Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 05:25
Yahoo! is offering to purchase social email startup Xobni for $30 million to $40 million, according to AllThingsD’s sources. If the deal goes through, Xobni would be the latest acquisition by Yahoo! as CEO Marissa Meyer seeks to boost the company’s talent roster and product offerings.
Xobni’s social email plugin automatically creates a profile for each contact with correspondence history and data pulled from social networks including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Hoovers. The San Francisco-based startup began with a Microsoft Outlook plugin and now supports Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Apple’s iCloud, in addition to its Smartr Contacts apps for Android and iOS.
The deal makes sense for Yahoo! because it would enable the Internet giant to add a competitive edge to its email products. Furthermore, the startup already has strong ties with Yahoo!: Yahoo! co-founder David Filo previously worked with Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte, who in turn was once vice president of social search and real-time communications at Yahoo!.
In addition to the whopping $1.1 billion Yahoo! paid to acquire Tumblr, the company has also made a series of mobile acquisitions. These include the news gathering and delivery startup Summly, which it purchased for close to $30 million. The Summly deal followed Yahoo!’s acquisition of social recommendation company Jybe, which was staffed by former Yahoo! employees.
As Drew Olanoff noted at the time of Jybe’s acquisition, the deal proves that Yahoo! is focused on “acquiring teams that do heavy research in machine and natural learning, which goes to show you that Mayer is giving the company an intelligence facelift of sorts.” (Speaking of additions to the Yahoo! team, Drew himself recently left TechCrunch to go purple).
The acquisition’s closure, however, is still uncertain. Longtime Xobni followers might remember that in 2008 the startup turned down an acquisition offer from Microsoft in the $20 million range. While the $30 million to $40 million offered from Yahoo! represents an increase from Microsoft’s offer, it is important to note that it is still less than the $40 million that the startup has raised from investors including First Round Capital, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator. AllThingsD reports that some Xobni common shareholders might not get any of their investment back over preferred shareholders, which might prevent the deal from going through, especially since Yahoo! seems unlikely to offer more money.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 04:54
I get as excited as anyone thinking about the upcoming 49ers season. Quite a bit has happened since we were five yards from winning the Super Bowl. The stadium was branded with the Levi’s logo, we got Anquan Boldin from the Ravens for pretty much nothing, and Michael Crabtree suffered a hefty injury. Yahoo!, while on a purchasing spree of startups, decided to align themselves with SF’s most beloved football team (sorry Raider fans) by inking a 10 year deal that makes them the 49ers exclusive partner for online digital content.
Levi’s stadium has been called the “smartest” stadium ever built. With a focus on mobile, the 49ers took into account that nearly everyone who attends a game will be bringing their own smartphone. The stadium will be able to provide Wi-Fi to nearly 70,000 people on any given Sunday. Fans are said to be able to interact with other people in the stadium, watch replays from different camera angles, and possibly order food directly to their seats so they don’t have to miss a down of football. One of the most attractive highlights is being able to upload a photo to Flikr, and possibly be shown on the stadium’s jumbotron. That’s assuming, like me, you’ve always wanted to be on a jumbotron.
As part of the partnership, Yahoo! will be the exclusive digital content, social network, and online photo/video partner for the San Francisco 49ers. Expect to see lots of Yahoo! branding around the new stadium as they’ve been given rights to the Fantasy Football Lounge, along with logo placement inside and outside the stadium.
Partnerships like this are becoming more commonplace in the sports world. Big brands have been buying naming rights to stadiums for decades now. Tech companies have been no stranger to those deals. Oracle Arena and Overstock.com Coliseum are two such names bought by their respective companies for naming rights in Oakland.
Financial terms for the Yahoo! agreement weren’t revealed, but one can assume that such a high-profile stadium set to host the Super Bowl in three years can charge quite a premium. It’s also good to know Marissa Mayer wears red and gold on the weekends.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 03:40
Jack Conte, musician and founder of Patreon, has been on a tear lately with a set of unique music remixes performed by him and a group of pneumatic robots that fire off audio sequences to create some amazing music.
In this video Conte used a QuNeo pad controller, a wooden surface, and a projector to create a stage for his music. He then used an Arduino-controlled solenoid hand made by Rich Humphrey to trigger various sections of the music and played and sang the rest of it. The resulting mix of DIY robotics, live performance, and general chaos is pretty infectious.
Conte even did a behind-the-scenes video to share how he built the project using Ableton, Final Cut, and a lot of patience. It’s a great look at an artist at work.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 03:13
If there’s one striking thing about those PRISM slides, other than their hideous aesthetics, it’s that Apple’s allocated yellow oval, instead of a date, has the words “(added Oct 2012)” underneath it. That difference is most striking when you consider the fact that Apple competitor Microsoft cooperated with the government a full five years earlier.
The company, which denies ever having heard of PRISM, released its FISA request numbers today, starting on December 1st, 2012, through this May 2013. Though it’s plausible that the government would not have disclosed the name of the program, the NYT confirmed Apple’s participation in a government surveillance network designed to make data collection more efficient for the NSA — whatever that entails, like “a broad sweep for intelligence, like logs of certain search terms.”
From Claire Cain Miller’s article:
While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so.
The October 2012 date is notable as coming a year after the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Perhaps, because it is an interesting coincidence, it’s led to speculation that Steve Jobs resisted systematic data collection from the NSA until his death. That statement was echoed on the record by NeXt developer Andrew Stone, who told Cult of Mac, “Steve Jobs would’ve rather died than give into that, even though he had a lot of friends at the NSA. Microsoft caved in first, then everyone else. Steve would’ve just never done it.”
The speculation, which I’ve heard from a couple of sources, has grounds. NeXT was publicly a vendor for the NSA and many other security agencies, and Jobs had many contacts at the agency who perhaps had offered him immunity. It could be that his connections, Apple’s brand popularity or straight-up his legend allowed him to escape Microsoft’s, which had been embroiled in a series of antitrust cases up until then, or Yahoo’s fates.
All of these explanations make sense, though it could be something like the Twitter loophole that caused Apple’s tardiness. In Twitter’s case most of its data is public, so it’s not that big of a loss to the NSA until it becomes more of a communication node. Perhaps only recently did Apple collect the kinds of data the government would want, like the metadata around iMessage, which, though encrypted, doesn’t pass the “pud muddle” test.
We will likely never know what Jobs did in those last few years as PRISM loomed ever larger, but whatever he did it looks like he held out as long as he could. The image of Steve Jobs playing chicken with Uncle Sam fits right into his myth. Even if it is just a myth.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 01:16
Here’s a fun comparison from Optimal, a social advertising and analytics startup: If you look at big brands on social networks, their following seems to be growing more quickly on Twitter than on Facebook.
Optimal says it looked at the data from 4,330 brands, representing a total of 3.49 billion Facebook Likes and 595 million Twitter followers. Last week, those brands added 18.5 million new Likes and 4.5 million new followers — so on a percentage basis, their following grew 55 percent more quickly on Twitter than it did on Facebook.
Now, you might quibble about whether pitting Facebook Likes against Twitter followers is a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison, but those are, ultimately, the main ways that businesses can count their following on each service. You could also point out the Twitter audience is still smaller than it is on Facebook — so even though Optimal said Twitter grew more quickly, the brands in question actually got more Facebook Likes than new Twitter followers.
There are cases, however, where brands have a larger following on Twitter, full stop. Facebook-owned Instagram, for example, added the most Twitter followers of all the brands tracked — 279,500 new followers compared to 214,300 Likes. It has 21.3 million followers total and 4.6 million Facebook Likes. (Facebook itself came in at No. 3 on Twitter growth, adding 167,400 new followers and 217,200 Likes.)
Not that Optimal CEO Rob Leathern is really trying to pitch this as Twitter overtaking Facebook.
“I think it does show that Twitter is growing and becoming more relevant for brands, too – in a sense ‘catching up’, but also it is different as well,” he told me via email. “A smaller but often more active audience.”
Optimal also broke down the data by industry. Department and general merchandise stores had the highest growth rate on Twitter (2.01 percent, versus 0.59 percent on Facebook), while books and magazines had the lowest (0.46 percent, compared to 0.61 percent on Facebook).
Leathern said this isn’t necessarily the first time Twitter has outpaced Facebook (in this very specific measurement) — it’s just “the first time we are looking at the data this way.”
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 01:15
Following up on their massively successful $2.4M Kickstarter campagin, Oculus VR has just locked down a gigantic $16M Series A to help them build the truly amazing Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles.
In case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about the Rift, here’s what you need to know: it’s quite possibly the most exciting thing going on in gaming right now. Packed tight with 3D stereoscopic displays and a fistful of motion sensors, it’s the virtual reality headset that science fiction has promised us for decades. Strap the Rift on your face, fire up a compatible game, and it’s like entering a whole new world.
Still lost? Check out this clip of our own Anthony Ha demoing the Rift at CES:
As someone who’s lucky enough to have had a Rift strapped to my head at one point: I. can’t. wait. While Microsoft is off shooting itself in the foot with a semi-automatic that has seemingly infinite ammo and Sony is mostly just following a natural evolutionary path with the PS4, in swoops these (now not so) little guys to try and revolutionize gaming.
[By the way, Microsoft: if you want to turn that tide you're drowning in, if only just a little… embrace Oculus. Fast. Or, you know, let Sony do it and continue to absolutely dominate mindshare leading up to this next generation.]
So why raise? Isn’t the $2.4M they got from Kickstarter enough?
Hardly. While that’s a good start (and the Kickstarter certainly did a damned good job of spreading the word), that initial injection went toward the creation and distribution of the Oculus Rift dev kits — the rough, prototype hardware meant for developers to test the waters and start implementing Rift-compatibility into their games.
They’ve still got to build their production/retail hardware, continue to build out their SDK, evangelize the heck out of all of it to get enough developers onboard to make the product worthwhile, and then figure out how to sell it beyond the notable but still relatively small geek crowd that has embraced it so far.
They’ve done a great job of convincing much of the tech world (myself included) that the Oculus Rift could very well change the face of gaming — but if that’s to be the case, they’ve still got a much harder job in front of them: convincing everyone else.
Oculus VR isn’t the first to raise a big ol’ round shortly after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Pebble pulled in $10M on Kickstarter, then raised a $15M Series A a year later. Ouya pulled $8M on Kickstarter, then raised $15M from Kleiner Perkins. It’s starting to seem like a trend in big, flashy hardware startups: have a gigantic Kickstarter, get your prototypes out there, then raise around $15M from the more traditional funding sources within a few months.
The round was led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. As part of the deal, Spark Capital founder Santo Politi and Matrix Partner’s Antonio Rodriguez will be joining OculusVR’s board of directors.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 00:51
The eyesore of a PowerPoint deck that contractor Edward Snowden had leaked had globally recognized names: Microsoft. Google. Yahoo. Facebook. Apple. AOL. Skype. YouTube. The NSA had allegedly collaborated with all of these Internet giants to request and access data on foreign users.
But then there was also PalTalk. WTF?
Even Stephen Colbert ribbed them last week. “You heard right. They’re monitoring PalTalk. Folks. You know what that means. We are that close to learning what PalTalk is….”
PalTalk, a profitable group video chat site that’s been around for more than a decade and has about 5.5 million monthly uniques, officially says it had no idea what PRISM was until the slidedeck was published — just like every other tech company. And then added — like every other tech company — that it doesn’t let any government agency have direct access to its servers, but that it legally complies with court orders.
“First of all, it was flattering to be included in that list of the top eight tech companies in the world,” said PalTalk president Wilson Kriegel, who recently came over from Zynga and OMGPOP. “But we weren’t aware of Prism. We’re not giving backdoor access to the NSA and we comply with the law as the law states we should.”
Unlike Apple and Facebook, which have recently shared more data about the volume of requests they receive from law enforcement agencies, Kriegel said PalTalk wasn’t disclosing the number of types of requests it had received. The company’s CEO Jason Katz is a lawyer by training, however, and PalTalk works with New York-based law firm Fross Zelnick to evaluate in-bound requests.
“Zuckerberg and Sergey [Brin] have to make public statements because they have at least a billion users. Trust is a component that can erode quickly. But for us, I’m not sure if there’s anything to gain at the end of the day from sharing data like that,” said Kriegel, who added that none of PalTalk’s metrics, engagement figures and daily actives have seen any major impact from the Prism news.
Kriegel said that he hadn’t been at the company long enough to know whether PalTalk had ever disputed a government request based on its constitutionality or whether it overreached. Other companies like Twitter have been more antagonistic with federal requests for user data.
But Kriegel did share some insights into how or why the company might have held such interest for federal law enforcement. PalTalk is a video chat community that offers free group video calls and chats, with more than 20 million streams viewed per day.
Their base is split with about one-third in the Middle East, one-third in Asia and one-third in the U.S. While the majority of the company’s revenues — which come in the form of subscriptions, advertising and virtual currency purchases — flow in from the U.S. and English-speaking countries, the Middle East delivers “significantly great revenues,” Kriegel said. Apparently, they have strong numbers of paying users from countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“The majority of our paying user base is in the U.S. and the Middle East,” he said. “If you think about these countries, not many countries in the region have wide access to credit, so we do well in very rich, oil-based economies like Saudi Arabia.”
A UN counter-terrorism report back from 2009 mentioned PalTalk as a place where Al-Qaeda-focused debate groups were held.
“The majority of all our interactions are about music, karaoke, languages, sports, politics, religion and dating,” Kriegel said. But he did say that video chat lets people get around restrictive social norms in other cultures. “If you want to interact with people in ways that aren’t always socially acceptable like with swearing, video chat might work for that.”
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 00:48
When most men go out to buy a casual shirt, they think of sizing in terms of small, medium, or large. But a new startup called Trumaker wants men to start expecting more from the fit of their day to day shirts, by bringing personalized made-to-measure fitting to the world of casual men’s shirts — all at a price point that’s in line with the current offerings from mainstream men’s clothing companies.
To help in achieving its mission, Trumaker has raised $1.9 million from a group of seed backers that include Venrock, RRE, and angels including Alex Bard, David Tisch, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn, Velos Partners, Eniac Ventures, and others.
From top to bottom, Trumaker’s business model is quite unique. Made-to-measure has been done on a more mainstream level for formal clothing such as men’s suits, but Trumaker is focusing on the casual space, with the kinds of button-down shirts that men wear with jeans. In terms of its sales force, the company has no brick and mortar stores: Instead, it employs contractors called “Outfitters” who come to clients wherever they are — at home, work, wherever — and take their measurements to ensure a proper fit.
The Outfitter then programs those measurements into Trumaker’s mobile app along with the customer’s custom order, which allows him to choose the fabric, fit, collar shape, and other details (Trumaker’s shirts are made at a factory in Malaysia that also manufactures high-end shirts for the likes of Brooks Brothers.) Trumaker shirts start at around $100, which is in line with nicer off the rack men’s shirts from stores like J. Crew.
Since Trumaker’s Outfitters collect a commission on each purchase made by their clients during that first fitting and going forward into the future, working for Trumaker can be a lucrative job either in a full or part-time capacity — just like people working for startups such as Lyft and Sidecar. And sales seem to be going quite well: Since Trumaker’s soft launch in San Francisco this past December, the company has sold more than 2,000 shirts simply through word of mouth.
It’s all pretty exciting stuff, so we stopped by Trumaker’s San Francisco headquarters to meet with founder and CEO Mark Lovas and get a look at what the company is doing and what exactly the process of ordering a Trumaker shirt is like. Check all that out in the video embedded above.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 00:28
President Obama finally took a sit-down interview on the National Security Agency scandal and we’ve pasted a partial transcript below. Disappointingly, most of it is (very) generic and defensive. But, there is one important takeaway: President Obama couldn’t answer whether oversight courts (FISA) have ever rejected a single NSA spying request.
PBS’s Charlie Rose asked, pointedly, “has FISA court turned down any request?”
The president appears to bumble through the answer, “The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.”
This is problematic, since leaker Edward Snowden has claimed that the FISA courts are essentially a “rubber stamp” for any NSA investigations. As a result, they routinely exploit legal and technical loopholes to spy on Americans with direct and indirect ties to foreign suspects.
The rest of the partial transcript shows Obama defending the program, claiming that it doesn’t permit broad spying on U.S. citizens, and touting his civil liberties record.
Transcript below (via BuzzFeed):
Barack Obama: Well, in the end, and what I’ve said, and I continue to believe, is that we don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That’s a false choice. That doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take. So all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports, which when we were growing up that wasn’t the case…. And so that’s a tradeoff we make, the same way we make a tradeoff about drunk driving. We say, “Occasionally there are going to be checkpoints. They may be intrusive.” To say there’s a tradeoff doesn’t mean somehow that we’ve abandoned freedom. I don’t think anybody says we’re no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports.
Charlie Rose: But there is a balance here.
Barack Obama: But there is a balance, so I’m going to get to your — get to your question. The way I view it, my job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life, which includes our privacy. And so every program that we engage in, what I’ve said is “Let’s examine and make sure that we’re making the right tradeoffs.” Now, with respect to the NSA, a government agency that has been in the intelligence gathering business for a very long time —
Charlie Rose: Bigger and better than everybody else.
Barack Obama: Bigger and better than everybody else, and we should take pride in that because they’re extraordinary professionals; they are dedicated to keeping the American people safe. What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule, and unless they — and usually it wouldn’t be “they,” it’d be the FBI — go to a court, and obtain a warrant, and seek probable cause, the same way it’s always been, the same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies, you want to go set up a wiretap, you got to go to a judge, show probable cause….
So point number one, if you’re a U.S. person, then NSA is not listening to your phone calls and it’s not targeting your emails unless it’s getting an individualized court order. That’s the existing rule. There are two programs that were revealed by Mr. Snowden, allegedly, since there’s a criminal investigation taking place, and they caused all the ruckus. Program number one, called the 2015 Program, what that does is it gets data from the service providers like a Verizon in bulk, and basically you have call pairs. You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names. There is no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there. Now, if the NSA through some other sources, maybe through the FBI, maybe through a tip that went to the CIA, maybe through the NYPD. Get a number that where there’s a reasonable, articulable suspicion that this might involve foreign terrorist activity related to Al-Qaeda and some other international terrorist actors. Then, what the NSA can do is it can query that database to see did any of the — did this number pop up? Did they make any other calls? And if they did, those calls will be spit out. A report will be produced. It will be turned over to the FBI. At no point is any content revealed because there’s no content that —
Charlie Rose: So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.
Barack Obama: Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t. So, what happens is that the FBI — if, in fact, it now wants to get content; if, in fact, it wants to start tapping that phone — it’s got to go to the FISA court with probable cause and ask for a warrant.
Charlie Rose: But has FISA court turned down any request?
Barack Obama: The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.
Charlie Rose: Should this be transparent in some way?
Barack Obama: It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court…. The whole point of my concern, before I was president — because some people say, “Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.” Dick Cheney sometimes says, “Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.” My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances? So, on this telephone program, you’ve got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program. And you’ve got Congress overseeing the program, not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee — but all of Congress had available to it before the last reauthorization exactly how this program works.
Now, one last point I want to make, because what you’ll hear is people say, “Okay, we have no evidence that it has been abused so far.” And they say, “Let’s even grant that Obama’s not abusing it, that all these processes — DOJ is examining it. It’s being renewed periodically, et cetera — the very fact that there is all this data in bulk, it has the enormous potential for abuse,” because they’ll say, you know, “You can — when you start looking at metadata, even if you don’t know the names, you can match it up, if there’s a call to an oncologist, and there’s a call to a lawyer, and — you can pair that up and figure out maybe this person’s dying, and they’re writing their will, and you can yield all this information.” All of that is true. Except for the fact that for the government, under the program right now, to do that, it would be illegal. We would not be allowed to do that.
Charlie Rose: So, what are you going to change? Are you going to issue any kind of instructions to the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Clapper, and say, “I want you to change it at least in this way”?
Barack Obama: Here’s what we need to do. But before I say that — and I know that we’re running out of time, but I want to make sure I get very clear on this. Because there has been a lot of mis-information out there. There is a second program called the 702 program. And what that does is that does not apply to any U.S. person. Has to be a foreign entity. It can only be narrowly related to counter-terrorism, weapons proliferation, cyber hacking or attacks, and a select number of identifiers — phone numbers, emails, et cetera. Those — and the process has all been approved by the courts — you can send to providers — the Yahoos or the Googles, what have you. And in the same way that you present essentially a warrant. And what will happen then is that you there can obtain content. But again, that does not apply to U.S. persons. And it’s only in these very narrow bands. So, you asked, what should we do? …What I’ve said is — is that what is a legitimate concern — a legitimate critique — is that because these are classified programs — even though we have all these systems of checks and balances, Congress is overseeing it, federal courts are overseeing it — despite all that, the public may not fully know. And that can make the public kind of nervous, right? Because they say, “Well, Obama says it’s okay — or Congress says it’s okay. I don’t know who this judge is. I’m nervous about it.” What I’ve asked the intelligence community to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program, number one. And they are in that process of doing so now so that everything that I’m describing to you today, people, the public, newspapers, etc., can look at because frankly, if people are making judgments just based on these slides that have been leaked, they’re not getting the complete story.
Number two. I’ve stood up a privacy and civil liberties oversight board, made up of independent citizens including some fierce civil libertarians. I’ll be meeting with them. And what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation, not only about these two programs, but also the general problem of data, big data sets, because this is not going to be restricted to government entities.
Charlie Rose: Let me just ask you this. If someone leaks all this information about NSA surveillance, as Mr. Snowden did…. Did it cause national security damage to the United States, and therefore, should he be prosecuted?
Barack Obama: I’m not going to comment on prosecution…. The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation… and possible extradition. I will leave it up to them to answer those questions.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - mar, 18.06.2013 - 00:20
Online coupon giant RetailMeNot has just filed for $230 million IPO, according to an S-1 released today.
RetailMeNot, which was acquired in 2010 by the $300 million-funded WhaleShark Media, operates one of the largest digital coupon marketplaces (WhaleShark was subsequently rebranded as RetailMeNot this year). In 2012, the marketplace featured digital coupons from over 60,000 retailers and brands, and the site saw more than 450 million total visits to desktop and mobile websites last year. As of December 31, 2012, the company said it has contracts with more than 10,000 retailers, or paid retailers. RetailMeNot sites account for the majority of the company’s traffic.
In terms of financials, RetailMeNot reports that revenues increased from $16.9 million in 2010 to $144.7 million in 2012. In the same period, net income increased from $2.3 million to $26 million, so the company appears to be profitable, and growing.
The Austin-based company has raised $300 million in funding from Google Ventures, IVP, Austin Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Adam Street Partners. Whaleshark had previously acquired a number of other coupon sites, including vouchercodes, deals2buy, coupon7, couponshare, cheapstingybargains.com, and deals.com.
It’s good to see a non-enterprise, consumer-focused company bet on the public markets in this climate. We’ve definitely seen a number of strong enterprise IPOs, so it will be interesting to see how the markets react to the more consumer-facing, and ecommerce-related RetailMeNot.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 22:47
“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” wrote William Gibson. He’s right. Luckily, the future is mostly in my attic workshop.
I’ve been lucky enough to have access to a Form 1 3D printer for the past week and have come away with a better sense of the platform, the way forward of 3D printing in general and Form 1 in particular. In short, the Form 1 is one of the simplest and most usable printers I’ve ever used and, barring a few minor peccadilloes, it is well worth the hype — and price tag.
First, a bit of explanation. The Form 1 is a stereolithography machine and this is an important distinction to make. We are probably all familiar with machines like the Makerbot. These machines use fused deposition modeling to extrude a small bead of metal or plastic to “draw” one slice of the shape you’re building over and over again until the object is built. The Form 1 shines a laser onto a metal surface through a layer of resin. Using a process of photopolymerization, the slices are laid down one after the other creating a solid object that lifts out of the resin as it is built. Think of the Makerbot as a stalagmite maker — the material is laid down on a platform — while the Form 1 is a stalactite maker where the object hangs from the platform that slowly moves up.
The objects that come out of the Form 1 look as if they had been injection molded. The layer height of 25 microns ensures that there are no “jaggies” along the object edge and that items that come out of the machine look as solid as, say, a child’s toy. In fact you can see objects made of the same material in stores around the world — it’s a solid, usable, slightly malleable plastic that holds up to abuse.
But the Form 1 itself isn’t a child’s toy. It is a stable, solid, and very attractive lab-quality machine for prototyping and, while usable as an experimentation platform, it is a bit wonky when it comes to printing, curing, and maintenance. In short I wouldn’t recommend this printer for students under the age of, say, 16 but I would recommend it to almost everyone else over similarly outfitted machines.
To make an object you upload an STL file to the Form 1 using a program called PreForm. The program is Windows-only right now, although the team is hard at work on a very usable OS X port. The PreForm software allows you to position multiple items on the build platform and orient them in a position that allows for ideal quality. You then add automatic supports — essentially struts made of plastic — that will form around the object as it builds. Think of the struts as a self-generating scaffolding for difficult parts.
The Form 1 has a plastic cowling that keeps out UV light and hides the laser at the bottom of the machine. The cowling lifts up to reveal a build plate that hangs over a lucite tank. This tank holds enough resin for a few dozen smaller prints, but prints over a certain size require you to pause the print and refill the tank. Running out of resin results in a truncated print but it won’t harm the printer.
Print times are slow for high-resolution prints. The two-inch-high rook — shown below — took about six hours to complete, and less complex prints like an Indian sculpture of Aspara clocked in at 4 hours and 20 minutes. Luckily the printer is nearly silent. Its only sound is a regular, slow clicking as the laser hits the resin, the tank tilts to peel off a layer, and the platform moves up infinitesimally. It is a slow, soothing trance track when compared to Makerbot’s jagged industrial backbeat. When printing at “lower” resolution the print times can fall drastically.
I want to stress that the photos I took of the finish objects are literally just pulled from the curing vat. I did not cut down the small support suture points so as to show a product that has not been modified in any way. The tiny jagged points can be easily cut off and become invisible when you do so.
Resin costs $149 per liter and is available in only clear right now. I’ve seen grey resin and it works beautifully, creating a solid, highly detailed print out of pure plastic. The company is working on a “burn away” resin that will allow makers to print objects and then create molds by melting away the plastic, but that is still in the works.
At $3,299 the Form 1 isn’t cheap – but it’s not obnoxiously expensive, either. The Makerbot Replicator 2 is about $2,200 and the intrinsic difference in the technology and the difficulty and quality of manufacture add a premium to the Form 1.
First, a few notes regarding the product. The build space is “tall” but it isn’t wide. It has a 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inch build envelope compared with the Makerbot’s 11.2 x 6.0 x 6.1 inch platform. This means you can make smaller objects with ease or, if needed, chop them up into pieces for later assembly. Obviously the level of detail and smoothness is what you’re paying for here and so we can excuse the device for producing smaller-than-average prints.
Second, you usually print objects with scaffold-like supports poking off of nearly every surface. As you see below, these prints of my head required quite a few supports which left little lumps on the print that can be easily cut off. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means — I’d prefer the object to be structurally solid and deal with a bit of clean up — but it is a little bit unnerving at first. Luckily all of the supports usually snap right off.
Finally, the curing process takes about 10 minutes after finishing a print. This is obviously not onerous and it’s an important part of the system, but having a vat of isopropyl alcohol hanging out near potential heat sources, especially when printing in schools or a home, is a bit unnerving. Again, this is not a deal-breaker but an important consideration when looking at this device over any other.
3D printing, in many ways, is in its absolute infancy. What Form Labs has done is leapfrog over traditional home and open source printers with a unique system for high-quality stereolithography that is priced for the average consumer. While the Form 1 won’t replace a factory-grade machine, it’s definitely as close as you can get without sending something off to Shapeways.
In the end, however, you’ll want to know whether to buy this over a less expensive model or whether or not to build yourself a RepRap or other “free” printer. As a fairly experienced printer, I’d say that the Form 1 is absolutely stellar and well worth the investment if you are working in a design lab or engineering environment. The prints, resin cost, and machine cost add up to a perfect storm of printing perfection. If you are at an educational institution, especially teaching young children, I think the multi-step curing process could be a stumbling block. It is important, however, to understand that the curing process is as safe as, say, running a dark room, so with proper supervision I see no reason why this couldn’t be injected into an educational curriculum.
The guys from Form Labs, who, only a few months ago came hat in hand to collect pre-orders for their project, have made an amazing product. It is compact, well-built, and exciting. The prints that come off it are mesmerizingly beautiful and the quality is top-notch. I did have some issues with prints falling off the plate and incomplete jobs but most of those were caused by user error. As printers and the attendant software improve, you begin to get the print you want more and more readily. However, the Form 1 is still in its infancy and so it can be excused a few hiccups.
If you’re looking for something that produces more than acceptable prints using a machine that is a bit less expensive but offers a bit less resolution, by all means look at a fused deposition modeling printer like the Makerbot. The ease of use and inexpensive materials makes them an excellent choice for less mission-critical prints. However, if you’re looking for something that can mimic injection molding and other high-quality manufacturing processes, look no further than this printer. The Form 1 is sent here from the future to show us a new way forward in 3D manufacturing and I’m pleased that I could see it take its first few steps.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 22:46
Kristian has been at the forefront of the rapidly transforming game industry since 2001. After serving as Electronic Arts’ executive vice president of digital, he left three months ago to focus on startups. Today, he leads seed-stage investments with Initial Capital and serves on the board of Supercell, the #1 iOS grossing game company in the world. Before that, he co-founded, ran and then sold social gaming pioneer Playfish to Electronic Arts for $400M in 2009. He was also a co-founder of mobile gaming pioneer Macrospace – today Glu Mobile (Nasdaq: GLUU) in 2001 through the successful IPO in 2007.
TechCrunch writer Kim-Mai Cutler and Benchmark Capital general partner Mitch Lasky recently wrote two insightful pieces on venture investment in games (here and here) – both expressing some degree of skepticism of venture capital models for funding game startups. I agree venture funding is not for every game startup, and certainly not every game startup makes for a great venture investment. However, I would argue the case for venture funding for games is today stronger than ever.
Here is why:
Why game startups are better off with venture investment than publisher funding
There are broadly speaking three models available for a game startup today: bootstrapping (including crowd-funding), publisher financing and venture financing. For those who can afford the risk and have cash readily available, bootstrapping always trumps the other two. It comes with maximum freedom, control and upside in a success case.
But the risks are very real and significant. Those unable to bootstrap because of the risks or ambitions of the project should in my view consider venture investment over publisher financing models.
Publishing as an idea for digital pure plays is simply turning out not to work very well. Many have tried it with very little to show for it. This is because the typical publisher value-add of financing, marketing, technology and distribution through retail channels doesn’t translate well to the digital world. It says something that not a single game in today’s iOS top-25 grossing has been “published” by a third party as far as I can tell.
While developers continue to need financing, the rest of the “publishing services” have become obsolete in four key ways:
- Publishers can’t compete with atomized marketing services by specialists: As the digital market has matured, player acquisition, telemetry, cross-promotion and other marketing services have become widely available as independent specialist services that compete on price and quality of the service. Companies like Swrve (one of our portfolio companies at Initial Capital), Chartboost, HasOffers, Nanigans, Flurry and a host of competitors are evolving their services at a blistering speed, requiring only a small set of increasingly available talent at the developer end. Doing it directly is not just cheaper and more flexible as the world changes, it also forces a more profound understanding of player flows and distribution challenges, which ultimately helps uncover product design insights.
- Publisher channel access may accelerate your success, but will not define it: Much has been made out of the advantage that big game publishers have in terms of access to Apple or Google in terms of promotions. Clearly, being featured helps generate initial downloads. However that success is short-lived if you are unable to retain your audience and acquire users independently at a profitable cost of acquisition. Plus, you won’t be re-featured unless you generate the numbers. A game investor worth their salt will be able to make the right introductions here anyway. The incremental publisher value here is small.
- Holding on to rights to extend IP has become critical to value creation: As Lasky emphasizes in his post, gaming even in the games-as-a-service world is inherently hits driven. For a game startup to become valuable over time, it needs to find ways of anchoring its success around building franchises. Ownership of intellectual property (IP) and all extension rights becomes important. Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Moshi Monsters-maker Mind Candy have shown that game originated IP is an increasingly viable base to build out a broader IP following with over 40 percent or revenue from each being attributed to non-game products. At the same time, the halo marketing effect from these non-gaming products can still contribute value to the core gaming product. Publishing deals are typically structured for the publisher to get hold of this.
- Long term margins help you hold onto key talent: Perhaps most importantly, success in games has always been about key creative talent. The more cash a game startup is able to create, the more it can afford to invest in everything from the office to culture to individual, innovative compensation models for rockstar talent. Signing away a revenue share limits these options and ultimately is likely to encourage the best talent to leave.
Venture financing from a specialist fund that understands games should therefore be seen as a compelling alternative for game startups. It provides the financing value add, typically at far more flexible terms, without any of the restrictions to value creation that lower margins or complicated IP terms can create. And you could even get good folks around the table for advice how best to build for long term success and shareholder value. It should be no surprise that today’s most promising game companies including Supercell, King, Kabam, Rovio and Kixeye are all venture-funded.
What about the case for investors – does it still make sense to invest in games?
The digital pure play market growth has recently been characterized by the rapid rise and occasionally fall of new entrants. Zynga is cited as the key example by both Cutler and Lasky. A thoughtful article by Tadgh Kelly about “Peak Mobile” further highlights the cycles any individual platform tends to go through. In a world of few game acquirers and a troubled IPO market, does the venture model therefore need a re-think?
Even though some VCs are shying away from games, here are five reasons why I and Initial Capital are doubling down on games:
- A continued virtually unopposed growth opportunity in digital: The next generation consoles are doing a wonderful job at distracting the big publishers away from the fastest growing parts of the game industry. That clears the water for pure digital plays to gradually build up dominance with new IP on new hardware platforms. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s recent dismissive remarks about mobile, and EA’s strategy of ANDs: consoles and PC and mobile and online (which dilutes their excellent talent across too many opportunities) are cases in point. The innovators’ dilemma confronting the big guys is creating continuing unopposed growth opportunity for new and established digital pure plays alike. That is giving new players time to build up the brand and marketing advantages that big publishers have held for years on what are rapidly becoming legacy platforms.
- There are plenty of “blue water” opportunities on new platforms: Very few game play styles or categories on personal screens, like four- to seven-inch screens across mobile phones and tablets, feel mature at this point. Clash of Clans’ take on the tower defense genre, Candy Crush Saga’s interpretation of Match Three games and Hay Day’s way of approaching farm games are possibly the most mature examples out there. But who is making the category-defining racing game, the best first person shooter, sports game, real-time strategy, monster breeding or puzzle adventure game on these platforms? The console guys are hamstrung by their lack of focus.The starlets who already dominate one or two categories will have similar focus challenges due to successes to date. Seldom have there been such clearly profitable, well-defined opportunities for new startups to re-imagine these experiences for personal touch screens.
- The opportunity has gone global: The traditional gaming “Galapagos Islands” of Japan, Korea and China have been overrun by the great global equalizers of Android and iOS. This creates unprecedented opportunities to go global. Supercell’s Clash of Clans is currently the #1 game on iPad in China and #11 in Japan. For Candy Crush, the same positions are #64 in China and #4 in Japan. This is not to belittle the differences in local tastes, marketing channels and in some cases app stores or distribution mechanisms. But the opportunity to reach the other half of the game industry that these countries represent has never been more tangible.
- Unprecedented margins: Because of the margin structure and low headcount requirements of the industry, companies can become very profitable very quickly. Recent lessons from other companies that have grown too quickly are causing newer companies like Supercell to be more thoughtful. They are banking their profits, stabilizing their mid-double-digit operating margins and re-investing carefully into nurturing and expanding their talent base. This is also great news for top talent as it gets to increasingly share in the financial success both through company perks, private and public share sales and also dividends.
- The M&A and IPO markets will be back. And there’s nothing wrong with dividends either: It will just take time. Large M&A deals in games are unlikely to be on the horizon. The traditional console folks are too busy fighting each other and do not have the resources to acquire an increasingly confident set of digital pure plays. The leading pure plays on the other hand are mostly focused on ensuring their own model scales before embarking on aggressive M&A. M&A is particularly hard an industry in the middle of a disruption where talent and inspiration are more important than scale. While Zynga’s troubles may have damaged the IPO prospects for the next 18 months or so, if the new generation of companies can show sustained profitability, they will be in an incredibly strong position to consider listing later. Some will undoubtedly choose to stay private and pay out dividends in the medium-run, which is fine from a venture investors perspective. But the option will be there.
The next few years for games will be choppy. But the fundamentals for gaming investments are stronger than ever. As Lasky says, you have to be building a game company and not just a game for venture funding to make sense. And for a venture fund to consider gaming investments, you need to understand the sector.
But neither of those mean that venture investments in games aren’t alive an well. In fact, the team at Initial Capital remain as bullish on the sector as we led the seed round into Supercell. We continue to seek out the very best, most inspired design and coding teams who want to define where games will go next and help them get started with capital, advice and structure.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 22:41
We tend to do a fair number of giveaways here on TechCrunch, but today we’re giving away something extra special: power. Well, no — it’s more like we’re giving away knowledge, but knowledge is power. So we’re giving away power.
The world’s largest video education platform creativeLIVE is hosting a “Secrets from Silicon Valley” workshop later this week, where some of the Valley’s best minds will be sharing their wisdom with a handful of attendees. Only 30 tickets to this event were released, and they can’t be purchased anyway… but we have five of them to give away.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the folks who will be leading classes at the event:
- Reid Hoffman, Founder LinkedIn
- Tim Ferriss, New York Times best-selling author and founder of 4-Hour Workweek
- David Goldberg, CEO Survey Monkey
- Guy Kawasaki, New York Times bestselling author
- Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin
- Sara Leary & Nirav Tolia, co-founders of Nextdoor
- Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow
- Toni Schneider, CEO of WordPress
- Megan Smith, VP of Google[x]
- Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk
- Niniane Wang, CTO of Minted
If you don’t win, don’t panic too hard — you’ll still be able to catch the classes, but from afar. creativeLIVE will be streaming the event, live and for free, right here.
Want to come? You should! Follow the steps below.
1) Become a fan of our TechCrunch Facebook Page:
2) Then do the following:
Leave us a comment below telling us why you want to come.
The contest starts now and ends soon. At 5pm PT tonight. So, enter soon.
We’ll choose our winners and contact them tonight. Please note this giveaway only includes 1 ticket per person.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 21:56
At first glance, the similarities between PicMix and Instagram are obvious. Both apps are photo sharing platforms with simple, square Polaroid-esque aesthetics, and display photos from friends in streaming feed.
But while Instagram is figuring out how to monetize, Indonesian startup, PicMix seems to have nailed it from the get-go.
PicMix makes it part of the core photo posting process for users to add frame and text embellishments. Many of the frames included in the app are branded from labels (who have paid for the privilege) that users actually want to use on their photos. It’s not hard to imagine getting a user in Asia to willingly use a Hello Kitty or Louis Vuitton frame around their picture.
The company offers these frames to users as part of branding campaigns that are run by labels. They also put up photo competitions, and the criterion to enter is to use one of the branded frames around their photos. The visual impact of a frame or brand’s “sticker” on a photo is far more significant than hashtagging a brand.
Stickers and frames are catching the wave of users warming up to adding extra bells and whistles on their photos, beyond photo filters. While Instagram hasn’t departed from its genesis as a vintage, Polaroid-style filter app, a crop of photo editing apps have blossomed around it to fill that gap. These third parties allow you to add captions and combine several photos into a single collage, ready to be loaded into Instagram. Two popular examples are Photo Grid for Android and Photo Collage Creator for iPhone.
Mike Prasad, a marketing and brand development consultant and co-founder of Hawaii-based accelerator, Kinetiq Labs, said he was impressed by PicMix’s execution of brand marketing. “Getting brand insertion without ill will is key. It’s amazing that it’s got users to want to insert brands, in a process that is not negative,” he said.
Since the company launched less than a year ago, it’s already attracted 11 million users to the platform. 35 percent of those are in Indonesia, with the rest in South Africa and Venezuela.
The reason for that spread is that unlike most photo sharing apps which tend to prioritize the iPhone upon launch, PicMix is available on feature phone platforms like the Nokia Asha, as well as BlackBerry, and Android.
Calvin Kizana, founder and CEO of PicMix’s maker, Inovidea Magna Global, spoke to me at his booth at the ID Byte Jakarta conference, which I visited as part of the Geeks On A Plane trip last week. He said the company chose these platforms over the iPhone because he wanted to grab share in his home market—a notoriously loyal BlackBerry base.
And an iOS version is coming. PicMix will enter the US market with it within the next two months, said Kizana.
The company’s users seem to be pretty active. Each day on average, a user shares between five and 10 photos, to add up to a total of 450,000 photos uploaded to the service daily. The company was hosting this on Indonesian servers, but switched over to Amazon Web Services after its first month of business, when it hit 200,000 users and its servers were starting to feel the strain.
PicMix received a round of funding from Indonesian mobile equipment distributor, Erajaya. Kizana declined to share how much the funding was, and when exactly the deal was struck, but said that the investor came in when PicMix hit the five-million user mark.
Besides sponsored marketing campaigns, PicMix also makes money through in-app purchases of premium frames, stickers and filters. Focusing on its emerging market base, it’s also established carrier billing arrangements in 75 countries worldwide, and has just launched a gift card service with Indonesian payment provider, Indomog.
Carrier billings and prepaid gift cards have helped the company appeal to its domestic base, within which a significant proportion of users don’t have credit cards, said Kizana.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 21:21
Google sure isn’t giving up on its Chromebook initiative, even though it’s not clear that the company’s Chrome OS-based laptops are selling all that well. Today, Google announced that it’s expanding its brick-and-mortar retail efforts for Chromebooks through partnerships with Walmart and Staples.
Over 1,500 Staples will feature them starting this weekend and about 2,800 Walmart stores will carry Chromebooks later this summer. In total, Google says, this will triple the number of stores that carry its Chromebooks and bring the total number to 6,600 stores around the world.
Walmart, it seems, will only make the cheapest Chromebook — the $199 Acer Chromebook — available on its shelves, though. Staples will feature “a mix of Chromebooks from Acer, HP and Samsung” and will also make them available online. The more expensive Pixel, Google’s high-end Chromebook, won’t be available at any of these retailers, it seems.
The company also announced that select Office Depot, Office Max, Fry’s and Tiger Direct locations will begin selling Chromebooks in the “coming months.” Previously, only Amazon and Best Buy carried Google’s laptops.
Google is also expanding the availability of Chromebooks internationally. In the U.K., for example, 116 Tesco stores are now selling Chromebooks; in the Netherlands, Mediamarkt and Saturn will carry them and France’s FNAC stores will also get Chromebook displays. Google is also adding partners in Australia (JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman) and Sweden (Elgiganten).
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 21:11
The MacBook Air was the only new Apple hardware to be announced and launched at WWDC this year (besides the new AirPort Extreme), and while it isn’t a big change from the previous version, it packs some crucial improvements that really cater to the Air’s existing strengths. The 2013 Air is really Apple pushing the envelope with its ultraportable, and that has helped make one of the best computers in the world even better.
- 1440 x 900, 13.3-inch display
- 128GB storage
- 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
- 4GB of RAM
- 0.11-0.68 inches thick, 2.96 lbs
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- 12 hours battery life
- MacBook Air portability/construction still amazing
- Next-gen Wi-Fi great for LAN transfers
- All-day battery life literally lets you forget the power cord at home
- Still no Retina display
- Could use more ports
Apple hasn’t changed the MacBook Air’s physical design since its last major update a few years ago, but the sleek, aluminum chassis isn’t showing its age. Sure, thinner computers have emerged (though the Air is still thinner at its tapered end) but the fact that PC form factors are really only just now catching up speaks volumes to the quality of the Air’s industrial design.
Apart from overall good looks, the Air has a tremendous leg up on most computers in terms of size, weight and portability. If you haven’t yet used one for any sustained period of time, you’ll be absolutely blown away. Going from the 13-inch MacBook Pro to the 13-inch Air is like leaving the past behind and joining the future; big leaps in computing design are seldom so observable, and so noticeable in terms of your daily usage.
A concern with many who aren’t familiar with the Air is that the thin and light chassis won’t be durable, but having used both the 11- and 13-inch as my daily working computer for months at a time, while jumping from desks to various remote working locations, I can attest to those fears being unsubstantiated. The Air may not feel quite as rock solid as the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, for instance, but it isn’t fragile by any means.
Apple has improved the Air in key areas with this redesign, and that’s where it makes sense to focus, based on the understanding that the previous version was already one of our favourite computers. Apple has focused on changes that should have the biggest impact, like the new Intel Haswell processors, the much speedier flash storage, a near doubling of battery life, and networking speeds that embrace 802.11ac, a tech on the verge of becoming conspicuous in consumer goods.
Of these changes, the one with the greatest impact for the average user will be the new, all-day battery life afforded by the 12-hour capacity built-in pack (on the 13-inch Air; the 11-inch also gets a boost, but should afford you 9 hours, not 12). Apple is also testing battery life under more demanding conditions now, which suggests that if people go to extreme measures to conserve juice they might be able to get past that 12 hour mark. And indeed, I was able to eke out around 13 hours at least once, with screen brightness dialed down and other battery drains like Bluetooth disabled.
The battery is truly remarkable. In standby mode, I haven’t yet even begun to scratch the surface of how long it can last after a week of usage. It really sips power when managing background tasks, and that should improve even further under OS X 10.9 Mavericks, which adds even more battery-conserving features to Apple’s desktop OS. The Air still ships with Mountain Lion, but you can bet Apple’s engineers were working on the upcoming OS X release when they were developing the new Air hardware.
Even without the extreme measures, this is a computer that you can forget is unplugged without fear of running into dire problems. If you’ve got a charge in the morning, and provided you aren’t doing anything too demanding that’s burning CPU cycles, you should have enough to get you through a reasonable mobile workday. Which is to say, we’re nearly at the point most people really badly want to be in terms of their MacBook’s battery life (short of limitless, endlessly clean and cool energy).
And the other upgrades help as well; the MacBook Air I reviewed was the 13-inch base model version, which retails for $1,099, but it come with double the internal storage standard vs. the 2012 model (128GB vs. 64GB), and Apple says that its new type of flash is a better performer, beating the previous generation’s storage performance speed by up to 45 percent. Certainly in testing the Air near-instantly recovered from sleep, and side-by-side with my top-end 2011 model, was snappier with nearly every task – likely also helped by the next-generation Intel Haswell processor.
Some nice new features on the MacBook Air that add to the computer in small ways are the addition of dual mics, which greatly improves call quality for things like FaceTime when you aren’t using headphones, and the new Intel HD Graphics 5000, which gives you around a 25 percent bump in performance over the Intel HD 4000 graphics chipset used in previous generations.
The other big new step-up in terms of features is the 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking card, which is complemented by the new AirPort Extreme router that offers the same. It’s a technology that’s becoming more and more commonly available on other routers, too, so it’s a very nice-to-have feature on the new Air, even if you can’t take advantage of it just yet. Still, in my brief tests with LAN performance over 802.11ac, I found that transfer times for files between computer and network-attached storage on the new router were just about halved vs. 802.11n speeds, though still lagged far behind wired Ethernet transfer times of course.
The new MacBook Air isn’t a dramatic change, but it is a very good one. I’ve fallen in love with Apple’s Retina displays, so if I have one complaint about the computer it’s that there’s no ultra-high resolution display, but incorporating that kind of screen in this generation would’ve likely meant trading a big chunk of that new battery life away, and also increasing the price tag by around $400-500. For those who value the portability, flexibility and economy of the Air above all, the 2013 edition definitely hits all the right notes.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 20:32
You know who you are. You check into CrunchBase every day, maybe a few times, just to make sure your competition has not closed that new round. If you are that guy, CrunchBase is about to make your life a little easier. Today we are launching the CrunchBase Daily, an email roundup of the latest funding data from CrunchBase. You can sign up for the CrunchBase Daily by joining our mailing list or following us on Twitter where we’ll tweet each day’s recap.
The first version of the CrunchBase Daily will focus on new funding rounds, which we are capturing at a rate more than double earlier this year. That surge is partly due to our CrunchBase Venture Program, which we announced six weeks ago at Disrupt NY and has grown to more than 200 investment firms. This month alone, CrunchBase has already recorded 417 rounds from 30 countries, totaling $3.4 billion.
In the coming weeks, we will extend our coverage to include acquisition announcements, executive moves, and more.
Remember, CrunchBase is the free database of technology companies, people, and investors that anyone can edit. The funding rounds, people profiles, and company milestones are powered by our readers.
Everyone benefits when you update your profile and your company’s milestones. CrunchBase data powers TechCrunch and many other websites — plus it’s used behind the scenes by hundreds of investment firms and corporate development teams. And we use Crunchbase research to fuel our editorial. Like, here or here.
For this reason it’s extra crucial that your Crunchbase presence be accurate. So if you are having trouble editing CrunchBase, just drop us a note at email@example.com.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 20:30
There is no shortage of apps on the market to help users find new, interesting videos to watch and enjoy. But video discovery startup Squrl still thinks there’s work to be done. The company just released a new version of its iPhone and iPad app that provides new ways to share with friends and find content that is more personally relevant to them.
The new version of Squrl comes with a big redesign that breaks down the design and puts the content or categories that are most important on the front page of the app. There are now nine options available on the home screen, highlighting Featured videos and What’s Hot, as well as Channels, Recommendations and what users have liked, watched or added to their queues.
The typography has gotten bigger and there are simpler icons to click on. And once users have clicked on a certain icon, that icon changes dynamically to highlight content that viewers will see in that section. That gives a little bit of a preview into what’s available to users.
Those cosmetic changes are designed to simplify navigation throughout the app, but Squrl has done a lot more under the hood to improve recommendations and provide more relevant videos. The app combines the search and customize options so that users can customize the channels from within that screen.
There’s also been a big upgrade to its recommendations engine, which uses collaborative filtering and interest-based matching to serve up videos based on what its users have already watched. The app needs users to watch about four or five videos to get started, but once that’s happened, it creates a stream of videos that should interest viewers.
With the update, Squrl has also made its app more social. While it has always been easy for users to share with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, they can now share content and communicate with others within the app, as well. It’s improved the Find Friends feature inside the app, and enabled private messages so that users can share videos and chat privately with each other.
Squrl provides access to videos from a whole bunch of on-demand and live aggregators, including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, TED, Vimeo, Aol, and Blip.tv. Users who want to download the newest version of the app can get it here.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 20:27
A year in the making, the new redesign is meant to be optimized for how people interact with GitHub on a daily basis. It will roll out over the next few days. Within a few weeks, every GitHub user will see this as its interface:
A user clicking on notification emails will get an interface that is less cluttered than what GitHub had before with a focus on icon-based navigation.
The goal, in every respect, is to make the code more accessible. The company has optimized the design for scanning and reading code. Icons are replacing text for developers to get thumbnail views of their repositories.
In terms of speed, GitHub says for most projects on typical connections it has reduced the navigation speed from one second to 300 milliseconds. The blog states it has done this by focusing on pjax and bettering its caching to reduce page load times.
GitHub gets pegged for latency issues, so the update is a welcome one. The design is what makes GitHub different. The company puts an emphasis on interaction design. It was the first to abstract Git, making it accessible for use on the web. This redesign follows those original roots.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - lun, 17.06.2013 - 20:11
This started out as a list titled “Fashion Apps Actual Fashionistas Would Use,” but in sifting through numerous style-centric apps, I realized that girls like Alexa Chung aren’t going to be using any of them.
Outfit selfie services like Pose and Cloth are awesome if you’re an everyday clotheshorse looking to share your new haul — and, seriously, I’m all about the democratization of fashion — but why use your smartphone if your alternative is getting snapped by Tommy Ton? Trendabl and Snapette can be good marketing tools for brands, but if Derek Blasberg’s last post was 39 weeks ago, it’s not hitting the mark.
So here is the newly revised: Apps For Actual Fashionistas (New York edition).
AfterLight: A Conde Nast photo assistant friend of mine turned me onto this image editor, which gives the user more control than Instagram. The filters are more subtle, and you can further dial their strength up and down. There are also options for exposure, brightness, saturation, and contrast; plus, cropping that allows you to cut an image into letters. Or shapes! Edit on AfterLight; upload to Instagram or any other social media site of your choosing; make yourself look amazing.
Instagram/Vine/Twitter: This wouldn’t be a roundup of apps for the fashion industry if these three weren’t mentioned. It’s a small, social world, and the tags fly fast. The Man Repeller and Kate Upton are getting silly on Vine, and Twitter tends to the professional, but Instagram is where it’s at. Goodies include group hugs at Coachella, group hugs with Derek Blasberg, and sweeping views of wherever Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is shooting.
SoulCycle: Nothing says ‘I work in fashion’ like SoulCycle. In maybe the best news of the summer for its rabid followers, the uber-hip spin chain is putting the finishing touches on a mobile app tentatively set to launch in early August. The app will accelerate the sign-up process by allowing Soul enthusiasts to pre-select classes and bikes before registration for the week goes live on Monday at noon, rather than having to select a class at noon through the company’s website. It will also enable social sharing so friends can sync up workouts, note classes they want to take, and see each instructor and his or her music lineup.
CitiBike: SoulCycle changed pop fitness the way fixed gear bicycles changed street-style photography. Scott Schuman’s inclination to snap well-dressed ladies on velocipedes ushered in a new era of Girls On Bikes, or Cycling In Heels. Which is all to say that the May 27 launch of NYC’s CitiBike bike share program and accompanying app for iOS and Android (showing bike locations, availability and routes) is big news for fashionistas without their own wheels. If the bike share operates smoothly this summer, I’m predicting a major deficit of bike availability between shows during fashion week in September.
Hailo & Uber: But sometimes you just don’t want to bicycle! Or your bag is too heavy, or whatever. Now that Hailo has been cleared to operate in NYC, it’s definitely going to be getting some use during New York Fashion Week, during which it is notoriously impossible to get a cab. Uber’s black car and SUV options may make it a better pick for those aiming for a sleeker look or who need the extra space to wedge in two dozen garment bags, shoe boxes and an intern.
GoodGuide: While not the sexiest app in the world, GoodGuide is your app if you care to know what exactly is going on your skin or in your hair. It lets you sort through products (personal care, food, apparel, etc.) and gives them ratings for health, environmental, and societal impact, along with a list of ingredients. Because sometimes finding a good sulfate-free shampoo really matters. Ask any beauty editor.
Beautified: Ever since this app launched in the last week of May, it’s been getting major buzz on industry news sites. That’s partly because DJ/cool-girl-about-town Hannah Bronfman is one-third of the brains behind the product, and partly because it’s a genuinely solid idea: you want to book a last-minute beauty appointment, and the app hooks you up with open appointments at salons and spas around town. Sure, similar apps have come before, but a) Beautified has culled a roster of participating salons that are already trusted city-girl faves and b) Bronfman is having a major moment right now.
For an app to win with New York’s fashion set, it doesn’t have to be all fierce and fashion-y — it just has to gel with the daily groove of the industry, during work and after-hours. If you live and breathe fashion every day of the year, you don’t need a nail art decorating app, because you invented nail art. You do need an app that functions as a juice bar map/social media support group for those on cleanses. Seriously, that would be great.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the fashion set is a subset of the population that doesn’t mess around with poor-quality anything. With its attachment to analog traditions that for a long time set the gold standard, the industry has made a relatively slow move to incorporate technology into its design and editorial cycles. Although the emerging generation of designers, editors, and, of course, bloggers, is by nature tech-friendly, fashion is still a luxury industry, and any app that supports its mechanisms had better deliver a good product.
[Images from: Jak and Jil, Streetpeeper, AfterLight, Instagram, Soul Cycle, CitiBike, Hailo, GoodGuide, Beautified]
Catégories: News informatiques