Launchpad: G.ho.st, Realius, Cleverset and more

[Update: The crowd has voted: Cleverset wins best in show. G.ho.st wins most creative idea. Spiceworks mostly likely to exit first.]

Here are the companies presenting at today’s Launchpad event at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco: G.ho.st, Realius, Cleverset, Click Forensics, TripIt and Spiceworks.

The first three are new to VentureBeat, although two of those have been around for a while. We’ll update this post as we learn more about them. For now, here’s a summary:

ghost.jpg G.ho.st — The company wants to provides every person with what it calls a free “virtual computer,” letting you log onto an account from any browser and so you can perform standard computing tasks. It offers you access to 3GB of online storage, email, and software applications including office applications from Zoho and Thinkfree. Here’s an intro to the offering. The company isn’t entirely new, having launched in April. It calls itself an operating system for the Web. Note: Google and many other companies may make this company redundant soon. Google offers a range of online applications, as well as online storage options. Moka5 and Mojopac, meanwhile, are two of several virtual VC companies taking this concept to a new level — with PCs in your pocket.
How will it make money? It wants to get revenue as an Amazon affiliate, in other words taking a cut if people say, buy a book from Amazon while looking at an ad on G.ho.st’s page (this is a longshot model, in our view, and needs work) The company is backed with $2 million from an undisclosed venture firm. Crowd reaction: Divided, though some people really liked it.

realius.jpgRealius — This is a fantasy real estate game site — The goal is to price the value of a home. The crowd of users get to decide the final price. The site plays on the U.S. obsession with homes and home prices. It uses real places, properties, people and other considerations that factor into home pricing, such as data about crime and schools. It offers expert advice to help you play the game. The company wants to target the $10 billion market in the real estate advertising market, only a small fraction of which is online. It launches in two weeks. Question: Are people really so obsessed that they’ll play this sort of game? We doubt there’s a significant market for this.

cleverset.jpgCleverset — This is a strange one for Lauchpad, because Cleverset is five years old. But the Seattle company recently turned to develop personalized recommendation technology to consumers who are shopping on retail sites. It is a competitor to Aggregate Knowledge of Silicon Valley, and Wunderloop of Germany, among others. Cleverset records information about products in order to draw relations between them. The method goes beyond existing recommendation services that might, for instance, suggest different kinds of umbrellas if you’re looking to buy one. Instead, CleverSet might also suggest a wide-brimmed hat and a box of chamomile tea. All of the products it knows about can be mapped out and cross-referenced for interesting buyers.
Previously, it offered data-mining technology has been used by the U.S. military to track battlefield assets in Iraq. The National Institutes of Health to determine the likelihood that an elderly individual will stumble and fall. John Cook profiled CleverSet two years ago. Google’s VP of research, Peter Norvig and former Amazon.com chief scientist Andreas Weigend have been advisors. New today: It has 80 customers, and they’re seeing an average conversion rate increase of 20 percent and revenue increase of 30 percent. These are whopping numbers, comparable to Aggregate Knowledge’s claims. The company says it is now raising its first institutional venture capital round.

Spiceworks — The company relies on ads to offer IT management software. We covered it in August. It has plenty of competition, including Packettrap, announced yesterday, though none that we know want to rely entirely on ads. Here’s what was disclosed today: It now has more than 160,000 people using it, and claims it’s growing at 10 percent a month, making it the fastest growing company in IT management ever. Remarkable: The company has a 4 percent market share. It says it has London Symphony Orchestra as a customer. A bit of a surprise mention, because orchestras are notoriously cheap. Question: How are advertisers going to target the orchestra IT guys? Anyway, the crowd reaction to this company is very positive. The company got $8 million from Shasta and Austin, which is a bit of a coincidence considering that Click Forensics (see next entry) got funding from the same two venture firms. Other competitors are GroundWork OpenSource (see our coverage), Ipswitch, Kace Networks and SolarWinds.net.

Click Forensics — The San Antonio, Texas company reports on online click-fraud, has raised $5 million in a first round of financing earlier this year. See our coverage. It is backed by Austin Ventures and Shasta Ventures, and competes against companies like FraudWall, and ClickFacts (see coverage). Click-fraud is when someone clicks on an online page or advertisement purposefully to inflate revenue for the publisher of the site hosting the advertisement, or to make the advertiser pay more than they otherwise would have. Click Forensics is a spin out of Optimal iQ. From the presentation, nothing really new presented today.

TripIt– This is a travel plan organizer that we covered at the Techcrunch conference. Here’s what’s new today: It lets you email the service to request information, such as flight trip times. Convenient for mobile usage.

[Mark Coker and Chris Morrison contributed to this report.]