Linden Lab Acquires Game Studio LittleTextPeople To Build Beyond Second Life

Linden Lab LogoIndependent game studio LittleTextPeople made waves at GDC with its eponymous interactive fiction game. Now it’s been acquired by virtual world pioneer Linden Lab, who will use its team and tech to create standalone products outside of its sole game Second Life. LittleTextPeople says it brings a “simulator able to model social practices and individual personalities”. That means the new Linden Lab games could be have the “rich emotional dialogue of a novel, rather than a fight scene in an action movie”.

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Andrew Mason: Groupon To Begin Offering Deal Personalization Abroad Later This Quarter

andrew-mason-groupon1At the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference in San Francisco Thursday, Groupon Founder and CEO Andrew Mason took to the stage to talk about the daily deal behemoth’s newly-minted position as a public company, its roller coaster ride both leading up to and since its IPO, as well as plans for the future.

There was a lot of pressure bearing down on Groupon in the months leading up to its emergence on NASDAQ, with many grumbling about its overvaluation and undercooked business model, among other things. After listing its initial offering at $26 a share in November, the company’s stock today has dropped to $20 a share, after a series of ups and downs.

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Yes, Hipster Is (Almost) Sending Someone Into Space

hipster in spaceAh, Hipster, the startup whose promotional ideas are either brilliant, obnoxious, or brilliantly obnoxious. This time the company, which allows you to share digital postcards, has outdone itself — it’s promising to send one of its users into space.

Technically, Hipster is offering a ticket on a Zero G flight in a modified Boeing 727 — so it’s a space “experience”, rather than, you know, actual space, but that’s probably the closest that you’ll ever get to being the next Neil Armstrong. The winner will be selected randomly from users who sign up and send at least one postcard between February 10 and March 10.

CEO Doug Ludlow says the company likes to challenge itself to come up with crazy, viral promotions every few months. First, there was Hipster’s cryptic launch page, which got a huge response. Next, it recruited engineers by offering $10,000 in cash and a year’s supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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Death To Feature Creep! Bump 3.0 Dumps All But Contacts and Photo Sharing

Bump Photosmore, More, MORE. STOP! Rather than cram more features into Bump 3.0, the team behind the 75 million-installs mobile app combed the data and brushed off all the features no one used. Now, instead of letting you wirelessly share apps, music, and calendar events with nearby devices, it only allows contacts and photo sharing. That’s a better user experience, and examples other developers should follow.

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With Users Viewing 100M Photos/Month, Pixable Taps Hashtags To Help Sort Pics

Screen shot 2012-02-16 at 3.22.40 AMSince its name began appearing on blogs and in media early last year, and launched officially at DEMO in March, Pixable has been able to sustain that buzz — no easy feat in a world saturated with photo apps. That’s because millions of photos and videos are shared on social networks every day, making it difficult to find the ones that matter amidst the noise. So, Pixable pulls that fire hose of images and videos from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo, aggregates them in one place, and then gives users a number of sleek categorization, sorting, and editing tools to help them find the most relevant content.

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YC-Backed Glassmap Launches A “Find My Friends” For Facebook Users

glassmap_mapviewYC-backed Glassmap is a new mobile application publicly launching today that presents a viable challenge to realtime, location-sharing apps like Apple’s Find My Friends or Google Latitude. Where those two competitors focus on enabling social experiences on top of their own platforms or ecosystems, Glassmap is enabling a third alternative: realtime location tracking built on top of Facebook’s social graph. Yes, it’s like a “Find My Facebook Friends.”

However, this app isn’t using Facebook check-ins to track your friends – it’s actually tracking them in real time, by running the app passively in the background. And that’s where Glassmap’s killer feature comes in: the startup is using “relay” technology to minimize the typical battery drains associated with realtime location-sharing apps today.

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The Address Book Fiasco: Another Reason For Apple To Get Its Social Platform Right

hipster21512After a week of confused coverage around which mobile app developers access user address books and how they do it, we are finally getting a product-level resolution. Apple says today (in time to beat back some inquiring congressmen) that it will start requiring developers to ask for explicit user permission in order to access these contacts.

The new interface, slated for its next iOS operating system release, will provide a permissions notification to users after they install an app, similar to how it currently requires users to approve location sharing or push notifications. This change will add some arguably unnecessary friction to users of apps that pull address books — and a lot of developers will be affected, as 11% of free iOS apps were accessing address books as of the start of last year, according to one study.

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Flock The Vote: Twitter To Show Debate Candidates Real-Time Reactions

Flock The Vote SmallerWhat if political candidates could see the public’s reaction to their debate answers in real-time while they’re on stage? That’s the future laid out today at Stanford University during the Future Of Media Conference by Twitter’s Director of Content and Programming Chloe Sladden. If candidates saw tweets that they were dodging a question, they might suddenly become more forthcoming. Twitter is working to make this a reality as soon as this year’s Presidential debates.

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Sell Rebrands As Chirpify; Launches New Twitter Commerce Platform For Brands

Screen shot 2012-02-15 at 5.41.32 AMWe first covered Sell in November last year, as it looked to capitalize on the increasing interest in social media as not only a place to advertise and build an online presence for brands, but as a platform for conducting social commerce. Most of that interest has surrounded Facebook, as a host of solutions and services have emerged that allow big brands and startups alike to create retail storefronts on Facebook, sell to customers, and to a certain extent, manage their transactions.

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Video Plays On Tablets, Mobile Devices And Connected TVs Nearly Doubled in Q4

Movie Icon: PlayFrom Redbox and Verizon teaming up to take on Netflix to Connected TV and Netflix’s premier of Lillyhammer, offering consumers video content where and when they want it is no longer just a second thought. Serving content across platforms has become essential for publishers and brands that want to grow their audiences and earn more revenue with online video.

Ooyala, the online video provider, today released its fourth quarter review of web video, in which it analyzes the viewing behavior of 100 million monthly unique users. (You can find the full report here.)

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