Music streaming service Grooveshark shuts down

Grooveshark


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Music streaming company Grooveshark has shut down, according to a letter on its homepage today.

“We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music,” the letter states. “But despite
best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.”

“That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

Grooveshark shutting down as a result of a settlement with record companies, according to the letter. The company has had less than perfect relations with labels in the past.

The letter calls out several music-streaming services that remain legally, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Apple’s Beats Music, Rhapsody, and Rdio.

The Spotify reference is ironic, considering that Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek in November derided Grooveshark, describing it as a “pirate” service. The Google Play reference
is interesting, too, given that the Grooveshark app for Android was not once but twice kicked out of the Google Play Store.

Grooveshark started, and attracted attention, by letting people upload their own MP3s to the site. In 2013 the company introduced the Broadcast streaming radio service. At the time, Grooveshark cofounder and chief executive Sam Tarantino told VentureBeat that the company couldn’t pay record labels through Sound Exchange for usage of Broadcast.

The company began in 2006, with headquarters in Gainesville, Fla. Investors include Eghosa Omoigui, Dan Rua, and David Whitney. Grooveshark said on its AngelList profile that it had “more than 20 million users sharing over 15 million files.”

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Music streaming service Grooveshark shuts down

Grooveshark


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

Music streaming company Grooveshark has shut down, according to a letter on its homepage today.

“We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music,” the letter states. “But despite
best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.”

“That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

Grooveshark shutting down as a result of a settlement with record companies, according to the letter. The company has had less than perfect relations with labels in the past.

The letter calls out several music-streaming services that remain legally, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Apple’s Beats Music, Rhapsody, and Rdio.

The Spotify reference is ironic, considering that Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek in November derided Grooveshark, describing it as a “pirate” service. The Google Play reference
is interesting, too, given that the Grooveshark app for Android was not once but twice kicked out of the Google Play Store.

Grooveshark started, and attracted attention, by letting people upload their own MP3s to the site. In 2013 the company introduced the Broadcast streaming radio service. At the time, Grooveshark cofounder and chief executive Sam Tarantino told VentureBeat that the company couldn’t pay record labels through Sound Exchange for usage of Broadcast.

The company began in 2006, with headquarters in Gainesville, Fla. Investors include Eghosa Omoigui, Dan Rua, and David Whitney. Grooveshark said on its AngelList profile that it had “more than 20 million users sharing over 15 million files.”

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Why the Pentagon is worth Silicon Valley’s time

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stands in front of the Facebook wall during his visit to the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., April 23, 2015. DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

While the Bay Area was focused on the
Apple Watch release last week, Washington’s national security community was more closely monitoring a different event in the region: Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s visit to Silicon Valley. Carter’s visit was an attempt by the defense establishment to improve relations with America’s commercial tech sector.

For the too often “dreary” Pentagon (as Carter put it), engaging the tech community brings a certain cachet missing from the building’s nearly 18 miles of corridors. Silicon Valley’s reaction to the visit has been decidedly blasé. To wit, the visit seems to have garnered much less coverage in the local media compared to the attention received in Washington.

For the Pentagon to gain any traction, Silicon Valley’s perspective will need to change. And there are good reasons why it should:

1. Money. For starters, despite budgetary belt
tightening, you can still find plenty of money in Washington. The Pentagon is one of the single largest funders of R&D in the world, spending more than $64 billion annually.

2. Leeway to experiment. Unlike other investors, the Defense Department is willing to take a long-term outlook, allowing for more experimentation. Boston Dynamics, since acquired by Google, is a case in point. Technology funded by the Pentagon is often turned around to support broader applications. GPS, the Internet, and digital photography would never have been possible without Pentagon support.

3. Challenges that attract top talent. Most importantly, there are unique challenges that only defense can offer. The reality is that daunting national security dilemmas can spark the interest of talented scientists and engineers and bring out their best work.

In the recent film The Imitation Game, when asked by a British military official, “Why do
you want to work for His Majesty’s Government?” Alan Turing’s response was direct: “Oh, I don’t really.” But Turing did want to engage in challenging work, and signing on with the Ministry of Defence in 1939 offered that opportunity.

Today, the Pentagon confronts some of the toughest puzzles on earth. And they involve more than the oft-mentioned cyber and IT. Here are a few examples.

* Defense leaders want to cost-efficiently launch small satellites under 10 pounds but need to make them more reliable. Imagine a Special Forces team of a dozen operators with its own surveillance satellite. Given commercial interest in the same technology, there are plenty of avenues for cooperation.

* Envision hundreds, or thousands, of low-cost drones swarming around adversaries like a networked flight of swallows. The Pentagon wants this technology but needs better artificial intelligence, processing, and power sources. The same technology could be used for
commercial applications like package delivery or monitoring infrastructure.

* Since soldiers often operate in off-the-grid areas, battery power is of critical importance. The Defense Department has explored everything from batteries that disappear to those that do not corrode and have higher energy density. Success would redefine the realm of the possible for mobile and remote applications.

There are more areas that would benefit from greater cooperation: driverless cars, brain-computer interfaces, and tools that better enable language translation, to name a few.

Yes, we will face pitfalls. Intellectual property must be protected. Many will have a hard time trusting the Defense Department after revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. And the Pentagon must ensure that it does not bind partners with regulations. Right now, however, the Secretary is saying the right things.

For both communities, engaging each other is the
right and sensible thing to do. Learning how to work better together will not be easy, but that too is part of the puzzle. The rewards are worth the effort: national security, better technology, growing revenue, and the ability to crack some of the hardest problems out there. Washington has begun the process by extending an olive branch. Now it is up to Silicon Valley to accept.
Joshua Pavluk is a Senior Associate at Avascent, where he advises clients across the aerospace & defense, homeland security and public safety sectors. His commentary has appeared in National Defense and GlobalPost.


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Why the Pentagon is worth Silicon Valley’s time

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stands in front of the Facebook wall during his visit to the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., April 23, 2015. DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

While the Bay Area was focused on the
Apple Watch release last week, Washington’s national security community was more closely monitoring a different event in the region: Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s visit to Silicon Valley. Carter’s visit was an attempt by the defense establishment to improve relations with America’s commercial tech sector.

For the too often “dreary” Pentagon (as Carter put it), engaging the tech community brings a certain cachet missing from the building’s nearly 18 miles of corridors. Silicon Valley’s reaction to the visit has been decidedly blasé. To wit, the visit seems to have garnered much less coverage in the local media compared to the attention received in Washington.

For the Pentagon to gain any traction, Silicon Valley’s perspective will need to change. And there are good reasons why it should:

1. Money. For starters, despite budgetary belt
tightening, you can still find plenty of money in Washington. The Pentagon is one of the single largest funders of R&D in the world, spending more than $64 billion annually.

2. Leeway to experiment. Unlike other investors, the Defense Department is willing to take a long-term outlook, allowing for more experimentation. Boston Dynamics, since acquired by Google, is a case in point. Technology funded by the Pentagon is often turned around to support broader applications. GPS, the Internet, and digital photography would never have been possible without Pentagon support.

3. Challenges that attract top talent. Most importantly, there are unique challenges that only defense can offer. The reality is that daunting national security dilemmas can spark the interest of talented scientists and engineers and bring out their best work.

In the recent film The Imitation Game, when asked by a British military official, “Why do
you want to work for His Majesty’s Government?” Alan Turing’s response was direct: “Oh, I don’t really.” But Turing did want to engage in challenging work, and signing on with the Ministry of Defence in 1939 offered that opportunity.

Today, the Pentagon confronts some of the toughest puzzles on earth. And they involve more than the oft-mentioned cyber and IT. Here are a few examples.

* Defense leaders want to cost-efficiently launch small satellites under 10 pounds but need to make them more reliable. Imagine a Special Forces team of a dozen operators with its own surveillance satellite. Given commercial interest in the same technology, there are plenty of avenues for cooperation.

* Envision hundreds, or thousands, of low-cost drones swarming around adversaries like a networked flight of swallows. The Pentagon wants this technology but needs better artificial intelligence, processing, and power sources. The same technology could be used for
commercial applications like package delivery or monitoring infrastructure.

* Since soldiers often operate in off-the-grid areas, battery power is of critical importance. The Defense Department has explored everything from batteries that disappear to those that do not corrode and have higher energy density. Success would redefine the realm of the possible for mobile and remote applications.

There are more areas that would benefit from greater cooperation: driverless cars, brain-computer interfaces, and tools that better enable language translation, to name a few.

Yes, we will face pitfalls. Intellectual property must be protected. Many will have a hard time trusting the Defense Department after revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. And the Pentagon must ensure that it does not bind partners with regulations. Right now, however, the Secretary is saying the right things.

For both communities, engaging each other is the
right and sensible thing to do. Learning how to work better together will not be easy, but that too is part of the puzzle. The rewards are worth the effort: national security, better technology, growing revenue, and the ability to crack some of the hardest problems out there. Washington has begun the process by extending an olive branch. Now it is up to Silicon Valley to accept.
Joshua Pavluk is a Senior Associate at Avascent, where he advises clients across the aerospace & defense, homeland security and public safety sectors. His commentary has appeared in National Defense and GlobalPost.


VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying marketing analytics… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.



Microsoft wants to improve the technology behind its How Old Do You Look app

How Old Do You Look? on Twitter, where #HowOldRobot was trending today.


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

Microsoft caught some flak today after showing off How Old Do
I Look?
, an app demonstrating the company’s new face-recognition application programming interface (API). But Microsoft appreciates the feedback. The new Face API underlying the app should become more accurate in the future.

“The age and gender-recognition features are labeled as experimental features,” Ryan Galgon, senior program manager for Microsoft Technology and Research, told VentureBeat in an interview. “These are ones that we definitely want to improve over time.”

Galgon said his team expected the app to generate a lot of interest — but not this much. It started trending on Twitter, with no shortage of people complaining about incorrect predictions.

But Galgon is right to talk about how the Face API could improve. Any usage of the app, even if it results in inaccurate renderings, is good usage,
because Microsoft gets more data to improve its systems. That’s just the nature of deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence that Microsoft is using behind the scenes for the Face API. The more data you use for training purposes, the more accurate a system’s predictions can be.

Other tech companies working with deep learning primarily for use in their own applications or for analytical purposes. But Microsoft is now turning its deep-learning smarts into products for developers to use, beating fellow deep learning powerhouse Google to it.

Microsoft last year introduced its Azure Machine Learning cloud service with similar goals in mind, and market-leading public cloud Amazon Web Services earlier this month introduced its own cloud service for machine learning.

Galgon couldn’t talk about whether Microsoft had compared its new technology — including APIs for image recognition, speech recognition, and language understanding alongside the one for face recognition — against alternative machine learning services in the world. But that wouldn’t be surprising. Other companies doing deep learning, including Baidu, have matched up their systems with competitors.

If nothing else, researchers at Microsoft care about improving their deep learning models and then writing academic papers about their achievements. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to one day provide systems that exceed the capabilities of competitors’ implementations — and systems that make for eye-popping demos.

Galgon didn’t seem disturbed by the outcome of today’s demo. He thinks the new APIs could come in handy for tasks like automatic thumbnail creation, the detection of adult content, and even working with Internet-connected devices. And the best part is, you don’t need a Ph.D. to use it.

“The developer doesn’t need to have background in machine learning,” he said.

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Microsoft wants to improve the technology behind its How Old Do You Look app

How Old Do You Look? on Twitter, where #HowOldRobot was trending today.


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

Microsoft caught some flak today after showing off How Old Do
I Look?
, an app demonstrating the company’s new face-recognition application programming interface (API). But Microsoft appreciates the feedback. The new Face API underlying the app should become more accurate in the future.

“The age and gender-recognition features are labeled as experimental features,” Ryan Galgon, senior program manager for Microsoft Technology and Research, told VentureBeat in an interview. “These are ones that we definitely want to improve over time.”

Galgon said his team expected the app to generate a lot of interest — but not this much. It started trending on Twitter, with no shortage of people complaining about incorrect predictions.

But Galgon is right to talk about how the Face API could improve. Any usage of the app, even if it results in inaccurate renderings, is good usage,
because Microsoft gets more data to improve its systems. That’s just the nature of deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence that Microsoft is using behind the scenes for the Face API. The more data you use for training purposes, the more accurate a system’s predictions can be.

Other tech companies working with deep learning primarily for use in their own applications or for analytical purposes. But Microsoft is now turning its deep-learning smarts into products for developers to use, beating fellow deep learning powerhouse Google to it.

Microsoft last year introduced its Azure Machine Learning cloud service with similar goals in mind, and market-leading public cloud Amazon Web Services earlier this month introduced its own cloud service for machine learning.

Galgon couldn’t talk about whether Microsoft had compared its new technology — including APIs for image recognition, speech recognition, and language understanding alongside the one for face recognition — against alternative machine learning services in the world. But that wouldn’t be surprising. Other companies doing deep learning, including Baidu, have matched up their systems with competitors.

If nothing else, researchers at Microsoft care about improving their deep learning models and then writing academic papers about their achievements. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to one day provide systems that exceed the capabilities of competitors’ implementations — and systems that make for eye-popping demos.

Galgon didn’t seem disturbed by the outcome of today’s demo. He thinks the new APIs could come in handy for tasks like automatic thumbnail creation, the detection of adult content, and even working with Internet-connected devices. And the best part is, you don’t need a Ph.D. to use it.

“The developer doesn’t need to have background in machine learning,” he said.

More information:

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VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying marketing analytics… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.
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Five reasons your business plan is becoming obsolete

mvp-startup-developer-entrepreneur


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

As every good Ivy League MBA-turned business executive will tell you, the secret to successful startups, rapid early-stage growth, and profitable empire begins with a solid business plan. But lately,
scrappy and innovative entrepreneurs are bucking the trend and adopting new forms of growth hacking, and we’re starting to see them change the way businesses are born, grow, and thrive. And compared with their predecessors, they’re knocking expectations and ROI out of the park.

Old-school innovators should take note, or run for their lives (or the lives of their businesses anyway). This new breed of anti-business plan entrepreneur has discovered the new toolset that gets them from proof-of-concept to customers and funding in ways never before seen in the business and investment communities. These mavericks are beating out their competition, one click at a time. Their success can be summed up by the age-old adage “actions speak louder than words,” and in today’s world that has never rung more true for businesses. Here’s why:

  • MVB is the New MVP. While the concept of minimum viable product is standard business practice
    across most industries, today’s fastest moving new ventures are now launching minimum viable business models. Although this approach at first blush may seem haphazard and half-baked, in a market that changes by the second (and by the click), MVB companies are free to evolve as consumer demand and conversion data dictates.
  • If they come, you will build it. Gone are the days where you need product in hand to snag the sale. Turning conventional methodology on its head, today’s anti-business plan innovators are selling benefits now and building features later. And with today’s pre-sell process quickly becoming the norm, customers have skin in the game and can help mold your product into a successful solution that fits their needs.
  • Instant access to A-players. Specialized, skilled workers used to be hard to come by. Not anymore. With outsourced staffing sites like oDesk, Elance, and Fiverr, businesses have access to a specialized, global
    workforce at their fingertips that’s no longer limited by the constraints of a zip code. New ventures no longer need to worry about building in salaries and benefits for full-time employees to get their startups off the ground. That’s because now, the most agile teams are hiring inexpensive, flexible, heavy-hitting experts that will work long-term, short-term, full-time, part-time, and everything in-between, in any role under the sun.
  • Changing the game in real time. Today products evolve at the speed of the Internet, and software is a great example. Once upon a time you’d go to the store and buy a disk, you’d install it on your computer, and that was that. But now not only do you purchase software digitally, software updates are instant as well. This process allows companies to constantly iterate and iron out bugs, and it enables consumers to make updates in real time. People no longer expect perfection on the first go-round. We’ve
    become comfortable with beta cycles, with versioning, and we expect constant evolution. One thing business owners can be sure of is that mistakes will be made, customer sentiments will change over time, and if you’re married to a static business plan, you’re going to strike out.
  • Moneyball funding. Gone are the days when you can waltz into a room and flaunt a perfect pedigree and a promising idea to snag a first round of funding. Investment opportunities that look good on paper have given way to analytics-based backing from data indicative of market and consumer demand that’s a more accurate assessment of future business success than a carefully designed business plan. Goodbye pedigree, hello proof.  And if traditional VCs aren’t your speed, no problem. With crowdfunding campaigns and unprecedented access to long-tail investors through sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and AngelList, armed with a compelling dream and the right data, funding
    is yours for the taking.

So if you’re still clinging to your printed and leather-bound business plan three years in the making, it might be time to kick it to the curb. And if you think you’ll need it eventually, check out the advice from LinkedIn: Even the most successful entrepreneurs-turned-VCs say that it’s more about the pitch than the business plan.

It might be time to come to terms with the fact that success is equal parts getting started, testing, data, and evolving as quickly as you can. And if you’re not willing to accept today’s business realities, I guarantee someone else will.


VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying marketing analytics… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.



Five reasons your business plan is becoming obsolete

mvp-startup-developer-entrepreneur


Successful CMOs achieve growth by leveraging technology. Join us for GrowthBeat Summit on June 1-2 in Boston, where we’ll discuss how to merge creativity with technology to drive growth. Space is limited. Request your personal invitation here!

As every good Ivy League MBA-turned business executive will tell you, the secret to successful startups, rapid early-stage growth, and profitable empire begins with a solid business plan. But lately,
scrappy and innovative entrepreneurs are bucking the trend and adopting new forms of growth hacking, and we’re starting to see them change the way businesses are born, grow, and thrive. And compared with their predecessors, they’re knocking expectations and ROI out of the park.

Old-school innovators should take note, or run for their lives (or the lives of their businesses anyway). This new breed of anti-business plan entrepreneur has discovered the new toolset that gets them from proof-of-concept to customers and funding in ways never before seen in the business and investment communities. These mavericks are beating out their competition, one click at a time. Their success can be summed up by the age-old adage “actions speak louder than words,” and in today’s world that has never rung more true for businesses. Here’s why:

  • MVB is the New MVP. While the concept of minimum viable product is standard business practice
    across most industries, today’s fastest moving new ventures are now launching minimum viable business models. Although this approach at first blush may seem haphazard and half-baked, in a market that changes by the second (and by the click), MVB companies are free to evolve as consumer demand and conversion data dictates.
  • If they come, you will build it. Gone are the days where you need product in hand to snag the sale. Turning conventional methodology on its head, today’s anti-business plan innovators are selling benefits now and building features later. And with today’s pre-sell process quickly becoming the norm, customers have skin in the game and can help mold your product into a successful solution that fits their needs.
  • Instant access to A-players. Specialized, skilled workers used to be hard to come by. Not anymore. With outsourced staffing sites like oDesk, Elance, and Fiverr, businesses have access to a specialized, global
    workforce at their fingertips that’s no longer limited by the constraints of a zip code. New ventures no longer need to worry about building in salaries and benefits for full-time employees to get their startups off the ground. That’s because now, the most agile teams are hiring inexpensive, flexible, heavy-hitting experts that will work long-term, short-term, full-time, part-time, and everything in-between, in any role under the sun.
  • Changing the game in real time. Today products evolve at the speed of the Internet, and software is a great example. Once upon a time you’d go to the store and buy a disk, you’d install it on your computer, and that was that. But now not only do you purchase software digitally, software updates are instant as well. This process allows companies to constantly iterate and iron out bugs, and it enables consumers to make updates in real time. People no longer expect perfection on the first go-round. We’ve
    become comfortable with beta cycles, with versioning, and we expect constant evolution. One thing business owners can be sure of is that mistakes will be made, customer sentiments will change over time, and if you’re married to a static business plan, you’re going to strike out.
  • Moneyball funding. Gone are the days when you can waltz into a room and flaunt a perfect pedigree and a promising idea to snag a first round of funding. Investment opportunities that look good on paper have given way to analytics-based backing from data indicative of market and consumer demand that’s a more accurate assessment of future business success than a carefully designed business plan. Goodbye pedigree, hello proof.  And if traditional VCs aren’t your speed, no problem. With crowdfunding campaigns and unprecedented access to long-tail investors through sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and AngelList, armed with a compelling dream and the right data, funding
    is yours for the taking.

So if you’re still clinging to your printed and leather-bound business plan three years in the making, it might be time to kick it to the curb. And if you think you’ll need it eventually, check out the advice from LinkedIn: Even the most successful entrepreneurs-turned-VCs say that it’s more about the pitch than the business plan.

It might be time to come to terms with the fact that success is equal parts getting started, testing, data, and evolving as quickly as you can. And if you’re not willing to accept today’s business realities, I guarantee someone else will.


VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying marketing analytics… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.