AOL, the East Coast copycat — AOL is duplicating, hoping to catch up. It copied San Mateo hot company YouTube‘s video hosting, with its UnCut Video, and launched Aim Pages to compete with Santa Monica’s MySpace. Now it has purchased Lightningcast, a company that specializes in inserting advertising into video clips.
Google’s mobile offensive in Asia — Google has partnered with Japan’s KDDI to offer search engine services in Japan via the mobile phone starting in July. Google is also in talks with China’s largest phone operator, China Mobile, to do something similar in China, China Mobile said.
Google, Google… — Google Notebook is out — Here’s a review. Note that it’s a download, which contrasts with Google’s move to make its Google Video offering entirely Web-based — to stay up with YouTube. Finally, Google has made the Ajax tool (used in its popular Google Maps) available for free download.
Right decision made on Sarbanes-Oxley — Poor SOX always gets misunderstood. Even most critics of SOX usually concede that its measures are all good. The problem is lack of guidance. Small, cash-strapped companies are overwhelmed with trying to interpret the rules, and that’s what makes it costly: The start-ups have to hire expensive accountants and those accountants, fearful of being sued, go into overkill. So not exempting small companies from SOX, as was just decided, is the right thing to do. But giving those companies, regulators and accountants a couple of years to figure out how to implement them makes sense.
The Securities and Exchange Commission moved yesterday to make audit rules that have angered many companies easier and less expensive to apply. But despite political pressure, the commission said smaller companies would eventually have to comply with rules governing their internal controls. The commission also indicated that it would take at least two years to ensure that every public company was in compliance.
Charles River Ventures invests in Maxthon — The Beijing-based Maxthon offers an Internet browser and says it has 55 million users, and that the number is growing. Bill Tai, of the CRV’s Silicon Valley office, led the investment. WI Harper and Morten Lund, an early investor in Skype, are also investors.
Matrix Partners throws in the towel, begins investing consumer companies — Matrix Partners has long been one of the top three or so performing venture capital firms. It is quiet, and you may not have ever heard of them. They’ve traditionally invested in boring systems, chip and infrastructure companies. But lately, they too have joined the frenzy to invest consumer companies. They’ve invested in Tabblo, another blogging, photo-sharing social networking site, Matrix partner Silicon Valley partner Andy Verhalen confirmed. But Matrix has its own twist. Verhalen has invested in, and is on the board of Ambarella, which makes chips to help consumer sites with things like high-def video compression: “As consumer technology has advanced, the consumer-electronics industry is becoming less vertically integrated,” he said. (Translation: The old order, along with its old alliances, is falling apart.) “This creates openings for start-ups,” he said. Partner Nick Beim is on the board of theladders.com and Bob Lisbonne is on the board of Renkoo.com, and they’re “actively pursuing other opportunities in this area.”
Is eBay dead over in China? — That’s what Jack Ma, chief executive of the fast-growing Chinese private company Alibaba is saying. Remember, this is the guy who says he is the crocodile in the Yangtze River.
Web 2.0 exhaust — Finally, in case you aren’t aware, we’re in full-on Web 2.0 frenzy. We’re getting at least three announcements a day about new Web sites (we think it was like two a year back in 2002). Here’s the latest smattering:
Savvy Source — An SF-based group founded “by moms, for moms” to help Bay Area families identify the right pre-school for their children (a hot topic in CA right now with Prop 82 on the ballot). A combination of “Craigslist and Zagats,” it crows. Offers feedback from parents with children enrolled in the schools. A $35 fee to access the info.
Boompa.com — Built by two former CNET employees (Dave Snider/Architect, Ethan Lance/Engineer ) who were part of the team that built MP3.com and TV.com. It is a community for car geeks to publish their rides online and share knowledge about after-market parts. It’s got AJAX!
Esnips — a new content sharing and social networking site for older people.
MyPickList.com — An ecommerce site that allows users to create picklists and recommend their favorite items in multiple categories. For each category there’s a group of preferred merchants that pay a commission to users when someone purchases something off their picklist. Jeff Eichel is leading the show, and he has three dev team members in the valley. Self-funded.
The thriller IPO — Will Internet telephone company Vonage really pull of its IPO, as early as next week, despite growing complaints about its service?
Kleiner adds “pandemic” partner — Kleiner Perkins, the firm we can’t stop writing about, says Thomas P. Monath will join the firm next month as a partner to work on the firm’s “pandemic and bio-defense fund.” He hails from Acambis, where he was chief scientic officer.