Microsoft’s Looking Glass Will Let Marketers Peer Into A Real-Time Social Stream

Microsoft is going to let marketers and advertisers dip their toes into the social stream. The tech giant is planning to launch a new social media product, dubbed “Looking Glass,” which will let marketers aggregate and monitor social media platforms for brands and companies. According to a report by Ad Age today, the product is still in “proof of concept” stage and will be privately distributed to testers in the coming month. Microsoft’s advertising blog also mentions the new product.

Looking Glass will aggregate feeds from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other social media sites and will also be able connect with CRMs, databases, service centers and more. In terms of analysis, the product will track sentiment of content but it’s unclear what other data analysis and features the application will have. Looking Glass will be browser-based and powered by Microsoft’s Silverlight technology. And unsurprisingly, all data collected by Looking Glass will be integrated with Microsoft’s Sharepoint and Outlook products. In fact, the product’s functionality may be limited for a business that isn’t using Microsoft’s enterprise suite.

That tidbit isn’t too big of a surprise, considering other platforms, like Salesforce, offer social monitoring and engagement services that are attached to their software. But it seems like Microsoft is pretty late in the “stream monitoring” game. There are plenty of startups out there like Viralheat, PeopleBrowsr, Socialseek and more that offer freemium platforms that do the same thing as Looking Glass. Not to mention that Salesforce just launched an incredibly powerful version of its Service Cloud, with Twitter and Facebook features integrated within the platform.

The other piece of the puzzle is if Looking Glass will have real-time functionality. That’s definitely where the future of social monitoring is, so it would make sense that Microsoft would add this into the product. We’ve contacted Microsoft about this question; we’ll update the post with more info when we hear back.

UPDATE: Looking Glass will have real-time functionality says a spokesperson for Microsoft.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Pfly

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DEMO: Vitamin D Brings Smart Searching To Security Footage

There’s no doubt that searching video footage can be an incredibly tedious and time consuming task — unless someone else has manually tagged a video with keywords, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wade through minutes (or hours) of footage to find what you’re looking for. In the last few years we’ve started to see the emergence of some new technologies to address this issue, like Digital Smiths, but most of them are focused indexing premium content. Vitamin D is a new startup making its debut today at DEMO Fall that’s looking to bring content identification to user generated videos.

Vitamin D’s first product allows users to search through surveillance camera videos without having to watch though hours of footage where nothing is happening. But this isn’t just based on motion detection — you can fine tune your searches using a visual interface for building a custom ruleset. Say, for example, I wanted to monitor a specific door in a room for any humans that had walked through it. Using Vitamin D, you can drag and drop to highlight a certain doorframe and then ask the software to immediately identify any matches it has in its archive. Using this technology you could condense many hours of footage into only a few seconds, which you can browse through a in playlist-like format. The company says it will have a public beta available this fall. Vitamin D also looks to apply its technology beyond its security application, though it sounds like further products are a ways off.

Also see HighlightCam, which can automatically condense lengthy video clips to their most important moments. The startup was a part of Summer 2009’s Y Combinator class (you can find our full post on HighlightCam here).

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Twitter Needs An App Store, Oneforty Provides One

With the explosion of Twitter mobile apps, web-based clients, and desktop applications, it was only a matter of time before someone launched an actual Twitter-focused app store. Oneforty has built a marketplace to for basically all things Twitter, helping developers get their creations found and letting users access a centralized place to find and buy Twitter-based technologies. We have 100 invites to try out the site (OneForty is in private beta); just click here and use the code: TC140.

The site lists 1,332 free and paid applications and services built on Twitter’s API, where people can search for, rate and buy Twitter services. The site also features lists of the most popular apps on the marketplace, ad lists the “best” app for nine types of Twitter services, such as apps for business, url shortners, image sharing, news, and travel. The site also hopes to be somewhat of a social network, with users having the ability to create profiles of their favorite Twitter apps and services.

You sign into oneforty with your Twitter account, which lets you interact with the site with your Twitter handle. Each listing for an app or service has a detailed description of its features and and includes screenshots, and categories that the app fits into (i.e. business or mobile). You can click the “I use this” to add the app to your profile and you will be listed on the app’s page as a user. The listing also identifies the developer who created the app, features press mentions of the site or app or site and pulls in a stream of Tweets that mentions the app or site. And you can “share” a particular app via Twitter.

Oneforty’s revenue model is fairly basic. If you want to download Tweetie’s iPhone app, oneforty provides an link directly to Apple’s App Store, allowing oneforty to collect an affiliate fee. Of course for the free downloads and sites, such as TwitPic or TweetDeck, oneforty will just direct you to their sites, where you can download or access the application. oneforty is also going to list Twitter-related books and merchandise, with affiliate links to An interesting bit of trivia—the site’s founder, Laura Filton, wrote the “Twitter for Dummies” book and taught a “”Twitter for Business” class at Harvard Business School. Oneforty was incubated at TechStars and is advised by Guy Kawasaki.

Twitter currently lists applications and also has a wiki-based directory of Twitter-related sites and apps, but it’s layout isn’t easy to navigate. Twitdom also has an application database which includes reviews and ratings but doesn’t seem to have the user interface and marketplace feel of oneforty.

Finton tells me that soon oneforty will become a full fledged e-commerce platform, where developers can sell their apps on the site itself. I think its fairly easy to use and am a fan of its sharing features. If oneforty can pick up a dedicated base of users, it has a chance at becoming the defacto Twitter app store.

The site is in private beta at the moment, but we have

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TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco

This Microsoft Windows 7 Launch Video Is, If Possible, Worse Than That Musical One

Either Microsoft’s sense of humor has gotten almost British in its sophistication and dryness, or this is the worst promotional video I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, worse than their Songsmith video. I’m beginning to think Microsoft’s marketing department really is a thousand monkeys with a thousand high definition cameras. Or are we being punk’d?
TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco

As Google Looks To Get On The Acquisition Track Again, Here’s A Map Of Where It’s Been

For most of this year, Google has been holding back on its M&A activity. But its recent acquisitions of On2 Technologies in August and reCAPTCHA a week ago signal that Google is regaining its appetite for acquisitions. CEO Eric Schmidt told Reuters today that he wants to buy at least one small startup a month primarily because it is a great way to hire the best talent.

So what type of startups is Google likely to buy? One way to figure that out is to look at what kinds of startups its bought in the past. The Google acquisition and investment map below was created by the folks at MeetTheBoss (they’ve made similar visualizations for Amazon and eBay). There are a few deals missing like last week’s reCaptcha acquisition (see CrunchBase for a more complete list), but the subway-map visualization above gives the broad outlines of Google’s acquisition path.

The longest lines with the most stops (each stop represents a deal) are technology (dark violet) and web services (green). Startups which fall somewhere on those two lines seem to have a stronger chance of getting picked up by Google, at least historically. Other shorter, but overlapping lines, include advertising (pink), search (salmon), mapping (violet), social (red), video (dark red). Which lines does Google need to extend?

(Click on the map below to enlarge).

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TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco