Roundup: Six Apart launches ad network, Microsoft acquires Xobni…maybe and more

Here’s the latest action:Six Apart evolves into an ad network — The blogging company behind MovableType, TypePad and Vox is offering a new advertising program which will give publishers more control over ads and revenue from their sites. The company claims its ad network will be better than the many others out there (with more popping up everyday) because it has the best experience with advertisements specific to blogs. The company also launched Six Apart Services after acquiring Apperceptive, a New York-based company that has helped build communities for large sites such as The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and Boing Boing. Six Apart vice president, Anil Dash has more.

Microsoft acquires Xobni, maybe — The email startup, which Bill Gates has called “the next generation of social networking,” has supposedly signed a letter of intent to be purchased by the software giant, sources tell TechCrunch, apparently for $20 million. But not so fast,  we reached co-founder Matt Brezina on his cell, who said it was too early to comment. He said the company remains focused on rolling out product for general release. He did seem remarkably relaxed, suggesting the deal may not yet be in final stages, but it was hard to tell. He was sauntering on the Penn State campus, about to start a lecture to students, providing tips about entrepreneurship. Now we’re seeing other sources say no letter has been signed and that the company plans to remain independent until it gets its product out. Our guess is that Microsoft has offered, but that no deal has been signed yet. Xobni works as a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook and allows users to easily view past related conversations and search quickly through mail — which sounds a lot like Google’s Gmail.

Sequoia adds another partner to start broader investment initiatve — The WSJ’s Rebecca Buckman follows up on rumors that Sequoia is seeking to broaden its activities, confirming the hiring of Eric Upin and Keith Johnson, both of the Stanford Management Company. They’re creating an investment fund that would “invest in multiple asset classes, instead of just venture capital… The new vehicle — if it gets off the ground — likely would mimic the investment style of university endowments and other private funds that put money into stocks and bonds but also ‘alternative investments,’ such as buyout funds, venture capital and natural-resources investments.”

23andMe admits personal genetics have no medical purpose — Google raised eyebrows when it made investments in both genetic screening company, 23andMe (started by Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s wife) and Navigenics, another company that allows you to see your genome. Now under scrutiny in states like New York, services like these are being forced to admit they are little more than a vanity. “23andMe’s services are not medical … they are educational,” 23andMe spokesman Paul Kranhold told Forbes.

Attack of the Mac clones — Computer maker Psystar continues to grab headlines with its OS X-enabled (Apple’s operating system) computer. Apple does not allow 3rd parties to create Mac computers, whereas dozens of manufacters make Windows-based PCs. But with Apple’s market-share and demand on the rise, there certainly seems to be a market out there for a very low-cost Mac. Apple’s Mac Mini is currently the cheapest they offer at $599, but this Psystar system would be $399 with no software installed. Naturally, the legality of making these systems without Apple’s blessing is an issue.

John Battelle is first “John” in Google, shows Google is broken — Look, we all like John Battelle, the founder and chairman of Federated Media (which runs some of the ads on VentureBeat), but come on, he’s the number one result when you type “John” into Google’s search box? “I mean, I am ahead of Lennon. The Gospel. Er…McCain,” Battelle himself notes. I could go on: John Adams, John Hancock, John F. Kennedy, etc. With all due respect, I think it’s fair to say that most of the world has no idea who John Battelle is, yet that’s who they’ll find when they search for one of the most common names in the English language.


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