10 stories to read this week

This post is by Om Malik from GigaOM

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

After a brief break, this week I return with some great readings that involve Biggie Smalls, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Google’s Larry Page and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. And just when you were feeling too smart, well, I got some news for you.

Have a swell weekend all.

Chris Sacca And Others Invest $1 Million In A Startup That Wants Everyone To Hold A World Record

This post is by Alexia Tsotsis from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Screen Shot 2011-09-30 at 10.29.55 PM

URDB — formerly Universal Records Database  – is announcing a name change and $1 million in Series A funding, from investors Chris Sacca, VantagePoint Capital and 77 Ventures. Initially conceived of at yes, Burning Man, URDB is now RecordSetter and a million dollars more flush.

The premise behind RecordSetter is that “everyone on earth can be the world’s best at something.” The startup wants to to become the preeminent platform for people to both submit their own unique records and compete against other people’s unique records through the uploading of quirky videos like “Most Kisses In 10 Seconds,””Longest ‘Shhhhh’” and “Most Graphic Designers Dancing To ‘Thriller’”. You get the picture.

Says founder Dan Rollman on what sets the company apart from Guinness World Records,

“As long as rules are followed and sufficient evidence is provided, any record is welcome. That includes everything from traditional (Fastest 100-Meter Dash) to outlandish (Most Times Smiling While Listening to “Beat It”.) Creativity is highly encouraged. We’re the Wikipedia to their Encyclopedia Britannica. “

In three years of existence the site has seen over 10,000 submissions from over 50 countries, Rollman tells me, and now hosts the largest collection of world record videos on the Internet. Eventually Rollman hopes that the site will compete with YouTube and Break.com.

Future plans for RecordSetter also include the adding of editorial content (like the addition of tips on how to set records), pursuing media deals and partnerships with brands like Toyota and Livestrong and focusing on its community moderation beta so niche groups like skaters and jugglers can be more involved in the records curating process.

Rollman says that company is also in talks with production companies regarding a TV show based around the niche records found on the RecordSetter platform. Which doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, actually.

A First Grade Math Nerd

This post is by Louis Gray from  louisgray.com

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

When I was in 1st grade (back in 1983-84), we had breaks in the middle of class, that rotated so a small group of kids had a few minutes of recreation. I distinctly remember at one point heading to a hanging easel which was nothing more than a chalkboard with some chalk. Being a math nerd even then, I wrote up a 1 followed by 100 zeros.

At the age of six, I was writing a googol. (It would be decades before Google came about, of course). I remember writing the 1 with 100 zeros, pausing to make sure I had gotten it right… and then writing 100 more. The numbers filled the chalkboard. By the time I’d written the 1 with 200 zeros, and commas appropriately placed, “playtime” was over and it was back to my desk. But I remember the words googol, googolplex and googolplexplex being thrown around with my friends to represent the biggest possible things imaginable. Fun to know that word (slightly changed) would mean so much more now.

/via My Google+ Profile

Buying Yahoo Is A No-Brainer For Alibaba

This post is by Alexia Tsotsis from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Screen Shot 2011-10-01 at 1.58.41 PM

Today at the China 2.0 conference at Stanford, Alibaba Groups’s Jack Ma replied to a pointed question about buying Yahoo with, “We are very interested in Yahoo. Our Alibaba group is important to Yahoo and Yahoo is important to us … All the serious buyers interested in Yahoo have talked to us.”

Those “serious buyers” most likely include Alibaba Group investor Silver Lake Partners, Microsoft, Hellman & Friedman and Andreesen Horowitz, who have all reportedly reached out to Yahoo’s board.

Is Ma’s interest enough to spark consumer and shareholder interest in Yahoo? “Any and all interest [is] welcome,” one shareholder told me, “but Ma has real smarts.”

On the surface Ma is certainly the type of CEO that Yahoo needs post-Bartz, diplomatic, cunning, and a man of (relatively) few words. But would the deal make sense financially?

Alibaba Group’s recent funding from Silver Lake valued it at $32 billion, while Yahoo is at a 16 billion market cap. With Yahoo’s 40% stake in Alibaba Group valued at $12.8 billion, it seems like 80% of the company’s value is based on its Asian assets. Ma has apparently made it clear that he would like to buy back Yahoo’s stake in his own company, and now he can for a bargain basement $3 billion premium –with hundreds of millions of US users thrown in for good measure.

Is the rest of Yahoo worth $3 billion? Probably. Plus Ma has an additional incentive to buy Yahoo because getting all those shares back frees him from his largest albatross shareholder. It’s a no brainer for Alibaba.

Would the Yahoo board take an offer from Ma? That remains to be seen, as the relationship between the two companies has been notoriously strained, most recently suffering because of accusations of unfair play on the part of Yahoo when Ma transferred ownership of Alipay to a separate company.

The sentiment among the former Yahoo employees I spoke to seems to be that Yahoo is so dysfunctional that they can’t see anything like this happening. And then there’s stigma; the general idea is to sell to someone you’re proud of like Google and Microsoft, not someone you used to own. The cultural fit between the Chinese and American companies is also quite awkward, as Sarah Lacy has documented comprehensively.

Despite this, many shareholders are just hoping for a decent price to exit their long-held positions, and Ma might be the company’s only hope for survival intact, as he is interested in Yahoo in its entirety. This is surprising: Yahoo is the type of company that Richard Gere in Pretty Woman would buy, and then break up — the individual pieces are more valuable than the sum of the parts.

Related: Looking up that YHOO ticker on Yahoo Finance is just depressing.

Image: Mick Orlosky

Launch Date:
January 1, 1994

December 4, 1996, Nasdaq:YHOO

Yahoo was founded in 1994 by Stanford Ph.D. students David Filo and Jerry Yang. It has since evolved into a major internet brand with search, content verticals, and other web services.

Yahoo! Inc. (Yahoo!), incorporated in 1995, is a global Internet brand. To users, the Company provides owned and operated online properties and services (Yahoo! Properties, Offerings, or Owned and Operated sites). Yahoo! also extends its marketing platform and access to Internet users beyond Yahoo! Properties through its distribution network…

Learn more

Launch Date:
January 6, 1999

June 11, 2007, HKSE:1688.HK

Alibaba.com is a B2B e-commerce company. Alibaba’s primary business is to serve as a directory of Chinese manufacturers connecting them to other companies around the world looking for suppliers. According to iResearch, it was the largest online B2B company in China in 2006 based on the number of registered users and market share in China by revenue. Yahoo is currently a 40% share holder in the parent Alibaba Group.

They operate two marketplaces; the first is an international marketplace based…

Learn more

Bleeding Edge TV 396: Amazon Kindle 2011 vs Amazon Kindle 2010

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

We bring you a comparison between last year's Kindle 3 (from 2010) and the new entry-level Kindle (2011) in this episode. We show you the size differences, compare the display refresh speeds, and go over more of the changes between the two models of Amazon's e-book reader. The new Kindle is available now for $79 from Amazon, with the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire shipping this November. Be sure to get details on all the new Kindle hardware!

Also be sure to check out our Amazon Kindle (2011) unboxing video and Kindle (2011) photo gallery.

Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show – be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.

Here’s how to get the show:
Subscribe: iTunes iPod / H.264 | iTunes MPEG-4 | RSS H.264 Feed | RSS MPEG-4 Feed

|Download| – iPod-formatted H.264
|Download| – Apple TV High Resolution
|Download| – MPEG-4


Bleeding Edge TV 396: Amazon Kindle 2011 vs Amazon Kindle 2010 originally appeared on The Bleeding Edge on Fri, September 30, 2011 – 4:47:51

Big data startups weigh in on competing with Oracle

This post is by Derrick Harris from GigaOM

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Yesterday, I reported that Oracle does indeed have a big data strategy in place, complete with plans for Hadoop, NoSQL and even an integration of the R statistical analysis software. Today, some of the startups affected by Oracle’s impending moves weighed in with their takes on the situation. Maybe they’re just keeping brave faces, but the consensus is that Oracle’s forays into their respective spaces just validate the work they’ve been doing, and they welcome the competition.

Mike Olson, CEO, Cloudera

Via e-mail:

We are pleased that Oracle has decided to validate the importance of Hadoop as a key component of enterprise data management and analysis. We are encouraged and excited that a company with Oracle’s influence and reputation will be making investments in this space and we look forward to working with them in companies with the most demanding data environments. We are looking forward to their support on moving the work in the Apache Software Foundation forward with the community. We will continue to work with companies like Oracle to offer increasingly better products and services to data driven companies across many vertical markets.

John Schroeder, Founder and CEO, MapR

Via e-mail:

Oracle’s Big Data Appliance announcement is great news to organizations using and planning to use Hadoop. Oracle joins a growing list of commercial vendors providing Hadoop-related products and services. Offering organizations the most broad and deep set of products and services only fuels Hadoop growth and makes Hadoop an even safer big data platform choice.

Max Schireson, President, 10gen

From his blog:

How do I feel about Oracle introducing a “NoSQL” database? I think it makes all the sense in the world. … Competition is already thriving in the sector and I don’t think one more competitor, even one as large as Oracle, will alter the dynamics dramatically. But many customers will take Oracle’s arrival in the space as a sign that this trend is significant and it is a space they should look at. If Oracle’s offering is strong, we may lose some market share to them, but their presence will make it a bigger market. … In my time at Oracle, I found Larry Ellison to have a great sense of what markets were important and to be a fierce competitor.

Norman Nie, CEO, Revolution Analytics

Via e-mail:

Oracle’s announcement to embed R in the Exadata engine demonstrates validation for the leading statistics language and offers further evidence that R is a key weapon in advanced analytics today. As The Enterprise R company, Revolution Analytics has seen an enormous demand for R solutions, so it’s no surprise that Oracle and other companies are looking to further evangelize and distribute R among the enterprise.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Chika.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.

Best aspect of Kindle Fire? 7-inch tablet price pressure

This post is by Kevin C. Tofel from GigaOM

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

After months of rumors, Amazon outed its tablet entry this week: the Kindle Fire is available to pre-order now, with delivery expected on Nov. 15. The slate looks simple yet powerful, and is backed by Amazon’s large media content library for books, movies, music, television shows and magazines. Plus it runs Android applications specifically curated for its AppStore. The most impressive feature, however, may be the price.

For $199, customers get a light, thin 7-inch tablet that runs for 8 hours on a charge and is easy to tote. There’s no mobile broadband connection, but the device does have a Wi-Fi radio. Internal storage is a relatively meager 8 GB, which is supplemented by unlimited Amazon cloud storage for Amazon content.

The Fire has no camera, which also helps keep the costs down; IHS estimates each Kindle Fire costs $191.65 for materials, plus another $17.98 for manufacturing. Effectively, Amazon is selling each Kindle Fire at a small loss, expecting to turn profits on the sale of digital content and physical products bought from Amazon via the tablet.

Effectively, Amazon has created a 7-inch tablet that offers a large percentage of the same functionality found in competing tablets, but has done so at a much lower price. I expect the $199 price tag, in combination with Amazon’s content ecosystem, to generate a large amount of tablet sales for the company; especially when compared to much more expensive alternatives. But those may not be expensive for long.

HTC makes a solid 7-inch slate in the Flyer; it runs the full version of Android 2.3, made easier to use by the addition of HTC Sense, a custom software layer. But the Wi-Fi version up to now has been priced at $499 since it launched. That’s the same price as a 9.7-inch Apple iPad which boasts a larger content ecosystem. Best Buy  is permanently cutting the HTC Flyer cost to $299 starting Oct. 1, making it more price competitive.

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook is another 7-inch Wi-Fi device; in fact, the Fire looks much like the PlayBook both inside and out. But the PlayBook, too, launched with a $499 price tag and is currently available for the same $299 as the HTC Flyer due to a recent price drop. Price isn’t the only reason the PlayBook isn’t selling well; the device is missing key functionality such as a native email client for those without BlackBerry handsets. Even if it was feature complete, the market won’t support a $499 tablet with a 7-inch tablet.

The PlayBook price cut took place prior to the Kindle Fire launch, while the Flyer price drop was just announced today and is likely in response to Amazon’s $199 tablet, at least in part. Cutting the cost can also help move inventory that’s piling up. We saw just that scenario with a $99 fire sale of HP TouchPads last month, for example. And that’s telling: even with missing features or fewer applications available, consumers are willing to pay $99 for decent tablet hardware from HP or others.

At $199, Amazon just set the bar for 7-inch tablet makers. It’s unlikely that competitors will be able to match that price, because they simply can’t make up any losses on content. Amazon has a key advantage there. But I do expect that future 7-inch tablets to be priced in the $250 to $300 price range, even if that means eliminating some features, like a front-facing video camera, for example. The pressure is on: small tablets going forward will need to have smaller price tags too, thanks to Amazon.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.

More Details On MIT’s “Artificial Leaf” (And Video)

This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post


Back in March, we heard about a breakthrough from MIT: an “artificial leaf” that produces pure oxygen and hydrogen gas, powered entirely by sunlight. The technology was described in yesterday’s edition of Science, and the team has released a video showing one of the devices in action.

I say device, but it’s really more of a material. There are no moving parts and it has no set shape or size. The leaf is semiconducting silicon, coated on one side with a special cobalt catalyst, discovered by the project’s Daniel Nocera in 2008, and on the other with a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy. Sunlight creates a current within the silicon, and the catalyst causes water molecules to split into gaseous H2 and O2, which rise off in bubbles from opposite sides of the leaf.

Take a look at the video. It’s not particular exciting, but it gives you an idea of what kind of conversion rate we’re talking about:

The gases could be isolated and stored in a fuel cell, which could provide power later and produce pure water as its exhaust.

Nocera and several other researchers formed a company, Sun Catalytix, to independently research, apply, and market the artificial leaves, and last year raised $9.5 million from Tata and other investors.

The leaf-like form factor is easy to demonstrate on a human scale, but there’s no reason why the “leaves” couldn’t be microscopic or enormous. The different use cases require much research and testing, however, which is likely what Sun Catalytix is working on at present. That and figuring out to do with the extra protons the process generates. They envision banks of these things powering houses and communities and storing the excess in tanks for sale or emergencies.

There’s more information at MIT’s news page, and, if you’re scientifically minded (and subscribe to the journals), the various papers listed on Sun Catalytix’s tech page.

[image credit: Dominick Reuter]

Only One Yahoo Fearless Leader Note This Week: Please Ignore the Unignorable Rumors!

This post is by Kara Swisher from AllThingsD » Kara Swisher

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Yahoo’s interim CEO Tim Morse penned another weekly email to staff at the Silicon Valley Internet giant today; the only one from the company’s leadership, which sent out two internal memos last week.

It’s below, and again addresses the swirl of news around Yahoo’s plans as part of its ongoing strategery over the company’s future.

“I know there was some more swirl out there this week,” wrote Morse. “You know we don’t comment on rumors or speculation and for now, everything has been just that — rumors.”

Well, not so much, which I will be weighing in on soon via an old-fangled thing called reporting, Tim!

Until then, here is the latest missive:

Short note from me today. Before we head into the weekend, I wanted to give a shout out to the Flickr team for their great work on their new mobile features. What they rolled out this week got rave reviews and tons of great buzz. We also had a nice Demos and Drinks event here in Sunnyvale that I was able to check out, so thanks to all the Yahoos involved in that.

Last but certainly not least, I want to say thank you to the teams that are working hard on Advertising Week. It kicks off on Monday, and we’ve got some big stuff in store, so stay tuned on that front.

I know there was some more swirl out there this week. You know we don’t comment on rumors or speculation and for now, everything has been just that — rumors.

Rest assured, when we have something to share, we will. In the meantime, please know how much the entire executive team appreciates your great work — and please keep it up!

Have a good weekend.


Mocavo Raises $1 Million To Build Its Ancestry-Centric Search Engine

This post is by Jason Kincaid from TechCrunch

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Screen Shot 2011-09-30 at 1.15.59 PM

Looking to fill in the blanks on your family tree? A startup called Mocavo might be just what you’re looking for. The service is setting out to become a search engine that’s highly optimized for ancestry-related purposes — type in the name of a relative, and it’ll do its best to surface content from the web’s troves of genealogy data, some of which has been difficult to search through before now.

The startup, which was part of the TechStars Boulder program this past summer, has just raised a $1 million round from David Cohen (through Bullet Time Ventures), Dave McClure (500 Startups), David Bonderman, Walt Winshall, David Calone, Dave Carlson, Troy Henikoff, and other angels.

Founder Cliff Shaw says that Mocavo is setting out to make genealogy “open, social, and automated”. He explains that while there are existing services that use proprietary data sources,  few take advantage of the abundance of information that’s freely available on the web — information that Google often passes over, because genealogical information is neither fresh nor popular (he says Google only indexes less than 5% of this content).

Mocavo has created a whitelist of these genealogy sites, and it’s constantly scanning them for new data (you can sign up to receive an update for certain names, if you’d like). So far the site has around 5.8 billion names in its index.

The service launched in March, and is currently seeing more than 1 million page views per month, and 100,000 unique visitors. It also has very high engagement stats, with 17 minutes spent on the site, on average. While the site is currently focused exclusively on search, down the line it will integrate social features, like a family tree builder.

Shaw has a long history with ancestry-related companies — he founded his first genealogy site, Genforum, when he was 18. He sold it when he was 19, when it had some 60 million monthly pageviews. His other companies include Pearl Street Software and BackupMyTree, both of which were acquired as well.

Oh, and one caveat: my initial instinct was to try a vanity search on Mocavo, which didn’t have great results. Shaw says that because this is a genealogy search engine, you’ll have much better luck searching for people who are deceased.


The World’s Largest Free Genealogy Search Engine.

Learn more

Which Countries Use Social Networks The Most? [Study]

This post is by Jon Mitchell from ReadWriteWeb

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

hitwise_logo_apr10.jpgExperian Hitwise has released some new numbers about social network use around the world. It found that Brazil and Singapore are the top two countries for overall social networking use. But Facebook is not the network on which Brazilians are spending their time.

The study also measured the length of the average user’s Facebook session and found that Brazilians spent comparatively little time on Facebook. While Singapore users spend nearly nearly 39 minutes per Facebook session on average, Brazilian users spend less than half that, just over 18 minutes.


Where are the Brazilians if not on Facebook? They’re using Orkut, owned by Google. Orkut owns 43% of the social networking market in Brazil, but it’s losing ground to Facebook. Orkut fell by 18% since last year, while Facebook gained by 16%. Still, for the country that uses social networks the most in the world, it uses Facebook less than half as long as Singapore, on average, and only 2/3 as long as the U.S.

The Hitwise study measured market share of social networking sites versus total Internet usage as its metric of overall social Web use:

Market share for social networks and forums:

  1. Brazil — 18.9%
  2. Singapore — 16.4%
  3. U.S. — 15.4%
  4. India — 14.0%
  5. New Zealand — 13.9%
  6. France — 15.1%
  7. Australia — 13.1%
  8. U.K. — 12.2%

Hitwise also measured the length of the average user’s Facebook session around the world. ReadWriteWeb’s loyal Kiwi supporters will be proud to know that New Zealand wins the silver medal, at 30 minutes and 31 seconds:

Average time spent on Facebook in August 2011 per session:

  1. Singapore — 38 mins 46 sec
  2. New Zealand — 30 mins 31 sec
  3. Australia — 26 mins 27 sec
  4. U.K. — 25 mins 33 sec
  5. U.S. — 20 mins 46 sec
  6. France — 21 mins 53 sec
  7. India — 20 mins 21 sec
  8. Brazil — 18 mins 19 sec

Other interesting takeaways:

  • India had the fastest growth in Facebook use since last year, increasing in market share by 88%.
  • Facebook gained in market share by 5% in the U.S. since last year.
  • 18% of Singaporeans jump directly from one social network to another during their browsing sessions.

How long do you use Facebook for in one sitting?


Untapped Mobile Apps Let You Share Your Favorite Beers and Find New Ones [Downloads]

This post is by John Verive from Lifehacker

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Android and iOS: Untappd, the social network for beer lovers, is now available as a free download for Android and iOS. At its core Untappd is a beer rating and recommendation system. Using the service’s searchable database of brews you can rate each beer you drink, add a comment, and upload a photo of the brew. The service will recommend similar beers based on your rankings and share your reviews with your contacts. More »

Alibaba’s Jack Ma at Stanford: "We Are Very Interested" in Buying the "Whole" of Yahoo

This post is by Kara Swisher from AllThingsD » Kara Swisher

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

In answer to a direct question about whether his company was going to buy Yahoo at a forum at Stanford University in Silicon Valley this afternoon, Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Jack Ma said: “We are very interested.”

Said Ma: “We are very interested in Yahoo. Our Alibaba group is important to Yahoo and Yahoo is important to us … All the serious buyers interested in Yahoo have talked to us.”

Finally, at least one crystal clear answer in the confusion at Yahoo. More importantly, it is the first time Ma has indicated that he wanted to be a principal player in any deal around Yahoo rather than an element of a buying group.

Later, in answer to a question I posed about how he was going to do that, Ma said he wanted the “whole” company, but that the effort was complicated and included a number of players.

Again, he said: “We are very, very interested.”

I also asked him if he had visited Yahoo in his trip to California, which Ma said he has not in 15 days here so far. He said he has mostly been sleeping and eating, as part of a longer-term visit to the U.S.

Ma’s declaration came as part of a lively closing keynote speech at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he talked about the Chinese Internet company’s growth, focusing on how China is the next great Web economy.

Talking about competitors such as eBay, which have tried to enter the huge Asian market, he joked that “eBay might be sharks in the ocean, but Alibaba is a crocodile in the Yangtze.”

Of course, given his presence in Silicon Valley, one topic of interest was whether Ma would be heading over to visit nearby Yahoo and what role he will play in the current internal debate over the company’s future in the wake of the ousting of its CEO Carol Bartz.

The disposition on Yahoo’s Asian assets, which includes 40 percent of Alibaba and a large stake in Yahoo! Japan, are critical to the current strategic review of the company, since they make up a large part of its market valuation.

In comparison, the value of its U.S. and other global assets are small.

When later asked about his experience of being involved with Yahoo, which made a very canny investment by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang in Alibaba many years ago, Ma also said that he would do it again, but not in the same way.

The same way has to do with the level of foreign ownership, which Ma has been trying to reduce in a number of ways and which Yahoo has thus far resisted.

To answer a question about the fight between Ma and Yahoo over its Alipay fight, when Ma spun it out of Alibaba, he said the situation was tense, but that today “the problem is solved and I am half-burnt.”

He was referring to a settlement, which will require a lot of growth from the still-nascent online payment business.

Ma was asked later about the biggest misunderstanding in the U.S. about China and vice versa. “Our job is not to solve the misunderstanding,” he said. “Our job is to change ourselves to solve the problem.”

In another query about his relationship with Yahoo’s Yang, Ma called him a lifelong friend and also said he appreciated how much that meant to Alibaba’s beginnings.

“But, this is business and not personal,” Ma said about the current situation. “While we appreciate yesterday, but we are looking for a better tomorrow.”

The first line, for those not mad fans of the classic movie like me, is from “The Godfather.”

The question is, though, will Ma make Yang an offer he can’t refuse?