British TV app Zeebox comes stateside

Are your Facebook friends or Twitter followers tired of your incessant posts about The Voice or Game of Thrones? Enter Zeebox, a new app available in the U.S. catered to the most avid TV watchers to keep the conversation going while a show is being aired.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company  and its entertainment unit, NBC Universal, are investing in a start-up called “Zeebox”, which makes an app meant to be a so-called “second screen” used by viewers while they are watching television.

The companies declined to provide financial details of Comcast’s stake. UK TV provider BSkyB invested a reported $15 million in the company in January. The free app has already gained some popularity in the UK, where it has 1.5 million users signed up.

More than 300 shows across 28 Comcast-owned networks will be represented on the Zeebox app, said NBC Universal’s Executive Vice President of Strategic Integration Page Thompson.
NBC already has apps designed to complement live TV shows such as an e-book based on the supernatural show “Grimm” and viewers using Zeebox will be able to find it easier, Thompson said.  NBC will also launch an ad campaign on TV and the Internet in October which will encourage viewers to weigh in on Zeebox while watching TV.

While it pulls from Twitter feeds and lets you connect with your Facebook friends, Zeebox also has its own messaging service and trending topics called “z-tags” that make it easy to track what TV viewers are talking about. ZeeBox sees advertising opportunities for z-tags on its service.

The return of the Internet-bubble phantom

Oh, man. Not another Internet bubble scare. They just won’t go away.

The first Internet bubble—the so-called dot-com boom and bust—was a decade ago. Since then, the Internet sector has been a hotbed of tiny startups experimenting with new wrinkles in the web’s evolution: social graphs, smartphones, local technology, augmented reality, etc. Some of the ideas are good, some startups become superstars like Facebook, drawing in more capital to similar companies.

And when it happens, someone—usually a prominent VC—blogs about how it feels like an Internet bubble, spawning a news meme. The talk fades after the bubble never really emerges. Look at Google trends for “Internet bubble” and the news volume (the smaller graph at the bottom) shows a spike about every year or so.

The latest scare started, innocently enough, with a blog post last week by Fred Wilson, an influential VC at Union Square Ventures.

Tech execs, where would you put a million dollars?

Most top technology executives are used to juggling businesses worth hundred of millions of dollars, yen or euros. But this week at the Reuters Technology Summit, we asked: if we gave you $1 million to invest anywhere — but not in your own company — where would you spend it?


If you want the quick answer, I would invest it in Twitter.  I’m sorry that we weren’t in it. I don’t know where it’s going and it would be a fun ride.

Tim Draper, managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.