DOD announces $1M prize for light weight battery

The DOD has announced a $1 million prize for the development of a light, wearable battery pack for soldiers (to power GPS, night vision, radio and other devices).

Google Maps: Drag your route around

Google Maps now has a cool feature where you can actually grab the route (blue line) on the directions and move it around to plot alternate routes.

Constant Contact: The latest IPO on the block

constant contact logoLast quarter set a record for the highest amount raised in venture backed IPOs since 2000, with 22 companies raking in 2.73 billion.

This quarter is starting with a bang - we talked about Netsuite filing to go public last week. Now, Constant Contact has decided to take the plunge, filing for an IPO this morning!

Constant Contact is an email solution that provides easy tools for marketing and customer relationship building. It allows management of email lists including providing handy features such as unsubscribe. It also gives detailed tracking information on email campaigns, including how many people actually opened your email, how many emails bounced back and how many ended up in the bulk mail folder.

The best use for constant contact is for simple management of customer contact (they have strict anti-spam policies so this would not be the tool of choice for junk mail marketers). New and growing businesses can use the package to easily generate attractive html emails and newsletters, and send them out in an automated fashion.

I have used Constant Contact in the past. While it has many features which are attractive to the user who wants to get going quickly with an email campaign, it lacks the horse power and flexibility to handle more advanced tasks such as controlling the rate at which emails are sent out from the server.

I have been most impressed by the fact that Constant Contact has had a solid revenue model from the start (and does not just go after eyeballs and the ever favorite “ad generated revenue”). It is a subscription based service, but it is free for the first two weeks or for emailing to the list of the first 100 people. Their stickiness comes from the fact that once you have uploaded your customer list to their database, you would reluctant to move to another product.

With $40 in revenue, the company is expecting to raise $86 million in its upcoming IPO.

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Fighting it out on the Mobile Advertising platform

mobile ad screen tonicThe last few months have seen a whole lot of hurried acquisition activity in the mobile advertising platform space. First Microsoft acquired the Europe based mobile advertising software provider, Screen Tonic, in May 2007, in a bid to establish a base in the mobile advertising market. Screen Tonic boasted of high profile customers such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

mobile ad third screen logoNext it was the turn of Third Screen Media. After receiving funding infusions of $3M in 2005, and then series B of $5M in February of 2006, from TD capital ventures and the Blue Chip Venture Company, Third Screen Media was apparently courted by both Microsoft and AOL, and ultimately acquired by AOL in May of 2007. That’s two acquisitions within a couple of weeks of each other, in the mobile advertising platform space.

Third Screen Media recently added as clients MSNBC, which joined their other media clients USA Today, TV Guide and CBS Sportsline.

Yahoo released their mobile adverting platform, on the Yahoo! Mobile Web Service, in 19 countries around the world. Yahoo has also locked in premium advertisers like Infiniti, Pepsi, Hilton and P&G.

The size of the total mobile advertising market is anywhere from $500 million to $11 billion 2010. Depends on who is doing the extrapolating!

And now for the BIG question. What is Google going to do in the mobile advertising space?!! We had heard that they were testing a mobile ad product similar to adwords, called Mobile Words.

For the rest of the internet advertising players hoping to jump into the mobile market, here are a few acquisition candidates: Soapbox Mobile (total funding $10M), Rhythm Media (total funding $18M), Greystripe (series B funding $9M) and Hovr, which entered a partnership with Third screen on May 29th, to deliver ads to mobile gamers.

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