Here’s the latest action:

Peak coal? — You’ve probably heard of the concept of “peak oil,” which refers to that point in time when we extract more oil than ever before, but after which we begin a long, steady decline as oil gets harder to locate. Increasingly, experts argues we’re nearing that point. Until now, though, the assumption is that we’re a long way from “peak coal.” Coal has always been considered a fall-back for when oil runs out. But now a German organization Energy Watch Group argues we could be closer to peak coal than previously thought, perhaps a mere 10 years away. As Cleantechblog puts it, if true, that would be a very, very, big deal.

Pudding raises $3.5M for voice-driven shopping platform — This is a secretive company funded by Menlo Park, Calif.’s Opus Capital, though with operations apparently in Israel.

CircleLending gets boost — The Waltham, Mass. company facilitates loans between friends and relatives. Now Virgin USA has acquired a majority stake in the company, following $16 million in backing from folks like Venrock, Monitor Company, Intel Capital and Omidyar Network. The five-year old company competes against loan network sites Zopa and Prosper.

Craig, of Craigslist, reminds us — “We’re in the top 10 companies in traffic with a staff of 24,” he tells BusinessWeek in an interview.

Wikipedia would be worth billions of dollars — So says Jimmy Wales, founder of the online encyclopedia in a flirt with Wallstrip, noting that making Wikipedia a non-profit was the dumbest thing he ever did, because it would be making serious money (though its hard to tell whether he’s serious).

The Pirate Bay working on YouTube competitor Pirate Bay, a reclusive operation which lets millions people share copyrighted movies without paying for them — to the chagrin of the studios — confirmed it is launching a site modeled after YouTube but where there will be “no censorship.” The site will be at, though it’s not up yet.

Microsoft keeps pushing cool new stuff — Microsoft Research chief Craig Mundie talks of a project called Fone+ that will let the mobile phone work with a TV as a secondary display, and one that could allow video stored on the device to be played back on the television. In another move, Microsoft has unveiled Popfly, a new way to build and share Web pages, applications and mashups. First, Popfly provides cool visual tools for the building. Second, it also provides an online community of other users, to rate, comment and share work done on Popfly.

Yahoo seeking $1 billion buy of Bebo? — The latest rumor, in the UK publication Telegraph, is that Yahoo wants to buy the popular social networking company, Bebo. Bebo is far behind MySpace and Facebook. Yahoo reportedly talked with Facebook last year, but couldn’t come to a deal. So the next level down is Bebo and a group of others of similar size, such as Hi5, Piczo and Tagged. However, the Telegraph story doesn’t inspire much trust, citing only “Silicon Valley gossip” for its source. Rumors of a Bebo purchase by British Telecom and Financial Times have surfaced before, but didn’t pan out, so take it with a grain of salt.

MixerCast, yet another embeddable flash media playerMixerCast is a new San Mateo, Calif. start-up that lets you make slide shows for video, images and other files, and is very similar to Slide, Rockyou and several others. It has just launched, announcing partnerships with video and image content owners that give Mixercast users the right to use samples of copyrighted work. Techcrunch has more, noting Mixercast will soon turn on a shopping cart at the bottom of the player. This will allowing users to sell copies of the licensed content to friends or other visitors to their site. Revenue is the split between licenser of the song (or video or other content), the user and Mixercast. These are arrangements Rockyou and Slide have been slow to form, but it’s hard to tell how yet another player will have much success (though all of these services are growing so quickly, you never know). Mixercast has received $2.6 million in backing from ComVentures. They’re already looking for another round of funding. See an example of a Mixercast slide-show below, or click here to see it live:


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