YC-Backed Bop.fm Links Together Music Silos Like Spotify, Radio And iTunes To Share Tracks Universally
Competition for listeners among digital music companies is tough (and getting tougher). But while each builds a business that it hopes will stand out enough from the rest of the pack, a new startup called Bop.fm, incubated at Y-Combinator this past summer, is blurring those distinctions a bit, with a platform that meshes all the services together on a universal platform — a “canonical home for music on the internet,” as Bop.fm’s co-founder and CEO Shehzad Daredia puts it.
Bop works like this: You can search for and listen to any song on Bop.fm: Bop.fm detects what music subscriptions you may have and provides tracks from those services first — currently it catalogues streaming services Spotify and Rdio, as well as free services like YouTube and SoundCloud, and paid-for download services like iTunes, Amazon and Google Play; it plans to add more. In cases where you do not subscribe to Spotify or Rdio, or the track is not available on either, a user is given a YouTube link, or a SoundCloud link. You also get options to buy and download tracks. In each case, what Bop.fm has done is use the digital “fingerprint” of each track effectively to map each of these services on top of each other so that you get just one option for listening to it, and one for purchasing.
Then, you can create a link to that song to share with others. That link comes back to Bop.fm, and as with your original listening experience, Bop.fm detects which services you use before serving a result.
This is a service that has been built with users in mind: it can be annoying when something is shared by someone that you cannot access. Living in London but connected to a lot of people in the U.S., I know this frustration firsthand. (I’ve lost count of the number of times that Twitter links to interesting video clips have taken me to static screens with a “sorry, not accessible in your region” message.) As Daredia tells me, “You don’t have to use the same JPEG viewer when you look at a picture, so why should I have to use the same music service?” (Note to Bop.fm: please do this for video next.)
There is also a B2B2C relevance here: publishers or site operators who want to make sure that links that they are publishing, or allowing others to publish, work for everyone who sees them, not just those in a particular region.
As Geoff Ralston of Y-Combinator describes it, “The ongoing proliferation of music services such as these make a service like Bop a near inevitability.” Indeed, without any obvious promotion, Bop.fm, in private beta, is already streaming 100,000 songs per day from consumer traffic and sites like RapGenius.com, one of Bop’s first partners, where it powers music playback.
(And now, for a little music break to demonstrate the service, a hat-tip to music services working together harmoniously:)
When I first heard about Bop.fm, I was very intrigued. It reminds me a bit of another startup called Soundrop, which also integrating track playback across different music services; the difference is that it does so in communal “listening rooms” while Bop.fm offers the experience on a single-track basis, with options to purchase tracks alongside listening. Like Soundrop, Bop.fm has piqued the interest of music portals, as well as labels. For the former, it’s a way of potentially bringing in more users to their platforms longer-term (free links can lead to paid subscriptions or paid downloads). For the latter, it will be yet another way of making sure that the marketing effort expended on an artist gets the biggest bang. In a digital music world that seems to have had fragmentation built into it, Bop.fm is providing a consumer- and business-friendly way out of that.
Between them, the two co-founders, Daredia and Stefan Gomez, know a thing or two about how to leverage the concept of aggregation to build successful, consumer-focused businesses. Daredia tells me that collectively they have worked at 11 sites built on search, including the travel juggernaut Kayak (where Daredia led user acquisition), Billshrink (eventually sold to MasterCard) and Foodily.
Longer term, you can see a lot of potential of Bop.fm, with the addition of playlists, more siloed music services, advertising, other merchandising and special pages dedicated to particular artists, and Bop getting used to power music on platforms that, like Bop.fm itself, want to see less friction and more grooving.
The Greens and Labor teamed up in the Senate yesterday to successfully move a motion which would force the Coalition Government to table the text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before Australia signs the treaty.
Today, Valleywag got its hands on leaked screenshots of Uber's dashboard, along with a series of numbers from two weeks ago that show raw revenue, signups, active clients and ride request/completion ratios. TechCrunch has verified with a source that this is Uber's official dashboard.
TechCrunch also contacted Uber, who said that they would ‘take action' against the leaker. They did not deny the authenticity of the screenshots and numbers.
The numbers span a period of between mid-October and mid-November of 2013 and allow us to form a picture, though incomplete, of Uber's income and user statistics over the period. According to our calculations based on the information laid out in the dashboard screenshots - and assuming some similarity in numbers for the rest of the year - the car service should be pulling in over $ 1B a year in gross bookings. At a rough 20% cut, a figure Valleywag notes Kalanick has alluded to, that would place Uber's slice of the revenue around $ 213M a year.
The five week period also showed over 11% in revenue growth, with over 398,000 new signups in aggregate at just under 80k each week. Uber is also clocking around 1M requests every week and completing around 800k each week. The data points to a healthy business which maintains a strong ratio of continuing users to new signups and big ‘conversion' rates between people who look at the app and people who actually use it.
A recent filing uncovered by Kara Swisher at All Things D put Uber's valuation at $ 3.5B, and sources had pegged revenue for 2013 at around $ 125M. Going by that, Uber is doing significantly better than estimated.
We contacted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick about the leak, and he did not deny that the numbers were accurate. He also had a few things to say about how the story was reported by Valleywag.
“The surprising part is that Valleywag knowingly outed their own source. Valleywag actually knew the screenshot had identifying information of the individual leaker prior to them publishing this story,” Kalanick told TechCrunch in a statement. “We told Nitasha Tiku from Valleywag that we would protect her source from legal ramifications if they did not publish the document. Nitasha and Valleywag decided to publish anyways. We obviously take the dissemination of our proprietary information seriously and we will be looking to take action against the individual leaker and Valleywag source in short order.”
TechCrunch then reached out to Gawker about the details of how the piece was reported. Editor John Cook told us that the screenshots did not, in fact, have any identifying information.
“We didn't publish any identifying information about the source of the screengrab,” Cook says. “We don't know who sent us that shot, and neither does Uber. As you know from reading the piece, the person who sent us the information got it after an unidentified Uber employee logged into an Uber administrative console from a computer that our source had access to,” Cook wrote.
“When we reached out to Uber last night, CEO Travis Kalanick helpfully confirmed the veracity of the information by threatening to claim we “outed” our source by failing to redact the timestamp information displayed in the screengrab. What he fails to understand–or is lying about in an effort to smear a critical reporter–is the fact that the person who provided us that screengrab is not the person who logged into Uber's administrative console. If Kalanick retaliates against that employee, he will be not be punishing our source.”
Regardless of the details of how they were leaked, it seems clear that these are indeed screenshots of Uber's internal dashboard. And the vehemence of the response by Uber also appears to indicate that the information on the dashboard is revealing.
Note, of course, that the interpretation of the data is not confirmed, and we're only working off of leaked information here. The math is rough, to say the least and whatever this is, it's likely not a complete snapshot of Uber as a company. If the readings by Valleywag, and our own crunching, are correct though, Uber is in fantastic shape.
Article Title updated to refer to revenue, rather than profit.
The Queensland State Government has gone to market to set up a whole of government cloud computing panel which would allow its many departments and agencies to purchase IT infrastructure services in this category from a set list of suppliers.
Brazilian Antivirus Startup PSafe Raises $30M Series C From China’s Qihoo 360 And Redpoint e.ventures
Brazilian antivirus startup PSafe announced a $ 30 million Series C investment round today. Chinese antivirus company Qihoo 360 led the round with a $ 25 million investment, and existing investors Redpoint e.ventures and Pinnacle Ventures returned to contribute another $ 5 million. PSafe is a free antivirus software for the Brazilian market, with 30 million installs to date, and heavy initial adoption among Brazil's B and C middle classes. It runs in the background and updates on its own so users never have to worry about whether they're running the current version. PSafe also offers unlimited free cloud storage to backup users' hard files. Founder and CEO Marco de Mello (pictured) calls it the "don't talk to me" antivirus. "I think people are starting to realize, ‘why pay for something when I get mediocre service, if I can get something better for free,'” de Mello says. "It's better and free." PSafe has 20 million average monthly users and no revenue. But de Mello, a Spotrunner veteran and former director of Microsoft Windows Security, says he's in the business of building trust, not revenue – for now. De Mello says the company's focus is to reach 100 million users and is planning for the milestone with an app, content and game store that will live within the PSafe interface. PSafe has no direct Brazilian competitors, but international antivirus heavyweights AVG, Avast, McAfee and Symantec all operate in Brazil. De Mello cites a cultural advantage, saying it's the only one with free Portuguese support, 24/7. De Mello plans on using the growth capital "on tech build-out, obviously," and on scaling to 100 million users. But he's planning more holistically than a cost-per-acquisition campaign, designating the lion's share of his user acquisition budget to awareness marketing. "We need to educate users about what they're facing every day in Brazil when they pick up their Android phone or log on to Windows.” PSafe's database goes back almost three years and includes 7.3 billion different threat signatures. The software detects about 70,000 new threats per day, and announces some of them in Portuguese at @PSafeTecnologia. The top-level threats are cyber theft and financial attacks against individuals, followed by more coordinated attacks that take over a lot of machines at once to attack a bigger target without users knowing their computers are infected. "That's part of the awareness I'm trying to drive," de Mello says. "If you don't secure your machine
We’ve been seeing some very interesting moves from retail giant Coles over the past several years with respect to cloud computing and software as a service adoption. Nothing revolutionary, but solid moves nonetheless.
If you’re anything like me, you want your mobile device to fetch exactly what you ask for without requiring much effort on your part at all. And though Siri and Google Voice Actions do pretty well when you give simple commands or ask simple questions like “What temperature is it?” or “ Why is Tom Daley trending on Twitter?” they are less likely to be able to come up with a list of your beloved’s favorite restaurants from the conversations you’ve had via email.
Today Microsoft flipped the switch on Student Advantage, a program, announced in October, that extends the availability of Office to students of educational institutions that pay for Office 365 for their staff and faculty.
According to Microsoft, 35,000 educational institutions are eligible for Student Advantage, which provides access to the ProPlus SKU of Office 365, again provided that its paid staff are current users of Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus.
Office 365 ProPlus includes Access and Lync, making it a robust set of tools. Microsoft took a dig at Google in its announcement, stating that “[e]ven Google's own job postings require competency with Microsoft Office tools.”
What this means in practice is that Microsoft is lowering the marginal cost of Office for students to zero, while guaranteeing itself revenue through contracts with universities and the like. Microsoft cannot afford to cede mind and market share to Google, which provides a free Office competitor, and it must preserve its revenue from the product, which is a key profit source.
Office 365 ProPlus generally costs around $ 12 per month, per user, so the amount of ‘free' software that Microsoft will provide is non-trivial. To protect Office from low, or zero-cost competitors, it's probably sensible for it to sacrifice some revenue opportunity to keep up its primacy in the productivity market.
Top Image Credit: Flickr
As contradictory as it sounds, some intranets, social platforms, knowledge exchanges and internal communities run the risk of being too successful. They’re in danger of reaching a stage in their development where their size, success and growth can cause complacency.
US retailers had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend as consumers turned their attention from family dinners to good deals, driving mobile sales to record highs. According to just released statistics from Adobe, "consumers took full advantage of their mobile devices to shop on Thanksgiving Day and ‘omnishop’ while in stores on Black Friday," triggering back-to-back billion dollar shopping days.