John Paczkowski

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TechCrunch40 Day 2, Round 1: Productivity and Web Applications

Today, the second of the two-day TechCrunch40 conference in San Francisco (sponsored by TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis), began with a panel on productivity and Web apps. (For a rundown of the presentations of all companies involved, check out Barron’s Tech Trader Daily blogger Eric Savitz’s report.)

Here’s an abbreviated summary (some of it gleaned from company Web sites) of the presenters:

  • Xobni–“inbox” spelled backward–aims to “take email back.” Basically, it’s offering a new way to view email: users get improved organization, faster search and better navigation of their mail. Xobni creates an information profile for each correspondent, providing relevant historical information.
  • Orgoo. Company bills itself as “your personal communications cockpit,” enabling users to organize in one place their email accounts, IM accounts, video chat, video mail and SMS. Orgoo will be free (launch by end of calendar year), with nothing to download from the Web; it will be downloadable on mobile devices, and can be accessed from any Web browser or mobile phone.
  • App2you: This custom Web-application creator lets developers create web apps without having to perform database coding or designing. Users simply sketch their pages from scratch or choose a template from app2you’s gallery and then modify it to suit their needs. Once the pages have been outlined, app2you creates a hosted, database-driven Web app using patent-pending technology. App2you intends to generate usage-based revenue from fees for enterprise applications and ad-based revenue from non-enterprise applications.
  • Mint: Anonymous and secure money-management service. Unifies disparate bank and credit accounts in a single UI. Company claims that Mint does in an hour what Quicken does in 29 hours. Service updates daily with your latest financial info, alerting you to looming overdrafts, etc. Also indexes and categorizes all your transactions. How does it make money? Seems there’s a “save money” tab that identifies banks offering lower interest rates, utilities offering rebates, etc. Presumably, there’s some sort of kickback arrangement here.
  • Kerpoof: Company hopes to change the way kids use computers. Goal is to be top destination site for kids. An active site as opposed to the more passive ones that exist today. CEO cites popularity of Neopets and Club Penguin. Kerpoof is browser-based, offering kids tools to create pictures, coloring-book pages and movies they can save and share with others. CEO claims movie tool actually teaches kids object-oriented programming. Movies are created by selecting pre-existing clips and audio tracks. Demo of a short film created last week by an 11-year-old girl.
  • Judges panel:

    What was your favorite?

    Digital pioneer Esther Dyson likes Mint (interesting, since I believe she’s an investor in Wesabe).

    VC guru Guy Kawasaki likes Kerpoof. Also likes Xobni, but says he hopes it didn’t pay for the name because “that’s a dumb-ass name. If I were an investor and heard you paid money for that name I’d shoot you.”

    (Dyson and Kawasaki are setting a much more engaging tone today.)

    Arrington likes ’em all. Asks Kerpoof CEO “is object-oriented programming really that easy?”

    Kerpoof CEO says yes.

    Dyson says no, not according to the true definition.

    Kawasaki says company is making a marketing mistake by even using the term.

    Dyson asks everyone for a two-word explanation of how they make money. Answers: Lead generation, advertising, then “pleasing the user,” which draws laughter all around.

    Someone asks how Kerpoof can compete with successful social-network-based sites like Club Penguin. Kawasaki says that as a father he would much rather have his kids using something like Kerpoof than consorting with 60-year-old pedophiles on kiddie social networks.

    Arrington notes that today’s judges panel is much harsher than yesterday’s. Follows up with question: “So which company sucks the most?” (Now that’s a great question. Too bad no one answers.)

    Dyson asks how Mint can track transactions from all companies, even small local ones. CEO says company has a massive, constantly updating database of merchants.

    (If there’s a TechCrunch40 2, it should have a permanent panel comprised of Kawasaki, Dyson, Arrington, Yossi Vardi and Ryan Block [the last two from yesterday’s session]–a far more engaging and entertaining group of folks.)

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