The thief's Chihuahua, loopt, Snocap & more

Here’s a roundup of relevant Silicon Valley action, after the long weekend:

Yahoo employee sets up Flickr on his phone, and “captures” thief — Yahoo Web designer Ben Clemens, of Berkeley, said his phone was stolen, but that a program he’d installed made the phone automatically take pictures and upload them to Flickr. And so the phone took photos of the thief, and their Chihuahua. Here is an example (see photo). This is a pretty amazing story, indeed some people believe it must be concocted. Here is the full story. Clemens says he is too simple of a guy to have made up such an outrageous story — even if it does give favorable publicity to Flickr, which is owned by his company Yahoo.

Sequoia’s latest company called “loopt,” but sounds familiar — In Paul Graham’s interview with Techcrunch, we find that his firm’s next company to launch, called loopt, is a “mobile presence” service also funded by Sequoia. Looking for more info, we found the following: Based in Palo Alto, California, loopt is a Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates-backed startup “building a revolutionary service to change the way people use mobile phones to keep in touch with close friends. Using new location-based technologies, loopt lets you know where friends in your private network are by automatically updating maps on your mobile handset and the web.” You know, this sounds very much like that start-up once called Radiate, but which switched its name to Flipt. Now loopt. Third time lucky?

MySpace offers music store to sell MP3s on MySpace; more sophisticated than it appears — MySpace will use Snocap, a start-up founded by Napster’s Shawn Fanning to deliver a competing service to eMusic, an online music store that also offers MP3s. eMusic already has the second largest market share for downloads, behind iTunes.

NewsCorp, MySpace’s parent, may also make an investment into Snocap, acccording to a story in the NYT. The MP3 format allows for the music to be played on the Apple iPod, though the format doesn’t offer any copy protection. It’s therefore unlikely the major labels will want to participate in this system any time soon. The MySpace plan lets artists sell their music at any price they want. MySpace will charge a band or label a fixed fee of around 45 cents, which it will share with Snocap, according to Snocap’s chief executive, Rusty Rueff, in an interview with the NYT. The iTunes store, by contrast, keeps about 35 cents from each purchase, apparently from a willingness to sacrifice some profit in exchange for increased demand for the iPod.

Snocap’s back-end, though, is more sophisticated than most media coverage so far would have you believe, or at least that’s we’re led to believe from a briefing with Gary Little, a venture capitalist at Morgenthaler Ventures, a few days ago. Gary is an investor in Snocap, and he said the company has developed a sophisticated video and audio fingerprinting technology that can identify songs on the Internet. It has also created a registry for digital content and the copyright that governs it. No other service does this, Gary told us. An artist on MySpace can then register at Snocap and define the rules by which their music can be bought — for example setting a track at 19 cents, or an album at $2. He said the format is simply pasted — in the form of HTML — at the MySpace store. The music can be sold directly from a member’s profile page.

Meanwhile, check out reports that Apple will start selling full-length movie downloads on iTunes by mid-September, apparently for $14.99 for new releases and $9.99 for older movies. That could hurt Walmart, which is reportedly paying more for the DVDs it sells. And iTunes users could burn a DVD, thus undercutting Walmart pretty badly. However, looks like Apple has so far only signed up Disney.

The “cheap” Barbarians — Noteworthy story in Forbes about all these start-ups that are offering chips and software at ridiculously low prices, and thus threatening to sack the walled fortresses of Sun, Microsoft, and BEA. It focuses on Bill Coleman, former chief executive of BEA, who is always refreshingly vocal. He recently called Network Appliances’ Warmenhoven to task for calling the stock-options investigation a “witch hunt.”Video company YouTube is poaching Yahoo employees — YouTube has just hired Yahoo Treasurer Gideon Yu to join the startup as its first chief financial officer, according to the WSJ. Earlier this year, YouTube hired Tony Nethercutt from Yahoo to build its ad sales team.

Mywavez count down — The secretive Menlo Park company, which we mentioned here, is now launching in three weeks, according to its site.

Video site Guba will pay you 25 cents for every new account that is created via your embedded video — (Ok, this news is a bit stale, but merits a mention as it wasn’t covered at SiliconBeat/VetureBeat during our two-day switchover). The offering by Guba may seem like a scam, but it is one more example of the scrappy style needed for survival in this competitive area. Basically, if someone goes to your site, sees a video, and then is inspired to register for a Guba account, you get 25 cents.