Posts filed under ‘social networking’
Cisco Systems is making its first move toward courting big media companies with the acquisition of a small San Francisco social networking company.
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The company plans to announce that it’s buying Five Across, an 11-person company based in San Francisco that has developed software that allows large companies to easily add social-networking features to their Web sites without needing to hire a team of engineers from Stanford to do it. Using this tool, companies will be able to add communities so that users can share audio, video and photos, as well as post blogs, podcasts and profiles.
Cisco has not disclosed terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter Cisco’s fiscal year 2007, which ends April 28, 2007. While at first blush it seems odd that Cisco, a company that sells hardware to shuttle bits around the Internet, would buy a software-based, social-networking company, analysts following the company say it actually fits in well with Cisco’s long-term strategy.
“Social networking is all about attracting more eyeballs,” said Danielle Levitas, senior analyst and vice president for IDC. “And it’s interactive in nature, so people are downloading and uploading pictures and video. They are streaming media. It drives a lot of traffic on the network, which causes a need for more capacity. And Cisco is the company that provides all that infrastructure.” For more than a year, Cisco has been implementing a strategy to broaden its product portfolio beyond simply being the “plumbers of the Internet.” The company has been aggressively pushing into new markets that are more consumer focused, such as video, home networking and even consumer electronics.
Late last year, it created the Media Solutions business unit, which develops and markets products to digital media content owners. The head of the group, Dan Scheinman, has said the next step for Cisco is to work more closely with the companies that are creating the movies, TV shows, music and other multimedia content that end up in consumers’ homes. Cisco executives say this acquisition will likely lay the cornerstone of its digital media strategy, because social networking is an important way that people connect with and discover content. This will become critical for big media companies, such as the movie studios and television networks, as they continue to move their content onto the Internet.
As audiences find more ways to consume content, whether it be on the Web, on a cell phone or on another portable device like an iPod, media companies need to maintain their connection to these consumers to continue to make their brands relevant. Disney has already seen the value in the social networking phenomenon. It recently revamped its Web site to create a MySpace for tots. Kids are able to play games, watch music videos, customize their web sites with Disney characters like Tinkerbell or chat with other kids.
Disney’s new site was home grown and took more than a year to design. But Cisco hopes that with the Five Across software, it can help other media companies build these features much more quickly, making it more plug-and-play. Cisco is approaching this market much like it has any other new market it has entered. Executives at Cisco said that Five Across is just the first of many acquisitions to come. That said, it’s still unclear what other pieces Cisco may feel it needs to assemble to fully build out its portfolio.
But one thing is becoming clear. As Cisco moves into this new market, it’s going to face a slew of new competitors from Google to Yahoo to Microsoft, which either own social-networking sites or offer tools to help build social networking into Web sites. So far, these companies have focused on allowing people to add social-networking features to their personal blogs and Web sites. None of them has developed a comprehensive solution that could be sold directly to large companies. “It will likely change who Cisco views as competitors in the future,” Levitas said. “But it won’t happen over night. Yahoo and Google are offering some of these tools piecemeal. And it’s not like everyone will rush out to buy Cisco’s software right away.”
(Reuters) – British mobile phone company Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L: Quote, Profile , Research) unveiled a deal with News Corp’s (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile , Research) MySpace on Wednesday that will allow its customers to access the popular web-based social network using cell phones.
The exclusive deal will help Vodafone, Europe’s biggest mobile operator, boost mobile usage and with it data revenues, and also helps MySpace launch itself in the European mobile market.
MySpace, bought by media giant News Corp for $580 million in 2005, has been looking to boost its global network of users via international expansion, offering mobile and video-related content.
“The partnership will enable millions of Vodafone customers to access MySpace mobile, allowing them to edit their own MySpace profiles, find and add friends, post photos and blogs and send and receive MySpace messages while on the move,” the two companies said in a statement.
Vodafone, which plans to initially roll out the service in the UK in the first half of 2007, said it would pre-load MySpace mobile software on select handsets in the future, and also make it available for download from its Vodafone live! portal.
MySpace, which lets members look up friends’ blogs and songs posted by their favorite artists, launched in the UK last year and has been looking to spread its wings in Europe. Last month it launched its French website and it has a beta site in Germany.
© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Facebook.com, the social-networking Web site, said Tuesday it is moving into television by teaming up with cable operator Comcast’s online video site Ziddio to produce a new series from users’ clips called Facebook Diaries.
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The companies are enlisting Hollywood TV producer R.J. Cutler, to choose the best submissions and create 10 half-hour-long episodes that will be streamed online and on Comcast On-Demand. The program will start in March. Terms were not disclosed.
Online video is one of the fastest growing sectors on the Web and major sites including Google’s YouTube and News Corp.’s MySpace are investing heavily in building their video capacity. Analysts say there is high demand for online video inventory from advertisers.
Though 2-year-old Facebook is one of the biggest social-networking sites on the Web with more than 16 million users, this is the first major move it is making to push video on the site.
“We think the opportunity for our users to have their content shown on television is a real draw,” said Owen Van Natta, chief operating officer at Facebook.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook in September opened up its site beyond its original core of students to reach a wider audience and believes that exposure on television will raise the brand’s profile.
“The brand has always been associated with college students but we’re seeing from the growth of our users that the utility and value of Facebook is beyond that,” Van Natta said.
The partnership could also help raise the profile of Comcast’s Ziddio site with online users.
Ziddio was soft-launched last November as a site for uploading personal videos like YouTube. But Comcast hopes it will be differentiated from others by airing users’ best videos feature on Comcast’s TV On-Demand service. Both companies hope the partnership will attract advertisers.
“Working with Facebook is a terrific opportunity for sponsors who want to reach a youth demographic–it’s one that advertisers most want to reach,” said Liz Schimel, senior vice president entertainment, Comcast Interactive Media.
NEW HOPE, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–myYearbook.com, a leading social networking site for teens, announced today that it has raised $4.1 Million in Series A funding from U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) and First Round Capital.
“We’re excited to have USVP and First Round Capital on board. Their investment will help finance the expansion of myYearbook including significant additions to technical infrastructure, sales, and product development,” announced Geoff Cook, co-founder and CEO of myYearbook.com. Rick Lewis will represent USVP on the myYearbook.com Board of Directors.
“myYearbook.com has quickly attracted a large audience by focusing on providing an enjoyable and useful environment for teens, at a time when advertisers are struggling to reach teens through traditional media,” said Rick Lewis of U.S. Venture Partners. “We are delighted to work with the myYearbook.com team to realize the site’s full potential as a leading teen media property.”
myYearbook.com goes beyond banner ads by implementing effective and innovative web marketing programs for teens. From promoting movies to sparkle body sprays, myYearbook serves ads that enhance rather than compete with the user experience. This strategy effectively attracts loyal members, which in turn become strong consumer audiences for everything from educational materials to movies and energy drinks.
“Teens don’t want banner ads on their profiles,” explained Catherine Cook, co-founder and high school student. “Banner ads negatively affect the user experience, and it’s not clear that they’re effective. I am the ‘target demographic’ and I am constantly listening to our members. I know that the main way to convince teenagers to see a movie or to buy a product is to show us that our friends are doing it. Ads on myYearbook.com are tools to not only introduce a product, but also to add to a user’s experience on the site.”
myYearbook.com currently counts more than 1.7 million members in the United States and around the world, and over 5 million unique visitors per month.
myYearbook.com is an online yearbook for the digital age where more than 1,700,000 young people around the world–from teens to college students to young professionals–gather to socialize. The youngest internet site for social networking, myYearbook.com was founded by Catherine Cook, a high school senior, and her older brother Dave Cook, who graduated from high school in June 2006 and is now a freshman at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Their first investor was their older brother, Geoff, a veteran Internet entrepreneur who founded and sold a set of online writing and editing services, EssayEdge.com and ResumeEdge.com, while a Harvard undergrad. The company is headquartered in New Hope, PA.
About U.S. Venture Partners
U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) is a leading Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build world-class companies that are leaders in their industry. USVP focuses on early stage opportunities in sectors where the Partners have the domain expertise, operating experience and network of relationships to provide meaningful contribution to the success of the enterprise. These sectors include communications and networking systems, internet and e-commerce businesses, semiconductors and optical components, enterprise and technical software, and medical devices and biopharmaceuticals. Since its inception in 1981, USVP has invested more than $1.8 billion in over 350 companies, resulting in over 70 IPOs and numerous positive merger outcomes. Today, there are more than 100 active companies in the USVP portfolio.
About First Round Capital
First Round Capital is a seed-stage venture capital firm dedicated to helping talented entrepreneurs build remarkable companies. First Round Capital typically funds pre-revenue companies – and often provides a company’s first outside capital. As former entrepreneurs, the partners at First Round understand the challenges of launching a new enterprise, and offer insight and expertise that are as valuable as its venture capital. The firm has invested in dozens of early stage companies including Aggregate Knowledge, Jingle Networks (1-800-FREE411), Krugle, Riya, StumbleUpon and VideoEgg. Additional information on First Round Capital is available via the Internet at http://www.firstround.com.
Company: Piczo, Inc.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Launch Date: Formed in 2004; formally launched in U.S. in September, 2006
In the company’s own words, what is it? Piczo has created a space that gives teens around the world the freedom and tools to express themselves and connect with friends in a safer social networking environment.
Piczo allows its users to create fully customizable personal websites that do not require any understanding of html code. Users share their life stories with friends by designing their sites with multiple pages featuring photos, graphics, guest books, comment boards, music, and more. Each site can be linked to other friends’ sites and users can interact with them and their friends, and meet new people online.
Since its launch less than two years ago, Piczo has grown to over 10 million monthly unique visitors and 2.5 billion monthly page views solely through the viral efforts of its loyal members. Rave reviews from these users claim that Piczo is unmatched in the control it offers over their sites, ease-of-use, and ‘walled-garden’ approach with no searching for users.
Outside quote about company: “We are attracted to Piczo‘s approach for a safer online environment in the social networking space. The demographic that Piczo has attracted, the younger teen audience, is quickly claiming the web as their own medium. Marketers and media companies covet this demographic and we are pleased to be part of Piczo’s continued growth,” said Paul Matteucci, general partner, U.S. Venture Partners.
* create your own website and web address
* manage your homepage and page list
* upload pictures and music videos
* create a guestbook, comment board and journal
* it’s free and easy
Jeremy Verba, CEO
Jim Conning, Founder and Chief Technology Officer
Jeanine LeFlore, Vice President of Products
Michael J. Sherf, Vice President of Technical Operations
Paul Remer, Vice President of Business Development
Peter J. van Pruissen, Vice President of Finance
Geoff Judge, Chief Revenue Officer
Chris Seth, UK Managing Director
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
IMSafer: IMSafer helps parents protect kids and teens from predators that approach online while still giving them the privacy they crave.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
IMSafer: The products for protecting children online are overwhelming for parents, hard to use, and require too much work on the part of the parents. IMSafer is “simple,” “easy to use” and “effective.” The basis of what we do is built on the perception of trust and communication. We don’t allow parents to spy on every conversation their child has online, if our language analysis identifies a threat, we let parents see that threat and enough of the conversation to give them proper context.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
IMSafer: Our language analysis notes text that may be inappropriate or may be indicative of predatory behavior and gives parents a notification with a ‘snapshot of the conversation’ along with a ‘rating’ of that screen name that is generated by other parents. They can then vote themselves on that person to help other parents make informed decisions. Users of our IMSafer Social Networking Service can also be notified when their children receive links to social networking sites.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
IMSafer: Parents of kids and teens that go online who respect their children’s privacy as well as their duty to protect their kids should check out IMSafer and give it a try.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
IMSafer: We are constantly improving our language analysis engine. We think of it like an anti-virus database, people are always trying to figure out new ways to do harm, and we’re trying to stay a few steps ahead of them.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
IMSafer: We’re going to stay a few steps ahead of the predators. For example if kids start moving away from social networks and into something new like mobile group chat, that’s where we’ll be.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
IMSafer: Criticism comes for the most part from people that don’t understand how our service works. A parent’s first job is to protect their child. We give the parents a tool to help them do that while giving the child as much freedom and privacy as we can to still be effective. Once kids see that we aren’t spying and that their parents only get alerts on clearly bad language, they are generally in support of the program.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
IMSafer: Each of us had at least one conversation with a guidance counselor who said, “If only you could use your powers for good.” This is our chance.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
IMSafer: We started with a simple plan: to rethink the problem of protecting kids online. “Simple,” “easy to use” and “effective” are our guiding principles. The products for protecting children online are overwhelming for parents, hard to use, and require too much work on the part of the parents. IMSafer is simple, easy to use and effective.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
IMSafer: IMSafer does not disclose current funding.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?
IMSafer: We launched IMSafer on October 3rd, 2006 and added IMSafer Social Networking Service on October 18th, 2006. Today, 1/17, we announced support for Microsoft Vista and the Mac. We’ve tied in to Vista’s Parental Control API’s to build on the great work that Microsoft has done and created a Wizard to make it as easy as possible for parents to protect their kids online. Our complete announcement is up at http://www.imsafer.com/splash/press
Pixsy Launches PixsyPower and PhotoSense
Media Search Technology Now Available to all Websites; Unveils Search Engine Ad Unit
San Francisco, CA — Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Pixsy Corporation, a next-generation media search platform that powers private label image and video search engines, today announced PixsyPower, a suite of media search tools and widgets for website publishers of all sizes. PixsyPower tools enable website publishers to increase their site traffic by offering unique content and media search functionality to their visitors.
PixsyPower enables bloggers, social networking sites, or any website to run private label photo and video search engines and widgets on their sites by simply signing up for free at PixsyPower.com. Image and video search are the fastest growing search verticals on the web and PixsyPower enables any website publisher to tap into this popular consumer activity within their own site. With three easy steps, Pixsy’s image and video search engine and widgets can be deployed on any website with content customized to the specific topic of their site. The service also provides a set of reporting tools to track visitor activities and search patterns.
“Pixsy’s business model of using media search tools to create search traffic on websites is a unique and effective way of generating new targeted advertising inventory across the web,” said Jack Klues, Chairman, Publicis Groupe Media. “We believe that Pixsy is well positioned to significantly exploit this growing market.”
The PixsyPower service features the new Pixsy PhotoSense tool, allowing publishers to select a category or specific provider and create an advertising unit that can be dropped into their site. This ad unit changes dynamically to deliver fresh and interesting visual content, changing all the time. Whether the topic is news, sports, celebrities or entertainment, PhotoSense enables publishers to customize their images and videos, as well as select their content providers and categories. PhotoSense is available in all major IAB size ad units.
With the new Pixsy PhotoSense Search Widget, website publishers can run a full blown media search engine inside their site. Photo and video searches can be performed and viewed directly inside the widget. For example, a travel website can have a travel photo and video search engine directly inside their site, with photo and video results showing up inside the widget on the site.
“PixsyPower is the next breakthrough in the evolution of our media search distribution business,” said Chase Norlin, CEO, Pixsy Corporation. “Media search should be in the hands of all website operators, not just the big search portals.”
Pixsy Corporation is a next-generation media search platform that powers private label image and video search engines for online publishers. Pixsy has offices in San Francisco, CA and Seattle, WA and was founded by a team of engineers and business leaders hailing from Microsoft, Sony, and ValueClick.