Southern Cal gets its due at Twiistup 2

Companies at Twiistup 2 included JibJab, Fafarazzi, CampusBug, CrowdRules, and ElephantDrive, among others.

Last night, members of the Los Angeles tech community (and one Bono impersonator) gathered at the Air Conditioned Supper Club in Venice for Twiistup 2, the second of a series of Valley-style blowouts for Southern California Web companies and geeks. In front of a backlit, Mondrian-style bar, attendees of the sold-out event talked tech, networked, and vetted business plans over music spun by DJ Quickie Mart. I had a chance to talk with most of the event's "showoffs," two of which--community site Faqqly and the social shopping site ThisNext--we've already covered. Here's a brief rundown of the others:

Head sponsor JibJab was demonstrating their new "Starring You!" feature, which lets you add your own caricature cutouts to JibJab-style videos. Read Caroline McCarthy's take on it here.

Fafarazzi is like fantasy sports, but with celebrities. You create or join a league, draft celebrities to your team, then score points when members of your team show up in gossip blogs and entertainment rags. Today, the company launched a second league, Dirtlocker, which focuses on the off-the-field antics of sports personalities. The snob in me wanted to look down on these gossip-oriented game sites, but even I have to admit they are a fun and addictive way for consumers of celebrity "news," who are following and discussing these events anyway, to incorporate a social element into their pastime. I fear for some of my colleagues' productivity (you know who you are).

CampusBug is a "social learning network"--think MySpace meets Blackboard--where students can connect with each other, access learning materials and practice tests, and even earn money by answering peer questions. Paycheck or no, the site's main challenge will be convincing learners to join when they can already get a lot of these features elsewhere.

CrowdRules is a market-testing platform where members can upload video, images, text, or audio, and submit questions to "the crowd" (that is, other members) for voting. Though variations on this theme exist elsewhere on the Web--FunnyOrDie comes immediately to mind--CrowdRules seems intent on offering flexibility for content beyond videos as well as working with media and entertainment companies for paid market research.

And finally, online backup company ElephantDrive was on site to talk up a new feature, launching next week, that will allow for secure data sharing and group collaboration over the network.

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About the author

    Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.

     

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