To date, Facebook has focused the majority of its revenue efforts on ads, and, to a lesser extent, payment services around apps that run on its social platform. But Facebook commerce, where users buy physical or other good not connected to apps, is one area where Facebook has not done much– yet. In the meantime the social network becoming a revenue driver for third parties, including Berlin-based Ondango. Earlier this month, the company picked up a $500,0000 investment led by the new VC Connect Ventures in London, and it is now using that funding to further build out its services and the number of businesses using its platform to drive their Facebook marketplaces, including a push from next year into the U.S.
This brings the total amount of funding in Ondango, which went live 11 months ago, to $700,000. Other investors in Ondango include Andy Goldstein, executive director of the Ludwig MU Entrepreneurship Center, Estag Capital, Tilman Buggenhagen, Mario Brockmann and Alexander Klug.
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Clever ‘gif animations’ startup Loopc.am has released it’s new version which has been more or less been rebuilt from the ground up. This is an infectious app and has cleverly hooked into the craze for creating funny animations.
But that’s not why we’re mentioning it today. Founder Tor Rauden Källstigen has become a frequent travleller to North Korea, while working with the cross disciplinary project called Noko Jeans. While on a recent trip Källstigen managed to record some loopcam loops. Thus we present exclusively for you the first ever gif animations ever been made in North Korea. Enjoy. → Read More
Along with Amazon’s big tablet announcements earlier today, it’s finally also unveiled the first markets to get the Kindle Fire tablets — both the new Kindle Fire and the HD version — outside of the U.S. The news first trickled out in a forum announcement on Amazon.co.uk, which also announced availability of the new Kindle e-reader.
This is announcement is more significant than Amazon finally answering questions of when it would launch these tablets internationally. It’s a sign that it is getting ready to turn the taps on full and really start getting some global scale to their device operation. The Kindle readers have already been a big hit in markets where they have launched, and so launching the tablets, at competitive price points, will be Amazon’s first crack at truly upsetting the global balance for the tablet market, which has basically been dominated by Apple and the iPad, with very little headway from any single Android-based tablet vendor. Until, possibly, now.
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In the last few months we’ve seen the rise of location-based mobile networking the likes of which some people envisioned a while ago but few executed on. And the executions are patchy but often interesting. Banjo aggregates geo-tagged information from other services like 4sq, Twitter etc. Sonar uses your 4sq checkin and looks at social ties on other platforms. Circle alerts you when friends are nearby. Trover lets you share photos of cool discoveries. Highlight allows users to broadcast their profile wherever they go. Then there are professional event networking apps like Mingle, Bizaboo and Schmooze.
So far we’ve seen apps which let you converse around a location randomly with stranger, like flirting app Badoo. Sometimes that hasn’t ended well. What’s required is something which is vague about location (“close by” is good enough), has real people and provides open conversations to prevent abuse. Something like a location-based bulletin board. Mixer, on iOS, might just be that app [download it here]. → Read More
London-based Top10 has had a busy first year, with a September 2011 launch for their original web service announced alongside a $3.5 million Series A round, and then a Spotify app released in January that has so far seen users share over a million song recommendations. Now, the startup is refocusing on its web roots, with a new update that changes the focus slightly, away from user curated top tens and towards single picks of all-time favorites in each category the site offers.
Now, instead of building lists of their top pics of things like movies, TV shows, music, tech and people, users can just post their number one pick in any given area, which shows up in an interface not unlike what you’d encounter on Pinterest. The top10 lists are sill there, of course, but they’re now taking data from those “#1s” selected by the site’s users to crowd-source their results. The new approach made sense to Top10, according to co-founder and CEO Tom Leathes not only because of what it hopes to ultimately accomplish, but also because of the usage patterns of its community. → Read More
According to some estimates (such as from XyoLogic) around 0.1% of iOS apps get 50% of the the downloads on the app store (there are 650,000+ iOS apps), with as much as 60% of iOS apps never downloaded, and only about 30-50% of apps on Android getting any traction at all. With that in mind you can understand how desperate some app-based startups are.
So it’s a mystery to me that people are producing some apps that offer little in the way of new innovation to even mark them out from the crowd. Into this area comes two new iPhone camera apps which we are going to take a brief look at: Starmatic [iTunes link], a cute Instagram-like community app and Glopho [iTunes link], a news-gathering app. Can they step up to the plate? → Read More
Moscow-based online air travel booking startup OneTwoTrip announced this morning that it has raised $9 million in funding from Phenomen Ventures fund in exchange for a minority stake. The site offers Russian travellers a way to book their flights online, providing price comparisons and choice of airline. OneTwoTrip has already managed to gain considerable traction in Russia, launching first in beta back in May 2011 and then graduating to a full release in September of last year, and growing to average daily ticket sales of 3,500, with projected bookings in the $400 million range (of which OneTwoTrip sees a 6-7 percent cut) by the end of the year.
OneTwoTrip has succeeded in part because they launched with a solid product, with a website that definitely offers a more contemporary feel when compared to its competitors. The timing is also a big factor in its success, however, as online tourism in Russia is a fast-growing market – Phenomen Ventures’ partner Dmitry Falkovich, who also joins the OneTwoTrip board as part of the deal, said in a press release that Russia’s online tourism is growing at a rate of roughly 70 percent per year, and scattered reports from various destinations including Bulgaria, Greece and Abu Dhabi put incoming the number of incoming Russian tourists on a rapid rise, sometimes up by as much as 128 percent this year over last.
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Nokia and Motorola had their day in the device spotlight yesterday, and today it is Amazon’s turn, with Apple’s next week. So in the middle of all of this, just to make sure we don’t forget about it, Samsung has released some numbers on sales of its newest smartphone, the Galaxy S III.
Samsung says it has sold over 20 million units of Galaxy S III in the first 100 days of launch: 6 million in Europe, 4.5 mill