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Last night Techcrunch held their 2nd annual Crunchy awards. The evening was a near mirror image of last year’s event. Sixteen awards were given and big congratulations go out to all of the winners. CBS Interactive’s Josh Lowensohn attended the event and has a good recap of each of the awards handed out in San Francisco.
I kept notes on each of the winners from my office in NYC on a scratchpad. I’d like to share some of my general thoughts about the event.
The first award went to Google Reader for best web application. Accepting the award was Marissa Mayer from Google. In a company that has many thousands of employees and a Google Reader team that probably has more than a dozen employees, did Marissa really need to accept the award? It’s clear from past experiences that Google is a very controlling company when it comes to their public face, but why not let someone actually on the Google Reader team have the spotlight. One of my Twitter followers wondered if she was asked by the Crunchies to accept to make sure a woman accepted at least one award. I don’t buy that – I think it’s just Google’s controlling behavior at work.
During the Crunchies event, there were 3 “quick Q&A” and VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall spoke with Mayer. It immediately became apparent to me and the Twitter audience that the questions were staged (for all of the Q&A bits) because Matt started to joke around (seemingly off the script) about cupcakes and when he switched back, Marissa started to answer before Matt even finished his question. Why does Marissa get such fluff interviews? Back at LeWeb, Marc Canter called the interview fluff and last night’s discussion was fluff as well. I don’t know if Marissa demands easy questions but there are plenty of topics that the people in the audience care about. Techcrunch writer Steve Gillmore has been very vocal lately about FeedBurner – why not ask her about that? There are plenty of other topics as well that the audience and the Ustream viewers care about.
Let’s now move to location… that is, where does your company need to be located to win a Crunchy? Loic LeMeur noted on stage that there was only one award given to an international company and all of the companies in that category were from Europe. LeMeur has a longer post today about the valley vs. non-valley topic with regards to the awards show.
As each winner was announced, I took a look at where the company is located and noted it on my scratch pad. Every single startup company, outside of the international award which went to eBuddy, went to a company in California. In fact, all of the award winners are located in Silicon Valley except GitHub which is located near San Diego. Take a minute and think about that…not one company won from NYC, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, St. Louis, Portland or anywhere in between. Internationally, Techcrunch runs blogs in France, UK and Japan and there was no winners from any of those locations or any other city around the world except one winner from Amsterdam.
Does all of the “great” Web technology only come out of California? Absolutely not. I am going to have a lot more on this topic early next week.
Dennis Howlett made a comment that’s worth repeating. “If they were being honest then the Crunchies would be renamed as the Consumer Crunchies”. In fact you should read his Twitter stream for some good, honest commentary on the overall event. He’s right and when I looked at the nominees last month I was disappointed that the only startups in the running were those who basically get pushed around in the early adopter crowd. Where are all of the (()#@*&^%% companies that are creating real value for their users and have business models? Where are the web utility companies? I could name 100 companies that deserved to win an award last night. We see this behavior on a daily basis from the valley and I will have more on this topic as well next week.
In closing, it’s great that Techcrunch puts on this award show and gives the community a chance to celebrate their combined success. My hope is that for their 2010 show they will consider some of the points above and make some positive changes which will benefit the Web community worldwide.
Skinnyr is a web application that provides a way to track your weight online. We reviewed the service when it initially launched in June of 2007. The easiest way to describe Skinnyr is to say it’s an online scale that you can share. Founder James Thomas says they are adding between 20 and 50 new users each day.
Thomas sent over a note that has has re-launched the app with a variety of new features. The biggest change is a complete rework of the graph page. In the previous version there was one graph, both for viewing on Skinnyr and for embedding. In the new version (example below), there’s a separate graph for use on the Skinnyr site and a graph for embedding.
The other major product update is the installation of a "freemium" revenue model. This means that some features are available for free and some are paid. Here’s a list of what you receive if you pay the $10/year for the premium subscription:
- SMS/Text messaging
- Full API (some functions are premium only)
- Monthly average graph
- Goal weight
- Trend line
- No ads
I almost think Skinnyr needs more ads to use "no ads" as a selling point. One ad on the top (see below) isn’t enough to push me to want to remove the ads for $10.
What’s interesting is that Thomas also lists what’s coming soon for premium subscribers. Not sure I’ve seen this before but the list includes: BMI graph, Multiple Goal Weights, Advanced embedding options (colors, sizes, etc.). Not sure I get the "multiple goal weights" – it’s not like I can add back a block of fat for the weekend :)
Skinnyr is an interesting service as it’s clearly not as robust as other online fitness sites but it does one thing very well. I could see a company like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig either acquiring or white-labeling the Skinnyr service for their members. If Thomas isn’t thinking about white-labeling and partnerships, he should be. Most likely that would be an "easier" way to revenue.
Peter Kafka at MediaMemo is reporting that NY-based Tumblr has received a Series B round of funding in the amount of $4.5 million. The round was led by previous investors Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. Kafka says this puts the company’s valuation at $15 million and that the investors are looking for at least a $50 million exit.
When Tumblr raised their first round of venture capital ($750k) last year, the company shared a figure of 75,000 users and that they reached traffic levels in 2 months that it took Digg 8 months to reach. Kafka also spoke with CEO David Karp who noted that they will be working towards launching a freemium model early next year. The freemium model means that you get some features for free and others you pay a small fee for.
This past June, CEO David Karp provided a business update about Tumblr which I caught on video (embedded below). At that point, David noted that Tumblr has 310,000 users (no word on active), 120,000 posts per day and they host 15,000 custom domains.
If you are new to Tumblr or want to learn about the company and their model, check out this video from June with Karp.
Yesterday we learned that Adobe reported weaker demand for their CS4 suites and has decided to let 600 workers go. Last month Curtiss (on our sister site) wondered if Adobe has lost its mind. Curtiss noted, "Are people and businesses, especially in today’s economy, really going to pay $2,500 for the master suite, $1,800 for the Design Premium suite or $1,700 for the Web Premium or the Production Premium suites? Are people truly still willing to shell out $1,000 just for Adobe PhotoShop?"
I’ve been using CS2 on my primary machine and Photoshop 7 on my laptop for years. I haven’t seen enough reason to upgrade and the pricing listed above just keeps me even further away from an upgrade. While upgrade pricing is less expensive, it’s still relatively high overall.
Adobe’s John Dowdell has put together a tweet list of comments post-announcement of the firings.
Is it time for Adobe to adjust their pricing to reflect demand and reflect the current state of the economy? While one might assume that a lower price would increase the demand for the product, I am not sure that holds true in this case. Even a temporary drop could get more users upgrading — which would help Adobe by moving more of their customers into the latest versions. This could also help reduce support for older versions of Adobe products.
So report in… which version(s) of Adobe products are you currently using and will you upgrade (legally) to the CS4 lineup?
This weekend Tesla Motors was back in the news as they are pleading with the U.S. government to give them some $400 million to continue their mission of building cars for the "rich". I say "give them" because even though the money is apparently a loan, if Tesla goes under, it then becomes "give them". Randall Stross from the NY Times wrote a piece which apparently bashed Tesla. In response, Tesla sent their first line of blogging defense, Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis to take care of the matter. Calacanis has posted a number of counter-arguments to Stross’ post and I’d like to comment on the Calacanis post.
First, let’s begin with a number of disclosures. Something that you would think the $100 million-valued Huffington Post would require of their authors but apparently that’s not the case. Calacanis’ company Mahalo has received funding from Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. In addition, Jason’s brother-in-law and Mahalo investor Ryan Scott is also a Tesla Motors investor. Boy that’s something the readers of the Huffington Post piece should know, right?
As many of you know, I am a public transportation junkie. My belief is that all (or most) government funding should be used towards pushing mass transit. Creating cars powered by batteries, water, or anything else won’t fix our growing traffic issues. Take the millions and billions of dollars and create better transit systems in cities across this country. There’s so much that can be done with transit to create real environmental and human savings.
If we are going to look at ways to save oil, why not spend the money creating more efficient air travel? I have to imagine that the savings up in the sky would be larger than those on the ground but yet I never hear anyone talking about fixing air travel.
Ok, now let’s talk about cars and what appears to be the hot trend now, battery-powered cars. I am no expert in battery-technology but if the concensus is to move forward building batteries for cars, I am all for it. However, instead of dropping hundreds of millions into Tesla, put it into the great universities across this country. Create a cross-university research center where students, scientists and industry professionals can work together to create the battery technology. Once it’s perfected, then it could be sold/leased/provided to companies like Tesla. This would be a much safer investment than giving money to frankly any auto-company at this time. I bet this type of research project could even draw in some of our worldwide allies and help slowly regain some of our lost status in the worldwide community.
I haven’t seen anything from Tesla that speaks to the average American family. A $60k sedan isn’t for the average American family. Calacanis’ math is interesting — a person making $80k should be able to easily afford a $60k car. Boy that’s exactly how we got into the mortgage hell we are in now – people living beyond their means! And Tesla hasn’t displayed the leadership that would be needed for me to believe that they would be able to remain a going concern long enough to repay any loan. How many CEOs have they been through so far?
At the end of the day, we need better ways to move people from place A to place B. All transportation options should be considered and creating expensive cars isn’t the way to accomplish what we’re looking for.
Update: Philip James points us to this illustration of why we need more transit:
The Social Gaming Network (SGN) has announced the exciting launch of the iBasketball game today. Today’s iBasketball release follows SGN’s iGolf release. iBasketball uses the iPhone accelerometer to make playing the game fun. You can pick from "Around the World" or "HORSE" and you can shoot layups and practice drills.
The game can connect to an online community of other iPhone iBasketball players and as you take turns it updates the app so you know when your friend got a swish or hit a really tough 3-pointer.
I can only imagine what you must look like as you "shoot" your iPhone through the basket and then have to look quickly to see if you made the shot. I could just imagine what Penn Station will look like if there are delays.
The iBasketball app is available on the iTunes app store. I am looking forward to iPool, iFishing, iPacMan and iFrogger. The iFrogger should be fun as you get down and jump from pad to pad to cross the river.
Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud hosting division has announced a new partnership with Limelight Networks today that allows Mosso customers to use Limelight’s content delivery network (CDN). Mosso notes that, "this union brings unlimited online storage, scalable content delivery, and application acceleration services, thereby allowing businesses to more easily and affordably distribute content to millions of end users around the world."
If you are new to CDN services, the simple concept is that servers are placed around the world and depending on where you are located, you get served via the closest or most appropriate server. CDNs cut down on the hops back and forth to handle a request.
Mosso’s pricing for Cloud Files with CDN starts at 15 cents per gigabyte of storage and 22 cents per gigabyte of bandwidth from any edge location around the globe. Stored files can be up to 5gb in size. Apparently you can activate the CDN service on any file by accessing it via the Mosso admin control panel. It makes sense for large video and audio files along with large volume sites.
As many of you know, we are hosted on Mosso. Mosso has continued to improve reliability and customer service since we joined back in March. However, when I see deals like this I get excited for the possibilities but wish that they would spend more time making Mosso work like a normal webhost. There are several items including IP addresses referrals (every user looks the same) that just don’t work right and cause big issues when trying to process users appropriately.
Last month Mosso/Rackspace announced their cloud computing strategy.