The company operates a retreat in Amsterdam where medical professionals administer psychedelicsRead more...
Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Charles River Ventures back small video translation site
Viki, a community-powered site that offers TV shows and movies from around the world in multiple languages, announced Wednesday that it has raised $4.3 million in Series A funding from Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, and Neoteny Labs. Also contributing private investments are some media executives, including Rajesh Sawhney, President of Reliance Entertainment of India, and Alex Zubillaga, former global head of digital at Warner Music.
Those aren’t small names. Greylock (with partner Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn) has invested in Airbnb, Facebook, Digg and Pandora and Andreessen Horowitz (founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz) has invested in Digg, Foursquare, Skype and Zynga. Charles River, backer of Blippy and Twitter, led Viki’s seed funding round.
Viki (which recently slimmed down its older, slightly more cumbersome name, “Viikii”) is, at its heart, focused on the globalization of video. In general, there is high demand from users to be able to watch (and understand) videos made in other countries. Japanese anime, Spanish novelas (kind of like soap operas), Korean dramas, Egyptian movies, Bollywood films--these are the diverse kinds of videos that Viki seeks to share beyond the borders of the country where they were originally created. Viki wants to be the destination site for this globalized database of internationally-based videos.
Translation and subtitling of videos on Viki is a crowdsourced operation, analogous to how articles are created and edited on Wikipedia. And, also like on Wikipedia, translation texts undergo constant revisions, with the revision history always at hand. (The name "Viki" is itself an amalgamation of the words “wiki” and “video.”)
Though still an early-stage startup, Viki already sees a $1 million run rate, according to the company, though that doesn’t take into account costs paid to distributors like Hulu for content.
The site boasts over 1 billion streams and 100 million words subtitled in over 143 languages, including “Klingonese,” the Klingon language spoken by that race in the Star Trek universe. Adding fictional or dead languages to any translation service, as when Facebook added Latin to its 70-plus languages that had already included “upside-down English” and “pirate English,” usually signifies that a service has already come a long way as far as living languages are concerned. Indeed, why else spend time on a fictional language?
The new funding will be used to continue global expansion and to foster partnerships with more media providers.
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Airbnb.com is the “Ebay of space.” The online marketplace allows anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and online transactions, for which Airbnb takes a commission. As of June, 2009, the San Francisco-based company has listings in over 1062 cities in 76 countries.
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Greylock partners with entrepreneurs to help them build market-leading businesses. Over the past 45 years the firm has worked with hundreds of companies, 150 of which have gone on to IPOs and 100 of which have gone on to profitable M&A events. Such companies include Ascend Communications, CheckFree, CipherTrust, Constant Contact, Continental Cable, Decru, Data Domain, DoubleClick, Farecast, Internet Security Systems, Ikanos, Legato, Media Metrix, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Openwave, Open Market, OutlookSoft, Polyserve, Red Hat, RightNow Technologies, Success Factors, Sun Edison, Tellabs, Trilogy and Wily Technology. Current Greylock portfolio companies include Cloudera, Data Robotics, Facebook, Imperva, LinkedIn, Palo Alto Networks, Pandora, Picarro, Redfin, Workday and ZipCar. For more information about Greylock Partners, visit our Web site (www.greylock.com) or blog (www.greylockvc.com) or follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/greylock) or Twitter (@GreylockVC).
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Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they love
anytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: laptop and
desktop computers, smartphones, connected BluRay players, connected TVs,
etc. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” –
a favorite artist, song or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply
detailed, hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization or
Pandora. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback
Pandora crafts personalized stations from the more than 800,000 songs that
have been analyzed since the project began in January 2000.
More than 75 million people throughout the United States listen to
personalized radio stations for free on Pandora through their PCs, mobile
phones and devices such as the iPad, and connected in-house devices
ranging from TVs to set-top boxes to Blu-Ray players. Mobile technology has
been a significant factor in the growth and popularity of Pandora, starting
with the introduction of the Apple app store for the iPhone in the summer of
2008. Pandora instantly became one of the most top downloaded apps and
today, according to Nielsen, is one of the top five most popular apps across
all smartphone platforms.
Pandora is free, simple and, thanks to connectivity, available everywhere
consumers are – at the office, at home, in the car and all points in between.
In 2009 the Company announced that Pandora would be incorporated into
the dashboard in Ford cars via SYNC technology; GM has already followed in
announcing plans to integrate Pandora into its vehicles and Mercedes-Benz
introduced their Media Interface Plus device that works with the
free Pandora iPhone app to provide direct control of Pandora from in-dash
stereo controls. This was all great news for the millions of Pandora listeners
who had been plugging their smartphones into car dashboards to listen to
personalized stations while driving. More than 50 percent of radio listening
happens in the car, making it a crucial arena for Pandora.
Today tens of millions of people have a deeply personal connection with
Pandora based on the delight of personalized radio listening and discovery.
These highly engaged listeners reinforce the value Pandora provides to: 1)
musicians, who have found in Pandora a level playing field on which their
music has a greater chance of being played than ever before; 2) advertisers,
who benefit from the multi-platform reach of Pandora, as well as its best
practices in targeting consumers for specific campaigns; 3) the music
industry, which has found in Pandora a highly effective distribution channel;
and 4) automobile and consumer electronics device manufacturers, who have
noted that incorporating Pandora into their product makes it more valuable
Pandora continues to focus on its business in the United States. The radio
arena has never been hotter, thanks to technology that enables radio to be
personalized to the individual and more accessible than ever before. Right
now millions of people listen to Pandora in the United States and we hope
someday to bring Pandora to billions of people around the world.
• 2000 – Tim Westergren’s Music Genome Project begins.
• 2005 – Pandora launches on the web.
• 2008 – Pandora app becomes one of the most consistently downloaded
apps in the Apple store.
• 2009 – Ford announces Pandora will be incorporated into car
dashboard. Alpine and Pioneer begin selling aftermarket radios that
connect to consumers’ iPhones and puts the control and command of
Pandora into the car dashboard.
• 2010 – Pandora is present on more than 200 connected consumer
electronics devices ranging from smartphones to TVs to set-top boxes
to Blu-ray players and is able to stream visual, audio, and interactive
advertising to computers, smartphones, iPads, and in-home connected
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.
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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users. Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist. The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel. Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.