MediaFile

Journalist gets up close and personal with killer-quintet

Radio journalist Nancy Mullane has gone behind the walls of California’s infamous San Quentin state prison to chronicle how life unfolds for five inmates convicted of murder.

Andreessen Horowitz Partner Margit Wennmachers introducing Don Cronk, Jesse Reed, Ed Ramirez and author Nancy Mullane

The five-year investigative effort by the freelance reporter and producer who does a lot of work for NPR is now chronicled in her book,  Life After Murder

Mullane follows Don Cronk, Ed Ramirez, Rich Rael, Phillip Seiler and Jesse Reed as they work through the complicated system of obtaining parole, and tracks their travails once outside. Each of the men have been convicted of murder.

Mullane said she received unprecendented cooperation from the prison staff and the quintet of convicted killers  as they sought parole for good behavior decades after their crime.

Gina Bianchini rings up Mightybell, a social media help kit

Gina Bianchini — the bubbly, well-connected former CEO of social network Ning — is back in the social media game after a 18 months as entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Her new venture is called Mightybell and essentially is a back to basics type of social media start-up which aims to help users create step-by-step, day-to-day actions which friends and others could follow.
For example, if you’re exploring a new hobby you could follow an expert or enthusiast and read their blogs, status messages, see their photos and watch videos on how they achieved a particular goal.
“Mightybell seeks to offer creators, instigators, bloggers, organizers, operatives, entertainers, artists, teachers, guides, and everyone’s alpha friend a simple way to take new social technologies and turn them into better, more compelling experiences for people in the real world. It’s the obvious next step in social media,” said Bianchini in a statement.
Mightybell launches in beta form as an iPhone and Web-based application.
The start-up, of just 9 people so far, raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Floodgate and First Round Capital as well as “a handful” of angel investors.

Zynga plots its mobile stategy

Zynga wants to get into your pocket. As the  publisher of games like, “Word with Friends,” a Scrabble-clone popular on Apple devices and since February, on Android platforms, Zynga, known as the top games publisher on Facebook, is likely trying to reduce its reliance of Mark Zuckerberg and co’s platform.

“You should play and you should pay,” says David Ko, the former Yahoo executive who moved to Zynga in November to spearhead its mobile push.

 In a recent interview, Ko told Reuters that Zynga’s mobile strategy has two parts: Creating mobile versions of existing Web titles like ”FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars” and, having users play games on their mobile devices before anywhere else, like on “Words with Friends.”