Tech news

Social Number Delivers Anonymous Social Networking

Recently launched website Social Number provides social media users the ability to network anonymously by identifying themselves through a system generated number instead of their name. For example, a user would be given the id 0039601762 upon registration and have the ability to network with other numerically defined users through attributes such as their gender, age, location and interests. The Social Number platform gives users given carte blanche authority to recreate their real life profiles in whatever way they wish and the power to construct an anonymous, online persona that they can use to network and make status updates about topics of their choosing.

Use cases for the anonymous social media website include the following:

•Users who wish to make anonymous comments about celebrities, companies, governments and people
•Users who wish to network via a social identity that differs significantly from attributes of their identity that they have in person
•Users who wish to anonymously explore interests, activities and hobbies by networking with other people with the same interests
•Groups and organizations who wish to anonymously campaign for specific causes

The site represents an important moment for online free speech insofar as the web now has another prominent location where ideas about any topic can be freely exchanged without fears of recrimination. For example, activist groups and whistleblowers who might otherwise fear for their careers and well-being if they were to disclose personal information now have a platform from which to make sensitive disclosures online. Similarly, users with stigma-related health issues such as HIV or depression can now leverage Social Number to effectively network with users with similar conditions and concerns.

Social Number’s CEO M.K. remarked on the innovation of the anonymous social media platform as follows:

We are incredibly thrilled to be tackling and empowering our users to have a free voice, discussing issues that some might deem ‘untouchable’ in public forums. Hot button topics like politics and religion to discussing your boss to substance abuse are some of threads users are gravitating towards. But I believe there are many other topics that people want to discuss openly without the fear of repercussions. It’s about freedom of speech. Today, there is very little privacy on any social network, resulting in employees being fired and government interrogations for free thinking. On Social Number, your number is your only identity, showcasing the true value of anonymity.

High profile users of the site include a group associated with the hacktivist collective Anonymous that features the Anonymous group’s logo and slogan as follows:

The Anonymous group on Social Number contains 400+ members and over 40 discussion threads. Unsurprisingly, sex represents another frequently discussed topic in the site’s other well-populated groups. The site will preserve the anonymity of its users but will block “illegal or dangerous” activity per the company’s privacy policy as reported by GigaOm. Thus far, Social Number claims over 10,000 users dispersed in over 100 countries and five continents according to CEO M.K.

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Microsoft Launches Startup Accelerator In Israel To Promote Azure Adoption

As reported on TechCrunch, Microsoft launched its first startup accelerator on Tuesday. The program is intended to foster innovation for “early stage startups doing big things in cloud, web and mobile” and to indirectly promote adoption of Windows Azure. Participating startups will receive free access to the Window Azure platform instead of seed capital. The accelerator will be housed at Microsoft’s Israel Research and Development Center. Called the Windows Azure accelerator, the program is part of the Microsoft BizSpark initiative. As in the case of the Microsoft BizSpark Plus accelerator TechStars, select startups will “be able to leverage a development environment based on the cloud services of Windows Azure, including development tools, processing and storage resources, and more, to a value of tens of thousands of dollars per startup at no charge. The tools will remain at the startups’ disposal even after they complete their incubation.” The Windows Azure accelerator promises to increase global adoption of Windows Azure by targeting Israel’s vibrant startup community.

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Profitero Named IBM Global Entrepreneur Of The Year

IBM named Dublin based Profitero IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year on Thursday. Profitero makes software that enables companies to understand the pricing strategies of their competitors. Profitero was started by Kanstantsin Chernysh, Dmitry Vysotski and Volodymyr Pigrukh after Mr. Chernysh encountered difficulty obtaining pricing information to help manage e-commerce websites from Belarus. Mr. Vsyostki met Mr. Pigrukh in Dublin after deciding to return to the Irish capital, where he had spent several summers funded by the Chernobyl Children’s Appeal. After completing a Masters in Mathematics in Belarus, Mr. Vysotski obtained a position at IBM in Dublin as a software engineer and met Mr. Pigrukh, who was working for Google in Dublin at the time. Mr. Vsyostki and Mr. Pigrukh decided to quit their jobs and start Profitero subsequent to discussing the topic of competitive pricing analysis with Mr. Chernysh. Speaking of the award, Profitero CEO Volodymyr Pigrukh remarked: “We are honored to be named the IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year. Our solution is a natural complement to IBM’s smarter commerce strategy. We are looking forward to working with IBM and its network of technical experts, business partners, venture capitalists, academics and clients to capture our share of the smarter commerce opportunity.”

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Michael Arrington Publishes First Major Post On New Tech Blog “Uncrunched”

Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, posted his first substantial article on his new WordPress blog Uncrunched on Sunday evening. Titled “What Exactly Am I Doing Here At Uncrunched,” the blog post clarified Arrington’s personal investment in his new blog, after moving on from AOL acquisition TechCrunch earlier in September. In the post, Arrington confesses that he was finding his feet at TechCrunch for several years, never really clear on the blog’s mission or his own aspirations for the site: “I never really did know what I was doing at TechCrunch. I was writing about startups while building a startup and investing in others. It never occurred to me that as the site became, almost immediately, an important part of the tech news scene, to figure out exactly what my plans were.”

With Uncrunched, on the other hand, Arrington claims to have a clearer vision of the site’s purpose and his own investment in the newly launched blog. On one hand, Arrington claims he is going to do exactly what he was doing at TechCrunch since 2005:

I’m going to do the same thing I’ve been doing since 2005. I’m going to write about startups, and the people who build them, and the people who fund them, and the people who use them. I’m going to break stories and I’m going to write my opinion, and I’m to write whatever the hell else I feel like in between. If people want to read what I write, yay. If they don’t, I can live with that too.

Having noted he intends to continue passionately writing about start-ups, Arrington elaborates that readers should expect transparency, truth and bias from him in his reporting. By transparency he means the disclosure of personal investments and conflicts of interest in stories and situations; by truth he refers to a commitment to finding “the unvarnished, pure nugget of truth at the core of every issue that I write about,”; and by bias, Arrington cites the unavoidability of a personal slant or investment in the topics about which he writes, though admittedly much of that bias should be revealed by way of his commitment to transparency. Arrington characterizes his bias fundamentally in the form of a passion for “entrepreneurs and the startups they build” because they are his “rock stars.”

With this post, Arrington defines the lay of the land for his new blog and addresses many of the criticisms he encountered while at TechCrunch involving claims about the conflict of his interest between his practice of investing in start-ups and TechCrunch’s journalistic mission. Arrington was never able to successfully dispel claims about journalistic bias, even though he disclosed an investment policy to continue investing in start-ups, while revealing their details as considered appropriate. With “What Exactly Am I Doing Here At Uncrunched,” however, Arrington appears to be mapping the foundation anew for his blog at the outset, particularly by way of the explicit commitments to transparency, truth and bias at the same time. In a nutshell, he argues that he will continue investing in start-ups and covering them as a journalist, regardless of how people may feel about it.

Arrington’s popular tech blog TechCrunch was acquired by AOL in September 2010. In September 2011, Arrington decided to “move on” from his position as Editor of TechCrunch because of a conflict of interest involving his decision to start CrunchFund, a venture capital firm dedicated to investing in technology start-ups. Arianna Huffington, President and editor-in-chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, refuted claims that Arrington’s departure involved issues of a personality clash of any kind, noting instead that “the heart of the matter” came down to: “Can someone running a venture fund edit a site covering the tech startup scene?”

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