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Article from Techcrunch.

 

OK, so maybe we said it would be hard for an app to break out at SXSW this year. But that isn’t stopping several startups from trying.

One startup called Hangtime, from serial entrepreneur Karl Jacob, is looking to be the comprehensive Rolodex of events at SXSW and beyond.

It pulls in events from Facebook that you have permission to see, ranks them by overall popularity, popularity among your friends and distance among other factors.

When you open the app, you can use Facebook to find friends and pull in hundreds of events. You can say you’re “interested” in going to them by clicking a button in the app. The idea is to get people to interact without necessarily committing to going to something.

“People don’t necessarily know what they are going to. Nobody likes to commit,” he said. “So we had to make it lightweight and make it super easy for people to share things with each other, but not commit.”

In Hangtime, there’s a way to say you’re publicly interested in an event, and then there’s a way to privately share an event with a friend.

hangtime-3“That creates this bifurcation,” he said. “It’s a lightweight way of saying that you’re interested in something — but behind the scenes.”

Hangtime follows a long line of events-related startups like the now-defunct Plancast and another startup Sosh that try to help people figure out what to do on nights and weekends.

Jacob says that other events startups might have just been too early on the market.

“The biggest mistake in the past in the core event discovery space was that we had a data problem,” he said. But he said now that social platforms like Facebook have solidified, it’s become a nicely centralized source of data.

In fact, the issue now is that there’s too much data and there needs to be better personalization and recommendations, he argues.

“A hallmark of these mobile applications is that they shouldn’t require work,” Jacob said. “They shouldn’t require you to enter in things. You have to give people a good experience out of the box.”

To get that, Jacob used a pretty ingenious seeding and testing strategy.

The company bought ads on Facebook targeted at colleges in the Midwest, such as the University of Missouri-Columbia and others in Arizona, Nebraska and Alabama. They want to see if they could remotely seed an app on a college campus and have it grow organically.

So they bought Facebook ads targeted at freshmen who wanted to find out what was going on on campus. Once a few people joined, they could pull in publicly shared events on Facebook and offer a better first-time experience to others who joined. When they felt the retention metrics were good and that they could predictably make the app popular on college campus after college campus, they decided to launch it publicly.

hangtimeThe app has an Open Graph integration that puts a box on your Timeline of events you’ve been invited to and publicly expressed interest in. Whenever you interact with a Hangtime post on Facebook and like it, the person who submitted it will get a notification.

That early testing helped set up a good base for SXSW this week. As of Friday, Hangtime already had 2 million invitations for at least 1,700 SXSW events with 285,000 RSVPs.

Next on the roadmap is improving personalization. Currently, Hangtime ranks events by overall popularity and timing by the hour, which means events that are more socially relevant but later in the day can show up lower in the feed.

“We’re in the process of building machine learning systems that literally take what you’re seeing and present new events that are more to your liking,” he said.

The 10-person company has $3.5 million in funding from investors, including SV Angel, Charles River Ventures, Greylock, Intel Capital, Interwest, 500 Startups, Crosslink Capital, Freestyle Capital, Ignition Venture Partners, Science Inc., Disney’s Tugboat Ventures and Webb Investment Network along with angels like Path CEO Dave Morin, Facebook alum and Pinterest monetization head Tim Kendall, Zynga’s Mark Pincus, One Kings Lane’s Ali Pincus and Data Collective’s Matt Ocko.

Jacob previously founded Keen, which was sold to AT&T in 2007 under the name Ingenio, and Dimension X, which was acquired by Microsoft. He was also CEO of Wallop, a social-networking company that eventually pivoted into making covers for smartphones and BlackBerrys under the name Coveroo.

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Article from GigaOm.

In contrast to the findings of a research note on Tuesday that says Silver Spring Networks could soon shelve its IPO, I’ve been hearing that Silver Spring is actually getting ready to finally go public within the next four weeks, a year and a half after filing its S-1. A delay that long between filing and finally trading is not ideal, but it’s not unheard of for companies to wait through difficult market conditions, particularly as they negotiate pricing.

Beyond discussions I’ve had with sources, in Silver Spring’s latest S-1 Amendment the company notes that longtime investor Foundation Capital now says it plans to purchase $12 million worth of stock at the IPO price, following the IPO, in a private placement. If Silver Spring was planning to shelve its IPO it probably wouldn’t be negotiating this detail with its investor, and also wouldn’t continue to update its S-1 every quarter (it would just withdraw it).

Solar installer SolarCity’s investors used a similar tactic when the company went public last year to try to create interest from Wall Street. SolarCity investors Elon Musk, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and DBL Investors, agreed to buy up about a third of the Solar City float the day before trading, and that helped it get out and pop on its first day. Bankers could take it as a good sign that Foundation Capital is looking to buy up even more shares of Silver Spring.

Silver Spring has continued to grow over the years, despite the fact that selling smart grid networks to utilities is a pretty difficult low margin business. If you only look at Silver Spring’s GAAP revenue and net income it doesn’t look all that amazing, which is what this analyst did. The company hasn’t ever had a positive net income, and it recorded revenue of $147 million for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2012, which was down from $176 million from the same period in 2011.

But if you look at the deals that Silver Spring closed in 2012, and the amount it billed its utility customers for, it actually had a decent year last year. The company recorded billings of $219 million for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2012, up from $183 million for the same period of 2011. Billings are how much Silver Spring invoiced its customers, and they are considered deferred revenue until they can be officially counted as revenue. It had its highest gross margin yet on those billings of 34 percent. The company has a total of $473 million in deferred revenue as of the nine months ended September 30, 2012, and about $60 million in cash for the same period.

That’s the problem with selling gear to utilities. The deals and the sales cycles take a really long time to negotiate from a trial to a commercial deal, and then a long time to see through to the end. We’ll see how comfortable Wall Street is with looking at both its GAAP and non-GAAP financials when it comes to interest in the IPO.

Silver Spring Networks has networked 13 million smart grid devices, and has contracts to network more than 22 million total. The company has a total backlog of $745 million in product and service billings.

Now, we’ll see if over the next four weeks, Silver Spring is able to negotiate and get enough interest to price its shares at the valuation it wants. But from what I’m hearing it’s starting to aggressively try to do just that.

Read more here.

 

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Article from GigaOm.

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur — or something like that is true of 27-year-old Joshua Kushner, who despite being one of the hottest hands in the venture capital business has started his second startup, according to sources in New York.

Kushner, who eschews attention, is keeping everything hush-hush, so much so that even the name of the company is under wraps. In fact, I am still waiting to hear back from him. What I have learned is that it is focused on the healthcare business and is trying to take advantage of the changes in the healthcare industry due to universal healthcare. It has been funded by Kushner’s fund and has hired about fifteen people, mostly in engineering and design.

One of the reasons why Kushner’s new effort is interesting is because he has proved to be a stunningly successful venture capitalist, with a keen eye for consumer internet trends. Kushner started his first startup, Vostu (a social-gaming company based in Brazil) when still a junior in college about five years ago.

He left to work full-time on Thrive Capital, which has three funds and has about $200 million under management. As a venture capitalist, Kushner has been on a tear. His investments include Instagram, CodeAcademy, Dwolla, Fab, Warby Parker, and GroupMe. Of the lot, Instagram was acquired by Facebook and GroupMe was gulped by Skype before it was acquired by Microsoft.

Read more here.

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Article from SFGate.

The Knight Capital Group Inc. trading firm said it lost $764.3 million in the third quarter because of a software glitch that flooded the stock market with trades one day in August, causing dozens of stocks to fluctuate wildly.

Knight said Wednesday that the software glitch cost it $461.1 million in financial losses. The company also took a charge of $143 million to reflect its weaker brand and competitive position after the episode.

The problems began for Knight early on Aug. 1, when dozens of stocks started rising and falling sharply for no apparent reason. Wizzard Software, for example, shot up above $14 after closing the night before at $3.50.

Knight takes stock trading orders from big brokers like TD Ameritrade and E-Trade. It routes the orders to exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange.

After Knight acknowledged that a technical glitch in its software had caused the disruption, its stock lost three-fourths of its value in two days. Knight had to cede control of its operations on the New York Stock Exchange and obtain a financial rescue from Wall Street peers.

Knight, based in Jersey City, N.J., managed to eke out a small profit after excluding losses from the trading fiasco. Its stock rose 5 percent in premarket trading.

Knight’s loss amounts to $6.30 per share for the period ended Sept. 30. That compares with net income of $26.9 million, or 29 cents per share, a year ago.

The technology issue accounted for a financial loss of $2.46 per share, plus 76 cents per share for the related impairment charge.

Excluding those and other one-time items, Knight said it earned a penny per share. Analysts had forecast 2 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Chairman and CEO Tom Joyce said that the company was gratified that it managed a small profit on an adjusted basis.

“I believe the recovery to date speaks to the strength of our offering, the dedication of Knight’s client teams and deep client relationships we enjoy,” he said.

Net trading revenue was negative because of the software glitch. Knight Capital’s market making segment was hit the hardest, reporting net negative revenues of $341.2 million.

After the trading losses threatened its survival, Knight received $400 million from an investor group that included Jefferies Group, Blackstone, Getco, Stephens, Stifel Nicolaus and TD Ameritrade. The investors received stock that can be converted into a 73 percent stake in Knight, which means Knight essentially handed over control to the investor group.

Knight also added three directors to its board, increasing its size to 10 members.

Knight’s stock slipped 5 cents to $2.53 in morning trading Wednesday. Its shares fell to a 52-week low of $2.27 in August. They traded as high as $14 per share almost a year ago.

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Article from GigaOm.

Skyfire, which is trying to help carriers tame their runaway mobile data growth, has raised $10 million as it looks to take its data compression service global. The new money, which comes just nine months after raising $8 million from Verizon Ventures , brings Skyfire’s total funding to $41 million and will help Skyfire expand its footprint in Europe and Asia.

New investor Panorama Capital is leading the round with participation from existing investors Verizon Ventures, Matrix Partners, Trinity Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Skyfire’s Rocket Optimizer provides carriers with a network optimization platform that can produce 60 percent average data savings for videos and 50 percent for images. The company has been deploying Optimizer on the east coast with a Tier 1 carrier, providing video optimization for tens of millions of users. Photo and other multimedia optimization is expected to be added next year, Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck told me earlier this month.

Glueck didn’t say which US carrier is using Skyfire but it’s a good bet that it’s Verizon. He did say that the US carrier will be rolling out Optimizer across its network early next year.

The big opportunity now is to take the product that’s been tested in the US to carriers in Europe and Asia. The company plans on using its new funding to build up its presence in Eastern Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia and add to its London and Silicon Valley offices. Glueck told me recently that Skyfire works for both 3G and LTE networks and is in trials with six or seven carriers. And in a statement, he said the issue is even more pressing for European carriers, who are seeing 85 percent of their LTE network bandwidth being used up by video.

“Data deluge is crushing mobile operators, straining the user experience, and squeezing operating margins,” said Glueck in a statement. “Our new funding lets Skyfiretake our proven technology in North America to new regions on a global scale.”

Read more here.

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Article from SFGate.

“Here’s a mind-numbing stat: Americans spent a total of 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May, according to a new Nielsen study released Monday.

In fact, the media-measurement firm’s new report on social networking found that Americans spent more time on Facebook than on any other website – and it wasn’t even close. Yahoo was second with 17.2 billion minutes in May and Google ranked third at 12.5 billion minutes.

With Americans now spending nearly one-quarter of their overall Internet time on social networks and blogs, Nielsen said the results show “how powerful this influence is on consumer behavior, both online and off.”

“Whether it’s a brand icon inviting consumers to connect with a company on LinkedIn, a news ticker promoting an anchor’s Twitter handle or an advertisement asking a consumer to ‘Like’ a product on Facebook, people are constantly being driven to social media,” said Nielsen’s first-ever State of the Media report to focus on social networking.

The report took a snapshot of online activity during May and found nearly 4 of every 5 active U.S. Internet users went to social-networking and blogging sites, accounting for 22.5 percent of the total amount of minutes people spent online. Online gaming was next with 9.8 percent, followed by e-mail at 7.6 percent.

In the social-networking and blogging category, Palo Alto’s Facebook was the runaway leader with 140 million unique visitors during the month, with Google’s Blogger blogging platform a distant second with 50 million unique visitors spending about 723 million minutes.

But the up-and-coming blogging platform Tumblr was third with 623 million minutes, edging out both San Francisco microblogging service Twitter Inc. with 565 million minutes and the professional social network LinkedIn Corp. of Mountain View, which had 325 million. Nielsen said New York’s Tumblr Inc. has nearly tripled its audience since May 2010 and is now “an emerging player in social media.”

Also, the report said 70 percent of all adult social-network users shop online. But 60 percent of social-network denizens create reviews of products or services, making them more likely to be influential for online and offline purchases.

And compared with average Internet users, social networkers are 26 percent more likely to post their political opinions, 33 percent more likely to say what they like or don’t like on television and 75 percent more likely to spend heavily on music.

Other Nielsen findings include:

— The profile of the most active social-network user is of a woman of Asian/Pacific Islander descent between the ages of 18 and 34. The majority of social-network users are women, but men are more likely to visit LinkedIn.

— About 31 million people watched nearly 157 video streams on social networks or blogs in May. More women than men watched video this way, but men spent 9 percent more time watching those streams.

— While almost all social-media users access their networks by computer, a growing segment – about 37 percent – now do so with their mobile phones. More than twice the number of Internet users age 55 and older accessed social media on their phones than a year ago.”

Read more here.

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It was bound to happen. The Web 2.0 community have long been all open and for sharing of information. That was until today, when face book banned Google Friends connect to harvest information and share from FaceBook.

Here is one of the seven paragraphs they posted as a response to this shift: “Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the technology. We’ve found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users’ knowledge, which doesn’t respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service.”

This is only natural, the integrity of the individual must come first – even if information is free – the risk for backlashes is far to greater then the service enablement. I am sure that this is just a beggining of what to come.

To read more, click here

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