Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: Alexis Santos | Filed under: Engadget | Tags: app, Microsoft, Mobile, mobilepostcross, Software, VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
If Vine still leaves you pining for the choppiness of GIFs, Microsoft’s got you covered — on Windows Phone 8, at least. Redmond’s Blink app, which helps smartphone photographers capture bursts of images, has hit version 2.0 and scored the ability to create short animated clips, aptly dubbed Blinks. In addition to the bite-sized videos, the latest update bakes in camera settings in capture mode, sharing to social networks and web galleries for shared creations. Microsoft Research also released Blink Cliplets for Windows 8 and RT, which allows users to layer static and dynamic elements atop footage. Hit the break to check out the new release of Blink in action, or jab the first source link for the download.
Filed under: Software, Mobile, Microsoft
Via: Windows Phone Blog
Source: Blink (Windows Phone Store), Blink Cliplets (Windows Store)
Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: Victoria Ho | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
Video services provider Ooyala is setting up an R&D operations in Singapore, and is hiring researchers and data scientists for the facility.
The company provides video technology to media companies and telcos, enabling them to stream their content online such as the Australian Open, or helping ESPN embed videos in tweets.It claims to have a collective viewership of about 200 million across 130 countries each month.
Ooyala has had a small staff of four in Singapore since last year, but the new facility will bump up its presence here to about 20 when it’s operational in 2014, said CEO, Jay Fulcher. The center here will focus on researching localized products for Asia, as the company expands outside of the US. Ooyala will keep its core engineering team in Mountain View, where most of its 300 staff are. It also maintains offices in Sydney, Tokyo, LA, New York and London, with teams of about ten in each of them.
Fulcher wouldn’t say how much the company is ploughing into the center here, but said it is making “significant” investments into its growth. Last year, the company raised a massive $35 million round, led by Australian telco, Telstra. It was its fifth round to date.
The company isn’t profitable, but Fulcher said Ooyala can make its books positive “at any given point”, but is choosing to spend aggressively on expansion in the meantime.
45 percent of its revenue comes from North America, with Asia, Latin America and Europe after, in descending order. When I pointed out that it’s generally unusual for companies to have Asia as their second-largest revenue contributor, Fulcher said it’s because Ooyala landed a large client in the Times Group of India. “In fact, that was our first client ever,” he said.
As Ooyala expands in Asia, it’s also chasing the growing audience watching video on mobile devices here. According to its latest video index report, Singapore viewers had the longest live viewing sessions at 52 minutes on average.
57 percent also watched online videos to completion, indicating that they were engaged with the content. And more viewers in the region are watching videos longer than ten minutes—considered “longform” for videos, said Fulcher. A third of viewers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand watch these longer videos.
Other video networks focusing on mobiles are making an active play for the region, too. California-based Vuclip just reported that its mobile video network has 80 million monthly viewers, with most of them in the emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. It has raised $35 million to date, and earlier this year acquired another mobile video player, Jigsee, to expand into India.
Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: Alex Williams | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: Enterprise | No Comments » | 0 views
Teambox has added high-definition video conferencing, adding to a list of providers that are adding video to their collaboration platforms.
The Teambox offering is of particular note, as it fully integrates video conferencing and screen sharing directly into the collaboration platform through Zoom, a video-conferencing service. The service allows for video conferencing of up to 25 people across desktops, tablets and mobile devices. It supports iCal, Outlook and Google Calendar.
Teambox has earned recognition for its capability to integrate third-party apps for an inline experience. It’s in some sense a framework for aggregating apps such as Box and Evernote.
But is it that much better than using third-party services in conjunction with a collaboration platform?
Tibco’s Tibbr activity stream product now integrates third-party web-conferencing tools. A customer can start a live meeting by choosing their own platform. The intent is to allow enterprises to leverage the platforms they have invested in.
So there are benefits to both ways of integrating video conferencing with a collaboration platform. Most of the services, such as Microsoft Office 365, have integrated video conferencing, mostly as an add-on.
Then there are the services like Pexip, which I looked at last week, which is making video conferencing available as a software.
In all of this, there is one theme. Video conferencing is now moving to software, making integration into collaboration services easier than ever before.
Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: Richard Lawler | Filed under: Engadget | Tags: Europe, HD, Home Entertainment, Netflix, Netherlands | No Comments » | 0 views
Netflix mentioned another European country was in its sights for this year and tonight it’s announced the new region it will service is the Netherlands. As is its custom, it will be offering Dutch viewers a package of movies and TV shows for one low price, including its ever-growing slate of original series. There’s no word yet on what that price will be, an exact launch date or what devices will be supported, but interested residents can sign up for alerts at Netflix.nl starting today.
Filed under: Home Entertainment, HD
Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: Leena Rao | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
Design-focused commerce company Fab has raised that round of funding we scooped a few months ago. Fab is announcing today that it has raised $150 million in the ﬁrst tranche of the company’s Series D round of ﬁnancing. We’re told that $150 million is the ﬁrst part of a larger Series D round that Fab expects to complete over the next few months. New to this round is Chinese Internet giant Tencent, who will also have a board seat at Fab; and Japanese conglomerate Itochu. Previous investors Atomico, Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Ventures, RTP Capital, Pinnacle Ventures, Lars Hinrichs, and Docomo Capital also participated in this latest round of ﬁnancing.
This brings Fab’s total funding to $310 million. We’re hearing from multiple sources that the pre-money valuation of the company was $1 billion, as we had reported in April (a spokesperson for Fab has confirmed the valuation). And we’ve also heard from a source that Fab will be raising another $100 million or more in the later part of this round. At Fab’s last round of financing in 2012, the company was worth around $600 million. Past investors include First Round Capital, SoftTech VC, Baroda Ventures, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, Thrive Capital, Kevin Rose, SV Angel, The Washington Post, VTB Capital, Phenomen Ventures and the Times of India.
Founder and CEO Jason Goldberg said the company started down the fundraising route in March to raise enough capital to have several years of runway, at least until 2015. He added that for this round there was $400 million worth of interest coming from investors.
Growth, International And Another Pivot
Fourteen million users strong, Fab is continuing to grow at a fast clip after its initial pivot. Last year, the company saw $150 million in revenue, and revealed in February that sales were up by nearly 300 percent in January 2013 over January 2012. In fact, January was Fab’s third-highest sales month ever.
According to the company, Fab should reach $250 million in 2013 sales. Fab’s now achieving 43 percent gross margins, up from 29 percent in 2011. Interestingly, Fab says that most of its revenue is not derived from flash sales, which was the initial model Fab adopted after its pivot in 2011. As we wrote in this profile of the company, Fab infamously pivoted from Fabulis, which was a social network for the gay community, into a flash sales site. Fab says that two-thirds of sales are currently not from the flash-sales on the site, and the company recently rebranded to reflect this change. And 50 percent of Fab’s sales are in home categories.
In May, Fab debuted its new design store, which makes it more of an integrated e-commerce site. You can access design pages by room, type of furniture, color, designer and more.
International is also a huge potential growth area for the company. Fab has 1 million members in the UK, which is generating nearly 40 percent of its sales in Europe and is its fastest-growing market outside the U.S. Asia is the next frontier, which is why Goldberg and Fab are bringing on Tencent and Itochu as partners.
As Goldberg explains, there are currently only four e-commerce companies in the world that are valued at more than $10 billion: Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, and Rakuten. He believes that Fab has a legitimate chance to be the ﬁfth by leading in what he calls Emotional Commerce. This basically means that Fab helps people discover the items they love and want.
Part of Fab’s plan to take over emotional commerce involves making its own line of products and home goods. Fab is also partnering with designers to manufacture and sell home furnishings exclusively through Fab. Additionally, Fab is experimenting with brick and mortar stores, with the first store debuting in Hamburg, Germany. Mobile is also a huge growth area, with one-third of sales being placed via mobile. And international will also be a major strategic focus for Fab, which just acquired German custom furniture store Massivkonzept. Fab sells products in 27 countries and 40 percent of sales today occur outside the U.S.
What Fab Is Spending The Cash On
$150 million is a lot of cash, and Fab is raising more. Where is the money going? Goldberg says that Fab will be investing in additional enhancements to its supply chain, logistics, customer service, technology, and merchandising. At the beginning of 2012 it took 16 days — on average — from time of purchase to shipping a product. Today, 75 percent of Fab’s orders ship within 24 hours of purchase, and Fab wants to make sure this is the case for 100 percent of the products sold on the site. This year Fab will open its own new Fab-operated warehouse in The Netherlands to serve European customers. In 2014 Fab will open a warehouse in the Las Vegas area.
As mentioned above, Fab will also be doubling down on manufacturing and designing more products in-house, as well as working with designers to offer items exclusively on Fab. We can also expect more development in social and mobile. And Goldberg says Fab will be putting more investment in international (likely via more acquisitions, as it has bought five companies in two years).
With the Tencent investment, Goldberg says that Fab will be working together to expand the site’s presence in China.
As for why Fab has raised as much as it has in only two years, Goldberg maintains that this is how retail works. “Tell me an e-commerce business that is worth more than $5 billion that hasn’t raised a lot of money,” he says. To fund things like logistics, fulfillment, inventory and manufacturing, a business needs a lot of capital, he explains. He adds that if Fab stayed as a U.S. business, the company wouldn’t need to raise as much.
There is also now a somewhat clear path towards profitability, at least for the U.S. and European businesses. Goldberg says that Fab will likely become profitable in its U.S. and European operations by Q4 2014 or Q1 2015.
Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: Richard Lawler | Filed under: Engadget | Tags: Gaming, HD, Sony | No Comments » | 0 views
Planning on turning on your PS3 for some The Last of Us action tonight? According to a thread on the PlayStation Support forums, if you’re prompted to install the latest firmware update version 4.45 then you may want to hold off for now. A number of owners are reporting their systems locks up while booting, although the problem may only affect users with hard drives installed that are 500GBs or larger. According to the changelog, it was supposed to allow users to select whether or not they want an in-game notification when a trophy is earned. If it is tied to user-replaced hard drives, it does remind us of the time v3.41 resulted in a few corrupted PlayStation 3 drives. Check the thread for more details, if we hear more from Sony then we’ll let you know when it’s safe to press OK.
Filed under: Gaming, HD, Sony
Via: @Wario64 (Twitter)
Source: PlayStation 3 Support Forum
Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: Rip Empson | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: apps, Media, Startups | No Comments » | 0 views
For pretty much as long as anyone can remember, a relationship triangle, or a “love triangle” if you will, has taken shape between companies and the PR firms that represent them and the press that covers them — existing in some sort of recursive loop. Yet, while that triangle should have come to represent a symbiosis and a valuable communication network, somewhere along the way the triangle broke down. (Defying the laws of Geometry, even.) In reality, today this relationship is more like the Bermuda Triangle.
While the matter of who is responsible for the disconnect is subject to debate, the PR industry (for right or wrong) usually takes most of the blame. While the causes are numerous, in the end, most of the problems inherent to the startup-PR relationship are a matter of transparency (or lack therof) and the inability for either side to find the best (and most mutually beneficial) match on the other.
AirPR launched into private beta last year with $1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups, Mohr Davidow Ventures, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and others to help solve this problem by creating a marketplace in which startups can find PR representation that’s right for them, and vice versa. Pitched as a kind of “Match.com for PR,” at launch AirPR focused primarily on matching top, pre-screened PR talent in the U.S. with technology startups looking for (and able to pay for) representation.
Last week, after a year of testing the system in closed beta, iterating and tweaking, the San Francisco-based company has finally opened its marketplace to the public. With its public launch, AirPR is opening its doors to all tech startups, expanding its marketplace to include companies in the lifestyle and consumer goods verticals and adding a few tweaks to its formula.
After watching 70 companies go through its PR matchmaking system and processing feedback from PR veterans, AirPR cut its onboarding process in half. Now, in order to find the best match, startups enter the date they want their PR campaign to begin and then answer a series of questions about their focus, stage of development, what kind of help they’d like, how much funding they’ve raised, and so on. AirPR then screens the startups and, if they meet its quality standards, uses the startup’s answers to match them with reps whose experience best fits that criteria. If not, they’re declined.
After being alerted to the incoming business leads, reps then place bids for the client, at which point the startup can sift through the offers, compare them, select the best option and pay for a 60-day contract.
Based on feedback from startups and PR pros, at launch, the platform also now includes a recommendation system, in which AirPR provides the top three matches based on the data its collected on the PR side. Initially, the company provided a list of all possible matches, but the co-founders tell us that companies were often overwhelmed by an abundance of choice and were less inclined to finish the process than if the system served provided three of its closest matches at the top.
In turn, by recommending PR reps and being more proactive in pushing reps to reach out to specific companies, the conversion ended up being faster and a higher percentage of companies closed the deal.
While there may be contention over the cause, most will likely agree that the PR model as it currently stands is in sore need of improvement. As someone who stands at one of the corners of the PR Bermuda Triangle, I can attest to this. PR reps have a tough job, and, as in any interest there are incredibly talented, bright firms and reps that get lumped in with the offenders who blanket journalists inbox with copy-and-pasted pablum and poorly worded pitches that aren’t even relevant to a writer’s beat.
Any improvement on the overall quality of the PR-startup relationship stands to benefit everyone involved, and while it’s still early to say just how effective AirPR’s model will be, it’s worth the effort.
While the startup’s matching algorithm and marketplace model are familiar, what may be even more valuable to the Bermuda Triangle (and to the industry at large) is the insight that can be pulled from the data AirPR collects on how startups are using the system, what they want help with, how effective PR is at meeting its goals, costs, publications they want to speak to, among other things. This data can help both startups and PR people be more effective and precise with their pitches and outreach. (One can also, much to the delight of everyone except PR, imagine AirPR eventually using this data to make a list of the “Top 10 Most Effective PR Firms,” for example.)
AirPR allowed TechCrunch an early look into some of the data (and insights) it’s collected thus far, and the conclusions are telling. For starters, as Alex Wilhem of TNW shared earlier this week, the most popular keyword or service startups were looking for help with was “Growth,” with 84 percent of companies listing that as top priority, followed by 69 percent of companies looking for “Brand Awareness,” 36 percent for “Launch,” 25 percent for “Fundraising,” and 16 percent for “Recruiting.”
Next, another one that will be of interest to PR reps: The company found that fixed bids (a bid with one amount, like $20K for a 4-month project, for example) were 29 percent more likely to close than retainers (monthly bids). In explaining just why in the sam hill we should care, AirPR CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer explains that, historically, the PR industry has primarily operated on a retainer model.
However, the monthly averages for both fixed bids and retainers are almost the same, he says, so the data thus far seems to show that the reliance on the retainer model is psychological, rather than what its customers want. Clients seem to appreciate the one-time fee with specific deliverables, the CEO explained — a conclusion that helps startups and PR move closer to transparency rather than clients being forced to ask “what exactly are we paying for?” each month.
To date, AirPR has found that the average bid accepted on the platform breaks down to roughly $5K/month in fees (whether fixed or retainer) for an average of 5 months. In other words, companies that have between $500K and $4 million in funding want shorter-term contracts with lower rates. This, in and of itself may not be surprising, but the more data it collects, the more it will be able to reveal correlations between not only funding and how much they’re willing to pay, but size of bids and the work they want done, the industry they’re in, and so on.
The CEO also tells us that several of the PR reps on the AirPR platform have doubled their business since joining and are “now looking to grow their practice with other folks on the platform, like a co-op situation,” he says. To this point, the idea from the beginning has been to not only help startups who often have no idea where to start when looking for PR, but to serve PR firms and reps that are looking to expand their practices. In the end, the AirPR co-founder tells us, this helps them weed out lower quality PR and put the best firms and people in control.
If AirPR can follow through on that idea, its marketplace could end up providing a lot of value to both startups and the PR firms that love them by helping them navigate the Bermuda Triangle and get more bang for their buck.
Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: Jon Fingas | Filed under: Engadget | Tags: Android, Cellphones, Mobile, mobilepostcross, Samsung, smartphone | No Comments » | 0 views
Jelly Bean has been making its way to ever cheaper phones in recent months, and that’s very conspicuous with the launch of Virgin Mobile’s new Samsung Galaxy Ring. For $180, you’re getting Android 4.1 in a price range where 4.0 is still common. You’re also getting a surprisingly capable device under the hood — while there’s no LTE, the prepaid handset carries a reasonably quick 1.4GHz processor, a 4-inch screen, a 5MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front-facing sensor. We’d still consider shelling out a little more cash for a future-ready 4G device, but Virgin users determined to scrimp and save can pick up the Galaxy Ring today.
Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile, Samsung
Via: Android Community
Source: Virgin Mobile
Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: Jon Fingas | Filed under: Engadget | Tags: Household, Science | No Comments » | 0 views
Scanadu clearly knows to tap into our collective Star Trek dreams, as the company just reached $1 million in funding for its Scout tricorder. The backing so far comes from people in 91 countries, including luminaries like Eugene Roddenberry (who else?) and Steve Wozniak. That figure is more than symbolic, we’d add — backers who’ve paid for a Scout can now get theirs in black rather than a clinical-looking white. Should the new color option prove tempting, it’s not necessarily too late; as of this writing, there’s still a few days left to make a pledge.
Filed under: Household, Science
Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: Eliza Brooke | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
Months after Hurricane Sandy left New York scrambling for power, the city is unveiling 25 solar powered charging stations in parks and public spaces throughout the five boroughs, starting today.
The pilot project between AT&T and the city of New York is officially called AT&T Street Charge. (DUMBO firm Pensa handled design, and Goal Zero provided the solar technology, AT&T handled the cash.) The stations will move to new locations at the beginning of July, rotating throughout the city until September. After that, we’ll see what becomes of them.
Most are a little out of the way for those who don’t go to Fort Greene Park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, or Riverside Park on the reg, but solar powered, public, and free is a pretty great thing. Definitely better than those public charging stations that also charge you money.
Since the Union Square location won’t open until tomorrow, I headed up to Riverside Park to see what the good people of New York thought of it. If I was hoping for a rare Upper West Side mob scene — and I was — I was sorely disappointed. To be fair, it was an overcast Tuesday at 2:30pm. On a sunny Saturday afternoon when the adjacent Pier 1 Cafe is busier, I’m sure the station will be getting more love.
Joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers, and people who were otherwise not at work stopped by the charging station regularly and gave the attendant an “I’m just taking a look” or “I just wanted to see what it was” before moving on. It is a 12.5′ metal pole with six phone chargers at hip height and three arms at the top that resemble whimsical helicopter blades, so that is a valid reaction.
The most enthusiasm came from a group of 16-year-olds, who rushed the pole going, “Ooohhh, coool.” When I asked them if they’d feel safe leaving their phones there, all five of them gave an immediate and decisive no.
“Are you guys from New York?”
So there you go. But two of the boys did stick around for a few minutes to plug in their phones.
“It’s okay if you’re standing right next to it.”
“I’d pull up a chair.”
Another man checking out the pole said that while he wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping away from his phone — “I hardly like to leave the house with it” — he could see imagine huge lines in the event of another blackout.
The attendant, who works for a company hired by AT&T for the launch, estimated that about 20 or 25 people had charged their phones on the pole in the four hours since she arrived at 11am. In the hour that I was there, only three did, teenage boys included.
A 24-year-old cyclist named Shana reclined in a nearby cafe chairs waiting for her iPod to charge. Asked if she felt comfortable sitting 15 feet away from it, she replied,
“Well, it’s about 6 years old, so…”
Most people seemed to think it was a great idea, especially in light of Sandy, but no New Yorker is going to leave their stuff lying around. I think a nearby Park Enforcement official put it best:
“Never leave anything unattended.”
And so the charging stations stood in the June drizzle waiting for the public to stand right next to them.