Author: Anthony Ha

Watch the first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of ‘Ready Player One’

TECHCRUNCH [embedded content] If you’re wondering how Steven Spielberg will bring the dystopian, VR-heavy world of Ready Player One to life, you can get your first real glimpse in the trailer (technically, a teaser for San Diego Comic Con) above. The film is based on Ernest Cline’s novel — a book that’s been recommend to me many times as one of the best depictions of virtual reality and gaming in fiction. (Sorry, I still haven’t read it.) One of the story’s main elements is a virtual world called OASIS. What we see of OASIS in the trailer doesn’t feel terribly...

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Playbuzz unveils a new editor for writing articles chock full of interactive content

TECHCRUNCH Playbuzz helps online publishers make their content more interactive by adding elements like polls and galleries. Until recently, those elements have taken the form of widgets that publishers can embed into their stories, but that’s changing with the launch of Playbuzz’s new Storytelling platform, where writers are creating entire articles, not just one-off widgets. While it doesn’t look all that different from other blogging tools (including the WordPress editor that I’m using to write this post), there’s an emphasis on the kinds of interactivity that have been Playbuzz’s bread-and-butter. This includes existing Playbuzz features like polls, as well as new...

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The IAB finalizes its new ad standards

TECHCRUNCH The Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group representing online publishers and advertisers, has released new standards around mobile and web advertisers. Not every publisher and advertiser will follow these standards, but the standards important because they help establish best practices around what is and isn’t acceptable for the industry. If done right, they help maintain a balance where publishers can make money and users aren’t so annoyed that they rush to download ad blockers. Alanna Gombert, the general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, said that these new standards have been in development for the past four years....

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Direct mail startup PebblePost raises $47M

TECHCRUNCH PebblePost, a startup that uses online data to target consumers with printed mail, has raised $47 million in a combination of equity and debt. That includes the $15 million, RRE Ventures-led Series B that the company announced in February. The equity portion of the funding has been expanded to $20 million, with another $27 million coming from a loan facility from Horizon Technology Finance, plus a credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank. Marita Scarfi, PebblePost’s CFO and general manager of west coast operations, told me that the debt financing will be serve as “working capital” for day-to-day operations,...

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Google Analytics adds voice-based navigation

TECHCRUNCH If you’ve got a question about your website or app data, you’ll soon be able to ask Google Analytics directly. In other words, if you’re wondering “What’s the trend of mobile versus desktop traffic last week?” or “How many new users did we have yesterday?” or “What were our top countries last month?” you won’t have to figure out how to navigate to the correct dashboard in Analytics and tweak the chart to get the data you want. Instead, you just type in your query in or speak it out loud. In fact, Product Manager Annissa Alusi demonstrated...

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Sizmek acquires Rocket Fuel for adtech consolidation

TECHCRUNCH After a rocky few years as a public company, Rocket Fuel is going private again. Adtech company Sizmek announced this morning that it’s acquiring Rocket Fuel for $2.60 per share, in a deal that values the company at $145 million. (That number includes the assumption of Rocket Fuel’s debt — the purchase price is $125 million if you look at shares alone.) Rocket Fuel came out strong after its IPO in 2013, with its share price going as high as $62.50 on its first day of trading. But it’s fallen hard since then — the stock closed at...

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AdQuick raises $1.1M to bring online tools to outdoor advertising

TECHCRUNCH AdQuick is looking to billboard advertising easier and more transparent. The startup is announcing that it has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Initialized Capital (founded by former Y Combinator partners Gerry Tan and Alexis Ohanian),  VTF Capital (founded by Tony Hsieh of Zappos) and Haystack Ventures. AdQuick founder Matthew O’Connor said he ran into the billboard ad world repeatedly while working at startups including Instacart. Each time, he found himself “perplexed at why it’s so hard to find and buy outdoor advertising.” He said it’s buying process that’s still dominated email, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, and where...

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Insticator raises $5.2M to help publishers make their stories more interactive

TECHCRUNCH Insticator is announcing that it has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. The startup allows online publishers to add quizzes, polls and other interactive elements (either created by Insticator or by the publisher themselves) to their stories. They then make money from those widgets by then running ads in them, too. Other startups trying to do something similar include Playbuzz and Qzzr (formerly known as Boombox). Founder and CEO Zack Dugow said the Insticator widget is designed to strike an important balance — it increases engagement for publishers and serves as a “highly visible ad unit” without...

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