Here’s the latest action:
1) Apple releases the Air, Twitter left gasping
2) Facebook-based gaming site Zynga launches
3) CNET defies Spark / Jana alliance with poison pill
4) Grayboxx rolls out local search nationally
5) Overlay.tv gets $4.5M for in-video ad links
6) Portfolio magazine cozies up to Open Social
7) Oversee draws $150M for domain auctions
8) A video primer on data portability
9) Notes on the upcoming 700mhz auctions
Apple releases the Air, Twitter left gasping — As usual, Steve Jobs used his keynote speech at the Macworld conference to introduce a new Apple product. This time it was the ultra-thin Air laptop, which will probably help continue the Mac’s trend of stealing market share away from Microsoft. Coming in at just three pounds and three quarters of an inch thick, it will also be the thinnest laptop on the market, at least according to Jobs. More tech specs here. The keynote also helped point out the limits of Twitter. The messaging service was on fire, with Mac fans firing off one-liners about developments — too many, apparently, because the service went down because of the load, confounding several live-bloggers, including Valleywag.
Facebook-based gaming site Zynga launches — Casual gaming startups like Kongregate and King.com are amassing large userbases, but can a gaming startup survive on Facebook and other social networks alone? Investors including Peter Thiel and Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures think so, having just sunk $10 million into a company called Zynga that offers versions of popular games like Texas Hold’em and Battleship on Facebook. The company’s founder, Mark Zingus, told the New York Times that Zynga is already doing well enough to support its staff of 27 people with revenue from its games — despite the fact that the their sole source of revenue is other developers who run ads for their applications on Zynga’s games.
CNET pops the poison pill — CNET showed its willingness to fight Spark Capital and Jana Partners, the leaders of a group of investors trying to take it over. CNET has adopted a “poison pill” plan, in this case a shareholder’s rights plan that attempts to discourage the two from buying more than 15 percent of the company (they currently hold just over 10 percent). The company also instituted new severance packages for its (allegedly underperforming) senior execs, just in case. Expect lengthy negotiations between the independent board that instituted the new rules and Spark/Jana, which want to fire the aforementioned execs and run the company according to its own ideas.
Grayboxx rolls out local search engine nationally — Grayboxx, a local search engine and reviews site that launched last October for 100 towns and cities, has expanded its service to cover the entire United States. The company is almost entirely automated, although it just added a feature to allow user reviews. We also covered it before its launch.
Overlay.tv raises $4.5M, readies release of video advertising service — A first round of $4.53 million has gone to Overlay.tv, which will launch its service on Valentine’s Day. In a nutshell, Overlay can add hyperlinks or images into videos leading back to other websites. For example, a video of M.C. Hammer dancing might include a video link on top of his legs, leading to a site where you could buy balloon pants. Regular users will also be able to put overlays on videos leading back to links of their own choosing. Overlay is based in Ottawa, Canada. Update: Backers are Celtic House Venture Partners, EdgeStone Capital Partners and Tech Capital Partners.
Portfolio cozying up to Open Social — A day or so ago we reported that famously stodgy media giant Conde Nast is moving its teen destination, Flip.com, to live entirely on Facebook and other social networks. Now Portfolio magazine, another Conde property, is planning on joining up with Google’s Open Social (coverage of OpenSocial here), as well as spreading its content to sites like LinkedIn. Although left behind for several years, “old media” is slowly learning to play the internet game (witness as well the growing online success of standbys like Time Magazine and the New York Times).
Domain name company Oversee draws $150M — Private equity firms have continued to take an interest in the domain name business, most recently with Oak Hill Capital pouring $150 million into Oversee.net, a monetization platform for domain owners and the new owner of domain auctioneers Moniker and SnapNames. Oversee will likely use the money to consolidate its growing hold on the domain name auction business.
Data portability 101: The video tutorial — A picture is a thousand words, but a video might help you keep from falling asleep, when learning about topics like data portability. Helpfully, ReadWriteWeb has a brief update post containing a video explaining the basics. We’ve also written on the portability group Facebook and Google recently joined, here.
FCC’s 700mhz auctions approaching fast — January 24th marks the date of the 700mhz spectrum auction, and AT&T, Verizon and Google are getting ready to square off in the competition for the most desirable blocks. Unfortunately for the FCC, the main bidder for one of the other blocks, Frontline Wireless, recently shut down, and it’s possible that nobody else is interested. For more info on the spectrum and auction rules, check out Ars Technica, while GigaOm has a helpful table of the different spectrum blocks.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.