A Silicon Valley company run by a 12-year-old CEO has just raised $6.5 million in venture capital.
PlaySpan, based in Santa Clara, Calif. says it offers game publishers a technology that lets users make payments and shop for other items. It calls itself the first “publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network.”
Arjun Mehta, a 6th grader, says on his Web site that he is passionate about software that can make the game experience more “rewarding,” and that he started the company last year in his garage. He paid for it from earnings made from selling online game items he won from quests he fought.
This has got to be downright depressing for most budding entrepreneurs, most of whom strike out while pitching investors for funds, even in their 30s or 40s.
This is the second company led by a middle-schooler of south Asian heritage. In May we wrote about 13-year old founder and chief executive, Anshul Samar, who runs an educational gaming company.
The difference is that PlaySpan is making all the sounds of a traditional silicon valley company, right down to the slick web site and a press release manufactured by a PR firm that is barely decipherable. Mehta will probably learn to write his own press releases within a year
New York based Easton Capital led the funding round, along with Silicon Valley based Menlo Ventures, South Korea based STIC International and Hong Kong based Novel TMT Ventures.
The release said the market for “in-game commerce” has surpassed $2 billion this year and continues its rapid growth as more publishers adopt micro-transaction based revenue models.
Shawn Carolan,of Menlo Ventures, has some experience with gaming, as a board member of virtual world game, IMVU. The young Mehta even knows how to pick his VCs.
As you probably noticed now we are turned into self organised blog network. Top of this site has a links to most valued members.Theese mashup blogs are up and running under our cover and technology:
Don’t miss this blogs , they came in a handy format and updated few times per day (sometimes even on a hourly schedule)
Curse, another online company that offers social networking around multi-player online games, has received a $5 million in a first round of venture capital funding.
Curse offers gamers the standard social networking features around their games, from image and video uploading, to blogging, social bookmarking, wikis, databases, forums and guild website hosting.
The funding, which comes from France’s AGF Private Equity and other individual investors, follows more than $800,000 in angel money, the company said in a statement. It also comes as venture capitalists are pumping money into a other companies doing similar things, from Multiverse, which provides a way for developers to produce their own games, to Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning’s Rupture, a more direct competitor that also builds social networking around existing games.
Gaming remains hot. Silicon Valley angel investor Jeff Clavier recently told us he’d resumed investing in Internet companies again after a brief hiatus at the end of last year, in part because of the promise of online gaming.
A simple way to build traffic to your site is to allow readers to bookmark your pages easily. Many blogs have a series of icons or buttons at the end of each post to allow readers to submit content to one of the social bookmark sites like Digg, del.icio.us or StumbleUpon.These can drive significant amounts of traffic to your site, either as an initial burst such as making the front page of Digg, or a more steady stream of traffic like I see with sites like StumbleUpon.
There are some good WordPress plugins out there which make bookmarking posts easy. But all the plugins I have tried lack one thing – the ability to know which posts are being bookmarked.
Analytics packages such as Google Analytics or Clicky are great for discovering the most popular content on your web site, but they don’t tell you what posts are being bookmarked. To fill this gap I use AddThis.
AddThis works like several of the other WordPress plugins out there. A button is displayed at the end of each post, which when activated displays a list of social bookmark icons.
What sets AddThis apart from the competition is that it includes a piece of tracking code which records not only which posts are being bookmarked, but which bookmarking site was used.
You may find that certain types of posts are bookmarked more often than others. Bookmarked pages stand a better chance of getting more traffic. You may therefore decide to create posts in the future you feel are more likely to get bookmarked.
You may also find that the majority of your visitors bookmark posts to Digg or StumbleUpon. If so you may want to consider adding a Digg This button to your site so that it is even easier for visitors to bookmark your posts.
Getting your own free AddThis button is easy. Just head over to their web site and get the necessary code to add to your web site. If this sounds too complicated then they offer a WordPress plugin too.
To gain access to the tracking code you will need to register. Registration is free and well worth it. You can then logon to your AddThis account and keep track of which posts are being bookmarked.
They also provide a Feedburner flare so you can keep track of bookmarked posts in your feed too! Technical Itch recommends you browse around their web site as they offer other features too like widgets and browser add ons. They also offer an RSS feed widget too.
Overall AddThis is a great addition to any web site. It will help your visitors bookmark your website or blog, and promote it to the social bookmarking services, sending you back more traffic.
Source: Technical Itch
Piclens is a new plug-in for your Firefox Internet browser that lets you launch into a full-screen into a slideshow while browsing photos.
After you download PicLens, here’s how it works.
First, let’s say you want to look at all the pictures on Flickr taken by your friend while she traveled New Zealand.
You can then see a slideshow of them on your desktop by clicking on PicLens’ icon within any of the images on her album (you have to mouse over the image to see the icon, as shown below). Once you click, your screen changes into a full-screen slide show.
The image you clicked on blows up to fill your screen, and a strip of thumbnails below shows the other images next in line. You click on a play button, and PicLens scrolls through each of the pictures — blowing each image up to their full size on your screen. It does the same for images on Google and Yahoo, and Facebook photo album images. It will do this for any site that supports the Media RSS format.
Media RSS is a format created by Yahoo, but which is now an open standard and free for others to use. Web site owners can make their sites compatible with PicLens by pasting some code within their site, which specifies the content displayed. Emily’s Photo Site is an example site that supports Media RSS. See the code below for what this looks like.
Search for “flowers” on Google images, for example, and you can then see a slideshow of Google’s entire inventory of flower images by clicking on PicLens’ icon within any of the images.
To our knowledge this isn’t offered by anyone else. Slide and Rockyou offer slideshows, but to view them you have to store images on their site, or have them embedded in a widget. PicLens brings the experience to your desktop.
The company doesn’t have any plans to monetize this yet. They want to distribute the product and worry about that later.
There’s a raunchier use for this, of course: Use PicLens while searching Google images for “Alessandra,” or any other female name for that matter, and you’ll quickly grasp how a good portion of Piclens’ users are likely to use this product. Let your mind wander from there. Even then, we’re not certain how money is to be made.
It is the latest product offered by Cooliris, a Palo Alto start-up launched last year. Piclens was first released last year for Safari browsers only.
Wazap a fast-growing search engine focused exclusively on games, launched in the U.S.
Until now, the Berlin, Germany company has versions German, Japanese and Chinese. Wazap’s entry into the U.S. puts pressure on the other leading video game search engine, Ziff Davis Media’s Gazerk. Since we first profiled Wazup in January, its unique user base has increased to 16 million uniques a month worldwide, up from 11 million. Thom Kozik, formerly of Yahoo Games, launched the U.S. site from Los Angeles.
If you’re searching for a game on Gazerk or Wazap, both will give you results with names of the games, cheats, news and reviews. However, Wazap tries to go further, adding more community features. It lets users rank the results, add their own comments and lets them build their own profile specifying game and console preferences.
The U.S. version adds games to its index that American are most likely to play. More features for hard-core gamers are coming.
The company said it had $1 million in revenue last year. It has raised almost $11.9 million from Partech International and Wellington Partners.
Synthasite is a new web-based design tool that enables you and your team to collaboratively work on your website design. Synthasite is currently in limited beta.
With South Africa-based Synthasite, you can work with the tools available within its service, which easily arrange text, images, badges and buttons to create a professional-looking site. There are a few items available by default, such as a YouTube video or a Flickr photo search, which can be added into your design as well. The offerings are currently rather basic, and mimic the templates and design offerings of programs like WordPress. The functionality is very easy to maneuver, though, and could prove helpful for those teams wanting to create templates and other items such as a welcome page or a blog.
While Synthasite is currently in beta and has some useful tools, it has plans to add more in the coming months. Up next for Synthasite is file management, publishing, deployment and hosting, collaborative site building, chat, SEO, graphic design, blogging, wikis, developer resources, site analytics, and a whole set of features designed to build a community around Synthasite features and users. In the direction Synthasite is looking to go, it will be in the same realm as services like WetPaint and SiteKreator, with more functionality and customization, in some ways.
Google Gears, a technology created by Google to allow developers to create offline Web applications, was released today.
Google Gears comes as a browser extension.
It is a very significant move, because most applications until now have worked either entirely online, or entirely on your desktop — not both. Microsoft has moved to make applications like Outlook work on and offline, and has upgraded its efforts with its Silverlight project. Adobe, too, recently introduced Apollo, a similar technology. However, these are nascent efforts.
Google move is particularly noteworthy, though, because Google has no legacy paid software to protect. Its products are for free. Most people have resisted switching to Google, because of the unreliability of online-only applications. This latest move will assuage those concerns, and could eventually gouge a big portion of Microsoft’s business.
Wondering what direction Microsoft’s stock price heads tomorrow?.
While Microsoft hasn’t pushing its own online-offline products aggressively, Google is about to. Today, for example, it released an RSS reader, which works both offline and online. It will likely to do the same soon in word processing, spreadsheets and other applications.
Notably, Google Gears will be open source.
So not only will Google create offline web applications, it is encouraging others to do so too. In its statement, Google said it hopes to help the industry move to a standard for creating such applications.
LiveScribe, an Oakland, Calif. company, releases tomorrow one of the more wondrous communication features we’ve seen lately.
It has developed technology that lets you take handwritten notes from a lecture or interview with a high-tech pen. The pen will remember everything that was being said when you took the notes.
So if you’re looking for a portion of the conversation you didn’t quite understand or remember, you simply tap your paper notes, and the spoken interview will play back for you.
The technology is all stored in the pen, which has an audio recorder, but which also has sophisticated visual sensors that tracks tiny dots on the paper you’re using so that it remembers which spot in the lecture matches which notes you took.
More profoundly, the company’s software lets you build applications on the paper. So you can email your article directly from your notes, or even post an article to your blog from your notes! Without logging on to the computer.
LiveScribe requires special paper – the tiny dots spaced out at particular unique intervals — but otherwise the paper looks quite normal.
This is remarkable stuff, best understood by a demo which we will load shortly (hopefully by end of Tuesday eve). It unveils tomorrow at the D5: All Things Digital conference.
I got a personal demo of the technology from Jim Marggraff, chief executive of the company, and I was immediately sold. As someone who takes copious notes and would like to find the vocal version instantly, this is quite the journalist’s nirvana. Moreover, it lets you hook up to a computer, so that you can see the spoken version of your notes unfolding on your computer screen (it uses translation technology, to translate the voice into text). It shows you where you are in the lecture, and the parts that are still to come — in a different shade of color.
This is not snake oil. Marggraff is a leading visionary in the area of new ways of learning. His breakthrough was at the well-known children’s education company Leapfrog, where he helped build its paper-based popular multimedia products — books with paper that spoke — and which became the top-selling toys in the U.S. Leapfrog sold the technology in 60 million books, reaping $1 billion in five years. Marggraff later moved on to a Swedish company called Anoto, and continued his experimentation, but left last year, to build out what is effectively a mobile computer in a pen. His goal: To take the technology to adults.
In his demo for us, Marggraff showed how to create little applications on a page, letting us write on the paper, and then tap on them to do arithmetic. For example, tap on the figures “2&Prime, “+”, and “2&Prime and “=” and then a speaker in the pen answers with “4&Prime.
To be clear, it wasn’t completely bug-free. There were moments where we had to pause or press again in order for the pen to register what we were doing.
We weren’t able to test filing a blog post to our blog from the piece of paper, but Marggraff promises to let us do that soon.
That can work because the paper application sends a signal through the pen to an Internet connection — which allows you to file the post. The pen will be docked with the computer, for the first release. However, in a second release, the pen will carry WiFi, so you won’t need to have your computer with you.
A life-size version of the pen is seen below:
More on the technology: LiveScribe licensed the dot paper technology from Anoto, when that company decided to pass on investing in Marggraff’s ambitious portable computer-pen idea (Anoto has been focused on its own financial turnaround).
The micro-dots in the paper are part of a unique grid system developed by Anoto. The camera in the smartpen sees these dots and tracks the pen’s location to enable digital indexing of content. Dot paper may also be printed on certified home or business printers.
The Anoto technology licensing allowed Marggraff to start building LiveScribe beginning last year. He set out to raise $22 million in venture capital from investors. VantagePoint Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley firm, is a backer, and Marggraff is looking to close the round.
The note-taking feature is called “Paper Replay.” The pen records the conversation and digitizes the handwriting, automatically synching the ink and audio. By later tapping the ink (twice, just like you click twice on a mouse), the smartpen replays the conversation from the exact moment the note was written. Notes and audio can also be uploaded to a PC where they can be replayed, saved and searched. The search tool is pretty impressive — you can search through a lecture for a particular word.