TechCrunch founder gets last laugh

Michael Arrington

The saying “he who laughs last, laughs best” comes to mind in relation to a recent spat between TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and Offerpal Media founder Anu Shukla over Arrington’s assertion that social gaming companies, like Zynga, are making hundreds of millions through “unethical” means.

Arrington’s original post on the issue, titled “Scamville: The social gaming ecosystem of hell”, details how social media sites like Facebook and MySpace are complicit in the scams, because “they’re getting such a huge cut of revenue back from these developers in advertising.”

Arrington followed this up by challenging Shukla at last week’s Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco; claiming that direct-marketing companies like Offerpal act as middle men in facilitating these scams. Warning the following video has strong language:

It appears as though both sides have been busy doing damage control after the incendiary confrontation, with Offerpal posting a blog defending its position and following up by replacing Shukla as CEO with George Garrick, who formerly guided the successful IPO of advertising firm Flycast Communications, which was eventually sold for $2.3 billion. Garrick was quick to tackle the brewing controversy in his first Offerpal blog, titled “An open letter from Offerpal’s new CEO.

In it Garrick states: “I’ve only got 48 hours under my belt, and have entered this industry in the midst of a recent firestorm of controversy… I am not going to comment on events leading up to this situation, nor on other players in the industry, but I have quickly concluded that regrettably, Offerpal has been guilty of distributing offers of questionable integrity from some of our many advertisers.”

Angel investor makes a Mint

From right to left: Dave McClure with Rob Hayes and Mark Goines at TechCrunch50, courtesy of Dave McClure

At 5-foot-8, Dave McClure calls himself “one of the smallest” venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, either “by height or by wallet size”.  But he was walking tall after Intuit announced it was buying Mint.com recently for $170 million.

That means McClure, who invested $25,000 in Mint two years ago as part of a Series A funding round, is in line for a healthy payout. At the time McClure was actually on Mint’s payroll as a consultant, but was so impressed with the startup’s founder, Aaron Patzer, that he took the money they were paying him and “turned it right back around and wrote them a check.”

from MediaFile:

Facebook’s start-ups strut their stuff

Facebook opened its doors to venture capitalists on Tuesday.******The world's largest social media company, which landed $200 million in funding in May, wasn't trying to drum up any more cash for itself.******Instead, it was promoting a couple dozen start-up companies that leverage its technology and could further the strategy of making Facebook a key building block for Internet businesses and services.******The start-ups were selected by Facebook earlier this year through fbFund, a joint venture between Facebook, Accel and Founders Fund that provides seed funding (typically between $15,000 and $75,000 per start-up) to Facebook application developers.******The start-ups toiled through the summer in Facebook's erstwhile Palo Alto, California headquarters and Tuesday was show-time: a chance to show off their progress and, they hoped, secure a more substantial chunk of funding from the VCs assembled.******Unlike traditional Facebook applications, such as games that run directly within the Facebook Web site, many of the products showcased on Tuesday were stand-alone Web sites that tap into a Web surfer's network of Facebook friends using the Facebook Connect service.******Thread.com, an online dating site, allows people to cull through their Facebook friends' friends, searching for say, single women in a certain age group, and to contact a prospective date via a trusted friend.******Another start-up, Sociable, provides a service that it said can boost sales for online retailers by integrating transactions with Facebook. The company said it was already generating revenue and that concert-promoter LiveNation is a customer.******According to Founders Fund's Dave McClure, who organized Tuesday's event, five fbFund companies are already break-even or profitable, and another three expect to get there by the end of the year - no small feat given the rough economy.******Facebook will need more such success stories as it seeks to transform its own company from the Web's top social networking destination into the underlying social fabric of all Web sites.

from Shop Talk:

Social Media for Business


A new report by Inside Facebook discusses some best practices for retailers hoping to set up shop on the popular social networking site.

Some of the recommendations include letting users shop from within Facebook, including even the ability to share product information with friends.  Another suggestion is to have contests, giveaways and sweepstakes.

But what's most interesting is the last suggestion: keep it simple with status updates.