SeqCentral Puts DNA Sequence Crunching In The Cloud

The act of DNA sequencing results in massive amounts of data around the human genome. Currently, this data is housed in standalone super computers, which doesn’t allow for collaboration between scientists. SeqCentral is launching at TechCrunch Disrupt today as a way for human genome scientists to match their data with publicly available data sets.

SeqCentral offers highly-scalable genetic sequence alignment in the cloud. The service allows you to upload your sequencing data in the clouds, and then compare your data with other scientists genome sequencing on the platform.

SeqCentral will allow scientists to compare their data to others to see if their sequencing is new or if it is “known.” The startup will bring in public data from universities, research organizations, and companies and allow you compare your sequencing to this existing data.

And SeqCentral, which costs $99 per year for scientists, wants to help you do more than just be able to find additional data, but also aims to connect members of the genomics community, encouraging collaboration around sequencing.

Q&A: Chi-Hua Chien, Keith Rabois, Sandya Venkatachalam and Lior Zorea weigh in on SeqCentral:

LZ: What’s the market for this?

SC: There’s a big market of individual scientists who will use this. Market is around 1 million individual scientists.

SV: What’s the value proposition for the scientists?

SC: Scientists will be able to do analysis more easily. The amount of time it will take to produce results will be significantly less.

CC: I think the company with the most data will win. There are a bunch of players in this space.

SC: There are few other players, but we believe we’ve simplified it.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Opzi: A Quora For The Enterprise

Within businesses, employees can share information over email, and through collaboration platforms like Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter and others. But Q&A platforms like Quora have recently taken off as a centralized knowledge repository for a vast number of topics that is easily searchable. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Opzi is launching a Q&A platform designed specially for businesses.

Opzi, which was incubated at Y Combinator, is essentially a white-label Q&A site that any organization can use internally to store questions and answers about their business processes. The site was founded by 25-year old Euwyn Poon, who graduated from Cornell University at the age of 18 and then received a J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2007. Poon worked as an associate in a law firm after school and found that it was difficult to sort through knowledge and instructions from his fellow associates online. Poon says that a Q&A-like site for business information within a company could help fill this gap and increase efficiency within an organization.

Similar to Yammer, users sign in with their corporate email address and can then search for information by keyword. You can also ask questions, and answer directly from the platform. There are a variety of uses cases for the platform. For example, an engineering firm could use the platform as a way to sort through commands. And because most companies are tied to email as a main communication platforms, questions and answers can be distributed and answered by email as well.

You can also post questions anonymously, and follow questions to receive updates to certain queries. Unlike a wiki, all the content on the platform is organized around the questions. Opzi is also working on ways to route questions to certain users if they could be experts in answering the question.

Opzi charges for the platform via a per seat licensing model. Even in stealth, Poon has already raised $1 million in funding from an impressive roster of angels, including SV Angel, First Round Capital, Naval Ravikant, Jeff Clavier’s SoftTech VC, Hadi Partovi, Ali Partovi, Paul Buchheit, Fritz Lanman and Raymond Tonsing.

Q&A: Chi-Hua Chien, Keith Rabois, Sandya Venkatachalam and Lior Zorea weigh in on Opzi:

KR: WHat’s the value proposition for the first user at the company?

EP: It can work for only two users as a communication platform or a reference point. We want to build something that feels like a consumer software but is for the enterprise.

CC: One of the things that impresses me about Quora is the density of the network. Here it will be smaller groups-need a lot of participation?

EP: We’re not trying to compete with Quora; were just trying to add a centralized knowledge base within businesses. We are looking at organic growth but open to whatever makes sense.

SV: Our approach is to build a layer on top of a company. This a light and easy way to add that layer. And it can integrate with other silos of information.

KR: What about Yammer?

EP: Yammer seems to be trying to build a social network for the enterprise. This is more of a knowledge base.

SV: This would compete for time spent on email, Yammer and other communication platforms.

LZ: How do you get the word out?

EP: Here, today.

CC: I think the biggest issue is that some companies want to have their classified information on servers.

Information provided by CrunchBase

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom To Speak At TechCrunch Disrupt Tomorrow

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will be bringing himself, his hair and his smile to TechCrunch Disrupt tomorrow, Tuesday, to speak on a variety of topics. This is now officially a TechCrunch Disrupt tradition – at our last Disrupt event in New York Mayor Bloomberg made a surprise visit and spoke about efforts to bring more startups to New York.

Newsom will discuss the startup ecosystem in San Francisco, and will probably touch on Zynga’s massive new 270,000 square foot office lease. He may also mention that he’s running for Lieutenant Governor of California this year.

Attendees can see Newsom live. Everyone else can watch for free on the TechCrunchTV live stream. We’ll update the agenda shortly with details and timing.

CloudFlare Wants To Be A CDN For The Masses (And Takes Five Minutes To Set Up)

It’s no secret that performance can play a significant factor in a website’s success — keep your users waiting, and they’ll get impatient and head somewhere else. There are solutions available to help keep things speedy, like CDNs, but most smaller websites don’t use them. TechCrunch Disrupt finalist CloudFlare wants to bring these speedy load times to the masses, and it’s offering some other benefits too, including robust security protection against online threats.  CEO Matthew Prince says that, in short, CloudFlare takes your average web admin and terms them into a full-fledged Ops team.

Prince says that speed issues can have a big impact on your site — one study showed that for every 100 milliseconds of time spent loading, you lose up to 2% of your visitors. He says CloudFlare offers an average of a 30% increase in speed and can “stop virtually all web spam attacks”. And he says that you can integrate it into your site in around five minutes. Oh, and it’s free, at least for its basic service.

Prince says that CloudFlare operates on the network level, so it supports any platform. Setup involves changing your DNS to route to CloudFlare’s servers. After setting up CloudFlare on your site, you can head to a control panel that shows how many data requests have been served to users, and how much bandwidth CloudFlare has saved for you. It also makes it easy to drop in Google Analytics

CloudFlare will also be offering a ‘Pro’ plan, with added features like SSL, better page optimization, and object pre-fetching to further enhance speed gains. The company has set up five data centers across three continents. It’s been in private beta until now, and has been tested on 1,000 websites that have served 6 million unique visitors.

Q&A: Chi-Hua Chien, Keith Rabois, Sandya Venkatachalam and Lior Zorea weigh in on CloudFlare:

SV: It’s a great idea, and you articulated the value proposition well. How do you make money?

MP: We have a pro plan where users are charged for usage.

CC: Seems like a great value proposition.

MP: We think we’re on to something really big. At South By Southwest, they used CloudFlare. We think individual sign ups will help drive traffic but the real opportunity could be with hosting companies.

KR: How does the technology work?

MP: We use a technology from Cisco called AnyCast.

LZ: What’s the difference between the free and paid service?

MP: The pro service has a more advanced security, with realtime lookups.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Peanut Labs Acquired By Online Research Company E-Rewards

Peanut Labs, a company that has creates embeddable surveys for social media sites like Facebook, has been bought by online research panel E-Rewards. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Peanut Labs creates the surveys that are used in online offers you see on Facebook within games. For example, on a Zynga game you may see an offer that will allow you to earn Facebook Credits if you fill out a survey. The surveys are used by companies to gather data for market research. Users complete a preliminary profile questionnaire that enables Peanut Labs to target their respondents with the most appropriate survey invitations.

Peanut Labs, which has raised $3.2 million, partners with over 200 of social media applications to include these offers in games and apps on social and gaming networks such as Facebook, Zynga and MySpace. Peanut Labs’ respondent pool hovers around 240 million consumers to date.

Similarly, E-Rewards is an online research company that allows companies to conduct and market research surveys to panelists. Peanut Labs will be able to expand E-Rewards’ survey platform to social networks.

Yep, Amazon Launching Their Own App Store For Android Too

Earlier today, after several tips, we guessed that Amazon may be close to launching its own app store for Android — yes, another Android app store. Sources we reached out to weren’t sure about what exactly Amazon was launching, but many had been asked to sign NDAs about something. Now we seem to know a bit more. And yes, it appears that Amazon is on the verge of launching its own app store for Android.

We’re still going over the details, but if the information we’ve obtained is accurate, it appears there are a number of interesting tidbits around payments paid out through this store. And a number of new restrictions. Ugh.

Amazon’s entry into the Android app space follows Verizon’s move into the area as well with the forthcoming V Cast apps. I can’t wait to hear what Google thinks about all this competition on their devices. Hopefully Google CEO Eric Schmidt will talk about it tomorrow at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Update: Okay, some details:

  • For each sale of an App, we will pay you a royalty equal to the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price as of the purchase date (70/30 is standard, this 20/80 split is somewhat odd and confusing)
  • The List Price is apparently in place so that you can’t sell your app cheaper on other “similar services” — meaning other app stores, presumably
  • The “similar services” should also include the forthcoming Chrome Web Store, if I’m reading this correctly
  • There is a $99 fee to be a developer in this program (the same as Apple’s iOS developer program)
  • It seems like if your app is available on other platforms, you have to make sure to update it at the same time on Amazon’s store that you do in any other store (this will piss off a lot of developers)
  • Apps will have to be laced with Amazon DRM — meaning they will only work on devices they approve (obviously)
  • Amazon has the right to pull any app for any reason (obviously)
  • Apps can also be shown on (this is up to Amazon)
  • You can offer free apps
  • The app store is U.S.-only (at least for now)
  • This part is interesting too: “We have sole discretion to determine all features and operations of this program and to set the retail price and other terms on which we sell Apps.”

Those are the details for now. It’s not entirely clear how closed or open this store will be. Also not clear is what Android devices this store (and its apps) will run on. More to come, I’m sure.

Update: Rumor: An Amazon Android Tablet May Follow The Amazon Android App Store

Intuit, GE Executives Trade Notes On Innovation And Acquisitions

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today, Scott Cook, the founder and chairman of Intuit, and Beth Comstock, the chief of marketing and vice president of General Electric (GE) traded notes on innovation, investing and acquisitions.

Intuit’s best-known products include Turbo Tax, Quickbooks and Quicken, software that helps consumers, the owners of small and medium sized businesses and large financial institutions save or manage their money. The company’s more recent releases include the Intuit GoPayment mobile app and Mophie credit card reader, the latter of which began sales at Apple stores about three weeks ago, and Turbo Tax SnapTax, a mobile app which allows users to “snap, prepare and file” their taxes with a smart mobile device.

GE’s business encompasses: power generation from traditional and renewable sources, hybrid and electric vehicle technology, financial services, health care solutions, and television programming among others. The company recently committed to spend $10 billion on clean tech research and development in the next five years via its Ecomagination initiative. Ecomagination includes a business competition for smart grid technology startups.

Comstock said more competitions focused on specific clean tech and health concepts would likely follow (and would help build GE’s portfolio). GE is also investing, over a six year period that commenced in 2009, $6 billion in healthcare ideas and businesses that decrease costs, improve quality and increase global access to healthcare.

For Intuit, Cook said, acquisitions are part of an approach to innovation and growth that starts with growth from internal talent and resources. Over the long term, Intuit expects double-digit organic revenue growth and revenue growth that exceeds expense growth. Whether Cook is reviewing a business idea that was hatched internally, or was pitched from an external source, he doesn’t apply a rigid hurdle rate, he said:

We look for…the deep and abiding problem that consumers and small businesses have that has not been solved. [We ask if] we can cobble together technologies that will solve that problem, and delight people in doing so to build competitive advantage. If we can do business there, it doesn’t matter what’s on a spreadsheet.

In the last few years Intuit acquired Homestead, Paycycle, (which launched at the TechCrunch 40 in 2007) and more recently, MedFusion. Intuit spends its cash on high-yield opportunities, targeting risk-adjusted returns of 15-20 percent, generally.

Of its acquisition of and others, Cook said:

You either disrupt or you get disrupted. If you’re not engineering, and somebody else is, you gotta get on the bandwagon. We bet on them, they also bet on us. [After we acquired Mint] we gave them our Quicken business, and now they manage both! They’re bringing invigorating new thoughts there.

Comstock said that GE has a “hole in its pocket” now, where great clean tech and health ideas are concerned. She emphasized that the company has been more open of late, investing in promising startups through competitions and more, and striking joint ventures with companies that complement GE’s existing lines of business:

We have great battery technology relating to electric vehicles. Our lab is great at sodium science! So we’d created this battery, and we had to make them. Our marketing team then asked: what other markets can I take this to? Auxillary power for planes? Cell phone towers? That is like a virtual startup. It could make $200 million in the first couple of years. At the same time, we invested a couple of rounds in A123. They have lithium capabiltiites. We brought them into our R&D lab, and its the first time we’ve co-created like this. So now, we’re backing the A123 battery, too.

Comstock advised founders wanting to attract GE as an investor, buyer or partner:

We have a whole combo of things we’ve grown and invested in, both…We are always asking ‘Does it scale?’ All the time… Technology is the thing that we do. But business model innovations are really important, especially when you lok at the data that’s coming out of everything! Jet Engines. Medical [devices]. You name it. Don’t just think: ‘I have to have a thing.’ It’s also software, algorithms and business models that we haven’t had experience with that interest us.

Cook advised founders more generally:

Select your team very carefully. Get the right people on the bus and pick the very best for each slot. Have a mission, a big dream, go out and change the world. The big dreams make a difference. But get there one successful experiment at a time. If there’s something I’ve learned in the last 4 years, it’s the power of iteration. Rapidly create, test, change… Run experiments with customers, let the customer vote, don’t rely on the boss to vote.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Social Bookmarking Startup Xmarks Heads To The Deadpool

According to a company blog post, social bookmarking and search tool Xmarks is shutting down in 90 days.

Following a rebranding from Foxmarks last year, Xmarks, a social bookmarking and search tool, had been growing steadily in users. After the addition of its search feature last March, Xmarks now had 2 million active users and had bookmarked 1 billion URLS. Xmarks is free as a plug-in to users (and was available on IE8, Firefox, Chrome and Safari).

In the blog post written by Xmarks co-founder and CTO Todd Agulnick (other co-founder is Mitch Kapor), the startup simply didn’t have enough users and couldn’t monetize the service. In the Spring of this year, the startup started looking for potential buyers of the company with funds running low. The company tried turning on revenue channels earlier this year for its sync features, but these features are already included for free in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

Xmarks CEO James Joaquin tells me “We made an impressive attempt to monetize our 1 billion bookmark corpus with several innovative search products, but ultimately we didn’t find a scalable business model. With Firefox and Google building sync into the browser, it’s the end of the road for Xmarks.”

We’ve added the startup to the deadpool.

Information provided by CrunchBase

SnapDragon Wants To Simplify Product Check-Ins And Entice Users With Comics

We started with location check-ins. Then we moved to media check-ins. Now we’re onto product check-ins. The space is starting to fill up quickly, but are they all too convoluted? If SnapDragon takes off, the answer in hindsight may end up being “yes”.

The new startup launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt isn’t trying to pull you into a specific store (like Shopkick). It isn’t trying to mount an overall attack on in-store shopping (like Barcode Hero). And it isn’t trying to turn barcodes into message boards (like StickyBits). Instead, all SnapDragon is trying to do is get you to scan your barcodes to check-in to products you like. Doing this is more a game than anything else — you can share these products, climb a product’s leaderboard, etc. And as a bonus, it allows you to unlock comic book material featuring the company’s SnapDragon character.

Yes, that’s right, comic books.

The SnapDragon team has gotten some Bay Area comedians to write their little collectable virtual good comic books. You’ll earn different books based on your product check-ins. For example, if you check-in to some tanning oil, you might earn the “Jersey Shore” comic, riffing on MTV’s hit show.

The idea is clearly to make the idea of product check-ins fun without putting up too big of a barrier to entry (which many of the other product check-in services have). That said, the end result is the same in SnapDragon — get brands to leverage the platform as a new form of advertising and marketing.

Here are the questions from judges Josh Felser, Joe Kraus, Todor Tashev, Robert Scoble, and Don Dodge (paraphrased):

Q: How do you make money?

A: We work with consumer product companies to deliver targeted coupons.

Q: Have you talked to the brands yet?

A: Yes a bit. One example may be Vitamin Water — which has a deal with The Situation from Jersey Shore.

Q: I think too many teams are focused on the product problem — but isn’t this a distribution problem?

A: (Shakes head, yes).

Q: Too many companies talk about the business — you need to figure out how to make this interesting to the user. Right?

A: (Shakes head, yes).

Information provided by CrunchBase

OneTrueFan Is The Foursquare For Websites

The Foursquare model of checking into a location, earning badges and tapping into your social network to share that location has become one that has been able to be applied to other platforms. For example, GetGlue allows users to check-in to shows, books, movies and more, earn badges and share this with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, OneTrueFan is launching a service for web publishers that allows visitors to earn badges for interacting and sharing content on the site.

OneTrueFan, which will be available as a browser add-on or as a javascript code that publishers embed on their site, aims to help engage visitors while they are on a website interacting with content. The startup revolves around a game-format that allows you to see who is reading content in the site, compete for the most engagement and encourages you to share content within the service and on social networks.

As users share more content within OneTrueFan, and on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, they can earn points, and special badges from publishers. You’ll be able to see a leaderboard of users who have been sharing content and can mouse over fellow contributors to see more information about how they’ve been interacting with a site. All of this info can be seen on the bottom of a publisher’s website.

OneTrueFan will eventually launch a dashboard that allows web sites get a multi-dimensional view of their readers based upon frequency of visits, amount of content read, regularity of shares and traffic sent. Web site owners can use existing channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, to communicate with readers.

In the future, OneTrueFan will be releasing an API so that publishers can customize the experience for their visitors. In the end, the aim of OneTrueFan is to help publishers increase engagement amongst everyday users and time spent on their sites. And the company says that their service will help create repeat visits as well and

OneTrueFan is the brainchild of MyBlogLog’s founders Eric Marcoullier and Todd Sampson. MyBlogLog was acquired by Yahoo in 2007. Unsurprisingly, some of OneTrueFan’s interface is similar to MyBlogLog. OneTrueFan has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Dave McClure, Jeff Clavier, David Cohen and Bob Pasker.

Here are the questions from judges Josh Felser, Joe Kraus, Todor Tashev, Robert Scoble, and Don Dodge (paraphrased):

Q: What about the retweet problem? Don’t you reward that?

A: Yes, that’s an interesting game mechanic — because you can abuse this. But that’s risk reward that’s inherit in gaming. And we do block bots — this is just for humans.

Q: There are so many people chasing this — so isn’t survival the strategy here?

A: I think you’re absolutely right. But we’ve been doing this for years. All of the fuck-ups that we’ve made have given us a lead. MyBlogLog failed on many levels — that will help us.

Q: But what about fatigue about game mechanics?

A: Frankly, most sites can get social media right. There’s a big difference between playing Xbox and making the games. The companies that get best practices are going to survive and grow.

Q: What about the Foursquare problem — the mayor problem, you might never catch the mayor?

A: With Foursquare, there is only one way to earn points. With us, you can earn points different ways.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Off & Away Expands Hotel Listings, Allows You To Apply Bid Credits Universally

Off & Away, an innovative travel startup that launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, is launching a few new features today. Off & Away applies a Swoopo-like auction model to buying hotel rooms online.

The site features upscale hotel rooms at rock-bottom prices; Off & Away auctions off each reservation, and other people bid for the same room. To participate you need to buy bids (they’re a dollar apiece); then you can bid as many times as you’d like until time runs out. Once that happens one user will walk away with the cheap hotel price. Everyone else can use the money they’ve put towards bids toward reserving the room at its normal price.

Now customers will be able to combine losing bid credits from multiple auctions to purchase other hotel rooms (previously you could only use your bidding amount towards a hotel room at the same hotel). So if you sped $25 in bids on one auction and $75 on another auction, you’ll have a $100 credit to use against any hotel.

Additionally, customers now have 30 days to apply their used bid credits to book another hotel room (Prior to this, customers had only 7 days.) Off & Away has also expanded its number of listings, currently offering rooms at over 100,000 hotels globally, including rooms at The Pierre in New York, and The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The startup says that winning bidders are now saving an average of 89% off the retail price of rooms. Losing bidders still get more than their money back if they book with the properties being auctioned (up to 110% of their bids).

Off & Away has raised $1.25 million in funding.

Information provided by CrunchBase

CheckPoints: A Social Shopping App That Will Cost You Negative $0.99

There’s clearly something to this idea of mobile/social shopping. Or at least, a huge group of startups all seem to think there is. Already this year we have apps like Shopkick and Barcode Hero attempting to build upon what apps ShopSavvy and others have been working on for some time. That is, enriching the shopping experience by using a device most of us now have on us at all times: our phones. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, a new entry attempting to be the broadest of these yet, CheckPoints, is launching.

Co-founder Mark DiPaola calls CheckPoints “the first mobile shopping rewards app that lets consumers own rewards regardless of what store they’re in.” While the aforementioned apps may have been out first, a number are limited in either the number of stores they work in, or the number of products they work with. CheckPoints has products from partners such as Belkin and Tyson at launch, as well as brands like Amazon, CVS, and American Airlines. At launch, CheckPoints will work in over a million stores around the U.S., DiPaola says.

Here’s how the app works: you walk into a store and you’ll immediately see a number of featured products. These can change depending on where you are in the store. As you walk around, if you find an items and scan it with the built-in barcode reader, you may get a little interactive game that a marketer has made for that brand. This app allows marketers to reach consumers at the point of sale when they actually have a product in their hand, DiPaola notes. He calls this the “Holy Grail” of marketing.

Consumers do this scanning because it earns them “checkpoints” which are accumulated and can be redeemed once you have enough. In fact, for TechCrunch Disrupt attendees, CheckPoints is offering to give you the free app with credits around on it. Sure, it’s only a dollars-worth, but this essentially means you’re getting the app for negative $0.99. That’s a new app pricing category.

DiPaola says CheckPoints is an extension of his first startup, Vantage Media, which he sold in 2007 for $150 million (after taking no outside money.

Here are the questions from judges Josh Felser, Joe Kraus, Todor Tashev, Robert Scoble, and Don Dodge (paraphrased):

Q: Can you get retail establishments and brands beyond what you have?

A: Yes.

Q: Customer acquisition is the hardest part, right? Why go with you?

A: We’re going to approach product companies instead of locations. On the advertiser side, what’s unique is showing the product.

Q: How do you get customers in the door? And why is this interesting to people? These are low-value customers, right?

A: I disagree. I think people like deals.

Leave Money In Real Places For Your Foursquare Friends With Gifi

Increasingly, there are apps that let you leave messages, photos, and videos for friends in real places. Now you can leave money as well. Many startups are already adding rewards to check-ins, but social payments startup Venmo is tying check-ins to real money with a new iPhone app called Gifi that is launching today at TC Disrupt.

Venmo is a way to text real money to your friends and broadcast those payments on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Gifi is a mashup of Foursquare and Venmo. It lets you leave money for people in specific locations, which they can unlock with a Foursquare check-in.

Imagine that you check into your favorite coffee shop on Foursquare and moments later you get a text message informing you that a friend has left you $3 at that location, along with a personal message that he wants you to have a latte on him. Or you can leave the gift for more than one friend and whoever checks in first gets to keep the money.

The app, which should go live in the iPhone store today, is free to use, but requires existing Foursquare and Venmo accounts. When you leave a gift for someone, you can send them a clue to help them find it. They will get an email with the clue. When they check into the right place, a text message alerts them that they just got a gift. You can also skip the clue and just leave a gift somewhere you know someone always check into.

For friends, Gifi is just a fun way to brighten someone’s day. But businesses could use Gifi as a way to reward loyal customers with cash for checking in, or bigger brands could leave clues and money in strategic places. After all, cash is the ultimate reward.

As part of the launch, Gifi has hidden $2,500 around San Francisco. Look for it!

Here are the questions from judges Josh Felser, Joe Kraus, Todor Tashev, Robert Scoble, and Don Dodge (paraphrased):

Q: Can you do any non-montetary things?

A: Right now no, but sure why not?

Q: Are you a part of Venmo?

A: Yes, we wanted to showcase the data.

Q: Can I add anyone?

A: They have to be your friend on Foursquare.

Q: How do this scale?

A: Friends will help with virility, I think.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Tweetmeme Founder’s Datasift Helps You Find A Needle In A Tweetstack

In his explorations with the Twitter button, Tweetmeme founder Nick Halstead discovered that there are millions of tweets a day producing a stunning amount of valuable information, the only problem is that’s pretty hard to separate the wheat from the chafe, the signal from the noise or a bunch of other sifting cliches.

Datasift, in the same space as HootSuite and Tweetronics, is attempting to make this process of sifting through realtime data easier for companies. No longer unique to Twitter, the Datasift platform, accessible through a drag and drop graphical interface, is a curation engine which relies upon realtime filtering, providing developers with alerts, analytics and a realtime API.

Datasift allows mobile, web and desktop client developers to tune tweets through a number for filters, including keyword, popularity, geolocation, and (through a function Halstead calls “augmentation”) sentiment peer indexes like Klout and links. You can start with one rule, and filter it down even further.

For example, Datasift can present you with a stream of the Foursquare checkins at every Starbucks around the world, and then filter them down to everyone with a Klout/peer index score of 50 and saying something positive. This kind of sifting is very valuable to marketers and media companies looking to target very specific campaigns.

While Datasift’s focus on structured data might be too technical for the typical consumer, many businesses revolve around searching through and analyzing realtime information, but don’t have the server resources to filter the Twitter firehose or who don’t want to go through the Twitter app authorization process.

“Datasift is not meant to be an end product,” says Halstead. And his rebranded Tweetmeme targeting developers who need precise streams of data,with a freemium ‘pay for the volume you consume’ or have ads show up in your stream model.

With $1.5 million in funding and the hard lessons learned from the experience of Tweetmeme, it seems like Halstead this time at least has a shot at making all sorts of realtime information a little easier to sift through.

Feedback and Q & A by expert judges Jeff Clavier, Gina Bianchini, Jim Lanzone, Ted Maidenberg, and Chris Sacca. I’ve abbreviated their names, for brevity obviously.

JC: If I want to filter it through my friends, how do I do that with your platform?

Datasift: If you want to set up an alert on a curated list, it’s a platform, so you can use it to anything.

TM: Are you in an arms race with Twitter?

DS: We’re not a client we’re a platform, this is bigger than Twitter, this is about relevant content and push data.

CS: Twitter hasn’t even done search 1.0 yet. It’s not about search it’s about ]push. this world is increasingly driven by analytics. It might not be a huge comany on it’s own.

JL: If you can open this up for people start innovating than I’m all for it.

DS: Tweetmeme processes 1 billion requests. We want to help the people who can make the next Flipboard.

GB: This is a really nice way of bringing it to life.

DS: We already have already 13,000 sign ups from businesses. Tweetmeme is very much a data-driven business.

JC: Can I filter buy # of retweets?

DS: Yes, you can even do it backward and really let your imagination go wild.

JC: Doing this at this scale is hard.

DS: Yes, but it’s viable, 65% of tweets are generated from third party applications.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Badgeville Wants To Layer Social Gaming (And Yes, Badges) Across The Entire Web

When Foursquare first launched, there were no deals. There was no way to get free pizza or cheap beer. The only incentive to play their game was to earn badges and bragging rights among friends. Badgeville, a new startup launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt, wants to apply that gaming mechanic to all sites across the web.

So how does this work? Well, a publisher sets up a Badgeville account and chooses what type of badges they want to give to readers for various types of actions on the site. For example, if you comment, you may get a badge. Or if you click the Like button on comments, you may earn points for that. If you become a Facebook Fan of a page, you may earn a different badge for that, etc. All of this is defined by the publisher.

Because this involves the publisher placing a bit of code on their site to keep track of these badges, there is also an analytics component to all of this. Badgeville is able to track users (who opt-in to using this, of course) activity such as reading pages, clicking the various share buttons, and commenting. This type of information is extremely useful to publishers, but it can be hard to extract from users — unless, of course, you’re giving them some reward for opting-in to this kind of tracking. In this case, badges.

While they are launching today, Badgeville already has 10 customers signed up and ready to go out of the gate. These customers represent 400 million monthly pageviews, the services says. Thanks to these publishers, Badgeville says it already has tallied up some $500,000 in sales so far. The services charges a monthly access fee based on how large your site is.

Badgeville believes that Facebook Connect has put identity on the web, now it’s time for another layer for loyalty. That’s what they want to be. ”It’s not about pageviews anymore, it’s about engagement,” as they put it.

Here are the questions from judges Josh Felser, Joe Kraus, Todor Tashev, Robert Scoble, and Don Dodge (paraphrased):
Q: Where does the half million thing come from?
A: That’s in 12-month bookings — we do monthly billing in contracts.
Q: People have been trying to do this gaming of the web for years. How is this different?
A: We’ve seen a bunch, but it’s not there for medium and larger publishers. We can give you turn-key widgets or direct access to our APIs.
Q: How do you quantify the payback for early customers?
A: I think that’s a hard question — what is engagement? Publishers are only now starting to get comfortable with that concept. We hope it becomes a utility expectation.
Q: There is experimental budgets now, but that might not always be the case. How to you measure success?
A: I think we’re still working on that — it’s gotta be about engagement though.
Q: Analytics is key, right? Talk more about it?
A: We have a lot of build out to do on the analytics side. This isn’t just about badges — it’s about influencing outcomes. Analytics companies have gotten dull — we have an opportunity here.