Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Mahalo- the human powered search engine [Updated]

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Well, my good friend CK has been plugging away at his new gig with Jason Calacanis for the past 5 months in stealth mode… They took the wrappers off the new search service, Mahalo, yesterday at the Wall Street Journal’s D Conference. Mahalo’s goal is to hand-write the top 10,000 search terms.

The brief fact sheet:

  • Company Name: Mahalo.com, Inc.
  • Located: 10,000 square foot factory in Santa Monica.
  • Category: Human-powered search.
  • Launch Time/Date: 3PM PST, May 30th 2007.
  • Launch location: Wall Street Journal’s D Conference, Four Seasons Aviara (northern San Diego). D Conference Website: http://d.wsj.com.
  • Product Launch Schedule: Currently in Alpha with the
    Internet’s 4,000 most popular searches; will move to Beta at the end of
    2007 with 10,000 pages, and launch shortly thereafter.
  • Founder & CEO: Jason McCabe Calacanis, 36 years old.
  • Previously: CEO of Weblogs, Inc. Weblogs, Inc. was
    purchased by AOL/TW for a reported $30M; CEO of Silicon Alley Reporter
    magazine and Venture Reporter; purchased by Dow Jones.
  • Investment: Two rounds, amount undisclosed.

Pretty cool. Congrats man!

[Update]

Fred Wilson has posted a bit more about Mahalo as he knows Jason well and his firm has invested in Mahalo. Tim Marman brings up the fact that CK worked with Jason at Netscape as managing editor- so it makes sense for him to work with Jason here…

CK was at TUAW (the unoffical apple weblog), which was part of the Weblogs, Inc family that was sold to AOL. Jason has also helped CK with his offline publishing deals- so there’s a couple years of history of Jason and CK working together on editing and publishing.

CK’s not a shy guy, so there are posts on Mahalo, pics on his website and a bit more context as well.

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Filed under: Software, Venture Capital

Oxford Start-up Contest

Oxford University’s Said Business School has announced their 21st Century Challenge Competition offering up to $70,000 to the competition winner:

Applicants will be required to submit a 5-page Executive Summary of their idea by Friday 12th October 2007. The first round judging will take place in October by a
panel of entrepreneurs, academics and other key figures in the field and will reduce
the field to nine finalists (3 from each category).

The final of the competition will be held at the School on Thursday 29th November
2007. The nine finalists will present their applications to a judging panel before an
audience of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, policy makers,
academics and corporate guests.

A first prize of up to £35,000 will be awarded to the competition winner, along with
three runners-up prizes of between £5,000 – £10,000.

Chris Sacca (Head of Special Initiatives, Google) will be speaking at the launch next week as well.

Start your engines!

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Filed under: Events, Conferences and Panels, Venture Capital

Going, going….gone!

That seems to be what’s happening to every web-based company these days. M&A activity is really going through the roof…

Glad to see London-based Last.fm in the headlines today as well. Kind of glad to see Blinx in the headlines recently (although Max thinks it’s bad for business in London).

M&A activity is really driving VC exits- how much longer can the good times last?

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Filed under: Mergers and Acquisitions

Cool Music Sites

A couple of cool music related sites have been cropping up lately. If you’ve got some time, check out the following (in no particular order):

Daytrotter
The Players

The Hype Machine (thanks CK)

Musicmobs

Music for Robots

Tour Filter


Critical Metrics

Lots to graze on and music for everyone : these are mash-ups, next gen-Napster, music blogs, UGC, indie press, etc.

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Filed under: Music, Technology

TechBytes en Español

Ok, I lived in Spain for 6 years. Someone was looking at the site in Spanish via Google’s translation service, so I decided to take a look at my site in Spanish:

My posts are unbelievably unintelligible when translated by machine. The last post on “the Funded” turns into mush- the name “London Seed Capital” gets translated, the website “The Funded” gets translated, “Index Ventures” gets translated- all translated into a big pile of gobbled gook.

Taking the Spanish and feeding it back in to get English again gives you an idea:

Capital of seed of London - The ball of Jason has blog interesting that is much on technology and very little – this one is interesting considering its list is so separated towards it go so it lacks to equipment with solid masters of the industry.

Company of the atlas – some very good people with this company/signature, although the nature of euro of the company/signature has with her some partners extremely snobby. they leave you single, way too much. no aid beyond the cash infusion.

Companies of the index – One lies down to these individuals and obtained “to hey this” really fresh regeneration but then never followed. I do not concern the being said of not or a certain eufemismo for no, but it does not reflect well in a bottom when “they send it in”.

Too funny.

Si no sabes leer ingles y quieres leer algún articulo mío en español (y no te aclaras con la traducción de Google) envíame un email a techbytes arroba mac punto com y te lo traduciré.

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Filed under: Other

WWGD?

Great post from Tim and follow up debate over at the O’Reilly Radar on Google and Amazon. Here’s an excerpt:

If Google or Amazon were your bank or credit card, they’d let you know
which merchants had the best prices for the same products, so you’d be
a smarter shopper next time. They’d let merchants know what products
were popular with people who also bought related products. They’d help
merchants stock the right products by zip code. They’d let you know
when you were spending more on dining out than you have set in your
family budget. They’d let you know when you were approaching your
credit limit, with a real-time fuel gauge, not just a "Sorry, your card
has been declined."

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Filed under: Technology

Joost invites up for grabs

Joostthumb
I got the following from Joost yesterday: "We’d like to share some good news and celebrate the launch of the new Joost beta – Now For Friends. This means you can now invite as many friends as you want to try out Joost."

If you want one, leave your email addy in comments or email me at techbytes_invites at mac dot com and I’ll see that you’re taken care of.

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Filed under: Software

VC background resource: The Funded

I picked up on The Funded through a comment on Shantanu’s blog. The Funded offers entrepreneurs (only) an opportunity to post and rate venture firms from across the world. There aren’t many comments for UK/EU funds though, but I did find a few posts on us and some other funds in London:

London Seed Capital
Jason Ball has an interesting blog which is a lot about technology and very little else – this is interesting considering their portfolio is so spread out so it lacks a team with solid industry expertise.

Atlas Venture
some very good people with this firm, although the euro nature of the firm has with it some extremely snobby partners. they leave you alone, way too much. no support beyond the cash infusion.

Index Ventures
Pitched to these guys and got the “hey this is really cool” feedback but then they never followed up. I don’t mind being told no or some euphemism for no, but it doesn’t reflect well on a fund when they “mail it in”.

If you’ve dealt with (and preferably received funds from) a VC, I would recommend you post your experience on the Funded.

One of the key things I suggest companies we’re investing into do is call up a few CEOs from our portfolio to see what working with us is like…and if you’re considering which VC to approach, The Funded might help with that thought process.

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Filed under: Venture Capital

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