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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Youtube founders mistakenly purchase Delicious

In Startups on April 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Chad Hurley will never again meet with his financial planner in a diner.

Chen and Hurley described the deal as "just short of a clusterfuck."

“The waitress asked me how my pie was,” said Hurley. “I said it was delicious. I guess [my financial planner] Mike was asking me what I wanted to purchase at the same time. We were talking about diversifying.”

Hours later, the deal was closed. Hurley’s Co-founder Steve Chen also signed off on it.

“I thought he was buying it ironically,” said Chen. “You know, like you’d buy an ironic shirt, or a Nickelback CD.”

“It’s no biggie. We spent more than that on a party last week.”

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Black people better at Twitter, according to Berkeley study

In Human Interest, Technology on April 27, 2011 at 10:42 am

A recent study out of Berkeley has found that Americans of African descent are better than their lighter-skinned compatriots when it comes to tweeting.

“Not just better,” said Ashley Wessley, a graduate student and the study’s author, “but clearly better.”

Spike Lee was noted as an exception in the study, his Twitter feed described as 'SMS diarrhea.'

The study followed Twitter’s trending topics for several months, collecting data from millions of tweets. Trending hashtags examined by the study include #idontunderstandwhy, #younotfromdetroit, #notsexy, #isturnedonby, #iwasthekid, #whenyourblack, #isbetterthan, #blackpeoplemovies, #imthetype, #iseewhyyoumad and #deletemynumberif.

“After I collected the data, I applied the NBA principle and I arrived at my conclusion,” said Wessley. Established in 1995 by Harvard sociologists, the NBA principle states that if it seems overwhelmingly obvious that one race is better at something, they probably are.

“There’s almost always at least two trending topics that are 90% black people,” said Wessley. “No other race has that.”

Wessley attributes the gap in tweets to poor tweeting habits from other races, particularly whites and Asians. “Fully 86% of tweets from white people amounted to different versions of ‘Hey, I’m on a plane!’ and Asians aren’t nearly offensive enough in their tweets to be interesting to readers,” she said.

That offensiveness might be the key to Twitter equality.

“Be less politically correct,” said Wessley. “It’s okay to tweet bad stuff. Your life doesn’t have to be presented as perfect. It’s just Twitter and nobody really gives a shit anyway.”

Wessley expressed relief at the completion of her study, a major project in her final semester.

“I’m super relieved,” she said. “If I had found white people were better, I never would have been able to publish.”

Badgeville solves poverty, moves on to strife

In Startups on April 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Poverty around the world officially ended over the weekend, with one valley startup to thank: Badgeville.

“So many people said what we were doing was pointless,” said Badgeville CEO Kris Duggan. “And now here we are. Nobody’s going hungry today and it’s all thanks to gamification and Badgeville.”

Details on the poverty-ending efforts are still coming in, but it appears that customer loyalty programs run as games on websites were a key factor in solving the world’s food shortage problems.

“Every generation up until now has had to deal with hunger. But they didn’t have virtual badges granted through online rewards systems,” said Duggan. “We do. And now we’re aiming even higher.”

Having defeated poverty, Badgeville is now setting its sights on ending conflict around the world.

“Obviously people don’t have to fight over food now, so we’ve already taken one step in the right direction,” said Duggan.

The startup is expected to win the Nobel Peace Prize for their part in ending poverty. Whether they’ll accept an award from a competing service remains to be seen.

Dave McClure furious at plainly styled pitches, e-mails

In Human Interest, Startups on April 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

Dave McClure is pissed.

“Not just pissed,” he says, “but bold and italicized pissed.”

He adds, “Hell, make it red text too. I’m really that mad.”

The 500 Startups founder has had some time to catch up on his e-mails after the launch of 22 startups at the 500 Startups Demo Day, only to be disappointed by a complete lack of effort on the part of senders.

“How am I supposed to know which words are important?” he asks, shaking his screen. “None of them are bold. Not even one blue word or green word.”

McClure asks, "Can you bold the word pissed when you publish this? I dont think they'll get it otherwise."

For McClure, it’s not a new problem. The prominent angel investor pours hours into carefully selecting words to bold, italicize and highlight on his blog and in his e-mails, but fails to get the same response in return.

“It’s like I’m holding the door open for everyone, and everyone is slamming it right in my face,” says McClure. “The other day I had to sit through a PowerPoint presentation which used one typeface for the whole damn thing.”

“I just zoned out,” says McClure. “I once invested in someone who gave me a ride when I needed one. This isn’t hard, people. Control+B. Control+U.”

“Or Command if you’re on a Mac.”

FBI poker domain seizures draw heavy criticism from graphic designers

In Politics and Law on April 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

FBI domain seizures hit a handful of popular poker sites today, including fulltiltpoker.com, pokerstars.net, ub.com and absolutepoker.com.

The move was met with outrage from, of all possible parties, graphic designers.

The FBI has seized thousands of computers with Photoshop installed, and this is the best they could come up with.

“Really?” asked Amy Howitz. “A full-page jpeg with text on it? That’s what they put up when they seize a domain?”

Howitz found herself especially infuriated by the blurry Department of Justice logo and the unnecessarily large file size.

“It’s an embarrassment to every citizen of the United States. Every move like this affects not just how the world sees us, but how the world does business with us. Are we really going to stand by while a blurry Department of Justice ruins America?”

Some, it seemed, were entirely willing to stand by.

“Who cares?” asked Mike Mornsby, a programmer from San Francisco. “They’re only going after porn and gambling. As long as you’re not one of the bad guys, you’ll be fine.”

Social coupon site niggard.ly folds, creators blame ‘hostile market’

In Startups on April 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Niggard.ly, a deals site similar to Groupon but with a focus on the ultra-cheap, has shut down today.

The two founders, Justin Mackley and Manny Baccalin, blamed a marketplace that was just plain unfriendly to deals sites.

“We’ve seen social media fatigue, and I think we’re seeing deals fatigue now,” said Mackley, who came up with the concept and brand for the site. “We would get dirty looks after just giving our elevator pitch.”

“It was terrible,” added Baccalin. “I couldn’t even get my mom to use the site, or give me feedback on it.”

The pair say they’ve seen ups and downs with the product, but the downs were coming more often.

“Everyone seemed to like it when we were building it,” said Baccalin. “Then we struggled with establishing a brand. I thought it would be all uphill after we found that the niggard.ly domain was available.”

“Such a perfect domain for the product,” said Mackley, who first discovered the domain was available. “It really captured our feel and the niggardly deal-seekers we were after.”

The pair are still undecided on their next project. “All we know is it won’t be in coupons or deals,” said Mackley. “We’ve learned our lesson.”

Ad-supported Kindle to feature automated, in-novel product placement

In Technology on April 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Amazon’s new Kindle offering (touted as “special offers” by Amazon) saves readers 25 dollars, shows ads on the screensaver, and makes very minor alterations to classic novels in the form of product placement.

“If you read The Great Gatsby on our new Kindle, you’ll find that Gatsby now drinks only Miller Lite,” said an Amazon representative. “It’s also served at all of the parties in the novel. It makes it easier to connect for today’s novel readers, and saves them money at the same time. What’s not to like?”

Holden Caulfield's favorite product, The Kindle.

Brave New World is among the most altered of the product-placed Kindle classics, featuring several dozen placements. Old Spice plays into the novel prominently, with entire paragraphs added, including the following:

The Savages on the reservation stank to high heaven. Bernard wondered if even Old Spice body wash could get them smelling like men again. “No,” he thought hard, “unless it was the new Red Zone Plus type everyone was talking about.” That stuff was the greatest, and only for Alphas.

In addition to product mentions, entire bodies of work can be morphed to promote a product. Scream 4 now has mentions in any piece by Edgar Allen Poe.

“It got me excited about education and reading, and now I have a future,” said an Amazon representative, attempting to mimic a six-year-old’s voice over the phone.

The only American classic left untouched by the placements is John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which a Welch’s executive referred to as “…too boring, even for Welch’s.”

Tech startups race to replace failing federal government

In Politics and Law on April 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm

What’s extremely large, has thousands of things moving across it every second and requires extraordinary funding and engineering efforts to function daily to the benefit of almost every American?

If you answered “our road system,” then you were right. If you answered “Google,” you were also right.

That might be why Google is making a move to take over the management of America’s roads. “Well, we already know where all of the roads are,” said Larry Page, “thanks to Google Maps.”

Knowing is half the battle, according to Page. The other half is advertising.

“You think we’ve been building robot cars for fun?” asked Page. “No, we just want people free to look at our new AdSense billboards.”

The Capitol now houses thousands of servers.

With no means of enforcement due to the impending shutdown, most of the nation’s infrastructure is up for grabs. Youtube has moved into the former FCC offices. AirBnB is putting rooms in the White House on the service at incredible rates. Apple is already producing aluminum unibody tanks and fighter craft for the military, which they now run.

“Before, we couldn’t have passport photos that update everyday,” said Brian Pokorny of Daily Booth. “Now we can do that, because Daily Booth is running the Bureau of Consular Affairs.”

A proposal to move the capital to San Francisco passed the new Senate (dubbed senate.ly), a loose consortium of tech CEOs. Using prediction algorithms and preset voting preferences, it passed in a record-breaking 14 seconds.

Social media guru uses QR code for suicide note

In Human Interest on April 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Michael Schulton, a self-proclaimed social media guru, will not be remembered for the grisly way he ended his life or for his disturbing final tweets.

Instead, he’ll be remembered for the creative way he wrote his suicide note: In the form of a QR code.

Schulton spent all 4,096 characters rambling about his failures in life, love and business.

“I was always impressed by how Mike could make things fun and neat with technology,” said Shannon Sperrod, his roommate and finder of his lifeless body.

“One minute, I’m horrified,” said Sherrod, “and the next I have my phone out, curious about this QR code. It was really engaging and interactive. He was great with that stuff.”

The note contained instructions to tweet it out, which Sherrod did. It got a total of 5 retweets and eventually 2 Likes on Facebook.

Attempts were made by Founder Daily to interview his Twitter followers, which number at 58,023, but only Viagra offers were given as replies.

Funeral services for Schulton will be held on Friday. His friends on Facebook can check for the details on the event he set up.

Michael Arrington starts new blog, TechCrunchCrunch

In Startups on April 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

TechCrunchCrunch, a new metablog from Michael Arrington, launched today to cries of despair from the readership of TechCrunch.

TechCrunchCrunch is expected to somehow set the bar for tech journalism even lower.

“I wanted to capture the essence of TechCrunch,” said Arrington. “What TechCrunch is really about. And that’s TechCrunch. TechCrunch has always been mostly about TechCrunch.”

TechCrunchCrunch will feature the best aspects of TechCrunch, according to Arrington. “Whenever we create news or make up news instead of reporting on news, it’ll be on TechCrunchCrunch.”

Bitching and moaning about the public relations profession will have its own category on the site, with Leena Rao and Alexia Tsotsis leading the charge on inane, full-article complaints that pass even the most basic journalistic filters at other news outlets.

“It’s not just about our minor, daily professional struggles, of course,” said Arrington. “We’ll also have categories for our own events and products. Like the Crunchpad.”

“Remember the Crunchpad? Those were the days,” he said, gazing longingly into the distance. “Those were the days.”

In its first day, TechCrunchCrunch has already posted 36 articles, all of which are meandering, stream-of-consciousness gripes about their new owner, AOL.