Monday, April 16, 2012

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Wikimedia Brings The Wikipedia Approach To How It Runs Its Servers Top
wikimedia_labsWikipedia and all of its related projects are obviously driven by the work of thousands of volunteers. Interestingly, though, while Wikipedia runs on top of an open-source stack, it's been traditionally very hard for volunteers to help the organization run its sites. Most of that work is currently done by paid employees. For about a year and a half, though, the Wikimedia Foundation - the organization behind Wikipedia and its sister projects - has been working on Wikimedia Labs, a new project based on OpenStack that will allow volunteers to help the Wikimedia team develop, test and deploy changes to the organization's infrastructure. Wikimedia Labs launched as a closed beta back in October 2011 and is still in closed beta today.
 
TechCrunch Meet-Ups: Now With More Pitocin Top
IMAG0366While I know that a TechCrunch meet-up can invigorate start-up founders and encourage investors to write checks, did you know they can also induce labor? One attendee, Richard Moormann, above, visited with us in Norfolk last week and subsequently went home to find his wife in labor. I can only attribute this happenstance to the fact that I am, in time, beginning to look more and more like an ancient, Bacchanalian fertility god.
 
SEC Filing: First Round Capital Raising $135 Million For New Fund Top
first-round-capitalFrom a recent SEC filing, it looks like early stage investment firm First Round Capital is raising $135 million for a new fund, First Round Capital IV, L.P. Managing partners Josh Kopelman, Chris Fralic, Robert Hayes and Howard Morgan are all named in the filing and it appears that the funding hasn't been raised yet. First Round Capital is best known for making mainly early stage investments in startups. Past investments include Path, Fab.com, TaskRabbit, Get Satisfaction, Mashery and Birchbox. First Round previously raised $124.6 million back in 2010. This newest raise would be the fourth fund for the firm.
 
Director James Cameron On The Secrets of Making 3D Profitable [Live Video 10:40am PT] Top
90168545-titanic-movieJames Cameron, director of the just-released 3D version of Titanic, as well as Aliens, Terminator, Avatar and so many other major blockbusters, is spilling some secrets today. He's speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas about how to make money making 3D movies. The event starts live at 10:30am PT. The original "Titanic" and the 3D re-release has just passed $2 billion in lifetime ticket sales. The only other movie to top $2 billion is Cameron's "Avatar."
 
Path For Families? Kidfolio Brings Private Social Networking For Parents To iPhone Top
kidfolioHey look: another private, micro social networking service has just launched. From Alt12 Apps, which moms know better as the maker of the BabyBump app, there now comes a new mobile-only private social networking service for parents called Kidfolio. The app, which is celebrating its public release today, offers parents tools for private sharing - mainly photos of children - which can be organized into a scrapbook-like timeline by ages and stages. Along with the launch, the company is also announcing it has closed its seed round of $1.26 million in funding, led by Aydin Senkut's Felicis Ventures, with participation from InterWest Partners and other angels, including HealthTap founder Ron Gutman, plus Othman Laraki (Twitter), Matt Wyndowe (Facebook), Julia Popowitz (Facebook), and Ron Bouganim (Branchnext), and Rob Leathern (XA.net).
 
Press-On Polarizers Let You Enjoy 3D Movies Without Wearing Ugly Glasses Top
3d_sticker_glasses3The Stix project is just a concept now, but what a concept it is. It's essentially a way for glasses-wearers to enjoy 3D movies without having to put on oddly-shaped and potentially ugly 3D glasses. The Stix peel off a piece of backing plastic and fit right on your real glasses. When you're ready to face the real world again you simply peel them off. Lucy Jung and Daejin Ahn designed the concept because Lucy found herself having to wear her contacts when she went to the movies.
 
New Deal With MGM Brings 'Robocop' and 'Terminator' To YouTube And Google Play Top
robocop_posterGoogle is slowly but surely building out its movie rental service on YouTube. Less than two weeks ago, the company struck a deal with Paramount to bring about 500 of the studio's movies to YouTube and Google Play. Last night, Google announced that is also bringing about 600 movies from MGM to its movie rental service in the U.S. and Canada. This new deal with MGM brings movies like The Terminator, RoboCop, Rain Man and Rocky to YouTube's and Google Play's rental library.
 
TheComplete.me Launches Social Dating Site, Matches With $1.22M From Industry Leaders Top
Screen Shot 2012-04-16 at 12.08.22 PMIf Facebook itself isn't a covert dating site, then at least its social graph could be -- a big group of startups have been going for this honeypot of user data and connections ever since the company launched its platform back in 2007. Few have really taken off, and incumbent dating sites like the not-so-social Match.com have continued to hold mindshare with date-seekers. This is where theComplete.me sees the opportunity. The company quietly launched a Facebook app in March that pulls in and analyzes data from Facebook and other social sites to figure out who you might be a good fit with -- and goes way beyond most rivals in its effort to undermine the incumbents.
 
Openwave, 'Inventors Of The Mobile Internet', Sells Software Biz To Focus On Patents Top
OpenwaveMobile messaging, in its traditional sense, is on the decline, and the patent world is hot, hot, hot, and today one company that plays in both areas showed where it sees its stronger ties at the moment. Openwave, which calls itself the "inventor of the mobile internet" for the early role it played in developing mobile data technology, today announced it was selling its core software business -- messaging and mediation operations -- and will instead concentrate on its patent holdings in smart devices, cloud technology and unified messaging. Marlin Equity Partners is buying the two businesses for an undisclosed sum, and says it will continue to operate and invest in the businesses, which will be called Openwave Messaging and Openwave Mobility. That transaction is expected to close this month. Openwave, meanwhile, will rebrand as Unwired Planet, "a name that recalls the company's rich heritage of innovation," it said. It will focus on intellectual property -- specifically in the form of 200 issued U.S. and foreign patents and 75 further patent applications, "many of which are considered foundational to mobile communications."
 
Microsoft Job Postings Reveal "Skype For Browsers" Project Top
skypeA series of job postings from Microsoft hint at - well, actually they come out and state that - Microsoft intends to bring Skype to the web browser. The posts, which describe positions for software development engineers, mention that the Skype web app would be built (thankfully) using HTML5 and JavaScript, not Microsoft's own Silverlight or Adobe Flash, for example. The addition of a web-based version of Skype that works without plug-ins could provide a better user experience than today's Skype Facebook app currently offers, but it could also extend the browser to anyone with a modern web browser who wanted an alternative to running desktop software.
 
Bingo Bash-Maker BitRhymes Raises $1M For Casino-Style Games on Facebook, Mobile Top
bingo-bash-logoBitRhymes, the San Francisco-gaming startup behind a bingo game that has attracted about 400,000 daily active users on Facebook, has raised $1 million in angel funding. BitRhymes' rise comes at an interesting cross-roads for casino-style games on the Facebook platform. Not only are they becoming more popular, considering last month's release of Zynga Slingo, a combination of slots and bingo, there's also a chance they could become much more lucrative if the regulatory environment changes. Back in December, the Justice Department also issued a legal opinion that may open the door to certain kinds of legal online gambling in the U.S., a new market opportunity that social gaming companies including Zynga are exploring.
 
Dashlane Speeds Up The Web With Instant Logins, Automatic Checkout And More Top
dashlane-logoThe stealthy consumer Internet startup Dashlane, which had raised a $5 million Series A back in September, is today coming out of hiding with the launch of its public release. The company is offering a personal data assistant that aims to speed up access to websites through password-saving and online form-filling features, but, as hinted earlier, there's more to it than that. There are two key features Dashlane offers which put it above the everyday password manager: instant logins and support for automatic checkout on e-commerce sites.
 
Sprint's $199 Galaxy Nexus Launches On April 22 With $40 Google Wallet Credit In Tow Top
sprintgalnexIf they haven't already done it, Sprint customers in need of an upgrade should make it a point to circle April 22 on their calendars. Not only has Sprint chosen that day to launch their eco-friendly LG Viper, the nation's third largest wireless carrier has just confirmed on Twitter that the Galaxy Nexus will be available for $199 (with contract) that same day.
 
Manila-Based Social Music Service Twitmusic Makes It Into 500 Startups Top
twitmusic logoA big domestic market of 92 million people, English as an official language, a large IT talent pool, and a strategic location in South East Asia: the Philippines surely has the potential to become the next web powerhouse coming out of Asia. I traveled to the country last month (on a private trip) to realize that the startup scene is still in its infancy - but that's poised to change very soon. One pioneering startup from the Philippines is Twitmusic, a Twitter-based social music service aimed at artists and their fans. As an artist, having an account on Twitter is one thing, but Twitmusic allows them to upload and share songs (and other content) through Twitter in a matter of minutes.
 
Chartbeat Raises $9.5M, Launches Engagement-Focused Redesign Top
ContentReal-time analytics startup Chartbeat is making two big announcements today. The first should be pretty obvious to anyone who uses the service — it's unveiling a big redesign. And it's not stopping there, since the second announcement is a $9.5 million Series B round of funding. The redesign is pretty similar to the preview that I saw about a month ago. The big goal is to start providing numbers that go beyond how many people are looking at a website or article at a given moment. So at the top of the new dashboard, in addition to the familiar meter showing the number of concurrent visitors to a site, there's a new widget telling you how much time visitors have spent engaged on the site in aggregate — for example, I learned that by the middle of the Sunday afternoon, TechCrunch readers that day had collectively spent two years and six months engaged with our content (which is kind of scary). It also shows the average engagement time per user and per page.
 
Estimize Takes Stock Gamification One Step Further With Challenges Top
estimizeEstimize is a startup trying to discover the true "whisper number" of public stocks — not just the official analyst consensus, but what Wall Street really believes. To make that happen, it's encouraging investors to post their own estimates — and they're getting a little more incentive starting today, thanks to the new Estimize Challenges. CEO and co-founder Leigh Drogen previously worked at social finance startup StockTwits, where his roles included product manager and media director. Drogen says he first had the idea for Estimize there — he sees it as the quantitative flip side to the conversations that you find on StockTwits. So each quarter, Estimize members can post their guesses for a company's earnings per share and revenue. Then you can see the aggregate prediction of the Estimize community, as well as current and past predictions for individual users.
 
Roku Launches In Canada With Over 100 Streaming Channels Top
41rE7imwXpL._SL500_AA300_Roku just landed in the great white north. The tiny little streaming box launched in the UK a few weeks back and now it's hitting Canada along with over 100 channels of streaming goodness. The Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS should hit retailers in the coming days for $89 and $109 CAD, respectively but are available for pre-ordering now. This launch is the last part of Roku's announced international expansion. The company is no doubt looking for other potential markets but Roku is notoriously methodical in its launch schedule.
 
Aeir Talk Gives A Father's Autistic Kids A Voice Top
Me and the boysWe met Joe Hill in Norfolk, Virginia last week. He had a story to tell us. He has two autistic sons who have had trouble communicating and he noticed that the world of tools for autism often overlooked a few things - aesthetics, usability, and customization, to name three. Instead of relying on ready-made utilities, Joe wanted to make something fun and cool. He created Aeir Talk. It's an app that allows parents to create and record their own content for use in a very simple but effective method for communications. The parents record a set of verbs and nouns and add pictures of themselves or of familiar objects. When the kids need to communicate, they select a noun and a verb and press a button. The app creates a simple sentence. "I want to go outside, please" or "I want a carrot, please."
 
Samsung To Reveal The 'Next Galaxy' Phone On May 3 At London Event Top
nextgalaxyAfter months of waiting (not to mention plenty of conflicting reports), Samsung may have finally revealed when they plan to unveil their long-awaited Galaxy S III. According to a press invitation that has been making the rounds since early this morning, the Korean company will be pulling back the curtains on a new Galaxy handset in London on May 3. Samsung is as vague as usual here — they make it a point not to name the device specifically, referring to it simply as the "next Galaxy." That hasn't stopped we members of the tech press from attempting to dissect the invitation anyway (my goodness, there are three paint slotches on the invitation!).
 
Motorola Employee Takes A Picture Of His Desk, Possibly Confirms Existence Of Droid Razr HD Top
exiffighterIt would appear that Motorola is putting even more of an effort into its resurrected Razr line. Just a few months after the hotly anticipated Droid Razr stepped onto the scene, Motorola offered the same unit with an upgraded battery, making the Droid Razr Maxx my new favorite Android phone with an 8+ hour battery life (and that's under extreme duress). Today, just a few months after the Razr Maxx, we're seeings signs of yet another Razr line upgrade: The Droid Razr HD. You see, both the Droid Razr and the Razr Maxx are excellent handsets, but with both sporting a qHD display resolution it was somewhat inevitable that Motorola would have to go spec-to-spec with competitors at some point and put out a 720p display. After seeing the EXIF data left by a Motorola Mobility employee on a picture of his desk he posted to his Picasa account, we're thinking the Droid Razr HD (codenamed Vanquish) may be the real deal.
 

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