Data shows thousands circumvented NBC Olympics coverage

At least one company benefited from Olympics fans in the United States who tried to circumvent NBC’s television coverage during the London Games. AnchorFree, the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup released data to Reuters on Monday showing a major bump in users who installed a product that gives U.S. users an anonymous IP address in the United Kingdom. Presumably the people who signed up for the product, called ExpatShield, used it to watch BBC’s online streams of the Olympics.

According to the data, the number of installs of the free software surged 1,153 percent in the United States during the games. The company, which recorded an average of 220 installs a day before the Olympics, saw the number of installs increase to 2,753 installs during the 17-day event.

Its daily number of users also quadrupled to 8,121 compared to 2,040 average users before the Olympics. The peak day was on July 31 when 10,105 users logged in to catch the  U.S. women take gold in the gymnastics team final while in swimming, South Africa’s Chad le Clos edged out Michael Phelps in the 200 meter butterfly.

While these aren’t massive numbers, it’s just one company that people turned to during the Olympics to find a workaround to NBC. Others said they used TunnelBear and StreamVia while some tech savvy people like Walnut Creek, California-resident Jason Legate devised their own methods.

AnchorFree’s best known product is Hotspot shield, which lets users in certain countries visit blocked U.S. websites by offering an anonymous American IP address. The company has caught the attention of Goldman Sachs, which led the company’s last funding round of $52 million.

HuffPost launches live streaming with live comments

The Huffington Post on Monday launched its latest foray into video with a twist: Live programs that are intended to get people to talk about the segment in real time.

HuffPost Live “airs” its programs in real time -- some examples include Mitt Romney’s veep choice of Paul Ryan and  how white supremacy groups are using music as a recruiting too — though the videos can be watched even after they have been shown live. It is streaming 12 hours of programming, five days a week from its  studios in AOL’s New York headquarters, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

“When we starting thinking about this we wanted to make this the most social video experience possible,” said Roy Sekoff president and co-creator of HuffPost Live and founding editor of the Huffington Post. “People are about real time. They want to tweet about something as it is happening.

Starbucks and Square want your phone to be your wallet

After years of fits and starts, the prospect of using your phone to make purchases instead of your credit and debit cards is entering a promising era. The struggle for who will control your virtual wallet is intensifying, and while it’s far from certain what will replace plastic, it’s almost certain something will, very soon.

This isn’t about a gimmicky new way to separate you from your money. It’s about replacing credit and debit cards, and all of their vulnerabilities, with your phone. That phone will be linked to those same cards (and bank accounts), potentially enabling you to pay as you go without toting around cards or cash, and even without taking anything out of your pocket.

Within this revolution, there are two different technologies hoping to become the default. This time, instead of Betamax and VHS, we have NFC (Near Field Communication) and GPS (the same kind you use to navigate a map).

Archery is the ‘new’ curling? I don’t think so, NBC

Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and development, said on the network’s Olympics conference call Thursday that archery is the new curling.

As a former “vice skip”* on my high school’s curling team, I have a message for Mr. Wurtzel: archery is no curling, sir.

Of course I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek here and I’m not that offended. Plus, Wurtzel has some compelling numbers to back up his claim.

Yuri Milner: Funding the impractical in physics

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on It is being republished with permission.

Well, this is a different side of Yuri Milner… The famed Russian tech investor and founder of Russian Web giant, has launched the Milner Foundation, with the aim of doing nothing more than advancing our knowledge of the universe.

The $27 million foundation will annually award $3 million to fundamental physicists doing great work. And just let them keep doing that work. There are no expectations to be met, no commercialization that has to come out of it. Milner simply thinks it’s important that we understand the universe better than we do now. ”My background is in theoretical physics, and it’s something very close to my heart,” he said in an interview from Moscow this morning. “We, as a mankind, are not rewarding the best fundamental scientists the way we should, and this is one way to do that.”

NBC’s Olympic contortions

It’s a toss-up which of this summer’s Olympics controversies will be the one most remembered. Twitter’s censorship (er, enforcement of terms of service) of an NBC critic and Empty Seat-gate are strong contenders. But for me NBC’s decision to tape-delay and edit live events after bragging that it would provide unprecedented real-time online access takes the gold.

Somehow our emotional attachment to television — and not video — remains incredibly strong. How else to explain the torrent of hate begat by NBC’s online blackout and broadcast delay of the Olympics opening ceremony in a day and age when alternatives and workarounds abound and time-shifting itself is considered a basic human right?

No, this feels like an “Occupy TV” moment: We, the 99 percent are galled that NBC won’t give us what we want when we want it, and that NBC is doing it because of a profit motive that requires it to manufacture appointment TV.

Apple’s patent victory is a victory for competition

Apple’s resounding patent victory over Samsung in a California courtroom last Friday is a blow to the competition, which now won’t be able copy Apple’s technology. But it is a win for competition. It will force everyone to think harder about turning the unimaginable into the normal.

And that’s what technology innovation is all about.

I am all for intellectual property (it’s how writers make a living) and no particular fan of software patents, which can be vague and overly broad. It’s a very tangled area of IP that in the modern-day tech industry has been a life-support system (think Kodak) and a means of protecting oneself against patent trolls (like that guy who tried to sue the World Wide Web). Patent troves, in the astute description of technologist Andy Baio, have also been weaponized in perverted campaigns to stifle innovation.

Apple and Samsung are duking it out all over the world — some 50 lawsuits in about 10 countries, by one reckoning — in a sort of forever war. Samsung got a favorable ruling just days before in a South Korean court. But the marquee case was the one in San Jose, California, where a jury found that Samsung had violated six of the seven patents Apple sought to defend – three software and three design – and awarded the company $1.05 billion.

Intel Outside: Chipmaker’s VC chief sees opportunity outside the US


The venture arm of the world-beating chipmaker Intel Capital is increasingly looking outside the U.S. for deals– and finding them in places ranging from Ghana to Turkey.

“We are seeing a lot more dealflow outside the U.S.” said Intel Capital President Arvind Sodhani, an Indian-born globetrotter who believes the trend will continue– if only because that’s where most of the world economy is.

The firm, which plans to invest $300-$500 million this year, is putting its money where Sodhani’s mouth is. Recent investments include Rancard, a Ghana-based company that provides cloud-based software for mobile services, and Kupivip, a Russian ecommerce business. That’s a far cry from most VCs, who if they invest outside the US at all, tend to stick to markets like westsern Europe– or for the more adventurous, Brazil and China.

Facebook needs a new CEO

Facebook has now gone through its first trial by fire as a public company, slightly exceeding revenue expectations (with $1.18 billion) but showing a big loss in its first reported quarter ($157 million). Facebook shares were pummeled in after-hours trading; the company’s market cap has been slashed in half in just 10 weeks.

This is a bad, bad situation for Facebook’s early shareholders, 97% of whom are individual, retail investors – unlike those at the other big tech titans, which are majority-held by institutions: Google (68%) and Apple (67%). That Facebook’s percentage is so high suggests that Facebook is a stock for the masses. The masses need a hero.

That hero is not Mark Zuckerberg. He needs to get out of the way – not because we can judge him a disaster based on a single’s earnings period, but because he isn’t playing to his strength. He’s letting down the average folks who saw something shiny and new, but are now seeing shades of overhyped tech redux.

Bluefin Labs names former Razorfish, Publicis exec as CEO

Bluefin Labs– a company that tracks a brand’s perception on social media sites while a commercial airs on TV– has named a new CEO.  JP Maheu has signed on with the fledgling company as CEO while its co-founder Deb Roy will take up the role of chairman.

Maheu was most recently the global CEO of Publicis Modem, the digital marketing arm of Publicis Worldwide, and has also served stints as CEO of Razorfish and chief digital officer at Ogilvy & Mather.

Bluefin provides technology that allows network programmers as well as advertisers to track what people are saying about specific products or TV shows on social media such as Twitter or Facebook.