Here’s a summary of the new “rich media” companies presenting at the TechCrunch50 conference here in San Francisco:
Bojam — providing a platform for remote musical collaboration around the world. Musicians across the world can seek out other musicians, learn the parts to a song, play individual instruments and then mix the music together. There’s a wiki-style interface for uploading song info, lyrics and tabs. This has a built-in business model too, since songs created on Bojam can be sold on iTunes and elsewhere, and of course Bojam will get a cut.
The company compared the song-creation process to the band The Postal Service — except that Bojam collaboration occurs in real-tine, while The Postal Service members had to send tracks back-and-forth via snail mail (hence the name). I’m not a musician myself (except in my dreams), but I imagine this is something musicians would love — some of my favorite bands have broken up when one member moved to a different town, for example. The company emphasized that the Bojam is aimed at real musicians, because it provides high-quality tools that can create high-quality music.
Points to Bojam also for the song they chose for their demo — “Africa” by Toto. Everyone agreed that it was a great choice, although there was some dispute about whether it was bad-good or good-good. (For the record, I’d weigh-in on the latter.)
GazoPa — next-generation image search. GazoPa is an image search engine created by Hitachi. It allows you to search for specific attributes in images — say if you find a handbag that you like, you may want to find handbags with a similar shape but different colors. You can also seach videos based on thumbnail images. Some of the panelists were concerned that similar technologies have been developed before without really taking off. Google’s Bradley Horowitz pointed to Like.com as a similar site that hasn’t gotten much traction, although my editor Matt Marshall reported stats from Like.com showing it is blasting ahead.
Fotonauts –where people and images come together. Blogger Robert Scoble, who was on the panel of judges, described Fotonauts as “Flickr done right.” Okay, our initial thought was, “Flickr was Flickr done right,” but the panelists seemed pretty impresed. The idea is to make it much easier to share photos with the world, with easy uploading, connection to other online services and encouraging the use of Creative Commons licenses for republication.
Videosurf — next generation search engine for video. Dean Takahashi wrote about Videosurf‘s “better way to search through videos,” but I will add that most of the judges seemed excited about the company’s potential.