BrightQube launched

BrightQube, the site for finding and selling images, has launched in a limited beta.

CEO Lee Cochran tells us that the official roll-out is next month aimed at the photo industry with key events such as PhotoPlus, Picturehouse and PACA agency conferences.

The BrightQube dynamic photo mosaic provides a very efficient visual means of finding the perfect picture. Future enhancements will allow for sales of micro stock as well as macro stock photography on the site. (Microstock refers to images that are royalty free and sell for under a dollar to about ten dollars, and are produced by amateurs and generally sold via the internet only).

brightqube photomosaic

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TechCrunch40 top company award: Everything Mint is Yodlee again!

ImageWe have all been following the excitement over Tech Crunch 40, and then the top company award was announced, and I had to do a double take!! Mint won the $50,000 award - for “an impressive personal finance application”.

Anyone remember Yodlee?

ImageYodlee has had a patented personal finance application since August of ‘99. It allows secure one-stop access of all financial (bank) accounts, mortgage accounts, brokerage accounts and airlines mileage accounts. The dashboard adds up all balances in the asset and liability accounts, and provides a quick net worth summary. The program has tons of other knick-knacks such as tracking spending month by month.

I have used Yodlee Moneycenter for a couple of years now, and it is one of the best web based apps that I have ever used.

Mint seems to have fewer features than Yodlee, and Yodlee has a commanding head-start (they launched back in ‘99) with several thousand financial institutions that they are compatible with.

The funny thing is that a couple of years ago, I was approached by someone promising “to find funding” for exactly this idea, if I would come up with a business plan for the latest and greatest “personal finance application”. I did some research that showed that financial aggregators, as they are called, are nothing new. 10’s of companies have been built around this same idea, all touting very similar features.

Country Provider / Service name
AUG 99′ US VerticalOne launched
SEP 99′ US Yodlee launched
JUN 00′ US AOL “AOL Personal Finance” is announced.
JUL 00′ US CitiBank “My Citi” launched
AUG 00′ US Yahoo “Yahoo Finance” launched.
SEP 00′ AUSTRALIA eWise launched & AMP “Account Minder” launched.
OCT 00′ US Chase Manhattan Bank “Chase Online Plus” launched.
FEB 01′ US Merrill Lynch “My financial picture” launched.
US American Express “Account Profile” launched
MAR 01′ US Wells Fargo “Wells Outlook” launched.
US Fleet Boston “smallbizfleet” launched
JUN 01′ AUSTRALIA Macquarie Bank “Enrichment” launched
KOREA Hanvit Bank “e-Clips” launched
JUL 01′ AUSTRALIA nineMSN “Account Master” launched
SEP 01′ JAPAN Monex securities ” Money Station” is announced.
OCT 01′ JAPAN Nomura Security is announced
JAN 02′ JAPAN E*trade “Money Look” launched

* From E-aggregation: The present and future of aggregation services in Asia Pacific, Fujii et al.

The technology for building a financial aggregation software has been around (all over the world) for a while.

What really needs to be understood was why so many companies have come into the market and exited, and have not been able to make a go in the personal financial landscape. (Needless to say, when I told the “VC representative” that this kind of software had been done many times over, and not worth doing again, he was not very thrilled!).

CashEdge provides a similar service and has relationships with about 500 financial institutions. MSN Money also has personal financial management software.


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BrightQube: A new way to find photos

BrightQube is a site for selling photos - but with a twist. The website features an innovative layout that displays a large number of pictures in a photo mosaic. An Ajax interface allows you to zoom in and out of the mosaic, and pick out the picture you need without having to go through page after page of photos to find the one that you are looking for (such as at Istockphoto).

BrightQube helps sellers get their images found and sold . Individual photographers will be able to upload their photos to the site. BrightQube also lists inventory from several large partners.

BrightQube is about the way you find photos . Photographers are used to looking at large numbers of photos or slides laid out on table tops. The eye has an uncanny ability to pick out the best or most appropriate picture in a parallel fashion, which is much quicker than scanning pictures one by one.

brightqube photo mosaic

BrigthQube focuses on replicating this ability of the brain, in its image viewer, which can very quickly and interactively zoom in and out of the dynamic photo mosaic, rather like google maps. Although there is also a picture search engine, it is used secondarily to narrow down the field of pictures.

The BrightQube web site is not operational currently. The company is expected to present at Tech Crunch 20 (now Tech Crunch 40) on September 17th.

BrightQube has previously received series A funding.

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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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