Here’s the latest action:
1) AOL buys Quigo for a reported $300 million
2) Cars compete, and collide, at yearly DARPA competition
3) Yahoo feeling its startup vittles?
4) AOL and CBS dump hi-def project
5) Digg may buy CoRank and Meneame
6) Radar launches photo-sharing channels
7) No Second Life investment, after all
8) Zilok launches rental service in US
9) Salesforce Ideas kicks off service
10) Google’s got the short stuff
AOL to snap up another advertising company — After Time Warner/AOL acquired targeted advertiser Tacoda just over three months ago for a reported $300 million, one might expect AOL to spend time digesting its prey. Instead, it has plowed another $300 million into Quigo, an Israeli advertising startup. Quigo has two products. The first, AdSonar, is much like Google’s AdSense. It provides paid links in user’s search results. The second, FeedPoint, crawls websites to extract data used for pay-per-click advertising campaigns. Quigo, founded in 2001, had raised about $45 million in financing from investors including Highland Capital Partners and Steamboat Ventures. There’s still some action left in Internet ad stakes.
Can robots drive cars? — This year, the Grand Challenge, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) featured cars racing along a city course while surrounded by traffic. The goal was for the car, without a driver, to complete the course as quickly as possible. Carnegie Mellon and Stanford won first and second prize, respectively. But one car from MIT collided with another car. One from Florida slammed into a building. The prize was $3.5 million. More here.
Yahoo feeling youthful again? — A trio of news items popped up earlier this week about new Yahoo startups: Kickstart, FireEagle, and Zync. The first, the product of Yahoo’s “Advanced Products Group,” is a new social network intended to help college students plan their future. Keep in mind that Yahoo has been struggling with the idea of social networks for quite a while, with Yahoo 360 down the tubes and Mash not looking likely to compete well against Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and others. You might call Kickstart a Facebook with a point. Then again, will anyone really want a Facebook that isn’t a frivolous time-waster?
FireEagle is from Yahoo’s San Francisco incubator, the BrickHouse. It’s a location service: Enter where you are, or send the information via a GPS-enabled phone, and it’ll return nearby listings. A good idea, but one that plenty of others have had; see this post for details on a few. Yahoo’s best bet on competing will be to use its big-company positioning to throw weight behind the product. Finally, Zync allows users of Yahoo’s instant messaging client to watch YouTube videos together. Basically, a feature, and one that’s already included in the latest version, Yahoo Messenger 9.0.
AOL and CBS call it quits on Hi-Q — More AOL news, really? This time, it’s a failed project (more in line with what we normally hear about from the company). Hi-Q, a joint venture with CBS, was set up two years ago to offer high-definition video online. There were a few problems with the idea: The player required a download, it didn’t work on all computers, and HD downloads are too slow for the zero-patience population of the Internet. Fair warning, for all the other companies just getting into the HD game (more on the development of HD here).
Digg is in talks to buy companies CoRank and Meneame — At least, that’s the rumor at the Social News Insider and Mashable. CoRank lets people build their own social news sites. Meneame is a Spanish Digg clone.
Radar, the mobile photo-sharing applications, launches content channels — Radar lets users share and comment on cameraphone photos and videos via their mobile or web browser. It has been growing quickly, lately, having hit half a million users a few weeks ago. Yesterday, it introduced channels with syndicated third-party content — videos from Vimeo, movie promotions and such.
Massive Second Life investment? Nope, just trade in owner — We reported in April that Second Life was raising money at a whopping valuation of $500 million or more, but the company said there was no truth to it. Now we’ve learned what happened. Techcrunch reports that Catamount Ventures, one of the first investors in Second Life, has sold 10 percent of its stake in the company, which the firm had picked up in 2000. The sale was apparently made at a huge valuation. Jed Smith, the Catamount Managing Director who sits on the board of Second Life’s parent company, Linden Labs, confirmed the sale, but wouldn’t comment on the exact price.
Digg-for-ideas – Salesforce has released “Salesforce Ideas,” which lets companies give customers a way to post ideas about how to improve products. It requires buying a license for between $50-$100 per user per month, however. We’ve reported on the alternative, Satisfaction, which is free. See Techcrunch story for more.
Google still trying to compete in China – Its latest move: Buying g.cn, a rare single-letter domain name, as the home of its Chinese search portal. If you can’t beat ’em with functionality, beat ’em with convenience.