The latest in tech-land:
German competitor rains on LinkedIn’s parade — LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke flew to Germany to manage the opening of a new German Web site there. Upon his arrival, however, LinkedIn’s German competitor, OpenBC announced it plans to go public within the next six months on the German and Swiss exchanges, depending on market conditions. Seemed a coincidence for the company to make the statement, and perhaps an attempt to grab the headlines? The company is reportedly making a mere 6 million euros in revenue per year, not enough for it to go public in the U.S. Guericke, in turn, tells another German publication that the two companies had talked about merging, but couldn’t come to an agreement. (Update: Guericke tells VentureBeat that the reference in the article to “talks” was misinterpreted, and that a merger offer was never made. Moreover, he says OpenBC’s stated traffic numbers have declined, from 1.5 million in a July press release, to 1.45 million in their IPO announcement.)
They both have a similar strategy — letting business people connect with each other through their network. OpenBC has about 1.5 users, compared to LinkedIn’s 8 million.
Google giving bloody noses with “free strategy” — A consistent strategy of Google is to offer things for free — Gmail, video, office apps, you name it — soon, perhaps even phones. Google is offering its online payment feature for free until the end of the year. It’s also offering a new coupon feature and the ability to send customers an invoice by email, all of which are likely to make eBay and its leading payment product, PayPal feel the pain. Now Google’s chief exec Eric Schmidt is probably giving eBay fits by saying phones should soon be free. This comes even as some executives are leaving eBay’s other property, phone service Skype.
The New York Times tries to coin “Web 3.0” — It has become somewhat trite: Declaring that we’ve moved to Web 3.0.
Web 1.0 was the Web as we first knew it, offering information, but not much way to interact. Web 2.0, the NYT explains, described the ability to seamlessly connect applications (like mapping) and services (like photo-sharing). Web 3.0, the NYT concludes, is the ability to generate semantics, or human-like understanding, so that a Web site can respond intelligently to a question like: “Which American city would be most vulnerable to an anthrax attack during summer?” The story is worth reading, to get a sense of the various efforts underway, but it’s not clear whether we’re getting there anytime soon.
— Radar Networks, of San Francisco, which we mentioned earlier here. It is gathering content from web sites, and storing associations it sees between various people and things within its database.
—KnowItAll, a project run by a group of University of Washington, that has been financed by Google. It has created one system called Opine, designed to extract and aggregate information from review sites.
—Cycorp, an Austin company run by Doug Lenat, which is learning by mining the Web and which says it can answer the question posed above about anthrax.
Mark Zuckerberg wearing flip-flops — Lot of brouhaha about Zuckerberg, chief executive of social networking company Facebook, wearing flip-flops at the FourSquare conference, where everyone else — including media moguls — wore perfectly pressed suits. Good for him!