Earlier this week we reported on how Backupify was closing down TweetBackup, a free service to back up your Twitter account that it acquired in 2010; now we have confirmed that, as we’d heard, this is part of a bigger plan at the company to phase out consumer services altogether, as Backupify focuses its efforts on paid services for enterprise customers. From today, it will stop accepting new sign-ups for its free tier of back-up services for personal files. It is also discontinuing by the end of this year support for certain sites, including Facebook personal profiles, Blogger, Picassa and Flickr.
It will continue to offer services to back up Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter and personal Gmail accounts, but it’s likely that these will be moved to all-paid services over time, as part of its personal backup products, which it will continue to support “for the foreseeable future” (even if only as paid, not free, products). Rob May, CEO of Backupify, tells us that the timescale for free support is around two more quarters.
The moves are a signal that some startups that began with consumer social media services in mind have found that market hard to monetize. On the other hand, as enterprises become increasingly social, they are proving to be willing paying customers for many of the same kinds of offerings.
Rob May, CEO of Backupify, tells us that this move has been a long time in the making — some two years in fact.
“We started Backupify as a consumer-facing business but we quickly realized there was money in SMB and enterprise, so when we raised money the intention was to use it to go after the B2B market. And this is now a bigger chunk of our revenue — over 90%,” he told TechCrunch. In a blog post on the news, May also notes that enterprise was only a small percentage of revenues three years ago.
The company is not revealing total user numbers currently but when it announced a Series C round of $9 million last year, it had 170,000 users, and didn’t break out how many of those were free or paid.
He notes that in fact there is nothing of TweetBackup getting left behind in the closure. Over time, as Twitter has changed its own APIs, the company had to rebuilt its product from the ground up. It’s that rebuilt technology that has also gone into Ditto, the Symantec service for backing up Twitter accounts, which turns out was co-developed with Backupify (one by-product of the strategic investment that Symantec made as part of that most recent $9 million round of fundraising).
In the meantime, Backupify is working on developing services to back up other platforms and sites. It’s currently in testing with Apptivo, Freshdesk, Mavenlink, Nimble and Pipeline Deals to provide backup services to their users, and with the increasing move to cloud-based enterprise services, you can see how and where something like that could develop further. May says it’s not currently working with Evernote — a company with an ethos of saving your data for the rest of your live and beyond — but that he would love to.
Read more from the original source: Backupify Is Phasing Out Free Consumer Products; Drops Support For Facebook Personal Profiles, Blogger, Picassa And Flickr
It was a light week of Microsoft news, as Google dominated the headlines with its impressive, and long-running I/O event that saw it update and refine its host of software products. That said, Microsoft didn’t stop moving to make room for its competitor.
This week marks the start of the slow decline of the moniker ‘Blue.’ It’s been fun, but Microsoft confirmed that Windows Blue will in fact be known to the world as Windows 8.1. Also out this week was the news that Windows 8.1 will be free, and distributed through the Windows Store.
That Windows 8.1 will come at now cost is not a surprise. It would have been a relations nightmare if Microsoft had tried to sell a new set of code to folks that had purchased Windows 8 itself less than a year before; that and Microsoft wants to improve the Windows 8 experience for all its users, and this is the only way that it has a chance to do so.
Distribution through the Windows Store is neat, but again not a surprise; Microsoft wants its users to spend more time in the digital marketplace, and this is a way to bring stragglers and holders-back into the fold, at least once.
Also, eating your own oats sets good precedent for the developers that are depending on Microsoft to expand and grow the Store.
This week Microsoft released a number of upgrades to the SkyDrive product. They are incremental, welcome updates. As TNW’s Emil Protalinksi reported:
Arguably the biggest new feature is the new photos timeline view. The main idea here is to give you a way to see all your SkyDrive photos across all your albums and folders based on when they were taken. There’s also a new filmstrip view, which lets you breeze through photos in a slide show.
Last but not least, the thumbnails view has been tweaked. Microsoft has also introduced new thumbnails for PowerPoint and Word files.
SkyDrive has more than 250 million users. That number will rise as Windows 8 usage rises. Forget the television show, the storage wars are real.
The Lumia 925 will ship with a different build of Windows Phone 8. The new version will sport a few new features that Microsoft calls “small,” though they are in fact large enough to warrant notice.
FM radio support will return to the platform. Data Sense will become available on more carriers. Xbox Music has been improved to help with music selection, and metadata accuracy. However, most importantly:
[The update] will contain support for Google’s sync protocols CalDAV and CarddDAV. This means that if you use a Windows Phone handset, you can keep using your full suite of Google mail, calendar, and contact services.
If you were worried about your handset’s relationship with Google services taking a hit, well, this is good news.
This week Microsoft brought Google Talk to Outlook.com. A small change, but one that lowers barriers to switching. Outlook.com now has more than 400 million active users. Gmail is more popular than Outlook.com, but Microsoft’s rebuilt email service has been the company reverse a long decline in the product category.
Outlook.com recently received a massive influx of users from the now defunct Hotmail service. Outlook.com has thus burned its chief steroid. Now, growth on the platform will only come organically.
Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble
Continue reading here: This week at Microsoft: SkyDrive, Windows Phone, and Blue
Bitcoin exchange service Mt. Gox is experiencing some issues with U.S. authorities. The Department of Homeland Security issued a seizure warrant to Dwolla for the money in Mt. Gox’s Dwolla account. Mt. Gox users can’t use Dwolla as a funding option anymore even though it was one of the most popular options. The Japanese startup failed to register in the U.S. as a money transmitting company — president and CEO Mark Karpeles now faces up to five years in prison.
Dwolla had no choice but to proceed with the request. IDG News obtained a copy of the warrant through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigation team of the Department of Homeland Security.
In order to accept funds in dollars, Mt. Gox opened a Wells Fargo business account for Mutum Sigillum LLC (Mt. Gox’s American subsidiary). The company had to complete a document that states whether it provides money services or not. The warrant reads: “That document was completed on May 20, 2011, and identified Mutum Sigillum LLC as a business not engaged in money services.”
In particular, Karpeles answered no to two important questions: “Do you deal in or exchange currency for your customer?” and “Does your business accept funds from customers and send the funds based on customers’ instructions (Money Transmitter)?” If the ICE feels the need to emphasize those questions, it means that the DHS probably believes that Mt. Gox is both a money transmitter and a currency exchange service.
Mt. Gox should have registered with FinCEN to limit fraudulent activity — it is a requirement for money services in the U.S. As Bitcoin is an independent and anonymous currency, many observers believe that it is used for money laundering and paying for illegal drugs. It could be the DHS’s main concern.
The exchange service is still working fine. So far, Mt. Gox wrote the following statement on its Facebook page:
Like many who have contacted us, MtGox has read on the Internet that the United States Department of Homeland Security had a court order and/or warrant issued from the United States District Court in Maryland which it served upon the Dwolla mobile payment service with respect to accounts used for trading with MtGox. We take this information seriously. However, as of this time we have not been provided with a copy of the court order and/or warrant, and do not know its scope and/or the reasons for its issuance. MtGox is investigating and will provide further reports when additional information becomes known.
If you’re one of those music fans who hounds bands and musicians with questions such as ‘When are you coming to play MY town?’, Detour is one service you will be all over like a
deranged groupie rash.
London-based startup Songkick launched crowdfunding platform Detour in private beta last year, focusing on a small group of serious music fans. In the intermittent period, the service has seen 10 fan-generated gigs come to fruition which, when you consider it was only opened to 1,00 fans, isn’t bad.
In its short life to date, 114 fans used Detour to bring Braid to London, while 80 fans prompted Desaparecidos to play live too. In total, $100,000 in ticket sales have been generated through Detour so far.
It’s a simple-yet-genius idea, and from today any music fan based in the UK capital can use the service.
There’s three stages to the crowdfunding process – pledging, selecting promoters and confirmation.
The first phase is all about building interest and seeing how much demand there really is. Sign in using your Songkick log-in details, and YOU decide how much you want to pay. Though your pledge is secured with your bank card, no money is actually taken off until the gig is confirmed.
Once an artist has gained sufficient popularity, the good folks at Songkick will establish contact with a promoter to help make the gig happen. And the final stage is ‘Confirmed’, meaning it’s all systems go and fan pledges are transformed into tickets. Any remaining allocation then go on general sale.
Now, to get your favorite artists to tour near you, you can manually search for them in the Detour database. If you choose someone who’s ‘too popular,’ you’ll be asked to search for someone a little more ‘niche’. In other words, someone who may not be confident of any demand for their live show. Otherwise, you can browse the existing Pledge Leaderboard and throw your own hat into the ring.
If you’re not familiar with how Songkick’s core platform works, it scans your device for music (via Web and mobile apps) and tells you what gigs are coming up near you, based on your collection. As such, Detour already knows who you like, so in your tracked artists section you can see if there’s anyone needing an extra pledge to get things moving.
Although it is only London-focused at the moment, it will be opening across the UK shortly. And don’t be too surprised if it opens further afield after that, as Songkick co-founder and CEO Ian Hogarth says in a blog post earlier today, that the team have been “thrilled at the emails we’ve been getting from fans and promoters across the world asking when Detour would come to their city.”
Interestingly, Detour isn’t just being used by fans. Some independent London promoters have also used Detour to kickstart concert campaigns, as it means far lower risk – it’s like a market research tool to establish demand. Also, it could be used for just about any artist or live performer – Detour has already been used to sway comedian Aziz Ansari towards a London gig.
“When we launched Detour London in November, we really didn’t know what would happen,” says Hogarth. “In some ways, that’s the most amazing thing about the Internet – if you give people a powerful new way to connect, they figure out ways to use it that couldn’t be anticipated in advance.”
Detour is open to London users now, and will open across the UK shortly after.
A number of startups have been trying their hand at subscription-based children’s books services, or something like a “Netflix for kids’ books,” so to speak. Today, another entry called Zoobean joins the flock, with the debut of its own handpicked catalog which parents can either subscribe to, or choose to just shop online like a standard e-commerce website.
The company was co-founded by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Google’s head of K-12 Education Outreach, and her husband Felix Brandon Lloyd, who is a former Washington, D.C., Teacher of the Year. Like the founders of similar services in this space, including the recently launched Sproutkin and The Little Book Club, for example, Bookey and Lloyd are also parents.
“About a year ago, when our daughter was born, we were looking for a book for our son that would help him understand what it would mean to be a big brother. And in this particular case – we’re a multi-racial family – we were looking for something that might have kids that more resembled our family,” explains Lloyd.
That challenge proved harder than they thought.
The parents wanted a way to find a recommended book that matched their interests, but one they knew was also quality reading. So they built Zoobean to address this problem.
The site, at launch, has nearly 1,500 books for sale, all of which are parent-recommended, curated by a team of parents, teachers, librarians and others, and which are cataloged more extensively with topics, characters’ backgrounds, recommended ages, keyword tags and more. That way, when a parent is looking for a specific book on a topic, they can click to see all those that address that topic – like “self-esteem,” “anger and frustration,” or “growing up,” for example, as well as find books that match their own family structure and characteristics (e.g. “brother & sister,” “mother & child,” “black,” “Chinese Americans,” etc.)
The site will directly sell five featured items per month centered around a theme, and one of these will be available through an optional subscription. Subscribers pay $14.95 for the featured book of the month, a high-quality, hardcover. However, the majority of the cataloged books on Zoobean are being sold through affiliates like Amazon. Zoobean also offers a weekly reading guide for parents detailing the books in its featured collection along with activities parent and child can do together to learn more about the topic.
Though when the founders were speaking of their site’s uniqueness, their focus was on the curation aspects and the way the books were cataloged in more detail. But one of the more interesting things about this service with respect to its competitors is the diversity its selection reflects. There are books about many different ethnicities and subjects, and even harder-to-find books that cover transgender issues or bullying, for example.
“Any kid, parent or loved one who’s coming to find the right book can find one that the child can see him or herself in,” explains Bookey of the Zoobean collection.
The company has raised $500,000 in a seed round led by Kapor Capital, along with other private angels, friends and family. The plan is to raise another $250,000 on top of that.
Until today, Zoobean was in private, invite-only beta with some 200 testers. Now, it’s opening its doors to all parents or anyone else in the market for kids’ books. Users can sign up or browse the collection here.