FBI Could Pull the Plug On Millions of Internet Users March 8

These guys want to help. Really.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates. Read More

Growing Up VC

The Rise of the Buddy VC

Mr. Heitzmann.

These days, venture capitalists do so much more than write checks; in fact, it’s starting to seem like some VCs will do everything short of give their portfolio companies backrubs. Investors—many of them former or current entrepreneurs themselves—host dinners, make introductions, sit on boards, and gently or not-so-gently nudge startups in one direction or another. It’s the buddy VC—business mentor, recruiter, shoulder to cry on, never more than an email away.

A story in Crain’s sums up the buddy VC phenom nicely: “More than financiers, they are mentors, rabbis and consiglieres, all wrapped up in one.” Read More

David vs. Googliath

Scroogle May Have Been a Victim of Hackers, Not Google


The plot thickens! Yesterday we wrote about Scroogle, a nonprofit search engine that delivers Google results to a user without also collecting information for Google as the same time. Scroogle has been down for two days now, and an error page points a finger at the GOOG. “Google treats Scroogle like a bot because they see the traffic from our IP addresses as higher than normal,” the message says. “Searching Google with a bot is against Google’s terms of service, but Scroogle users are not bots. Is it ‘Terms of Service’ for Google, or is it ‘Terms of Monopoly’?”

Google says it did not target Scroogle specifically, but acknowledge Scroogle could have tripped a censor. “We do have automated systems to deter scraping or excessive queries to Google, and spikes in query traffic can cause issues for some sites,” a spokesman said in an email.

But now a tipster writes in with an image of a private forum post that appears to be written by Daniel Brandt, the militant privacy advocate who created the Scroogle engine as well as the sites Google Watch and Wikipedia Watch. There is no way to confirm the authenticity of the post, and Mr. Brandt has not responded to an email request for comment. Take what follows with a giant grain of salt. Read More

Going South for the Startup

Canadian Government Sending Six Startups to General Assembly for Three Months


Six Canadian startups are headed to General Assembly this month, part of an initiative by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service. The Canadian companies will spend three months inhaling the fumes of Silicon Alley from a pretty perch at General Assembly, thanks to a partnership between General Assembly and the Consulate General of Canada in New York. Read More

The Internet Makes You Mean

Cyberbullying: Just Like Bullying, Only Cyber

Manhattan District Cyrus Vance and his case-cracking cybercrime bureau are on the road today, delivering presentations on anti-cyberbullying awareness at 12 schools as part of the Department of Education’s Respect for All Week, which “promotes respect for diversity and fosters inclusive learning environments for all students.” That means all Bronies, 4channers, cam girls and Tumblr trolls, remember: tweets hurt.

Fresh Capital

Startup Born on Fred Wilson’s Blog Raises $540K Seed Round, Heads to New York

Mr. Mougayar.

It took just four months for Engagio to go from a conversation between Fred Wilson and William Mougayar to a funded startup, and about six weeks of that was spent drawing up the legal documents. Mr. Mougayar, founder of the content aggregator Equentia and a frequent commenter at Mr. Wilson’s blog, was trying to solve the “scattered comments” problem. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the comments feed on our favorite sites have become their own inboxes. Engagio aggregates these conversations into a searchable social media inbox that shows all your incoming and outgoing comments as well as more information about who you’re talking to.

“The whole thing was more or less conceived on Fred’s blog, and it came as a result of my involvement as a frequent commenter not just on his blog but elsewhere,” Mr. Mougayar said in a phone call with Betabeat this morning. “I believe in commenting as a value element because it’s not just commenting, it’s conversations and I have developed relationships with people that I have started to comment with.” Read More


LocalResponse Goes Pro, Launches Analytics Dashboard for Brands to Act on Geo-Targeted Consumer Intent

Any excuse to post photos of @stanleythepuppy

LocalResponse announced some big news today in the way of every startup’s favorite word: monetization! (Well, it might be your least favorite if your name rhymes, say, with Shmumblr). The advertising platform, which helps marketers make good on real-time consumer intent by mining mentions and location-enabled check-ins on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla and the like, is now offering an “analytics and action platform for marketers.”

In the past, LocalResponse has managed fly-over state friendly campaigns for clients like Walgreens. Consumers who checked-in to Walgreens on Foursquare or merely tweeted “I’m at Walgreens” or even “I’m going to Walgreens,” got a tweet back directly from the store offering promotions and coupons. Click-through rates for that that kind of offering are more than 50 percent, a good 20 times that of other direct response marketing campaigns, says the startup.

The secret sauce of LocalResponse’s approach to social media deluge is that the company is able to analyze both implicit and explicit check-ins. “No one is using semantic NLP (natural language parsing) to extract the implicit ‘check-in’ or presence—in fact we have a patent pending on this process,” LocalResponse CEO Nihal Mehta told Betabeat. “Sprout Social, Tweetdeck, SocialFlow all operate on generic mentions, instead of ‘presence’ like LocalResponse does,” he added. Data from Foursquare, who is also trying get in on the ad game, is only two percent of LocalResponse’s data set. “The vast majority comes from people mentioning they are at places or doing things on Twitter itself!” he said. Read More

SOPA Opera

Fred Wilson to Media Execs: ‘Everybody, and I Mean Everybody, Is a Pirate’

Screen shot 2012-02-15 at 10.19.53 AM

At the Paley Center for Media yesterday, New York tech’s paterfamilias Fred Wilson offered something largely absent from recent anti-SOPA debates: a plan for an alternative. Better yet, he wasn’t just preaching to the choir. Rather, the Union Square Ventures managing partner broke on through to the other side: media execs.

Last month, he seemed frustrated, tweeting out “#screwcable” when a feud between MSG and Time Warner Cable forced Mr. Wilson to consume pirated content if he wanted to see the (pre-Linsanity) Knicks. But during yesterday’s talk, Mr. Wilson seemed more convinced of the universality of the condition. Read More

Fresh Capital

Exfm Raises $1.5 M. (and $1) From Previous Investor Spark Capital



Exfm, the little Chrome extension that could, just closed a round of funding for precisely $1,500,001 from existing investor Spark Capital, VentureBeat reports. The company filed its Form D with the SEC yesterday.

Exfm started in 2010 as a Chrome extension that catalogued addresses of audio files as you browsed; today, it’s available for Safari, Firefox, Android, iPhone, and as an embeddable player, with ambitions for much more. “It was the right amount for the business now- it fuels our growth and lets us control our own destiny,” COO Charles Smith said in an email. “As for the extra $1, I wish I had an explanation that included Jeremy Lin.”

Read More