Networked Insights in The New York Times

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Networked Insights was featured in the New York Times this weekend in an article called Online Buzz Doesn’t Equate To Ratings.

As might be expected for a series working toward its recent much-promoted finale, “Lost” below, generated the most engagement through social media of any show from February through April, according to Networked Insights, a social media analytics company.

The statistic is the modern equivalent of water cooler conversation, and is measured by the number of online interactions posted and read about a given show. “American Idol” ranked second, and there was a steep drop-off in the social media index after that. Moreover, other shows with substantial online buzz did not have commensurate Nielsen ratings. Only four of the 10 shows in the social media ranking were also in the top 10 for ratings. Many popular shows on the social media index, like “The Simpsons,” were not even in the top 40 in Nielsen ratings.

Student Spill Featured on Discovering Startups

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Student Spill was featured on Discovering Startups.  From the link:

Why could Student Spill LLC be BIG?

The need for mental health support services is apparent, and SPILL provides a tool that is greatly accepted and appreciated by both students and university personnel.

In addition, most schools have large sums of money reserved for “preventative programming” or “direct student services” used to purchase things like alcohol awareness programs or sexual assault intervention programs for anywhere from $50,000-80,000 annually. Unlike these, however, SPILL is not restricted to one specific issue, and gives students an outlet for all types of stressors. UW-Madison granted SPILL with $70,000 for 2010 after seeing the impact the program made within one year, and the company has been approached by over 25 interested schools over the last year. The program originated at UW-Madison and has since begun operations at 4 other colleges in the US. An additional 7 other campuses–schools such as Berkeley and Purdue–will be set up over the summer of 2010.

Entrustet Featured in The Wisconsin State Journal

Capital Entrepreneurs members Jesse Davis and Nathan Lustig of Entrustet were featured in a special section of The Wisconsin State Journal highlighting companies that are doing well in the economic recovery after the recession.  From the article called Local firm offers tools to manage digital assets after people die:

When you die, what happens to your Facebook page, your e-mail box or your online bill-paying accounts?

All of the password-protected Internet activity you engage in – does it just sit in cyberspace indefinitely?

A young Madison company, Entrustet, wants to help you decide who should be in charge of those accounts, and to give you the chance to wipe them out altogether if they are never meant to be viewed by someone else.

Entrustet is the brainchild of two young serial entrepreneurs and graduates of UW-Madison: Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis.

Davis realized there were questions over access to cyber accounts while reading the New York Times best-selling book, “The World is Flat,” by Thomas Friedman. He was fascinated by the story of Justin Ellsworth, a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq in 2004, whose parents had to go to court to get access to Ellsworth’s Yahoo account.

“I’ve got over 170 online accounts,” Davis said. “It became clear to me all these mundane things we do, like checking e-mails or Facebook, they are real assets to us.”

An analyst with Gartner, the Stamford, Conn.-based global information technology research and consultant firm, said the concept holds a lot of promise.

Entrustet Featured on BBC, Wired, Attends Digital Death Day

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Entrustet was featured on BBC and Wired after cofounder Nathan Lustig attended the first annual Digital Death Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California.  From the BBC article:

“There’s no standard practice across the industry yet. There are no norms for how digital assets are passed on to heirs,” says Kaliya Hamlin, another of Digital Death Day’s organisers.

And it could be the case that digital assets could have real-money value. Domain names can be sold for large sums of money and even Twitter accounts can be monetised with “sponsored tweets”.

‘Real money transactions’

Jesse Davis, co-founder of Entrustet, a company allowing the creation of a will for digital assets says: “There are two types of value stored in your online accounts, economic and sentimental… both types of assets need to be considered carefully in building a proper digital estate plan.”

Despite investing a huge amount of time into characters, players don’t have any ownership rights to [them]
Tamer Asfahani

Indeed, some massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) rely on real money transactions and with between 15 and 20 million users paying to play the games, it can be very lucrative.

From the Wired article:

On 20 May 2010 an event known as “Digital Death Day” brought together the businesses of social networking, data management and death care.

One of its organisers, Jennifer Holmes, says: “We have reached a critical mass of personal data online.” ’Critical mass’ oughta mean that we violently explode, but maybe the mortality rate of Internet users will be a little slower.”

She is referring to the billions of pages held by Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as blogs, online gaming sites… basically anything into which we put data… data which, in most cases, remains after we die.

Parallel Kingdom Featured in The Guardian

PerBlue’s location based game Parallel Kingdom was featured in UK’s The Guardian in a story called Location: Facebook edges closer, while rivals plough on.  From the link:

Parallel Kingdom started as a role-playing game where users had to move in the real world to move in-game. Users reluctant to leave the sofa thought that “sucked”, so now they play with other characters in a region of a Google Map, trading items, fighting and using instant messenger. It has 125,000 registered users and 15,000 regular weekly players.

Parallel Kingdom Featured in Venture Beat

PerBlue’s Parallel Kingdom was featured on Venture Beat yesterday in a story called New Generation of Location Based Games Catches On. From the article:

Then there’s Parallel Kingdom (pictured) for the iPhone and Android platforms, designed by a company called PerBlue in Madison, Wisc. It has 125,000 registered users, of which around 15,000 are active on a weekly basis, with an average session time of 18 minutes. Players typically play the game for 1-3 months.

Parallel Kingdom is reminiscent of role playing games (or RPGs) on the computer or a games console in that it is loaded with features such as a fighting mechanism, a virtual aid to the player, leveling up the character, instant messaging with other players, trading items and food and so on. The character can move in a certain area of a map in the game (projected on Google Maps) and proceed to other areas as they play the game further.

Parallel Kingdom used to be completely tied to players’ location, which meant a player had to physically move in the real world before being able to move in the virtual game world—a feature the designers thought would be cool, but the players didn’t. “We learned that the hard way,” Says Justin Beck, CEO of PerBlue. “The feedback we got from our first iteration was almost uniform: It sucks!”

Now Parallel Kingdom is more lenient in the way actual location is featured in the game. Players don’t really want anything to hinder their experience of a game. If they have five minutes to entertain themselves, the last thing they need is to be told to get off the couch and move.

“We also found that people in general don’t go to that many locations in their lives on a daily basis. They go to school or work, to the gas station, or grocery store and so on. And if you, as a game designer, make them go to a specific location, then you are playing them. So we try to make things that are fun and location-relevant, like checking out where your friends are in the game,” Beck explains.

Yahoo! CEO, UW Alum Carol Bartz Interviewed in Esquire

UW alum Carol Bartz has been the CEO of Yahoo! for just about a year now.  She was just interviewed by Esquire in an article called “I’m Carol Bartz…Are You An Asshole?” which is an incredibly interesting read.  From the article:

On January 13, 2009, Carol Bartz became CEO of Yahoo! One of her first acts was to inform her staff that she would “drop-kick to fucking Mars” anyone who leaked company secrets. Since then she’s been trying to return Yahoo! to dominance, deliberately destroying everyone’s impression of what it actually does. After a deal with Microsoft, Yahoo! is transforming from a search engine to a Web portal — one that, if Bartz is right, will attract new users (and new revenue) by trimming unwieldy Web searches down to personalized streams of information. She has her skeptics. But Bartz is right a lot, and most CEOs of her caliber don’t earn their pay by luck. Neither do cocktail waitresses, and Bartz was once one of those, too. She knows when to give someone a “bunny dip.” And she knows when someone needs a good drop-kicking.

The Esquire piece is a great insight into one of the most impressive UW grads out there in the business world right now.  If you haven’t heard about her story, check it out.