Real Time Backup of Your WordPress Site with VaultPress

Backups are always a half forgotten mess in the IT world, and backups of WordPress sites are even worse. Most solutions require administrator actions that only sporadically actually happen….


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ITV will bring UK football fans near-live highlights of World Cup action on Twitter and Facebook

London-based startup Grabyo is really starting to ramp up its media partnerships now. Just a couple of days after we revealed it was teaming up with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) to bring near-live highlights to Wimbledon fans around the world across a myriad of social platforms, Grabyo has now announced it’s doing the same for football fans during the World Cup.

To recap, Grabyo’s technology makes it easier for broadcasters to capture and edit clips from their own videos, to share across any social channel in real-time. The result should look a little something like this:

Thanks to its tie-up with UK broadcaster ITV, which is sharing World Cup coverage with the BBC, you’ll be able to catch key moments (and pundits’ banter) seconds after they happen via ITV.com, Facebook and Twitter. Brands will also be invited to sponsor the clips.

We first reported on Grabyo in September last year, when the startup launched a video clip-sharing service in collaboration with BSkyB, which was later used to broadcast snippets of Champions League football action.


Feature Image Credit – Shutterstock

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PluralSight Buys Digital-Tutors For $45 Million To Add Media Software Training

PluralSight, a purveyor of online training tools for software professionals, is expected to announce the acquisition of creative software training services company Digital-Tutors in a $45 million deal.

With the Digital-Tutors purchase, PluralSight adds a suite of 1,500 courses focused on media and design to its already formidable array of online training tools for professional developers. The company now boasts over 3,000 training modules in its catalog.

It’s the latest shot in the battle for dominance in the market for software training content – a sector that is increasingly consolidating around larger, better-funded companies.

Tech professionals face a constant struggle to keep up with the latest and greatest in software, so it’s no wonder that training and education services for information tech have become big businesses. In fact, Global Industry Analysts projects that spending on professional training for software and information technology will hit $107 billion by 2015.

And PluralSight isn’t the only e-learning company cutting checks. Earlier in April, Lynda.com announced the acquisition of Compilr in a roughly $20 million deal to add the Halifax, Canada-based company’s services for in-browser learning, writing and testing code to its own education offerings.

“The trends in the space are starting to really develop more clearly for investors as well as for customers in the market,” said PluralSight chief executive Aaron Skonnard. “The [massive open online courses]  have gotten a lot of attention but people are struggling to see how a lot of them make money. The companies that have a very solid financial grounding and good ideas are starting to group together.”

At PluralSight, the deal for Oklahoma City-based Digital-Tutors represents the company’s fourth acquisition in eight months. Digital-Tutors already counts some of the largest entertainment tech companies like Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Rockstar Games among its clientele of corporations, universities, and professionals.

In all, the company has spent under $100 million on acquisitions including PeepCode, which offers open-source developer courses; the screencast publisher for developers, Tekpub; and TrainSignal, an information technology training company PluralSight acquired in a $23.6 million deal.

Based in Salt Lake City, PluralSight began as a classroom-based training company in 2004 before establishing its online presence in 2008. Since then the company grew its user base and took a single, $27.5 million round from Insight Venture Partners in December 2012.

That round was the starting gun for PluralSight’s acquisition tear, and it also helped boost the company’s revenues from $16 million in 2012 to over $32 million in 2013, and the company is heading for another year of triple digit growth.

As a result of the acquisition, customers of both Digital-Tutors and PluralSight will have access to both companies’ libraries at no additional charge, and the 30 employees on Digital-Tutors staff will join the PluralSight team. Additionally, Digital-Tutors chief executive and founder Piyush Patel will join PluralSight as senior vice president of creative operations.

“The whole online e-learning space is going to go through quite a period of consolidation over the next several years,” said Skonnard. “We can raise debt financing and we can pay for a lot of these deals with cash on the books. That’s why you’re seeing [consolidation] happen sooner in the skills oriented training before you’re seeing it happen elsewhere.”

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The Sweet Irony Of Popcorn Time

So the big fun story of last week was this streaming movie app called Popcorn Time. Essentially, it aggregated torrent links and packaged them with artwork and a nice interface that allows one-click streaming of movies.

Popcorn Time is incredibly illegal almost anywhere, but it’s also almost impossible to stop people from using it without ISP intervention. Even though the original version of the app has been killed off, the project has already been forked and replicated by a new group. Now that the concept is out there I doubt it will ever go away completely — whatever iteration may come.

The absolutely lovely irony here is that Popcorn Time is doing for distribution of pirated movies exactly what the movie industry needs to do for itself.

Torrents are confusing and a mess. My mom could not download a torrent app, find a torrent that was not a virus and download a movie on her own with no help. But she could definitely download Popcorn Time. As fast and available as torrents are, they’re still fragmented, dangerous and complicated. They require a modicum of technical familiarity and engender some risk every time you place your trust in an un-verified link.

Popcorn Time unifies them under one roof — in exactly the agnostic, friendly way that the movie industry in aggregate has been so unable to do for its own products.

In contrast, streaming movies with one click is a much more complicated and tortuous affair. Titles are split across a strata that include a variety of creators, distributors, technologies and pay gateways. There is no such thing as a one-price-plan that offers unfettered access to any movie you want to watch, and even if you want to rent an item you’re going to have to have at least 2-3 accounts on services from Apple, Netflix, Amazon or half a dozen others in order to guarantee the flick you want to see will be available when and if you want to see it.

The torrent landscape — the illegal download market — has its own crumbling architecture of groups and sites risen and fallen. But the pirates are out-innovating the studios — and apps like Popcorn Time prove that the movie industry is not being held back because of technology, it’s the lawyers.

Because the technology exists to make this happen easily. Services like Ultraviolet are proof of that. Many main-stream companies have even turned to torrents for use in delivering updates. If you’ve played World Of Warcraft in the past few years you’ve likely utilized torrents to get updates, whether you realize it or not.

The other major media business — music — was struck by a very similar bombshell with Napster. Never before had the main stream been able to one-click download a song or album as easily — even if they wanted to pay.

The point isn’t that Popcorn Time marks the first time that you can download movies illegally — but it is drop-dead simple. It democratizes movie piracy in the same way Napster did for music.

Also, as my colleague Ryan Lawler pointed out to me when we were chatting about this, broadband connections have gotten a lot faster since Napster made its debut. Downloading a movie can take as little as 15 minutes, about the time it took to download an album back then.

The music industry underwent a series of changes as a result of Napster. Albums broke into singles, digital surpassed disc and that has all culminated in the rise of the subscription over the pay-per-play model.

Then Apple came along and essentially formalized the Napster model — throwing the labels a lifeline in their distressed and desperate hour.

Content deals in the media business are made on 5-10-year cycles, and always have been. These included fractured elements like video on demand windows, theatrical release, streaming rights and broadcast rights — all of which are promised to separate entities with their own ‘middle man’ businesses. And each of those businesses have lawyers whose job it is to negotiate those deals in the most binding, most profitable way.

Look at how technology has changed life in the last 10 years. Thanks to smartphones and easily available high-speed wireless internet, it’s unrecognizable. So we’re still beholden to content deals made for — quite literally — a different culture.

I don’t even have anything with a disc drive in it besides game consoles — and I only buy discs when I know I might play them once or twice through and then sell them.

Last night I was watching Shark Tank — and two young co-founders presented them with a business that rented e-textbooks, called Packback Books. College students are able to rent textbooks by the day when they need to reference them, adding up to a couple hundred dollars in savings per semester. These guys had exactly the kind of product we talk about every day on TechCrunch. 4/5 of the sharks 100% did not get it, at all. Kevin O’Leary especially was insistent in talking about why the powerful incumbent textbook publishers would never let this happen — largely informed by his years of negotiation and frustration with those publishers.

Which only served to make it that much more evident that those same publishers are ripe for someone to undermine their way of doing business, in a way that could change the industry.

I haven’t done any due diligence on Packback and or Popcorn Time, and this is not an endorsement.

But it strikes me that this is exactly the kind of thing that will need to happen for the movie industry to come to its senses. There will be no major shakeup of the back-room deals (though powerful people like Apple’s Eddy Cue have been at it for years). Instead, someone will find a way to make those deals obsolete entirely.

I’m not a piracy advocate, and never will be. I have friends in the movie and media business who are technicians, craftsmen — not high rollers. Their salary, like it or not, is directly related to you paying for a movie. It’s not the paying — it’s the way you pay. It’s not the renting — it’s the way you rent. It’s not the profits — it’s the greed. Something has to give.

It may start somewhat innocuously, with a revenue share rental model — or perhaps Netflix’s backdoor content creator strategy will tip the scales.

Or maybe an app will make it so easy to pirate films that  the aging carapace of a hundred years of the movie business will slough away for a new model.

But, sooner or later, it will happen.

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