John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

TechCrunch40: Rich Media and Mash-Ups

MC Hammer in da house yo, and sitting on the afternoon judges panel as well. Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em…

Another round of presentations by start-ups at this session of TechCrunch40, this time a group of mainstream (and not-so-mainstream) media-manipulation companies. In addition to Hammer, the panel of judges (new for this session) includes Caterina Fake of Flickr, Yahoo’s Brad “Peanut Butter Manifesto” Garlinghouse, journalist Sarah Lacy and French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur.

  • Extreme Reality (XTR3D): A software-only 3D human/machine interface. Now this is impressive. Presenter is navigating Google Earth with body movements recorded by Webcam. Wait ’til the gaming industry gets hold of this … Aha, next demo is of a boxing game. Rudimentary, but you can clearly see the applications.
  • BroadClip: The company is launching MediaCatcher, an application for Facebook users that amounts to a simple means of recording and storing streaming audio. Pitch seems to be TiVo for Internet radio. For example, if you like the Pixies, it will scan the Net for streaming audio that includes the Pixies, intercept it and save it as an MP3 file. Neat idea, but good luck getting it past the recording industry.
  • mEgo: Interactive portable profiles. An avatar with substance and utility. Basically, a universal profile widget that you can insert into Facebook, LinkedIn and whatnot. Update your mEgo and the changes proliferate across all the sites you’ve installed it on. Also features a customizable avatar. MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” plays over the sound system as they conclude. (Wonder how many times we’ll hear it played this afternoon?)
  • Wixi: Answer to preceding question: at least twice. Presenting their media social network, Wixi’s founders also play “U Can’t Touch This.” (What a long afternoon this is going to be.) Wixi offers users the ability to share content of all types, including photos, audio and video.
  • BeFunky: Suite of avatar, photo and video customization tools that seems to be built on the old MacPaint code base. Helps users build (sigh) “YouAtars.” Tagline: “Funky ways to represent yourself.” Pretty much says it all.

Judges Panel:

Hammer enjoyed mEgo and BeFunky.

Surprisingly, Garlinghouse agrees with Hammer. (Wonder if he’s got a pair of Hammer pants in his closet.)

Fake likes Extreme Reality (XTR3D), but hates the name (“extreme” is overused, too ’80s). She pokes holes in everyone else. Doesn’t buy into avatars.

Lacy seems to agree with Fake.

Chatterboxes next to me make it impossible to hear Le Meur’s thoughts. In any event, they’re brief. Perhaps he agreed with Fake as well. (Where are Kawasaki and Dyson when you need them?)

Hammer butting heads with BroadClip over copyright and licensing issues. BroadClip claims it’s going to generate revenue for the recording industry, which will then embrace it. Don Dodge, who spent six years at Napster, stands up in the audience to side with Hammer and tells BroadClip guy he’s essentially full of it.

Correction: An earlier version of this post had erroneously switched the descriptions of the offerings of BroadClip and Wixi, and had incorrectly assigned Hammer’s and Dodge’s criticism to Wixi instead of BroadClip. (See comment below.)


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work