Sprint, Amazon, BigDoor, Giant Thinkwell: The One-Minute Week in Seattle Tech Headlines
It looked like so much fun, they just had to join. Sprint is an unabashed fan of the U.S. Justice Department‘s lawsuit to block the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, and has now jumped into the fray itself with a separate antitrust lawsuit that expands on the DOJ’s arguments.
Interestingly, Sprint (NYSE: S) reportedly wanted to buy T-Mobile before it was cool. But, like the feds, Sprint sees eliminating the fourth-place carrier as a death knell for competitiveness in the red-hot mobile sector. My big question: What becomes of T-Mo if this merger is indeed blocked? Deutsche Telekom clearly doesn’t want the property, but could it survive untethered?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is working on its own tablet computer. Yeah, it’s been a rowdy few months for leaks and rumors surrounding such a device, so I used the aggregation and curation tool Storify to keep a running list detailing the trail of information.
Gamification is one of those next-wave tech trends that gets a lot of eye-rolling for each bit of promising news. Here’s something that makes it look like this emerging trend is acting more grown up: Seattle’s BigDoor Media acquired OneTrueFan, a 500 Startups company based in the San Francisco area. The OneTrueFan gang is now BigDoor’s Silicon Valley branch, working on expanding their footprint in helping website publishers keep readers clicking along by offering all kinds of rewards for their activity.
The crew at Seattle TechStars alum Giant Thinkwell is taking its creative and technical talents into a new environment: the “Live Web.” The startup, best known for its Facebook-based game promoting Seattle hip-hop icon Sir Mix-A-Lot, found that very few fans actually wanted to jump in and play the new game. So Giant Thinkwell took a page from one of its biggest promotional successes and assembled FlickMob, a new social YouTube-based video sharing site that mimics the experience of Turntable.fm‘s music rooms.
Robert Nelsen, co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners, says a patent reform bill making its way through Congress is a loser for American innovators and a win for big-business lobbyists. “The bill was conceived to solve the problem of truly frivolous lawsuits in the technology and banking industries,” Nelsen writes. “That problem was solved in five minutes, and then the big companies got ahold of the bill and added all their bells and whistles and it passed based on sheer inertia.”
Dan Shapiro, who recently joined Google through its acquisition of Sparkbuy, has some sage advice for entrepreneurs: If you’re looking for investors, make sure to use your network right. The easiest way to screw up your fundraising dreams, Shapiro writes, is to just lazily cast about for introductions to investors. “It’s sort of like when, on the second day of school, a goofy freshman asked me if I could introduce him to any girls.”
Seattle’s Livemocha has remade its business model in recent months, going after big-fish customers in business and government who want to leverage the company’s web-based in-person language-learning tools for their employees. That kind of scale also didn’t hurt when a big Brazilian company, Abril Educacao, came calling about a partnership in the up-and-coming nation. Abril wound up investing in Livemocha, and CEO Michael Schutzler is bullish about the prospects for future countries and partners.