Oren Etzioni Could Be The Most Successful Entrepreneur You’ve Never Heard Of


Oren Etzioni announced on Friday that it was being acqu-hired by eBay and would shutter its service at the end of the month.

The entire team of 26 people will now go work for eBay. predicts the prices on electronics and helps people pay less for them. It’s not surprising eBay would want to buy this company. had been using eBay’s data to help with its predictions, CEO Mike Fridgen said in a blog post.

But one of the most remarkable things about this deal is that it marks the sixth-in-a-row successful exit for cofounder and CTO Oren Etzioni.

Etzioni helped invent the concept of big data back when the Web was young, way before the term “big data.” We’re talking even before Google.

Etzioni is a computer science professor at the University of Washington (and these days, also a partner at Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group). In between teaching and publishing hundreds of technical papers, he keeps creating valuable tech.

In 1994, four years before Google was born, he created one of the web’s first search engines MetaCrawler, bought by Infospace (and still running today). In 1995, he cofounded the first shopping comparison engine, NetBot, bought by Excite. Then he created ClearForest, which summarizes text documents, bought by Reuters.

In 2003, after he learned that he paid more for an airline ticket than the guy sitting next to him, he created a program that scraped travel sites to predict airfare prices. That became FareCast. It sold to Microsoft in 2008 for $110 million and is now a part of Bing.

In 2011, he took what he learned at FareCast and launched to predict electronics prices. It was backed by Madrona (naturally) but also early Google early investor Ram Shriram and Rich Barton (cofounder of! Zillow, Expedia, Glassdoor).

Now, two years later eBay bought Terms weren’t disclosed, but we know that it raised about $17 million including a recent $8 million round in March that included Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s VC firm Vulcan Capital.

Given Etzioni’s history we’re willing to make our own prediction. He’ll be back with another successful startup and soon.


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Saturday, September 7th, 2013 news No Comments

Instapaper Was Just Bought By the Same Company That Bought Digg (Updated)


Instapaper Was Just Bought By the Same Company That Bought Digg (Updated)Betaworks, the company that rescued Digg from the toilet, has just bought a majority stake in Instapaper from its founder Marco Arment.

The biggest question is what will become of Instapaper, which rose to the top amongst the many bookmarking/mobile reader apps because of its superior design and engineering. Digg was acquired at what seemed like the end of its life, whereas Instapaper is thriving at the moment.

Arment announced the deal on his blog, saying that his company had expanded beyond what he anticipated when he launched Instapaper in 2008. But his reasons aside, the important news is that Arment has taken care to ensure that all the users who are invested in his product will be taken care of.

We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.

In other words, this isn’t going to be one of those deals where a mammoth company acquires a smaller company only to shutter it and implement its technology elsewhere. Instapaper will live on. This is, I’ll remind you again, the company that revived Digg in just six weeks—Not to mention that Betaworks isn’t exactly Google or anything.

But there’s more than enough reason to think that Betaworks might have additional plans for the tech that Arment built, especially as Digg prepares to launch an RSS reader this summer. As a mobile reader and bookmarking app, Instapaper is a natural fit for Digg, which is basically a source of interesting things to read about online. Put the two together and you’ve got some textbook synergy going on. Jack Donaghy would be proud.

Arment has done such a nice job with Instapaper since 2008 that we’re a little sad to see him hand it over to someone else. At the very least, he sold Instapaper to a small company that wants to nurture the product, rather than to a titan that would eat it alive and absorb its entrails.

Update: PaidContent interviewed Arment about the deal and asked him about what new features will come to the new Instapaper.

“I have a lot of half-done major features that Betaworks is going to take to completion. I want to have a fresh new design on the app, new sidebars…so many things I got partially through or didn’t have the time to start. The service has always been about doing the basics really well, not about having a million different features. That’s what I’m looking forward to, going forward – a staff that can keep up with a lot of that stuff.”

Read Arment’s whole interview at PaidContent]

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Friday, April 26th, 2013 news No Comments

Groupon Soars Thanks To A Rumor Google Might Buy It (GRPN, GOOG)


Groupon’s stock was up 23% today.

Bloomberg is reporting there’s speculation that Google might take over Groupon.

Two years ago, Google wanted to buy Groupon for $6 billion, but was rejected. Today, the company is worth $3 billion. While growth has slowed, its core business is bigger. Google might think that it could buy Groupon, shutter the underperforming businesses and fix the flaws. 

Or, this could just be chatter. Bloomberg doesn’t really source where the speculation is coming from.

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Friday, December 7th, 2012 news No Comments

Samsung’s SCH-W880 12 megapixel phonecamera with 3x optical zoom


In a welcome reversal of trends, Samsung just stuffed a 3G cellphone into a 12 megapixel camera making this M8920 / SCH-W880 more of a camera than most 12 megapixel cameraphones can claim. While this presumed follow-up to Samsung’s Pixon 12 (M8910) isn’t official, the announcement looks imminent based on the leaked collateral above and the spyshots that emerged over the weekend. What’s impressive here is that extending 3x optical zoom — something carried over from the SCH-B600 — and dedicated camera controls like a mode dial, shutter and zoom, and big 3.3-inch WVGA AMOLED display. Rounding out the specs are HD (720p presumably) video, HSDPA data, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, microSD slot, and DMB mobile television; that latter spec making this Korea-only whenever it does launch. See her in the wild after the break.

[Via HDBlog.IT]

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Samsung’s SCH-W880 12 megapixel phonecamera with 3x optical zoom originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 28 Sep 2009 08:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009 digital No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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