CrowdOptic, a startup with technology for identifying where people are pointing their smartphone cameras, has raised another $1 million in funding.
When I’ve spoken to the team in the past, they’ve emphasized the ways this could be used to create new types of social interactions — if people are attending a live event and pointing their cameras at the same thing, they can start chatting and sharing content. However, the company’s website highlights a number of use cases, including “focus-aware” advertising, analytics, news reporting, social TV (live attendees can provide content to people watching at home), and security.
CEO and co-founder Jon Fisher said that customers include Australia- and New Zealand-based ticketing company Ticketek (CrowdOptic built the company’s Friend Spotter app for finding your Facebook friends in a stadium, which you can see in the screenshot above) and Fora.tv (which used CrowdOptic to share authenticated, eyewitness content from the presidential debates).
The new funding comes from CrowdOptic’s existing investors, including Silicon Valley Bank, tech legend Ray Lane, and Fisher himself. Fisher also said that CrowdOptic recently celebrated its second quarter of profitability. The company has now raised a total of $3.5 million.
By the way, Fisher was previously CEO of Bharosa, NetClerk, and AutoReach, but he isn’t the only team member with an impressive résumé — COO Jim Kovach has worked at other startups, he has a medical degree and a law degree, and he was a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
Here is the original post: CrowdOptic Raises Another $1M To Build Experiences Based On Where Your Phone Is Pointing
MessageMe — a messaging app that launched in March with a little Facebook controversy thrown in — has raised another $10 million, according to an SEC filing earlier today. The Series A round was led by Greylock Partners; and as part of it, John Lilly, the ex-CEO of Mozilla who is now a partner at Greylock, will be joining the board of LittleInc Labs, makers of MessageMe.
TechCrunch understands that others participating in this round are the same investors from LittleInc Labs’ $1.9 million seed round, including True Ventures, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, SVAngel, Resolut.vc, Andreessen Horowitz, and Social+Capital Partnership. The company’s angels also include Airbnb’s Brian Pokorny, Hiten Shah, Eric Wu and TinyCo CEO Suleman Ali.
Although the seed round was announced in March, just weeks after the launch of the app, it actually closed last year and went towards the company’s launch. This newest round will be used to help MessageMe keep up with growth in the future, as it faces up to an increasingly crowded field of competitors. They include biggies like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both of which are popular across a number of regions; those that have built up strong followings in local markets, such as KakaoTalk in South Korea and Line in Japan; and newer contenders like the new Hangouts app from Google.
Amidst (or perhaps despite) all the competition, MessageMe continues to grow fast.
Two months ago, the app was seeing 500 notifications per second among 1 million users — despite the fact that Facebook cut MessageMe off from Social Graph access one week after it launched. The reason for that appeared to be the same as for other apps that faced the same fate: they are not allowed to use “Find Friends” features to seek out Facebook contacts on third-party apps, when those third-party apps are deemed to be competitive to/replicating core Facebook services.
Today the sent rate is apparently significantly higher, as are user numbers. We understand that the company will be sharing more specific numbers next week when it also will be announcing details for how LittleInc Labs plans to make money from its ad-free, free-to-download app.
On that front, there have already been some fairly obvious clues as to what those plans might entail: In addition to multimedia options in the app to send messages as pictures, doodles, video, voice, location and music, there are also tabs for stickers and money.
Conversely, although the two co-founders, Arjun Sethi and Justin Rosenthal, have had extensive experience with social gaming in past roles, including long periods for both at LOLapps, it’s noticeable that there is no games tab on that dashboard.
Stickers, of course, have been a very popular value-added service for other apps like Line, which makes millions each month from stickers; and other messaging apps like Path are now adopting them, too.
Money is a newer area in messaging but one that is also being chased by more than one party: Google just yesterday announced that Google Wallet would be integrated with Gmail, letting users send money as attachments. Peer-to-peer money transfers via mobile, meanwhile, have been a much-used service particularly in developing markets, where users may not have bank accounts. MessageMe could play on both of these concepts, depending on who it partners with to provide the service.
The first rule of being cool is not telling people you want to be cool. Yahoo is not following this rule, with its M&A team in full pray-and-spray acquisition mode post-Marissa Mayer hire, hitting on everything that walks, or at least has traction.
I’ve heard rumors that Yahoo was trying to get into the following deals over the past couple of months: Foursquare (at an $800 million asking price). Path (at a $2 billion asking price). Pinterest. Hulu. Zynga. Daily Motion. And at a smaller scale: Gdgt. Wavii. Media Ocean (?). A spate of others. And now Tumblr. “Literally they talk to everyone,” said one person familiar with the matter on the matter.
There was a kid in my high school who used to buy the popular kids lunch so he could sit with them. Yahoo has become that kid. At a reported $1b Tumblr would be a pricey picnic, about 1/4 of the cash Yahoo has on hand.
But it could work if it goes through, which I don’t think it will. A Tumblr buy fixes the issue of declining Yahoo traction, particularly amongst us wild, mobile-addicted youth. Yahoo, which wants to be a “key part of everyday life,” is limited by the fact that young people don’t want to use it at all, let alone every day. Tumblr is the exact opposite, hitting the sweet spot of mobile, social communications, messaging and viral distribution — Even bringing in some coin in the process.
Just to heap another dollop of speculation on top of this already absurdly speculative post: It wouldn’t be surprising if Google was also courting David Karp, as Mayer, a former Googler, still thinks like she’s in Google M&A, “Hey, a critical mass of people are using it … Let’s buy it and stick ads on it!.” Imagine what the social blogging platform could do to revive Google+ engagement and content creation … And how much more it would be worth to Google?
And it certainly makes sense for Yahoo to explore this strategy as well, in its larger, non-acquihire deals. But perhaps it should try being less promiscuous about it.
Read the original: Yahoo Wants To Buy Everyone, Tumblr Edition
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
Google is expanding its Google Offers service, which reminds users via a mobile app or email whenever there’s a limited-time deal at a nearby business, so that users can now see, save and share promotions from within their Google+ stream.
Only a select number of brands and companies will be able to share Google Offers through their respective Google+ accounts to begin with. NOOK, Hello Kitty, Art.com and Adafruit Industries have already started sharing exclusive deals through the service, although there could be more waiting in the wings.
Restaurant-rating group Zagat is also on the list of early adopters, which is notable given that Google recently unveiled support for Zagat listings and ratings throughout its refreshed Google Maps service.
“You can save these offers directly from the post,” Dennis Troper, Product Management Director of Google+ said. “Once saved, you can use the Google Offers app or simply follow the email confirmation on how to easily redeem the offer online or in-store.”
Google needs to give potential users as many reasons as possible to log-in and explore the Google+ social network on a regular basis. The company recently unveiled new photo features at its I/O developer conference, including automatic enhancements and album selections, to entice users back to the service.
The company is pitching Google+ today, however, as a counterpoint to Twitter, Foursquare and numerous daily deals sites whereby users can follow brands and discover deals about their latest products or services.
Businesses have been keen to sign-up to Google+, but the perceived engagement with users is much lower than that of Facebook or Twitter. That could be due to the overall userbase of each social network, but regardless, the addition of Google Offers should give companies, brands and users another reason to keep one eye on their stream.
Google Offers was launched in May 2011 and is available as a dedicated app for both Android and iOS devices. It shares many of the same traits being adopted by Foursquare at the moment, whereby users are shown timely offers based on their location, preferences and order history.
Neither company has managed to amass the sheer number of users needed to make the concept a well-known and instinctive part of people’s daily routine, but Google arguably has the infrastructure and track record to get there first. Is this an indicator that Google will be giving Google Offers some renewed focus and attention moving forward? We’ll have to wait and see.
Image Credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO for AFP / Getty Images