Roundup: Microsoft ads for News Corp., Paramount's virtual goods, and more

1. WSJ Digital Network hires Microsoft for ads
2. Paramount Pictures, live in virtual world Habbo
3. Tim Draper raising fund for entertainment startups
4. MPAA downplay claim of movie piracy at colleges
5. Southern Cross first Aussie VC firm to open Silicon Valley office
6. How to find private photos on SmugMug
7. Redpoint Ventures does well with Fraud Sciences
8. Sprint and Clearwire revive WiMAX plan
9. VCs showed best returns of 2007 in Q2Wall Street Journal Digital Network hires Microsoft for ads — The Wall Street Journal Online, Barrons.com, MarketWatch.com, AllThingsD.com and other sites will have their contextual and paid search advertising ads provided exclusively by Microsoft’s adCenter. Strange that The Wall Street Journal isn’t using the advertising services of its parent company News Corp., which has also been experimenting with contextual advertising that makes use of Myspace user data (our coverage). Ashkan Karbasfrooshan’s explanation is that this is actually being orchestrated by News Corp’s Murdoch. By recruiting Microsoft, he’s playing the software giant off against Google. You’ll recall Google has already cut a $900 million deal to serve ads on News Corp’s other properties, Myspace and other Fox Interactive Media sites. So why not keep the two giants honest, creating a little competition for News Corp.’s business?. Meanwhile, Microsoft also places ads on Myspace rival Facebook.

More than 20 million unique users visit the Journal’s network of sites per month, generating monthly 330 million page views. Microsoft now claims to have one of the largest vertical ad networks focused on financial readers. Other properties it runs ads on include MSN Money, CNBC.com and EDGAR Online.

habboscrn012908.pngParamount Pictures, live in virtual world Habbo — Habbo (sample, left), formerly Habbo Hotel, has won “merchandising rights” to sell virtual goods to its users in North America, that feature items from the movies Mean Girls, the forthcoming The Spiderwick Chronicles and Beowulf. Habbo’s eight million monthly visitors will be able to buy virtual clothes, virtual furniture and other accessories (press release here). Paramount is the latest movie studio to start inserting its content into a virtual world. Sony and Time Warner have been doing the same thing. Both of those studios have had their movies and other content playing in the background of virtual rooms in virtual world Gaia Online (they also both invested in that company).

Tim Draper is reportedly still raising a fund to focus on entertainment startups — Or so recent reports suggest. We heard the same thing back in August.

MPAA admits movie piracy by college students not as bad as previously claimed — The Motion Picture of Association of America has come clean. The MPAA’s 2007 study will show that motion picture industry losses due to college students pirating movies amount to 15 percent. That’s down from the MPAA’s 2005 number of 44 percent, which the MPAA now says was due to an “isolated error.”  For a brutal breakdown of this announcement, read this.

kangaroo.jpgSouthern Cross Venture Partners is the first Aussie VC firm to open up an office in Silicon Valley — The Australia-based firm has already made investments in four companies of Australian origin: Xerocoat, Mantara, M&MD and UIactive. It closed a $150 million (AUD$170m) fund in the middle of last year. It plans to deepen relationships with US VCs, to help fund startups that begin life in Australia and New Zealand, and introduce them to the US market. The firm’s new office is in downtown Palo Alto, so I’ll be keeping my ears tuned to overhear Aussie-accented conversations while I write articles at Coupa Cafe.

How to find private photos on SmugMug — Is the popular photo-sharing site keeping your private photos private? Google Blogoscoped and others have discovered it’s not, apparently. Read here for more.

Redpoint Ventures cashes out Fraud Sciences six months after investing in it — EBay is buying Fraud Sciences for $169 million, which had received $8 million in funding from Redpoint, BRM Capital and undisclosed investors last year. It tracks online buyers to pin-point suspicious behavior, and is supposed to be particularly good at detecting fraudulent overseas transactions, a particular pain point for Paypal.

Sprint and Clearwire revive plan to build high-speed wireless network using WiMAX — The mobile carrier and the internet service provider are looking at forming a joint venture that could include Intel, Google and even retailer Best Buy, The Wall Street Journal reports.

VCs showed best returns of 2007 in Q2 — That’s according to the latest private equity performance index put together by Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association. Take a look at this table for more details.

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