Archive for November, 2007

All-Island SeedCorn Competition Winners Announced

conor 30th of November 2007 by conor

The Seedcorn winners for 2007 are Movidia as Best International Emerging Company and Openplain as Best Emerging Company.

Movidia won the €100k prize due to their mobile processor technology which is targeted at activities like mobile gaming. I worked many years ago in S3 with their CEO Sean Mitchell and I’m not surprised to see him do so well. After S3 he worked in Parthus and Silansys so Movidia is a logical progression for him. You can expect to see some unique IP from these guys. Of course the challenge (as in Parthus) is to secure licencees. Competition in this space continues to be intense and it is not necessarily the best IP which gets the deals.

Openplain which won the €50000 prize provides productivity tools so that employees and employers can track and manage their time and application use more efficiently. They can also use it to compare their work performance to that of peers, team, department and company averages. Businesses like call centers live and die by productivity and require tools like this to constantly monitor and refine. It’ll be interesting to see what unique benefits this tool brings as I have seen similar in the market for many years. On a side note, as a blogger, seeing a product called JournalLive really grates!

It’s good to see that Seedcorn has overcome their slight obsession with life sciences and is looking again at both hardware and software. A useful exercise each year would be for them to look back and see how all the previous winners are doing.

Why Early Stage Venture Investments Fail…

admin 30th of November 2007 by admin

Fred Wilson – uber VC – has a great post on
Why Early Stage Venture Investments Fail.

Some great nuggets…

Swarmteams Music goes live

conor 29th of November 2007 by conor

Swarmteams, the mobile social network, has just launched its Music service to bring bands and fans together. The upside for bands is obvious – grow the fanbase, motivate existing fans to buy more and help with organising live gigs. For fans its an opportunity to feel more part of a community around the bands you love.

swarmteams_music_01.png

I wrote very positively about Swarmteams in the past and I continue to think it has the potential to be a global success. Since then, based on my own experiences of building an SMS service, I have become concerned about the complexity of the system. Unless you are an avid user, you will need to bring a cheat sheet with you in order to remember the commands. I wonder if a simpler, less featureful approach for the average punter might be appropriate?

Bands will have to be very careful how they use the system so that they do not alienate fans in an attempt to drive up music or merchandise sales. But I know I’d be very happy to be part of a Kings of Leon swarm, if such a thing was ever created.

The company has announced that a number of UK bands will be able to use the system for free for a year through sponsorship from Nesta. They already have some bands from the North using it. I expect to see lots more in the coming months.

On a related topic, Swarmteams would be an ideal co-ordination tool for the Paddy’s Valley trip to Silicon Valley starting on Sunday. There are lots of sub-groups visiting different companies and it could help hugely with everyone knowing what is going on at any particular moment.

I’ll continue to make the same points about mobile over and over. Start-ups like Swarmteams and DownloadMusic show that there is lots of innovation still possible using something as simple as SMS. With the marketing muscle of O2 or Vodafone behind them, these services could grow very quickly indeed.

Comment posted by ken thompson
at 11/30/2007 4:56:50 PM

Thnaks Conor

If the paddys valley team would like a free account just for their trip then just ask one of them to get in touch with me directly and I will set it up for them. All they need is a nominated “Paddys Valley Swarm Community Owner” and this person can invite everyone else who can then create their own swarms all in the same swarm community.

Best Regards

Ken

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 11/30/2007 2:27:15 PM

Thanks Ken. Would definitely like to hear about how live users are getting on with it. I’ve had several of those “moments” recently, like Paddy’s Valley, where I thought “ye know, Swarmteams would be ideal here”.

Comment posted by ken thompson
at 11/30/2007 1:49:48 PM

Good point on the fan alienation front – thats where the swarmteams reputation and message ranking system comes in

If a band or an alpha fan sends out stuff the fans dont want then their swarmteams digital reputation will get trashed and no-one will stay in their swarms

The only thing I would take issue with on the article is your useability comments.

Although the system is feature rich there is nothing a music fan needs to remember – no cheat sheet required

For ordinary fans to reply to an Band SMS they just reply to the text as if you were texting a friend – no commands

If you are an Alpha Fan then there are really there are just 3 commands which cover almost everything

TELL SWARMNAME This Message – broadcast to swarm and route all replies to the web messageboard

ASK SWARMNAME This Question – broadcast to swarm and route all replies to my phone too

CHAT SWARMNAME This Topic – broadcast to swarm and route all replies to all swarm members phones

Let me know if you are interested in an interview with one of the music bands who are using it?

Hope this helps

Best Regards

Ken Thompson

Cubic Telecom partners with Global Roaming

conor 29th of November 2007 by conor

Pat Phelan, CEO of Cubic Telecom, has just anounced a partnership deal with Global Roaming which is known for its CelTrek brand. The idea is that it will allow both companies to offer extended geographic coverage and data roaming to their customer bases. In addition they can now do joint proposals to large enterprises and Pat says that announcements on these are imminent.

Anything that reduces costs will always be celebrated by long suffering customers of the global mobile monopolies.

Comment posted by Robin Blandford
at 11/30/2007 6:09:55 AM

Congrats @ Pat

While Mobile Operators dither, Google just goes for it

conor 29th of November 2007 by conor

Yesterday I spoke at the ICT Ireland conference on “Marketing in a Total Access World”. The keynote was legendary Marketeer Regis McKenna who had a gem of insight for everyone in the audience. Michael Platt from Microsoft also gave a great whirlwind tour of business and technology with an MSFT twist.

My talk was a very simple personal potted history called “d’internet, Being Social 1990-2007?. My basic proposal was that we’ve been social networking since the days of Usenet, but the tools and possibilities improve with each new generation. I also made the prediction that 2008 would be the year of Mobile. It’s probably been said by someone every year since 1997 but the progress in 2007 with Twitter, Jaiku, iPhone, N95, GPS, cheaper mobile data etc has me convinced we have finally got there.

I was asked if that was realistic given the seeming inability of the mobile operators to build new sticky value-added services. As long as they are in control, is it just a pipe-dream? I replied that they are improving and those I’ve talked to in the telcos know that things have to change. I also thought that Android could be a way for Google to get apps like Jaiku onto many phones and potentially bypass the operator veto.

Michael Platt agreed wholeheartedly and clearly Microsoft sees mobile as a critical part of their strategy. I then ran into a person from one of the mobile operators who confirmed both the positive and negative aspects – yes they know they have to change; no, they don’t know how to do that. I suggested that (for example with LBS) they take the Google approach of building APIs and releasing them into the wild to see what people do with them. He admitted that such an approach would be very difficult for them with their current “target driven” organisational structure.

Today I woke up to find that Google have added “My Location” to their Mobile Maps application. Using community generated location information which relates mobile tower IDs to GPS locations, you can now get some sense of where you are using your phone even if it does not have GPS. An simple elegant solution to a problem.

Perhaps that is the future for the mobile operators? They spend their time trying to figure out what the next big thing is and everyone else just finds ways around their roadblocks.

BlogTalk comes to Cork

conor 29th of November 2007 by conor

The fifth BlogTalk conference is happening in Cork on March 3rd and 4th 2008. This event is all about social software with the aim to bring together developers, academics, administrators in corporate and educational settings and others working in this space.

There is an impressive line-up of invited speakers and I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks who writes with greath depth and insight about the Semantic web on his blog.

Sean McGrath of Propylon has announced that he will be speaking and chairing a panel on Mashups, microformats and syndication. That’s one I won’t be missing along with the workshop on Social Network Portability.

Whilst there does seem to be a distinct academic flavour to this conference, the topics are of great importance to many working on the web and it should be a rewarding two days. I was very impressed to see names like Stowe Boyd, Jyri Engeström and Kevin Marks on the various commitees.

Final deadline for proposals is December 7th.

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 11/30/2007 4:06:50 AM

Yeah, I like that mix that you are looking for. Some of the more commercial ones can just end up being a litany of product pitches. Looking forward to it.

Comment posted by John Breslin
at 11/30/2007 3:20:04 AM

Hi Conor – thanks for the mention!

BlogTalk is less formal than academic conferences but a bit more academic-ey than events like Reboot, LeWeb, etc. What I think is good is that BlogTalk provides a nice mix, in that it allows practitioners to see what academics or developers are doing, and shows academics and developers what practitioners need. There aren’t that many events like it I think, and I’d hope that this mix can be sustained this year (going on the proposals we’ve received so far, I think it will be).

John.
–

eircom announce their own Web Innovation Fund of €100k

admin 23rd of November 2007 by admin

Damien has the details on the Eircom Web Innovation Fund – see eircom announce their own €100k Web 2.0/tech seed fund

Eircom are to be complimented on reaching out to the Web2Ireland community – and this is a very welcome initiative.

Eircom Web Innovation Fund is Eircombinator?

conor 22nd of November 2007 by conor

The best news I’ve heard in a long time in the Irish funding space happened last night at the Eircom Golden Spiders Awards when they announced a fund to bootstrap web start-ups. This amount is small but very much in the Y Combinator or SeedCamp model. A stodgy old telco has done something which is frankly stunning.

eircom.png

The key is not really the money, it is the opportunities presented by partnering with the most trafficked Irish web-site out there and getting mentoring, support and access to the right people. The areas they are interested in are Web2 generally, Micro-blogging, Embedded Voice Applications, Mashups and Social Networking.

The fund is worth approximately €100k annually and up to four concepts will be selected each year. They will take proposals that range from paper specs to alpha-level code but the applicants really have to show a capability to build what they are suggesting. The funding can then be used to build the webapp through to production and, if appropriate, initially launch on the eircom.net platform. Once launched, eircom will continue to provide small levels of operational funding for the app/site.

The real shocker comes with the announcement on equity stake. Zero! I don’t want to sound like a starry eyed fanboy, but well bloody done Eircom! Finally someone here gets it and realises that handing over €175m to VCs is not the way to build incredible new companies. When I heard the zero equity line I was speechless. Of course successful applications are likely to result in content deals and I can’t imagine anyone having an issue if there were first-refusal clauses on future equity stakes (I have no idea if there are).

Details and applications are available here and submissions must be in by February 2008. The details of the areas they are interested in are:

  • Discovery (domain specific search; indexing, ranking, querying techniques; personalisation, recommendations, information aggregation)
  • Messaging (IM; new / open messaging frameworks; email, alerts)
  • Voice (VoIP telephony; mashups; asynchronous and embedded voice applications)
  • Location (mapping; location-based services; geospacial web, location-based content aggregation)
  • Publishing (blogging and microblogging, syndication; microformats; widgets)
  • Communities (social networks, open standards, mashups, visualisations, aggregators)
  • Content creation (music, video, film & TV, gaming, sport, lifestyle)
  • Advertising (formats, platforms, technologies, networks, targeting, syndication, widgets)
    * Identity (presence, capabilities management; lightweight identity platforms, cross-platform solutions, social identity management)

The injection of new blood like Mark Taylor and others into Eircom really is shaking things up. There is a realisation by many large companies that it is difficult to innovate internally. So rather than trying to invent the next “big thing”, they seed money to startups that have the flexibility and vision to do it and make sure they are there to reap benefits if it works out. If only there were more companies in Ireland willing to try this model. I’ll say it again, well done Eircom.

Comment posted by Robert Shedd » Blog Archive » The Y Combinator Model: Duplication and Limitation
at 12/3/2007 10:43:31 PM

[…] also another look-alike program emerging across the pond in Ireland. The Eircom Web Innovation Fund will take approximately four ventures […]

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 11/29/2007 8:36:11 AM

Testing to see if comments fixed.

PollDaddy gets techcrunch effect with launch of polldaddy2.0

admin 19th of November 2007 by admin

polldaddy

Polldaddy get great coverage in techcrunch article

Richard also has great analysis on readwriteweb

Congratulations to Lenny and the team.

ps. when you see folks like blogger/twiiter founder Evan Williams using polldaddy – you know these guys will be successful.

Irish Internet Association – Net Visionary Awards

admin 16th of November 2007 by admin

Congratulations to all the winners – Irish Internet Association – Net Visionary Awards – great event organized by Fergal and his team at the Irish Internet Association

ps. I’m both honored and shocked with the netvisionary award – it’s an acknowledgment for all who are involved in the growing Irish web2.0 cluster.