Planet Google

Google Maps Now Connects Directly to Uber

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 4.51.27 PM

As if the temptation to give up on the subway and splurge on an Uber cab weren’t great enough already, Google Maps is now connected to the on-demand rideshare app.

An update of Google Maps released yesterday includes the Uber integration, as well as a few more enhancements. Now, when you look up directions on your device and select the walking or public transportation options, a prompt reading “Get an Uber” is at the bottom of the list of possible routes. The app also highlights the Uber travel time in a bright color, just to reinforce how much time you’d save by taking a car. Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Snapchat’s New ‘Replay’ Feature Freaks Us Out

Coming to China. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

With Apple’s iPhone struggling to gain a foothold in China, a new deal with the country’s largest wireless network might turn around some of its fortune. China Mobile is expected to start selling the device beginning Jan. 17. [The New York Times

Careful, sexters! A new Snapchat update from adds fancy filters, bigger text, and the ability to replay a snap. [Gizmodo]

Buoyed by conferences and video, Aol-owned Huffington Post is expected to be profitable next year. [Reuters]

Here’s an inside look at Google Ventures. [Fortune]

Spotify downloads have increased fourfold since its free streaming announcement. [CNet]

Blog Lords

MG Siegler Joins Up With Google Ventures

Mr. Siegler. (Photo: LinkedIn)

A year and a half after bailing on the blog life during the Great TechCrunch Conflagration of ’11, MG Siegler is wading deeper into the world of venture capital. He announced today that he’s heading to Google Ventures as a general partner. He’ll join Kevin Rose and Wesley Chan, focused on seed and early-stage investments.

Mr. Siegler said he’d “continue to work closely with CrunchFund” on investments they’ve already made as well as writing the occasional column for TechCrunch, because apparently that place is actually the Hotel California. But perish the thought of his revealing confidential info from inside the notoriously secretive GOOG: Read More

Facebook Faceoff

MessageMe, the Addictive App Facebook Tried to Buy Before Cutting It Off, Already Picked Up More Than 1M. Users

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.26.54 AM

There have been a rash of reports recently about Facebook’s mercurial approach to third-party developers. The social network may not want to be “in the business of king-making,” by boosting–or suppressing–traffic to popular apps, as Douglas Purdy, director of developer products, told Reuters. But Facebook is increasingly willing to shut the castle gate on competitors.

While Facebook claims it’s an effort to stop spam and promote apps that add value to the network, “Developers say the crackdown is an attempt to stifle applications that compete with Facebook-owned services,” or pay for ads on Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported last night.   Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Hacking Press Coverage for Fun and Profit

Time for school! (Photo: flickr.com/slambert)

First Round Capital has built a brand-new platform for startups seeking press coverage: HackPR, designed to connect them with journalists. The firm is hoping to replicate the same kind of buzz that made Warby Parker an e-commerce darling after an early profile in GQ. [TechCrunch]

Kids from Cornell got a tour of the New York startup scene yesterday. [New York Daily News]

Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures are all backing a startup called LendUp, which’ll make small loans (think $300) to people with poor credit. Basically, it’s an alternative to the traditional payday loan, with friendlier customer service. Good luck and God bless. [AllThingsD]

No, you’re not just imagining it: There are Meetups everywhere, all the time, for everything. You’re going to need to be strategic in your selection. [WYNC]

Please enjoy this cri de coeur against Instagram filters, which are basically photography training wheels. [Wired]

Linkages

Booting Up: Oh Good, An Amazon Phone Edition

(Photo: Hyperbole and a Half)

The Amazon phone nobody wanted is coming. [The Verge]

Different ads looping simultaneously on the MTV website is just one version of hell. [Wall Street Journal]

“Our company is at the intersection of X and X” is the new “It’s like X for X!” [Bloomberg]

Paul Graham is talking shit on Google Ventures. [Business Insider]

Reddit nabbed 3.4 BILLION pageviews in August, thanks in large part to Obama’s AMA. [Daily Dot]

Fresh Capital

Death to Muzak: Roqbot Raises $1.2M from Google Ventures and Others for Better Background Music

Disrupted. (Photo: flickr.com/toasty

Good news if poorly selected background music makes you miserable: Music tech startup Roqbot has raised a $1.2 million seed round, led by Google Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners and including Penny Black, T5 Capital, and Accelerator Ventures, as well as angel investors.

Roqbot aims to offer a more interactive alternative to the background music services that produce the anodyne mixes you’ll hear in the grocery store, without requiring the level of participation of a jukebox. Customers in a bar or bowling alley request whatever they’d like to hear via a smartphone app. So the business gets final approval, but doesn’t have to painstakingly build a playlist or default to a standard background music service. The idea is to create “a streaming music solution that’s customized for each location, that lets the customers engage with the music and discover what’s playing,” explained cofounder and CEO Garnett Dodge. Read More

Venture Capitalism

Signpost, the Startup That Promises to Drive Customers to Small Businesses, Raises $3.75 M. From Spark Capital

Stu_Wall_IIII

Say you’re a small business trying to figure out whether a deal with Groupon or ad on Yelp will bring customers to your door. That already-tricky marketing decision gets more complicated when you factor in fragmentation among daily deals sites and all the other publishers that could potentially host your ad. If you wanted, however, Read More