Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky on App Discovery, Distribution, and the Power of Chat Networks

December 16, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Benchmark Capital partner Mitch Lasky is a games guy. He’s been in the business for decades — long before he went into venture capital — and when it comes to selling games, he has seen what works and what doesn’t. So it seems strange that Lasky is so knowledgeable on apps like Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk — some of the biggest messaging applications in countries outside the U.S. But it’s not so odd, considering that mobile games companies are increasingly moving toward these chat apps to help people find and download their games. I sat down with Lasky last week to chat about the gaming industry, and social games in particular, and what he had to say about chat networks is something every gaming company should take note of. Oh, and while he wouldn’t speak much about it, pay attention to the part in here about Snapchat, the buzzy messaging app he happens to advise and sit on the board of. AllThingsD: So talk to me about something I know a little bit about, but I hear is going to be big: Games distribution through chat apps. WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are all offering mobile games for sale or download inside their main chatting apps. Why is this a big thing, and why are American companies interested in it? Mitch Lasky : It’s amazing –if you look at the Korean mobile app stores, 10 out of their Top 10 mobile games are being distributed through KakaoTalk. It’s totally working. It’s an unbelievably great distribution channel. So, why is that better than, say, Apple’s App Store? I want to know how it works so well. Well, if I told you, then I’d have to kill you. No, seriously though. I think you need to decouple the concept of distribution and discovery. Distribution has become completely commoditized.

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Microsoft to Hold Its Build Developer Conference April 2-4 in San Francisco

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Microsoft confirmed that it plans to hold its next major Build developer conference April 2-4 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, the same spot that it held the event last year . “As always, Build is a time to bring developers together to talk about our latest products, platform advances, tools and offerings, all of which come together to create unmatched apps and scenarios,” VP Steve Guggenheimer said in a blog post .

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QuickPay Takes $5.5M More to Help People Find and Pay for Parking

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

QuickPay , which works with parking operators to make their lots and spots mobile-enabled so drivers can find and pay for parking, has raised $5.5 million from backers including Fontinalis Partners, Ecomobilite Ventures and IncWell. Smart parking is a surprisingly vibrant space, considering the subject matter. QuickPay competes with Streetline, which has some $40 million in total funding , and the BMW-backed venture ParkNow.

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iPhones Dominate Sales at All Four Major U.S. Carriers

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Apple’s latest iPhones are topping the charts at U.S. carriers. That’s the latest from Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, who says that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c have been among the top three sellers at all four major U.S. carriers during the past three months.

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With Private Messaging, Instagram and Twitter Continue Their Arms Race

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

So Instagram introduced a version of private messaging on Thursday morning, allowing users to send photos to only one or a few of their followers at a time. And it’s a fine decision. Communication between Instagram users has been limited mainly to proxy networks to date. This knits the service together more cohesively. But more than that, it heightens the continuing battle with another popular social network: Twitter. And Twitter should be worried. Consider the similarities: Both Twitter and Instagram are based on blasting out wide distribution of content to a public follower network. Both now allow users to send media privately on a one-to-one basis. And Twitter is looking much more like Instagram lately, shifting toward full in-line photos inside users’ Twitter streams (though users can still choose solely to communicate via text). Both are trying to be, in a nutshell, the premier public media-sharing service on the Internet. “Instagram is here today because we were public from the start,” Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said in an interview. “And I think if we were a private network or if we had a symmetrical following model, we wouldn’t nearly be as big as we are today.” And make no mistake: Twitter may have 232 million monthly active users, but Instagram is big . The photo-sharing service has garnered more than 150 million monthly active users in half the time Twitter has existed. And more than 50 percent of Instagram’s users return to the service on a daily basis . That’s got to be unsettling for Twitter. The curveball in all of this, however, has been the rise of private messaging over the past few years. While Twitter and Instagram rose to prominence based on the premise of being public, both companies realize that the general public has room for forms of both public and private online expression, rather than one over another. And if not given the choice to share and communicate privately within a network, users will go elsewhere to find it

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MindMeld Assistant App Listens Along to Conversations to Help in Real Time

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

MindMeld , which is one of the more ambitious application ideas out there and has been promised for more than a year , launches to the public tonight. Well, the U.S. English-speaking public with second-generation and older iPads, that is. The app is a personal assistant that actively listens to voice calls and tries to provide useful relevant information — for instance Web sites and pictures — in real time. Afterwards, it summarizes key concepts. Up to eight people can participate in a call at a time. In a post-Snowden era, live conversation analysis is the kind of stuff that larger, scarier companies like Google might have a lot of trouble doing without causing mass hysteria, but perhaps a startup will be able to give it a good shot. San Francisco-based MindMeld maker Expect Labs has funding from Liberty Global, IDG Ventures, Google Ventures, Intel Capital, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Telefonica Digital and others.

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Snapchat Raises $50 Million in Series C Round

December 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Ephemeral messaging startup Snapchat has raised $50 million in a Series C round of venture capital, according to an SEC filing . The money was contributed by a single investor, CEO Evan Spiegel told TechCrunch . With today’s investment and the $60 million Series B round just a few months ago, Snapchat has raised upwards of $120 million in total.

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Millennials Start Their Holiday Shopping Way Before Their Parents

December 11, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Who says millennials are lazy? According to a Horizon Media holiday shopping survey of 680 respondents, 18- 34-year-olds have one thing over their parents: They're far more likely to have started their Christmas shopping early. Fifty-two percent indicated they had already started their gift-buying when the survey was conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 8, versus only 37 percent of those age 50-64. Of course, it's easy to seem industrious when you don't have to leave your sofa: Nearly half of millennials expect to do at least some of their shopping on their mobile phone, compared to just 30 percent of boomers.

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Twitter Adds Private Photo Messaging to Mobile

December 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As AllThingsD reported it would earlier this year , Twitter on Tuesday launched a significant revamp of its private messaging product, adding the ability to send photos via Direct Message. Twitter also added a swipeable timeline feature (which we also reported would happen!). All of this comes days before a highly anticipated Instagram event.

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Strava CEO Steps Down, and Former CEO Returns, but Not for the Usual Reasons

December 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Strava , the endurance-sports app maker, is going through a leadership change. CEO Michael Horvath will publicly announce today that he is stepping down for family reasons, and former CEO and board chairman Mark Gainey is returning to the top role. Horvath will become president and chairman of the board. But this is not the normal smoothed-over executive battle. Horvath plans to post that the reason he is leaving is because his wife Anna has cancer, actually for a third time. Earlier this fall, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her liver that can be managed for an unknown amount of time. To complicate matters, Horvath has been splitting time for years between Hanover, N.H., where his family lives, and San Francisco, where Strava is based. So he is stepping back in order to be at home with Anna. Horvath said they agreed to talk about it publicly in the hope that other people will benefit from their openness. The other unusual part of this story is that Gainey is ready and waiting to take over from Horvath in what appears to be the smoothest of ways. The two men are longtime best friends — they rowed crew together at Harvard, and started their first company together in 1995. (It was actually originally supposed to be a “virtual locker room,” a la a ’90s version of Strava, but turned into the still-extant customer-communication company Kana .) The two men co-founded Strava in 2009, and Gainey stepped down as CEO in 2010, coincidentally due to a family issue of his own, he said

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