App-CM secures $1.2 million to develop in-line video ad platform

App-CM

Tokyo-based App-CM, the Japanese startup developing in-line video ads platform for smartphones, today announced that it has secured about $140 million yen (about $1.2 million) from Yeahmobi and several angel investors in a series A round. Yeahmobi is one of the world’s largest ad networks based out of China.

App-CM was founded by Atsufumi Otsuka whom we previously introduced in our story about mobile video-viewing app Vimet. After launching App-CM, Otsuka handed over the management of Emet Creation, which developed the Vimet app, to So Yanagimoto, president and representative director of Emet, so he could devote himself to developing a video player engine for mobile at App-CM.

Typical video ad networks for mobile use the CSS Sprites format to display in-line ads in a mobile web browser. The format makes sense in terms of allowing users to stay in a web browser while viewing video ads without switching to other video viewer apps. However, it displays a video clip consisting of independent still images in a manner similar to playing a flip book animation, its data volume being typically larger than that of QuickTime or MPEG video format because frame-to-frame delta compression is not applied.

To address this issue, App-CM has developed an original video format based on VP9, an open-source video compression codec originally developed by Google. Corresponding to in-stream video ads protocol VAST, the new format enables compression of up to one-tenth to one-twentieth in data volume compared to typical formats which are conventionally used for mobile video ad networks. During the first launch, a video viewing plug-in compatible to the App-CM format will be installed on a viewer’s mobile web browser. A video clip, which typically weighs 4 megabytes on average in a conventional video format, can be compressed down to 200 kilobytes while the compression efficiency depends on how many frames are sub-sampled out of 30 frames per second in the typical NTSC video format (see the video below).

Having been adopted on over 200 mobile media websites in Japan, App-CM leverages its unique video-player technology without requiring a large data traffic, planning to expand to emerging markets where mobile broadband is available on an uncertain basis. In addition to the expansion into the Chinese market in cooperation with Yeahmobi, App-CM will be in a hurry to expand into the Indian market based on a partnership with Green House Ventures (GHV), the Indian local startup accelerator that the mobile video company partnered with last month.

Represented by CTO Miki Yagita, many students from Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo, has joined the engineering team to develop the App-CM platform. In order to strengthen the engineering resources, App-CM recently relocated its headquarters to opposite the Red Gate (aka Akamon) of the University of Tokyo. They are currently applying for a patent on their AI-powered optimized ad distribution algorithm and mobile video player engine.

(Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy)

This post first appeared on The Bridge.


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App-CM secures $1.2 million to develop in-line video ad platform

App-CM

Tokyo-based App-CM, the Japanese startup developing in-line video ads platform for smartphones, today announced that it has secured about $140 million yen (about $1.2 million) from Yeahmobi and several angel investors in a series A round. Yeahmobi is one of the world’s largest ad networks based out of China.

App-CM was founded by Atsufumi Otsuka whom we previously introduced in our story about mobile video-viewing app Vimet. After launching App-CM, Otsuka handed over the management of Emet Creation, which developed the Vimet app, to So Yanagimoto, president and representative director of Emet, so he could devote himself to developing a video player engine for mobile at App-CM.

Typical video ad networks for mobile use the CSS Sprites format to display in-line ads in a mobile web browser. The format makes sense in terms of allowing users to stay in a web browser while viewing video ads without switching to other video viewer apps. However, it displays a video clip consisting of independent still images in a manner similar to playing a flip book animation, its data volume being typically larger than that of QuickTime or MPEG video format because frame-to-frame delta compression is not applied.

To address this issue, App-CM has developed an original video format based on VP9, an open-source video compression codec originally developed by Google. Corresponding to in-stream video ads protocol VAST, the new format enables compression of up to one-tenth to one-twentieth in data volume compared to typical formats which are conventionally used for mobile video ad networks. During the first launch, a video viewing plug-in compatible to the App-CM format will be installed on a viewer’s mobile web browser. A video clip, which typically weighs 4 megabytes on average in a conventional video format, can be compressed down to 200 kilobytes while the compression efficiency depends on how many frames are sub-sampled out of 30 frames per second in the typical NTSC video format (see the video below).

Having been adopted on over 200 mobile media websites in Japan, App-CM leverages its unique video-player technology without requiring a large data traffic, planning to expand to emerging markets where mobile broadband is available on an uncertain basis. In addition to the expansion into the Chinese market in cooperation with Yeahmobi, App-CM will be in a hurry to expand into the Indian market based on a partnership with Green House Ventures (GHV), the Indian local startup accelerator that the mobile video company partnered with last month.

Represented by CTO Miki Yagita, many students from Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo, has joined the engineering team to develop the App-CM platform. In order to strengthen the engineering resources, App-CM recently relocated its headquarters to opposite the Red Gate (aka Akamon) of the University of Tokyo. They are currently applying for a patent on their AI-powered optimized ad distribution algorithm and mobile video player engine.

(Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy)

This post first appeared on The Bridge.


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Homebrew’s Satya Patel on his firm’s investment thesis and how startups should approach investors

homebrew We constantly hear there are more seed and early stage funds now than ever before and more angels willing to give money to young companies looking to make it big. Until recently this explosion in the early stage funding environment really was a concern. Still, some firms, and their partners, are managing to do it well. Satya Patel at Homebrew is a perfect example. Read More

Homebrew’s Satya Patel on his firm’s investment thesis and how startups should approach investors

homebrew We constantly hear there are more seed and early stage funds now than ever before and more angels willing to give money to young companies looking to make it big. Until recently this explosion in the early stage funding environment really was a concern. Still, some firms, and their partners, are managing to do it well. Satya Patel at Homebrew is a perfect example. Read More

Oculus Rift is amazing, but you probably shouldn’t buy one

O92A2482 The Oculus Rift has been a long time coming. After delays upon delays, customers finally started receiving their Rift consumer units today, and Oculus will continue working to fulfill pre-orders of their virtual reality headset which is currently back-ordered until July. I’ve spent what is likely an unhealthy amount of time strapped into the Rift experiencing its brand of VR and… Read More

Ubisoft Philippines is the island nation’s first major game studio

Ubisoft Philippines

The Philippines is getting a new “Thrilla in Manila” — its first major gaming studio.

Ubisoft unveils its new Ubisoft Philippines studio today. It’s base is Santa Rosa Laguna, a suburb that’s 24 miles south of Manila. It’s an outgrowth of the French publisher’s operation in Singapore, making it its 30th studio. Its manager is Chip Go, a veteran of Ubisoft Singapore, and it falls under the umbrella of Oliver de Rotalier, who’s now the manager director of Singapore, Philippines, and Chengdu (China). The moves shows not just how global the $99.3 billion game industry has become, but also how it’s looking at new places to find game creators.

Olivier de Rotalier

Above: Olivier de Rotalier

Image Credit: Ubisoft

“As we did in Singapore, we want to expose people to major triple-A franchise,” de Rotalier said about expanding into the Philippines. To help stock that local talent pool, Ubisoft is turning to the University of De La Salle in Manila to set up a training program. Ubisoft Singapore had a similar partnership with Digipen, a Redmond, Washington-based school for learning video game design.

“We will work with a local university to grow taken the industry needs,” de Rotalier said. “We’ll be crafting the right cirriculum, helping students and projects, to quickly grown the next generation of game developers — fits market in Philippines, and that’s why we consider contributing to the ecosystem as important.”

The move came about in part because Ubisoft Singapore has hired a contingent of employees from the Philippines, and de Rotalier noted the great relationships and trust the Filipino team has established there.

Singapore has been a major contributer to the Assassin’s Creed and Ghost Recon franchises. In an interview during the recent 2016 Game Developers Conference, de Rotalier reminded a room of reporters that his studio developed Ocean Tech, which helped bring about the naval warfare gameplay in Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (a showcase for this content). It has experience in major console and PC releases and PC online gaming with Ghost Recon: Phantoms. It opened in 2008 with 22 people and now has more than 320.

Ubisoft has similar ambitions for the Philippines. It wants the studio to grow from 50 people by the end of 2016 to 200 in five years. Working with De La Salle will help establish a local pipeline, and the publisher hopes its location in the ‘burbs and economy — right now, the Philippine peso is trading 46-to-1 to the U.S. dollar — would help Ubisoft workers establish a good stand of living. De Rotailer said Manila’s workers would get a “competitive salary,” but he also acknowledged that the Philippines doesn’t pay the same wages as Singapore or the United States.

The location of Santa Rosa may seem odd to some compared to Manila, a much larger city. De Rotailer cited a number of reasons for this decision: schools, recreation, less crowding, a theme park were chief among them. It’s also close to Manila and isn’t difficult to reach from the capital’s airport.

“Santa Rosa’s very accessible, and more important, if go to Santa Rosa, it offers unique quality of life. As growing studio, the quality of life is important,” de Rotailer said. “It’s easy, and it’s also a guarantee for those settle there [that they’re] 5-10 minutes from work, have a good balance in life. That was a big focus for us, and we’re happy to provide that.”

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How to reserve your $35,000 Tesla Model 3 when it launches on Thursday

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model 3 Reservation Agreement

Above: Tesla Model 3 Reservation Agreement

We’re pretty much expecting Tesla Model 3 enthusiasm to build to a fever pitch over the coming week.

Thursday, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk will reveal the design of the $35,000, 200-mile electric car that the company plans to use to vault itself into sales of hundreds of thousands of cars a year.

And reservations will open Thursday morning, even before the car is unveiled late that night in Hawthorne, California.

Now we have a first look at the Reservation Agreement that depositors will be asked to sign when they put down $1,000 to get a place in line for future Model 3 production.

Found on the Tesla Motors website by an eager electric-car enthusiast, the two-page PDF form is dated March 16.

2012 Tesla Model S

Above: 2012 Tesla Model S

The text, much of it legal boilerplate about the nature of the document—it’s specifically not a contract of sale—notes that Tesla has “sole discretion” over the priority of orders.

The company has already said that existing Tesla owners will get higher priority in the Model 3 queue than new buyers.

It notes that Tesla Motors will contact the signer “as the Model 3 enters production” to formalize the order.

Some of the most interesting text is in the acknowledgements section, which reads:

You understand that Tesla may not have completed the development of Model 3 or begun manufacturing Model 3 at the time of your reservation.

You also acknowledge that, if you purchase a Model 3, the Model 3 may not be delivered to you until the end of 2017 or later.

You also agree that we will not hold your Reservation Payment separately or in an escrow or trust fund or pay any interest on Reservation Payments.

The document in question has a Florida address at the bottom.

It’s not clear whether all reservations will be made with that entity, or whether different states will have different contracts.

[hat tip: Mary Demarest-Paraan]

This post first appeared on Green Car Reports.

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Oculus Rift’s set-up process makes it easy to jump into the world of VR

Dean Takahashi trying out the Oculus Rift.

I received an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset today, and the set-up was quite easy. That’s a good omen as the age of VR kicks off with the launch today of the Oculus Rift on the Windows PC.

It helped that I had an Oculus-ready PC, or a PC with a high-end 3D graphics chip from Nvidia. That meant that I could set the Rift up to work with my system out of the box. VR is a very demanding application when it comes to graphics, and so you have to have a computer that meets the minimum hardware specifications.

Once you have that, the instructions are pretty easy. You have to make sure you have a lot of space to move around while using your Rift, moving away anything that you might bump into or trip over. You then install the Oculus setup software on your PC.

You have to locate the USB 3.0 ports (which are blue) on the computer. Then you plug in the USB 3.0 cable from your headset into a port on the PC. Then you plug the headset’s HDMI-compatible cable into the HDMI port on your computer’s 3D graphics card. Then you take the USB 3.0 cable for the Oculus sensor (which looks like a big microphone) and then plug it in. On the screen of your monitor, you’ll see a green check mark appear each time you connect something successfully.

The Oculus Rift VR headset comes with all of these items.

Above: The Oculus Rift VR headset comes with all of these items.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Then you set up the Oculus Remote by removing the plastic battery tab and pressing the button. Next, you connect the Xbox controller. You add AA batteries to it, set up the wireless sensor and plug it into a USB port, and then pair the Xbox controller with the wireless sensor. When that happens, the on-screen guide shows that you’ve succeeded.

You have to go to the Oculus Store web site and create your Oculus account, using an email and password. Once you’ve done that, you can start making purchases.

Next, I had to set up the headset. The Oculus folks included a little cloth so you can make sure that you clean the lenses.

I waved it in front of the sensor to make sure the sensor was working. Again, the green check market appeared on the screen. Then I adjusted the straps so I could fit it over my big head and my glasses. I pulled the three straps tight to get a comfy fit. I pulled down the ear headphones over my ears. The sensor then detected whether the headset was positioned correctly on my head. It wasn’t at first, so I took it off and put it on again. Then it worked fine. I adjusted the slider at the bottom of the headset to make sure my eyes could focus properly.

This controls the IPD, or interpupillary distance, the distance between your pupils. It has quite a range, and I found the right range by adjusting it through trial and error. I viewed a vertical green line with the headset, and I stopped adjusting once I could focus on that green line. After that I was pretty much ready. A 3D white landscape came into view, and then I was introduced to the world of VR using the Oculus Dreamdeck, a set of little VR vignettes that have been created over the past couple of years to make you feel like you’re in another place. Among them: the memorable demo where a giant T-Rex comes running up to you and roars in your face.

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A new accelerator report suggests that independent work is most effective

Monterrey, Mexico Today, a $2.3 million private-public partnership called the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) is releasing its first major report, in collaboration with Village Capital, a seed-stage accelerator that operates development programs for early-stage entrepreneurs around the world. Led by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), the goal of GALI is to determine how… Read More