Joost’s former CEO Matt Zelesko is announcing a new role today at Inform Technologies, a company that helps media companies sort and tag content on their sites. Zelesko will be taking on the role of Chief Technology Officer, overseeing all technology development and operations for the company.

Prior to joining Inform, Zelesko was CEO of video aggregator Joost. The failed video venture was started by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström and was eventually acquired by Adconion Media Group for an undisclosed sum. Though the video network has had a tumultuous past, the video network seems to be driving impressive amounts of traffic. Prior to joining Joost, Zelesko was VP of engineering for Comcast Interactive Media where he was responsible for the development and delivery of all CIM web properties, including the Comcast portal and Fancast.


Here in Europe we’re a little preoccupied with the volcanic ash cloud but apparently there was a major oil spill over in The Gulf of Mexico. Once again, social media is coming to the rescue.

As we discovered recently, a group of a dozen or so organizations including BP, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Department of Defense, and OSHA have set up Deepwater Horizon Response, a “Unified Command” established to “manage response operations.” This also involves several social media accounts.

And now there’s a theory that if enough people tweet information using the hashtag #gulfspill the environmental mess will clear itself up. OK, perhaps not, but the newly launched Gulf Coast Spill Coalition thinks that using social media to record and share information related to the oil spill can make a difference. And that’s exactly what has been setup to do.

Yesterday, while he was visiting his father and working beside a Colorado stream, Kevin Rose sent out a seemingly bland, lazy Sunday Tweet:

Working on @digg stuff while relaxing with my dad in evergreen, co. Home tomorrow #lifeisgood

But the payload of that Tweet, a link to picture showing a glimpse of Rose’s computer screen, is much more interesting. The laptop is angled, but if you squint through the glare you can spot some features of what may be the long-awaited new Digg design. I’ve blown up the photo and annotated it.

The Groupon acquisition of CityDeal is being hailed by many across Europe as a good exit for the German-based clone (yes, there is no point in saying it is anything else but a Groupon clone). But luckily there are more than just clones in Germany. The burgeoning cluster in Mitte, central Berlin, is producing startups such as Soundcloud, hiogi, Babbel, Twinity, SongBeat and aka-aki. Nokia bought Dopplr and with it set up an innovation lab amongst the beating heart of Berlin’s startups. Hamburg has spawned many others include Qype, Europe’s Yelp, and more recently the interesting Apprupt. VCs in Hamburg and Munich vie over raw engineering talent out of German universities, and our TechCrunch Europe Munich and Berlin events last year were buzzing. As US-born Germany-based VC Paul Josefak recently guest posted for us, he’s coming across “multiple companies who recently closed either initial or follow-on rounds.”

Berlin is now vying with London as the second tier cluster in Europe with a decent critical mass.

But there are clouds on the horizon, and they come in the shape of an attack of the clones, if you will, or more accurately, Pollution of the Clones.

While the market for copycat businesses aping the latest startups form the Valley is well known, it’s been a component, but never the only aspect, of the German scene. With Groupon’s acquisition of CityDeal the Clone Scene could now threaten to overtake it’s younger brother, the Innovation Scene. Here’s why.


Online video management software company KIT digital has agreed to acquire privately-held Benchmark Broadcast Systems, based in Singapore, for approximately $10 million.

KIT digital’s chairman and CEO, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, in a statement says they’ve been working on the acquisition for quite some time, and that the deal is testament to the company’s ambition to become leader in video asset management in the BRIC markets.

Discussion forums are broken and threaded comments found on blogs don’t cut it either. Too much of the conversation gets lost and any lasting knowledge is buried. That’s the view taken by yoomoot, a new startup just out of private beta.

The standalone site aims to make public online discussions more productive and useful, although in the future yoomoot is planning a subscription-based version for organisations who want to hold private discussions and a plugin for other publishing platforms, such as Wordpress.

The FT reports that , Intel and Sony will announce a “significant breakthrough into consumer electronics and the broadcast industry” later this week with the launch of a so-called “Smart TV” platform.

In case that sounds familiar, that’s because Bloomberg and the WSJ reported as much on April 29, apart from the apparent name of the Web TV platform that would be making its debut at I/O.

’s developer conference will be held May 19 - 20 in San Francisco.

Right now entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and executives are milling around in a swanky hotel outside of London at Zeitgeist.

Last year we were there too and managed to even break some news.

But this year we’re not allowed in. Why? There’s not enough room.

Here’s my email exchange with their PR people.

Vision Solutions, a portfolio company of PE firm Thoma Bravo, has agreed to acquire Southborough, Massachusetts-based Double-Take Software, a provider of backup and recovery solutions.

Under the terms of the agreement, Double-Take stockholders will receive $10.55 in cash for each share of common stock they hold, a premium of approximately 39% and 21% to Double-Take’s enterprise value and closing share price of $8.71, respectively, on the last business day prior to Double-Take’s announcement that its BOD was considering indications of interest to be acquired.

The deal, which was announced today, values Double-Take Software at approximately $242 million.

Ogone, a European electronic payments service provider, has received an undisclosed majority investment from US-based growth equity firm Summit Partners.

In conjunction with the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of this month, Christian Strain, a Principal of Summit Partners, and Scott Collins, a Managing Director with Summit, will join Ogone’s board of directors.


We’re not 100% sure when it popped up first, but has seemingly updated the Android Market website. Don’t pee your pants just yet - they’ve apparently merely shuffled some things around along with other layout changes. Still no search, still no way to download apps OTA, still no statistics of any kind.

On the bright side, the interface is more straightforward than it used to be. You can see a screenshot of the ‘old’ UI in this post, in which Jason Kincaid rightly calls for an Android Market desktop client - as you can tell the new website makes it a tad easier to browse different categories for both free and paid apps.

Tawkon, whose cellular radiation measurement iPhone app was initially rejected by Apple, is today announcing availability of an app with identical functionality for BlackBerry.

TechCrunch’s initial review of Tawkon created a wave of interest for the iPhone app, along with additional frustration at Apple’s rejection of it. It seems this did not go unnoticed by the good folks at 1 Infinite Loop, who reached out to the Tawkon team and invited them in to the HQ.

Gil Friedlander, Tawkon’s CEO, gave us his impressions.

Booyah is the not-so-little location based engine that could. The company behind MyTown has raised $20 million in new funding from a group of investors led by Accel (current investors, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DAG Ventures, also participated in this round). Accel’s Jim Breyer, a board member of Wal-Mart, Dell and Facebook, will join Booyah’s board. (According to a source close to the deal, the valuation was sizable but definitely under $120 million)

The company has now raised $29.5 million since 2008 and MyTown has more than 2.1 million users, according to CEO Keith Lee. While fellow location based service, Foursquare, has yet to reach that milestone, Booyah is preparing for serious acceleration. Lee says Booyah will hit 6 million users by the end of this summer across MyTown and its future products. Lee was not ready to outline Booyah’s pipeline (expect some major announcements in the next few weeks) but he gave us new clues on his expansion plans, revenues and how he plans to transform the “check-in.”

I’ve long been critical of how hotel rooms are found and booked online. It’s impossible to tell quality and cleanliness from a standard write up, photos and a star rating, let alone have any idea of the quality of things like the restaurant on site, the friendliness of the staff or the millions of other little things that can make a hotel stay a pleasure or a nightmare.

And no, consumer reviews don’t solve it. I recently stayed at a top rated hotel on Trip Advisor that was one of the worst customer service experiences I’ve had in the last year. And given that I spent about 30 weeks in hotels in the last year, that’s saying something. Among other issues, the hotel-in-question “accidentally” charged me nearly $700 mid-stay, let alone my final bill was supposed to be under $200. It took hours out of each day to resolve. The hotel wound up refunding us, but the trip was already ruined.

That’s what makes booking a hotel online such a risky proposition: A bad flight you can forget, but a hotel necessarily sticks with you during a trip, making or breaking it.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been five years since YouTube launched and changed the way people share video online (it was acquired by a year and a half later). To celebrate its birthday, YouTube has just announced a major new milestone: it’s streaming a whopping two billion views per day (the company notes that this is “nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined”).

To help commemorate the occasion, YouTube is also launching a new channel of videos called “My YouTube Story”, which includes a collection of clips featuring people around the world talking about how YouTube has changed their lives. The initial batch of clips were filmed by documentary filmmaker Stephen Higgins, and some of them are quite touching. YouTube users can upload their own video stories as well; YouTube will be plotting these videos on a global map, and will also offer an interactive timeline of clips.

There’s the unmistakable smell of revolution in the air this week. And if I were Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales I’d be keeping an eye out for angry French peasants dragging guillotines.

For Jobs, the rebellion is opening up across several flanks: from once-loyal partners like Adobe bitter over Apple’s decision not to support Flash to once-loyal journalists penning op-eds about heavy-handed treatment of the forth estate and blanket censorship of adult content on the iPad. For Zuckerberg, as I wrote last week, it’s the continuing user-generated outcry over privacy. For Wales it’s an alleged mutiny by wiki editors over his decision to unilaterally delete hardcore pornography from Wikipedia.

In each case the specifics are different but the thrust is the same: having built hugely successful and popular companies in their own image, some of technology’s leading visionaries are coming under attack from the people who were once their biggest allies.

Contrary to several reports, Wikipedia’s Founder Jimmy Wales is not relinquishing his editorial control of Wikipedia and its related projects. On Friday, Fox News reported that “a shakeup is underway at the top levels of Wikipedia…Wales is no longer able to delete files, remove administrators, assign projects or edit any content, sources say. Essentially, they say, he has gone from having free reign over the content and people involved in the websites to having the same capabilities of a low-level administrator.”

The report was picked up by other news outlets, like Venturebeat and CNET.

An interesting story— except it’s not true according to Jimmy Wales in an e-mail on Sunday. Wales says the Fox News reporter hasn’t even tried to contact him to discuss the alleged “shakeup.”

Daily deal service Groupon, hot off a new funding that valued the company at $1.35 billion, may not love all those clones of its service out there. But they’re certainly being realistic about things - tomorrow they’ll announce the acquisition of German startup Citydeal, CEO Andrew Mason just called to tell me.

Citydeal first launched in January, raised €4 million in funding, and now has offers in 80 European cities. They have over a million subscribers to their daily deals, says Mason, compared to about 5 million for Groupon. Citydeal’s 600 employees will join Groupon’s 300 or so, and the combined company will now operate in 18 countries and 140 cities.

One of the most commonly asked questions we get from both developers and industry outsiders is: how much money can I make developing apps? It’s a hard question to answer.

So we decided to conduct a survey. We asked for sale sdata from 124 developers that market applications ranging in price from 99 cents to $79.99. This survey was conducted on apps that ran the gamut of popularity, from wildly successful to barely breaking three figures. Developers were anywhere from funded companies with multiple titles under their belt, to first time, single-person authors. Both regular app developers, as well as game developers were included. This mining of data was intended to cover the entire iPhone app industry as a whole, without allowing outliers to skew the data too much in one direction.

The following financial information is pulled from 96 developers who provided in-depth sales data and pricing metrics.

This guest post was written by Alex Ahlund, the former CEO of AppVee and AndroidApps, which was recently acquired by mobile app directory Appolicious. He is currently an advisor to Appolicious.

Yesterday, I moderated a panel at TiEcon featuring the heads of product for , Twitter, and Facebook — an interesting group, obviously. It was a good, long discussion (hopefully I’ll have the full video to post soon). But definitely one of the most interesting points of the discussion was when I asked Bradley Horowitz, a Vice President of product management at , why Buzz doesn’t import tweets in real time? His answer was, well, interesting.

Users of Buzz will know that the service is awful at importing tweets. Currently, the import is done in bulk at the end of each day, resulting in a barrage of tweets in streams. It’s so bad, that many users unsubscribe from others who set their Buzz account to auto-import tweets. So why does do this? Well, it’s complicated.