Get to know your players through DeltaDNA and HP Vertica’s database research tools

Wednesday 1 October 2014 @ 1:00 am
Get to know your players through DeltaDNA and HP Vertica’s database research tools

Above: DeltaDNA dashboard for mobile apps

Image Credit: DeltaDNA

Hewlett-Packard’s Vertica division and DeltaDNA are teaming up to provide game developers with more knowledge about their players. The companies are providing Vertica’s database analytics software and DeltaDNA’s own player relationship management tools to game companies that need to understand player behavior in mobile games.

This may not be sexy. But it’s a way for game companies to get a competitive advantage by understanding players, targeting them with engaging offers, and monetizing them better. The tools allow for deep custom queries on customer data that can lead to insights about how to monetize players. And customers can now integrate third-party tools like Tableau to unlock information in the data.

With the Vertica tools, game developers can do predictive modeling and big data mining. So far, big game publishers such as Ubisoft and Supercell are using the technology.

The DeltaDNA platform lets online game publishers and developers to collect, analyse and segment player data to improve experiences and engagement. It lets users set up real-time targeted messages to shape the game environment for specific groups of players. It can manage big volumes of data generated by millions of players in free-to-play games, social casino titles, and real-money gambling games. DeltaDNA will integrate Vertica into its platform via its new Direct Access module.

Chris Wright, chief technology officer, deltaDNA, said in a statement, “Vertica is widely regarded as the best database technology for analytics in the market and the platform of choice for major publishers and developers, so we’re delighted to be strengthening our relationship with them.

Joel Brunger, UK & Ireland sales manager at HP Vertica, said in a statement, “The speed of Vertica combined with rich functionality of the DeltaDNA platform enables game producers to undertake train-of-thought analytics and engage with players in real-time, to make game personalization a reality.”

DeltaDNA has 30 employees, and it has raised $5 million to date. Its investors include Par Equity, STV Ventures, and the Scottish Investment Bank. Rivals such as Upsight have claimed a competitive advantage through better database properties stemming from the merger of Kontagent and PlayHaven.


DeltaDNA dashboard

Above: DeltaDNA dashboard

Image Credit: DeltaDNA

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Are Amazon and Disney finally settling their feud?

Wednesday 1 October 2014 @ 12:34 am
Are Amazon and Disney finally settling their feud?

Above: Disney Magical World lets you live and interact with Disney characters like Mickey Mouse.

Image Credit: Disney

These days, it can be hard to keep track of who is fighting and on which front. But it’s possible that one of its more significant disputes has reached détente.

The e-commerce behemoth may be close to ending its fight with Disney, according to the Wall Street Journal. For the past two months, Amazon has not allowed pre-orders of Disney DVDs on its site.

Considering Disney makes virtually every film on the planet now (Pixar, Lucas, Marvell, in addition to its own movies), freezing out the Mouse was no small move by Amazon.

But according to the Journal, upcoming Disney releases such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Maleficent” are available again for pre-order.

What is unclear, according to the Journal’s sources, is whether that’s merely an indication of sufficient progress in talks, or whether a final deal is actually imminent. The disagreement apparently centered around issues such as the price of the DVDs, how they are promoted by Amazon, and which company is responsible for any losses when Amazon matches a lower price from competitors.

Earlier this year, Amazon and Time Warner had a similar fight. And, of course, Amazon and Hachette Book Group are still at odds over prices of e-books.

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The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainme... read more », Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection., Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where cu... read more »

 launches first enterprise phone system for Google Apps

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 11:01 pm launches first enterprise phone system for Google Apps
Image Credit: founder and CEO Craig Walker has been around the block a few times in the Internet voice business. He sold his first startup, Dialpad, which made one of the first Voice-over-IP (VoiP) services, to Yahoo in 2005. After leaving Yahoo, he launched a new service called Grand Central, which later contributed much of the brains of Google Voice after the search giant purchased it in 2007

Flash-forward to 2014. The cloud rules. Mobile rules. Google is gaining power in the enterprise. And Walker’s latest startup, Switch Communications, is launching a new service that capitalizes on all of these things.

That service, called “Switch,” is deeply integrated with Google Apps. Walker told me that while Microsoft can offer a full stack of communications and productivity tools, including voice (with its Lync product), Google has everything … but the voice part. It’s the one question Google’s enterprise salesforce can’t answer when going head-to-head with Microsoft to compete for enterprise business, Walker told VentureBeat.

“Google Apps has been leader in cloud-based apps for the enterprise, with Gmail and Docs and Apps,” Walker said. “There are tens of millions of businesses now using Google Docs, and Google says they’re signing up 5,000 new businesses a day.”

“We want to build a product for that user that can make their voice communication as good as their email communication.” is a cloud-based, business-grade phone system that works across all devices and platforms, including iOS, Android, Mac, PC, Linux, and even the old desktop phone. The system provides callers with a business phone number that rings all of their devices, with controls that let others reach them when and where they like. mobile or desktop app can manage features like call transfer, company directory, visual voicemail, and switching between devices. When someone is calling in, for example, a window pops up on your screen showing the caller’s basic data, recent emails you’ve sent or received from them, docs you’ve shared, upcoming calendar events involving that person, and even some social media information like recent tweets.

“Work, as we know it, is transforming. It’s not a place you go; it’s an activity you do,” Walker said. “People work anywhere and everywhere these days, so why use a phone system that’s tied to your desk?” is currently available for Google Apps users as a private beta. Pricing for companies of all sizes is $15 per month, per employee, including a free company number and unlimited domestic calls and texts.

I asked Walker what he’s going to say when Google eventually knocks on the door and says “OK, we’re ready to acquire you now.” He said the answer would probably be no, because may one day sell its voice solution to enterprises using Microsoft for productivity and communications.

But, Walker added, one should never say never.

Switch Communications is funded by Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures.

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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Launched in 2011, Firespotter Labs is a startup founded by serial entrepreneur Craig Walker, focusing on making complex telephony products easy to use. With over 15 years experience as an entrepreneur in the emerging telephony space, W... read more »

Firespotter Labs Becomes Switch, Providing A Cloud-Based Phone System For Google Apps

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 8:26 pm
switch_across_multiple_devices_300 Unified communications has long been touted as the future, but being able to provide access to all of one’s calls and messages on multiple devices is an idea that has just barely come to fruition. Now, the folks at Firespotter Labs think they’ve built a solution — a cloud-based platform for enterprise communications called Switch Read More

Apple Accepting iTunes Donations For ‘City of Hope’ Center During October

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 8:00 pm
city-of-hope-itunes Apple will be accepting donations for the City of Hope charity during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the company revealed today. The organization is a research and treatment center created to combat not only breast cancer, but also diabetes and other life-threatening diseases including lymphoma and brain cancer. The organization aims to make it easier to… Read More

I spent 48 hours on Ello. This is what I saw

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 7:30 pm


I spent 48 hours on Ello. This is what I saw
Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter in the last week, you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about this thing called Ello. If you tried to sign up to see what it is, you would’ve gotten a message back saying, “We will invite you as soon as we can. Ello is currently in beta, and we are inviting new users in small groups as we roll out new features.”

One of Ello’s founders, Paul Budnitz, told Betabeat that the site has been receiving more than 30,000 of these sign-up requests per hour this week. The only way to get an account is to receive one of five unique invite codes that every user gets. This has caused quite a stir, and it’s gotten to the point that people are actually purchasing invites from other users on eBay, with prices ranging from $5 to $500.

So, what is Ello?

Ello is a free, invite-only, independent social network, with no export tools or an application programming interface (API). It is bright and clean and promises, in its manifesto, to stay ad-free, to never sell your data, and to not force you to use your real name. I was able to get an invite from a friend and have been playing around with it for a few days.

Here’s what a profile looks like:

Wait, it has a manifesto?

Yes. And it’s genius. I could, and might, write an entire piece on the brilliant marketing strategy they’ve used, but for now, let’s just say they make it quite clear who their target is.

Why is this getting so much buzz?

Ello actually launched in April and was mostly used by only about a hundred of Budnitz’s friends. You could point to a number of different reasons that Ello has gained so much popularity in the last week — their marketing being one — but the main reason, it seems, is a new Facebook policy cracking down on users who don’t go by their real names. This caused an outcry from members of the LGBTQ community, and when you see Ello’s zero-tolerance hate policy, something neither Twitter or Facebook has, you see why there is so much debate going on.
Added to that is many people’s growing frustration with Facebook, which is evident in one Ello user’s post:

@lmorchard: FWIW, I’ve thought of every social network since LiveJournal as some huge party thrown by people I usually don’t know yet random assortments of old & new friends tend to show up. The Facebook party is weird because my Mom & Grandma showed up. I’m amazed at how long some of these parties have gone on, and it seems like there are some weird people wandering around trying to sell shots of peculiarly branded booze. That usually means it’s time to go home and/or go onto the next party.

What’s so different about Ello?

Timing, mostly. It’s really not all that different from Facebook or Twitter: You have a profile, you can change your image and banner, you update your status, you share pictures, you add friends. But, and this is the but, there are no ads. And it’s this promise – that you’ll be able to spend more time interacting with your friends instead of being inundated with sponsored ads, game requests, and Facebook’s never-ending app integration — that’s causing so many people to take the time to see what all the fuss is about.

What do I think so far?

It’s certainly a different experience. It’s obvious from the outset that they are trying to be anti-Facebook, but the problem with that is that Facebook has spent a lot of time and money making itself user-friendly. Being new and different can be cool, but that only lasts so long if the experience isn’t intuitive and user-friendly. There are certain times that you can definitely tell that Ello is still in beta and has a lot of bugs to work out. There’s also a glaring lack of features, most notably user blocking and a mobile app. It does have a list of upcoming features that it says will be available soon, which you can see here:
It’s not all bad, though. The simplicity of the interface is very straightforward, and the feed is extremely fluid. There’s not a character limit like there is with Twitter, and you can posts GIFs and do some other fun stuff that you can’t on Facebook. There’s a couple of interesting things like the Ello Facemaker tool, which lets you paste the Ello logo on your face, hiding your identity or just showing your support for the new site.

If I were to give it a grade, I would give it an incomplete. There are some nice ideas here, but it still has a long way to go. And where it goes is the most interesting part of all this.

Can it really stay ad-free and survive?

Probably not. As reported by Gawker, Ello received venture capital funding back in March for $435,000. Venture capitalists are not like Kickstarter or crowdfunding projects and don’t just give money away for goodwill. There will certainly be outside pressure on them to make money, both for themselves and their investors, and that is bound to shape the direction the company goes in.

One way the startup will try to do this, they say, is by introducing new “special features,” which people will be able to have permanently by paying a small, one-time fee. While this certainly shows the startup’s desire to think differently to keep the site ad-free, it’s hard to imagine this both generating enough revenue to keep the site afloat and not causing people to flee back to their already free social media sites. Don’t forget, Facebook was also once a free, “product-first” company when it started.

Should I join?

It’s up to you. You’ll have to get an invitation first, but I doubt that will be too hard in the coming weeks. It depends on what you want to get out of your social-media experience. And you might go through all this trouble for nothing. It is going to be a long, uphill battle for Ello to succeed, and it seems unlikely that it can stay both ad-free and hate-free the entire time.

But for now it is, and that’s something.

Ronnie Charrier is a social media manager at Northcutt.


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YC’s Altman Thinks Reddit’s Community Ownership Experiment Could Be A Model

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 5:48 pm
reddit The thought of using crypto-currencies to back shares of a company first crossed Y Combinator head Sam Altman’s mind about two years ago. “It was an idle thought that popped into my head,” he said. “It was not until Reddit reached out to me about fundraising that I thought about it again.” So when he decided to lead Reddit’s $50 million Series B… Read More

Malware that hit Occupy Hong Kong has an iOS counterpart

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 5:30 pm

The malicious spyware that circulated the Occupy Hong Kong movement disguised as a protest coordinating app appeared to only target Android phones. But a new discovery from Lacoon Mobile Security shows that whoever deployed the malware also had a trojan built for iOS.

Last week, a number of protesters received a WhatsApp message inviting them to download an Android app purporting to coordinate the Occupy Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, according to the South China Morning Post. The movement responded quickly and said it had not released such an app. It was soon found to contain malware that exploits SMS, email, instant messages, call logs, location data, and usernames and passwords found on the device.

Lacoon CEO Michael Shaulov explained that his team found the iOS malware operated on the command and control server attached to the Android trojan horse. It’s unclear how many people, if anyone at all, was infected with the iOS malware. In the first place, people could only download the malware on a jailbroken phone.

Occupy Hong Kong with Peace and Love is a response to Beijing’s decision to choose candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections. When Britain ceded Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the country promised Hong Kong could retain some of the freedom it enjoyed under British rule — including democratic elections.

Initial reports said it did not appear the Chinese government was involved in the malware. However, Lacoon says that the development of an advanced iOS trojan may indicate otherwise. “Cross-platform attacks that target both iOS and Android devices are rare, and indicate that this may be conducted by a very large organization or nation-state,” the company said in blog post.

What’s really remarkable about this attack is that an entity in China, likely a well-resourced one according to Shaulov, has created trojan malware for iOS. “It’s the first time in the industry that we’ve actually see such a sophisticated trojan,” said Shaulov. It’s a particularly scary prospect, because iOS does not have antivirus software. Apple relies on its capability to keep a tight handle on what gets downloaded onto its devices, otherwise security goes out the window.

Also, if this is the work of the Chinese government and its cybersecurity team, as Lacoon seems to think, Hong Kong’s protesters have good reason to worry.

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Here’s How Windows 10 Will Make Your Mouse And Fingers Get Along

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 4:44 pm
Earlier today during its event in San Francisco, Microsoft played a video detailing how its coming Windows 10 operating system will handle a fusion of touch, and more traditional mouse-based input. I filmed a bootleg copy, but Microsoft just published a more polished version, so you are in luck. Handling both touch and mouse input is a rough line to walk, given that computing form… Read More

Deem grabs $30M to help companies maximize their bottom lines

Tuesday 30 September 2014 @ 4:30 pm

Deem is a San Francisco company with a couple other offices in the world, and it might be one of the most ambitious companies I’ve never heard of until today. And to fuel that ambition, it has raised $30 million in new funding, according to a legal filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

But here’s why I’m amazed. If you look through its site, it offers one set of products to help companies save in all possible ways, one set of offerings for businesses to maximize their sales, and another bunch of offerings to help them spread promotions and acquire users and customers. To do so, it has several partners in its networks, including Office Depot, Samsung, 3M, Foursquare, Microsoft, American Express, and MasterCard, among others. Deem’s customers can tap into these networks, such as partners for more cost-effective business travel for their employees,.

Basically, it seems like its a large suite to take care of a good chunk of what a business would need to maximize its bottom line — shrink spending and up revenue.

According to the filing, Deem has raised $30 million of the total of $68 million that it seeks to raise. The company has been around since 2000 and now has offices in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Seacaucus, N.J.; and Bangalore, India.

Deem is a leading cloud and mobile commerce company, delivering Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) to a large and diverse ecosystem of customers, merchants and partners enabling them to lower costs, increase revenue and deepen customer loyal... read more »

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