This morning, ten more companies presented from the Techcrunch40 conference, and here’s our ranking of the companies, in order of whether we’d like to hold stock in them: Xobni, Mint, Spottt (Adbrite), Kerpoof, ZocDoc, Pubmatic, Orgoo, Clickable, GotStatus, App2you.
Xobni, helping organize your email — It’s too bad that Xobni only works with Microsoft Outlook, because it might just be the first step toward curing the email disease. We wrote about Xobni here, predicting it will win the crown of this Techcrunch40 conference. CEO Matt Brezina tells us it has become so popular that he’s going to close the site, and make it invite only. The application places a user interface atop your email client that helps ease the process of switching between multiple tasks. It extracts and clearly displays relevant contact information, like phone numbers and the email sender’s importance, often a time-consuming hassle. It has no clear way to make money, but plenty of ideas. If Microsoft, Yahoo or Google don’t acquire it (why they may race to do), it can charge service providers like Skype to be the default call client when people click on phone numbers (Skype is the default now). It could charge sales people or recruiters who want to add it within their Salesforce platform. It can also make money by offering support services to corporations who want their employees use Xobni. While Google does not have an API, and so Xobni couldn’t be built on top of it, Xobni can be built upon Yahoo. Moreover, Google might be interested in the company in order to steal put itself directly on Outlook and use the Gmail for use in the sidebar — in the process stealing Microsoft users.
Mint, a personal-finance tracking tool — Mint users, at least those who have never used Quicken, will find themselves wondering how they ever survived without having a centralized application showing how they spent their money. Those who have used Quicken will marvel at how much easier Mint is to use. Having lurked in stealth mode for months, Mint is debuting as a nearly mature web application that can directly access your bank and credit card accounts and keep you informed as to what’s happening with your finances. It’s aimed at helping you save money, and can even suggests using different financial services tailored to your lifestyle. Take a look at our longer post detailing Mint’s features here.
Spottt, the resurrection of “link exchange” — Spottt is the latest invention of Phil Kaplan, the founder of Adbrite and earlier of F***edcompany.com. It is wonderfully straight-forward: It lets sites exchange ads, to boost each other’s traffic. Publishers provide an ad for another site, in return for accepting an ad from the other site. Spottt does this for free, but later presumably will take a cut. Spottt is promising because most sites have ad space that can go empty for periods of time, after an advertising campaign ends, for example. The idea first arose in 1996, when Tony Hsieh launched a company called Link Exchange. By its first year, 30,000 Web sites were using it. A million were using it in 1998, when Microsoft bought it for $250 million. However, Microsoft shut it down this year, Hsieh tells us. This is consternating, given the tens of millions of blogs that could use this service. Kaplan has recruited Hsieh as an advisor for the new effort. The ads are of 125×125 pixel size, and must run “above the fold.” Sites apply for admission to Spottt, and choose a category. Then one shoe retail site can exhange ads with a shoe repair site, for example. Spottt is easy to use. You submit your URL, and Spottt provides you a dashboard which shoes ad impressions being run on your partner sites. The service is part of a more mature company, Adbrite, so we’d be buying stock in a more pricey company, thus less upside.
Kerpoof, an edutainment site for kids — It’s no surprise, following the acquisition of Club Penguin for $350 million, that other startups are hankering for a slice of the growing online market for kids. But CEO Krista Marks’ enthusiasm for helping kids grow intellectually shone through during her presentation. Kerpoof is a little different from other sites in that it’s less of a social portal for kids, and more of a place for them to explore their own creative yearnings. Children can use the site to draw pictures and write their own illustrated stories. More interesting is the animated video creation tool, in which children are provided with a set and a crew of characters and objects whose movements they can direct. Marks compared the creation process of the videos to coding with the help of an integrated development environment (IDE), noting that American children need more educational tools that can help them think scientifically. Kerpoof plans to offer some of its services for a subscription.
ZocDoc, a good way to get a dentist or doctor recommendation on the fly — This site lets you put in your zip code, and then look for things like an emergency appointment with a dentist, or a consultation about a bad rash with a doctor. ZocDoc returns results of the best rated physicians according to user input. It lets you sort by those who accept your insurance. It also gives you a profile page stating where the doctor or dentist went to school, research papers they’ve written, and other notes by users. Most of us get doctors or dentists from personal recommendations, but sometimes that’s not good enough. That’s when ZocDoc comes in handy. The site just went live, so is relatively spartan. It has about 2 percent of Manhattan’s dentists listed already. When questioned by the panel about vulnerability to rating fraud, the company said it is being advised by user-feedback leading sites Tripadvisor and Yelp, about how to take down comments that appear fraudulent. It will get money from referrals. No mobile version yet.
Orgoo, aggregating your personal communications — This is a very cool company, but it is major risk of getting stomped by Google and other bigger brand platforms. If Xobni is about reforming a single type of communication (email), Orgoo is about lumping together every way you communicate online. Whether you’ve got Gmail, Yahoo, POP-based email or any other common account, you can channel it all to Orgoo; likewise, almost every instant messaging client can run through the web-based application. Once all your accounts are connecting through the service, it will collect all your communication in a single interface. And, if you need to search through your old chats or emails, Orgoo will simultaneously scan saved email, instant messaging, voice and video communications. IMAP is also supported. Orgoo is available either on the web or as a download for mobile devices. They plan on monetizing the site through premium services and advertisements.
Pubmatic, a way to auction ad space on your blog to the network that pays the most — We’ve written about this company before, and the news today is that it has launched publicly. It says one customer, Sportsvite, reported a 90 percent increase in revenues after using the site. The challenge remains the same. It is having difficulty getting real-time data on prices offered by ad networks, and so it’s not a real-time auction. It looks at past prices, which isn’t ideal. But the concept of a meta-platform to select the best paying ads is a smart one. The danger is that it gets swallowed by a sea of competitors.
Clickable, making online ad management easy for small businesses — We’ve written about this company before. Its use is in letting the small fry — or about 325,000 online advertisers who have less than a $50,000 budget to spend on ads — get an easy overview of their campaigns. It lets see how to change the campaigns to become more efficient. It lets you see across ad networks. Last time, we didn’t have screen shots, but here are some (downloads pdf). There’s still no automatic public access to the site, although you can request an account. There’s plenty of competition in this market, from companies serving big advertisers. Whether Clickable can find a market is open to question
GotStatus, a back-end Web site system management too — GoStatus is a sort of Google Analytics for the server side of a Web business, showing for example, how much load the server is carrying, how much email is flowing through a customer relations management application running on it, and so on. It is open source, and lets developers add features, so you can choose a number of things to monitor, such “new accounts per day,” “alerts sent per hour,” and “database backup speed.” You do all this by adding a snippet of code. This company, like Clickable, is hoping to fly under the radar of big competitors, by serving smaller businesses. Its not clear how much of a market the company can build from this.
App2you, customizable application building — App2you’s presentation and screenshots were dry and somewhat confusing. The service is a platform for creating database-driven applications. App2you’s tools will allow its customers to design and customize information from databases, choosing the look and layout. App2you comes from a University of Calif., San Diego lab, and its founder is a professor on leave. While the construction at least looks well thought-out, and will present other startups like DabbleDB and Coghead with serious competition, App2you’s greater challenge will be competing with enterprise solutions, at the moment Salesforce’s recently launched Force. The company seems to be planning to compete with Salesforce by offering a simpler, more intuitive application.
(This was co-written with Chris Morrison)
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