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Monday, May 10, 2010


Spanish Groupon Lookalike Groupalia Grabs €2.5 Million

Groupalia, a Spanish Groupon clone group buying service provider, has raised €2.5 million in its first institutional round. The financing comes from Nauta Capital, who led the round with an investment of €805,000, and Spanish bank la Caixa who contributed €250,000.

The rest comes from individual investors, namely Lucas Carné and Jose Manuel Villanueva (the founders of Privalia, another Nauta portfolio company) with an investment of €660,000, and Groupalia CEO Joaquin Engel (€125,000).iPad’s International Roll-Out Begins: Here’s What You’ll Be Paying

People in Australia, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Japan can now pre-order the iPad from their respective Apple Stores, reports Boy Genius Report.

Late last week, Apple had already shared some details on the international roll-out, including the fact that the tablet computers will effectively hit stores in the nine countries cited above on May 28.

Details on pricing at the time weren't disclosed yet, but now these are live, too.

We've taken the liberty of checking out all nine local stores to see what the respective starting prices look like:Facebook Confirms Its Location ProductAs I said earlier tonight, code doesn't lie. Facebook has now confirmed their location-based feature, which is apparently due to launch shortly if the code found on their site is any indication. Of course, they only confirmed it so they could clarify something else.

"There are currently no plans to add marketing partners to this product. We may consider working with marketers to enhance the experience in the future, but have no plans to do so at launch," a Facebook spokesperson tells us in response to our story. You'll notice two key words in there, "product" and "launch." So Facebook is acknowledging the "product" that we found. And you have to believe they wouldn't bring up a "launch" or know details about it if it weren't happening soon.Social Game Publishers Hit Payday From Mother’s Day Flower OffersThanks to the increase in number of gamers signing up for flower delivery offers for Moms, Mother's Day was payday for social game publishers this year, with ad-funded payments skyrocketing during the holiday. TrialPay, a startup that powers an offers-based payments platform on Facebook, has released a number of data points that show the strength of the Mother's Day market this year.

Mothers Day represents a huge gift giving market, second only to the holiday season. Last year lone, $14.1 billion was spent on Mother's Day-related gifts. In the week leading up to Mother's Day, about $1 million per day was generated by "gifts for mom" promotions that paired offers from online flower merchants like 1-800-Flowers with free in-game virtual goods and currency. According to TrialPay, social game publishers running Mother's Day campaigns saw five-fold increase in offer-based revenue, which generally accounts for 15-20% of a social game's total revenue. Spotted: Facebook’s Check-In Functionality And New “Places” TabCode doesn't lie.

Over the past several weeks, there's been a lot of speculation about Facebook's location functionality. At least part of that speculation can end now. We now know what Facebook is planning to launch with regard to location shortly, because it's right there in their code.

Specifically, it's right there in the JavaScript on the version of the site. This is the mobile version of Facebook that is optimized for phones with touchscreens like the iPhone and Android phones. Visiting this site on the Safari web browser (which, of course, the iPhone uses a version of) causes something interesting to happen: it just hangs. And when you enable debug mode, it's easy to see why.NSFW: Facebook Breached My Privacy, And Other Things That Whiny, Entitled Dipshits SayStarting this week, I'm implementing a rule for readers of this column.

The fact is, I express some pretty controversial views here on TechCrunch. Views on subjects like race and prostitution and terrorism and mental illness. Views that you - as a smart, educated TC reader - are perfectly able to process and discuss in a mature way, but views that could easily be misconstrued by the wider internet community, should they be reposted on other blogs, or quoted out of context.

From this point forward, then, I'm banning you from reposting, quoting or even discussing my columns outside of TechCrunch. It's to protect my privacy more than anything else: I mean, sure, I've chosen to share those views online - in an inherently unsecure environment - but still I reserve the right to be shocked and outraged should they find their way from one semi-controllable online environment to another slightly less controllable one.

And I reserve that right to be outraged for one reason alone: I am fucking delusional about how the Internet works.Happy Mothers Day! Get Her A Geni Family Tree PosterA couple of weeks ago Yammer CEO David Sacks came by the office to give us some news. Sacks, who is also the CEO of genealogy site Geni, also told me about a new product Geni is launching; - family tree posters.

There are two 16" × 20" versions - $30 for a printed poster, $120 for a canvas, framed poster. One of Geni's key features is to allow the merging of family trees, so it's easier to create one tree going back four generations. If you have pictures it makes the poster a really cool gift. I gave the one Sacks made for me to my parents and they love it (my father has diligently created our family tree on both sides of the family, with help from his sister).

Sacks also talked about Geni's overall business. Over $1 million in revenue and he says they'll be profitable within the year. The company has raised $16.5 million over three rounds.
A Closer Look At Microsoft Spindex, An Experimental Social AggregatorEarlier this week during a keynote presentation at Web 2.0, Lili Cheng, head of Microsoft's Future Social Experiences Labs (FUSE) group, unveiled their latest research project: Spindex, a 'social personal index' for your web content. The site is in a private beta, but some beta invites were handed out at the conference, and I've just *cough* taken it for a spin. My initial impressions are below.

When you first fire up Spindex, the site asks you to link your Twitter, Facebook, and Evernote accounts, as well as any RSS feeds you follow. After you do that you're kicked into the main site, which is broken into three sections: a left sidebar for navigation, and two columns with content. In the navigation sidebar you select which source  you want to browse through (based on the accounts you linked earlier), and there's an option to see a combined stream of the data inputs called 'All'. At the very top of the page is a search box that lets you search all of your friends' recent updates (it's like Twitter search, but restricted to just your friends).Apple Files For “iTunes Live” Trademark

Apple has been filing applications for quite a number of trademarks lately, most of which get rigorously tracked and dissected by sites like, among others. But somehow, the most recent applications filed by Apple trademark correspondent Lisa G. Widup have gone unnoticed. Until today.

Looks like Apple earlier this week filed for trademarks for iTunes Live, which might mean nothing but could also be an indication that the Cupertino company is about to ramp up its featured live music sessions offering on iTunes, mainly live performances pre-recorded at special concerts at Apple Stores around the world (so far there have been in-store gigs in London, Montreal, New York, Tokyo, Sydney and Munich).Making Lemonade out of Bureaucratic Brazilian LemonsI wrote before that Wall Street has a far bigger fascination with Brazil than Silicon Valley has. But since I got back from Brazil two weeks ago, I've had several conversations with Silicon Valley-based investors mulling scouting trips down South. Indeed, I’ve heard that at least one company I wrote about from my last trip to Brazil is deep in some funding negotiations as we speak.

If the left side of the coast of the US is getting serious about doing business in Brazil, there’s someone they need to meet: Edivan Costa. He’s taken one of the biggest threats to Brazilian entrepreneurship, and fittingly, turned it into a startup itself.The Unified Database Of Places Is Coming Soon. Or Maybe Never.Last month, Erick wrote a post calling for the creation of an open database of places. As location-based services continue to gain popularity, each of them is building up these massive databases of places themselves, and this is going to become an issue as services like Twitter and potentially Facebook attempt to federate all this data. And Erick is hardly alone in thinking about this -- nearly all the companies involved in the space talk about such an idea enthusiastically, and regularly. Yet no one seems to be doing much about it just yet.

Back in March, I moderated a panel featuring key members of Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Twitter, and Plancast. When I raised the idea of a unified place database, all seemed to be in agreement that it would be a good thing. Even when I brought up that their own place databases were a way to keep their users around, everyone seemed to think there were better ways to do that, and that the benefits of a unified place database would outweigh any costs. Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley reiterated that to Erick last month, saying that a "'Facebook Connect of places' would be amazing."Zynga’s Struggle For Independence: Bailing On Tagged, ZLive To Launch Soon?

Yesterday we reported on Zynga's plans to launch a social gaming network called Zynga Live as part of its efforts to distance itself from Facebook.

Zynga is also pulling away from other social networks, it seems, including Tagged. They announced the imminent shutdown of YoVille on Tagged earlier this week, and announced plans to let users play the game directly on shortly. Zynga has also launched independently, last year, but its other games remain siloed in other social networks.

In the initial notice, Zynga told players "As a thank you for playing, Zynga would like to offer Yoville players a generous Welcome Package to get started on Zlive." That was the first time, as far as we can tell, that Zynga publicly stated that there would be a Zlive site. isn't currently resolving.An Early Look At Twitter Annotations Or, “Twannotations”During a presentation in London today, Twitter engineer Raffi Krikorian offered up an early glimpse of what Twitter's highly anticipated new annotations feature (or, as he refers to them at one point "Twannotations") will look like. "Threw together a quick, and extremely preliminary view on what @twitterapi has been working on — and what I feel has the ability of being a game-changer on the platform — Annotations," he writes on his Posterous blog. Krikorian also posted his deck, which I'll embed below.

Of note, Krikorian says that every tweet annotation will have a "type," and each type can have several attributes. This information will apparently have same "visibility policy" as tweets themselves, which seems to mean "public" unless you set your account to private.Why Media Companies Should Become More Like Merchants

Editor's note: Should media sites become group buying sites as well? Guest author Dave Chase thinks so.

If there's one thing we've learned from the Internet it is that if a middleman doesn't add enough value, their days are numbered.

Media companies may not have thought of themselves as middlemen—but that's what they have been for marketers. When I used to buy advertising a decade or so ago, I felt it was my job to do what I could to get the media provider out of the middle between my company and the customers we desired. For example, we did a lot to drive a direct relationship including encouraging them to register with us so we could communicate with them directly later—first through e-mail, now it would be via a Facebook page or Twitter.

Back then, there was more than enough ad revenue for the media company to sustain their business—so much profit, in fact, that some companies got complacent. Just as railroad companies should have realized they were in the transportation business rather than the railroad business (and thus they missed the opportunity to get into the auto or air transportation business), media companies should recognize their business purpose is to connect their audience with products and services the audience desires. Without that business purpose, they can't fulfill their editorial mission.Welcome To The Cloud, Microsoft

This guest post was written by Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of was founded in 2005 with the goal of helping people and businesses easily access and share information from anywhere. He has a few suggestions for how Microsoft can better embrace the cloud.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, Microsoft will articulate and evangelize its cloud strategy. It will unveil its Office 2010 product line, and we'll see if Steve Ballmer can stand behind his claim that Microsoft is truly "betting our company" on cloud computing. Honestly, I hope he can. Yes, my small company,, competes with Microsoft's SharePoint product, but I believe that a more innovative, open, and user-centric Microsoft benefits the technology industry at large, not to mention its massive customer base. By rethinking its entrenched but rather stagnant product line and embracing the cloud, Microsoft has an immense opportunity for reinvention. And because the cloud becomes more compelling to businesses as mature platforms and meaningful integrations proliferate, Microsoft's entry can be a boon for other vendors, partners, resellers and developers. But in order for its move to be a force for good, Microsoft needs to be serious about going "all in." And if it is, there are some major challenges ahead:

Designing software for the web.

I'm going to make a blanket comparison here. In just over a decade, Google has amassed an army of web engineers and evangelists. In over 20 years, Microsoft has built a closed culture around a software model that is fast becoming extinct. They haven't commercialized a single major web technology innovation that I can think of in the past decade (okay, maybe Bing, but even that is more evolutionary than revolutionary). Apple brought us a new generation of connected devices with the iPhone and iPad; Google brought us open mobile operating systems, a new breed of apps, and a scalable business model for the web; Facebook made social the underlying fabric of software; commercialized SaaS.

Brewing TV: When Homebrewers Attack the WebIf you've ever made your own booze you probably know about Northern Brewer, one of the best online brew supply stores. Well, those folks just started Brewing TV which consists of a dude in a hat talking with another dude in a hat about brewing as well as a video of some other dudes in hats. Generally, it's just as you'd imagine, but so much more.

Once you roll past the intro, you get to see the guys at Fulton Brewing in Minneapolis and a few more interesting bits on brewing. A nice bit of visual distraction for the weekend and an interesting move by an entrenched, old-timey industry to enter the 21st century. Could these men in hats and ironic beards (see below) be the next Gary Vee?
Is an MBA a Plus or a Minus in the Startup World?A long time ago, I had to make a really tough choice: invest in an MBA from New York University, or make do with my bachelors. I was newly married, had a child on the way, and didn’t have much in savings. The degree would set me back tens of thousands of dollars and take years to complete—especially if I did it part time. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything but programming computers for a living. So why learn finance, marketing, and operations management, I wondered? Well, I decided to enroll because my understanding of the business world lacked depth, and I harbored a deep-rooted desire to get the best education possible. My wife and I moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in North Bergen, NJ, and we made do with what we had.

For a couple of years after getting my degree, I wondered whether I had made the right choice. Even though I scored a great job at CS First Boston in its IT department, I was just writing code and designing systems. Yes, I started to enjoy reading BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal; but had the financial sacrifice and time away from my family been worth it? It didn’t seem to have been.ReadWriteWeb’s Mobile Summit And The Long Shadow Of AppleAmid rows of baked goods and gallons of orange juice and coffee, developers and entrepreneurs gathered today at the Computer History Museum for ReadWriteWeb’s mobile summit. The meeting, organized as an “unconference,” created an adhoc setting for a candid discussion of mobile trends, including augmented reality, mobile video, location based services, the internet of things (sensor, RFID data), and native versus browser based apps. CEO of ReadWriteWeb, Richard MacManus, believes that the number one mobile trend is the internet of things, and the growing importance of sensors and how that data can be leveraged: "It's when real world objects get connected to the internet via sensors or RFID tags... I just think there is going to be so much data going onto the web and what people do with that data and what developers create based on that data is going to be a huge trend."

It was a long day filled with dozens of group sessions and countless ideas, but there was a recurring theme that permeated many of my discussions: the long shadow of Apple (and often, other internet giants, like Google and Microsoft). Video Ahead. YC-Funded Nowmov: Sit Back, Relax, And Watch An Endless Stream Of YouTube VideosOnline video streaming is great. But when it comes to zoning out in front of a flashing screen to kill a few hours, TV has it beat by a long shot — building an interesting playlist of YouTube videos simply requires too much effort. Nowmov, a Y Combinator startup that's launching today, is looking to change that: visit the site, and you'll find an endless stream of (hopefully) compelling YouTube clips — no brainpower required. The site has already built up an impressive roster of angel investors, including Jeff Clavier, Paul Buchheit, Shervin Pishevar, Ron Conway, Charles River Ventures, and Ashton Kutcher.

Nowmov's site is very, very simple, at least from the user's perspective. As soon as you browse to, the site will begin playing a YouTube video. Report: Facebook Location Coming In A Few Weeks. But Is It Foursquare Or Twitter?Yesterday, AdAge ran a story that Facebook was preparing to roll out its first true location-based service (beyond its for-fun Presence thing). The story said that the social network was partnering with McDonald's for a special Facebook app that would allow people to check-in to restaurants and get deals. But apps that use location to emulate Foursquare on Facebook have limited appeal. Much more interesting is what Facebook itself is planning to do with location. AdAge offered a little bit about that in their story, but didn't go too deep.

Today, they have a new story that, to be honest, seems more like a recap of yesterday's, but with less of a focus on McDonald's. According to their sources, Facebook will start allowing users to update their status messages with their location as soon as late May -- yes, a few weeks away.

What's still not clear from all of this is if this location ability will be more like Foursquare or more like Twitter? What I mean by that is, Foursquare is predicated around the idea of checking-in to a specific venue (as are Gowalla, Loopt, and others). Twitter, meanwhile, allows you to tag a tweet with your location -- not really a check-in. To me, this Facebook location system sounds more like the latter.Gadgets Of Days Gone By: The Round-UpIt's been an emotional journey, friends, but I think we've found that our attachment to these gadgets of yore is not merely a sentimental one. Indeed, many commenters have chimed in to let us know that some of these devices are still in use in their households. Admirable! We'll be adding to the series as time goes on and more of our tech lapses into "nostalgia" status, but here's a little summary of our memories so far.Twitter To Get So Buck On Its Own Wine TonightWe will sell no wine before its time. Well, it's time.

Twitter headquarters has just been delivered two huge barrels of Fledgling Wine -- the wine label it created in partnership with San Francisco-based winery Crushpad. I have a feeling the "tea time" that Twitter does every Friday might be a little crazier this week. It may be time to get buck.The Founder Institute Launches In Boston, Now Incubating Startups In 10 CitiesOn the heels of announcing the graduation of 25 companies from Adeo Ressi's Founder Institute East Coast outposts, the startup incubator is launching in another East Coast hub: Boston. Announced in March 2009, the Founder Institute offers entrepreneurs and very early stage startups an environment designed to help foster their growth and education. The program, which is now active in ten cities worldwide, holds two four-month long sessions annually in each location, which include mentorship sessions from experienced tech entrepreneurs. The program also has a unique structure that allocates some equity to each of the founders involved, so that they have an incentive to work together.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Being Played Out Live On Twitter And Foursquare. Awesome.I can almost hear Ben Stein saying it right now. "Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?"

It's been almost 25 years since Ferris Bueller took his day off from school. And yet, the legend lives on today thanks to Twitter and Foursquare.

An account, @ferris_bueller_, started tweeting yesterday afternoon, noting, "Ugh... school's really getting me down. less than an hour to go." Bueller apparently went home and was quiet on Twitter until about 7 hours ago when he tweeted, "Really don't feel like going to school today... Think I have a plan" If you've seen the movie, you know what happens from here. If not, watch it now and starting following the account, the day is still ongoing -- they're at the baseball game right now.Google Apps For Education Now Has 8 Million UsersIn the wake UC Davis' announcement that the school was ending an Apps pilot for faculty because of privacy concerns, Google is celebrating a milestone. As of today, 8 million students, faculty and staff at educational institutions around the world are using Google Apps. Google says that the U.S. has about 16 million college students total, so the productivity suite is steadily gaining its piece of the pie.

In total, Google has around 25 million Apps users, so education makes up a generous slice of the suite's userbase. Google has made a strong push to recruit educational institutions to use Google Apps, launching a new centralized site targeted towards recruiting educational institutions. It makes sense; not only is it a huge market for the productivity suite, but schools and colleges are where many people get trained, start relying on, and form brand allegiances to productivity apps.

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