TC50: The five companies to watch

Fifty startups launched on-stage at the TechCrunch50 conference over the last few days. Despite a few duds, most presenters had cool ideas, solid products, or both. VentureBeat writer Kim-Mai Cutler and I watched all of the presentations, and now we’ve put together a list of our five favorite companies.

TC50: Clixtr launches an iPhone app for real-time photosharing

There are a billion ways to share photos online, and even to gather all the photos taken at special events in one place. But more and more people are taking photos on their smartphones, and now Clixtr has created an iPhone app that offers similar features for iPhone photos. The company launched today at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco.

TC50: Sprowtt automates early IPOs for startups

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists complain frequently that few companies can have initial public offerings (IPOs) anymore, because the legal difficulties and compliance costs are so high. A startup called Sprowtt says many more companies will now be able to sell shares to the public, and to do so much earlier in their life, because its websites automates the process. The company launched today at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco.

TC50: Startups can trade favors at TheSwop.com

When you’re running a startup, you don’t have a lot of money to spend on services. That’s why startups often trade services between each other, or look for bartering opportunities. A company called TheSwop.com, which debuted its product at the TechCrunch50 event in San Francisco today, has created a site that formalizes that favor-trading process.

TC50: SeatGeek tells you when to buy tickets

There are lots of websites, such as StubHub, that let people resell tickets to sports games and other events. But it can be nerve-wracking and expensive to buy those tickets, since you don’t know what’s going to happen to ticket prices. Should you buy now before prices go up further? Or will prices plummet right before an undersold event? SeatGeek, which demonstrated its service at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco, says it has built a complex mathematical model that predicts how ticket prices will fluctuate on secondary ticket markets. It’s still in testing, but by looking at factors like weather, ticket prices at similar events, and other data, SeatGeek says that when predicting whether prices will rise or fall, it is already 75 to 80 percent accurate. The site is opening to the public today. It takes a 7 to 10 percent cut of each ticket sale, and offers other services like email alerts when prices hit their lowest point.

TC50: DataXu optimizes ad campaigns in real-time

Online advertising took a beating in 2008, but the market continues to rebound. Advertising startup DataXu — pronounced “data zoo” — displayed a new technology at the TechCrunch50 event that optimizes online ad campaigns in real-time across several exchanges including Google and Yahoo’s marketplaces. DataXu uses machine learning techniques to analyze vast amounts of data, including clickthrough rates and purchasing patterns.

TC50: 5to1 gives publishers more control over their ads

Everyone’s seen ads on blogs and other websites that seem like a terrible fit with the site. Heck, there’s a chance that you’ve probably seen ads like that once or twice on VentureBeat. A startup called 5to1 demonstrated a new technology at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco that fights back against those terrible ads, by giving web publishers choice in which ads run on their site.

TC50: Clicker is a TV guide for the Internet age

Clicker, a startup launching at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco today, says one of the problems with watching TV online is figuring out what’s on: Where’s our TV guide for the web? Clicker says it’s the first “structured, comprehensive and unbiased guide for online television.”

TC50: Toybots helps toys come to life with Internet connectivity

Toybots Woozees, which launched at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco today, is a platform toy makers can use to build Internet connectivity and GPS tracking into their products. For example, an enabled teddy bear can use a built-in accelerometer to tell when you give it a hug, or a talking Elmo could be remotely updated with fresh sayings.

TC50: FluidHtml builds a more web-friendly version of Flash

Adobe’s Flash is a popular format for web developers because it allows companies to build pretty, interactive web apps, but it also comes with plenty of headaches. A startup called FluidHtml, launching at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco today, announced a new web markup language, also called FluidHtml, which it promises has the richness of Flash while eliminating disadvantages.

TC50: iTwin allows encrypted, cableless file-sharing

iTwin, one of the startups launching at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco today, is a hardware product that wirelessly allows two computers to share encrypted data from anywhere in the world. The founders call it a “cableless cable” because it connects two computers, without an actual cable.