Following closely on my last post, it was announced this morning that Chinese video site Youku.com raised $25 mil in funding in Series C funding, led by Brookside Capital Partners (affiliated with Boston’s Bain Capital). Of course, the press release says Youku.com is China’s leading video site, contrary to what Tudou says. Who’s the victor? Well, that’s hard to say. Though it appears the title goes to either Tudou or Youku, depending on your source. Either way, Boston is pouring money into them at a high rate.

But so far, no one has raised an eyebrow about the ethics of investing in companies that bow to censors. Maybe they should. And maybe in Kendall Square someone should be more worried about how Google is still getting played like a sucker.



I was researching an article on web piracy (published today by Slate) when I first came across a Chinese video site called Tuduo. It seems to be interested in becoming China’s youtube (though the copyright policing is not at youtube’s level yet–which is how I came by them in the first place.) Or maybe better. (via NewTeeVee interview with Tuduo CEO Gary Wang):

NewTeeVee: You’ve been called the Chinese YouTube, but do you compete with YouTube on your own turf?

Wang: YouTube has .1 percentage market share in China — they are nowhere.

Take that, Google. We don’t care how many of your principles you betrayed, we still don’t want your weak youtube. The local connection to Tudou comes from Cambridge’s General Catalyst, which helped lead a $19 mil round of funding this summer for Tudou. Which makes sense, I suppose, given Boston’s Irish heritage. (Tudou is the Chinese word for potato. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.)


Boston’s Backchannelmedia closed out another $3 mil this quarter, raising their total to $10 mil over the past two years. (via PEHub) The basic idea behind backchannelmedia is that–and this is their own words–that “television advertising should become accountable.” In other words, bcm can track the efficiency of those big ad dollars by linking TV and internet in such a way that consumers can see an ad on TV and purchase the product immediately. Here’s the co-CEO discussing this with more anecdotes with Xconomy:

“Say you’re watching the Grammies and the Dixie Chicks are on,” explains Daniel Hassan, Backchannelmedia’s chairman and co-CEO. “You have a consumer sitting at home watching when they win the award, and they see an ad that says ‘Go to iTunes now to download this song.’ The consumer clicks the OK button and a link to that exact song is deposited into their iTunes account. Or they’re watching Oprah’s book-of-the-month club-one click and that book is not only dropped into their Web portal inbox, but if they’ve set it up through our Web services, it can be dropped into their personal Amazon shopping cart. It’s all about using a TV property to drive clicks to the Internet.”

I can see how this works well with Rachel Ray (cookbooks), Charlie Rose (books, movies), and even Monday Night Football (apparel). But what can you get when watching I Love New York 2? Besides, you know, a sense of self-satisfaction. Oh! Maybe some arsenic.

Stay Tuned for the Worst

Bad news for Mass. on the foreclosure front. (via the Globe)

There were 3,115 petitions to foreclose filed in Land Court in August, the highest number of petitions filed in one month since the Warren Group began collecting foreclosure data in January 2005, the firm said. That August number rose 75.5 percent from the number in August 2006, and it was also up 25.3 percent from the number in July 2007, the Warren Group said.

“It’s interesting that foreclosure deeds are falling off slightly, given the ever increasing number of petitions to foreclose we’ve been seeing,” Timothy Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group, said in a statement. “It could be that lenders are holding off on letting the ax fall.”

And private issues have apparently spread to commercial as well, according to news from the MIT Center for Real Estate (via BusinessWeek):

The center maintains an index of the current value of commercial properties owned by pension funds. And guess what happened in the third quarter? The index dropped 2.5%, the first quarterly decline since 2003. And prices haven’t declined as steeply since the fourth quarter of 2001, when they dropped 3.9% after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“The fall in our index is the first solid, quantitative evidence that the subprime mortgage debacle, which hit the broader capital markets in August, may be spreading to the commercial property markets,” David Geltner, the center’s director, said in a release accompanying the index report.

Not much good here, but the report does offer this:

Boston Properties (Symbol: BXP), which owns office buildings in Boston, D.C., New York, Princeton and San Fran, is down only 7% this year and has actually gained 6% in the past 3 months. Industrial property owner ProLogis (PLD) has gained 16%.

Turn Right for Sale


uLocate, a company I’ve written about in the past, held a contest recently for mobile developers looking to get some attention from VCs. The winners provide a good look at some of the smart things coming from area mobile tech:

Winning entry Yokel is a location enabled shopping portal that helps consumers find the availability and pricing of products in nearby retail stores based on their current location. Yokel’s unique interface allows users to search for virtually any type of item including electronics, home appliances, clothing and more.

Proxido leverages WHERE’s location enabled technology to allow people to organize their lives through a task list of geographically placed reminders. For example, a person can receive a Proxido alert reminding them to pick up milk at a nearby convenience store on their evening commute home from work.

CellSoul calculates the precise timing of the five daily Muslim prayers based on a user’s current GPS coordinates. In addition to prayer times, users are notified of nearby mosques and can easily access contact information and driving directions to these locations.

I like the second idea a good deal, but that may just be because I am prone to being extremely forgetful. All three are worth keeping an eye on.


Those striking writers can’t just picket and smoke cigarettes all day. They do need to make some burrito money. Enter Boston (via WSJ):

Spark Capital Partners LLC, a Boston venture-capital firm with investments that include online entertainment, is heading to Los Angeles this week to meet with a handful of disgruntled writers. “I don’t know if it’s an opportunity or a defense mechanism, but they want to talk with me about content that doesn’t go through the studio system,” says Todd Dagres, a partner at Spark. He declined to name the writers but said several were “showrunners” — top writers with producing duties — on two of the top five network shows. One adjustment for screenwriters: The budgets for such online work are typically in the tens of thousands of dollars, rather than the millions.

Man, this is the thanks they get?

This morning’s Globe story about Biogen notes that its stock has declined by about 14 percent since it hit the sale block around mid-October. All of this seems to be due to the fact that people aren’t really sure that a deal will be made for Biogen. The Globe quotes one analyst’s optimism about a sale, and then sort of glosses over Biogen’s past:

But some stock watchers are nervous about Tysabri, because Biogen Idec temporarily yanked the drug off the market two years ago after it was linked to a rare brain disease.

Yeah, rare brain disease may not be clear enough here. At least two people using Tysabri–a highly-touted MS drug–died from this disease. The drug was voluntarily removed from the market, but then introduced again with the expectation that more people could die as well:

The Food and Drug Administration acknowledged the likelihood of additional deaths from the drug, despite the new rules on its use.

A strong argument can be made that these people need all the help they can get and if they are willing to accept the risk, so be it. (From Med Ad News, June 2006, sub req):

A survey conducted by Jack Calfee, Ph.D., resident scholar, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, showed that a majority of multiple-sclerosis patients were willing to take a drug that posed a 1 in 1,000 risk of death. According to his survey, 57% of patients either definitely would or probably would take the drug, compared with 44% definitely not or probably not willing to take the drug.

Still, these kinds of mortal side effects–no matter the greater good caused–could cause any investor to be shaky.