Friday Grab Bag: Samsung News, New World Cup Mascot, Windows 8 Tablet Tidbits

World Cup 2014

Oddly I never think of an armadillo when I think of Brazil, yet in just a few years fans will be flocking to the country to watch the 2014 World Cup and no doubt will be inundated with images of the new World Cup mascot, an armadillo.

FIFA unveiled the mascot, which it has not yet completely ruined by giving it some cute name, Monday with the assistance of Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo. Don’t worry, they are unveiling its official name in November.

Twitch gets a $15 million investment for eSports broadcasting has received a $15 million investment that is intended to help the company expand its eSports live streaming capabilities. The money, which came from venture capital investment firm Bessemer Venture Partners, will be used to expand its engineering team.

This is the company’s third round of funding, bringing its total to $23 million, with the last being a $8 million round in 2007 when the company was known as It received a small seed funding in 2007.

Samsung strikes back at the iPhone
Samsung has said that it plans to add Apple’s just released iPhone 5 to its existing patent lawsuit that it has with its rival. The move has been expected as the company said that if Apple included LTE Samsung believed that the technology would likely violate its extensive patent holdings in that area.

Hopefully this will go better than Samsung’s Facebook campaign, where it asked which smartphone a user would like to have if stranded on a desert island. The Apple faithful flooded the site and voted for the iPhone.

However on a brighter note the company has landed a major deal with American Airlines that calls for the airline to equip 17,000 flight attendants with the Samsung Galaxy Note, according to CIO.

StubHub out Ticketmaster in for MLB?
A report from the New York Post is claiming that Ticketmaster is seeking to replace StubHub as the office site to resell your MLB tickets. According to the piece the deal between MLB and StubHub has expired and there is pressure from several teams to switch.

The reason for the switch is pretty obvious; you can get discounted tickets for top teams at StubHub, while Ticketmaster has a reputation of piling on charges and raising the price. Teams like the Yankees want their seats sold at a higher price.

Intel gets first marquee Atom smartphone user in Motorola
Motorola Mobility has unveiled its Razr I smartphone, its first that is powered by Intel’s 2GHz Atom Z2460 processor. The phone features a 4.3 inch display that can use its entire area, displaying images from border to border.

Among its other features are an 8 MP camera, the ability to start up in one second, NFC and the screen has a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. No pricing was announced at the rollout.

Anti-Japan protests lead to Intel Extreme Masters tournament cancellation in China
The latest round of the Intel Extreme Masters tournament was scheduled to take place in a few days in Guangzhou, China at the Anime Comics and Game Show has been canceled due to anti-Japanese protests, organizers have said.

The protests, sparked over a fight between Japan and China over a set of islands has led to the cancelation of a large number of Japanese vendors at the show.

More details on Surface Tablet from Microsoft
Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer told the Seattle Times that company would be pricing the device in the same price range as Apple’s iPad rather than in the area that Amazon and Google are seeking to carve out at the low end.

This is not really a surprise since Amazon and Google are positioning their tablets as front end devices that will be used to purchase additional goods and services from the company, and are selling the tablets at cost. The range that Microsoft is looking at is from $300 to between $700-$800.

Leaked pricing on the pending Asus tablet, according to a report from ZDNet, is that it will be even pricier, coming in at $599, $799 and $1,299 depending on model and features. The most expensive is expected to have an 11.6 HD display.

Google asks ITC to ban wide array of Apple products

The International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate alleged patent violations by Apple based on charges brought by Google. Google is claiming that Apple is violated a number of patents that came to the company via its Motorola Mobility purchase. It is also asking the ITC to ban all Mac OS X computers, all iPads and most iPhones.

Microsoft wins a round in patent battles
Microsoft has earned a victory in its patent battle with Motorola in a lower regional German court that ruled that Motorola has infringed on a Microsoft patent that relates to text input. Motorola is expected to appeal in the case.

The ruling could result in both the banning of select Motorola smartphones as well as unspecified damages if the appeal is unsuccessful.

Google Buys Social Media Startup Wildfire for $250m

Wildfire joins Google

Social media marketing startup Wildfire has been sold to Google for an estimated $250 million, an interesting partnership considering that the four year old Wildfire made its name in the Facebook space.

According to a blog post on Wildfire’s site the company is starting a new chapter in joining Google, where it is expected to continue operating as it has before/. The company was founded in order to run a promotion on Facebook and has strong ties with that company including receiving investment from Facebook.

Wildfire has established itself as a player in this space. The company, which has roughly 400 employees, 16,000 customers and the successful integration of its software across a range of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a number of others.

It runs many of the contests, promotions and marketing campaigns that are seen on social media sites and does not use keyword inquires as its targeting mechanism but rather relies on individual users’ data that is held by the social media sites.

The company said that the deal will not alter its relationship with its customers, but it will be interesting to see if that is true. Increasingly we are seeing technologies that once purchased by one social media company slowly becoming excluded from rival platforms, so it is hard to say.

The company was founded in 2008 by Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard and has launched over 250,000 social marketing campaigns using its software tools. It has received investments including from a number of venture capital firms including Accel Partners, Founders Fund, Summit Partners, 500 Startups, Felicis Ventures and SoftTech VC as well as Facebook’s fbFund.

Facebook Gains Mobile Development Team with Spool Deal

Facebook has gained the development team, but not the technology or assets of startup Spool, a mobile app developer that has in the past created programs for both the Android and Apple iOS operating systems.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed but on its blog Spool announced that it was now becoming part of Facebook and that it was shutting down its site and provided instructions on how to move off of Spool.

The company had only come out of beta late last year and started 2012 off by raising $1 million from a number of angle investors that included SVAngle, Felicis Ventures, Start Fund, Stephen Chen, Bill Lohse and Charles River Ventures. Its apps enable users to bookmark Internet content, including video, for later reading both on and off line.

The move is part of a growing trend from Facebook, and others, to purchase companies more for their design teams and capabilities than their actual products. Some of the recent deals from Facebook include and Glancee. Google has recently purchased Quickoffice and Meebo.

For Facebook the recent deals all appear to be centered on enhancing its mobile technologies, an area that it has admitted it is having issues in monetizing. Facebook has said that Spool’s team will help develop building tools to facilitate consumption of mobile content.

PrePlay Takes Next Step with $3.1 Million Venture Funding

If the first step is developing an app that will catch on with your target audience the next step is to have the funding to promote the original work — expanding your team, funding marketing activities and developing next generation products. PrePlay Sports has just made that second move.

The developer, which creates predictive game apps, has landed a $3.1m Series A funding round. The round is led by “wine guy” Gary Vaynerchuk, a well-known social media entrepreneur, and Matt Higgins who is the CEO of RSE Ventures, as well as additional unnamed angel investors.

PrePlay said that it intends to use the additional cash to flesh out its operations with additional staff, and develop additional content for its suite of games while also looking at additional opportunities in the entertainment space.

The company has done well without a major infusion of venture cash. It landed a major deal with the NHL, a real coup for a start up app developer, which included a host of content from Molson Canadian, a major sponsor. The company also had a big Super Bowl push with partner Subway.

Currently the company offers apps that enable predictive game participation. Players predict the next play just moments before it occurs and can compete with friends or just other users. They can gain bragging rights as well as points for correct predictions.

The free app is currently only available for Apple’s iOS platform and it has two apps available. With football season approaching I suspect we might see a NCAA or NFL focused version soon. However the company has said that it wants to expand out of the sports arena and also include areas such as reality, contests and award shows on television.

Viddy Lands $30m in Series B-Is it the next Instagram?

Viddy, an increasingly popular mobile video app developer has closed an impressive round of funding with a deal that raised $30 million from industrial investors, a sum that matches its 30 million registered users.

This is the second round of funding with Viddy closing its Series A last February after raising $6 million in a round that was led by Battery Ventures and included Qualcomm and Greycroft Ventures. The funding came from a number of high profile venture capital companies with New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs, Khosla Ventures, and Battery Ventures all contributing to the current round.

The company said that the additional funds will be used to help it grow by hiring additional engineering talent, develop additional products and expanding its offerings overseas.

Viddy is one of the leading players in the mobile video market, fighting with rivals Socialcam, Klip and Mobli for the crown, but with this type of funding interest it seems likely that more will enter the field or at least seek to raise the level of awareness for their technology.

Currently the company’s app is only available for Apple’s iPhones and even with only that segment of the market its appeal is very strong, with an estimated 30 million users, a tremendous achievement for a one year old company.

The comparisons to Instagram are growing, and speculation has the company’s valuation at anywhere between $200 and $340 million, depending on what time of the day you look. There is no doubt that a technology like this would be very nice as part of a larger overall offering from Facebook, Twitter or even something browser related like Bing or Google.

Elemental Technologies lands $13m in Series C funding

Elemental Technologies, a young company that is focusing on creating video solutions for multiscreen content delivery has closed its third round of funding after landing $13 million in a Series C round of funding.

The round was led by Northwest Venture Partners (NVP) and was joined by three additional partners; General Catalyst, Voyager Capital and Steamboat Ventures, all of whom are previous investors in the company.

This brings to $27.6 million to the company, which was founded in 2006, has managed to raise in the past few years. It closed its Series B round in July, 2010 after raising $7.5 million and $7.1 million in its first round in July, 2008.

In that time it has signed more than a 100 customers including number of top tier players including ESPN, Comcast and HBO, been named to Forbes Magazine’s Most Promising Companies in America list and more.

One of the most interesting is the deal it landed last month that calls for it to be part of the backbone to the systems that will be broadcasting the upcoming London Olympics to viewers in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and a dozen countries in Latin America.