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Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Article from GigaOm.

Zscaler a four-year-old startup that has bootstrapped its business by providing a new form of security designed for a mobile and cloud-dependent workforce, has raised $38 million in first-time financing. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and an unnamed strategic investor.

Zscaler has been fairly successful in its four years building a significant base of clients including Crutchfield Corporation, La-Z-Boy and Telefonica. The company’s software as a service is hosted in more than 100 data centers around the world and essentially protects a company’s web traffic. It does this by routing requests through Zscaler’s software. But there’s no software for users to download on their clients and there’s also no appliance for corporate IT to worry about.

As the cloud and mobility do away with the perimeter model of security where a firewall may prevent harmful traffic from getting in and corporate secrets from getting out, Zscaler is one of several new companies trying to adapt security to a world where there is no perimeter. And even if the corporate IT thought it had a perimeter, the corporation may not own it or have a say in what runs on it. A perfect example of this might be the CEO’s iPad (a aapl).

Zscaler doesn’t solve all problems, but it’s certainly ahead of the pack in thinking about security in a forward-looking way. Other companies trying to address the changes in security required by BYOD and corporate access to the cloud applications are Bromium and CloudPassage. And by waiting to take on venture capital Zscaler’s CEO Jay Chaudhry has joined a select group of established companies who are finally succumbing to the lure of VC cash. For example Qualtrics, a ten-year-old company this year raised $70 million in its first round of outside investment. Another company, Code 42, avoided VC dollars for 11 years before this year raising $52.5 million.

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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.

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Article from SFGate.

“If Facebook is like hanging out at a banquet with a large buffet to feast on, then social network Path is an intimate dinner with close friends. Path is now getting new silverware and table decorations, so to speak, with the release of updated software.

CEO Dave Morin, a Facebook alum, says the dinner-party philosophy remains but users can now share their comings and goings with up to 150 friends, up from the original 50.

With the new version available this week, a year after its debut, Path aims to be more than a sharing application. It wants to be a digital journal that documents your days with a push of a button.

Morin describes it as “a slightly social experience.” You’re not just updating it to share your day with others; you’re recording your life for yourself.

“The idea has always been to give you a trusted place to share with your close friends and family,” Morin said. “Now that the (mobile phone) is the accessory you have in your hand all the time, it’s become a journal.”

Path began as an iPhone application for sharing photos and videos. Users later got the ability to add one of five emoticons to their friends’ photos.

The new version lets users post music and tell everyone where they are, with whom and whether they are awake or asleep. It’s also compatible with Android-running phones for the first time. And, it includes technology that allows the application to make updates on its own, as long as the user agrees to it, or opts in.

For example, if you fly to Minneapolis, the application can track you with GPS and post this when you land: “Arrived in Minneapolis, it’s 6:06 p.m. Mostly cloudy and 50 degrees.” The location updates are neighborhood and city specific but will not pin an actual location.

Morin says the auto-updates make it easier for users to share richer content without much effort. And, while the details may seem personal, your network is only of close friends and family.

The update retains strict privacy controls, which Morin says is key to making people comfortable with sharing, especially in the wake of high-profile debates over privacy issues at Facebook.

On Tuesday, the government announced a proposed settlement with Facebook over “unfair and deceptive” business practices. The pact requires the company to get people’s approval before changing how it shares their data.

The new version of Path integrates larger social networks Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, allowing status updates to those sites from the Path application.

Morin says the San Francisco-based startup has enough funding for its next stage and just hired its 20th employee. Path has more than 1 million users.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Facebook members have listened to more than 1.5 billion songs in the six weeks since the social network rolled out its latest Open Graph applications platform.

And the online music services that have hitched their wagon to Facebook are flourishing, according to stats posted on the company’s developers blog.

“As a result, some of our biggest music developers have more than doubled their active users, while earlier-stage startups and services starting with a smaller base have seen anywhere between a 2-10x increase in active users,” Facebook’s Casey Maloney Rosales Muller wrote. “It’s still early, but these results show that the Open Graph can be a powerful discovery mechanism for users and drive significant growth for developers.”

One big winner so far is Spotify, the online music service that just expanded to the United States in the summer. Since announcing it was plugging into the beta Open Graph protocol at the F8 developers’ conference Sept. 22, Spotify has gained more than 4 million new users.

And Earbits, the company that also powers SFGate Radio, has recorded a 1,350 percent increase in the number of users who become fans of bands they’re hearing, he said.

Meanwhile, MOG has grown 246 percent, Rdio has seen a 30-fold increase, Slacker reports an 11-fold increase and Deezer has added 10,000 users.

Ticketing sites Eventbrite, Ticketmaster and Ticketfly have also reported $2 to $6 in direct ticket sales for each link shared within Facebook.

And all this has happened before Facebook has had a chance to roll out Open Graph and new Timeline user profiles to a wider portion of its audience of 800 million users. The Palo Alto company says those rollouts are coming soon.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Twitter use is growing, with more than 100 million monthly active users around the world and 50 million who log on every day, the San Francisco microblogging service said Thursday.

Chief executive officer Dick Costolo said the number of active users increased 82 percent since the beginning of this year, putting the company on pace to add as many active users by the end of 2011 as the combined 26 million that Twitter added from 2006 to 2009.

The increasing audience size is key to the company’s future because Twitter is now convinced advertising is “the horse they are going to ride” to generate revenue, said analyst Debra Aho Williamson, principal social media analyst for the research firm

“These are all positive trends,” Williamson said. “2011 has been a good year for Twitter in terms of getting more usage, not just awareness.”

Costolo revealed the new data during an informal “state of the union” briefing with reporters Thursday. Williamson was also prebriefed by Costolo on Wednesday.

Twitter has previously said it had more than 200 million registered accounts worldwide. But Twitter watchers had long questioned how many were multiple accounts registered by the same person and how many accounts were actually active.

So Twitter is now focusing attention on its active users, not just the overall base. Facebook uses the same strategy, touting its 750 million users who log on at least once a month.

The number of active users “can be a successful measure of the exchange of information that’s going on there,” Williamson said.

Many press releases

Still, Williamson said many of Twitter accounts are used by “corporations pumping out press releases, using it as a distribution service.” And she notes that media companies like CNN and The Chronicle have multiple Twitter accounts to distribute news headlines and story links.

“While it sounds relatively good that half of active users log in every day, I wonder what percentage of those active users are just entities putting stuff out and not people actively engaging,” she said.

According to Twitter, the data shows:

— An average 230 million tweets per day, up 110 percent from January.

— More than 5 billion tweets per month

— A 105 percent increase in the number of users who log on each day.

— More than 400 million monthly unique visitors to Twitter.com, up 70 percent from January.

— 55 percent are mobile users.

Twitter now has more than 50 percent of National Football League players, 75 percent of National Basketball Association players, 82 percent of members of Congress, 85 percent of U.S. senators, 87 percent of Billboard Top 100 musicians, 93 percent of Food Network chefs and all of the Nielsen top 50 TV shows.

But there’s one potentially negative statistic that sticks out – a huge portion of active users, 40 percent, have not tweeted in the past month.

“If you think of it as a social network, then 40 out of every 100 aren’t even being very social,” Williamson said.

Still, the overall numbers should be large enough to entice advertisers.

Maybe it’s not as big as Facebook, but “if you look at it from an advertising perspective, an audience is an audience,” Williamson said. “Twitter is really proving itself in terms of getting people engaged with the advertising.”

Ad revenue projections

Twitter hasn’t been successful generating revenue by licensing access to its extensive stream of tweets. Microsoft on Wednesday renewed a deal to license Twitter’s data “fire hose,” but Google has not.

Williamson said the company is continuing to learn from its Promoted Tweets advertising platform and has other programs in the pipeline, including a self-service advertising system.

Twitter is still a privately held company, but eMarketer has projected the firm will have $150 million in advertising revenue this year and $250 million next year. Williamson said she is examining how the newest data may change those projections.

“Twitter had a good year and they clearly have a lot of things planned throughout the rest of the year and in 2012,” Williamson said. “They’re hoping the growth trends will continue.””

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Article from SFGate.

“RootMusic, a San Francisco startup that helps artists such as Rihanna, Katy Perry and Arcade Fire connect with their Facebook fans, received additional venture funding Wednesday amid reports that the social-networking giant is close to offering its own music service.

RootMusic, which says it has about 32 million monthly active users for its BandPage platform on Facebook, announced a $16 million round of financing led by GCV Capital.

The platform adds a page for fans to hear and share songs, watch video and view concert dates. The company was started in March 2010, but already more than 250,000 bands around the world use BandPage, and usage has increased tenfold since January, said RootMusic CEO J Sider.

There have been various reports that Facebook is ready to release its own music service. On Tuesday, CNBC, Mashable and other outlets reported that Facebook plans to announce a music platform at its f8 developer conference in San Francisco on Sept. 22, with Spotify, MOG and Rdio as partners.

Facebook spokesman Larry Yu would not comment directly on those reports or what’s coming for f8, but said in a statement that “many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.”

Sider said he views a potential Facebook music platform as complementary to BandPage.

“If something like this would happen, it would raise awareness that as a fan, (Facebook’s) where I should go first to find information.”

The Facebook music drumbeat might prove to be sour notes for former social-networking rival Myspace, which has been trying to reposition itself as a destination for music. Indeed, RootMusic’s slogan entices musicians to “Make the Move to BandPage on Facebook.”

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Article from GigaOm.

I have some news for Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, co-founders of Instagram, a San Francisco-based, photo-oriented, social network: They are the fastest growing photo sharing service on Twitter. I’m not surprised. As you know, many folks take photos and share them via Twitter, thanks to services like Twitpic, Yfrog and even Twitter itself. However, Instagram is slightly different; if you’re an iPhone user, you take a photo, upload to Instagram, then share it on Twitter.

Skylines, a Dutch startup focused on real-time photo search, has been analyzing the Twitter feed and has some unique insights into the market. From May 23 to June 26, 2011, Skylines found Instagram usage has gone up 38 percent: from 538,000 photos shared weekly to 740,000 photos shared each week.

Instagram CEO Systrom had recently observed that only 11 percent of Instagram members were using Twitter and by that metric, Instagram members might be adding about a million photos a day to Instagram. Add those two data points together, and one can extrapolate that Instagram is gathering steam. The service recently passed the five million subscriber mark. This level of engagement is one of the reasons why I believe Instagram has a chance of becoming the mobile social hub.

Skylines also shared some other data for the five-week period analysis.

  • From May 23rd to June 26, 2011, there were 33 million photos shared on Twitter via Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram and Mobypicture (the four services indexed by Skylines).
  • Twitpic is no slouch. It was responsible for sharing of 3.295 million photos during the week of June 20, making it the largest photo-sharing service.
  • Yfrog was used to share 2.98 million photos during the same week.
  • The growth in the total number of photos shared in the five-week period measured was 17 percent.
  • Only 4 percent of the pictures are geo-tagged, while 15 percent have a hashtag.
  • Not surprisingly, weekends are the most popular days to share photos.

As the data shows, while Twitter might have launched its own photo sharing service via Photobucket, the independent photo-sharing services have not seen any kind of slowdown, though there are some dark clouds looming ahead for the likes of Twitpic and Yfrog.”

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