PeopleJam Founder Matt Edelman Named CEO of Social Shopper ThisNext

Matt Edelman, CEO ThisNext

Fresh from a new round of funding and a high-profile acquisition, shopping recommendation and related lifestyles site ThisNext has tapped PeopleJam founder Matt Edelman to help focus its content offerings and scout additional purchases, paidContent has learned. Edelman, who launched “improve your life” site PeopleJam in 2007, officially started as ThisNext’s CEO last week. He replaces Scott Morrow, who has left the company. Morrow has been credited with building up the Santa Monica, CA-based company—helping complete its recent $1.2 million third round and the acquisition of rival StyleHive two months ago—but ThisNext wanted someone who could manage the company through what is hoped to be wider growth phase.

Edelman sold PeopleJam last June to self-help media company Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing. Before PeopleJam, Edelman ran the global publishing operation for Mforma Group, which is now mobile gaming company Hands-On Mobile. It was through those past experiences, Edelman came to know ThisNext’s former CEO and co-founder Gordon Gould and Anthem Venture Partners’ Bill Woodward, who recommended him for the CEO role.

The social shopping space has really taken off in the past year, with companies like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La attracting partnerships with established content publishers like Condé Nast and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. In an interview with paidContent, Edelman said he was brought in to build partnerships with third parties and in many cases, it will involve some sort of content relationship. However, he declined to offer specific about what sort of content he would look to add to ThisNext and StyleHive.

Secondly, Edelman expects to do more acquisitions along the lines of StyleHive as well. “One of the first things I’m concentrating on is the further integration of StyleHive and MyStyleDiary, the latter part being something that was under-appreciated by the press who covered the StyleHive acquisition, more closely with ThisNext,” Edelman said. “Each have content and assets that can fit well together on the others’ site. At the same, we are absolutely looking for strategic loops. There are some exciting properties out there and some exciting individuals who have created loyal following that would match up nicely with ThisNext’s offerings.” ThisNext is already having discussions with companies that Edelman suggested “might have a greater role in ThisNext’s future.”

ThisNext is still pretty small as there are currently only 12 employees there. Edelman doesn’t expect a “hiring spree in the near term,” but there will likely be more staffers later this year. But before that, Edelman is most interested in developing a more enhanced mobile experience for ThisNext, since that’s an area that the site doesn’t have much of a presence in.

As an entrepreneur who has helped create and sell a startup, I asked Edelman if he was also brought in to explore any possible sales for ThisNext. He dismissed that that wasn’t the case. “I’m working on building, not selling,” he said.

Asked why someone who has no direct background in social shopping would want to take the lead of such a company, Edelman said, “ThisNext had three-and-a-half years of tapping into consumer behavior and purchase intent. For us, that means we know how to get products in front of the people who want them. That’s a pretty big business opportunity for me, personally.”

Update: ThisNext has posted its own Q&A with Edelman on its blog here.

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Dachis Group Buys Social Business Service Hinchcliffe & Co.

Jeff Dachis

Corporate social networking company Dachis Group has acquired Hinchcliffe & Co., its second purchase in six months. Alexandria, VA-based Hinchcliffe provides social business tools and infrastructure. Dachis will align Hinchcliffe with its own social enterprise unit. The acquisition will help extend Dachis’ international expansion, as Hinchcliffe has an existing presence in European and the Asia/Pacific region. Terms for the purchase weren’t disclosed. CEO Dion Hinchcliffe will join Dachis as “senior engagement manager,” reporting to Peter Kim, managing director of Dachis’ North American operations.

In a post on Dachis’ official blog, Hinchcliffe says the decision to sell “will allow us to serve clients far more effectively and in higher scale than we ever could with our niche firm. In short, our new expanded footprint, great new talent pool, and a global team is going to allow us to do things that just weren’t possible before.”

In September, Dachis, which is headed by former Razorfish CEO Jeff Dachis, bought social media agency Headshift. Dachis Group is about to celebrate its second anniversary, since being formed with a $50 million investment from Austin Ventures. Release

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Digg CEO Adelson Resigns

Adelson

Longtime Digg CEO Jay Adelson is stepping down, saying in a blog post that went live just now that he is “ready to incubate some new business ideas.” He’s being replaced temporarily by founder Kevin Rose. Adelson, who has been CEO since 2005, emphasizes that he’s leaving because the site is thriving (“the new Digg getting ready to launch, Digg Ads doing well, our sales force growing, our hiring ramping,” he writes). Adelson also announced earlier this year that the site had been “EBITDA profitable” in 2009.

Still, the move comes as Digg has made some very aggressive business moves over the last year. The company ended its exclusive ad-sales agreement with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) a year ago and, a few months later, announced a new ad platform of its own that let users vote on ads just as they do with stories. It also said this fall that an ad network—which would include non-Digg sites—was in the works. Suspicious he would leave in the midst of all that.

Adelson will now be an “adviser” at Digg, while Rose will be chairman, in addition to acting CEO. Adelson had also been CEO of Revision3 but gave up that position two-and-a-half years ago to focus on his job at Digg. He remains chairman there.

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Brightcove Raises Another $12 Million; Says An IPO May Come Next Year

Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove CEO

Online video platform company Brightcove has raised $12 million in a fourth round of funding—and is now talking about going public as soon as next year. CEO Jeremy Allaire (pictured) told us this fall that his company—which has now been profitable for nearly a year—did not need to raise additional cash, but Accel Partners managing partner (and returning Brightcove backer) Jim Breyer tells the WSJ that his firm approached Brightcove about the possibility of providing more cash, which will be used to expand Brightcove’s infrastructure and also for expansion in Asia and Europe.

Business at Brightcove is booming; reports have put the company’s 2009 revenue at about $80 million, up 50 percent from a year ago. Still, Brightcove continues to face steep competition from established players like Comcast-owned ThePlatform, which has recently talked about targeting smaller customers, as well as new entrants, like Google (NSDQ: GOOG)—which at one point had been said to be interested in purchasing Brightcove—but bought online video platform Episodic just last week.

Brightcove had raised a huge $59.5 million third round three years ago and subsequently received additional funding to launch a Japanese subsidiary. With this new funding, Brightcove will have now raised more than $100 million. The new cash comes from Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners. Existing investors, including AOL (NYSE: AOL), Hearst, AllianceBernstein, Maverick, and Brookside Capital, also participated.

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Why The iPad Actually Strengthens Amazon’s Position

Kindle DX

Round 1 goes to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). The iPad, as expected, has caused a big stir, and given people like Walt Mossberg reason to gush with enthusiasm about the death of laptops. Throughout, as various members of the press have mused about the death of Amazon’s Kindle, I feel compelled to point out that, contrary to popular belief, Amazon is in a better position now than it was before the iPad. That’s right, if Amazon comes out swinging, Round 2 will go to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Here’s why:

—Amazon has the bookstore and all that entails. This is simply something that Apple can’t touch. Leave aside for a moment the fact that Random House books are still not available in the iBook app. Even if Apple could offer a full library of books, it can’t offer the decade’s worth of reviews, comments and community connections that Amazon’s bookstore has. As I told the Wall Street Journal last week: “If you’re an iPad buyer, chances are about 90% that you’re also a book buyer on Amazon. Amazon has your credit card on file, they know what you like. ...That relationship is the key to selling books.”

—iPad buyers can and will read Kindle books. My prediction is that more Kindle books will be read on the iPad in 2010 than will iBook books. Think about it, if you are about to buy a $9.99 or $14.99 e-book, would you rather buy it on the iPad and only be able to read it on the iPad—even if you have a MacBook or an iPhone—or would you rather buy it from Amazon, which gives you the ability to read that book on your iPhone, Blackberry, PC, Mac, or, yes, Kindle? Amazon will score technical points with the judges each time an iPad owner logs in to browse, buy or read a Kindle book.

Notice that I did not defend the current hardware device known as the Kindle. I don’t believe Amazon expects these devices to live for more than another five years or so. In fact, it’s very likely that the current Kindle devices will get a sharp price shave in order to sell the 3.5 million e-ink Kindles we’re estimating for 2010. And I’d be surprised if we don’t see a new Kindle model in 2011 at a significantly lower price point to exploit the fact that it’s such a great e-reader for traditional books if nothing else.

But propping up the market for e-ink devices is not where the action will be. Because for Round 3 and beyond, Amazon’s success will depend on it introducing a full-color, full-media, touch device that I have presumptuously nicknamed the Kindle Flame. Here’s what Amazon should do to fan the fire:

—Go head to head with Apple on a media tablet. HP, Dell and Lenovo are busy positioning their present and future tablets against the iPad. But none of them can offer what Apple can: an integrated content and user experience that makes life simultaneously simpler and more enjoyable. But Amazon can. Sure, it has no real hardware strengths to speak of (remember how ghastly the first Kindle was?), but we live in a world where there are a dozen companies in Taiwan and mainland China that can whip up a device to Amazon’s specs.

—Make content even more central to its device than Apple has. People spend between five and six hours a day with media, most of that watching TV and video. The iPad’s great misstep is that is doesn’t meaningfully increase the amount of that media you can centralize in that single device. Yes, it can dominate music, and the addition of apps for magazines, newspapers, and books add maybe an hour’s worth of media consumption per day. But it really doesn’t do a good job with the four-plus hours of video we watch a day.

Yes, you can buy or rent iTunes movies, but without a way to get a significant amount of TV programming onto the device, it is only marginally better than the laptop most of us have available already. But if the device could synchronize with your DVR (think TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO), not Comcast) or even if it had an over-the-air HD tuner built in, the Kindle Flame would suddenly have dramatically more consumer appeal.

—Innovate on the partner side. Make a splash with this new device by partnering with another disruptor. Google’s the obvious choice here—it has an OS it wants to promote, and it offers all the cloud-based services and productivity experiences Amazon doesn’t want to develop or compete with. Google’s an odd partner, and some have reported that partnering with the search giant is like dating a man from the Mad Men era—it’s all about him, not about “us.” But the two-headed dragon of Amazon and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) could breathe enough fire to cause fear in both Cupertino and Redmond. 

Of course, my advice for Amazon can also extend to Sony (NYSE: SNE). Sony makes TVs, game consoles, laptops, and, now, the world’s No.2 e-reader. It also owns content assets, though it hasn’t always succeeded in making those assets work for it in the market. Indeed, if TV content is the biggest hole in the fabric Apple is weaving, Sony could deliver that much more easily than Apple could—imagine a connected Blu-ray player with a built-in DVR that synchronizes with Sony’s version of the iPad (I have no clever name for Sony’s version, though if the past is a reliable guide, I fear Sony will christen it the DTM-5001). There’s a device ecosystem that could finally work for Sony.

Yes, folks, this match is far from over and even if Amazon takes Round 2, there’s a lot of fight left in all these fighters. And that’s just the way it’s supposed to be: we don’t want a repeat of the iPod market, where Apple’s extremely successful device so dominates the landscape that no one else can even hope to innovate and change the market. So even if you’re an Apple fan, be grateful that neither Amazon nor Sony are going to take a dive, because the iPad’s best chance for becoming as magical and revolutionary as Steve Jobs promised is in response to serious pummeling from the competition.

James McQuivey is an analyst at Forrester Research, where she serves Consumer Product Strategy professionals. He blogs here

 

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Social TV Draws Developers’ Attention

tv Many attempts have been made to blend the electronic “hearth” of most living rooms – the television – with the computer, and Saturday’s release of the iPad may have brought us one step closer to a child-hybrid of these two lifestye home-bases.

With the massive iPad release, developers at every level of the iPhone app hierarchy are vying for ways to capitalize on the new gadget and its market share, with some speculating on how it will change the game for social TV.

MTV networks is working on branded applications that will “capture the social-media chatter around TV and awards shows and apps for video on the go,” according to AdAge.

The apps will also allow users to log on to a forum while watching the same show. MTV is hoping the iPad’s lightweight size and mobility will make it easier to access than a laptop, and allow for more flexibility and visual display than a smart phone.

"People will be more receptive to typing. It’s early, but you’re going to see in the next 12 to 18 months a series of start-ups experimenting in new ways to layer digital on the TV experience," said Somrat Niyosi, CEO at the app developer Bazaar Labs, in his interview with AdAge.

Of course, other attempts at creating a catch-all media center have been in the works for quite awhile. This year, voice and chat giant Skye, which is already edging out the need for LAN line telephones, will launch Skype-enabled televisions, which will allow you to type, talk and video conference right on your TV.

Despite most cable providers and even gaming consoles allowing ways to access the internet (or parts of it), it seems the efforts to ad comprehensive computer and web tools to television is a slow-moving field.

Advances such as the iPad, the TVChatter App for iPhone, and streaming options from major networks and Netflix, indicate the computer world is likely to overthrow its wall-mounted media opponent, unless the two can parent a functional combination that works for all.

Facebook Buys Photo Sharing Startup Divvyshot

Divvyshot

Facebook has bought up Divvyshot, a one-year-old photo sharing startup. Divvyshot’s site lets users share photos by grouping them into collections called “events” so users don’t need to create separate albums and instead can contribute to just one.

On its blog, Divvyshot says its three employees will now be joining Facebook’s engineering team and work on Facebook’s photo service, Facebook Photos, which is the top photo sharing site on the web. They imply that Divvyshot technology will be folded into Facebook Photos, saying “our unique approach to photos will live on.” The Divvyshot site, however, is being shut down.

This is Facebook’s third acquisition over the last year. In August, it bought up sharing service FriendFeed—and followed up that deal with the acquisition of Octazen Solutions in February.

TechCrunch says Divvyshot was raising an angel round when Facebook made its offer. Financial terms were not released, but Divvyshot says it was an offer “we can’t refuse.”

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