All about the plastic: Swipely follows Blippy into social shopping

What do you get when you combine shopping and social media?

The answer, it seems, is the latest craze among tech investors.

On Tuesday, Swipely announced $7.5 million in Series A funding and the launch of a service that publishes info about person’s credit card purchases to groups of friends.

SwipelyimageThe funding was led by Index Ventures, and includes such celebrity patrons of social media as Chris Sacca, an early Twitter backer, and Ron Conway. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, whose VC firm Greylock Partners also took part in the funding round, will join Swipely’s board as an observer.

Swipely’s windfall comes shortly after Blippy pocketed roughly $11 million in funding, according to media reports, to help it push forward with a similar type of service. Among Blippy’s backers are Sequoia Capital and Evan Williams, better known as the CEO of Twitter.

While Blippy publishes financial details of a transaction, like how much money Joe just spent at Chuck E Cheese, Swipely is focused on the goods at the center of the transaction – e.g. Joe just bought a set of Bocce balls – discuss…

Of course, plenty of people already discuss such things by simply sending Facebook or Twitter status updates about their latest purchase or about that new restaurant they just ate at.

Google’s Facelift: Meet the new “nav-bar”

Google’s Web search engine is getting a bit of a facelift.

The company said on Wednesday that Web surfers will begin to see a new column of tools running down the left side of all their search results, as well as a slightly new look for Google’s famous multicolor logo (the shadows on the Google logo will be less pronounced).

The logo redesign probably won’t excite anyone but the most obsessive corporate branding wonks, but the new left-hand navigation bar represents Google’s latest effort to evolve its search engine to the changing nature of the Web and the competition.

GOOGNAVBAR Google’s new left-hand tool bar presents a slew of options that allow web surfers to filter their search results according to various categories of information indexed in its massive databases, from blog posts to videos.

Meebo enlists Google, Microsoft in new social networking standard

With social networking services booming, website operators are increasingly looking for ways to make their sites play well in the social world.

Witness the clutter of “share this” buttons on websites urging surfers to share a video or an article with a litany of social networking services that the user may or may not belong to.

xauth2Now Internet chat and toolbar company Meebo is introducing another option that it says will allow websites to custom tailor the experience to each visitor’s personal social networking predilections.

In Tweets, paid search pioneer Bill Gross sees another goldmine

Like an ancient riddle, the secret to making money from Internet social media has obsessed, and frustrated, Web entrepreneurs for years.

But Bill Gross is not your ordinary entrepreneur.

As the founder of in the late 1990s, Gross created the first successful implementation of  paid search, the concept that today underlies Google’s roughly $24 billion-a-year cash machine.

His latest project, TweetUp, aims to do something similar for Twitter messages by ranking Tweets by relevance and by allowing Twitter users to bid money for their messages to rise to the top. (Under the bidding system, a person selects keywords and bids a penny, a quarter, or more, for their Tweets to appear on searches for those keywords).

from The Great Debate UK:

Rory Cellan-Jones on virtual democracy

Direct, real-time communication among politicians and the public through social media platforms is reshaping democracy and the news media, but questions remain about how the fabric of society might change as a result, argued a panel at an event hosted by the BBC on Tuesday evening at Westminster.

The Web provides a de-centralised opportunity for users to communicate from various points on the political-economic spectrum, but gatekeepers are emerging who try and curtail the dissemination of information they find objectionable, suggested panellist Aleks Krotoski, who recently completed work on the BBC series "Virtual Revolution".

"Innovative social-media platforms start off being interactive, but then they can become broadcast tools," cautioned Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's new digital election correspondent.

Twitter wants to be @anywhere

Twitter announced a new service on Monday for embedding its functionality into other websites. Called @anywhere, the technology gives websites tools for letting users follow Twitter feeds or share media.

“Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page,” Twitter said on its blog.

Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams, demonstrating the service at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas,  said launch partners will include Amazon, The Huffington Post and the New York Times. He didn’t give a kick-off date for the service, which is Twitter’s answer to the Facebook Connect tools embedded in sites such as the Huffington Post.

Google walks into privacy Buzz-saw

Google touted its 176 million Gmail users as a key advantage in its latest attempt to break into the red-hot social networking market, dominated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. But email may turn out to be Google’s Achilles heel.

Less than four days after introducing Google Buzz, a social networking service that is built-in to Gmail, the company is already moving to address a growing privacy backlash.

GoogBuzzAt issue is the network of contacts that Buzz automatically creates for new users based on their existing email contacts, saving people the laborious chore of manually building a social graph from scratch.

from The Great Debate UK:

Are publication bans outdated in the Internet era?

IMG01299-20100115-2004The debate over freedom of expression and the impact of social networking on democratic rights in the courts is in focus in Canada after a Facebook group became the centre of controversy when it may have violated a publication ban.

The group, which has more than 7,000 members, was set up to commemorate the murder of a 2-year-old boy in Oshawa, Ontario.

The breach of a publication ban could lead to a mistrial, a fine and even jail time. Violating a ban could taint the opinions of witnesses or jurors, and the news media must wait to report information protected under a publication ban until after the trial is over.

Bill Gates late to Twitter party

Bill Gates may have been one of the prime movers in the computer age, but now he’s  just another middle-aged late adopter.

Only this week, the  Microsoft co-founder got around to joining Twitter and launching his own website.


His first Tweet (“Hello World”) set the ball rolling on Tuesday, and already he has almost 250,000 followers. Several of his tweets have been about raising money for Haiti earthquake relief.

Twitter’s price for Tweets: $25 million

The last time the world had a look at Twitter’s financial books, the company was targeting a meager $400,000 in revenue for the third quarter of 2009 and $4 million in the fourth quarter.

But that information was based on documents stolen from Twitter by a hacker and republished by the blog TechCrunch.

And it was before Twitter, the popular microblogging service that allows users to broadcast short, 140-character text messages across the Internet, had inked monumental deals with search giants Google and Microsoft.