Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Appsfire Scores $3.6M As App Discovery Demands Grow

The segment to be in


With Apple’s App Store hitting the half billion app mark and Android Market  poised to overtake it later this year, it’s a busy time to be in the app discovery business. Appsfire, a France-based startup, is reaping the benefits, scoring $3.6 million in Series A funding from French investors Idinvest. The funding will help the company accelerate its growth as it looks to strike more partnerships with publishers and developers and build up its team of seven employees.
The funding signals the growing opportunity in app discovery, which is becoming a major issue for both consumers and developers. With a sea of content available, there is increasing money flowing to start-ups that can help developers and publishers get their apps recognized and downloaded by consumers.
Appsfire, which works on both iOS and Android, catalogs the apps on a user’s phone and suggest apps on an Appstream, a live wall of apps that identifies recommended, featured and hot apps. Users are able to create their own streams based on their interests. Appsfire has hit 2 million users worldwide, hitting the top 10 rankings in the U.S., France, Spain, Germany, Austria and Turkey. The platform is also able to be used by developers and publishers to market their apps to users. Barnes & Noble, Paramount Pictures and Spotify have used the Appsfire platform to promote their apps. The company, which launched its first app in last summer, hit 1 million users in February and zoomed to 2 million by mid-May.
Appsfire said it’s preparing to release a new company software development kit that will allow advertisers and developers to provide highly targeted offerings to users. Appsfire is also planning on expanding to other mobile platforms soon. It previously raised angel funding from Marc Simoncini of (Jaina Capital), Xavier Niel, Jacques-Antoine Granjon (Vente-PrivĂ©es), Jean-David Blanc (AlloCinĂ©), Fabrice Grinda (OLX) and Lerer Ventures.
This is going to be an important space to watch. With so many apps available, there’s a big opportunity to help people find apps that are relevant and interesting. Quixey, a startup backed by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, pulled in $400,000 in seed funding last month to help make app discovery more functional. GetJar, an independent app store,raised $25 million in February as it tried to ride the explosive growth of Android. Expect more money to flow to app stores and app recommendation engines as our appetite for mobile software continues to grow.

Ojas Ventures Co-Invests In US-Based Social Gaming Start-Up Play140 | VCCircle

Ojas Ventures Co-Invests In US-Based Social Gaming Start-Up Play140 | VCCircle

Aadhaar Presents A Plethora Of Opportunities For India Inc | VCCircle

Aadhaar Presents A Plethora Of Opportunities For India Inc | VCCircle:

May 30, 2011, 07:05 PM IST

The UID project will initiate numerous opportunities in IT services, biometrics, credit profiling among other areas

Discuss the Pattern of Successful Internet Startups in the Startup Genome Report

Engine of startups = 3 part loop, Build-Measure-Learn 

Startup Genome
May 28, 2011

Today we are releasing the first Startup Genome Report with in-depth analysis on what makes internet startups successful based on data from over 650 startups. Here is a small window into the report with 14 indicators of success.
There are tens of thousands of potential young Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerbergs all over the world, sitting in their dorm rooms and little apartments dreaming up the next global phenomenon. Unfortunately the entrepreneurs they look up to are perceived as almost mystical figures that are impossible to emulate. The first challenge these young entrepreneurs have is to demystify their heroes and learn how they became successful. If they have enough strength to get their company off the ground they will experience an amazing roller coaster ride.
One would think after so many successes and failures of technology startups in the last 50 years that there would be clearer patterns aspiring entrepreneurs could study to mitigate the amplitude of the extreme highs and lows that characterize the entrepreneurial journey. But unfortunately that's not the case… yet.
As a result too many entrepreneurs idolize Steve Jobs as a one of a kind genius, with superpowers mere mortal entrepreneurs just don’t have access to. People overlook that Steve Jobs isn’t doing anything radically different than other entrepreneurs. He just knows the rules of the game and plays it extremely well. What separates the top performers in any field, be it entrepreneurship, basketball or music is not a magic formula they possess secret knowledge of, but rather their ability to intensely focus on what matters most and their complete dedication to improving their craft.
Hundreds of people built social networks before Mark Zuckerberg came along. But Facebook emerged as the winner, and it now has the potential to grow into the most important company of this era. Zuckerberg wasn’t more intelligent, more ambitious, better educated or wealthier than other entrepreneurs who built social networks, he just played the game better. If there was one factor where Zuckerbeg truly differentiated himself from other entrepreneurs it was probably his ability to learn and adapt.
This trait seems to be emerging as the defining factor of successful entrepreneurs. Paul Graham calls this flexibilitySteve Blank describes entrepreneurship as a search process for a repeatable and scalable business model with the primary driver of success being learning from customers. Eric Ries describes the engine of startups as a 3 part loop, Build-Measure-Learn designed to radically reduce waste by increasing the speed of learning.
We just completed an in-depth analysis with data from more than 650 startups and one of the clearest results we found was that founders that learn are more successful. Startups that have helpful mentors, track metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth. 

Once we started analysing the data it was staggering to see how clearly were able to find the patterns that described why Internet startups succeed and fail. We were able to break down the lifecycle of a startup into 6 discrete stages and identified 4 very different types of startups. Companies that didn't move through the stages we defined were significantly less successful. The assessment was purely based on milestones related to the interaction between their product and the market. And the assessment did not include any traditional indicators of success such as funding, user growth, time or the background of the founders.
Many entrepreneurs that we have talked with during our research, especially younger ones, considered describing the repeating patterns of startups an impossible task or even a disgraceful reduction of the artistry of entrepreneurship to numbers and graphs. With this report we do not mean to imply that there is no art to entrepreneurship but rather that entrepreneurship is strongest at the intersection of science and art. By gaining a deeper understanding of the repeating patterns underlying success and failure entrepreneurs can dramatically increase their ability to innovate.

Based on the first Startup Genome report we are releasing a new survey for entrepreneurs to assess their startupEntrepreneurs that fill out the test will be given their startup personality type, with personalized advice for what to focus on based on aggregate data from the startup genome project. The data we collect with this survey will allow us to give entrepreneurs even more granular feedback.

In the 20th century large companies became dramatically more efficient as a result of scientific management. This was arguably one of the biggest causes for the explosion of wealth the world saw in the last century. The Startup Genome Report is a major step towards triggering the same transformation for entrepreneurship and innovation. In a time where progress seems to be slowing down, this could unlock another century of transformative growth and prosperity.
Following are 14 more of our key findings. If you would like to read the full report, you can download it here.
1. Founders that learn are more successful: Startups that have helpful mentors, track metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.

2. Startups that pivot once or twice times raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52% less likely to scale prematurely than startups that pivot more than 2 times or not at all.

3. Many investors invest 2-3x more capital than necessary in startups that haven't reached problem solution fit yet. They also over-invest in solo founders and founding teams without technical cofounders despite indicators that show that these teams have a much lower probability of success.

4. Investors who provide hands-on help have little or no effect on the company's operational performance. But the right mentors significantly influence a company's performance and ability to raise money. (However, this does not mean that investors do not have a significant effect on valuations and M&A)

5. Solo founders take 3.6x longer to reach scale stage compared to a founding team of 2 and they are 2.3x less likely to pivot.

6. Business-heavy founding teams are 6.2x more likely to successfully scale with sales driven startups than with product centric startups. 

7. Technical-heavy founding teams are 3.3x more likely to successfully scale with product-centric startups with no network effects than with product-centric startups that have network effects.

8. Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money, have 2.9x more user growth and are 19% less likely to scale prematurely than technical or business-heavy founding teams.

9. Most successful founders are driven by impact rather than experience or money.

10. Founders overestimate the value of IP before product market fit by 255%. 

11. Startups need 2-3 times longer to validate their market than most founders expect. This underestimation creates the pressure to scale prematurely.

12. Startups that haven't raised money over-estimate their market size by 100x and often misinterpret their market as new.

13. Premature scaling is the most common reason for startups to perform worse. They tend to lose the battle early on by getting ahead of themselves.

14. B2C vs. B2B is not a meaningful segmentation of Internet startups anymore because the Internet has changed the rules of business. We found 4 different major groups of startups that all have very different behavior regarding customer acquisition, time, product, market and team.
Check out the full report for more details.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

The costly war on cancer

Its high time a cure is found to cancer !!!

New cancer drugs are technically impressive. But must they cost so much?

CANCER is not one disease. It is many. Yet oncologists have long used the same blunt weapons to fight different types of cancer: cut the tumour out, zap it with radiation or blast it with chemotherapy that kills good cells as well as bad ones.
New cancer drugs are changing this. Scientists are now attacking specific mutations that drive specific forms of cancer. A breakthrough came more than a decade ago when Genentech, a Californian biotech firm, launched a drug that attacks breast-cancer cells with too much of a certain protein, HER2. In 2001 Novartis, a Swiss drugmaker, won approval for Gleevec, which treats chronic myeloid leukaemia by attacking another abnormal protein. Other drugs take different tacks. Avastin, introduced in America in 2004 by Genentech, starves tumours by striking the blood vessels that feed them. (Roche, another Swiss drug giant, bought Genentech and its busy cancer pipeline in 2009.)
These new drugs sell well. Last year Gleevec grossed $4.3 billion. Roche’s Herceptin (the HER2 drug) and Avastin did even better: $6 billion and $7.4 billion respectively. Cancer drugs could rescue big drugmakers from a tricky situation: more than $50 billion-worth of wares will lose patent protection in the next three years.

This is part of a shift in how big drug firms do business. For years they have relied on blockbusters that treat many people. Now they are investing in more personalised medicine: biotech drugs that treat small groups of patients more effectively.This month Pfizer, an American company, announced that America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would speed up its review of a cancer drug called crizotinib. Roche submitted an FDA application for a new medicine, vemurafenib. The industry is pouring money into clinical trials for cancer drugs (see chart).
Last year the FDA approved Provenge, developed by Dendreon of Seattle to train the immune system to fight prostate cancer. In March the FDA approved Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s drug to treat melanoma. And there are promising drugs in the pipeline. Pfizer’s crizotinib attacks a protein encoded by a gene found in fewer than 5% of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. Roche’s vemurafenib attacks advanced melanoma by blocking the mutated form of a gene, B-RAF. Both Pfizer and Roche are developing tests to help doctors identify suitable patients for their drugs.
The snag, from society’s point of view, is that all these drugs are horribly expensive. Last year biotech drugs accounted for 70% of the increase in pharmaceutical costs in America, according to Medco, a drug-plan manager. This trend will continue as drug firms develop new ways to treat, for example, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Cancer plays a huge role in raising costs. America’s National Institutes of Health predict that spending on all cancer treatment will rise from $125 billion last year to at least $158 billion in 2020. If drugs become pricier, as seems likely, that bill could rise to $207 billion.
Not all these new drugs work. In December the FDA said that Avastin’s side effects outweighed its meagre impact on breast cancer. (Genentech will argue otherwise in a hearing in June.) More generally, some people reckon that new cancer drugs offer small benefits at an exorbitant price. Provenge costs $93,000 for a course of treatment and extends life by an average of four months. Yervoy costs $120,000 for three-and-a-half months. Some patients live much longer, which fuels demand for the drugs. But others spend a lot and get little. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, calls the new treatments “the next frontier”, but adds: “We are not buying a lot of life prolongation with these drugs.”
Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, a public body that judges whether medicine is cost-effective (ie, what Sarah Palin would call a “death panel”), has rejected several new cancer drugs. That so upset patients and tabloid editors that the British government back-tracked and created a separate fund to pay for expensive oncology drugs. The government now plans to introduce “value-based pricing” by 2014, with a system to price drugs not just for their efficacy but also for their “wider societal benefits”.
America does things differently. The government health programme for the elderly is barred from considering price at all when it decides whether to cover injected drugs under something called Medicare Part B. Under Part B’s loopy reimbursement system, the more a drug costs, the more the oncologist who prescribes it is paid. Patients have little reason to demand cheaper drugs. Part B usually covers 80% of a drug’s price, and most patients have additional insurance to cover the remainder. Americans hate to be denied any kind of treatment: a delay in Provenge’s approval prompted furious talk of rationing.
Private insurers have started to make patients pay a larger share of their drug bills. But drug companies often help to pay the patient’s share, which stops the public from getting angry about soaring costs. Even when prices are high, demand for cancer drugs is largely inelastic, says Tomas Philipson of the University of Chicago. Dying patients understandably place a high value on life, so they are willing to pay more for treatment. All this means that firms can charge steep prices. “At some point it’s just corporate chutzpah,” says Peter Bach of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. “There’s no check in the system.”
America’s propensity to pay has one important benefit: it encourages investment in research. Drugmakers recoup their investments in America; other countries take a free ride. New research may yield better treatments. And today’s cancer drugs may prove more effective when tested in combination with others, predicts Todd Golub, director of the cancer programme at the Broad Institute, a genetics research laboratory.
Who will reform this unsustainable system? Private insurers may haggle harder. Patients may grow restive—a recent study found that 10% of cancer patients (not covered by Part B) fail to take prescribed drugs, largely because of the cost. Barack Obama’s reforms are supposed to cajole all health-care providers into becoming more cost-effective, but that will require political bravery to enforce, and few politicians are brave enough to do anything that sounds like rationing grandma’s cancer drugs. Congress recently authorised more than $1 billion to compare the efficacy of drugs—while explicitly ignoring their cost.

Coming Soon : Make Your Phone Your Wallet

Google confirmed its long-anticipated plan to launch a contactless m-payment service. The broader vision is clearly to build out a commerce ecosystem and towards this end develop APIs that will enable integration with numerous partners.

Google Blog

Today in our New York City office, along with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint, we gave a demo of Google Wallet, an app that will make your phone your wallet. You’ll be able to tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC). We’re field testing Google Wallet now and plan to release it soon.

Google Wallet is a key part of our ongoing effort to improve shopping for both businesses and consumers. It’s aimed at making it easier for you to pay for and save on the goods you want, while giving merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to customers, as well as bridging the gap between online and offline commerce.

Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will do more than a regular wallet ever could. You'll be able to store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.

At first, Google Wallet will support both Citi MasterCard and a Google Prepaid Card, which you’ll be able to fund with almost any payment card. From the outset, you’ll be able to tap your phone to pay wherever MasterCard PayPass is accepted. Google Wallet will also sync your Google Offers, which you’ll be able to redeem via NFC at participating SingleTap™ merchants, or by showing the barcode as you check out. Many merchants are working to integrate their offers and loyalty programs with Google Wallet.

With Google Wallet, we’re building an open commerce ecosystem, and we’re planning to develop APIs that will enable integration with numerous partners. In the beginning, Google Wallet will be compatible with Nexus S 4G by Google, available on Sprint. Over time, we plan on expanding support to more phones.

To learn more please visit our Google Wallet website at www.google.com/wallet.

This is just the start of what has already been a great adventure towards the future of mobile shopping. We’re incredibly excited and hope you are, too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tablet Applications Revenues to Top $15 Billion in 2015

Phenomenal !

In-Stat Press Release

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 25, 2011 - In many respects the tablet application market is an off-shoot of the more developed smartphone application market but geared to the larger display tablet devices.  The market for tablet applications will continue to develop its own identity in the coming years, particularly as the market potential develops.  As a result of its research, In-Stat (www.in-stat.com) expects tablet application revenues will top $15 billion in 2015.

“While the tablet application experience is very similar to the smartphone application experience, there are some distinctions,” says Amy Cravens, Senior Analyst.  “Although many smartphone applications are appearing in tablet form, developers are having to recreate smartphone applications to adjust for differences in the tablet form factor, and while the different versions of the OSs are likely to merge in the future, tablet applications are likely to differ due to growing differences in the platform and usage models.”

Some of the report data includes:

  • Over 75% of the survey respondents owning a tablet have downloaded applications.
  • Despite the rapid diversification in the tablet market, Apple is expected to maintain its tablet application market dominance over Android and other tablet OSs, but will see its 95% market share slip substantially.
  • As one might expect, free applications dominate the number of downloads while paid applications dominate revenue.
  • Survey respondents indicated that nearly 80% of tablet applications downloaded were through an OS provider store and the majority of respondents prefer using the application store as the preferred method of payment for both the applications and in-application purchases.

Microsoft releases Mango developer tools

Mango brings improved app notifications and updates on the Start screen. Apps are also more integrated in search results and hubs. Highlights include:

  • App Connect. See apps in search results and hubs such as Music + Videos and Pictures. App Connect works with Marketplace, so results include both apps already on your phone and new apps to download.
  • Improved Live Tiles. Live Tiles are more dynamic and can hold more information—making it easier to get real-time info from apps without having to open them.
  • Multitasking. Apps can now run in the background while preserving battery life and performance. You can also quickly switch between open apps.

GSMA Apps Briefing

May 26, 2011

Microsoft is making available developer tools for the next generation of its Windows Phone platform, codenamed 'Mango.'  Many of the features highlighted by the company in a press event this week have already been previewed, with Microsoft touting what it claims is “a smarter approach to apps.” According to the company, “Microsoft sees the promise of apps in how they can be integrated directly into the core experiences of the phone.” In addition to making it possible to get notifications and updates from apps from the Start Screen, the 'Mango' release will also surface apps as part of search results and within Windows Phone Hubs – “as a result, a useful app is more likely to be right there when needed.”

In a blog post, Matt Bencke, general manager of Windows Phone Developer and Marketplace Experiences at Microsoft, said the top features of the new platform include “background processing; additional sensors, direct camera access, compass and gyro; use of Silverlight and XNA together; Silverlight 4; IE9 web browser control [and] local SQL database for structure storage.”

Microsoft said it will announce when Mango apps will be accepted by its App Hub for certification “in the coming weeks”, although Mango is not being supported on customer devices until the third quarter of 2011. The company also announced that the number of markets where Windows Phone Marketplace is available will be expanded to 35 from 15, with new markets supported being Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan. App submissions are also supported in China, Israel and Luxembourg.
For countries not yet locally supported by Marketplace, Microsoft is continuing to expand its Global Publisher Program, announced early in March 2011. Currently, developers in 69 Middle East and African markets can submit apps via Yalla Apps; App Port supports 13 countries in East Asia; APPA Market is available in 19 central European countries; and Device7 and MTel are active in China.

Also announced this week was a web version of Windows Phone Marketplace, to enable customers to shop, share and buy apps and games from any PC, and then send them to handsets. “Several new features and capabilities” for the Marketplace were also promised, which will be detailed later.

According to the latest figures announced by Microsoft, there are currently more than 17,000 apps available for Windows Phone, with 42,000 registered developers.

Internet Matters: The net's sweeping impact on growth, jobs & prosperity,

In India, the internet contributed 5% to GDP growth in the past 5 years compared with the average 3% for BRIC economies, says the study. Here is how internet contributes to growth:
Companies are able to keep costs down, target customers better and bring goods and services to markets around the world much more easily. Individuals are able to compare prices, search hard-tofind items or information, communicate and learn in new, improved ways. 

Governments can serve citizens much more quickly and at a much lower cost through e-governance.

McKinsey & Co
May 2011

The Internet is a vast mosaic of economic activity, ranging from millions of daily online transactions and communications to smartphone downloads of TV shows. But little is known about how the Web in its entirety contributes to global growth, productivity, and employment. New McKinsey research into the Internet economies of the G-8 nations as well as Brazil, China, and India, South Korea, and Sweden finds that the Web accounts for a significant and growing portion of global GDP. Indeed, if measured as a sector, Internet-related consumption and expenditure is now bigger than agriculture or energy. On average, the Internet contributes 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research—an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil.

Research prepared by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey's Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice as part of a knowledge partnership with the e-G8 Forum, offers the first quantitative assessment of the impact of the Internet on GDP and growth, while also considering the most relevant tools governments and businesses can use to get the most benefit from the digital transformation. To assess the Internet's contribution to the global economy, the report analyzes two primary sources of value: consumption and supply. The report draws on a macroeconomic approach used in national accounts to calculate the contribution of GDP; a statistical econometric approach; and a microeconomic approach, analyzing the results of a survey of 4,800 small and medium-sized enterprises in a number of different countries.

The Internet's impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The Internet accounted for 21 percent of GDP growth over the last five years among the developed countries MGI studied, a sharp acceleration from the 10 percent contribution over 15 years. Most of the economic value created by the Internet falls outside of the technology sector, with 75 percent of the benefits captured by companies in more traditional industries. The Internet is also a catalyst for job creation. Among 4,800 small and medium sized enterprises surveyed, the Internet created 2.6 jobs for each lost to technology related efficiencies.

The United States is the largest player in the global Internet supply ecosystem, capturing more than 30 percent of global Internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income. It is also the country with the most balanced structure within the global ecosystem among the 13 countries studied, garnering relatively equal contributions from hardware, software and services and telecommunications. The United Kingdom and Sweden are changing the game, in part driven by the importance and the performance of their telecom operators. India and China are strengthening their position in the global Internet ecosystem rapidly with growth rates of more than 20 percent. France, Canada and Germany have an opportunity to leverage their strong Internet usage to increase their presence in the supply ecosystem. Other Asian countries are rapidly accelerating their influence on the Internet economy at faster rates than Japan. Brazil, Russia and Italy are in the early stages of Internet supply. They have strong potential for growth.

These findings suggest that corporate leaders will need to sharpen their focus on the opportunities the Internet offers for new products and expanded customer reach. Companies should also pay attention to how quickly Internet technologies can disrupt business models by radically changing markets and driving efficiencies. Public-sector leaders ought to promote broad access to the Internet, since Internet usage, quality of infrastructures, and Internet expenditure, are correlated with higher growth in per capita GDP. For governments, investments in infrastructure, human capital, financial capital and business environment conditions will help strengthen their Internet supply domestic ecosystems.