What you need to know - 01/26/11

Ronny Kerr · January 26, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1651

iPhones and iPads get NFC; Demand Media and Nielsen IPOs; Google Voice gets number porting

Apple is planning to integrate the next iPhone and iPad iterations with Near-Field Communication functionality, which will allow formobile payments directly from the device.

Social marketing company Crowd Factory raised a $6.5 million round of funding led by Storm Ventures.

Demand Media hits the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday under the symbol DMD: the digital publishing company priced its stock at $17 a share—$1 more than what many estimates had placed it at.

Online investment network eToro closed a funding round of $8.3 million from Spark Capital, Social Leverage and existing investors.


Google Voice added number porting, letting users take full advantage of the application with their original mobile phone number.

Nielsen will also hit the New York Stock Exchange today under the symbol NLSN: it has priced its initial public offering of 71.4 million shares of its common stock at $23.00 per share.

VatorNews' Ronny Kerr chatted with ngmoco founder Neil Young, who will be presenting at Vator Splash February 3 in San Francisco.

Cloud gaming company Playcast Media Systems raised a $10 million in Series B financing from MK Capital and JVP, with participation from existing shareholders.

Cloud-based video monitoring platform Sensr.net secured $1.5 million in financing led by Spark Capital, with participation from Charles River Ventures and strategic angel investors.

Mobile advertising company Smaato closed a $7 million Series C round of institutional funding led by Singapore’s EDBI.


Solar installation chain Solar Universe closed a $7 million Series B round led by RockPort Capital Partners.

On the heels of a new funding round from top-tier investors, audio sharing site SoundCoud will be extending its operations from its Berlin, Germany headquarters to San Francisco, with several new hires slated for the city in the coming months.



Reminiscent of post-election Iran a year ago, demonstrations against government corruption in Egypt have triggered blocking of microblogging site Twitter, which was used to organize protest. Reports say Facebook has also been blocked.

Today's featured investor on VatorNews is Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners.

Yahoo is cutting 140 employees, amounting to a mere 1% of the company’s global employee base, and add to the 600 it cut last month.

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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.

Crowd Factory


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Crowd Factory helps brands drive customer acquisition and increase conversion rates by adding a quantifiable social boost to every digital interaction.  The Crowd Factory Social Marketing Suite is a robust set of enterprise-grade social marketing applications that allow companies to embed social elements into any marketing experience -- including videos, emails, registration pages, ecommerce sites, ads and more -- with built-in analytics to track, measure and optimize these programs in real-time. For the first time, marketers can offer social engagement across their entire online presence and measure social ROI from engagement to conversion.  Early customers include HBO, Sony, Speck and Universal McCann. Founded in 2009, Crowd Factory is a privately held company based in San Francisco, Calif.  For more information about Crowd Factory, please visit www.crowdfactory.com.

Smaato Inc.


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Smaato provides Ads for Apps – operating the leading mobile advertising optimization platform called SOMA. More than 40,000 app developers and premium publishers have signed up with Smaato to monetize their content in 230+ countries.

SOMA’s unique feature is the aggregation of 70+ leading ad networks globally to maximize mobile advertising revenues. Through an open API and the widest range of SDKs, SOMA can be easily integrated with ad networks, ad inventory owners (publishers, developers and operators) and 3rd party ad technology providers.

Smaato is an active member of the Mobile Marketing Association, Singapore Infocomm Industry (SITF), Singapore IT Federation and the German Digital Media Association BVDW. Smaato received a Top 100 Private Company Award by AlwaysOn Media (2011, 2009 & 2007), is one of the AlwaysOn Global 250 winners in the Mobile category (2011), was named a “company to watch in 2010” by Financial Analyst company GP Bullhound and recently was nominated finalist at the EMMA (Effective Mobile Marketing Awards), among other awards.

Smaato Inc. is based in San Francisco, California. The privately held company was founded in 2005 by an experienced International management team. The European headquarters are in Hamburg, Germany and the Asia-Pacific presence of Smaato has been established in Singapore.


Demand Media


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Demand Media is building a different type of new media company. With a proprietary media platform that powers the company's highly-trafficked domains and wholly-owned content media properties, Demand Media leverages cutting edge, user-driven publishing, community and monetization tools in its quest to define the next generation of new media companies.


Tim Chang

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Tim is a proven venture investor and experienced global executive, and was named on the 2011 Forbes Midas List of Top 100 Dealmakers.