PandaWhale's Slow And Steady March To Relevance


Editor’s Note: Semil Shah is a contributor to TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

There is an interesting shift occurring in consumer websites and apps where users perform microwork that reshapes experiences. Classic examples of this are how Pinterest users are grabbing images from the web, personally reorganizing them, and, in the process, building a new image search engine, much like Google Images. And some would argue even better and more relevant. Or consider Instapaper and Pocket users who grab content to read later, stripped free of bloated ads and other unnecessary information. There are more and more services fitting into this trend, which I’ve called a “web of extraction,” and one emergent property that’s doing this in a novel way is one you may not have heard of: PandaWhale.

Go to PandaWhale and you won’t be visually impressed. The site isn’t winning design Webby’s any time soon. Users who come to PandaWhale create “stashes” of images and/or links to share publicly with others, and each stash represents an entirely open web page entirely crawlable by search engines. On each page, like a Quora thread, Tumblr post, etc., users can log in via various sites to PandaWhale and do their own patched-together version of a RapGenius annotation or commentary on the stashed item. The product tends to appeal to web users who want to save and organize links, as well as allow others to comment and co-create with them.

Based on that description, PandaWhale doesn’t sound too different from many other sites that do these sorts of things, but lurking under the hood is a wily strategy that is being rewarded by one of the biggest dogs on the street: Google.

The name PandaWhale partly derives from the theory that there are whales and pandas on the web, where a few whales who have big ideas and big audiences create and organize content, and where many pandas sit peacefully and consume that content, much like a panda would graze on bamboo. In startup-speak, the pandas are the unique visitors who somehow end up on a site like PandaWhale, and the whales are the rabid collectors who stash content and interact with others through a variety of online personas, some real and some through pseudonyms. While it’s important to have many whales stashing, it’s really about the quality of each new page, as well as how much each whale creates.

The juice behind PandaWhale’s recent growth is that this small group of whales subtly conducts important work for Google by bringing content (including images) from regions of the web where Google’s crawlers cannot easily explore. These whales stash images from Bing or GIFs from Tumblr and other types of media appended with social data that Google can’t quite rank, and then, as each stash is an open web page, it becomes visible to the search giant. In the same way Pinterest toiled for years before their growth spurt of 2011, PandaWhale could be on a similar path. Who knows?

There are many places to share and communicate around images and links, such as Reddit, and many of those sites have dense networks around them. Perhaps that’s why PandaWhale isn’t over-designed visually, but carefully designed and architected in such a way such that it’s searchable, organized by topic, and encourages new images and links in every stash. So far, Google’s algorithms like it.

Finally, while the architecture and user behavior may be the juice, PandaWhale’s secret weapon is that it was built as the digital reflection of a real, offline community of startup geeks and technology veterans who meet in-person and help each other out without, in my opinion, want of fame or fortune. That’s how I found out about the site when it popped up, why it may sustain the ephemerality of today’s launches and mindless growth-hacking tactics, and why I’ve been using it to essentially find random facts and opinions on technology and get the pulse of what the whales think. For what I do, I can’t look around the same places everyone else does for information — this is one of my secret places to test theories and form ideas from others. I don’t know what will happen to PandaWhale in the sense that it doesn’t look like a business (yet), and it doesn’t do any marketing or PR. Nor does it have crazy, insane-in-the-membrane email settings (I love the daily digest email), and the site is all fugly, to be honest, but perhaps that’s its charm.

Well, let’s see what happens. People all over Twitter and in the tech world often bemoan finding new, great, uncontaminated sources of information. VC firms are now directly hiring journalists and investing in content. Years ago, Marc Andreessen penned a great answer on Quora about what he would like to see in tech journalism, with a focus on discovering people and companies that “don’t have heat on them.” Traditional tech media for early-stage startups is saturated, but that’s not to say they’re covering everything and moving in a good direction. We’re in the middle of a media shift — a shift where powerful entities are taking on more editorial control, but also where individuals in networks are creating new types of information and surfacing things even the best editorial couldn’t. PandaWhale may be part of that shift. Or, at least, it certainly has been for me.

EU ‘Deeply Worried' Over Report That NSA Bugged Its Offices, Wants Clarification

PRISM: 'really freaky'.

The NSA/Prism controversy rumbles on. Today the European Parliament President Martin Schulz said there could be a severe impact on EU-US relations if the claims that the US had bugged EU offices in America and accessed computer networks turned out to be true. He’s said he’s ‘deeply worried’ about the issue and called for clarification from the US over the stories that have appeared.

Respected German magazine Der Spiegel made the claims today in the the latest in a series about alleged NSA spying. Spiegel claims a “top secret” US National Security Agency (NSA) document from September 2010 has been taken by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It says its journalists have seen the document and claims that it goes into detail about how the NSA spied on EU offices and internal computer and phone networks in Washington and at the UN.

The magazine reports that over five years ago security officers at the EU noticed missed calls and traced them to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels. It also reported that the NSA had looked at half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month and had put Germany in the same class as China.

Earlier this month the European Commission (not the Parliament) raised the Prism matter with US authorities at a meeting Dublin.

NSA faces potential German PRISM investigation after EU bugging claims

International tensions over the NSA’s PRISM monitoring program continue to grow, with federal prosecutors in Germany revealing they are ramping up for a potential investigation into whether the US government has broken German law. The preliminary inquiries are to “achieve a reliable factual basis” on the extent of PRISM and similar programs harvesting electronic data

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BSkyB wins trademark case against Microsoft over SkyDrive name

BSkyB wins European trademark case against Microsoft over SkyDrive name

While many can tell the difference between Sky TV services and Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage, that’s not necessarily true for everyone. A British court certainly thinks there’s room for confusion: it has ruled that SkyDrive infringes BSkyB’s trademarks on the Sky name in both the UK and the European Union. The presiding judge didn’t believe that Microsoft’s use of the “sky” prefix was absolutely necessary, and she showed evidence that at least some of the general public didn’t understand which company made what. Microsoft says it plans to appeal the verdict, although there’s no guarantee that it will have to relabel SkyDrive if the appeal falls through. Some past trademark lawsuits have led to fines instead of name changes, and we suspect Microsoft would rather pay out than lose brand recognition across a whole continent.

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Storage, Internet, HD, Microsoft


Via: TechCrunch

Source: BAILII

Man creates “invisible headphones” by implanting magnets into his ears

A man has implanted magnets into his ears to use as invisible headphones in a remarkable example of DIY transhumanism.

Rich Lee, a self-described transhumanist and body modification fan (or “grinder”), was inspired by a similar idea posted on the Instructables site that featured two small in-ear magnets stimulated with a magnetic coil necklace connected to an amplifier (you can see the video with this piece). The difference is that Lee actually implanted his inside his fleshy lobes.

The coil necklace is completely hidden by his clothing, and the scars from the implants are also unnoticeable, so it’s unlikely you’d realize that as he was standing in front of you he could be listening to music. In a way it’s reminiscent of the bone vibration Google Glass uses instead of conventional earphones.

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Dejamor's “Sexy Tales” Let You Have “Choose Your Own Adventure” Phone Sex


Observe, ladies and gentlemen, the lyrics of true seduction.

Dejamor, a startup out of TechStars that creates subscription romance-filled boxes to help couples spice up sexy time, has now launched a new product called Sexy Tales — yes, Sexy Tales — which lets you leave a sexy play-by-play recording for your partner.

The service lets you call a specific number, enter the number of your partner, and walk them through all your dirty fantasies. It’s a lot like a “Choose your own adventure” book, but with lots more dicks and snatches. And audio.

Now, the folks at Dejamor have a solid product in the Dejamor subscription box, which packages instructions, ingredients, and all the detailed flourishes you’d need for a more fantastical evening with your partner.

At first, it may feel a bit canned, but the point is to break the ice — not to carry your fumbling, lazy, or downright selfish ass from seduction to completion.

Sexy Tales has the same intent behind it, and the team admits that it could be far more hilarious than it is sexy. Especially when you consider the sample scripts Dejamor has provided for those of us without enough of an imagination to create our own “wetness.”

A few nuggets of awesome from the male read script:

“This is the best. I’m circling kisses around your deliciously wet cave.”

“Oh, honey, I want to taste a mouthful of your gooey sweetness, and you are heating me up.”

“…mixing your juices with my precum into a miraculous lubricant.”

Unless you’re dating a slutty Emily Dickinson, I’d stay away from language like this, gentlemen.

Apparently ladies need to offer their men two levels of saucy, mildly spicy and very spicy. Unfortunately, even though women tend to be the brains behind most phone sex (so says Dejamor), the female read scripts aren’t much better than the male:

“Wow, is it just me that’s hot? I’m unbuttoning my blouse and guess what I have underneath? That’s right baby, a black lace, see-through bra. I can feel your eyes on me and it’s making my nipples so hard they’re poking right out.”

“Yummy! Not only are you a big, smooth steel rod, but your creamy wetness is helping me glide my hand up and down your rm shaft.”

“Ooh! You are so tasty. Like eating a popsicle only hot. (slurping noises)”

Don’t forget the slurping noises, ladies.

Luckily, Dejamor provides a build-your-own script template for anyone who wants to test the Sexy Tales waters and not sound like they’ve never, ever had sex before.

Can Google Really Crack The Game Console Market?


Look, we’ve all heard the rumors that Google is toiling away on a smartwatch, and the company has said the Nexus Q isn’t completely dead, so part of that recent report from the Wall Street Journal doesn’t completely out of the blue. That said, Google is reportedly also working on an Android-powered game console in response to murmurs of a similar Apple gaming push in the works.

Pretty ballsy, if you ask me.

We can’t know for sure how good Google’s intuition is when it comes to Apple’s gaming ambitions, but the folks in Cupertino are clearly looking at gaming with some level of interest — iOS 7 includes improved support for game controllers, and was at one point rumored to be working on its own controller hardware.

As the past few weeks have illustrated nicely though, there’s plenty of jostling among established gaming companies as they attempt to lay claim to our living rooms, and yet Google apparently wants to throw itself headlong into the fray. In light of this potential hardware push, Google Play game services doesn’t just look like a shot across Apple Game Center’s bow — it’s a way for developers to create Android games with that incorporate some of the features that console gamers have all but taken for granted at this point.

If this information pans out and Google does release an Android-powered console at some point in the near future, the company’s problem isn’t just the pressure it faces from entrenched players like Sony, Microsoft, and even Apple. The past year has seen plenty of upstart hardware companies attempting to shoehorn Android into tiny little packages with tiny price tags, and with varying levels of success.

One of those ambitious little doodads garnered more attention than the rest — it’s damned near impossible to think the words “Android game console” and not follow up with “Ouya.” Hell, Amir Efrati’s WSJ report points out that Google has been paying particularly close attention to the Kickstarted startup, which guided its namesake device to a retail launch earlier this week after spending the past few months shipping pre-release versions to backers and developers. The Ouya temporarily sold out on Amazon, and it’s still backordered on Best Buy’s website — not too shabby, considering its unabashedly geeky pedigree.

At this point it’s tough to say whether that’s a result of extreme demand for the $99 console or just limited supplies, but either way it seem as though a decent chunk of people have been waiting for this. That said, the company is awfully cagey on what it specifically hopes to get out of this retail push. During a recent chat CEO Julie Uhrmann wouldn’t disclose how many units would need to be sold at retail for her to consider the Ouya successful — she instead responded with platitudes about how she wanted Ouya to be available to everyone to wanted one.

Uhrmann also said that she didn’t want anyone on the team even thinking of Ouya 2.0 until this current model has established a foothold in the market. It’s a curious thing to hear from the head of company that will probably live and die based on the strength of its annual hardware refreshes. The incentive is there to keep iterating and iterating and iterating until the Ouya succeeds — is Google (or whatever hardware partners it may tap) prepared to do the same?

And all that said, early reactions of the Ouya have been a mixed bag. I’ve been fiddling with an Ouya myself for the past few days, and though a full review is forthcoming, my first impressions can essentially be summed up with a single syllable: meh. And the Ouya is just one example — now there are GameSticks and Gamepops and MOJOs, to say nothing of a whole host of Shenzhen specials. Sony and Microsoft have the top-end well accounted for, and the race to the bottom for Android gaming in the living room has already begun. It’ll be fun to see just how (or if) Google decides to carve out a niche in a stupendously crowded gaming market, though I doubt trying to crack that formula will be much fun at all.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: cardboard bicycle, robo raven and a steampunk Lego ship

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

DNP Inhabitat's Week in Green

Summer is finally upon us, and polluting companies are feeling the heat as President Barack Obama announced a groundbreaking climate action plan this week that calls for cutting CO2 emissions and building more resilient communities in the face of climate change. Meanwhile, innovators around the world are continuing to tackle some of our biggest challenges. Rust-Oleum launched NeverWet – an incredible new spray that can completely waterproof any surface or object. IKEA unveiled a new solar-powered flat-pack shelter that could be easily deployed as emergency housing. Cardboard Technologies announced plans to mass-produce a $10 bicycle made almost entirely from recycled cardboard. And in one of the week’s most exciting green transportation developments, England’s Drayson Racing set a new land speed record for electric cars this week, shattering the previous mark by nearly 30 MPH.

Filed under: Misc, Transportation, Science


3D printed Cortex Exoskeleton concept could crack plaster casts

A 3D-printed cast concept, more flexible and wearer-friendly than traditional plaster cast for break and fracture patients, is the latest potential application of advanced materials manipulation. The design, dubbed the Cortex Exoskeleton, is the handiwork of Jake Evill, and could potentially deliver more structured support for broken limbs while also being lighter, stronger, and more

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Benchmark's Eisenberg And's Shochat Raise $120M+ For Aleph, An Early-Stage Fund For Israeli Startups

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 10.42.33 PM

Two veteran investors who have been integral in the development of a new generation of Israeli startups are on a mission to reverse a trend in a country that has traditionally favored later-stage and enterprise-skewed venture capital. Benchmark’s Michael Eisenberg and Genesis Partners’ Eden Shochat are teaming up to create Aleph — a new fund that aims to bring some much-needed local, early-stage support to Israeli startups. TechCrunch hears that the VC’s first fund is nearly closed and is in the region of $120 million.

Given that the venture capital (and startup) landscape in Israel is at a potentially significant juncture — the most recent exit being Waze to Google for $1.1 million — the founders want to strike while the iron is hot. And they’re setting the bar high: They want Aleph to become the go-to early-stage venture capital firm in Israel, our sources tell us.

Israel has a long, prolific history when it comes to supporting innovation in science and technology. Today, the percentage of its population working in science and tech — and the amount it spends on R&D (relative to its GDP) — is reportedly the highest of any country in the world. One can begin to see why Israel has become home to the R&D centers of over 250 multinationals, including Google, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

It also helps explain why Israeli tech has, traditionally, been known for its focus on hardcore technologies (like software and semiconductors, for example) and enterprise. Yet, in spite of the fact that local venture capital has favored deep-tech and later-stage investments, over the last few years, a new generation of consumer startups has begun to emerge. (And produce some big companies and exits — like addictive traffic app, Waze, which just sold to Google for $1.1 billion and website creation platform, Wix, which recently announced its intentions to go public.)

So far, Aleph has been very tight-lipped on the actual existence of the fund, and what its aims are going to be. Initial reports, which first surfaced in Israeli newspaper The Globes earlier this week, pegged the new fund at $100 million. Though the founders have declined to share details at this point, and Israeli publications have floated several different figures, the consensus from our sources indicates that the total will be around $120 million and that it is expected to close in the next few weeks.

But why should you care about some Israeli venture capital fund — or the size of the fund, for that matter? Great question, reader. I like you.

For starters, this is a sign of how startup tides are beginning to change in Israel. The success of companies like Waze and Wix could be a signal to the country’s entrepreneurs that there’s opportunity in not just “consumerizing,” but in making “tech-focused” consumer plays — like, say, in applying intelligent, “Big Data” technologies to consumer-facing services. For example, Waze, while it is known for it’s fun, animated, cartoony interface, considers itself a Big Data company and is obsessed with building infrastructure that can allow it to crunch enormous amounts of realtime traffic and navigational data points, which it can then use to personalize its maps and optimize the turn-by-turn navigational experience.

Plus, the fact that Aleph is raising a $120 million-plus early-stage fund shows that it’s serious and gives it enough capital to begin making a difference in a relatively small tech ecosystem. It’s not clear yet how much Aleph will invest in its chosen startups, but if we can assume it will be investing somewhere between $5 million and $8 million in each deal, that means it will be making anywhere between 15 to 25 investments. There’s room in that part of the market in Israel, and at those amounts, Aleph can provide enough early-stage capital to potentially change the fate of Israeli startups that have been struggling to find access.

In comparison, Pitango Venture Capital, which Haaretz calls Israel’s biggest VC firm, has reportedly raised $150 million of a $250 million fund, which will be its sixth. Furthermore, Magma Venture Partners, which was one of two Israeli firms to invest in Waze, recently raised $100 million. Qumra Capital is also in the process of raising $100 million for its first fund, according to Haaretz.

But all in all, we hear that local funds are, by and large, having difficulty raising in the current climate, while, in comparison, Aleph has will already be in the same league with some of the country’s biggest funds. And, while the founders declined to share details or confirm any of the above (or below), we’ve also heard that the founders initially set out to raise $100 million, but extended the target to $120 to $150 million after finding plenty of interest. With its model, in combination with the current landscape and maturing startup economy, the founders think the timing is right for a new, dominant venture firm to emerge in the Israeli market.

It’s way too early to say either way, but the other important factor at play here for Israeli startups is how much experience both Eisenberg and Shochat bring to the table as investors (and entrepreneurs). Eisenberg has been a general partner at Benchmark Capital in Israel for over eight years and has served on the Board of Directors for companies like and and currently sits on the board of directors at Gigya, Seeking Alpha, Clarizen, Conduit (whose last raise valued the company at $1.4 billion) and Wix. Shochat, on the other hand, has been a General Partner at Genesis for almost three years, but also has significant experience as an operator.

In that capacity, he is probably best known as the co-founder and chairman of, a facial recognition technology company that sold to Facebook for upwards of $60 million. He is also the co-founder of Aternity, has led investments in successful startups like, JoyTunes and Commerce Sciences and helped manage and lead “TheJunction,” a program created by Genesis to support early-stage entrepreneurs by offering co-working space and acting as a startup accelerator and alumni organization, a la 500 Startups.

Shochat reportedly left Genesis in April, and Eisenberg will be leaving his role at Benchmark. With their prior experience, sources tell us that Aleph’s goal is to dominate early-stage IT, cloud, Big Data and mobile investments in Israel, leveraging what they perceive to be a maturation of next-gen local entrepreneurs looking to build big, global (and even consumer-facing) companies. For them, standing out from the crowd will be about focusing on Series A investments, rapid decision-making, local support and being decidedly entrepreneur-friendly,

Not only that, but our sources indicate that, in spite of the fact that Eisenberg is leaving Benchmark to start Aleph, Benchmark is one of the new firm’s first investors. Not to overstate it, but if these reports are in fact true, it’s a notable vote of confidence from Benchmark and shows what they think of his track record.

Regardless, the emergence of Aleph is an auspicious sign for the Israeli startup ecosystem, giving entrepreneurs another critical lifeline during the early stages, and another indication of how much Israeli tech stands to benefit from the global attention following a string of high-profile exits, chief of which is, of course, the newly minted “GoogleWaze”. (Or Wazoogle, if you prefer.)

We’ve reached out to the founders and will update with their comments if and when they respond.

Apple trademarks new FaceTime logo, settles on green

Apple trademarks new FaceTime logo, settles on green

There’s certainly been a lot of brouhaha surrounding the new design language Apple introduced for iOS 7 at WWDC. Some (ourselves included) feel it’s modern and fresh while others loathe the brighter palette and simpler, flatter icons. A lot can change between now and the launch of iOS 7 this fall, but if Apple’s recent trademark filing is any indication, FaceTime‘s new logo / icon — which consists of a stylized white video camera inside a rounded-off green square — fits squarely (ahem) within the aesthetic we saw on stage in San Francisco. Of course, companies often trademark logos, so we can’t really say this comes as much of a surprise, either. If you’re curious where Jony Ive might have found his inspiration for the pastel colors and thin lines showcased in iOS 7′s iconography, check out Otl Aicher’s design work for the 1972 Olympics in the “more coverage” link after the break.

Filed under: Software, Mobile, Apple


Source: Patently Apple

University of Michigan activates antimatter 'gun,' cartoon supervillians twirl moustaches anew

Scientists create tabletop antimatter 'gun,' cartoon supervillians twirl mustaches anew
At the University of Michigan, an international team of physicists has begun experimenting with its tabletop-sized super laser, modding it into an antimatter “gun.” It’s not quite a black hole-firing pistol, but we’re slightly terrified nonetheless. Up until now, machines capable of creating positrons — coupled with electrons, they comprise the energy similar to what’s emitted by black holes and pulsars — have needed to be as large as they are expensive. Creating these antimatter beams on a small scale will hopefully give astrophysicists greater insight into the “enigmatic features” of gamma ray bursts that are “virtually impossible to address by relying on direct observations,” according to a paper published at Arvix. While the blasts only last fractions of a second each, the researchers report each firing produces a particle-density output level comparable to the accelerator at CERN. Just like that, the Longhorns/Wolverines super-laser arms-race begins again.

Filed under: Science


Via: Gizmodo, PhysOrg

Source: Arvix

Startups Compete To Win The Mobile App CRM Battle

Mobile CRM

Editor’s note: Ankur Jain is an investor at Nexus Venture Partners. Nexus invests in early stage companies across sectors in India and US, and manages $600 million in assets. Follow him on Twitter @Ankur_Jain_VC.

The rapid growth of mobile device use has created major gaps in CRM capability. As smartphone adoption has exploded, companies have scrambled to launch mobile apps, many of which are disconnected from an organization’s broader CRM capabilities.

Many organizations have little knowledge about the people using their mobile apps, how and why they are using them, how to effectively communicate with them, and how to support them — all of which are critical to providing a tailored mobile customer experience. Indeed, failing any one of these things can lead to users abandoning an app at a time when the competition among apps is increasingly fierce:

  • The average phone in 2013 has 41 apps, up from 28 apps the year before (Nielsen, 2012).
  • Average user retention rate for a mobile app is 54 percent after 30 days and 35 percent after 90 days (Flurry, 2012).

In order to drive a differentiated experience and service level for every mobile customer, mobile businesses should strive to segment their user bases on a variety of metrics and then leverage the data to drive user acquisition, retention, engagement, transactions and upsell, as well as cross-sell opportunities.

If a frustrated or confused user leaves an app, they’re far less likely to return.

Often overlooked but equally important is enabling users to communicate with businesses via the mobile app. Rather than a one-way channel, users should feel empowered to provide feedback or instantly and easily get help without needing to leave the app, send and email or make a phone call. Remember the user retention rate: If a frustrated or confused user leaves an app, they’re far less likely to return.

In addition, it is incredibly important for the business to measure the customer experience: Is the app delivering the right service levels to the right customers? What is the level of customer satisfaction and how does it compare to user retention, user engagement and app reviews?

The Mobile App CRM Players

Many businesses are leveraging CRM for their web and retail businesses, but have yet to apply their CRM strategy to mobile customers. Indeed, mobile-app CRM is a continuation of traditional CRM that sits inside the mobile app, enabling the same capabilities — but for mobile customers. Here are some of the startups that are helping businesses bridge the CRM gap on mobile.

  • Flurry helps answer the first question that organizations have: “Who are my mobile app users and how are they using my app?” Though an ad network by business model, Flurry is used by mobile apps to provide CRM metrics, such as number of active users, user retention rates, and more. Flurry helps segment users into categories and measures ROI on user-acquisition spend compared with user-retention and engagement rates.
  • Urban Airship provides a simple way for apps to communicate with their audience via push notifications and supports context-aware notifications. It’s among the most popular third-party notification platforms used by mobile apps today.
  • Crittercism initially focused on providing mobile developers with a platform to identify and analyze crashes and bugs in their mobile apps similar to Crashlytics (acquired by Twitter) and BugSense. More New Relic than Salesforce, Crittercism now also offers broader application performance management with system logs and tracing.
  • AppBoy offers analytics, segmentation and communication from one dashboard and has the ability to manage rich marketing profiles at an individual user level. It also allows messaging via multiple channels: push notifications, in-app messages, and email.
  • Helpshift recently launched the world’s first native customer service and support solution for mobile applications. Helpshift enables businesses to provide a contextualized mobile customer experience by unlocking customer information and device diagnostics for in-app service, support, and marketing. Helpshift also integrates with enterprise CRM systems like Oracle and Salesforce for a seamless CRM solution across business units.

Forward-thinking businesses are realizing the need for integrated CRM capability across all revenue streams, the value of a multi-channel view of their users, and the ability to interact effectively with these users across their lifecycle. Any organization that has deployed CRM software would be wise to integrate it with its mobile app, just as it would integrate it with web and call centers.

And that raises the question: Why should mobile app CRM be different from traditional CRM? The answer is that it shouldn’t be. And traditional CRM vendors who have been slow to move have provided a unique opportunity for these fast-moving startups to capture this market.

While it would not be surprising to see enterprise CRM vendors like Salesforce, Oracle or SAP acquire any of these startups to fill the glaring gap in their offerings, a more interesting question is whether these startups can be the enterprise CRM behemoths of tomorrow. In other words – can the next big enterprise CRM be mobile first? We may be a few years away but it’s possible. One thing is clear: We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Note: Nexus Venture Partners is an investor in Helpshift

[Image via Shutterstock]

Washington Post reveals new PRISM slides, offers greater clarity into the US surveillance operation

Washington Post reveals new PRISM slides, offers greater clarity into the US surveillance operation

PRISM: The surveillance story that started with four leaked slides from the Washington Post, today gets a bit clearer. The publication has revealed four more annotated slides about the once-secret NSA operation, along with detailing the various levels of scrutiny from the FBI and NSA that happen before, during and after approved wiretaps take place. It seems that many of the measures make sure the warrantless data mining of US citizens occurs to the smallest extent possible and that FISA rules are followed.

Detailing the process further, NSA analysts perform checks with supervisors to be certain intended targets are foreign nationals who aren’t on US soil; approval is provided by way of “51-percent confidence” in the assessment. During a “tasking process” search terms are entered, dubbed “selectors,” which tap into FBI gear installed within the private properties of participating companies — so much for those denials. For the live communications this data goes straight to the NSA’s PRINTAURA processing system, while both the FBI and NSA scan pre-recorded data independently. Notably, live surveillance is indeed possible for the likes of text, voice and and instant message-based conversations, according to notations that are given to each case.

PRINTAURA is an overall filter for others with names like NUCLEON for voice communications and MAINWAY for records of phone calls. Beyond that, another two layers, called CONVEYANCE and FALLOUT provide further filtering. Again, all of these checks apparently fine-tune results and help make sure they don’t match up with US citizens. Results that return info about those in the US get scrapped, while results on foreigner targets get stored for up to five years — this includes those that have US citizens’ info in them, but restrictions are in place to limit the their exposure. A total number of 117,675 active targets were listed as April 5th, but the paper notes that this does not reflect the number of data that may also have been collected on American citizens in the process. It’s likely that even more will be revealed in the coming weeks, so if you haven’t already, now might be a great time to catch up on this whole PRISM fiasco to learn about how it might affect you.


Source: The Washington Post (1), (2)

Ask Engadget: best (cheap!) video recording goggles?

Ask Engadget best cheap! video recording goggles

We know you’ve got questions, and if you’re brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here’s the outlet to do so. This week’s Ask Engadget inquiry is from James, who wants to experiment with life-logging on the cheap. If you’re looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.

“I like the idea of being able to record stuff with your glasses, but not spending $1,500 on Google Glass to do it. Can you and the folks suggest a pair of glasses or goggles that will do the same job for a tiny fraction of the price?”

In our limited experience, Pivothead’s Durango is available for $349, but beyond that, the field’s a bit limited. ZionEyez Zeyez still doesn’t have an ETA for its products and SunnyCam’s ultra-low cost recording goggles won’t make it to the US until later this year. Let’s turn this question over to our audience, who, we’re sure will have some better and cheaper suggestions.

Filed under: Cameras


Der Spiegel says US bugged EU offices in Washington

Today, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that it got a look at slides detailing the systematic bugging of European Union offices in the US. The news from the paper cited top-secret documents “that Spiegel has in part seen,” which were dated from 2010 and were recently obtained by Edward Snowden. The paper did not publish any of the documents it claims to have reviewed.

Der Spiegel claims that “in addition to installing bugs in the [EU] building in downtown Washington, DC, the EU representation’s computer network was also infiltrated. In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as e-mails and internal documents on computers.” The paper also says it saw documents indicating that European members of the United Nations were also subject to the same kind of spying.

Finally, the German paper reported that it saw documents linking the NSA to “an electronic eavesdropping operation” in Brussels. That operation allegedly took place five years ago, when EU security experts noticed some strange calls targeting the maintenance system of the building that houses the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council. At the time, those calls were traced back to NSA offices in the nearby NATO compound.

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Mobile Miscellany: week of June 24th, 2013

Mobile Miscellany week of June 24th, 2013

If you didn’t get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we’ve opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week, the Galaxy S 4 was spotted in purple garb, a new Windows Phone was outed for AT&T and US Cellular officially welcomed a budget handset from ZTE into its ranks. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that’s happening in the mobile world for this week of June 24th, 2013.

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile


PSA: Sprint's iDEN push-to-talk network rides into the sunset June 30th

The end of an era arrives Sunday, when Sprint will officially shut the door on its Nextel iDEN push-to-talk service. Subscribers who’ve held onto the legacy PTT standard with white knuckle grips (and extra fees) will have to switch to its Direct Connect offering for continued chirping capabilities — or migrate to the likes of Ma Bell’s haus. The freed up 800MHz spectrum won’t remain idle; if you’ll recall, it’ll be re-allocated to give a major boost to Sprint’s 4G CDMA voice/LTE data rollout for 2014. Hurry up and make that switch if you haven’t already and relive some Sprint Nextel memories with us after the break.

Filed under: Cellphones, Wireless, Mobile


As IPO Nears, Twitter CEO Says “We Think Of Revenue Like Oxygen”


As Twitter nears its IPO, CEO Dick Costolo seemingly refuses to focus on the money. “We think of revenue like oxygen. Essential to life but not the first thing you think about in the morning,” he told Katie Couric at The Atlantic’s Aspen Ideas Festival. “I don’t try to get caught up in short-term thinking about the company.”

Given the impending IPO, this is likely Costolo’s last interview, so these quotes will haunt them as the $10 billion IPO frenzy ramps up.

Couric asked him if he had learned anything from Facebook’s epic IPO blunder. Costolo, in a transparent dodge that got laughs from the audience said, “I don’t like to think about reacting to what other people are doing in the market. it’s like driving while looking in the rear view mirror.”

The goal, Costolo said in true buzzword-happy fashion, is to become a “global town square.”

Costolo completely bypassed questions about the National Security Agency’s internet snooping program. “We have to obey the rule of law,” he said, noting that Twitter was not one of the 9 companies named as part of the PRISM program.

It should be noted that Twitter isn’t the only company who claimed to fight the NSA. Yahoo reportedly tried to block the NSA’s spying, but lost. So, while it’s laudable that Twitter isn’t part of PRISM, it may be because Twitter doesn’t collect the kinds of user identification data most valuable to spy agencies (you can sign up for twitter with a pseudonym).

Ultimately, Costolo said he wants Twitter to be an interesting place to work. All money and no play, makes Twitter a boring business, “That’s not a fun place to go to work in the morning. It’s not particularly innovative.”

[pic via michaeljstubbs]

Google white space broadband plans get boost with FCC approval

Google‘s plans to squeeze wireless internet access into the “white space” in-between TV channels – and in turn further prise web control from ISP dominance – has received a boost, with its TV bands database system getting the green-light from the FCC. The TV white space (TVWS) database, which lists the existing TV services along

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