Bix is a Palo Alto start-up that wants to feed off the popularity of American Idol.

It has just launched. We mentioned it here when it was still in testing mode.

It lets people compete in online karaoke, dance, and other contests. It kicks off with a $50,000 prize.

The company says the idea is to let other companies sponsor these competitions, thereby building their brands within what Bix hopes will be a young, attractive user base. But as you may expect from a start-up, it launches this first $50,000 competition without a sponsor.

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One notable development at some of these recent Silicon Valley companies is how much experience they can draw on from local employees. In a press release (sorry, no link), the company boasts industry “veterans” from eBay, Symantec, AOL Netscape, BEA, Epinions,, Intuit, Logitech, E*trade, A9 and Electronic Arts.