CrowdCare Launches Wysdom (Beta) for Android

If you’re using Android and occasionally need help getting your device working properly, check out CrowdCare’s new mobile app, Wysdom.  Wysdom gathers thousands of parameters from your phone (nothing personal or course), figures out what might be wrong, and sends you back solutions.  Behind the scenes is some amazing technology, and a team of highly skilled tech advisors.  No problem to big or too small.  Pretty cool right? No more hours spent sifting through flame sessions on forums.  Check it out and let us know what you think. And if you’re an iOS user, hand tight, its coming soon.

Learn how to use Twitter’s new Tailored Audiences from the company that powers it: Chango

Chango announced today that it has partnered with Twitter to launch Tailored Audiences and Twitter Retargeting.  In time for the launch, Ben and his team put together another of their highly educational whitepapers to help marketers make the most of these new capabilities.  You can download the paper here.

Tyra Banks Invests in Flixel (MantellaVP portfolio company)!

Tyra Banks Cinemagraph

A big congratulations to Flixel for bringing Tyra Banks on as an investor!  Flixel is deeply integrated into the upcoming season of America’s Next Top Model which airs August 9th on the CW (US).  We are all looking forward to seeing the amazing works of art that Tyra and the team have created using Flixel’s new suite of apps (available in App Store).

For more detail on the story please see the All Things Digital post below or, watch a discussion about Tyra and Flixel on the Wall Street Journal .

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Tyra Banks Invests in Flixel, Will Feature Its “Living Photos” Prominently on “America’s Next Top Model”

All Things Digital

Modeling icon Tyra Banks has invested in the animated-picture app Flixel, and will heavily feature it in the current season of her “America’s Next Top Model,” which airs Friday on the CW.

This goes well beyond normal product placement. Instead of simple static photos from fashion shoots, some 100 professionally created Flixels — that is, “living photos” that combine aspects of still photography and video — will be created and aired throughout the course of the season. Banks’s signature “Tyra Mail” notes to contestants will be Flixels, and in one episode, all the contestants will be creating their own Flixels.

Banks, who called herself “obsessed with technology” in an interview yesterday, started making animated GIFs about a year ago with the app Cinemagram (Here’s BuzzFeed’s compilation of her efforts). This year, when the Twitter-owned mobile app Vine came out, she dove right in with loops of herself belting songs and doing impressions (BuzzFeed also has a roundup).

“It starts off with me being the user. You’ve seen me on Vine being the fool. It’s something I enjoy myself,” Banks said.

The concept of a living photo captivated Banks.

“When I first saw the Cinemagraph, it blew my mind and took my breath away. It had a ghostlike quality. It was a photo but it was alive — it gave me chills.”

Originally created by fashion photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, Cinemagraphs are moving digital photographs made shareable on the Internet because they are saved as looping GIF files, which Web browsers display automatically. Banks searched for a way to bring Cinemagraphs into her work, and arrived at the app Flixel.

Founded two years ago, Toronto-based Flixel at first wanted to be “the next Instagram” — an iPhone app for social sharing of Cinemagraphs. It wasn’t the only one; close competitor Cinemagram caught the eye of Silicon Valley investors and raised $8.5 million last November after some quick user growth.

Looking for the best way to stand out, Flixel turned its efforts to higher-end tools, with a $9.99 version of its app aimed at people who want to fine-tune living photos from their iPhones and iPads. The 11-person company also built out its own creative agency to help brands make nice Cinemagraphs with its apps.

The combination of high-fashion quality and broad accessibility made Flixel just what Banks was looking for, she said. Banks invested in a previously undisclosed seed round for the company at the beginning of this year, bringing Flixel’s total funding to just over $2 million.

This is Banks’s second public investment through her Fierce Capital, following personalized shopping site The Hunt. Banks said she specifically wants to find female-led or female-focused businesses.

Since investing, Banks advised Flixel on a redesign of its interface to be more accessible to new users (Flixel founder and CMO Mark Homza attested yesterday that her feedback was quite useful).

Banks also dove wholeheartedly into integrating Flixels into “America’s Next Top Model,” now in its twentieth cycle. “The reason we’re still on the air is we’re always looking for ways to push the envelope,” she said.

So are Flixels a gimmick, or will they find a lasting place in fashion? Banks agreed that they won’t work in print, but said she imagines digital Flixel billboards are right around the corner.

What’s clear is that this is more than your standard celebrity endorsement.

“I was an endorser when I was a model,” Banks agreed. “I was a Victoria’s Secret model, I was a Cover Girl model. This is providing strategic help, and advising and bringing them onto my show. It’s a much more robust relationship.”

The 2nd Best Startup Launch Video

 

In the early days of 2012, a small startup called Dollar Shave Club unleashed the greatest startup video of all time upon the unsuspecting Gillette wielding world.  The video was titled “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” and it masterfully combined elements of Old Spice’s classic “Man-Your-Man-Could-Smell-Like” campaign with more traditional notions of rugged blue-collar American individualism.  More than five million views on YouTube vaunted Dollar Shave Club into the mainstream.

This brings me to today’s news – Flixel, a MantellaVP portfolio company and a leader in the emerging “living photos” or Cinemagraph space, has released what is in my humble opinion the 2nd best startup videothe release coincides with Flixel Verion 2 hitting the App Store.  One of the Flixel co-founders, Mark Homza, in conjunction with actress Cassandra Sorokopas (and production team Randy Cole, Adam Zivo), has created a video which feels like an Instagramed music video mixed with a love story in the vein of Joel and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Congratulations to Mark and the team.

Mark’s video demonstrates to me the power of the Flixel app, as well as the broader implications of the emerging Cinemagraph movement, for mass artistic and commercial expression.  Historically new mediums rose to prominence over long time horizons.  Joseph Niepce created the first photographic image in 1827 but it took another 136 for Kodak to release the mass-market instant color Polaroid camera. Sony put out the world’s first digital camera, the Mavica a full 154 years after Niepce’s breakthrough.  In the five short years since the release of iPhone we have seen improved versions of traditional mediums (photos/videos) gain mass acceptance (Instagram/Viddy et al.).  What we haven’t seen are fundamentally new visual mediums, mediums made possible by rise of the high powered mobile computers we call phones.  With Flixel, and the broader Cinemagraph movement, we will.

Conventional Wisdom and the Fragmented Fork

The conventional wisdom states that “platform” or “standards” battles (think PC/Mac, Beta/VHS) are won by achieving a dominant market share which leads to more “content” which leads to more consumers. This position is widely held in the tech world but this outcome could be undermined by two trends: fragmentation and forking.

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Like you, we run a lean operation. We spend so much time working with our portfolio companies, we don’t have time to read piles of unsolicited business plans. The best way to get our attention is to be referred to us by someone that knows us, and believes in you. Consider it just one of many business development challenges you have ahead of you.