Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “ Amazon Launches a Store for Your Pets”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “ Amazon Launches a Store for Your Pets” Amazon Launches a Store for Your Pets

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 04:59 AM PDT

Amazon-owned Quidsi, the company behind, is launching, an online store for pet supplies.

The store is the third one created by Quidsi that targets young mothers, after and is part of the company’s attempt to provide all the essentials its core demographic is looking for, Quidsi CEO Mark Lore told Mashable. is divided into six main shops: for cats, dogs, birds, fish, reptiles and small animals. Like, it provides free shipping on any order of $49 or more, though the number drops to $39 if you buy items on one of’s sister sites. All three sites share the same ecommerce and checkout solution, so it’s possible to have items from, and in one online shopping cart.

Amazon acquired Quidsi last November for $540 million. Quidsi is not only known for its strong focus on its young mothers demographic, but its customer service and its efficiency in optimizing warehousing. The company launched its Facebook stores earlier this year.

More About: amazon,, Quidsi, shopping,,

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Google To Retire Private Google+ Profiles On July 31

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 02:43 AM PDT

As Google expands its Google+ social network to more people, the final outlines of the program begin to take shape. Here’s one important detail, disclosed on the Google Plus help page: there will be no private Google+ profiles. If you choose to keep your profile private, Google will simply delete it after July 31, 2011.

From the Google+ help section:

The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don't allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.

Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you'll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don't want to share.

If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.

This makes for a crucial difference between Google+ and Facebook; on Facebook, you can have a completely private profile, which won’t even come up in Google’s search results or even Facebook search results (for people who aren’t your friends). On the other hand, to use Google+, you will at least need to make your full name and gender public, meaning people will be able to find you via Google+.

More About: Google, Google Plus, Google Plus profiles, social media, social networking, trending

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HOW TO: Get Your Own Google+ Vanity URL

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 11:12 PM PDT

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google+ doesn’t offer vanity URLs for user profiles, making it more difficult to share your Google+ Profile with your friends. Instead, Google uses a long string of numbers to denote users (e.g. 117691391504351341685).

The reason Google+ doesn’t use vanity URLs is because those could lead to spammers figuring out the email addresses of millions of Google+ users (since many Google Accounts are linked to Gmail accounts).

Of course, this leads to a problem: you don’t want to be telling people to type in a long string of numbers to find your Google+ Profile. That’s where comes in. This simple little app lets you create a short URL for your Google+ page, making it easy to share with your friends. Mine, for example, is, which is much easier to remember than a random strong of numbers. fills a gap that Google+ doesn’t currently address. Should Google give users the ability to create vanity URLs, or is it too much of a privacy concern because of its connection to Gmail? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

More About: Google, Google Plus,

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Lyst Is a Newsfeed for Shopping

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:56 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Lyst

Quick Pitch: Follow brands, magazines and style icons to get a personalized stream of new clothing items and sales.

Genius Idea: Lyst is a Twitter-like newsfeed for shopping.

Like Twitter, you can opt to subscribe to, save and share the updates of different brands, stores, trendsetters and friends, which are organized in a reverse-chronological newsfeed, or “lyst.” You can also create your own curated feed of products, which can likewise function as a cross-platform shopping cart, or universal wishlist.

The site delivers, essentially, a visual, personalized news stream that delivers updates only about products you’re likely to be interested in. If you shop upscale, there’s no need to visit several different retailers to cross-check inventories or prices, given that many of the major ones, including Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s and Net-a-Porter, are already indexed on the site.

You also have the freedom to use Lyst as a multi-retailer shopping site, a la ShopStyle. You can browse new additions from many well-known designers and stores, and filter even further by category (say, dresses or bags), color and price. Even better, there’s a section entirely for sales.

Co-founder CEO Chris Morton, whom I interviewed on a #fashion140 panel this spring, cites music discovery startups and Pandora as inspirations for the service.

“Through [those] sites we were discovering great new songs and bands, so we wanted to build a tool that let people discover amazing fashion products and designers,” Morton says of Lyst’s conception. “We didn’t believe that discovery process could be done purely algorithmically, because fashion is a personal expression — it can’t be distilled into a sequence of numbers and letters.”

Thus the team turned to Twitter, looking to the microblogging service “to recreate that sort of personalized experience, but centered around visually rich products, just for fashion,” he explains.

“In effect, [users'] stylefeeds become the place they are most likely to discover items they love,” he adds.

Lyst launched in open beta three months ago and is already attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and driving millions of dollars in sales for the site’s partners each month, Morton claims.

Morton himself is a former venture capital investor, having focused on early-stage consumer Internet companies both at Balderton Capital and Benchmark Capital before founding Lyst. He oversees the business from its London headquarters with frequent trips to its satellite office in New York.

The startup, which raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Accel and a handful of investors in the luxury space, is set to announce partnerships with a number of actors and musicians in the coming months, as well as (we expect) a slew of product updates.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, ecommerce, fashion, lyst, shopping, spark-of-genius

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Facebook & AMEX Team to Give Small Businesses a Social Media Makeover

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 08:37 PM PDT

Facebook and American Express’s small business division, American Express Open, are teaming up to give five companies a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses.

The contest is part of American Express Open’s Small Business Saturday initiative, which encourages shoppers to support small, independently owned businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last year was its inaugural and largely successful year, which American Express is working to develop into an even larger movement across the U.S. this fall.

More than 11,000 small businesses entered the contest, from which 10 finalists, profiled in the gallery below, have been selected. Users can cast votes for their favorites from now until July 20 on Facebook. The winners will then head to Facebook’s headquarter’s where they’ll get advice from the company on how to best tailor their Page, Ads and social plugins.

The partnership between the two makes sense given each company’s aggressive focus on the small business market. Facebook has partnered with major companies on small business initiatives before, including a 2008 campaign with Visa that awarded $100 in Facebook credits to the first 20,000 business owners to sign up for Visa’s Facebook application.

Facebook and AMEX also recently announced a deal that allows businesses to buy Facebook Credits to use on advertising through AMEX’s membership rewards program.

The Bandee - Weston, FL

The Bandee, which began as a class assignment, is a stylish hair band optimized for sports and outdoor activities.

Bear Creek Tackle - Bend, OR

Bear Creek Tackle offers more than rods and reels. It's a complete online resource on how and where to fish, educating anglers at all levels.

Big Daddy's Bar-B-Que - Gary, IN

Big Daddy's Bar-B-Que started out selling barbeque at a flea market and evolved into a full-fledged restaurant dedicated to giving back to its community.

Distinctive Gardens Inc. - Dixon, IL

Distinctive Gardens Inc. is not a typical nursery. It's a garden center that unites those passionate about plants, gardening and community.

Fat Brain Toys - Elkhorn, NE

Fat Brain Toys is a wholesale toy company that creates toys, games and gifts designed to challenge children while they play.

HOPELights - Plano, TX

HOPELights prints customized magazines for kids with special needs and develops communities for their families. The goal is to build confidence in young readers by making complex messages simpler.

Modmarket - Boulder, CO

Modmarket makes fast food that's good for you. They serve up sustainable grub from local growers that's healthy, delicious and affordable. - Chicago, IL takes the hassle out of parking at sporting events, theater, concerts and more. Drivers reserve hard-to-get spaces online, and save time to enjoy their experience.

Spoonflower - Durham, NC

Spoonflower is a far-from-average online fabric store. Customers can design, print and sell their own designs to create truly unique quilts, blankets, toys, clothes and more.

Viesso - Santa Monica, CA

Viesso is a modern, eco-conscious furniture company that allows you to customize one-of-a-kind furniture both online and in store.

Disclosure: American Express is a Mashable advertiser.

More About: american express, business, facebook, facebook page, small business, social media

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The Connected States of America [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 07:22 PM PDT

Your community used to be defined geographically: the group of people around your block, your subdivision, your small town. But as these infographics show, community now extends as far as your cellphone can call — and has created some interesting new conglomerations of states in the US.

The Connected States of America is a series of illustrations based on mobile penetration, SMS and call communications. For example, it tells us that New Englanders like to call each other a great deal, whereas Californians can easily be divided into two or three mobile communities.

There’s a pretty nifty interactive map and a video illustrating the findings. All of the maps and visuals are based on research done by the MIT Sensible Lab, AT&T and IBM, aggregated from July 2010.

Take a look through the gallery and let us know if you agree. What does mobile data say about your community?

The Connected States of America

Cities are at the heart of communication communities. Businesses, friends and families connect between the largest population centers. Likewise, mobile usage density reflects population density.

In this graphic, the top layer represents communities formed by calls and SMS records. The middle part represents calls between counties, with the height of the link representing connection volume. At bottom is a map of population density per square mile.

Call Data Community Map

Phone call trends divide the states of California and New Jersey, as communications revolve around the states' major cities. Some neighboring states are conjoined by mobile traffic: the two Carolinas; Oregon and Washington. State borders are obsolete in New England. Michigan and Texas are the rare examples where mobile communications accurately reflect state lines.

SMS Data Community Map

In some cases, different call and SMS communities exist. Mississippians tend to call Louisianans more on the phone, but are more likely to text Alabamans. California's SMS traffic divides the state in three, rather than the two communities formed by phone calls.

Interactive Map

The project also released an interactive map, allowing readers to see how their counties connect with the rest of the country. The more red, the higher the number of mobile connections that go there from your county.

More About: cellphones, connected states of america, infographic, Mobile 2.0, SMS, social good, texting

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Is Sony Releasing the PlayStation 4 in 2012? [RUMOR]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:59 PM PDT

It looks like the next-generation console wars are heating up. Sony is now rumored to be preparing the PlayStation 4 for a 2012 launch, according to a new report.

Perhaps more interesting, though, is that the PlayStation 4 may boast body movement controls as one of its core features, something that Microsoft pioneered with the Kinect.

Production for the device is rumored begin at the end of 2011, according to Digitimes. The device is being manufactured by Foxconn and Pegatron Technology. Sony intends to ship at least 20 million units, according to the report.

Sony used to be the king of gaming consoles with the PS1 and the PS2. However, Nintendo took the crown from Sony with the Wii and its innovative motion controls. Microsoft struck back with the Kinect last year, one of the fastest-selling devices in history. At the same time, Sony latched onto the motion control craze with the PlayStation Move, a system that combines motion capture with a wand-like controller. More than 8 million Move controllers have been sold since its launch, but it still trails the Kinect by a large margin.

We’ve heard rumors about a potential 2012 unveiling of the PlayStation 4, but never that Sony intended to make it a 100% motion control device. Digitimes has a mixed record at these types of stories, so we’ll have to wait and see if a PS4 is coming to challenge the Wii U.

More About: ony, playstation, PlayStation 4, PS4, sony, sony playstation

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Foursquare Rolls Out Revamped Notification System

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 04:45 PM PDT

In an effort to foster deeper engagement beyond the checkin, Foursquare has released a revamped notifications tray.

The new notification system isn’t focused on notifying users about their friends’ checkins, though. Instead, notifications are focused on all the other activity that occurs on Foursquare, including comments, To-Dos and mayorship changes.

The tray works much like the Facebook or Google+ notification system. It provides a feed of what you and your friends are doing in chronological order. The notifications on the Foursquare Android app appear on the top right and increase in number as more notifications.

According to Foursquare, the new notifications tray alerts you to things such as comments on your checkins, new comments on items you’ve commented on, completion of your Tips by your friends, and when you are ousted as mayor. It also lets you know when your Facebook friends join Foursquare, which should make for a much better experience for new users.

The notification tray is launching today on the Android app and on, but should be rolling out to BlackBerry and iPhone users soon. For those of you that don’t like being notified about your friends commenting on your checkin, Foursquare’s new notifications come with customization and muting options.

What do you think of Foursquare’s new notification system? Will it get you to use more of Foursquare’s features?

More About: foursquare, notifications

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Why Daily Deal Sites Are Here to Stay [OPINION]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 03:36 PM PDT

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

money imageJohn Amato is the CEO of MarketSharing, a premium business-to-business deals provider for exceptional business products and services. Follow @MarketSharing on Twitter for more information and the latest deals for businesses.

If something is too good to be true, then it probably is. But once in a generation, an idea (or in this case, a business model) comes along that is so disruptive that the old the adage is proven wrong.

That disruptive business model is Groupon and the daily deal industry. There's a lot of noise coming from skeptics and naysayers who look at the legitimacy, longevity and viability of the model. However, those critics are also overlooking the fundamentals of why daily deals are here to stay.

On a high level, daily deals are an ecommerce business with relatively low overhead, no inventory, an enormous amount of consumer appeal and rock solid concepts. When the daily deal model is properly executed, it serves everyone: Businesses, consumers and, obviously, the daily deal sites themselves.

While it's the nature of haters to hate on a business model that creates so much wealth for two young entrepreneurs in two very short years, the reality is that we should be congratulating Groupon’s creators for helping shape a paradigm shift in ecommerce.

1. Consumers Will Always Want a Deal

One of the most popular arguments against daily deals is that the economy is rebounding and the need (or interest) in local ecommerce deals will wane. However, the success and sustainability of daily deals is in no way contingent upon the economy.

Buyers have wanted deals since the dawn of trade, and finding ways to save money is hardly a new concept. eMarketer predicts that by 2013, 96.8 million adults will redeem an online coupon.

Will the demand for better coupons evolve? Will merchants demand a better return on their daily deal investment? Yes. But the fundamental desire to save money and find a good deal is not going anywhere. One might argue that the majority of online businesses are not at full capacity — meaning, there are virtually no businesses that couldn't use more customers. That is fundamentally what daily deal sites offer any business: new customers.

Once the economy does fully "rebound," it is going to look a little different. Thanks to the recession, businesses have learned to trim the fat, create efficiencies and become more nimble and resourceful. Local businesses may not have the same customer base and thrive as they once did in the past. The recession has taught everyone to create efficiencies and save money. That mentality isn't going anywhere either.

2. Smart Businesses Will Reap Rewards, Despite Losing Money on Deals

There are of course some Groupon horror stories. No one wants to see local business falter and it's unfortunate that many businesses haven't been able to capitalize on their daily deal partnership and reap some nice, long-term benefits.

Every business has the capacity to run a successful daily deal, but business owners must be smart about what kind of campaign they're executing. Regardless of the medium, a poorly run advertising campaign is a poorly run advertising campaign.

Daily deals are one of the most disruptive local marketing tools since online search. The goal of daily deal providers is to drive customer acquisition. As a business owner, you need to be strategic about the type of deal you run and carefully craft deals that either drive new users or create opportunities to upsell. For example, search engine marketing (SEM) is by no means a simple, straightforward model for a local business, but is generally heralded as an effective way to get new customers online.

Groupon and other daily deal sites are essentially doing the same thing while also guaranteeing some revenue.

Let’s do some math comparing Groupon to Google in terms of customer acquisition:

  • To simply acquire a new email address, it usually costs me about $7 via a Google AdWords campaign.
  • If 10% of these users then buy something, that means we need to spend $77 to acquire a new paying customer.
  • If that business were to instead run a campaign on Groupon offering $50 gift cards for $25, they are spending $37.50 ($25 to customer, $12.5 to Groupon) to acquire the same customers you’re spending $77 for on Google.

Not only did that customer just walk in the door, but the business is getting paid $12 for them to do so. Now does it make sense that Google offered $6 billion for Groupon’s business?

3. The Market Is Still Maturing

Consumers feel good when they save money. As the daily deal industry matures, both merchants and daily deal sites will need to refine their strategy. Two things are certain: 1. Businesses will always have excess capacity/room for growth, and 2. Small/local businesses will always need marketing channels.

Just a short year ago, a handful of players controlled 90% of the market in the daily deals space. While it's estimated some 200 daily deal sites exist, a handful of players still control that same share of the space.

When compared to other markets, daily deals are no more saturated than search engines, and certainly not as saturated as publishing, broadcast television, radio or direct mail. On one level, daily deal channels are essentially ad networks for small and local businesses, giving them the opportunity to directly drive revenue, grow exposure and expand a highly targeted customer base.

The addition of more daily deal sites to the market is resulting in deals that are not as appealing to as wide a user base, but this is actually a positive thing for consumers and merchants. The more direct an offering and the more targeted the customer, the more a customer who buys a deal will be a repeat customer. The market may be saturated, but then isn’t that a sure sign of market buoyancy?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Don Hankins

More About: business, daily deals, deal, Google, group buying, groupon, SEM

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Announcing Social Good Summit 2011 [VIDEO & REGISTRATION]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 03:35 PM PDT

Social Good Summit 2011

Mashable, 92Y and the UN Foundation are thrilled to announce that the second annual Social Good Summit will take place September 19-22 at the 92Y in New York City. Held during UN Week, the Social Good Summit is where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. Last year’s Social Good Summit was a huge success with great presentations and we’re excited for the conversations that will happen this year.

The Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges. For four days, about 3,000 individuals will attend the event in person and thousands more around the world will tune in via Livestream. Tickets are on sale now at the summit’s Eventbrite page and you can RSVP for the livestream if you’re unable to join us in person.

Register for Social Good Summit 2011 - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19 - 22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

The most innovative technologists, influential minds and passionate activists will come together around the shared goal of unlocking the potential of new media and technology to make the world a better place.

Confirmed Speakers:

Further details and speakers will be announced soon on Mashable.

On Thursday, September 22 we’ll host the inaugural Startups for Good Challenge. Eight Startups in the social good space will be selected from an online application. The eight companies selected will present their project to a panel of judges at the Social Good Summit. The winner will receive a cash prize. We will be opening up the application process and sharing more details soon so stay tuned for that announcement.

Purchase your tickets now!

Date: Monday, September 19, 2011, through Thursday, September 22, 2011
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Location: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
Tickets: $30 per day or $100 for 4-day pass.

Register for Social Good Summit 2011 - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19 - 22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Livestream: Unable to join us in person? RSVP for the Livestream to join us online.

Register for RSVP for Social Good Summit 2011 LIVESTREAM - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19-22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Press: Press credentials will be given to press and bloggers from around the world for all Social Good Summit sessions and the Digital Media Lounge (DML). The DML is a fully wired work space at 92Y to report out of, network with fellow members of the media, and self-organize interviews and exclusive content from Social Good Summit sessions. The DML will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., September 19-22. To apply, please fill in the form at

Sponsorships: We have premium sponsorship opportunities available. For more info, please email

About the UN Foundation

The UN Foundation connects people, ideas and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a public charity with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We are an advocate for the UN and its lifesaving work around the globe. We help the UN take its best work and ideas to scale through advocacy, partnerships, constituency building and fundraising:

  • Partnerships because we have learned what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together through the United Nations;
  • Advocacy because we know the leverage and impact that sound policy can have on the kind of social, economic and environmental change the UN seeks;
  • Community-building because the UN was created for and by the people of the world and all of us can give back and contribute to a better tomorrow;
  • We need new and additional resources to power solutions to global challenges.

About 92nd Street Y

92nd Street Y is a world-class non-profit community and cultural center that connects people at every stage of life to the worlds of education, the arts, health and wellness, and Jewish life. A community of communities, 92Y is a home for candid, thoughtful discussions on the most pressing issues of our time. We offer an outstanding range of experiences in the performing, literary and visual arts for both audiences and practitioners; unparalleled access to celebrated artists, teachers and thinkers; and a place to pursue personal journeys – spiritual, physical or intellectual. Through the breadth and depth of 92Y’s extraordinary programs, we enrich lives, create community and elevate humanity. More than 300,000 people visit 92Y’s New York City venues, and millions more join us through the Internet, satellite broadcasts and other digital media. A proudly Jewish organization since its founding in 1874, 92Y embraces its heritage and enthusiastically welcomes people of all backgrounds and perspectives. 92Y is an open door to extraordinary worlds.

For more social good coverage, follow Mashable Social Good
on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

More About: mashable, mashable events, non-profits, social good, social good summit, social media, startups

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BlackBerry’s Blues Continue as Platform Falls to Third Place

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 03:21 PM PDT

It’s another humiliating day for Research In Motion. The company’s BlackBerry, which once owned 55% of the smartphone market, has now fallen to third place with less than a quarter share, according to comScore.

To make matters worse, BlackBerry's share seems to be falling pretty quickly. In February, RIM was number two in the market with 28.9%, based on an average of the previous three months. By May, RIM's share had dropped 4.2% to 24.7%, behind Apple's iOS with 26.6% and Google's Android platform with 38.1%.

RIM's platform held a number one ranking in 2009. But by the first quarter of 2010, iPhones and Android handsets had cut into that share with a combined 49% of the market, compared to 41% for RIM.

The latest news follows a woeful June for RIM, which saw its market value drop 20% after a poor earnings report and forecast. And it was conspicuously silent as Apple and Google announced new features for their platforms early that month.

One reason for BlackBerry's decline: lack of app support, which has been exacerbated by RIM's frequent API changes and the fact that users often have to pay a higher price for BlackBerry apps than they do for the same apps on iOS or Android.

More About: android, apple, blackberry, ComScore, Google, iphone, RIM

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Firemen Rescue Stuck Kitten With a Leaf Blower [VIDEO]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 03:13 PM PDT

Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

We haven’t had a good cat video on “YouTube Video of the Day” for a while now, so we thought we’d remedy that — with a twist. An adorable kitten got stuck in a pipe at a fire station, and firemen decided to rescue it with a leaf blower at the opposite end of the pipe.

The man who posted the clip, Brandon Davis, hasn’t offered much more in the way of context, or mentioned whether he was one of the firemen. But clearly, as far as kittens are concerned, getting stuck in trees is so last year.

More About: cat, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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You Can Has Official App: LOLCats Launch on iPhone

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 02:30 PM PDT

Oh look, another thing to focus on in lieu of ogling everyone in the elevator. I Can Has Cheezburger? has launched its iPhone app packed with adorable kittens and other fripperies. There have been fan-made apps before, but this is the first official, fully-supported source for LOLCats on iOS devices.

The app is extremely simple. It’s basically a stripped-down directory of the Cheezburger Network‘s 50-plus site stable (maybe a little too stripped down — sites like The Daily What completely lack the text that accompanies videos and photos). You can scroll through content and share it via Twitter, Facebook or email.

The Cheezburger Network plans to launch individual apps for sites like FAIL Blog and Memebase in the future.

The Network scored $30 million in funding back in January, so it certainly has the capital to produce more apps.

More About: humor, i can has cheezburger, iphone, Mobile 2.0, pop culture

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What Should Mashable Ask Obama During His Twitter Town Hall? [POLL]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 02:16 PM PDT

U.S. President Barack Obama will be holding the first Twitter Town Hall, where he will answer questions about the economy and jobs via Twitter, Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.

Mashable wants to help your voice be heard. We’re going to send @BarackObama a question from our @Mashable account, and we want you to have a say in what we ask. Vote on which tech-related tweet we should submit:

Be a part of the Mashable Community voice. What question do you think Barack Obama should answer about tech and the economy? Let us know in the poll, or vote on our Facebook page.

If you have an alternate idea, let us know in the comments. Every suggestion will be taken into account.

More About: barack obama, community, obama, Town Hall

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Top 10 TrueHDR iPhone Photos

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 01:55 PM PDT

We recently brought you an in-depth tutorial on how to use the iPhone’s built-in HDR functionality. Now we’re taking a look at an iPhone app that helps create high dynamic range images.

Pictional’s TrueHDR goes beyond the iPhone’s built-in HDR abilities. It can help you capture better images and even improve images you take on your compact camera. Pictional’s co-founders Michael Parker and Yuanzhen Li explain how the app came about.

“Everybody has had the experience of taking photos that are either over or under-exposed and don’t look anything like what your eyes saw when you took the shots.”

They realized that the iPhone’s tap-to-focus also adjusted exposure. They could then meld two images with different exposures to come up with a result that preserved details in bright and dark areas.

Parker and Li have chosen 10 images created with TrueHDR that they feel showcase the app’s capabilities. Take a look through the photo gallery to see them, along with Parker and Li’s comments, and link us to any of your HDR creations in the comments below.

1. Island in the Snow by Tim Stratton

"Almost postcard-like in its perfection, this photograph beautifully shows off the capability of TrueHDR to capture a potentially ... challenging range of light: Sunlight, mid-tones and shadows."

2. HDR Over Kettleshulme by Marek Isalski

"We were captivated by the sense of depth, along with the range of light and contrast, from the hill in the foreground to the distant meadows. The sky and the shadows from the clouds lend nice contrast to the image, contributing to a subtle landscape painting feel."

3. A Christmas Carol Actors Backstage by Keith Jochim

"This photograph struck us as having an almost surreal quality. We especially like how the photographer used TrueHDR to capture the range of brightness in the scene, from the two lights on the left to the portions of the actors' faces that are in shadow."

4. Overlook to Kalaupapa by Dewitt Jones

"This photo captures the gorgeous lighting on the coast of Molokai. It has great composition and depth and was made from four iPhone photos -- two sets of over-exposed and under-exposed pairs were merged in TrueHDR into two HDR photos, which were then stitched together into a panorama."

5. Paa vei til job by Hagen Friese

"The photographer has used TrueHDR to beautifully capture the lights, snow, blue and purple layers of the sky and the foreground bush."

6. Venezia 2009 Casino Back Entrance by Georg Karlstetter

"The lighting and viewpoint of this photo give us a sense of being there — standing on a dark, cobble-stoned street ... with the soft light reflecting off the stones guiding the eye to some unknown adventure awaiting through the archway ahead. The use of TrueHDR helps the photographer capture the contrast and tonal range between the dark street and the bright archway."

7. Clingman's Dome by Cody Adam

"The barren, abbreviated trees create some questions and a sense of curiosity for the viewer; the trees' tops direct your attention to the details in the clouds and the green draws your eye back to the lower portion of the photograph. This is another example where the HDR aspect is essential but doesn't overwhelm, letting the viewer consider the subject material rather than the technique."

8. Spring in Holland by Martin Janssen

"This TrueHDR photo gives the feel of a Dutch masters painting, with a nice range of tones and contrasts."

9. Peninsula North of Llangrannog by Marek Isalski

"There is a nice sense of depth to this photo, with the sheep dotting the peninsula lending a sense of scale. The use of TrueHDR helps the photographer naturally capture the range of contrasts between sky, clouds, ocean, grassy peninsula and sheep."

10. MIT Stata Center by Yuanzhen Li

"The futuristic buildings give this photograph an otherworldly feel, as if you landed on another planet. The photo captures both the sky and the materials and [the] play of light on the structures. It would have been hard to do justice to the huge range of brightness without TrueHDR. Here we also show the "before" pictures on the left — the over-exposed and under-exposed photo pair before they were merged with TrueHDR."

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Twitter Now Valued at $7 Billion [REPORT]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 01:18 PM PDT

Twitter’s valuation has almost doubled in the last seven months, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal says Twitter is busy raising hundreds of millions of dollars, at a valuation as high as $7 billion. In December, the same company was valued at just $3.7 billion in a $200 million round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Why the increase in valuation? Twitter, once a site without much of a business plan, is now a social media staple with a growing number of revenue streams.

Twitter introduced promoted tweets and trends last year, which proved to be the company’s first notable revenue source. Recently, eMarketer predicted that Twitter would triple its advertising revenue to $150 million in 2011. Last month we learned that Twitter plans to introduce promoted tweets into users’ timelines by the fall.

In October, it announced that it would develop a self-serve tool that would also allow small businesses to get in on the Twitter advertising game.

As its peers in the social world — like LinkedIn — go public, Twitter is instead focusing on strengthening its executive team and building a solid advertising business.

The upcoming platform will function a bit like Google AdWords for Twitter. If the WSJ‘s report is accurate (the paper sites an unnamed “person familiar with the matter”), it looks like investors consider the platform to have more in common with Google’s product — earning potential.

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Internet News Traffic Spikes As Casey Anthony Verdict Announced

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 01:03 PM PDT

The verdict in the State of Florida vs. Casey Anthony murder trial coincided with a spike in online news traffic.

Content delivery network Akamai tells us that it saw a spike in its Net Usage Index for News around the time of the verdict. As the verdict was announced, news site pageviews jumped from about 2 million to nearly 3.3 million a minute — nearly all of that coming from the U.S.

CNN saw an online traffic spike as well. The network tells us that more than 1 million users were watching between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. This was 30 times higher than the prior four-week average. (which syndicates Mashable content) also experienced a surge in regular web traffic, with 12 million pageviews — four times the four-week average — on the site during the hour the verdict was announced.

Twenty-five-year-old Anthony was found not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter. Anthony’s trial lasted nearly six weeks, but the case itself has been a big part of cable news for the past three years.

The Anthony trial was streamed online as much as broadcast on cable TV. This allowed individuals to tune in from work and to comment using social media in real time.

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What Are You Listening to on [VIDEOS]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 12:44 PM PDT

Still-in-beta startup has been monopolizing many a music lover’s productivity recently. So what have those folks been listening to? A lot of indie music, it seems — oh, and they’re really into Rickrolling. is a web-based network of musical chatrooms where “DJs” (i.e. you and your friends) can spin music via either MediaNet or upload. Other users then vote on whether songs are “awesome” or “lame,” and consequently DJs accrue points and fans. Recently, the site shut down for international users in an effort to stay legal. It’s aiming to stay DMCA compliant, and the DMCA is U.S.-only. Still, it managed to garner around 140,000 users before the cut back.

We’ve been playing around with the site quite a bit at Mashable HQ — we even host a room on Fridays — and have been wondering what jams were striking peoples’ fancy. The site currently has no leaderboard or anything of the sort (it’s still in beta, after all), but today we got our hands on a nifty tool that shows the most-played songs in all rooms that have 20 users or more.

We’ve compiled those songs together in a gallery below for your listening pleasure. What songs have you discovered via the service? Let us know in the comments.

NOTE: These are live stats, so the order might have changed by the time this has posted.

"Lights (Bassnectar Remix)," Ellie Goulding

"Home," Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

"Pumped Up Kicks," Foster The People

"Young Blood," The Naked And Famous

"Go Outside," Cults

"Rill Rill," Sleigh Bells

"Helena Beat," Foster The People

The Knife, "Heartbeats"

"Never Gonna Give You Up," Rick Astley

"Odessa," CARIBOU

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Online Ad Spending Set to Hit $50B in 2015 [REPORT]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 12:23 PM PDT

We knew that Internet advertising is on a strong upward trajectory. But now analyst firm eMarketer is predicting double-digit growth through 2015. Spending on online ads will hit $50 billion that year — that’s almost double last year's spending figure.

The prediction, published Tuesday, comes a month after eMarketer nearly doubled its estimated increase for online ad revenues for 2011 to 20.2%, thanks to a surge in display advertising. U.S. online ad spending hit $26 billion in 2010. The new report assumes a continued growth in search advertising, but also in banner ads from large sites like Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

Video will continue to be the fastest-growing format in online advertising, according to eMarketer. Spending for video ads hit $1.42 billion in 2010, but will reach $7.11 billion in 2015. That’s because video "generates greater audience attention than other digital ad formats," says David Hallerman, eMarketer's principal analyst.

Another factor in the rise: a shift in local advertising from newspapers and Yellow Pages to online ads.

eMarketer’s figures are by no means the only ones. The IAB reported a 23% jump in online advertising revenues in the first quarter of this year. The IDC also estimated that global online ad spending grew 14.3% in Q1. Online spending is far outpacing increases in traditional advertising. Nielsen estimates global ad spending rose 8.8% in the first quarter, and TV advertising was up 11.9%. U.S. advertising was up 5.9% in the first quarter, according to Nielsen, which didn’t include online ad spending in the report.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

More About: banner ads, display advertising, emarketer, facebook, Google, IAB, idc, online advertising, search advertising, Yahoo

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10 Accessories to Cheer Up Your Office Break Room [PICS]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 12:14 PM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

If your staff room’s highlights are a handful of tattered magazines, a tired vending machine and a half-dead plant, then shame on you. With a little effort and a small amount of cash, you can offer your employees so much more.

The staff room is just as important as any other area in your workplace — work shouldn’t exclude fun, after all. Just look at how successful companies like Google manage to bring serious fun into their workplace.

Take a look through our photo gallery of some great gadgets and accessories to cheer up your staff room and let us know in the comments how you think is best to bring fun to the workplace.

1. Meninos Recharge Pillow

This great graphic will help reinforce the theory behind taking a break from your workstation to "recharge," while bringing some Meninos graphic charm to the room.

Cost: $29.99

2. Geek Coffee Wall Decal

Available in a variety of colors, this vinyl wall decal will add geek interest to a wall without boring anyone to death with insipid artwork.

Cost: $9.95

3. DIY Chalkboard

Why not turn an entire wall into a chalkboard? Just add chalk and your staff can use the wall for doodles, messages, lists, quotes, games and more.

Cost: Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Chalkboard Paint costs $17.99 a tin

4. Jumbo Mustache Magnet

Because sometimes, just bringing a smile to someone's face with a silly touch is enough to lift the mood of the day.

Cost: $10.99

5. Vintage Board Games

Anyone can stick a Wii in a staff room, but we think a carefully curated selection of vintage board games is much more fun. Take a look on Etsy or even eBay and you'll be amazed what classics are out there for relatively little. Older staff will enjoy the nostalgia, and younger staff will relish the retro touch.

Cost: Varies

6. LoveSac Bean Bags

Bean bags maybe a bit of a cliche, but there's a reason for that -- it's hard to be stressed when you're lounging on a LoveSac.

Cost: From $249

7. Customizable Photo Display

Show your staff the love with a photo wall offering a glimpse of life at your company. A photo rail like this is easy to refresh when you have new pics to display.

Cost: $5.99

8. Jelly Bean Machine

Take a leaf out of Google's book and bribe, sorry incentivize, your staff with candy. Keeping a dispenser topped up won't cost very much but put a sugar-induced smile on your employees' faces.

Cost: $34

9. LOLMagnetz

Fun fridge magnets can be a great distraction while you're waiting for the kettle to boil or microwave to ping. We like this LOLCats-themed set. With 256 "LOLWords," just add a couple of kitty pics for tons of collaborative fun.

Cost: $19.99

10. Meninos 8-Bit Hand Coasters

These pixelated coasters are the fun way to protect your surfaces from watermarks in a rad, retro style.

Cost: $29.99

More About: accessories, gadgets, office, office accessories

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Twitter Testing Facebook-Like Message Wall [PIC]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 11:59 AM PDT

Twitter is testing a Facebook-like message wall on profile pages, prompting users to send public tweets (a.k.a @ replies, or mentions) to specific users directly from their profile pages.

Twitter is testing the feature with a small percentage of users. Spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said it was designed to “make it easier for users to engage with each other” on the microblogging service.

The feature addresses a problem among new users: namely, that many of Twitter’s functions are not intuitive. New users must learn, either through guides or by observing other users, how to send replies and direct messages.

The feature the San Francisco-based company is currently testing should help address that problem, helping users discover early on how to interact with others on the service.

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Gates Foundation Releases Interactive Malaria Map [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 11:52 AM PDT

malaria image

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has released an interactive map to raise awareness about its campaign to end malaria.

The map is the first interactive infographic added to the foundation’s digital tool belt. It’s another step in the foundation’s long-term fight to eradicate malaria.

There are three main components to the infographic: An overview of progress within individual countries, an explanation of methods being used on the ground, and a comparison of the number of lives saved globally with and without the foundation’s proposed intervention.

Through the digital map, viewers can explore the work of the campaign in more than 50 countries. This includes handing out bed nets and insecticide sprays, case management, preventative treatments during pregnancy and antimalarial drugs.

The foundation’s website also includes blogs, videos and photo galleries.

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Vanity Fair’s Justin Bieber Cover One of Its Worst-Selling in Recent History

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 11:19 AM PDT

Justin Bieber may be powerful enough to command his own set of servers at Twitter, but he’s no major force at the newsstand: Vanity Fair‘s February cover featuring the pop boy wonder is set to become one of the worst-selling issues since Graydon Carter became editor in 1992.

The issue has moved a mere 246,000 copies on the newsstand, narrowly surpassing a Harrison Ford cover that sold 243,000 newsstand copies in 1993. A Will Smith cover that accompanied the lukewarm critical reception of Wild, Wild West sold 202,701 single copies in July 1999, the worst in Carter’s 19-year reign.

Collectively, newsstand sales of Vanity Fair are down 5% for the first half of the year, averaging 342,000 per issue.

Bieber has performed poorly for other titles, as well. An April 2010 People cover featuring the teen star was its third worst-selling issue in 2010, down 25% from its 2010 average, while an October 2010 Teen Vogue cover performed 12% below its yearly average.

Magazine publishers need not worry that Bieber is symptomatic of a larger trend; teens are still reading magazines. Teen Vogue is still in print, after all.

[via WWD]

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EXCLUSIVE: Google To Retire Blogger & Picasa Brands in Google+ Push

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 11:03 AM PDT

Say goodbye to the Picasa and Blogger names: Google intends to retire several non-Google name brands and rename them as Google products, Mashable has learned.

The move is part of a larger effort to unify its brand for the public launch of Google+, the search giant’s social initiative.

Blogger and Picasa aren’t going away, of course — they’re two of Google’s most popular products. Instead, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Google intends to rename Picasa “Google Photos” and Blogger will become “Google Blogs.” Several other Google brands are likely to be affected, though our sources made it clear that YouTube would not be rebranded. The technology giant shut down Google Video, its failed web video service, in May.

The move isn’t without precedent; Google acquired JotSpot in 2006 and rebranded it as Google Sites in 2008. In 2007, Google acquired VOIP platform GrandCentral and relaunched it as Google Voice in 2009.


Picasa and Blogger were also Google acquisitions, although both companies have been part of the Google empire for far longer. Picasa was acquired in 2004 and Blogger (co-founded by Evan Williams of Twitter) was acquired in 2003 and is one of the top 10 most visited websites in the world. Although the rebranding could upset some existing customers, it also gives Google the ability to completely integrate both services into Google+.

Rebranding Coming in Next Six Weeks

The transition from Picasa and Blogger to Google Photos and Google Blogs will occur “in a month to a month and a half,” we’ve been told. The date aligns with the likely public launch of Google+. Mashable has been told to expect the public debut of Google+ on or before July 31. The date is important because it’s the day all private Google Profiles will be deleted.

We believe Google doesn’t want to have private profiles after the public Google+ launch. Instead, the company is likely to encourage users who want more privacy to use Circles to curate their friend groups.

The brand unification effort will be the largest in company history — it’s never renamed a property as large as Blogger. The popular blog creation service has been receiving a lot of extra love recently. In March, Google announced that Blogger would receive a major overhaul. We doubt many people expected that the overhaul would include a rebranding, though.

Google+ makes perfect sense for Blogger and Picasa — they are both social products that improve as more people use them. It’s important to note that Google+ already has a photos feature, a product that we believe utilizes Picasa technology. It’s also important to note that Google+’s photo feature has no Picasa branding of any kind.

Update: Google declined to comment on this story.

More About: blogger, EXCLUSIVE, Google, Google Blogs, Google Photos, Google Plus, picasa

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Twitter Acquires Social Analytics Company BackType

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 10:49 AM PDT

Twitter acquires BackType

Twitter has acquired comment tracker turned social analytics platform BackType for an undisclosed amount.

On the BackType blog, the company says the team and IP will move to the Twitter platform group. Here, the BackType team’s focus will be on “developing tools for Twitter’s publisher partners.”

Just two months ago, BackType launched BackTweets Pro, a premium version of the BackTweets product. BackTweets Pro was aimed at marketers, brands and publishers to help them understand the interactions and conversion statistics that take place within Twitter.

BackType says that the BackTweets product will be offered to current users for free, however, the company will no longer accept any new users. Additionally, the BackType product and API services will be discontinued.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see BackType technology and perhaps a more streamlined version of BackTweets Pro appear on Twitter in the future. The social media analytics space continues to be hot, with companies and end-users scrambling to get the most informative data they can.

A BackType-powered official Twitter analytics engine, perhaps as part of a brand-enhanced dashboard, could help Twitter deliver first-party solutions and really define itself as a platform for the consumer and the enterprise.

What do you think of the BackType acquisition? Let us know.

More About: backtweets, BackType, social media, startups, twitter

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Shark Week Goes on the Hunt for Viewers on Social Media

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 10:41 AM PDT

The Discovery Channel is casting a wide net on social media for Shark Week with a user-generated advertising contest, a co-viewing app for the iPhone and iPad and plugs by Andy Samberg.

The build-up for the event, which runs the week of July 31, begins Tuesday with on-air promos. The cable channel also ran a contest from June 13 to July 1 seeking 30-second video commercials from fans. Sixteen of the top videos will vie against each other in a bracketed competition on Shark Week’s website. The top two ads will run on the channel during Shark Week.

That effort builds on last year’s contest on YouTube that asked fans to make videos promoting Shark Week.

A Discovery rep says that the channel is stepping things up this year because "Shark Week" was frequently a trending topic on Twitter when it aired. Overall, there were 91,000 tweets related to Shark Week.

To foster more such communication, Discovery has partnered with GetGlue for a sticker campaign that began Tuesday (and featured Lady Gaga's Teeth). There's also a @SharkWeek trivia contest on Twitter and a Shark Week Live app for the iPhone and iPad and on Shark Week’s website that will aggregate all the social media conversation on Twitter and Facebook around Shark Week and include extra content like behind-the-scenes photos.

The channel has also drafted social media favorite Andy Samberg as "chief shark officer" to star in promos, interstitials and a program called Shark City.

Shark Week, now in its 24th year, continues to be a success for Discovery. Last year's Shark Week brought in 30.8 million viewers — a new record. The channel has also added seven new hours of content this year and will run a total of 18 hours of shark-related programming during primetime.

More About: andy samberg, Discovery Channel, facebook, getglue, Shark Week, twitter

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Convertible Debt vs. Equity: Which Is Right for Your Startup?

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 10:02 AM PDT

money image

Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a securities broker/dealer that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 and $10,000 in startups online. You can follow him on Twitter @austinbillc.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an angel investor, the topic of convertible note vs. equity impacts you. For the most part, startups favor convertible notes and angels prefer equity, but which one is the right choice for your startup?

Here, we review the benefits of each.

Convertible Debt

Convertible debt was most commonly used as a bridge loan between two rounds of financing. For example, if you raised $1,000,000 in series A funding and you were going to raise $5,000,000 in a series B round, you might use a bridge loan if you needed $250,000 until the funding was completed. However, convertible debt has recently become a popular seed round financing instrument.

Here is a basic overview of how convertible notes work:

  • An angel investor invests $200,000 in a startup as a convertible note.
  • The terms of the note are a 20% discount and automatic conversion after a qualified financing of $1,000,000.
  • When the next round of funding occurs at $2,000,000, the investor’s note will automatically convert to equity.

In this scenario, let's assume the shares were priced at $1.00. Since there is a 20% discount, the investor can use that $200,000 investment to purchase shares at the discount rate of $.80 each, instead of the $1.00 price that other participants in the current funding round will have to pay. That gives the initial investor 250,000 shares for the price of 200,000, which is a 25% return — not bad.

Caps can also be added to convertible debt. A cap sets a limit for how much the startup can raise before your shares stop getting diluted. It doesn't value the convertible note, but it sets an upper limit. So in the example above, if the pre-money cap was $5,000,000, you would still get a discount of 20% up to that amount. If the startup raised at a valuation over $5,000,000, then the discount would increase to offset the additional dilution that was occurring. When you add a cap, the math gets a little trickier, as it can change with different funding scenarios.


While a convertible note might be a little confusing to calculate, equity is a breeze. The startup is assigned a pre-money valuation and a share price is determined. When you invest, you know exactly what the terms are and how many shares you will own in that round.

Here’s how it works:

  • The startup has a pre-money valuation of $1,000,000 with 1,000,000 shares outstanding. This puts the share price at $1 per share.
  • An angel investor makes an investment of $200,000 and receives 200,000 shares.
  • The post-money valuation is $1,200,000 and the new investor owns 16.6% of the company.

Why Convertible Debt?

If equity is so much easier to understand, why are convertible notes becoming more common in the startup community? Here are four reasons why:

1. Valuation: Determining the valuation of a startup is hard, especially if the startup is pre-revenue and only in the idea phase. How do you put a value on the potential of the team/idea? It is easier for a startup to put off that question until they have some traction and social proof. Convertible notes are attractive for a startup because it delays this issue. While adding a cap essentially prices the round, it does leave a range of options, so it is more attractive to the startup.

2. Cost: Convertible note term sheets are less expensive than term sheets for equity, although with new standard term sheets that cost difference is starting to diminish. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to pay the additional legal costs for closing the equity round if the funding increase is less than $250,000.

3. Speed: The equity valuation conversation can take weeks of negotiating before terms are agreed upon. With debt, the terms are simple, easier to negotiate, and you can close on them pretty quickly.

4. Control: When a startup raises debt, the founders retain the majority of the voting stock in the company. That means when it comes time to make a decision that requires a vote, you will be in a better position to execute your plan. You might get a broad seed request with a larger debt investment, but typically in a seed stage offering, you won't have to worry about that.

Every situation calls for a different type of financing structure. It is important that each benefit is weighed to see what is right for the startup and for the investor. As a startup, you want to give your early investors good terms because they are helping you accomplish your goals. As an investor, you want to make it as easy as can be for the startup because they need to be focusing on building the business and not revising terms for an offering.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Marshall Astor – Food Pornographer

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Skype for Mac Gets Better Screen Sharing

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:33 AM PDT

Skype has updated its Mac OS X client to support screen sharing in group video calls.

The peer-to-peer web calling service added screensharing to the Mac client in 2009, but it has only worked during one-on-one calls. Anyone who has ever tried to use Skype in a conference call to share a presentation or screenshot knows how frustrating this limitation is.

The new feature is part of Skype for Mac 5.2, and is an additional group video calling feature. When Skype launched group video calling for PC in May 2010, it became one of the flagship features for the Skype Premium subscription service. In order to use group video calling, at least one person on the call needs to be a Skype Premium subscriber.

Likewise, the new screen sharing in group calls for Mac OS X will also require at least one person to have a Skype Premium subscription.

Skype has also listened to the feedback from Mac users and has made it easier for users to be on a video call, while still accessing other programs on their computer.

What do you think of the newest Skype for Mac?

More About: mac, mac software, Skype, voip

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“The Rent Is Too Damn High” Guy Gets a Documentary [VIDEO]

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:20 AM PDT

Jimmy McMillan may have been toiling away at his political career for nearly 10 years now, but it took YouTube fame to catapult him into the public eye. Now he’s the subject of a new documentary — titled Damn! — premiering in August.

The film, which garnered funds via a Kickstarter campaign and has been making the festival rounds, will be released on DVD and digital download on August 16. You can check out the full trailer above, premiering exclusively on Mashable today.

Since the advent of the shareable, Internet video (starting with pre-YouTube classics, like the Star Wars kid), we’ve been seeing a new brand of star: The Viral Everyman, a unique brand of celebrity whose relevance is not based so much on talent or perseverance, but novelty and entertainment value.

Some have gained fame and fortune as a result of their sudden celebrity (see: Antoine Dodson). Others, like Golden Voiced Homeless Man, Ted Williams, have had a harder time with the sudden fame.

That’s the conceit behind Damn! “Documenting this journey, the film is able to raise many difficult, yet critical, questions,” says director Aaron Fisher-Cohen. “Are viral hits victimized by the media or are they complicit? Have we all been transformed into attention-mongers, willing to sacrifice dignity for, now quantifiable, views on a screen? What drives some individuals to seek this sort of attention, and what compels society to grant it to certain people over others? How does social media drive these sensational events and people? How is our increasingly diminishing attention span affecting the state of politics?”

The film follows McMillan throughout his 2010 New York gubernatorial campaign, under the now famous — and much-remixed — party and party line, “The Rent Is Too Damn High.”

“This is the first documentary that I am aware of that captures a subject as their viral fame unfolds,” says Fisher-Cohen. “It exposes how unlimited access to media, and the ability of most individuals to produce their own, has changed both us and the media-conglomerates. While it does not offer any solutions, I believe it highlights how critical it is that these questions be taken seriously.”

More About: Film, Jimmy McMillan, video, viral video, youtube

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British Tabloid Hacked Voicemail of Missing Girl During Investigation

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:10 AM PDT

British tabloid News of the World repeatedly hacked into the voicemail account of a missing girl in 2002, interfering with an ongoing investigation and giving her family false hope that she was alive and accessing her voicemail, a lawyer for her family said Monday.

After 13-year-old Milly Dowler went missing and before her murdered body was discovered six months later, voicemail messages were deleted from her account — leading her family to think she was checking her voicemail.

At one point, the family of the missing girl even granted the News of the World an interview about the hope the deleted messages had given them.

Now detectives for the Metropolitan Police Service of London are believed to have found evidence that News of the World was behind the deleted messages, according to The Guardian.

The evidence suggests journalists intercepted messages from frantic family and friends trying to reach Dowler, and then they deleted some of the messages when the voicemail inbox was full in order to make room for new ones. Police fear that evidence may have been lost in the process.

Police discovered the evidence during a larger investigation of the News of the World‘s habit of hacking into the voicemail messages of celebrities and political figures, some instances of which it has admitted.

As the New York Times points out, the latest case is significant in part because at the time of the hacking the News of the World‘s editor was Rebekah Brooks, who is now the chief executive of News International. Both British newspapers are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and Brooks denies that she has ever witnessed phone hacking at any Murdoch-owned papers.

“It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way,” Brooks wrote in an email to The Guardian.

More About: Dowler, News of the world, phone hacking

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