Wixi does media sharing differently

Wixi Logo New

A new startup called Wixi puts a twist on media sharing by giving each person that registers on their site a virtual desktop to arrange their pictures, movies and audio files, with storage space to boot.

Once you upload a file, it appears on your “desktop.” From there, you can drop it into an existing folder, create a new folder for it, or, if you’re like me, you’ll just let it sit there because you like to clutter things. Any type of video or sound file you upload is automatically converted to Wixi’s “universal media player” flash format, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues (the system is licensed from the guys that do the same thing for DailyMotion). Once it’s there, other friends you have on Wixi can check it out, or you can distribute it outside of the program via a permalink or embeddable player. One of the really cool options Wixi has when it comes to media sharing is privacy options. The app lets you select specific privacy settings for each piece of media you upload. If you only want a certain friend knowing that you uploaded the music video for that one Madonna song you like but never tell anyone about, Wixi lets you do that.

The upload utility itself is still a work in progress. Although Wixi says you will eventually be able to upload multiple files at once (a feature that is definitely needed), currently you can only do one at a time. Also, right now the files have to be on your local hard drive, but according to a button that’s currently inoperable you will be able to point it to the url of a file on the web and Wixi will grab it.

This is one of those Web 2.0 ideas that doesn’t just sound cool in theory, but seems like something that I’ll actually use. Wixi’s creator points out that although there are a lot of different places out there to upload media (Flickr, YouTube, etc), there’s nowhere to aggregate it all in one place. Facebook has some limited functionality in this area now that you can post videos and images. However, Wixi really blows it out of the water when it comes to privacy options for individual files. Also, FB just isn’t set up to focus on the media area. Wixi fills this gap. It may even find itself a future acquisition target.

Wixi, based out of New York, just premiered at TechCrunch40. Check out TC’s coverage for a password that allows you to beta test the app.

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Facebook launches fund focused on apps

Facebook LogoMark Zuckerberg announced today at TechCrunch40 that Facebook is launching “fbFund.” The fund, which is done in cooperation with Accel Partners and The Founders Fund, will focus solely on the creation of new Facebook applications. The investment total? $10 million, with $25,000-$250,000 going towards each different app. Zuckerberg says that apart from having exclusive first-in rights for any company that sees a first round of financing, there will be no equity exchanged for the money, which will essentially be given in the form of a grant.

The investment committee is made up of Zuckerberg, Chamath Palihapitaya (Facebook’s V.P. of product marketing and operations), and Facebook board members Jim Breyer from Accel Partners and Peter Thiel from The Founders Fund. Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) and Rajeev Motwani (early Google advisor) are also acting as advisors.

The creation of this fund seemingly contradicts a comment made during Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at TC40 earlier today in which he explained that the app system was not designed for startups to be built solely around a Facebook application, but that companies should have a non-Facebook presence as well. As the F8 platform’s short history has shown, apps that are anchored to non-FB sites that have an established user base are, predictably, generally more successful than those that are on FB only: iLike was able to pitch their FB app to the user base of Garageband.com, the founder of the popular app “Food Fight” used his existing Trakzor.com property (3.5m registered users) to promote his app, etc. (article about the start of these and other apps found here).

News of this fund comes after Stanford announced a course in the Computer Science department that the university will offer this fall titled “Create Engaging Web Applications Using Metrics and Learning on Facebook.” Also, Graphing Social Patterns, a “new conference devoted to building and distributing apps on the Facebook platform,” will take place Oct. 7-9 in San Jose, Calif.

Business plans may be mailed to platform AT facebook DOT com.

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“A YouTube for Education”

TeachA startup on the horizon allows anyone to become a teacher and community builder. Teach The People, founded in January with a $300,000 angel around, gives people a platform to spread their knowledge pertaining to any subject. When you register, the site gives you 5 gigs of space to host content, including video lectures, to teach others about any field you are a quasi-expert in.

The company just premiered at TechCrunch40. From TC:

The site encourages quality content by letting users become community creators and by giving users points for rating, referring friends and answering questions. Community creators help create content and run day-to-day community operations. They can charge other users fees for monthly community access, content views or content downloads. They can also share in site advertising revenues.

While there are existing sites that teach you how to do things (eHow.com and VideoJug come to mind), what makes Teach The People interesting is its community building aspect. While other how-to sites simply give you information, Teach The People fosters the creation of communities made up of people interested in learning about specific topics. This makes the site much more social.

It’s unclear, however, if people will be willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for information when there is so much info already out there for free on practically every subject imaginable. I imagine it would only be a small number of very qualified people who create high quality lectures on niche topics that would draw subscribers. No one’s going to pay your neighbor’s kid to teach people what he knows about Spiderman. Also, there are already places on the web where you can go to find video lectures: Videolectures.net (clever, huh?) has a variety of free lectures with a focus on computer science, Princeton University streams lectures from their website on a wide number of topics, tons of math lectures can be found here, etc. Granted, there isn’t currently a site that aggregates all of these videos, but the content is out there, right now, for free.

Teach The People hasn’t yet officially launched to the public, although you can register for the private beta from their site.

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Remember the conference call? ShoePhone doesn’t.

ShoeMost probably read that title and said, “What’s he talking about? Conference calling is a frequent part of my business.” What if there was something better?

That’s where TalkShoe comes in. The Pittsburgh-based company, which was founded in 2005, recently came out with a new piece of software named ShoePhone. Although its branded as a VoIP service, you only use VoIP to create the connection; your actual calls take place over a “telco-grade conferencing system.” In fact, ShoePhone is able to facilitate calls between virtually any device out there: participants can connect using land lines, mobile phones, Skype, or other 3rd party VoIP clients like Gizmo.

The beauty of ShoePhone is in how it both simplifies conference calling while also adding new features to make calls more useful and efficient. First, when someone is speaking their name is clearly displayed on the screen, immediately clearing up confusion as to who is talking. Also, If the request-to-talk queing feature is turned and you wish to say something, you press a button to insert yourself in the speaking que which is ran through on a first-come-first-serve basis. Another feature that reduces cross-chatter is private messaging: you are able to initiate a secret IM chat with anyone else on the call that takes place completely in the background. To top it off, ShoePhone records the call and puts it online for anyone with a PIN number to replay the call in its entirety or download it to their hard drive.

ShoePhone supports up to 250 participants in one conference call, in addition to thousands more that are able to listen to the call live (but can’t speak).

While we’ve been focusing on the private conference call capabilities of ShoePhone, a lot of the emphasis the company places on the software focuses on its more public podcasting capability. Any recorded call automatically becomes a “Talkcast” which can then be distributed and played as an MP3 or embedded into a website/blog/Facebook page using a player widget. The embeddable widget lets people listen to your latest call as well as any previous recordings, in addition to listing scheduled upcoming calls. TalkShoe offers monetization options to anyone who can draw 20 live participants and average 1,000 downloads per week.

The software is currently free to download (you have to register first). Whether its used for conference calling or podcasting, this is another great software addition to the Web 2.0 sphere.

In March, a podcast host utilized TalkShoe’s infrastructure to put on a live 24 hour “Kiva Talkathon” designed to bring the microlending site to the attention of podcast listeners everywhere. TalkShoe agreed to transfer any revenue generated by the internationally-broadcast show to Kiva itself, helping entrepreneurs in developing countries. Our recent post about Kiva can be found here.
ShoePhone site

ShoePhone announcement


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