Meanwhile, below is the last batch of Techcrunch companies, from Tuesday’s afternoon session. After hitting VentureBeat readers with 40 start-ups over the past two days, we’re going to try our best fast on Web 2.0 for at least a day. Frankly, this latest batch wasn’t that impressive. Here’s the ranking: WooMe, Zivity, mEgo, Wixi, Xtr3D, Metaplace, Flowplay, Broadclip and Kaltura.
WooMe, speedating through live video online — We reviewed the company here. Lots of dating sites exist, but its pushing the envelope somewhat, and making dating extremely cheap. However, other big brands are likely to enter the market if it proves successful.
Zivity , adult network for model photography – This is the adult company VentureBeat first wrote about last month. It’s promise is to let models and photographers of the models get paid for their work, by making members pay a dollar for each vote they make on best models. Eight cents gets split between the model and photographer, and 20 cents goes to Zivity. You get five free votes, and then have to pay if you want more.
mEgo, a character-based user interface — Simply put, a mEgo is a cutesy avatar that can be posted on a social network and used as a content aggregator. Users build a unique character on the mEgo site, connect in other accounts that they want access through it — Flickr or Facebook, for instance — and then post it on their profiles around the internet. Anyone who clicks on the mEgo can then access content from all the sites it’s linked through to. The problem is that there’s a hundred other cross-platform aggregators already present or in the works, bringing the noise level in the space to a dull roar. And the question always remains the same: Why use one over another? With mEgo, at least, there’s an answer: It’s cute, and kitschy. The combination may be enough to win some hearts and minds, if only from the teenaged set.
Wixi — Simple concept: If you’ve got content on your computer that you want to share with someone, but you don’t want to go to the trouble of file transfers, you can drag and drop the files from your desktop to your Wixi site. Whether it’s music, movies or some other sort of content, your friends can then go and enjoy it through the Wixi Universal Flash Player. This brings up some questions on copyright: How long will it be until people use their sites to share their copy of, say, the newest Disney movie? And will it be different enough from competitors like Pando, Docstoc and others, for it to get above the noise? The company is based in France.
Xtr3D, a lot of hand-waving — No, really, it is. Xtr3D is a 3D human-machine interface, which is a fancy way of saying that you can move things on your screen by making specific gestures with your hands. The Nintendo Wii does this with a long motion-sensitive paddle that you move around. Xtr3D, instead, tracks your movements through a camera mounted on the computer screen. During the presentation, the company’s founder used the program to manipulate a Google Earth map, rotating and zooming in and out. While the demonstration was interesting, the program didn’t seem to be as fast at responding to the gestures as it would be to mouse clicks. Additionally, his gestures obviously had to be very clear and slow enough for the computer to recognize. Without taking away from the accomplishment of the company, it seems obvious that the software isn’t mature; we’ll have to wait a bit longer, it seems for a Minority Report-style computer. In fact, it reminds us of a near-identical company, Softkinetic, which we wrote about a year ago, and which we haven’t heard much about since. Xtr3D couldn’t tell us clearly how it was different from Softkinetic (Update: This appears to be our misunderstanding. The company has since explained that Xtr3D uses only software and a single camera, while Softkinetic requires infrared as well. Xtr3D argues this makes it less expensive.) The company is positioning the software as a platform for developers, with an emphasis on gaming.
Metaplace, an open standards virtual world, that lets users mashup games and other activities — It’s a small download, 30k. We reviewed it separately here. Again, it enters a very crowded field, and questions remain about business model.
Flowplay , yet another avatar virtual world – This site lets you build a 3D avatar, and do familiar things such as play games and win points so that you can build out your wardrobe. It renders in Flash. It wants to build a large number of settings for avatars (apartments, lounges), like Doppelganger’s vSide (our coverage), except no downloading. You can connect and chat with friends. The site looks clean, however, we’ve been there, done that. There are way too many avatar-game sites now, and this one doesn’t break the “originality” threshold. We don’t see much here to stop people going to MSN or Miniclip to play games. Flowplay has raised $500K on a bridge note from Ambient Sound Investments.
Broadclip, a system for sharing music online — The presentation consisted of someone coming on stage, saying hello, and turning on a video for everyone to watch. All of which might have been fine, had the presentation been good, or particularly informative. Broadclip’s “MediaCatcher” software aggregates music for its users through a recommendation engine. Once found, the music can be played anytime. MediaCatcher works independently, on a mobile device or through platforms like Facebook. Despite some attractive features, the company didn’t seem unique or impressive; perhaps it was the grandiose claim of being the “Web 3.0” solution for music. Napoleon complex, anyone?
Kaltura, letting you collaborate with video – This is an also-ran. This company’s slogan is “YouTube meets the Wiki.” Instead of sharing text, you’re sharing video. Take an example of a music band. The band can go to Kaltura, create a Web site, record an introduction video, and then others can upload their own content, and then mix it all up in a big video mashup. We’ve seen scores of iterations of this, and the only thing surprising about Kaltura is that it has 20 employees working for it, and has $2 million in venture backing from Avalon Partners. It is based in Tel Aviv and Manhattan.
(This post was co-written with Chris Morrison.)