Friday, April 01, 2005

Avatars, Identity, flickr fun and a new podcast

It just keeps on coming and is most covered on the Web by those that be in the US.
A bunch of new services and VC payouts seem to be happening weekly in this areaSpace.
Avatars seem to have come back after a small vacation. Expect to see more offerings here,
as identity companies move to combine the emotional and rational (encrypted identity) to create simpler cross-platform payment systems and authentication services(email, IM). What separates these kinds of new identity players will be that people will finally own their data, rather than let a company store this information on their servers.

The rise and rise of tagging can be traced in this Business Week article with some scant predictions on where it is leading. I just commissioned a programmer to integrate Flickr images into my old flash website. The plan is to activate a timeline which correlates to the category "history". It will target tags based on time and history and then load images onto my site along with user comments and the date. So imagine you move my history slider to the right: result: 1066AD battle of Agincourt, "Whoa, this was a fierce battle in the middle ages between the Norman conquerers and English. The Normans won the day, and you can see their celebration in the Bayeaux Tapestry - Steve". Anyway, i have to wait a few weeks for the programmer to have the time and also get Fickr to move me out of NIPDA (not in public domain) as somehow i'm not in there.

I heard an amazing podcast yesterday and placed it inside a bunch of video files taken at the Creative Capital Conference in March 17, 2005 in Amsterdam. These have been Webjayed, so click on the link and select which one you would like to hear. The first podcast covers Bush's potential plan to launch an airstrike on Iran in 2005 as part of his wish to "clean up the Middle East". This audio was NOT part of the conference, so forgive me for the mismatch. The other links are video files of some really outstanding speakers.

Going local
The craigification continues. A host of companies : have been heading towards the VCs for that $7-10 million handshake to ramp up things. The numbers sound normal for the US. I would love to hear of any local European stories on startup money. What is happening? Are we still pouting on our lovely theoretical European soapboxes with lots of good ideas but no execution or risk-taking? Send in any news you have of success stories.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Micropayments add to people power

I guess this trend is now clear to me from behind my radar here at Lifesized. Two posts this week hammered home an important fact. People are starting to gain control over their income and how they spend it in new ways. Micropayments being now more and more accessible allows for people to buy in to new services they feel are worth the cost and also send money to friends. Here is a post from OhMyNews English edition on micropayments.

1. Rapid growth of micropayments. Although micropayments have met with skepticism in the past, much of that criticism was directed at paying for content, not services. Even in Korea, efforts to sell content haven't met with much success: It's services and products (even if only virtual) that people are willing to spend their hard-earned dimes on. A recent survey by Peppercoin and Ipsos-Insight revealed that from October 2003 to September 2004, the number of Americans who bought something online for $2 or less grew from 4 million to 14 million-figures that indicate Americans are growing more comfortable with micropayments. Expect this slice of the U.S. online market to explode well beyond iTunes.

........and a recent dutch development.

2. "Bill" (dutch) created by Dutch SNS bank with Microsoft,
LogicaCMG and payments specialist, Ogone, is to allow micropayments between people of up to 500 euro from MSN messenger accounts. They charge 3 euro per transaction. The plan is to sign up webshops for businesses to this new environment. It is also a "buddybanking" solution where people can easily send each other money. This targets the roughly 4,7 million dutch MSN account holders. This system is not really so much anything to do with micropaytments on second view. If each transactions costs 3 euro then it is beyond the micropayment threshold. I think more than anything it is a new format of money which we will be tracking to see how it evolves.

In the US there are a number of players working in this field, most notably Bitpass. One of my buddies, Gerry of PixelJump, based in NYC, is working on the mobile version for this service. Not sure where it is as right now. If any of you read anything on this subject please post in the comments as i am interested in getting a total refresh on where micropaytments are at, globally.

3. And then there is zopa equalizing the playing field. Click to hear a podcast with Zopa founders