E-commerce giant Amazon has splashed out, paying close to $US1 billion ($A107 billion) for live video gaming platform Twitch. Amazon said on Monday it will pay $US970 million in cash for the platform, which had previously been rumoured to have fallen into the hands of Google. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year. “Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month —from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,” said Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in a statement. “Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.” Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear said in the same statement the acquisition will allow it to “create tools and services faster than we could have independently”. “This change will mean great things for our community, and will let us bring Twitch to even more people around the world,” he said. So what is Twitch and why did Amazon fork out the big bucks to purchase it? Here’s five things you need to know about the platform. 1. Twitch allows gamers to live stream their gameplay Twitch enables game lovers to broadcast their gameplay sessions on PC, Xbox One or PlayStation 4 to viewers online, essentially turning what was once a solitary pursuit into a spectator sport. Users typically see the screen of the person playing the game, as well as a video feed of the player’s face and a window that allows they to chat with the player and other viewers. 2. It is used by millions of gamers Twitch has more than 50 million monthly active users and more than 1.1 million members who broadcast videos each month. In a typical month, Twitch users will watch more than 16 million minutes of gameplay. The platform has grown exponentially since it was launched in June 2011 with 3.2 million active users. 3. The platform started out as something called Justin.tv Twitch was founded by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, who also co-founded Justin.tv, one of the first websites to host livestreaming user-generated video. Twitch was born as one part of Justin.tv, which the duo launched in 2007 and allowed users to broadcast their own video live streams. But Business Insider reports Twitch soon took over Justin.tv, so much so that Justin.tv changed its name to Twitch in February this year. Justin.tv officially closed earlier this month, with Twitch becoming the business’ sole focus. 4. Twitch allows advertising As with most other online social platforms, Twitch does share advertising revenue with those who broadcast their videos on the platform. And there is little doubt the advertising potential in the platform is at least part of Amazon’s attraction. According to the New York Times, most Twitch broadcasters, which can include businesses and content publishers, currently earn very little from the platform, although there are some said to be earning more than six figures a year. 5. It may expand to include live concerts in the future While Twitch’s users are dedicated gamers, the platform has experimented with live music concerts, raising the possibility of the platform morphing into a live equivalent of YouTube. In July this year, Twitch hosting a free broadcast of a concert by musician Steve Aoki. According to The Verge, Twitch said at the time it had received feedback that 80% of its users would be interested in watching live concerts. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
China could have a new homegrown operating system by October, to take on imports Microsoft, Google and Apple. The US and China have had a number of disputes regarding cyber security in recent months. The operating system would first appear on desktop devices, before being extended to smartphone and other mobile devices, the head of an official OS development alliance, Ni Guangnan, says. Ni says he hopes the Chinese-made software would be able to replace desktop operating systems within one to two years and mobile operating systems within three to five years. Coin apologises to customers Connected credit card startup Coin issued an apology to customers on the weekend after mishandling the announcement of a product delay. The San-Francisco based startup was criticised last week after revealing, after months of ambiguity, it would be delaying the launch of its connected credit card and replacing it with a beta program in which its 10,000 pre-order customers could opt in to receive a prototype. They would be required to pay $30 to upgrade to the finished product when it launched. Coin reversed its stance and the beta program will now be free. It apologised to its users for a “lack of transparency and clarity” in its communications. Facebook most popular app in US In comScore’s latest mobile app report, which tracks the 25 most popular smartphone apps in the US, Facebook leads the way by a considerable margin. The Facebook app had 115.4 million US unique visitors over the age of eighteen in June 2014, with YouTube finishing in second with 83.4 million. The top subscription app is Netflix with 28 million unique visitors. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 38.27 to 17,001.22. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
Google is rolling out a number of new Android app promotion features across its Google Search, the Google Display and YouTube ad networks targeted at app developers. For developers, Google now allows developers to promote their app through its ad networks, with the ads only appearing for users who haven’t downloaded the app from the Google Play app store. Developers can also embed deep links into content in their apps from ads on Google websites, with the ads only appearing for users that have previously installed the apps. The deep linking within apps mirrors a feature introduced by Twitter in January. In an official blog post, Google’s vice president of AdWords product management, Jerry Dischler, said app developers such as LINE, Zoopla and Booking.com have already signed up for the service. “Here’s how it works: let’s say someone has the Booking.com app installed on their phone and searches for “San Francisco Hotels” on Google.com; now they can go directly to the specific page in the Booking.com app that shows listings for hotels in San Francisco,” said Dischler. App downloads through the Google Play store that follow a user clicking on an ad will show up as a conversion in AdWords without any additional setup. This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.
Google has been working to overhaul its Web services so it can legally allow children to use them, The Information reports. It’s looking at features that include a dashboard for parents to oversee their kids’ activities, a child-safe version of YouTube and requiring people who sign up for a Google account on Android devices to share their age. The effort is being driven by Google’s desire to find new ways to expand its user base. Tumblr partner will now scan photos for clues about brand affiliation Yahoo-owned Tumblr has inked a deal with Ditto Labs, a company that analyses photos on social media for brand related data. The deal will see Tumblr start to search through all the images on the site looking for clues about the brand affiliations of users. Tumblr head of business development T.R Newcomb says the company isn’t planning on doing anything ad-related with that data, rather it will be available to advertisers who want to understand how they are perceived on the platform. US nuclear regulatory commission hacked In the last three years, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission computers have been hacked by foreigners twice and an unidentifiable individual once, according to an internal investigation, Nextgov reports. One incident involved emails sent to about 215 NRC employees in a phishing attempt which took users to a cloud-based Google spreadsheet. Twelve employees fell for the attempt. The IG Cyber Crime Unit was able to track the person who set up the spreadsheet to a foreign country. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 175.83 to 16,838.74. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
When Google+ launched in 2011, it enacted the ‘real name’ policy in order to prevent spam, trolling and to try to give users more confidence to connect with new or other people. So what went wrong with this policy? Google loosened restrictions on real name requirements Last year there was outrage by YouTube users when Google implemented the policy which forced YouTube users to sign up for a Google+ account in order to post comments. It was done to try to crack down on spam comments, trolling and low quality posts. This change upset so many users that they filed a petition on Change.org to try to force Google+ to reconsider its decision. In an effort to try to appease, Google+ has been loosening its restrictions on the Google+ real names policy over the past few years by allowing maiden names and nicknames to be included but still displaying the ‘real’ names next to it. But it was still not enough In the last few weeks, Google+ has now caved in to all the complaints and requests to allow multiple or fake names. They are apologizing, stating that the original policy was confusing and it excluded some people who wanted to use Google+ without including their real names. There was a lot of controversy when this was required as it meant that people could not post comments and use the internet anonymously. There was support for this. And there were complaints. A lot of complaints. The only restriction Google has put on this ability to change your name on Google+ is that once you make a change to your profile name it is locked for three months, so you cannot change it multiple times during the period. Google+ also made it clear that if you impersonate someone else, they will suspend your profile. What does it all mean now? Users can change their name by clicking their existing username while they are in their Google+ profile. You just select Profile from the drop-down menu in the upper left corner, click on your name and enter your ‘preferred’ name. It’s that easy. When you change your username on Google+, it also changes your ID on the other Google products such as Gmail and YouTube. What this means now is that people are now permitted to use fake names, nicknames, pseudonyms, etc on Google+ and YouTube users can now again comment anonymously. And now the trolls can come out to play…
That Start Up Show, the Australian startup and entrepreneurial web series, has announced the line-up of its first panel, including Alan Noble (#StartupAUS, Google Australia), Bronwen Clune (editor, StartupSmart) and Seb Eckersley-Maslin (BlueChilli). That Start Up Show will focus on the fast-growing Australian entrepreneurial boom and the culture that surrounds it. This unique series brings together businesses, creatives, startups, VCs, capital, incubators and entrepreneurs to the public on a 6-month journey exploring the ups and downs of being a startup. The series will be filmed once a month commencing with a special launch event on Thursday 31 July. The series’ first episode tackles ‘What the BLEEP is a start up?’, with the panel discussing why this definition is important to make in light of the federal government’s planned Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program for startups. The VIP Ticket offer sold out quickly, and demand for Launch Tickets has been so strong that more tickets were released this week. Episode one films Thursday 31 July at The Savoy Hotel and the edited show will be released on YouTube a week later. “The response has been so great we’ve had to release more tickets for the first show, which speaks to the startup community’s interest in a show like this for Australia,” says Sally Gatenby, co-producer of That Start Up Show. A special appearance by Silicon Valley tech commentator Rambotia Jones has been confirmed, with more international guests arriving for the 6-month season. WHERE: Back Bar - The Savoy Tavern, 677 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 WHEN: Thursday 31 July, Doors Open 6pm, Show Starts 7pm LINKS: www.thatstartupshow.tv StartupSmart is a media partner.
Google has announced a surprising end to its controversial “Real Name” policy with a contrite post on Google+, telling users that there are “no more restrictions” on the names people can use. This is a dramatic change in policy for the company which suspended users en masse in 2011 for using pseudonyms – an event that users have since described as The Nymwars. The policy had been criticised since for being capriciously enforced, allowing celebrities such as American musician Soulja Boy (real name DeAndre Cortez Way) to use a pseudonym on the network, but ignoring users who wanted to do the same. Some users who used their real name on the social network even ran afoul of Google because their names did not fit the assumptions that Google employees made about about what counts as a real name. Technology writer Stilgherrian and reporter Violet Blue have both documented their problems with Google’s name policing wrongly affecting them, even though they used their real names. The policy became even more vexed in recent months, as Google integrated Google+ with Android, Gmail and YouTube, where users expected support for pseudonyms. Although some users hoped that Google+’s real names would fix YouTube’s nasty comment ecosystem, it became a controversial change for many YouTube users. Why does this change matter? The change to Google’s policy is important because it shows a change in attitude towards rights of users online. Vint Cerf, a senior executive at Google, had argued that “anonymity and pseudonymity are perfectly reasonable under some situations", especially where using a real name could endanger a user. The new policy should bring Google into line with the Australian Privacy Principles for Anonymity and Pseudonymity announced by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) this year. While we might normally consider names and pseudonyms purely as markers of our identity, the OAIC argues that anonymity and pseudonymity are important privacy concepts that allow people to have greater control over their personal information. Why are pseudonyms so contentious? Letting people adopt a pseudonym or participate anonymously gives users a freedom to participate without fear of retribution. Academics call this disinhibition. The freedom from restraint that anonymity brings isn’t a particularly new concern. In the 1970s Johnny Carson told The New Yorker that he couldn’t bear citizen’s band (CB) radio: [..] all those sick anonymous maniacs shooting off their mouths. Similarly, writers have told stories of morality and anonymity since Plato’s Republic and the Ring of Gyges which grants its wearer the power to become invisible, similar to the ring in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This freedom can be valuable for people at risk of harm, as it can allow them to seek support or to participate in online communities without fear of being stalked or persecuted. Similarly, lesbian, gay and transgender users at risk of discrimination can participate online without being publicly outed. It can also allow people the freedom to express themselves without endangering their relationships with friends and colleagues. Employees even risk retribution when their employers perceive that their online behaviour reflects on their workplace. US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens argued that anonymity is protected as part of their right to free speech as it can “protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression”. The problem with anonymity The catch is that this freedom also empowers people who wish to hurt and harass others. “Trolls” can operate anonymously because it can free them from responsibility for their actions. This becomes particularly problematic when anonymous or pseudonymous users threaten people with harm. A number of women have written about the bullying and violent threats they regularly experience at the hands of anonymous trolls. In some moderated online environments, users are protected from these kinds of speech by the thankless work of comment moderators who help to manage online communities. Ultimately, Google+’s new policy will empower people by letting them participate on the network with greater control over the identity they use. This will help trolls and new participants alike. It falls to Google and its team of moderators to make sure that the network remains a safe place for users. Google’s policy change shows that the company has become responsive to user concerns. We should consider that for many websites, creating an environment where users are free to participate, and free from harm is a difficult affair. As for The Conversation, it still favours people registering with their real name as part of its aim for transparency in any debate. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
YouTube has followed in the footsteps of Netflix and is now publicly shaming internet providers who provide slow video. When videos have trouble buffering, blur or won’t play at all, YouTube offers a new service which allows them to find out why. It takes you to a new Google website which displays video playback quality for internet service providers in your area. Information gathered by NSA on ordinary internet users far outweighs specific targets Nine out of 10 account holders found in a large cache of conversations intercepted by the NSA were not the intended surveillance targets, according to the results of a four month-investigation by the Washington Post. The investigation reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted email and instant message conversations and included medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. Facebook experiments had little oversight Until recently, Facebook’s Data Science group operated with few boundaries, a former member of the team has told the Wall Street Journal. At a university, researchers normally have to rely on consent from participants to conduct studies. Facebook relied on its Terms of Service, which now say that user data may be used for research. Former Facebook data scientist Andrew Ledvina recalled a minor experiment in which he and a product manager ran a test without telling anyone else at the company. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 92.02 to 17,068.26. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US94 cents.
Two Sydney-based entrepreneurs are set to launch a new online video site with content focused on software development that hopes to get more people interested in coding as a career. The project came about after videographer and Kwuest Pictures founder Kieren Wuest met developer Dan Draper while filming the Codehire Cup. Wuest told StartupSmart the pair quickly identified a video channel for software developers as being a potential opportunity, and Codr.tv was born. “We came up with the idea around a certain community of programmers, and we want to create programming that appeals to that community,” Wuest says. Draper told StartupSmart getting young people interested in coding as a career was a key objective for the site, but they were also hoping to break down gender bias in the tech industry. “I’ve been in the code industry for 20 years, and I’ve been frustrated with the market perception of what coding is all about. Many people don’t realise how ubiquitous coding is,” Draper says. “In the developed world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t rely on code in one form or another, from things like [CRM] to apps… and either in-house or out-sourced developers.” While initially focusing on YouTube videos, Draper says the aim is to turn the site into a hub with a range of content including articles, videos, newsletters and podcasts, with content on the site divided into two ‘streams’. The first stream will include broad-reaching content with interviews, skits and broad topics looking at what makes a good coder. The second stream will feature far more technical and targeted content aimed at developers. “It won’t be a full-blown education tool, but it will be a starting point. For example, if there’s a new database cluster, you can learn how it affects web developers. It will be Popular Science for coders,” Draper says. The channel is set to launch in late August, and interested developers can find out more at Codr.tv.
Australian bitcoin and litecoin marketplace Cryptothrift, wants to become eBay for crypto-currencies and is trying to create an economy for anonymous currencies. The company, which runs an eBay-style online auction site where users can buy and sell items with bitcoins and litecoins, was founded last year by Sydney-based crypto-currency enthusiasts Ahmad Aoun and Paul Screen. Cryptothrift sells everything from computer game download codes, to fishing hats, laptops, tablets and YouTube video views. Sellers pay a 2.5% flat rate or a transaction fee, whichever is higher. Buying items is free, but the company charges a 1% fee if escrow is selected at the checkout. Screen told Private Media the company was accepting a number of other crypto-currencies for a brief period, but it just wasn’t worthwhile. “In practice there just wasn’t the volume in sales to advocate supporting them,” Screen says. “What we’re seeing is people are only interested in bitcoin.” Screen says the company’s sales are continually growing month on month, 90% of which are in bitcoin, with litecoin making up the other 10%. Dealing with scammers attracted by the anonymity of bitcoin has been Cryptothrift’s biggest challenge. In response, Screen says the company has implemented an escrow payment system. “Bitcoin and crypto-currency has this tag that it’s anonymous and therefore it tends to attract a lot of the wrong types of people,” he says. “We’re trying to approach things from the opposite way, we want our system and business to be as transparent as it can, we’ve registered with ASIC here in Australia and we’re not hiding from the ATO (Australian Tax Office).” Trust has been a problem for the site, it’s been accused by some users of being a scam. They’re accusations Screen says are inevitable, but unjustified. “I can’t hide away from that, it’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s why we’ve introduced the escrow system that allows buyers 30 days to determine if they’re happy with their purchase and release the funds.” He says there have been cases of scammers operating on the site and “it’s generally pretty clear cut what’s happened”, but the company provides arbitration services and refunds. A large number of the products available on Cryptothrift are digital, which Screen says can lead to stolen items being sold, something the company is constantly on the lookout for and doesn’t tolerate. Screen says in the coming months, Cryptothrift is looking at introducing a verification process, to ensure transparency amongst sellers and in order to comply with know your customer regulations and anti-money laundering laws. “We’ve been in talks for the last few weeks, we’re looking to outsource the verification process for simplicity, but the cost is holding us back, we need to justify that expenditure,” he says. “We’re toying with the idea of doing it in house.” The company has been funded entirely by its founders so far, and while they’re not actively searching for investment, Screen says they’re not opposed to external funding. “It’s something we’re considering,” he says. “We know we want to expand, and we have a lot of good plans for sure, there’s a lot we want to do, but we’re going to need some kind of capital investment.”
Twitter has acquired advertising technology firm Tap Commerce for a price in the region of $100 million, sources have told Re/code. The New York company is in the business of “re-targeting”, that is it convinces customers to return to the mobile apps they have downloaded. Its clients include Fab and eBay. In an announcement confirming the deal, but not the price, TapCommerce says nothing will change for its existing customers, but joining Twitter will enable the company to dedicate more resources to developing its product and expanding its services. Google to shutdown Orkut Orkut, Google’s first foray into social networking, will close on September 30, a decade after its creation. Google says the decision comes due to the growth of YouTube, Blogger and Google+ communities, which have outpaced that of Orkut, and closing down Orkut will allow it to focus more energy and resources on those social platforms. Google says it will preserve an archive of Orkut’s public communities. MapR raises $110 million MapR Technologies, which provides an enterprise Hadoop distribution used for marketing, operations and security has announced it has raised $110 million in funding led by Google Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and previous investors. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 25.24 to 16,826.60. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US94 cents.
NBN Co and Telstra have reached agreement on an expanded program to plan, design and construct fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) high-speed broadband to about 200,000 homes and businesses. The agreement marks a major step forward in the Government’s ongoing reform of the National Broadband Network. The reforms currently underway at NBN Co will ensure the network is delivered sooner, at less cost to taxpayers, and more affordably for consumers. The number of premises to be covered by the project is roughly equivalent to the 206,000 homes and businesses passed by the NBN fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout in established neighbourhoods over the entire period the previous Labor government was in power. NBN Co will continue to deploy its FTTP, fixed wireless and permanent satellite networks during the period of the FTTN trial deployment. NBN Co’s contract with Telstra will ensure initial rollout of FTTN focuses on areas categorised as ‘underserved’ in the Government’s MyBroadband broadband quality study. NBN Co estimates areas underserved with broadband account for around 28 per cent of the premises in the rollout regions. ‘This announcement demonstrates how FTTN can help to bring broadband more quickly to many regional areas than would have occurred under Labor’s plan—and that is good news because upgraded broadband can help regional communities capture improved economic, educational and social opportunities,’ said Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications. Rollout regions included in the trial project include: Belmont, New South Wales Bribie Island, Queensland Boolaroo, New South Wales Gorokan, New South Wales Morisset, New South Wales Hamilton, New South Wales Bundaberg, Queensland Caboolture, Queensland Gympie, Queensland Warner, Queensland In addition, the NBN will expand its current FTTN pilot in Umina on the New South Wales Central Coast. The agreement for a thousand-node FTTN trial represents an interim step while NBN Co, Telstra and the Government finalise changes to the existing Definitive Agreements covering Telstra’s participation in the NBN. It is anticipated that these changes will include arrangements for the NBN Co to gain access to Telstra’s existing local access network. In parallel NBN Co will work closely with telecommunications retail service providers to finalise the design of its FTTN products and provide services to end-users. Early line tests using Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line technology (VDSL) indicate that download data rates of up to 100 megabits per second and upload data rates of up to 40 megabits per second are achievable over copper lengths of a hundred metres. The top available downloads speeds are approximately 17 times faster than current average fixed line broadband connections to Australian households. These speeds allow ten high definition television shows to be streamed to a single household or business concurrently. A three minute YouTube video will be able to be uploaded in as little as 42 seconds, compared to up to 20 minutes on today’s average ADSL connections. Since the September 2013 election the number of households and businesses with active service over the FTTP network has tripled from 48,000 to 146,000. In the same period the number of premises passed by the FTTP network has almost doubled to 482,000. Telstra, the NBN Co and the Government are well advanced in negotiating changes to the Definitive Agreements. These negotiations have not yet concluded but are progressing well. The limited deployment of FTTN is an important step in allowing NBN Co to determine how a multi-technology mix rollout will change its construction and service provisioning operations.
Snapchat’s most popular feature is no longer its self-destructing snaps, but its newest feature – Stories. The company told The Verge that one billion Stories are now viewed per day. Stories allows users to create compilations of snaps that last 24 hours and are viewable by their friends. Twitch extends partnership with YouTube Internet videogame broadcasting company Twitch has extended its partnership with YouTube, which will see the popular video streaming service issue alerts when Twitch users begin streaming videos. It comes as Google has reached a preliminary deal to acquire Twitch worth $1 billion. 300,000 systems still vulnerable to heart bleed When the Heartbleed vulnerability was first announced, Errata Security found 600,000 systems vulnerable. Now two months later, using the same technique, simply by scanning on port 443, Errata Security found 309,197 systems still vulnerable, roughly the same amount it found a month after the vulnerability first was announced. Errata Security says this likely indicates that people have stopped trying to patch the vulnerability. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 25.62 to 16,947.08. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US94 cents.
Earlier this year, I reviewed the latest version of an open source computer operating system called Kubuntu. For the uninitiated, like Windows, Mac OS-X or Android, Kubuntu manages a computer’s hardware, provides a user interface and allows users to run apps. It includes a desktop environment called KDE along with a set of apps covering everything from graphics and multimedia to internet, office and games. While I was critical of the installation process (and deservedly so), I had many complimentary things about Kubuntu to say in the review, including the following: “The good news is, assuming you get through the installation process, is that Kubuntu and KDE 4.13 does have a lot going for it.” “Firstly, there are preinstalled apps covering most of what you’d need to do, from word processing, to playing CDs, to watching videos and surfing the web.” “There are big improvements in how multiple screens are handled. It’s now literally a matter of dragging and dropping to have two connected screens mirroring each other, or having one to the side of the other.” “With a little tinkering, you can set it up to look like a Mac (including each app’s menu bar across the top of the screen), or like Windows (with the menu bar across the top of each window). You can also set up multiple ‘activities’ each with their own desktop layout.” Yet, literally for months after the review was published, there were (at times incredibly detailed) comments from open source advocates arguing against the conclusion that this was not a product for everyone. The open source basics Kubuntu is an example of what is known as “open source software”. The basic idea behind the open source model is that the developer gives away a computer program for free, including the source code used to create that program. Users are free to make any changes they require in the future and share their modifications with others. In terms of copyright, open source software is often made available under a licensing agreement such as the GPL, or under a Creative Commons licence. Can you really have a free lunch? Of course, this raises a question: How do software developers survive if they give their product away from free? In many cases, open source projects are the work of hobbyists or not-for-profit groups, with Wikipedia probably the best example. Some companies (such as Red Hat and IBM) give away software on an open source basis, but charge businesses for services such as setup and support. An example I’ve discussed in this column previously is Firefox. Mozilla supports giving its popular web browser away for free based on the commission it receives from Google each time someone searches from the search bar. As incredible as it might sound, that little search field is worth around $US280 million per year in revenue. One of the best known examples of open source software is the Android smartphone and tablet operating system. Here, Google makes its money by selling downloads, as well as the mobile services (Gmail, YouTube, etc.) it bundles with the platform. Another well-known example is WordPress, which is offered by its developers (Automattic) on an open source basis, with a commercial cloud-hosted version at WordPress.com supported by ads and premium upgrades. Open source software stands in opposition to proprietary or closed-source software, where the developer retains all intellectual property rights to the software, along with the source code. Windows, Microsoft Office, Photoshop and most other commercial apps are examples. The best tool for the job Advocates for open source software are certainly a passionate lot when it comes to their software licensing model of choice. In many areas of the tech industry, there are open source products that are either market leaders, or are at least competitive in terms with features with their proprietary counterparts. And certainly for many cash-strapped businesses, if finances are tight, choosing an open source option can be quite appealing. However, there are many hidden costs in business that stem from using the wrong tech tool for the job, including lost productivity, the cost of IT staff for the initial setup and installation, maintenance costs, IT support costs and lost business opportunities. When these additional costs are factored into account, the product with the lowest upfront costs might not have the lowest total cost of operation. And the harsh truth for advocates is the open source option is not always the best option in the market, or the best choice for every business. As the example of Kubuntu shows, an open source product that works well in one situation might not be the best choice for everybody. So, when it comes to choosing a tech solution for your business, it pays to evaluate a range of options, both proprietary and open source – because being an ideologue with technology can be costly in the long run. This article first appeared on Smart Company.
Independent musicians could disappear from YouTube in a matter of days after Google confirmed the popular video streaming service would drop content from independent labels that have not signed up for its upcoming music streaming service. Google is set to begin testing the new service, rumoured to be called YouTube Music Pass, in the next few days, with a launch expected later this year. Democrats defend net neutrality Democrat party lawmakers in the United States are set to unveil a piece of legislation that would force the Federal Communications Commission to ban internet fast lanes. The proposal requires the FCC to use whatever authority it sees fit to make sure internet providers don’t speed up certain types of content at the expense of others. eBay Valet app launched The online shopping giant is expanding its eBay Sell For Me service to mobile with the launch of a new app called eBay valet. The app promises to take every step of the selling process and automate it. It’s designed to make online selling easier for first-time sellers and anyone who doesn’t have the time to handle a listing themselves. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 27.48 to 16,808.49. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
Adelaide startup Peepable, which is set to launch a new video search engine, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from the likes of Xero’s Stuart McLeod and e3Learning’s Tony Fairbairn. Peepable aims to “open up” the world of video online by enabling users to search the actual content of video, Peepable co-founder Nari Jennings says currently video search is stuck in the dark ages, relying on meta tags and titles to produce results. Users can then share short clips of video that the company is calling ‘Peeps’. “Basically, Peepable is a really simple and easy way to discover and share online videos, we describe it as video liberation,” she says. “We making videos from across the net more discoverable, and searchable at a granular level, giving you the ability to dive deep within the video and what’s said within the video.” In addition to its search method, Peepable differs from a platform like YouTube in that YouTube’s results are obviously limited to its own videos, Peepable will allow users to find videos and view those videos on the site that’s hosting them. “We’re platform agnostic,” Jennings says. “We really want to make the world of video more open.” That’s been a driving motivator behind a lot of Jennings’ work. Jennings grew up with her mother who was hearing impaired and after taking a trip to the theatre, an experience she wished she could share with her mother, she was inspired to found Captioning Studio Group, which she did with Peepable co-founder Alex French. Captioning Studio’s mission was to “revolutionise accessible technology in as many areas as possible” and it’s this technology that led to the creation of Peepable. “We’ve seen the opportunity there for quite some time,” Jennings says. “We thought we could apply this to video search, there’s a need for this technology for everybody, not just the hearing impaired. “So we’ve been in stealth mode for a long time, developing the tech and making sure the technology is robust.” Jennings believes they’ve reached that point and the Peepable beta will launch in three months’ time. The $500,000 in seed funding will see the company through the beta launch. “In terms of finding investors, we’ve been very lucky, very, very lucky, we’ve found investors who really believe in our vision,” Jennings says. “We were looking for people that shared in the vision, that’s what really drove us, in terms of finding investors. “I think they were really drawn to our story, where we come from and what we want.”
A Brisbane startup is developing an app which aims to give journalists much easier access to crowdsourced content. The Metaset App is a mobile video app that creates a platform for journalists and content creators to access, engage with and request crowdsourced content and citizen journalism. The app is one of six projects shortlisted for the Walkley Grants for Innovation in Journalism, the winner of which will be announced in late June. A StartupSmart project has also been shortlisted. Founder David Ryan says the app solves the problem facing many newsrooms when looking to gather content from the public. “It solves the problem of engaging and curating content,” he says. “We have these miraculous devices and the ability to capture so much, but when you’re out covering a story and you have people sticking their iPhone’s in your face saying ‘we’ve got this footage, how can we get this to you?’ all you can really tell them is to upload it to YouTube. “We’ve taken the most expensive and most difficult question to solve, how to distribute and access video and citizen journalists. “It’s ironic people might say YouTube or Twitter do this already, it’s a really obvious question, but no they haven’t yet. “Finally it clicked for us, we already have a way to do that.” Ryan says the app would give would-be citizen journalists and content makers the ability to connect with a network of media organisations, then using geo location and push notifications, it would allow those organisations to source footage from those users who might be nearby newsworthy events. The startup has been working closely with two media groups which Ryan declined to name out of courtesy, who have been helping develop the project. The app is still in its early days and Ryan was non-committal when questions about whether or not there would be a way to pay those users for the content they are providing. “There’s lots of ways to go about it, we’re very grateful to have media groups so we’re able to work on things that not just we think are problems, but are some of the realities created by the inefficiencies of large scale newsrooms,’’ Ryan says.
I spent a large part of my career in a marketing capacity working for large consumer goods companies – in fact, two of the world’s biggest. In doing so, and through having such blue chip training, I thought I knew a thing or two about business. I thought I’d march into my first startup and show the world how it’s done. Clearly, I was delusional. What I did learn though, and very quickly, was that there are fundamental differences in being an employee versus an entrepreneur. Knowing a lot about business, doesn’t necessarily mean we can build a business. Knowing how to write code as a developer doesn’t necessarily mean we can build a community. So here are my top 10 things employees need to know before becoming entrepreneurs. 1. The market doesn’t care how much your boss liked you… Or how smart you are. It only cares about what you give it and if you create value within it – that is, value for the end users. The market doesn’t make judgment calls; it only feeds back reality on value creation. It does it in real time, too. Your boss on the other hand makes judgment calls, which are often based on personality, friendship, values and corporate politics. 2. Your idea has little real value Ideas are like water; they are life giving, but they are omnipresent. We all have them. If the idea is good, then you can guarantee others have thought of it, are working on it, and some are probably already in market. When YouTube launched there were more than 400 other video-sharing websites. What matters is execution and building a user base – they are the bits that matter. In fact, new ideas are harder to sell because you need to invent demand. Ideas are a small part of the success equation. 3. There are no resources at your disposal All of the things you took for granted in your company are gone. There are no resources at your disposal. No departments, no staff, no supply chain, no existing customers. The job of the entrepreneur is to invent resources, to build an infrastructure. 4. 90% of what you did in your company is irrelevant You used to manage situations, people, and politics, now you need to get things in market and invent distribution streams, usage and revenue. You are no longer managing a system, but building one. The tasks you did in the company are rarely what you’ll do when starting from scratch. Employees tweak an existing machine – they are maintenance managers. Entrepreneurs need to be inventors, builders, creators, they need to make something from nothing. 5. Startup finance is different to corporate finance In a company, we manage budgets. We spend allocations on projects and manage a P&L. In a startup, we manage cash flow: money in and money out. Startups need to remember they can go broke while making a profit, but going broke is not possible while a company is cash flow positive. 6. Entrepreneurship is not a path to riches You’ve got to want the lifestyle more than a successful outcome, because the latter has a low probability. You’ve got to want it for what it is. The having needs to be in the doing. If you want to get rich, just stay in corporate and get good at property and share investing – that’s a more certain path to wealth. Entrepreneurship is about the human spirit and exploration – that needs to be the ‘why’. 7. Nothing is automatic, there’s nowhere to hide There is no paid annual leave, no paid public holidays, no weekends, and no official hours. The 15th of the month will roll around without a pay day. You need to be able to cope with that. Slack days or weeks for that matter aren’t something you can ride and the company picks up the bill on with a wage. You’re fully exposed. 8. A startup is different to a business Business and startups are not the same thing. Startups are about building something new. If you want to own and run a business, then buy a system which has proven success, like a McDonald’s franchise. You need to know whether you really want to create something, or just have more independence in your working or business life. There are other options outside of being an employer which might suit you more. Be honest with yourself. 9. You need to unlearn corporate thinking It’s mostly the opposite of what happens in established companies. Companies test off market; startups test in market. Companies are risk averse; startups are risk tolerant. Companies avoid failure; startups must fail often and quickly. Companies reward internal performance; startups reward external performance. You need to flip your perspective pre-exit. 10. You won’t go hungry If you’re well-off enough to be reading this (you’re on the web), then, if your first entrepreneurial venture fails drastically, you won’t go hungry. The sun will come up and your human spirit will be better for the journey. So while entrepreneurship is hard and different, remember life is about having a crack and seeing what’s possible. Best you get started soon. Steve Sammartino is a startup coach for Pollenizer. Steve is known for helping companies transition from industrial era thinking into the digital age. He guest lectures in marketing at Melbourne University, writes for the ABC on business & technology issues and his blog has over 30,000 readers a month. This post first appeared on the Pollenizer blog.
Twitter is considering a deal to buy music and audio-sharing service SoundCloud. If the proposed deal goes ahead, it will be Twitter’s largest acquisition ever. At the beginning of the year, SoundCloud announced a $60 million funding round that valued the company at $700 million. YouTube to acquire Twitch Google-owned YouTube has agreed a deal to buy popular videogame–streaming service Twitch for more than $1 billion. The acquisition would be the most significant in the history of YouTube. Twitch lets users upload and watch free, live gameplay videos streamed from Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. It claims it has more than 45 million monthly users. Chinese military unit charged with cyber-espionage Five members of the Chinese military have been accused by the US Justice Department of conducting economic cyber-espionage against American companies. It’s the first time the United States has brought such charges against members of a foreign country’s military. The Justice Department says the hacking occurred for no other reason than to give a competitive advantage to Chinese companies. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 20.55 to 16,511.86. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.