Layoff Count Rises: Akamai, Qik, Strands

The economy is affecting players all over the web video ecosystem, and companies both large and small. Here’s the latest carnage. Content delivery giant Akamai (s AKAM) laid off 110 employees today, or 7 percent of its staff. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company described the layoffs as “cost-cutting measures.”
Also, TechCrunch reports that recommendation startup Strands laid off 14 people, or 10 percent of its company, and mobile live video startup Qik also laid off 10 percent, or five people.
Update: Qik co-founder Bhaskar Roy tells us via email, “Well, given the current environment we had to take a hard look at how we create better efficiencies in our organization and to remain focused on long-term growth. As a part of this, we had to take the difficult step of eliminating a limited number of positions. Having said that – we will continue to increase our investments in areas such as R&D, product development that enable us to achieve long term growth.

Strands & Twine: Sipping From the Information Firehose

I am once again overwhelmed by too much information.
And lately, I’m even overwhelmed by too many tools to access, filter and read that information or to save it for later or add it to various Web 2.0 tools.
On my browser bar alone I have my Google Reader Subscribe button and the ability to save information to Kirtsy,, Second Brain, Instapaper, Evernote, Tumblr, and more recently Strands and Twine.
Before I talk a little more about Strands and Twine, I have to voice a few complaints:

  1. I’m getting tired of having to learn new iconography every time a new site launches and decides to create a unique set of icons to represent the same functionality found on their competitors’ sites. I would love for everyone to adopt a basic set of icons to illustrate features such as Profile, Settings, Publish, etc. so I’m not trying to figure out that that stapler icon means files. Kudos for the adoption of the RSS feed symbol. Let’s get more of those universal icons, please.
  2. I’m growing weary of all this new terminology that is proprietary to a particular site. Do new companies really believe that their terminology will become the definitive words that we’ll be using 5, 10 years from now? I mean every one of them? What struck me during the demos of both Strands and Twine (which I like, by the way, so don’t let this rant confuse you), is that “strands” and “twine” both basically stand for “interests.” Why not call them “Interests”???

Phew! Okay. Got that off my chest. Now on to Strands and Twine.
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Quick Tip: Print to PDF

Printing to a PDF is a useful feature to have for saving receipts of online purchases or sending screenshots of webpages to friends (these aren’t the only useful times to print to PDF’s, but they are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head).

In OS X printing to a PDF is a as simple as:

  1. File > Print
  2. PDF > Save as PDF

NBC to Delay Some Online Olympics Coverage

The upcoming Olympics are bringing out the competitive streak in NBC. Though the network will make more than 2,200 hours of live competition available online, according to the AP, events scheduled to be on TV won’t be shown on the web until after they’ve been televised.

Translation: Hope you enjoy synchronized swimming, because track and field won’t be live.

But while my initial gut reaction was that NBC really blew this one, upon closer inspection I realized that’s maybe it won’t be such a big deal after all.

To be sure, NBC seems to be missing a — pardon the phrase — golden opportunity by delaying the webcast. Live sports is scoring big online. Major League Baseball’s, March Madness and the U.S. Open are all pulling in good if not record-breaking numbers. What bigger sporting event is there than the Olympics?

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Strands Tries New Social, Relaunches

Strands LogoStrands, a Corvallis, Ore.-based startup that has shown success in the music social recommendation space, is relaunching into a private beta online activity aggregation service. The company hopes to take the lifestreaming features offered by Web 2.0 darling FriendFeed a step further by adding the ability to build a “taste profile” based on your social media usage patterns. sreenshotThrough the taste profile, Strands intends to battle the information overload from services such as Twitter and FriendFeed by using your online social circle to filter out relevant content you will find pertinent. “Hot Posts” will show you which online media items, such as news stories and videos, are currently popular among your friends to help you discover new things.

The company recently raised $55 million in capital and reports sales of $12 million in 2007. When I asked Jason Herskowitz, Strands’ VP of Social Media, how the company plans to monetize its new offering, he said Strands is merely looking for eyeballs to drive sales of its other offerings, such as Strands Social Player and Strands Business Solution.

I’m skeptical about how successful the new service will be — it’s yet another service to sign up for and adopt. However, if implemented correctly, the service stands to bring the signal-to-noise ratio of lifestreams down to a tolerable level.

Strands Expands Further With NetworthIQ Buy

Strands LogoStrands, a social recommendation startup whose core product is focused on music, today made another move aimed at expanding into other areas with an agreement to buy NetworthIQ for an undisclosed amount. With the acquisition of NetworthIQ, Corvallis, Ore.-based Strands is looking to further build its moneyStrands personal finance application by giving users quality recommendations based on their entire financial portfolio. Competing personal finance startup Mint is similar in functionality, but only gives recommendations based on individual aspects of a user’s financial situation.

Todays news comes on the heels of Strands’ acquisition of Expensr, also a personal finance application. Over the last six months, funding for the four-year-old company has risen to some $55 million from investors including Spanish Bank BBVA, Grupo Zeta, Dabaeque and Sequal, so Strands appears to be using at least some of that money to try and replicate its success with music in personal finance.

FlipStart is now shipping

Flipstart_smallI just received a notice from the folks at FlipStart that the little PC is now shipping.  I wasn’t able to say anything while I was evaluating the FlipStart due to an embargo but I can now say that the device integrates EV-DO Rev A from Sprint.  I experienced great connectivity both here in Houston and in Seattle while testing the FlipStart and had no problems with the Sprint connection which is good news for prospective buyers.  The FlipStart is $1,999 and you’ll find full specs after the jump.

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Skype, Yahoo in talks?

It is too early to tell, what is going on, but there seems to be rumors floating that Skype and Yahoo are in close contact, and perhaps cooking up a commercial partnership. The reports are based on a post on Jean-Michel’s blog. It might be too soon for Skype to be cashing out, and I am not sure if Yahoo can justify the big ticket valuation that would be slapped on Skype. There maybe a revenue share deal in the offering! That would make my recent post on Skype, more relevant.
I have a feeling that two companies could be working on ways to get together and make their individual IM/VoIP clients work with each other. Some sources say that Yahoo’s Messenger team has been hyperactive, and is trying to find creative opportunities, so lets not rule out a possibility of an outright purchase. Still given the 41 million downloads, Skype would be a great acqusition for Yahoo, because it could add some significant heft to the Yahoo! Messenger platform. Yahoo has been spending significant amounts of money on turning this into a voice client as well.
The big problem to this deal would be cozy relationship Yahoo enjoys with the baby bells. Skype is public enemy #1 in those circles, and it could mean a big risk for Yahoo which is building itself as media giant of the 21st century. Stay tuned – I am on the trail right now!