With The Clicky Value-Wheel, Groupon Puts The “No” In Innovation –

clicky

You can say a lot of things about Groupon, but not that they lack a great sense of humor over there. This morning, the company distributed a press release touting a new invention called Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel (make sure you watch the behind-the-scenes video below too).

The company invites players to sign in with their Facebook account and then spin the wheel to potentially score a discount on select Groupons ($ 5, $ 10, $ 50 or $ 100).

According to the Clicky terms, only US residents are allowed to spin the wheel.

From the amusing press release:

Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel was designed to provide momentary distraction and meet the minimum threshold of amusement necessary for users to share Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel through social media channels, thereby virally spreading Groupon and increasing its number of active customers.

“The chances of winning are slim, but not impossible,” said Mike Bennett, Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel lead developer. “We designed the wheel to spin in a way that appears random – like you could potentially win on any given spin – but it’s not actually random, it’s programmatically predestined to ‘win’ 1 out of 1,000 times.”

As with many online computer games, the win ratio was determined to ensure that the lifetime value of the new customers attracted to Groupon by Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel will be greater than the total cost of the program, thus making the program a practical and sustainable investment for Groupon.

And since spinning is moderately enjoyable, every user of Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel is a winner – metaphorically. Literally, most people will not win anything.

Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel, is one of several potential marketing instruments Groupon has and will continue to test over time, some of which will be successful while others will not. Continuously experimenting with new marketing mechanisms is an important part of the growth of any company. The “win wheel” is not in itself a new concept.

Groupon will begin promoting Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel gradually over the next several months throughout Groupon’s more than 170 North American markets. The exact speed of deployment is dependent on the accuracy of ROI assumptions as determined by actual data gathered from Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel usage.

“Seeing Clicky spin for the first time, was like watching your newborn baby take his first steps. It was like an orphan who’d never seen the ocean, getting to see the ocean, while he’s getting adopted”.

Well played, Groupon, well played.


With JOBS Act Becoming Law, Crowdfunding Platforms Look To Create Self-Regulatory Body |

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With JOBS Act Becoming Law, Crowdfunding Platforms Look To Create Self-Regulatory Body

05 April 2012

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 1.15.09 AM

Today, President Obama signs the JOBS Act into law, legalizing crowdfunding in startups by non-accredited investors, so that anyone and their mother can invest. The new law stipulates that entrepreneurs can now raise money from any and all, however, startups are limited to $ 1 million per year, and must stick to portals approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. What’s more, the legislation dispenses with the 500-shareholder rule, which put a limit on the number of shareholders a company was allowed before registering with the SEC (and going public).

The new law gives high-growth companies a longer grace period, or on-ramp, leading up to IPOs, and lifts some of the one-size-fits all regulation that likely has been hampering the IPO market. While this is a big win for startups, it puts significant pressure on the crowdfunding market to self-regulate — which is risky. That’s why 13 equity and debt crowdfunding platforms and insiders have come together to form a leadership group to bring attention to the need — really, requirement — for the industry to develop effective self-regulation, best practices, and investor protection.

As the JOBS Act requires all crowdfunding sites to be members of a national securities association, the group is on a mission to find the best way to do that in a way that encourages the new industry while protecting investors. The “leadership group” is to include members of the crowdfunding industry, (duh), who will be working in collaboration with legal, securities, and SEC experts — many of the same people who helped push the JOBS Act forward.

According to the its statement, the leadership group will seek to “agree upon a set of principles as well as explore the development of a robust industry regulator.” The group will be collaborating with the SEC during its 9-month rule-making process that will enact the crowdfunding rules.

The group aims to create principles to:

Establish strong protections for investors in the form of an Investor’s Bill of Rights, including tests to assess investors understanding of risk, criminal background checks on issuers, and adequate disclosures by issuers;Ensure confidentiality of investors’ personal financial information;Ensure that investors do not exceed statutory investment limits, by implementing standardized reporting and communication among platforms;Establish standard communication processes for transparent flow of information between the issuer, the investor, the intermediary and the regulatory agency;Develop a code of conduct for crowdfunding platforms, with enforcement mechanisms to punish bad actors;Create a recognizable brand common to trustworthy intermediaries (akin to VeriSign or BBB).

In the end, it’s all about implementation, and how effectively these principles can be established and protected on the wild and woolly web that’s seen its fair share of fraud. Plus, a cynic might raise an eyebrow at asking the very platforms that stand to gain financially by an explosion of crowdfunding to police themselves. That being said, this is an important step for the crowdfunding industry to take — as long as it’s not simply for show.

The passage of the JOBS Act is a veritable miracle, in the sense both parties’ political interests actually aligned. It seemed for once it behooved them to dispense with the typical partisan tomfoolery, and send a message to their constituencies (in an election year, by the way) that they are taking the necessary steps to create jobs. By starting work right away on regulation that protects investors and enables a strong crowdfunding market, the group is demonstrating a willingness to work with the SEC for the good of mom and pop investors and to take self-regulation seriously.

Crowdsourcing.org, a neutral professional association and industry resource that offers news, articles, videos, and site information on all things crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, has established the Crowdfunding Accreditation for Platform Standards (CAPS) program to create standards for crowdfunding operations, and while the industry creates self-regulatory frameworks, CAPS has been designed to govern the accreditation of crowdfunding platforms.

With more than 400 crowdfunding platforms already operating in January 2012, and a new wave of sites likely to launch in the wake of Obama’s approval, the initiative to establish accreditation criteria — in collaboration with the SEC — to ensure crowdfunding platforms adequately protect fundraisers and investors is essential. Council member and founder of Crowdsourcing.org, Carl Esposti, said that more than 200 crowdfunding platforms are expected to apply for accreditation in 2012.

The leadership group’s goal is to use CAPS criteria as a way to mandates for SEC approval, along with building a united voice that can work carefully and quickly to launch equity crowdfunding in the U.S. so entrepreneurs can innovate and create new jobs, Esposti said. [The leadership group includes, thus far, CAPS, Crowdfunder, Funding Roadmap, Gate Technology, Indiegogo, Launcht, Motaavi, RocketHub, and more.]

There is no doubt that the JOBS Act can have a big effect on later-stage startups on the path to IPO. When asked about the potential consequences, Rally Software CEO Tim Miller told us:

“Before the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies were subject to the same stringent regulatory rules as multi-billion dollar corporations like Apple. The JOBS Act will loosen some of these requirements on emerging growth companies, creating a more vibrant and diverse IPO market and allowing companies like Rally to reinvest the money they would have spent on regulatory filings back into jobs.”

There are likely very few entrepreneurs who would disagree, but that deregulation has to be managed very carefully, or the industry will be in for a very bumpy ride. CAPS and a crowdfunding leadership group doesn’t sound like a bad place to start.

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With $1M And An Alpha, Leaf Aims To Overhaul The Payments Experience For Local Merchants |

Leaf

Screen Shot 2012-04-13 at 7.09.47 AM

Leaf, a Cambridge-based startup, is aiming to make the experience of paying in a shop more modern with paperless receipts for customers and transaction data in the cloud for merchants.

Backed with $ 1 million in seed funding, the company just kicked off an alpha with more than a dozen merchants in Boston. It enters a super competitive and complicated space with many other players like Paypal, Intuit, Square, which has its own Pay With Square service, and Stockholm’s iZettle.

So first off, Leaf is not a mobile wallet. It’s not a dongle. It’s a service that’s either an app that’s integrated into a merchant’s existing point-of-sale terminal or that’s part of a special terminal that Leaf leases for $ 20 a month. There will also be a consumer-facing app that you can download in two weeks for the iPhone and Android devices.

When a customer swipes their card, the app sends them a paperless receipt and lets them rate their experience with the merchant. The merchant in turn gets data in a usable format about transactions in their store. They can target specific customers with discounts.

More importantly, Leaf isn’t asking merchants to change payment providers. The company’s chief executive Aron Schwarzkopf says that all the data is encrypted and they’re using a payments gateway that’s Level 1 PCI compliant, or the highest security standard.

“Most small businesses have this very old legacy point-of-sale system,” Schwarzkopf said. “They have to figure out their inventory themselves. But really, all of this transaction data should be based in the cloud and easy for them to access.”

So the issue is that mobile payments is a notoriously difficult space. Even Google can’t get it right! However, what is worth pointing out is how young the team is and what they’ve done on such little capital.

Leaf was co-founded by a pair of recent graduates, Schwarzkopf and Sebastián Castro Galnares, from Babson College and MIT. They recruited Robert Wesley, who was a senior vice president of global product management and development at MasterCard and an executive at American Express, to be their chief strategy officer. Their chief technology officer, Marty Sirkin, had previously sold a company to Clarify and worked for IBM.

With the seed funding, they prototyped a point-of-sale terminal for less than $ 250,000.

“It was our biggest challenge to work with a very little small of money,” Schwarzkopf said.  ”We did our own custom hardware. Some people hated the idea until we completed it.”


Windows Phone 7.5 Review –

The Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update is finally here! If you’ve already read our “Ultimate Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Preview” from June, you’ve got a good idea of the huge amount of features that come with this update. This review will recycle some of that content in case you haven’t seen it before, but we’ll also bring you up to speed on the … Read More

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Will Next Year’s iPhone Have A Curved Screen? |

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Will Next Year’s iPhone Have A Curved Screen?

13 November 2013

The two new iPhones that launched in September this year didn’t receive much of a makeover from last year’s model, except for the addition for fingerprint-scanning technology and a few updated specs (well, plus the 5C comes in bright new plastic colours—but the hardware design is the same as last year). However, next year’s iPhone may shape up to look very different from the familiar dimensions of the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and iPhone C.

Apple is rumoured to be developing a curved iPhone display that consumers may be able to get their hands on in 2014. Bloomberg spoke to a source that said the curved displays would be available in the “second half of next year”, likely in the third quarter. Rumours about the iPhone 6 also suggest that the device would have improved touchscreen sensors that can better differentiate between different levels of pressure.

Increased touchscreen sensitivity could have a number of applicable uses for both the iPhone and the iPad. Heightened screen sensitivity could mean improved apps for drawing and animation as well as taking notes by hand or retouching images.

Bloomberg also reported that the anticipated 2014 iPhones would be available in two sizes: 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch. If this is true, then Apple will be releasing two iPhone models at once for the second time in the company’s history.

However, it does seem odd that Apple would release two larger devices at once, so it’s plausible that they might continue the iPhone 5c line as a cheaper alternative to the two new devices, maintaining a total of three iPhone product lines.

In addition to Bloomberg, several other reliable sources claim that Apple will release a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 for release in the latter half of 2014.

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Will Google Glass Be Legal To Wear Driving? |

google-glass-driving

As teenage and adult drivers alike continue to allow cell phones to distract their attention from the road, Google Glass advocates and critics alike are questioning whether the device will be legal for drivers to wear once it is available to the public. After all, it’s illegal to use handheld cellphone devices for calling or texting while driving, but Bluetooth headsets or hands free calls are permitted.

Google Glass is clearly a hands free alternative to traditional smartphones so drivers can keep both hands on the wheel, but the notifications show up directly on the screen so the device may be considered distracting for drivers. But since Google Glass provides such a unique experience for the wearer and the technology is so different from what we currently have on the market, only a few people have had the chance to wear Glass at all, let alone while driving.

But one man has already driven 1,500 clicks wearing Glass. Chris Barrett, Google Glass explorer and founder of PRserve, spoke to Venture Beat about his experiences of driving while wearing Google Glass. One of the first searches Barrett used Google Glass for when he received his pair was: “OK Glass, is Glass illegal to wear while driving?” When the search results didn’t indicate any reason he should not drive with Glass on, Barrett drove away from Google’s New York office wearing the device.

Now, Barrett says he wears Glass every time he gets into a vehicle and believes the device has the potential to save lives on the road. He hopes Glass will be categorized “under Bluetooth and wireless headsets…I don’t see this as being any different than an on-windshield display that auto manufacturers have been putting in cars for years.”

However, lawmakers in the UK and several States are already trying to ban Glass from being worn by drivers.

Read more about Chris Barrett’s opinions on driving with Google Glass at Venture Beat.


Wikimedia Foundation Raises $20 Million From 1 Million+ Donors –

wiki

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other sites, this morning announced that they’ve raised $ 20 million from more than a million donors, shattering a record once again. The organization says donations have risen every year since its global fundraising campaigns began in 2003.

Wikimedia Foundation claims its sites now serve more than 470 million people every month. Wikipedia, which will celebrate its 11th anniversary in about two weeks, now boasts over 20 million articles in 282 languages.

The organization says more than 100,000 volunteers work on Wikipedia and sister projects.

The foundation employs approximately 80 people full-time.

From the press release:

The annual fundraiser is how the Wikimedia Foundation pays its bills. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to buy and install servers and other hardware, to develop new site functionality, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects, and support the large global community of Wikimedia volunteers.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s total 2011-12 planned spending is 28.3 million USD. The bulk of that is raised during the annual campaign, and the remainder comes throughout the year in the form of grants from institutions such as the Sloan Foundation, and many other small donations year round.

If you’d like to learn more about the organization’s annual plan for 2011-2012, start here.

Also read:

A Personal Appeal TO Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Programmer: We Do The Funny Portrait Placement Thing Because It Works


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Wikia Rolls Out Big Redesign To Bring Accessibility, Discovery To 20M Pages Of UGC |

wiki

Screen shot 2012-04-04 at 12.51.54 AM

You may not be familiar with Wikia, but the collaborative media company has been quietly growing into a giant, recently passing IGN, for example, as the largest network of gaming sites on the planet. Led by both its gaming and entertainment verticals, Wikia’s content-driven social network is home to one of the largest and most active communities on the Web. For those unfamiliar, building on the popularity of its non-profit predecessor (Wikipedia), the site allows anyone (even you) to create new communities around any subject they’re passionate about — or participate in one of its 200K existing communities — for free.

Wikia now boasts 20 million pages of user generated content, all of which are viewed by 50 million-plus global visitors each month. So, really, if you’ve come across any wiki outside the confines of Wikipedia — be it an article, a video, a review, or a demo — it’s likely that sucker was created by a Wikia user. The open, collaborative nature of Wikia’s content production, minus the hierarchy of a traditional media platform, has proven surprisingly successful in and of itself. Thanks to a simple ad-supported rev model, Wikia CEO Craig Palmer says that the company has managed to remain “profitable for years.”

However, as publishing models change, Wikia is looking to more strategically marry the world of professional content creation with the open, free-for-all of UGC, without fundamentally changing or restricting the formula that got it here. As its communities have been largely disaggregated and separate from one another, Wikia is today officially unveiling its biggest redesign in years, which aims to collect its communities under one, sleek-looking roof while improving both engagement and discovery for a more mainstream audience (i.e. new users).

To do so, the company has launched new category “hub pages” that will curate the site’s content into entertainment, gaming, and lifestyle verticals, which makes it significantly easier for users to interact with pages according to preference and to discover new, previously obscured Wikia content. It’s also a move aimed at more effectively piquing the interest of advertisers, which will be able to expand their footprint beyond individual articles to category verticals and the front page — both of which, as the site’s new entry points, will be likely be seeing increased, and more targeted traffic. After all, Wikia is a for-profit enterprise, and advertisers keep the wheels spinning.

All in all, the site’s new look is far more professional in the way its visually representing its UGC, giving its portals an editorial, magazine-like interface — a change that may seem drastic to core users, but will be far more familiar in terms of navigation and browsing for first-timers.

The content Wikia will be surfacing on its front page and in each hub will continue to be fueled by the community, through promoted submissions and by way of popularity as measured by the amount of traffic. On top of that, probably the coolest feature of the redesign would be its new remix function, which allows users to shuffle top content with the click of a button, introducing new wikis to browse, etc. (not unlike Wikipedia’s “random page” option).

The new home and hub pages now display current wiki stats, not only making it easier to find out how many people are visiting per month, or the number of edits made on the given day, but to discover trending content, including top picks, popular videos, etc.

Without a doubt, Wikia’s new design has created a much softer landing for new visitors, and it will be up to the hardcore users to determine whether or not their voices still jive under the new paradigm. The Wikia CEO tells us that he thinks that the site’s new verticals and filtering, in fact, offer a more effective way to make individual voices heard. And that’s really what has made Wikia great, as diving into the depths of communities and individual pages feels makes one feel as if they’re visiting a meeting of fellow gamers in their basement.

Palmer believes that Wikia’s current trajectory places it in a comparable position to early YouTube. That is to say, the site has a presence, but it really hasn’t established itself as a brand, nor has it created that bullhorn mechanism on behalf of its community. Wikia is sitting on this pandemonium of unique voices, and the CEO thinks that it has become imperative to showcase and share the work of those active, and loyal community members. In the long run, Wikia is looking to find ways to bring these users increased exposure, and a more meaningful voice.

In the same way bloggers and YouTube’s videographers have turned passions into careers, Palmer said that the company is set on finding the most effective way to do that for its users. If that means taking a cue from YouTube and creating channels, or offering some sort of hybrid profile, Wikia will likely consider it. But, in the meantime, an aggregated, hub-centered redesign is a good start.

Certainly, the other side of creating a more refined editorial ecosystem is intended to strengthen the site’s appeal to brands and advertisers. With its redesign in place, Wikia will look to expand these relationships, bringing in pre-release content from movie or game studios, for example, to build early, organic excitement for a new title, or increase its reach post-release.

In sum, it provides a telling snapshot of Wikia’s evolution, and it will be interesting to see how the company walks the line between niche and mainstream, and professional content and good, old-fashioned UGC.

For more, check out the new Wikia at home here.