South Korea is no stranger to controversy over its Internet policies. The country still mandates virus protection and security measures that essentially require the use of Internet Explorer and Windows, and the government has one of the most aggressive Internet policing bureaucracies in the democratic world. The Economist has called the country an “Internet dinosaur” despite its… Read More
When decorating their over-the-top headquarters, supervillains need to choose bold office furniture that matches their even bolder schemes to take over the world. And designer Toni Grilo delivers with this gravity-defying coffee table, which looks like it’s perpetually on the verge of falling over.
Headed to Barcelona for MWC? Love you some start-up talk, presentations, and global mobile meet up chitter chatter? Join Natasha Lomas, Ingrid Lunden, and myself on February 24, 104 at 10pm-midnight at the official TC MWC meet up held in cooperation with Bubble Over Barcelona.
This is a global mobile meet up designed to mix innovators and influencers in town for Mobile World Congress. We are doing this in a majestic, historic Mansion in the Eixample district where all the night time action occurs away from the conference venue. A select amount of tickets will be released by TechCrunch, so watch for news on how to get them and @bobmwc. If you don’t want to risk it, go ahead and purchase a ticket to gain entry. We are capping this event at 200 people so it is not too crowded and attendees can engage in real conversations. There will be three open bars set up across the two-floor building to encourage mingling, along with a large terrace overlooking the city so you can enjoy the views. The tickets are a bit expensive but we are trying to encourage real conversation in a stellar and it will definitely be a valuable opportunity.
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014
Time: 10pm-12:00pm midnight
Location: El Palauet, Passeig de Gràcia 113 – 08008 Barcelona
Buy tickets here.
We’re also going to hold a mini pitch off at the event, inviting 5 entrepreneurs to take the stage to pitch to a panel of expert judges. The five entrepreneurs will get two free tickets each and the winner will get a table at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York and two runners up will get a ticket to the event. You can apply below and we’ll contact those we choose directly.
The Securities and Exchange Commission released provisional rules to regulate equity crowdfunding on Oct. 23. The comment period officially ends on Feb. 3, but there is no end in sight to the debate.
Vkontakte, a social networking site known as the “Facebook of Russia”, is facing legal action from nine music labels including EMI, Sony and Warner over what they claim is the unlawful distribution of some 6,000 tracks of licensed music on the site from artists like Madonna, Linkin Park, Metallica and Beyonce. The lawsuits are being prepared for filing after the holidays, according to the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
Pavel Durov, the founder and CEO of Vkontakte, says the site is prepared to negotiate with them, as it has with video rightsholders. “If some music companies wish their content to be deleted from VK, we, as always, are willing to comply with their wish,” he told TechCrunch. “On the other hand, we are also ready to seek mutually beneficial ways to monetize their content. This year we managed to find such a solution for video content and we are optimistic about the audio section of VK as well.
“Of course, if no agreement with large record companies is reached, their content will be deleted and VK music service will rely mostly on independent artists.”
If the suits go ahead, they look like they may be some of the first big moves from music rightsholders to go after a major site in the wake of a new anti-piracy law in the country designed to protect copyright better.
That law originally was aimed to focus more on video content but there are some who hope to extend it to include music. The law enforces improved communication by requiring site owners to provide easy-to-find contact details, including real-world addresses, and forms for rightsholders to file complaints faster. If a site fails to comply with an infringement complaint, it faces a block at the ISP level.
Leonid Agronov, the head of Russia’s National Federation of the Music Industry (Russia’s RIAA), told Izvestia that his organization has long been trying to negotiate with Vkontakte over music distributed through its site. The NFMI claims that Vkontakte does not pay for streamed plays, neither by charging users directly nor by paying the licensing fee directly. But that does not mean that the social network is not profiting.
“[Vkontakte] shows ads while people listen to music. So they make money on it,” he said.
In the case of removing these tracks, it puts Vkontakte in a double bind, where it’s damned if it doesn’t and damned if it does: on the one hand, it risks legal action from larger companies and potential ISP blockage; on the other, it faces backlash from its users, who look to it as a content portal.
This is not Vkontakte’s first brush with copyright holders. Izvestia notes that in June of this year, the site — which has become a go-to place for users in Russia for music and other digital content sharing (including a lot of legal content) — took down some 7,000 music tracks. Then in August, Vkontakte signed a deal with UK monitoring company Muso to track and remove illegal music from the site. Muso’s CTO and co-founder James Mason tells me that it continues to work with Vkontakte to take down free music that infringes the copyright rightsholders that Muso represents.
“Over the years VK has become the principal tool for music discovery among Russian-speaking population,” Durvo says. “As a result, there are plenty of artists and music companies that use VK as the main way to promote their work. We hope that more and more talented artists will get exposure with the use of our music service.”
In January 2012, Vkontakte lost a case against Russian label Gala, which said the site was allowing users to upload and share tracks by Russian artists in breach of copyright law. It was fined $ 7,000. It has won other cases, such as a case against Russian label Soyuz this past October, again over copyright.
It is also not Vkontakte’s first brush with Russian legal forces. In May this year, the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor blocked the site. Although it claimed to have done this by mistake, the move was a bit close to the bone, considering that the site has been a strong advocate of free speech, including content critical of the government. One of the social network’s investors, United Capital Partners, has ties to the Kremlin. It picked up its stake in Vkontakte in a secondary sale.
Russia is Europe’s biggest internet market with over 61 million users. But it also has the more dubious distinction of being one of the worst repeat offenders globally when it comes to digital content copyright infringement. That has been one of the big gating factors for legit services to enter the market — not least because those businesses may actually find it hard to find paying users, when free (but illegal) content is so easy to get.
But with companies like Apple finally launching iTunes in the country, the tides are slowly shifting — something regulators have been hoping to encourage with anti-piracy legislation.
According to analysts at TNS, Vkontakte is one of the most visited sites in Russia, overall coming in third after portals like Mail.ru and Yandex (which each account for some 30 aggregated URLs). Looking specifically at Moscow, Russia’s biggest and pace-setting market, Vkontakte is the leader among under-24s and third in the 25-34 age bracket:
In this particular case, which will be filed in court in St Petersburg (where Vkontakte is based), the plaintiff group includes a mix of international and Russian labels: Sony, Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI, Gala, Navigator, Studio Soyuz and Nikitin Media. The case could last between a couple of months and two years, Izvestia writes.
Updated with comment from Vkontakte CEO Pavel Durov and Muso CTO James Mason.
TechCrunch » Social
Justine Sacco was, until Friday, the top PR person for InterActiveCorp, the New York media conglomerate run by Barry Diller. IAC owns the Daily Beast, Vimeo, About.com, Match.com and Ask.com, among many others. On her now-deactivated Twitter account, Sacco called herself a "troublemaker on the side" known for her "loud laugh." Perhaps it was inevitable that this self-image would clash with her high-rolling position
Because Sacco has made a world of trouble for herself, and as I wrote this, she didn't even know it. Before she got on a plane Friday, a tweet emerged from Sacco's account, a joke of such monumental stupidity that it was hard for many people to believe her account wasn't hacked: Read more...
Here’s a quick and simple tip for game night: Keep dice in place with a container you get from those toy vending machines.
We own rights to several brands, but plan to relaunch these products under new names. Will we still have rights over them?
Financial Times - Entrepreneurship
What a difference a day makes. In just 24 hours, two new features on two social media platforms have created quite the kerfuffle. Let’s recap, shall we?
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.