At AngelPad Demo Night, Ex-Googlers Share Plans to Overhaul the Web

11/11/10Follow @wroush

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the true energy information hub for a whole home, collecting usage information from smart appliances, smart meters, smart plugs, and everything else on the network and showing users how they’re doing on energy conservation compared to their friends.

The startup has already lined up investments from XG Ventures (another ex-Googler operation), Paul Blomdahl, The Astonishing Tribe, and Aardvark co-founder Nathan Stoll.

mopubMoPub
Jim Payne, Brian Atwood, Nafis Jamal

“A mobile ad server helping app developers optimize the monetization of their apps”

As former Googlers who have all tried building mobile apps, the founders of MoPub say they’ve run into the challenge of making money through in-app advertising. There are lots of mobile ad networks—InMobi, Where, VideoEgg, Apple’s iAd, and Google’s AdMob, to name just a few—but the problem, says MoPub founder Jim Payne, is that developers have to design around their requirements, then manually adjust and readjust the number of ads coming in from each network to get the most profitable mix.

By inserting a snippet of code into their mobile apps, developers can hand that whole job over to MoPub. By collecting data over time, the company says it can determine which ads are most effective and “improve the experience for everyone.”

Eventually, says Payne, “we want to serve every mobile ad through our platform, reduce friction between publishers and advertisers, and increase the relevance, monetization, and performance of ads—making more services available to consumers and making more money for publishers.”

rollcallRollCall
Chuck Lam, Ibrahim Okuyucu

“A mobile application that lets small groups easily organize and manage casual get-togethers”

It’s much easier to dream up a spur-of-the-moment group activity like barhopping or moviegoing than to round up the required crowd. “There’s usually a flurry of calling and texting, and the coordinator winds up relaying lots of messages—it’s a messy process,” says RollCall founder Chuck Lam.

RollCall thinks there’s a technological answer. It’s building iPhone and Android apps—along with HTML5-based apps accessible from any Web-capable phone—that help groups of friends make plans through group SMS conversations. Users create “RollCalls” for new events sending SMS invitations to up to 10 recipients; those who RSVP will automatically receive all subsequent text messages about that event.

Lam says RollCall has already lined up all the seed cash it needs from investors Charles River Ventures, Storm Ventures, and Mitch Kapor, so his AngelPad presentation was brief compared to the others.

sniplySnip.ly
Zal Bilimoria, Abhijit Rao, Abhishek Amit

“A recommendation engine that serves up the best snips from any page on the Web”

Snip.ly co-founder Zal Bilimoria says the company wants to help ease information overload by “distilling massive amounts of Web content down to the best snips,” which he defines as “bite sized chunks of content worth sharing.”

If you sign up for a Snip.ly account, you can install a Snip extension or bookmarklet in your browser that will let you highlight and snip any portion of a text article on the Web. The snip can be shared on Facebook or Twitter, and it also goes into your “snipstream,” which others can browse or subscribe to.

And that’s about it, at the moment. Bilimoria says the company has 1,000 snippers so far, and that each snip gets viewed 50 times, on average. The startup also developing algorithms that will automatically choose the most representative snips from any page, so that the company doesn’t have to rely entirely on crowdsourcing to create a big archive of snips. Bilimoria says snips could be a new source of value and traffic for Web publishers, since they essentially make every phrase into a potential landing place for incoming visitors.

But so far, it’s not clear to me how snips will function as an antidote to information overload. Right now, Snip.ly makes sure snips get discovered by converting them into Tweets or Facebook status updates. So in the absence of some way to tame, organize, and distribute snips (similar to the bundling scheme devised by Curated.by, perhaps), they simply seem to add to the existing cacophony of distractions.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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