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Archive for January, 2012

Article from GigaOm.

Apigee, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based API management platform and services company is buying San Francisco-based Usergrid, as part of its increasing focus on the mobile app business.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Companies such as Netflix and AT&T have been using Apigee to offer their application programming interfaces to developers. While most of Apigee’s initial efforts were focused on web and enterprise applications, the company (which was started under the name Sonoa Systems) has seen most of the developer focus shift to mobile.

When I asked Chet Kapoor, Apigee CEO if this acquisition was a change in direction for the company, he said that Apigee had been dealing with the shift to mobile for nearly a month. He said developers (including those in enterprises) are thinking about mobile apps before web apps.

Apigee, Kapoor says will offer the Usergrid and its own API management platform as a cloud-based service. With this acquisition, Kapoor says, Apigee will now be able to give enterprises and developers a simple, easy and scalable way to access the full range of APIs — enterprise APIs, public APIs, and, now with Usergrid, the core APIs that all mobile applications need.

Usergrid was started by serial entrepreneur Ed Anuff who most recently worked for Six Apart. Previously, he was co-founder of Widgetbox, a popular marketplace for widgets, and he was also co-founder of enterprise software company Epicentric, an enterprise portal software company. He left Six Apart to start Usergrid, a mobile app cloud platform with focus on user management. As part of the deal, Anuff will join the new company as a vice president.

Anuff started Usergrid to collapse the complex mobile-app development stack and allow developers to focus all their energies on client side presentation and application logic – aka what sits on the phone. He wanted to hide all the complexity – hosting, databases, storage, server-side application logic, API services and user provisioning – and offer it as a cloud service. The cloud-based mobile app development platforms are a hotly contested category and recent entrants like Parse have drawn a lot of attention.

Read more here.

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Article from Huffington Post.

We’ve found ourselves parsing the GOP spouses’ style in the past, but with the caucuses underway, it’s time to get serious and look forward: what will it take for these women to transform into first ladies?

Our friend Lauren Rothman, one half of The Fashion Whip, is on the case. A D.C.-based stylist with clients from Capitol Hill to Hollywood, Lauren sat down with The Insider to give the GOP candidates’ wives some fashion advice.

What we learned:

1. Ann Romney brings “a soft look to Mitt” with her personal style, says Lauren. Or, as Ann put it, she allows Americans to see that Romney is the kind of guy who “actually does have his hair messed up most of the time.” We’ll believe it when we see it.

2. Mary Kaye Huntsman and her husband John are an incredibly well-dressed couple, making them “the political Kardashians.” But Mary Kaye’s uber preppy look could be a liability, warns Lauren. “Approachability is important.”

3. Callista Gingrich, as we’ve said before, has an incredibly stylized look. “Sometimes it looks like she sort of walked out of Stepford,” quips Lauren.

4. Carol Paul could use some gussying up and should add a touch of color to her wardrobe.

But that’s just Lauren’s advice. Watch the vid, see the pics and let us know what you think about these potential first ladies!

An advocate for several children’s charities, Romney is an avid equestrian, and with her husband pulling out ahead in several GOP primary polls, she just might have the best shot at supplanting Michelle O. as FLOTUS.

She favors more conservative looks, opting for sweaters and cardigans with pearls, although Mrs. Romney’s not afraid to experiment with colors — just check out that orange patterned top.

For more information, cleck here.

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CES: FCC’s Genachowski Calls Net-Neutrality Lawsuit ‘Distracting’

Verizon Is Challenging Agency’s Authority to Impose Internet Regulations

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 1/11/2012 6:20:19 PM

Las Vegas — FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said Verizon Communications’ lawsuit challenging the agency’s network-neutrality regulations was “distracting” and could create uncertainty and confusion in the market.

Genachowski, in his third appearance at CES, primarily used the stage Wednesday to stump for his favorite issue — pushing TV broadcasters to auction off their spectrum to be used for wireless broadband.

On network neutrality, Genachowski said he was proud of the outcome, which he claimed has not hampered investment in broadband networks and applications.

The FCC’s network-neutrality regulations, which went into effect Nov. 20, require Internet service providers to disclose network management techniques and forbids them from blocking or degrading specific content or applications.

Genachowski, who was interviewed by Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro, said the FCC was “tempted to focus on other things” but that he felt he needed to take action on network neutrality to bring about a détente between network providers and technology companies.

“I thought we had to bring peace to the land,” he said. “I’m proud of the result — our goal was to see increased investment in the broadband economy.”

About 80% of companies supported the FCC’s network neutrality rules, according to Genachowski. Alluding to Verizon’s lawsuit, which argues that the agency does not have authority to regulate the Internet, he said, “It’s a distracting lawsuit that runs the risk of creating uncertainty, unpredictably and confusion as we move forward.”

On the “spectrum crunch” issue, Genachowski repeated his call to repurpose TV airwaves for mobile broadband. He said voluntary spectrum auctions would generate $25 billion in cash for the U.S. Treasury, and — more important — make additional capacity available for new services.

“My message today on incentive auctions is simple: We need to get it done now and we need to get it done right,” he said.

Congress is to make a decision on a law enabling the FCC to proceed with incentive auctions by March 1. “At stake is U.S. leadership in mobile,” Genachowski said.

Genachowski noted that New York City has 28 full-power TV stations. “I grew up in New York and I don’t think anyone can name 28 TV stations,” he said. “What’s the right number for New York?… The beauty of incentive auctions is, the market will decide.”

In terms of future initiatives, Genachowski acknowledged that the Communications Act of 1996 “should be updated,” but he didn’t get into specifics and said a reform to the law is “not something that is actively being considered.”

“I’ve been very careful to focus on the things I really want to get done,” Genachowski said.

In his prepared remarks, Genachowski marveled at the broad range of products on the CES show floor: “Where else can you find a USB stick that is also a bottle opener?”

“Virtually every product on the CES floor is fueled by broadband Internet,” he said. “If you shut off the Internet, virtually nothing on the show floor would work.”

Shapiro cited the 2012 presidential election, pointing out that if a Republican beats President Obama, Genachowski could be out of a job. Asked by Shapiro what Genachowski wanted to be his legacy, the chairman identified focusing the FCC on broadband and working to unleash wireless spectrum. “We have a lot of work to do in 2012,” he said.

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Article from GigaOm.

Whatever the final tally is, one thing is for sure — Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a legitimate platform and will be driving app downloads for the tablet based on a modified version of Android OS. Today, Read It Later (a service that is like TiVo for web content that I recently profiled) came out and said their downloads are getting Fire-d up.

A lot of happy people unwrapped new gadgets this holiday: Device registrations for Read It Later jumped 148 percent from November to December—a bounce for all the devices and platforms we support, including the iPhone and iPadAndroidKindle Fire and Firefox extension.

This holiday it was the Kindle Fire—12.5% of all devices registered on Christmas day and an impressive 17% of new users on the day after Christmas were from the new Amazon device. As you can see below, the Kindle Fire is still quite a bit smaller than our Android and iPhone/iPad audiences (it’s also the only platform with no free version yet).

While some have claimed that Android users aren’t interested in paid or premium apps, 45% of Read It Later’s Pro users during the holidays came from Android, and 19% came from the Kindle Fire.

Those are some substantial gains for a new tablet that came to market just a few months ago. Nate Weiner, CEO and founder of Read It Later, tells me that “the Fire had a huge presence in our holiday numbers (almost on par with the iPad).” His findings are in keeping with early results from other developers, as my colleague Ryan Kim reported earlier.

It is clear that Kindle Fire will be a presence in the tablet landscape. Only yesterday I was saying that app developers with limited resources need to support two flavors of Android – Samsung’s version and Amazon’s version. The early data from Read It Later only reinforces that.

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Article from GigaOm.

By Max Levchin, Serial entrepreneur (As told to Janko Roettgers)

Max Levchin was the co-founder and CTO of Paypal, and founded Slide in 2004. He served as Slide’s CEO until the company was sold to Google in 2010, and left Google in the fall of 2011. He is also an investor in various startups, and is currently working on a new stealth-mode startup in the big data space. We wanted to hear what his plans for next year look like, and what kind of big trends he sees emerge.

My mission for myself is to help the world make sense of data. We have gone from not knowing what’s going on around us to being able to record and track just about anything.

The emergence of inexpensive sensors is the singularly most exciting thing about the world in many ways. A big part of our life is to make sense of it all before it’s too late. Why are things happening? What is going on with us? What is going on with other people? Sensors answer that in a big way. There is a famous scene in The Graduate, where the main character is being advised: “You know what you should spend your time on — plastics.” I think if someone rewrote that movie today, the answer would be “sensors.”

Fifteen years ago, you had to go to a hospital to get your vital signs checked. I imagine that in five years from now, T-Shirts will have a sensor built in that will measure your blood pressure, and then transmit that information to your phone, and your phone will text you when your blood pressure is too high — no doctors or nurses involved, just a cloud service for health monitoring.

The ubiquity of mobile devices, networks, bandwidth, cheap sensors and transmission, and cloud-based services, along with the liberation of information that was once thought of as very valuable and private and allowing it to live on a server as opposed to your personal desktop or phone — those are the pieces that will lead to exciting developments in a lot of industries, from health to transportation to energy.

Sensors are generating lots of data to process, and the big data industry will benefit tremendously from all the new sources. I think the world will be enhanced and shaped by our understanding of data for the next 100 years, and I want to participate in bringing that about. My current startup will have a lot to do with the whole emerging big data movement.

When I was analyzing what I wanted to do next, I realized I have always been really excited about data. At Paypal, I spent the majority of my time data mining — trying to understand the behavior of consumers and merchants, so that we could predict and appropriately price fraud. Being able to correctly price risk, transitions you from being a a regular payment startup to a profitable payment startup.

At Slide, we built entertainment products. But again, I was excited about the behavioral data that we generated. And I have been investing in companies that deal with big data, such as Mixpanel, which is a data analytics company, and Kaggle, which is a data science talent marketplace.

I left in Google around the beginning of October, because my ability to make an impact in a way that was both satisfying to me and useful to Google was waning. So this is the right time for me to reinvent myself again. I want to focus on taking bigger risks, to think bigger, aim higher, and build more long-term things.

One of the disturbing trends in Silicon Valley that I have seen is that a lot of people are very short-term focused, and innovation is stagnating. I think we are approaching the point where the “hard problems” of the Internet have been identified and many have been solved, so you see a lot of consumptive-type creation. There’s an attitude of, “Hey, let’s build this, it will be great, we will hammer it out and sell it to the highest bidder.”

But I think there are plenty of things that can be explored and invested in. You just have to break out of the existing mind set.

I think mobile is flipping from being a small, constrained window onto the Web to this cool new thing that’s finally living up to all those promises. Your phone or tablet is becoming a primary view on what’s going on, which is very powerful. Maybe by the end of next year, we will think of the Web as an unnecessarily large window into mobile. It will be thought of as a strictly desktop experience, what you do when you can’t stand up and move around.

I think collaborative consumption is really great, too. Companies like AirBnB and Uber and all the different variants of that model are a sane, free market way of redistributing resources to those who need them the most and are willing to pay fair-market price for them. It basically brings access to people that haven’t had it before. At some point, somewhere, somebody is dying to get rid of an apple, and somebody is starving. Creating a cheap way of connecting those two people makes the world a better place. That’s a very exciting trend and there are a million little startups trying to build solutions for different verticals — for saving time, saving resources, saving gas, saving everything that can possibly be saved. I’m thrilled about that.

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Article from SFGate.

Funny or Die, the comedy website founded by Will Ferrell, is pointing the way for Web-based entertainment companies by combining the scrappiness of an Internet startup with A-list talent that attracts viewers.

What started as a lark for Ferrell and writing partner Adam McKay has become a profitable company, with revenue approaching $30 million this year, according to a person with knowledge of the Los Angeles business.

Funny or Die’s third show on cable TV, “Billy on the Street,” started last week on Fuse network. The first feature film, “Funny or Die Presents Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie,” premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“Somebody is going to figure out the strategy of marrying traditional media to this new-media model, to the way people are now consuming content, on a massive scale,” Funny or Die Chief Executive Officer Dick Glover said. “We’re doing it in our little world. We’re doing OK.”

Since the dawn of the Internet, entertainment companies have struggled to make money on the Web. Walt Disney’s interactive unit has lost money for 12 consecutive quarters. The company said Nov. 7 that it formed a partnership with Google’s YouTube to create short, family-friendly videos. YouTube is investing about $100 million to add channels in collaboration with celebrities such as Amy Poehler, Ashton Kutcher and Shaquille O’Neal.

Mark and Michael Polish, the writer-director team behind “Twin Falls Idaho” and “The Astronaut Farmer,” have turned a modest profit from “For Lovers Only,” a feature they started on Apple’s iTunes and video on demand.

“The bottom line is, you have to have the right product because you really depend on word of mouth,” Mark Polish said. “Are they going to like it and link it to Facebook or tweet it?”

‘Landlord’ pulls traffic

Funny or Die’s ethos was established with its first Internet video, “The Landlord.” The two-minute sketch featured McKay’s 2-year-old daughter, Pearl, as a foul-mouthed landlady who intimidates a tenant played by Ferrell. Shot with no budget in 60 minutes at Ferrell’s house, “The Landlord” attracted 78 million views, according to the website.

The success generating traffic enticed stars willing to work for free for the exposure Funny or Die gave them with young, Web-savvy audiences. The money came later, as marketers bought ads on the site and film studios hired Funny or Die to create videos for the stars of upcoming films.

Funny or Die is backed by Sequoia Capital, the Menlo Park venture capital firm that has put $15 million into the company. Owners also include Ferrell and McKay’s production company, Gary Sanchez Productions, director Judd Apatow, HBO and Creative Artists Agency.

“The Landlord” remains the website’s most-watched, followed by a Justin Bieber sketch that drew 40.8 million views, according to rankings on funnyordie.com.

“We walked into Funny or Die looking at it as a clubhouse for our friends,” McKay said. “The quality didn’t have to be that high. It could be goofing around. What we didn’t anticipate was how much people would like that approach.”

Website ads account for about two-thirds of revenue. The rest comes from branded entertainment, 50 or so videos the company is hired to make each year to promote movies and products. The site has kept its credibility with fans by maintaining tight control over the creative process. Typically, the only reference to the product being promoted is made at the tail end, after the sketch is over.

Moving to movies

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie,” the first feature film under the Funny or Die brand, stars frequent collaborators Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. In the picture, two friends get a billion dollars to make a film, the biggest budget in history, only to see the project fall apart. Ferrell also appears, and Gary Sanchez Productions and Mark Cuban’s 2929 Entertainment are among the backers.

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” will be offered through video on demand and for sale at Funny or Die’s site on Jan. 27, and it will reach theaters on March 2, according to the duo’s website.

“Billy on the Street” features comedian Billy Eichner approaching New York pedestrians with questions about pop culture. The company’s other shows on cable are Comedy Central’s “Jon Benjamin Has a Van” and HBO’s “Funny or Die Presents.”

Funny or Die can charge $100,000 or more for custom-made videos and promotional campaigns, fees that include salaries for staff and payment to the stars, said the person, who declined to be named because the company is private.

“There’s an idea that young people reject advertising,” Glover said. “That’s not true. They reject bad advertising. They love advertising that talks to them in a certain way.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/26/BUSJ1MFPA0.DTL#ixzz1hvEx9sQU

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Article from GigaOm.

Mobility has changed the chip industry already, but the rise of the iPhone and devices such as e-readers are only the beginning. If we’re going to create an Internet of things that connects back to a cloud powered by millions of servers, the chip world will have to change drastically to reduce power consumption, shrink in size and embrace new architectures. Fortunately these things are already happening, and here are three startups that showcase the big upcoming shifts.

SuVolta

SuVolta doesn’t want to design chips, it wants to make the process that fabrication plants will use to build the devices. Its technology cuts the energy used in chips in half, and requires a fairly simple tweak of the chemicals layered onto the chip during the manufacturing process. The resulting chips made using SuVolta’s process are just as fast but consume about half the power.

This power reduction is cool, but it’s not the main reason why SuVolta’s on this list. SuVolta tweaks both the manufacturing process and the circuit design. But the process works best for systems on a chip, as opposed to stand alone processors. A System on a chip (SoC) is when multiple types of processors are placed on a single chip as an integrated package.

SoCs are common in the mobile world because they are a way to cram more functionality into a smaller package and they consume less power. SuVolta’s President and CEO Bruce McWilliams, believes SoCs will be the way of the future for how most chips are built.

Ambiq Micro

Ambiq is commercializing technology out of the University of Michigan to build a real-time clock designed for sensors. The clock consumes less power, but also takes over functions that currently involve other chips in order to reduce the power usage of the sensor even further (yup, it’s like an SoC microcontroller). Scott Hanson, the CEO and co-founder of Ambiq explains that today’s sensors usually contain a microcontroller, a clock that puts the chip to sleep and wakes it as necessary, a power supply, a sensor of some sort (typically a MEMs device) and a radio.

But Ambiq combines the clock and the microcontroller so the chip requires less power and takes up less space. Some proposed uses of the chip include implanting it inside the human body, or a chip that can run on tiny solar cells the size of a penny (see image).

As we put more sensors on devices and inside our infrastructure, Hansen believes we’re about to open up a new frontier for chip design firms who can build chips for the sensor web. Ambiq is his bet on this, but he expects many more. With an investment from ARM, he’s not the only one betting on a new generation of chips that will need specialized microcontroller and a smaller size, the British licensing company clearly sees an opportunity as well.

Adapteva

The demand for power in mobile devices and in the servers that power large web sites such as Facebook or Google has led to a boost for ARM, which licenses a chip architecture that trades performance speed for power efficiency. For phones this is fine, but for tablets and even servers, it may be time to think up an entirely new architecture. That’s where Adapteva comes in. The company has rethought a RISC-based architecture for chips and built massively multicore chips that are built to run in parallel or independently.

Much like an older startup called Tilera, which is also building massively multicore chips for data centers, Adapteva thinks that x86 doesn’t offer the energy efficiency needed, while ARM doesn’t offer the performance that next generation mobile devices such as tablets and servers will need. So it’s borrowing the concept of massively multicore chips from the high performance computing world and dialing it down for tomorrow’s mobile applications and up for the next generation of HPC. In the coming years, we’ll see more massively parallel chips, but we’ll also see a willingness to jettison the tried and true architectures as we embrace more specialty computing.

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