorati not to lose market share. And in December 2006 it happened, for the first time, Google Blogsearch surpassed Technorati in total visits. It then was said that Google Blog Search had passed 0.0025% of total internet traffic, according to Hitwise, versus 0.0023% for Technorati. The reason for the surge seemed pretty straightforward: Google linked their Blog Search product to Google News in October, which had an immediate and significant impact on traffic. Google also added a Blog Search link in the “More” section on the Google main page. It was not enough to take the lead, but a recent Technorati decline in traffic put Google’s Blog Search on top.

Allen Stern from CenterNetworks, by contrast, said by the time that Google blog search is not what Technorati should be compared to anymore. Google integrates blog searches into their main search and so therefore, if anything, the comparison should be between Google search vs. Technorati. The majority of people searching for terms are looking for the summation of all types of results: “standard” web sites, blog, video, image, etc.

Whatever the case is one thing is today for sure, the blog search is already an integrated part of the general search that hundreds of millions of people perform on daily basis on a number of search engines from Google to Ask.com, most of them done on Google, and Technorati cannot anymore claim exclusivity on blog searches, even though it was the first one in the field. That’s why Technorati was forced to evolve too and is now searching for social media too like photos, video and music, posted on online sharing sites, and a tag cloud on the home page shows you the hot topics of the day.

In early 2007 Technorati was rumored to be trying to sell itself. By that time Technorati’s CEO (and founder) Dave Sifry responded “I’ll be very clear about it – Technorati isn’t for sale.” As the practice shows when one claims his company is not for sale it always this company is for sale, but for the right buyers and price. By that time Dave has revealed some more numbers on the site’s usage. Technorati, he said, has had 9 million unique visitors over the last thirty days, up from 3.5 million two months ago. And while he did not disclose the actual page views, he said they increased 53% in March, and 141% over the last three months. Those are quite impressive numbers and are perhaps meant for the eyes/ears of some potential buyers, despite their claims of not selling themselves.

In May 2007, Technorati completely re-designed their home page to respond to their more mainstream users. They now have a single search box instead of using search types like keyword search, tag search and blog directory search. Results are returned in categories like videos, blogs and music.

In few months, in October 2007, Technorati has announced its search for a new CEO was over, with Richard Jalichandra being appointed to the role, some 6 weeks since Technorati’s founding CEO David Sifry stepped down and 5 months since it was publicly confirmed that Technorati was seeking a new CEO.

Several months later, in December 2007, Technorati re-launched again as this time trying to focus, again, on core blogging audience. The recently changed home page, just three months old, is gone. In place of the streaming blog posts is a news aggregator that, like TechMeme and the New York Times’ Blogrunner, uses linking behavior on news sites to determine headline news. In addition to the Front Page news aggregator, Technorati has made two other big additions to the site. The first is a resource page for bloggers called, fittingly, Blogger Central. The second is a new product called Today In Photos.

On the other hand Time magazine has recently named Technorati one of the 25 sites for 2007 they weren’t able to live without.

More recently, Technorati started downsizing staff (9 people have been laid off in August 2007) as the approx. $21 million raised over three rounds started to dry up. We have also discovered some technical details about the current IT infrastructure that backs Technorati up. They have more than 20TB (Terabytes) of core data in their MySQL running on over 20 machines. With replication they add 200TB and 200 machines more. No matter how you look into this, it is for sure adding up a serious burden over the company’s budget.

Well, we have seen a lot of numbers for Technorati’s site usage, from Comscore’s and Hitwise’s to Quantcast’s and Compete’s but how the numbers look like today. This is what we have discovered. According to Quantcast Technorati is presently reaching over 8M unique global visitors per month and only 2.8M of which are Americans. We can take that number for real since Technorati is quantified publisher at Quantcast. We have seen in the past numbers in the 22M/mo range reported for Technorati and if it turns out to be true the present numbers represent a serious decline in Technorati’s site usage.

Nonetheless, we think Technorati worth anything but $100M, at least, as of today.  We know the guys at Technorati won’t like that number and just like Digg (looking for over $300M) they are also thinking their business worth much more and are probably looking for much higher valuation than $100M. Technorati was definitely and unarguable the first one to define the market but is also not anymore the leader in the space. The company has strong brand awareness but everyone knows it is relatively easy (compared to traditional businesses) to make and easy to ruin an online brand. On the other hand Technorati has no strong technology and is facing huge competition and a potential buyer would eventually consider them only because of their traffic and reach. What Technorati needs to convince their future suitors is whether they will preserve and grow their traffic or not. Buyers are interested in what the site would look like in future in terms of traffic and revenues and are not really looking in the past, aside perhaps overseeing trends.

We have no idea what the Technorati’s revenues are as of today but Sifry has said in August 2007 that Technorati is now a revenue stage business – we’ve been hiring up sales folks, as well as building much more detailed roadmaps and product pipelines. Customer-driven needs, pipeline management, operational management, and expense control are now a much bigger part of our life as a company than it was when we were running on a couple of servers in my basement. 

Or in the case with Technorati we talk for valuation without revenue? Great examples from the past of high-profile acquisitions of companies with little to no revenues are both Hotmail (1998) and Skype, the second one managed to drive multi-billion dollar valuation at little to no revenues in its deal with eBay in 2005. Could the Technorati’s case be the same? Don’t forget here the YouTube’s deal.

A proven monetization model over Internet is segmentation. Technorati, especially, needs to ask itself the question: What is my segmentation strategy, around which I can offer my advertisers a compelling marketing vehicle? Technorati has clearly lost its momentum and peak traffic times and is today more declining rather than expanding. Today, Yahoo is a portfolio of haphazardly organized content and services which don’t clearly align with segments desired by advertisers. Neither, for that matter, is Google, although it managed to drive huge sales off its AdWords/AdSense strategy. Technorati, for example, is also having a pretty much generic traffic, which makes the effective monetization a hard task for the company.

We can draw a basic conclusion here. Before everything, Technorati has been a symbolic web site for the blogging world ever since and based on its present traffic of more than 8M unique visitors per month could be a great add on to the Web portfolio on each company from the big 6 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon. We would exclude Google from the list. Other potential acquirers would include media companies like New York Times, which once btw was reported to be interested in Digg, and since there are synergies between, it is not completely out of sense. Fox Interactive, IAC (potentially merging with their Bloglines), among others could also be interested in potentially having Technorati part of their web properties. We would take the chance to predict that a potential sale of Technorati this year would command a price in the $100 / $150M range. The given price tag is only valid if Technorati preserves its current traffic of 8/10M unique visitors per month.

More about Technorati

Technorati is currently tracking 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who’s saying what. Right now

Technorati Management Team

Richard Jalichandra
President & Chief Executive Officer
Richard is a veteran Internet executive whose media experience includes leadership roles across the media spectrum: as a client, at an agency, as a publisher, and with an advertising network. Most recently, he worked as an M&A and strategy consultant for several Internet properties and investment firms, and also served as SVP of Corporate Development for Exponential Interactive, Tribal Fusion’s parent company. Previously, he was SVP of Business Development for Fox Interactive Media, and was the Vice President of Business & Corporate Development at IGN Entertainment (acquired by Fox Interactive), where he led the company’s M&A, business development and international activities. Before joining IGN, Richard led national accounts sales at Lycos, was Vice President of Business Development at Neopost Online, served as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Answerthink, and founded K23 Creative Services in Singapore. His early career included management roles for Ford, IBM and Siemens, and he has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Dorion Carroll
Vice President of Engineering
Dorion Carroll is a 20-year veteran engineer with deep experience developing product and services in areas including search, email processing, e-commerce, personalization, ad targeting, CRM, data warehousing, order management and financial services. Prior to joining Technorati, Dorion was director of engineering at Postini, Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of Neomeo (which was acquired by Postini), Technologist-in-Residence at Softbank Venture Capital, and Senior Director of Engineering at Excite@Home, among other roles. Dorion has a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College, with four years Mathematics / Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.
Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing innovator who has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 20 years. As Chairman & Chief Marketing Officer of Technorati, he oversees the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities as well as its partnerships with the media, entertainment and marketing industries. Previously Hirshberg served as president and CEO of Gloss.com, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins; he was Chairman of Interpacket Networks, the global leader in Internet-by-satellite (sold to American Tower in 2000), and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). Peter was at Apple Computer for nine years where he held a number of leadership positions, including Director of Enterprise Markets. He is a Trustee of The Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati Inc.
Joichi Ito is in charge of international and mobility development for Technorati. He is founder and CEO of Neoteny, a venture capital firm which is the lead investor in Six Apart, and is on the board of Creative Commons. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 1997, Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the “50 Stars of Asia” by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” for 2002. He was appointed as a member of Howard Dean’s Net Advisory Net during the Dean campaign.

Teresa Malo
Chief Financial Officer
Teresa is a CPA with over 17 years experience in finance and operations, and she’s responsible for Technorati’s financial, legal, and HR organizations. She has worked with technology startup companies such as Calico Commerce and Zambeel, as well as with established companies, including Arbor Software and Silicon Graphics. Teresa started her career as an accountant with Pannell, Kerr, Forster, a national public accounting firm. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Information systems from Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

Technorati Board of Directors

David L. Sifry
Founder & Chairman of the Board, Technorati, Inc.
David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of software development and industry experience. Before founding Technorati, Dave was cofounder and CTO of Sputnik, a Wi-Fi gateway company, and previously, he was cofounder of Linuxcare, where he served as CTO and VP of Engineering. Dave also served as a founding member of the board of Linux International and on the technical advisory board of the National Cybercrime Training Partnership for law enforcement. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Dave can often be found speaking on panels and giving lectures on a variety of technology issues, ranging from wireless spectrum policy and Wi-Fi, to Weblogs and Open Source software.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati, Inc.

Ryan McIntyre
Principal, Mobius Venture Capital
Ryan McIntyre joined Mobius Venture Capital in 2000 as an Associate Partner and was promoted to Principal in 2001. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. McIntyre co-founded Excite in 1993, which went public in 1996 and later became Excite@Home (Nasdaq:ATHM) following the merger of Excite and @Home in 1999. There he held the role of Principal Engineer and was a key technological contributor to the company’s search engine and content management systems, and also led the design and implementation of Excite’s community and commerce platforms. Mr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. While at Stanford, he published research on genetic algorithms in the The First IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation, and studied at Stanford’s overseas campus in Berlin, Germany.

Sanford R. Robertson
Principal, Francisco Partners
Sanford R. Robertson is a principal of Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest technology buyout funds. With a focus on structured investments in technology and technology-related businesses, Francisco Partners is a pioneer in the private equity category of Technology Buyouts. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Mr. Robertson was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., a leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Mr. Robertson was also the founder of Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank. He has had significant financing involvement in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS), America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL), E*Trade Securities, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETFC), Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Mr. Robertson received both a B.A. and an M.B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan.

Andreas Stavropoulous
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Mr. Stavropoulos focuses primarily on software investments (enterprise infrastructure and consumer/Internet), wireless networking, and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining DFJ, Mr. Stavropoulos was with McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, where he worked with senior management teams of corporate clients with an emphasis on information technology. Prior to McKinsey, he was a Senior Analyst at Cornerstone Research, a financial and economic consulting firm that helps resolve complex issues arising in high-profile business litigation. Mr. Stavropoulos holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in computer science from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and graduated first in his class.

More

http://technorati.com/
http://technorati.com/weblog/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/04/exclusive-technorati-relaunches-to-focus-on-core-blogging-audience/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/technorati
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/12/google-blog-search-technorati-market-share.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/technorati-drops-content-older-than-6-months-old/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/google-v-technorati-and-hitwise-v-comscore/
http://www.centernetworks.com/why-comparing-technorati-to-google-blog-search-is-not-valid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blog_search_engines
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/technoratis-mating-dance/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://atomicbomb.typepad.com/
http://www.centernetworks.com/web-apps-customer-service-face-off#technorati
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638266_1638253_1638241,00.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/01/new-technorati-ceo-has-a-challenge-ahead/
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20071001.AQM180&show_article=1&lsn=1
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/watching-technorati-and-podtech-fall-apart/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/techmeme-leaderboard-to-launch-attacking-technoratis-last-stronghold/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/2/9a2 (Richard Jalichandra)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_tagsjun14,0,3843733.story?coll=chi-business-hed
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/technoratis-search-247549.php
http://markevanstech.com/2007/04/03/talking-up-technorati/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1937507,00.html
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565540,00.html
http://sramanamitra.com/2006/02/23/technorati-valuation-without-revenue/
http://www.iac.com/businesses.html
http://mysqluc.com/presentations/mysql06/carroll_dorion.ppt

Virtual television network start-up has raised $8 million in second round

The virtual television network start-up RayV Ltd. has raised $8 million in its second financing round as the money is coming from Accel Partners.

RayV describes its business as follows: “Why is everybody so hell-bent on replacing TV? We here at RayV, like TV. The only thing is, we want more of it.

Sure, we love the big networks – after all, they show us all the live Paris Hilton we can handle – and lots of other stuff too. We just want it at high quality on our TVs and on our PCs, anywhere in the world… and more…

We also want to watch live news channels from smaller, independent sources with correspondents around the world. We want channels of live performances from the newest bands at the University of Calcutta. And live coverage of rugby matches from England. And short-film channels from NYU Film School students. And coverage of local politics. And cooking channels for Vegans. And cooking channels for Carnivors. And…

Well, you get the point: TV – real, live, 24-hour TV channels – at TV quality. For the PC, for the TV. For anyone to watch… and for anyone to broadcast. At no cost. We like TV. In the next months, we’re going to give everyone the power to make more of it. Much more!”

Sounds like Joost.. or no. Too early to say whatever, still nothing is publicly available so only time will tell.

Other online sources are describing the company that it has plans to offer a new way for “consumers to find, review, and talk about local businesses. A cross between a web-based social community and an online business directory, RAYV is where people go to express their opinions on any type of local business and get recommendations from a trusted source – their peers.” And yet another description: RayV is developing “proprietary internet protocols forming a generic grid network, enabling anyone to broadcast LIVE TV to an unlimited amount of concurrent viewers at zero cost.”

Which is which? If the second one is anywhere close the truth it sounds intriguing from technological perspective, which anyone of the leading video sites on Web might be quite interested in.

Founded 20 months ago by Omer Luzzatti, Ron Zuckerman, and Oleg Levy, the company has been operating in stealth mode. Levy was previously an executive at Kagoor, which was acquired by Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq:JNPR) in 2005, and then served at Juniper’s Israeli R&D center. Zuckerman has been a well-known entrepreneur for the past 15 years. He has been an angel investor in several start-ups, including Wintegra Inc., Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd., Koolanoo Group Ltd., Attunity (Nasdaq: ATTU), Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. (TASE:CFBI), and e-Glue Business Technologies Ltd.

The company is based in both locations Tel Aviv, Israel and New York, US.

Accel Partners was founded 24 years ago and manages $4 billion. It is one of the most active venture capital funds in Israel, and has offices in California, Europe, and China. Accel Europe manages $1 billion in two funds, both of which make investments in Israel.

Other video and TV related ventures Aceel has put money in are Brightcove and Metacafe.

Israel on the other hand seems to be pretty strong in the Internet TV arena, with some leading companies like BlogTV, Metacafe, and 5min.

No publicly available information was found about their first round of funding and who their other investors are.

More

http://www.rayv.com/
http://www.accel.com/
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000261513&fid=942
http://archive.globes.co.il/ENGLISH/index.asp?ID=1000261513
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/israeli_virtual.html
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/virtual-tv-co-rayv-raises/story.aspx?guid=%7BC1A7A1B5-0344-4585-94E0-D20D1B1C5116%7D
http://israelplug.com/business/israeli-tv-startup-rayv-raises-8m/

Google files patent for recognizing text in images

Google has filed a patent application in July 2007, which has just recently become public claiming methods where robots can read and understand text in images and video. The basic idea here is Google to be able to index videos and images and made them available and searchable by text or keywords located inside the image or the video. Aside Google Inc. the application was filed by Luc Vincent from Palo Alto, Calif. and Adrian Ulges from Delaware, US. The inventors are Luc Vincent and Adrian Ulges.

Digital images can include a wide variety of content. For example, digital images can illustrate landscapes, people, urban scenes, and other objects. Digital images often include text. Digital images can be captured, for example, using cameras or digital video recorders. Image text (i.e., text in an image) typically includes text of varying size, orientation, and typeface. Text in a digital image derived, for example, from an urban scene (e.g., a city street scene) often provides information about the displayed scene or location. A typical street scene includes, for example, text as part of street signs, building names, address numbers, and window signs.”

If Google manages to implement that technology the consumer search will be taken to the next level and Google would have an access to much wider array of information far beyond the text only search it already plays a leading role in.

This, of course, raises some additional privacy issues as being properly noted by InformationWeek. Gogole had already privacy issues with Google Maps Street View and if that technology starts to index and recognize textual information from millions of videos and billions of pictures around Web things might go more complicated.
 
Nonetheless if that technology bears the fruits it promises it will represent a gigantic leap forward in the progression of the general search technology.

There are open sources solutions to the problem. Perhaps not scalable and effective as it would be if Google develops it, yet they do exist.

Andrey Kucherenko from Ukraine is known to have made a very interesting project in that aspect. His classes can recognize text in monochrome graphical images after a training phase. The training phase is necessary to let the class build recognition data structures from images that have known characters. The training data structures are used during the recognition process to attempt to identify text in real images using the corner algorithm. His project is called PHPOCR and more information can be found over here.

PHPOCR have won the PHPClasses innovation awards of March 2006, and it shows the power of what could be implemented with PHP5. Certain types of applications require reading text from documents that are stored as graphical images. That is the case of scanned documents.

An OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tool can be used to recover the original text that is written in scanned documents. These are sophisticated tools that are trained to recognize text in graphical images.

This class provides a base implementation for an OCR tool. It can be trained to learn how to recognize each letter drawn in an image. Then it can be used to recognize longer texts in real documents.

Another very interesting start-up believed to be heavily deploying text recognition inside videos is CastTV. The company is based in San Francisco and over its just $3M in funding is trying to build one of the Web’s best video search engines. CastTV lets users find all their favorite online videos, from TV shows to movies to the latest celebrity, sports, news, and viral Internet videos. The company’s proprietary technology addresses two main video search challenges: finding and cataloging videos from the web and delivering relevant video results to users.

CastTV was one of the presenters at Techcrunch40 and was there noticed by Marissa Mayer from Google. She asked CastTV the following question: “Would like to know more about your matching algo for the video search engines?”. CastTV then replied: “We have been scaling as the video market grows – relevancy is a very tough problem – we are matching 3rd party sites and supplementing the meta data.”

Today we see Marissa’s question in the light of the patent application above and the context seems quite different and the answer from CastTV did not address Google’s concerns. Does CastTV work on something similar to what the patent is trying to cover for Google? We do not know but the time will tell. CastTV’s investors are Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Ron Conway. Hope they make a nice exit from CastTV.
 
Adobe has also some advances in that particular area. You can use Acrobat to recognize text in previously scanned documents that have already been converted to PDF. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) runs with header/footer/Bates number on image PDF files.

It is also interesting that Microsoft had, in fact, applied for a very similar patent (called “Visual and Multi-Dimensional Search“). Even more interesting here is the fact that MS had beaten Google to the punch by filing three days earlier – Microsoft filed on June 26, 2007, while Google filed on June 29.

Full abstract, description and claims can be read below:

More

http://google.com
http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/ia.jsp?IA=US2007072578&DISPLAY=STATUS
http://www.techmeme.com/080104/p23
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/04/google-lodges-patent-for-reading-text-in-images-and-video/
http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/3540344.htm
http://enterprise.phpmagazine.net/2006/04/recognize_text_objects_in_grap.html
http://www.phpclasses.org/browse/package/2874.html
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/casttv
http://www.casttv.com/
http://www.google.com/corporate/execs.html
http://www.centernetworks.com/techcrunch40-search-and-discovery
http://www.setthings.com/2008/01/04/recognizing-text-in-images-patent-by-google/
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Acrobat/8.0/Professional/help.html?content=WS2A3DD1FA-CFA5-4cf6-B993-159299574AB8.html
http://www.techcrunch40.com/
http://www.therottenword.com/2008/01/microsoft-beats-google-to-image-text.html

RockYou named one of the top innovations for 2007

RockYou is amongst the top 6 innovation leaps for 2007 according CNN. Below is what Michael V. Copeland from Fortune wrote about the company.

While the giants of social networking battle for the attention of Internet users, the guys behind RockYou are happy to sit in the middle. They make their money shipping the tiny apps known as widgets that add value to the Web sites–and generate ad revenue for RockYou. “MySpace and Facebook are like my two divorced parents,” says Shen, who launched the company with Tokuda in 2005. “And I am their child whose love they are trying to buy.”

No wonder. RockYou today is the hottest widget factory on the Web. More than 35 million people in 200 countries have used its little programs, which rack up 180 million page views per day. What do RockYou’s widgets do? The things people who populate MySpace and Facebook love to do, like post silly notes and videos on RockYou’s Super-Wall, quiz each other with RockYou’s Likeness’s trivia questions, or test their astrological waters via RockYou’s Horoscope. Look for the company’s widgets to start showing up in your e-mail, your instant messages, and, perhaps by 2009, your cellphone.

Interesting fact is that RockYou seems to be heavily relying on organic traffic despite its popularity. On its home page it is clearly visible a text link “Create SlideShow” which points to: http://www.rockyou.com/slideshow-create.php. When searched on Google that page appears #3 out of millions results returned. http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&q=Create+SlideShow.

Indeed the company looks very healthy to us. Quantcast reports for almost 7M global unique visitors while the Americans alone are slightly over 2M/mo. Compete is showing pretty much the same number of visitors – almost 6M per month, only American traffic.

The company founders are Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen and RockYou is based in San Mateo, Calif. Co-Founders Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen were sued by their former employer Iconix in 2006. Iconix claimed Tokuda and Shen were working on a slideshow application for them at the same time the pair created RockYou. A preliminary injunction favored Iconix before the intellectual property theft case was settled out of court.

The company is partnering with some of today’s webs top sites like Bebo, Friendster, Flixter, WordPress and Hi5, among others.

Slide.com is  the RockYou’s main competitor. However now RockYou!’s Super Wall app has overtaken Slide’s similar FunWall app for the #1 spot, with 3.1 million daily active users. RockYou! has recently put up a press release claiming there are more popular than Slide, with CEO Lance Tokuda calling it “a significant milestone for RockYou.”
RockYou has recently signed a deal with PlayFirst, who just got $16.5M in series C round of funding led by DCM that included original investors Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners. The new round brings total funding for PlayFirst to $26.5 million. Under the deal RockYou will distribute PlayFirst games through its widget and social networking service, with Wedding Dash the first title to be made available to Facebook users. PlayFirst sees the deal a way of tapping into the growing popularity of social networking sites as a gaming platform.

Most recently, the company has also launched its own Facebook-specific ad network.

More about RockYou

RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. Founded in 2006, RockYou has over 35 million users, serving over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5. RockYou’s cost-effective, results-focused advertising platform is the largest Ad Network on Facebook and the most dynamic method for rapidly acquiring Facebook application users. New applications can reach over 100k users in 24 hours, spanning a suite of applications across multiple publishing partners.

Widgets offered are as followed:

  • Slideshows (your photos with music, captions and a theme)
  • PhotoFX (stylize your photos)
  • Glitter FXtext (add glitter and more to your text)
  • FunNotes (choose a theme, caption and effects for your note)
  • Countdown Timer (countdown to important events)
  • Group Corkboard (you and your friends can add pictures, text and more to the corkboard)
  • MySpace Layouts (make your myspace page aesthetically pleasing)
  • ShoutOuts (record your voice and send it to a friend)
  • Scratcher (scratch your picture like a lottery ticket and see what’s hidden behind)
  • VoiceMail (allows your friends to leave voice comments on your page)
  • Games (make your profile or blog more fun by adding games to it)
  • Horoscope (get daily horoscopes and find out your compatibility with friends)
  • Movies (let your friends know what your favorite movies are)
  • Avatars (create an animated version of yourself to put on your profile)

RockYou was originally named RockMySpace. RockYou is funded by Sequoia Capital, Partech International and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company took funding in two rounds where Series A was $1.50M and the VCs participating were First Round Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital and the Series B round of funing was for $15.00M and participants were the same VCs plus Partech International. The total funding is $16.5M to date.

More about the Investors

Sequoia Capital
Sequoia Capital provides startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bob Swanson of Linear Technology, Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Jen-Hsun Huang of nVIDIA, Michael Marks of Flextronics, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube, Steve Goldman and Sujal Patel of Isilon Systems and Dominic Orr and Keerti Melkote of Aruba Wireless Networks. To learn more about Sequoia Capital visit www.sequoiacap.com.

Lightspeed Venture Partners
Lightspeed Venture Partners combines extensive venture capital and operating experience to assist entrepreneurs in creating industry-leading technology companies. Lightspeed manages $1.3 billion of committed capital and focuses on seed and early-stage information technology investments in the U.S., Israel and Asia. The firm’s partners have invested in more than 100 technology companies over the past two decades and have contributed to the success of market leaders including Blue Nile, Brocade, Ciena, Galileo Technology, Informatica, Kiva Software, Metasolv, Phone.com, Quantum Effect Devices, Sirocco and Waveset. For more information, please visit our Website at www.lightspeedvp.com.

Partech International
Founded in 1982, Partech International is a leading global venture capital firm with $850M under management and offices in the U.S., Europe and Israel. Partech invests exclusively in Information Technology and the firm’s internationally integrated team of investing partners work together closely to find the most innovative companies demonstrating high return potential and disruptive technologies in the Software & Internet, Communications & Components and Healthcare IT sectors. Partech has a unique 20+ year track record assisting its portfolio companies to become global market leaders. To learn more go to www.partechvc.com.

We basically think RockYou is one of the top acquisition targets for 2008 as the price could be anything but in the “hundreds of millions” range.

More

http://www.rockyou.com/
http://www.rockyou.com/corp/about.php
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0712/gallery.sixleaps.fortune/4.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/03/05/more-information-on-rockyou-financing/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/RockYou
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/02/rockyou-app-slides-to-top-spot-on-facebook/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/rockyou_vs_slide_facebook_app_developers.php
http://widgetygoodness.com/2007/12/03/rockyou-number-one-widget-maker/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/02/rockyou-climbing-past-slide-to-be-number-one-widget-maker/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/playfirst-takes-165-million-series-c-inks-deal-with-rockyou/
http://adage.com/article?article_id=121326&search_phrase=rockyou
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2007-11-26-widgets_N.htm
http://internetcommunications.tmcnet.com/topics/enterprise/articles/14503-zazzle-rockyou-offer-custom-glittertext-products.htm
http://www.cio.co.uk/concern/infrastructurerefresh/features/index.cfm?articleid=551
http://mashable.com/2007/11/13/zazzle-rockyou/
http://xml.sys-con.com/read/456371.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201894.html?hpid=moreheadlines
http://www.forbes.com/business/2007/11/01/facebook-rockyou-google-technology-cz_vb_1102rockyou.html
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9805410-2.html
http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-fi-google31oct31,1,5536114.story?coll=la-headlines-technology&ctrack=1&cset=true
http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_7110470
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119370202753875653.html
http://www.quantcast.com/rockyou.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/rockyou.com/?metric=uv
http://uk.intruders.tv/Jia-Shen-of-RockYou_a231.html

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. 

~~~

Small round for Mesmo.tv

The social video bookmarking and recommending service Mesmo.TV and provider of a very popular Facebook application, has secured over half of a $900,000 round of Series A financing.

Mesmo.TV’s Davin Miyoshi informed the public that Aydin Senkut’s Felicis Ventures, Mike Maples’ Maples Investments, Naval Ravikant’s The Hit Forge, and Georges Harik participated in the round. Simply put their tool allows users to rate and tag the videos that they enjoy. Mesmo.TV is then recommending videos to you and introduces you to other viewers with similar viewing habits and interests.

This tool, however, has not turned out to be the most successful part of Mesmo.TV’s business. The company’s TV Show Trivia  Facebook application, which launched in August, has garnered over 1.3 million users and over 125,000 daily unique visitors. This puts the application amongst the top 45 applications on Facebook, and made Mesmo.TV the largest TV show community on that social network.

Mesmo.TV plans to continue focusing on its social network efforts and looks forward to expanding to other networks, such as MySpace, who might open up in the near future. The company is also talking with TV networks to bring online videos to its users.
About Mesmo TV

“Mesmo TV” (formerly called TV Show Trivia) is the largest social TV application and community on the Facebook Platform. On Mesmo TV you can play TV trivia, discuss your favorite shows and share your favorite characters and quotes with your facebook friends. MesmoTV is building highly engaging, fun, social TV applications that that allow you to engage with your friends and favorite shows.

Mesmo.TV has been funded by a group of talented and successful entrepreneurs and some of the key people are listed below.

Davin Miyoshi Co-founder/CEO 
Jesse Hull Co-founder/CTO 
Debarshi Kar Co-founder/VP of Engineering 
Daphne Carmeli Board Member 
Auren Hoffman Board Member 
Cindy McCaffrey Board Member 
Munjal Shah Board Member 
Ben T. Smith, IV Board Member 
Aydin Senkut Investor 
Mike Maples Investor 
Naval Ravikant Investor 
Georges Harik Investor 

More

http://www.mesmo.tv/
http://blog.mesmo.tv/2007/05/about-us.html
http://apps.facebook.com/tvtrivia/?entrySource=mesmohomepage
http://apps.bebo.com/mesmotv/?entrySource=mesmohomepage
http://apps.facebook.com/tvtrivia/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mesmo.tv
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/04/social-video-company-mesmotv-raises-900000-of-series-a-funding/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=8047
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/17/mesmotv-discovers-videos-you-like/