BlogTalkRadio Raises $1.9 Million Second Round


Live webcasting service BlogTalkRadio has raised a $1.9 million second round funding, Techcrunch reported. The company plans to use the proceeds to build out additional verticals across the site, in addition to categories including business, education, legal, science and politics. The Lakewood, NJ-based company, which raised $4.6 million almost two years ago, has partnered with other media companies to provide webcasting.

Its partnership with Woman’s Day magazine is an example of the way BlogTalkRadio wants to expand. Over a year ago, the Hachette Filipacchi Media US mag launched its RadioWD, a station powered by BlogTalkRadio.

The latest funding came from previous backers including founder Alan Levy, the Kraft Group, Howard Lindzon and Roger Ehrenberg.


Former Facebookers Get $11 Million For Q&A Startup

Question Mark

Quora, a Q&A startup founded by several early Facebook employees, including former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo, has raised $11 million in a first round of funding. TechCrunch puts the valuation at a whopping $86 million, even though the site—which pitches itself as a “continually improving collections of questions and answers”—is still in closed beta.

Quora is the latest in a string of Q&A startups to get funding in recent months., Fluther, Hunch and PeerPong have all raised rounds to expand in what is already a crowded market. Why the need for another player? “The way we think about this is there’s actually a lot of information that’s still in people’s heads that’s not on the internet,” D’Angelo tells TechCrunch.

Quora, of course, also has several differentiating features. For instance, users can edit both questions and answers but must use their real identities when they do so.

For investors, one obvious attraction is that the Q&A business model has already proven itself. Both WikiAnswers and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Answers have had huge success simply by providing easy-to-use (and very SEO friendly) platforms where users can pose and answer questions. WikiAnswers-owner (NSDQ: ANSW), for instance, makes $21 million a year just by putting Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Adsense ads on its pages.

The funding round was led by Benchmark Capital. Matt Cohler, a Benchmark partner and former VP of product management at Facebook, is joining Quora’s board.

The (Short) History Of Twitter’s Plans To Make Money


After being hounded for months about how it plans to make money, Twitter (finally) is set to provide an answer, likely at the company’s Chirp conference in mid-April. What’ll it be? The consensus is that an ad platform of some sort will be announced. But by our count, over the past 18 months or so, Twitter executives and investors have mentioned no fewer than five different possible sources of revenue. Here, in anticipation of the unveiling next month, is what Twitter has said about each, and which of those aspirations they’ve actually done something about.


What they said: Twitter has said as far back as November 2008 that it would consider adding ads to search-result pages. More recently, though, executives have said that “traditional web banner advertising isn’t interesting to us,” and instead have said the ad model they will reveal will be “fascinating,” “non-traditional,” “really cool” and “amazing.” So specific! As of February, it was in the “test phase.”

What they’ve done: Nothing—although head of product management and monetization Anamitra Banerji said in late February that the ad platform would likely launch in the next month or so.


What they said: Twitter board observer Todd Chaffee said in June that the company was considering e-commerce as a revenue stream. Since people are using Twitter to get product recommendations, he said, it would only make sense that people would be able to buy products via the site too.

What they’ve done: Nothing.

Premium accounts

What they said: Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in August that the company would charge users for “premium accounts.” In November, Stone said the plans were well on their way and that a pay-for-package offering that would include verified streams and analytics would launch by the end of the year.

What they’ve done: The company has not started charging for premium accounts. However, it has rolled out free business-friendly features like “contributors,” which helps differentiate between multiple users of a single Twitter account.

Mobile deals

What they said: At our own EconSM conference last year, Kevin Thau, Twitter’s director of mobile business development, said the company would make money from handset deals and also by getting some sort of cut of the carriers’ data business.

What they’ve done: Twitter has dozens of relationships with carriers—financial details of which are unknown. The company did, however, partner with Peek in November to launch a $99 device designed for the frequent Tweeter.


What they said: Thau also said at our conference that Twitter would monetize search “in some way.”

What they’ve done: Twitter has since licensed its stream of Tweets to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO)—which are all using the data to add real-time results from Twitter to their search engines. The Microsoft and Google deals alone are believed to be worth as much as $25 million.


Twitter’s Stone Teases New Details About Those Money-Making Plans Coming Next Month


About that Twitter ad platform that was supposed to launch at South by Southwest but never materialized there ... Well, co-founder Biz Stone tells CNBC that “later this month (we’ll be) revealing exactly how we plan to make a sustainable source of income so we can build a business.” He likely means next month—since that’s when Twitter has scheduled its Chirp conference, which includes “monetization” on its agenda. How exciting! We’ve been waiting so long! The only hint Stone gives: “We’re going to roll out something that we think is appropriate for not just Twitter users but also for the ecosystem. When we develop this monetization platform it’s not just going to be for us. It will actually extend to all these apps that are out there everyone is using.”

(via BusinessInsider)


Facebook Tweaks Privacy Policy (Again) To Allow ‘Place’ Sharing


Facebook is paving the way for its forthcoming location-sharing feature with yet another update to its privacy policy. In a blog post, Facebook says—opaquely—it has “added the concept of a ‘place’ that could refer to a Page, such as one for a local restaurant” to the document. The new privacy policy refers to individuals providing information about “places” and also notes the possibility of friends tagging individuals in a “place”—but doesn’t offer any other clues.

Last time Facebook updated its privacy policy— in October—the company added language that would have let users include location info in their status updates. Facebook now says “we’ve got some new ideas that we think are even more exciting,” although it doesn’t describe them. A location-sharing feature of some sort, which will allow the social network to battle upstarts Gowalla and Foursquare, is widely expected to launch in late April.


Long-Time Plaxo CEO Golub Leaves

Ben Golub

Ben Golub, the long-time CEO of Plaxo who oversaw the social networker’s sale to Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) two years ago, is leaving the company. Golub joined Plaxo in 2005 and says in a blog post that his “passion is in building new companies” and that he’s therefore leaving “to start working on my next company,” although he does not describe it. He is being replaced by Justin Miller, the former GM of Plaxo’s service lets users manage their online address books and also see what their contacts are doing on the web. Under Comcast, Plaxo has also been working to bring “social capabilities” to Comcast services.


Microsoft’s Bing Adds Foursquare To Maps

Bing Foursquare

To add to Microsoft’s growing list of partners in its battle to take on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in the search market: Hot location startup Foursquare. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) says that users of Bing Maps will now be able to “see foursquare check-ins, badges, and mayorships in Bing Maps and see tips from any foursquare customer and zoom to the location for visualization.” The deal comes as Microsoft has been making a major push to make its Maps product more competitive with that of Google; it launched a complete overhaul of Bing Maps in December (adding new ‘Streetside’ images to match Google Maps’ own Street View) and has also integrated data from local blogs, Twitter, Flickr and other sites with the product.

There’s no mention that the relationship is exclusive, but—for at least the time being—it gives Microsoft a partner that Google does not have. It also gives Bing—the big underdog here—some startup cred. Already, Microsoft was able to announce deals to include real-time feeds from both Twitter and Facebook before before Google did so (It also has a partnership with WolframAlpha that Google does not have).

Microsoft announced the FourSquare tie-up, as part of a series of spring updates to Bing. Other changes include UI tweaks (which highlight some of the structured data Bing pulls for some queries), as well as a new car search feature.

As it did with its predecessor, Live Search, Microsoft appears to be going with a strategy of announcing both a major spring and fall update for Bing. This fall saw a number of new features added to the search engine, including the real-time search tie-ins, a visual search feature and a new video search page beefed up with MSN Video.

It all seems to be paying off; Microsoft has managed to post nine straight months of market share gains: Its share of the search market is now at 11.5 percent, up from 8 percent prior to its remake last June.