Thursday, October 18, 2007

Barrons: Web 2.0: Launch Pad Event Showcases Startups; Deja Vu All Over Again

"Well, I feel like I’m back at TechCrunch 40. But no, I’m still at Web 2.0, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, where there is a session called Launch Pad, which features a bunch of startups talking about what they’re doing. A bunch of VCs sitting on stage are providing running commentary. The crowd gets to vote, via applause. There will be six pitches:
TripIt is a travel site which launched in this very room at TechCrunch on September 17. The idea of the site is to simplify organizing travel documents.
SpiceWorks. The idea of this company is to offer ad supported IT management applications to small businesses. Over 160,000 users so far in 185 countries. Has 4.5% market of small and medium sized enterprises. The target is organizations of 20-250 employees. Also includes an IT community. Why free? IT pros already use free services like Gmail; why not demand advertising-based free services. Been growing 10% month-over-month.
Realius is a company offering fantasy real estate games. I saw these guys at TechCrunch40 as well, although they didn’t actually get on stage at that conference. Basically it is a game where you are supposed to guess how much houses sell for. The games will be on broker sites. Revenue model: license fees. Product and service placement. Lead referral. Novel idea? Sure. A good idea? Well, it is a novel idea.
GHOST: Stands for global hosted operating system. It’s a virtual PC desktop. Nice URL. The idea seems to be that you move data on the Web, but it is too hard to move documents between various apps on the Web; their idea is one URL and one password, with a virtual personal computer. He has team split between Jerusalem and Palestine (by which I presume he means the West Bank.) Interesting, but I’m not entirely sold. Totally online applications? No more Office? I dunno, I’m not convinced.
ClickForensics is a company targeted at preventing click fraud. They run something called the Click Fraud Network. They say almost 16% of all clicks are being billed, and should not be billed. In content networks, click fraud rate is well over 25%. The majority of sites in the content networks are parked domains or made-for-ad sites. Advertisers get reduced ROI. The solution: community based. Kind of an interesting company, actually; so far I personally like this one best. (Although SpiceWorks is also kind of interesting.)
CleverSet is the sixth and final presenter. It is a personalization technology. “The first true personalization platform.” Serve the right things to the right people at the right time. Merchandise suggestions, ad placement, choosing media and content. The technology is based on “statistical relational learning.” More data = greater relevance. Initial service targeted at online retailers. On 85 sites now. Will be on large retail and financial services sites. Has been 18 months in market. Average 20% increase in revenue; 20% increase in conversion rate. This sounds compelling, if it actually works; I also wonder if there are people doing something similar; although they claim to have patent protection. "

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