NowPublic is news start-up that is like Korea's OhmyNews in that it relies on contributions from readers, or citizen journalists who then help judge what is important. It raised $1.4 million in an angel round. We discussed this with chief executive Leonard Brody, who says the company's traffic now rivals that of OhmyNews, at almost 2.5 million unique visitors a month. Yet the company is evolving to a different model, where it will become less of a destination site. Instead, NowPublic will work to serve other media sites, Brody said.
It will do that by ranking its army of 16,000 members -- so that news sites can select the reports, photos or videos from top-rated contributors who are attending events that those media sites can't get to. He describes the service as a more nimble, modern version of Reuters. We shall see. Brody said the Vancouver company is in talks with five big Silicon Valley venture firms, and that it may eventually move to the Bay Area in part -- though nothing is decided yet. He said the lower cost, focus and loyalty of Vancouver employees is something he doesn't want to give up. He will have a foot planted firmly in both places if he does move.
Segway to go public? -- So the Segway, that high-tech scooter that launched with great hype but which didn't really take off that quickly, is talking about possibly going public one day. It may not be the fastest company to reach $1 billion in sales, as its backer, John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, once predicted, but it is apparently hanging in there -- with help from police departments around the country.
Affinity Engines goes after university alumni groups, raises $4.13M -- Affinity Engines is the social networking company in Mountain View company that two years ago sued Google claiming Google employee Orkut Buyukkokten had stolen its code. Affinity Engines has been around three years, and is has raised $4.13 million from Menlo Park venture capital firm Storm Ventures, according to VentureWire (subscription required). The company had raised $2 million earlier from Amidzad and a few other investors.
Rateitall.com lets you, the reader, make money -- The San Francisco company, Rateitall, which lets its users rate and review products, is now sharing advertising revenue with those users. It is doing so by incorporating Google Adsense into its service, which will award revenue based on member contributions. (Via Battelle)
China's eHarmony raises $11 million -- Baihe.com, which some have called China's eHarmony, has raised $9M from NEA and Northern Light in its second round of fundraising. The company earlier raised $2 million from Mayfield and its partner GSR.
Sequoia invests in TutorVista -- TutorVista is an India start-up that screens Indian tutors and then offers their services online to Americans and Brits. Check out the pricing: $19.99 per hour, or $99.9 per month unlimited. Alarmclock reports the company just raised $2 million in a first round of funding from Sequoia.
How to be a Silicon Valley -- Here's a good read by essayist Paul Graham, who we've mentioned before, and who argues that all you need is 1) rich people, and 2) nerds. This formula is more difficult than you'd think, because drawing those two type of people requires things like a decent climate and an active city life. In related story, see colleague John Boudreau's piece in the Merc about the cultural two-facing entrepreneurs like Tom McInerney, of Guba, are doing to survive the nerdy Silicon Valley and the glitzy LA. (Drives a Porsche 911, has a Beverly HIlls penthouse down there; drives a mere 325i BMW up here, and has a SF victorian up here). Life's tough.
History of Silicon Valley water purifying company Crystal Clear perhaps not too clear -- Crystal Clear Technologies is an 18-month-old startup in Menlo Park, and is developing a low-cost water purifier that removes biological and chemical contaminants by using a solar-powered ultraviolet lamp and adsorbents covered with nano-coatings. BusiessWeek has the news. The company claims its portable unit can purify 120,000 liters of water at $0.0003/liter, which is dirt cheap. But BW mentions a caveat: In the early '90s, the founder's earlier water purification company wound up getting sued and going bankrupt after its product proved defective.
Case closed: Google not building a browser, says chief executive Schmidt -- Here's the WSJ story.
Yahoo launches revamped video service -- Yahoo Video appears to position the company for a future in Internet TV. It encourages people to use Yahoo to upload videos and create personalized "studios" where video producers can manage their content and communicate with fans. It also allows people to subscribe to video "channels," and search videos across multiple platforms (even YouTube's, for example), and by source or topic. Merc colleague Elise Ackerman has the story about what it means.
Benchmark invests in Pageflakes -- Pageflakes is a company that uses Ajax-based software to let you design and customize your Web page easily. It is a competitor to Netvibes. (Simply go to either of these sites, and drag the boxes across the screen, you see what all the fuss is about). The exact investment by Silicon Valley's Benchmark wasn't disclosed, but is somewhere between $1 and $3 million
Krugle raises cash -- The Menlo Park start-up that offers a search engine to look for open source software code, said it has raised $6.1 million in a second round of funding led by Rustic Canyon, and including Emergence, First Round, and Omidyar. We were just thinking -- is it possible to come up with a name closer to Google than this one? Maybe Groogle? Koogle?
Yipes raises still more cash -- This company should be called "Yikes!" The San Francisco provider of Ethernet products for big companies, tells us it has raised $8.5 million in a 4th round of equity, from Crosslink, NVP, JPMorgan Partners and Sprout, along with $9 million in credit from Silicon Valley Bank. Yikes, because it had raised $290 million originally, only to struggle through the downturn, and then restart afresh with around $89 million since 2002. This latest just adds to the pile. But hey, it hit profitability last year (that is, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).
TutorVista's mission is to provide world class tutoring and high-quality content to students around the world. TutorVista is the premier online destination for affordable education-anytime, anywhere, in any subject. Students access TutorVista from the convenience of their home or in school and use TutorVista's comprehensive lessons and question bank to master any subject with access to a live tutor around the clock. The TutorVista idea: help students to excel in school and at competitive examinations. The management team consists of professionals from education, training and Internet fields whose expertise spans eLearning, instructional design, technology-based learning, professional services management, and Internet technologies. For more information, go to www.tutorvista.com.