Social analytics startup Awe.sm has been growing quickly and getting a lot of interest from brands that want to use its platform for measuring the effectiveness of their social media campaigns. With that in mind, the company has hired a new CEO, industry veteran Fred McIntyre.
It’s been a long time since we checked in with Awe.sm. The company, which started out as a link-shortener but quickly transitioned to focus on measuring the influence of various social sharing activities, raised a Series A round of funding about 18 months ago.
Since then, the company has been quietly tweaking its business model, moving from a platform primarily used by developers to track social sharing data, to one used by brands and marketers. That shift came about at the request of various agencies that were looking to get a deeper look at their earned media through social networks.
Awe.sm provides them with a way to track the value of individual tweets, likes, and pins, as well as their effects on traffic, page views, and sales conversions. That gives marketers insights and measurement to determine the effectiveness and ROI of social media campaigns which they never really had before. Clients include companies like Zynga, Playdom, Topspin Media, Maker Studios, and Groupon.
Anyway, with that new direction (or should we say, new opportunity?), Awe.sm was going beyond just being a pure technology company, and it was looking for someone who would help work with brands and advertisers and agencies. And in that search, it found former CBS Interactive and AOL exec Fred McIntyre.
McIntyre was most recently SVP of CBSi’s music group, which includes brands like Last.fm, MP3.com, and Radio.com. Under his leadership, those brands were consolidated into a single unit and the group acquired lyrics database Metrolyrics.com. Prior to that, he had held various executive roles at AOL, including SVP of business development, as well as overseeing the company’s Video and Music divisions at different times.
According to Awe.sm co-founder Jonathan Strauss, the decision to bring in a veteran executive to run things became necessary as the company began scaling up. Taking the Awe.sm platform and packaging it up for social media marketers meant growing the business, growing the team, managing people, and selling to brands and agencies — all of which left him feeling spread a little too thin. While McIntyre takes the reins, Strauss will take over as head of product management.
For his part, McIntyre was interested in the opportunity to start off on the ground floor of an emerging new industry. After being part of streaming music pioneer Spinner, as well as heading up AOL Video in the mid-to-late aughts, he said he’s used to seeing new markets emerge. Being there for the inevitable growth of a social media marketing business was of huge interest.
According to McIntyre, social media marketing makes up about 8 percent of marketing budgets today, and are expected to grow to about 12 percent by the end of the year, representing a huge opportunity for growth. Awe.sm, he believes, will be a part of that growth, as it provides better tracking than competitive products.
Viddy co-founder Chris Ovitz has landed at another buzzed-about Los Angeles startup, the mobile gaming platform Scopely. He used to head up business development at the mobile video startup Viddy, which shot up like a star on the Facebook platform and iOS charts only to later to come back down just as dramatically.
At Scopely, he’ll be a vice president of business development, where he’ll work on external opportunities (presumably deals with third-party game makers) to grow the network and the business. Scopely is pursuing a playbook that many other mobile game developers are following. They’re trying to grow the biggest network of gamers possible using apps built both in-house and by outside studios.
With an eight-figure number of monthly actives, Scopely is still smaller than other larger competitors that have publishing programs like Zynga and Sequoia-backed Pocket Gems and the Japanese giants like DeNA and GREE. But they say they’ve been able to get all of their games into the top five free apps on the iOS charts.
After Ovitz left Viddy a few months ago, he and Driver started talking about what was next.
“I’ve had the privilege of watching his entrepreneurial career,” said Scopely CEO Walter Driver. “Honestly, I never thought we’d have a chance to join forces, but we recently started having casual conversations about his future and thought there might be a potential fit.”
Ovitz declined to go into a lot of detail about what happened at Viddy, except to say that the company has to be inward-focused right now.
“I obviously got to see the entire spectrum of a startup’s life. It was an incredible learning experience,” he said. “They really need to focus internally on product and technology, so there’s not a lot of business development for me to do there.”
Viddy skyrocketed up the charts as a short video-sharing app last year in the wake of Instagram’s massive $1 billion buy from Facebook. On that momentum and Instagram’s buzz, the startup raised $30 million at a $370 million valuation.
But it and its direct competitor Socialcam started hemorrhaging users after Facebook cut off the viral fuel that was helping both apps up the charts. Socialcam, in contrast to Viddy, took a more conservative route with venture capital, instead leaning on friends and family from Y Combinator for a giant party round. They parlayed that and their momentum into a $60 million sale to Autodesk.
Meanwhile, Viddy’s level of funding has complicated its options. The company recently had layoffs and saw another co-founder and CEO Brett O’Brien leave.
“I’ve been a gamer my whole life,” Ovitz said. “I grew up interning at Activision and tried to started my own gaming company in business school. I’ve always admired Walter as an entrepreneur and I wanted to hop on this rocket ship.”
Scopely has $8.5 million in seed funding from firms like NEA, Anthem Venture Partners, The Chernin Group, Greycroft Partners, Lerer Ventures, The Collaborative Fund, Yahoo’s former CEO Terry Semel, Felicis Ventures’ Aydin Senkut, ShoeDazzle co-founder Brian Lee, Auren Hoffman, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow, TechStars’ David Cohen and David Tisch.
We knew CrunchBase was big. We knew because there are 2 million people using the startup database each month. We knew because more than 120k people have contributed 1.6MM data points on companies, entrepreneurs, fundings, exits and more. What we didn’t know, however, was what the investment community thinks about CrunchBase.
To answer that question, we spent many weeks visiting venture and angel firms and talking about data and CrunchBase. We learned that most are investing a lot in data and analytics in order to find good companies, ideas, and people. Everyone agreed that CrunchBase is an important source of that information, but we also heard something else: CrunchBase needs to evolve fast to keep pace with these new demands. In particular, Crunchbase needs to be more timely, accurate, and detailed.
That’s a big challenge, and today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, we are annoucing one key initiative to get us there: the CrunchBase Venture Program. We designed the venture program to appeal to venture firms that want to improve CrunchBase’s data set, and we’ve found just about universal willngness to participate.
Under the program, members agree to work with the CrunchBase team to get public information on their portfolio companies — including funding updates, staffing changes, product launches, and acquisitions — into CrunchBase in an accurate and timely way. What our partners get in return is better access to the CrunchBase team and API. But more importantly, what our partners and everyone in the startup world will see is steadily improving data in CrunchBase. That’s a big deal to investors researching new companies and founders, entrepreneurs looking for investors and talent, business development folks looking for partners, and virtually anyone trying to understand the constant change in the technology world.
Today we are also announcing 11 firms that helped shape the CrunchBase Venture Program and are our launch partners. There will be many more to come, but today we are very pleased to announce these partners who will work with us to make CrunchBase’s data nothing less than awesome.
The venture program is one of many major initiatives we have underway to improve CrunchBase. It’s a big responsibility. To learn more and join the program, visit the CrunchBase website.
BlackBerry launches its Q10 smartphone with new features and a blast from the past.
Like BlackBerry’s Z10, the new smartphone will feature apps including Skype, something missing from the company’s earlier devices. However, the device still includes a full physical keyboard, bucking trends in the industry but keeping typing purists happy.
“We are excited about our plans to bring Skype to smartphones running the brand new BlackBerry 10 platform,” said Bob Rosin, VP & GM of business development for Microsoft’s Skype division. “We are working closely with BlackBerry to ensure Skype runs great on BlackBerry 10 devices. This will give BlackBerry 10 users a great Skype experience, including free voice and video calling, sending instant messages and text messages, sharing photos, videos and files and calling to landlines and mobiles at Skype’s low rates.”
The Q10 features a wider 3.1-inch screen, allowing the physical keyboard to be bigger. Metal frets separate the keys. This feature means you’re more likely to send a quick message to your associates about a “change in the meeting time” rather than a “cjanhe in thr meeyinh time” if you still haven’t mastered typing on a screen.
It’s clear from online discussions of the new BlackBerry Q10 smartphone that people who’ve used a BlackBerry phone in the past enjoy the fact that this smartphone still sports a physical QWERTY keyboard.
An admitted BlackBerry fan who still keeps an older BlackBerry device alongside her iPhone, Joanna Stern of ABC News is one such keyboard advocate. In her early review of the BlackBerry Q10 she writes, “It’s actually hard for me to write about the keyboard and not completely gush about it – the keys are the right amount of “clicky” and the perfect amount of firmness.”
BlackBerry officially launches the Q10 almost a month after the company began shipping its new Z10 phone, a more conventional-looking smartphone with an on-screen keyboard. The move may indicate BlackBerry is betting customers miss a physical keyboard, and the strategy could win over a percentage of smartphone users. The Q10 will be available at the beginning of May in Canada with a U.S. launch soon to follow.
With the launch, BlackBerry is also partnering with makers of popular smartphone apps specifically designed to run on the Q10. Besides Skype, apps for Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn will come pre-installed on the new device.
Q10 Photo via Blackberry
The post BlackBerry Smartphone Features Skype, Physical Keyboard appeared first on Small Business Trends.
Less than one week after Twitter Music’s launch, Kevin Thau, the man responsible for the standalone app, is leaving the company to become COO of Jelly, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s mysterious, mobile-focused startup, according to AllThingsD.
Thau will be the second high profile Twitter employee to join Jelly: a couple days ago, Stone introduced former Twitter engineering manager Ben Finkel as his co-founder. In addition, Twitter’s first designer Vítor Lourenço, who left the company in November, is also serving as a consultant for Jelly.
Thau joined Twitter in 2009 as its “first official business development guru,” after a stint as vice president of sales and business development at Buzzwire. Before leading Twitter Music, Thau managed the mobile engineering and design teams responsible for launching the first versions of Twitter’s mobile apps before moving on to become VP of business and corporate development.
Jelly is still very much under wraps, but the startup released a few hints earlier this month. In a blog post titled “What Is Jelly?,” Stone said the startup will be for “everybody” and “developed first and foremost for mobile devices,” which means the addition of Thau to its roster is a logical move. TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff and Josh Constine speculated that the Jelly team might be developing something that will help connect people to connect to social causes and show off their contributions.
We’ve emailed Twitter for comment.