TC50/Demo revisited: What's alive, what's dead?

It's been more than half a year since the TechCrunch50 and DemoFall conferences. We take a look at which products are alive and well, and which have closed up shop.

Correction: This story originally misstated the status of PersonalRIA. PersonalRIA is still alive, but in hibernation mode until the market recovers.

Last year, 124 products were unveiled during the TechCrunch50 and DemoFall conferences. A week later, we went through and sorted out which ones you could actually use . As anticipated, most were closed off from public use. Was this a surprise? No, but it showed which companies were ready for business versus those that had a snazzy PowerPoint presentation.

It's been a little more than seven months since then, and I've gone through the list a second time to see what's changed. So what has? The number of products and services that are open for use has increased from 71 to 94. And impressively, only one of the companies that launched out of the 124 total are no longer in existence.

Here are a couple of charts that help put a face on the numbers, including the ones from our first go-around:



Note: We considered sites that were listed as having "private" or "invite only" betas as closed. This is because there is no guarantee that you could get immediate access once you signed up to use them. For physical products, like the Fitbit or software, we counted whether or not you could purchase or download them. We've also given both charts an equal number of products in the X axis to show scale.

To put things in perspective, a week after TechCrunch50 concluded, 42 percent of the products were open, with the remaining 58 percent still in private beta, in production, or attempting to get funding. Demo fared slightly better, with 67 percent of the launched products open, with the remaining 33 percent behind closed doors. You can see the makeup of this in the chart above.

One thing to note with these numbers is that the Demo conference had a slightly higher number of launching services at 72, compared with TechCrunch's 52, however the apples to apples comparison degrades when you begin to break down Web- and software-based services verses physical product launches--something we should have noted the last time around. TechCrunch50 only had one real hardware launch with the Fitbit, a Wi-Fi and Web-enabled pedometer and sleep tracker, while the rest were all software or Webware. Demo on the other hand, had 7 products that were hardware-based, including UbiSafe, a GPS beacon you could use to track people or objects, and ioDrive, which is a NAND flash-based storage solution for servers.


The casualty

Kadoo
Kadoo was set up as a social aggregator (similar to FriendFeed), but with content management and integrated Web apps. It came with 10GB of free online storage, and ways to privately share whatever you stored with users who were not Kadoo members.

The Washington Business Journal reports that founders Chris Etesse and Dan Cane shut the site down in late February after the site failed to net another round of funding, but that Etesse and Cane would start it back up if someone came in with money. In the meantime they've moved on to other ventures.

What made the service really interesting is that it attempted to separate the types of information certain people were able to see. For instance, you could have a single profile that would look different to people from your job, people who you went to school with, and your family and close friends. Social networks like Facebook have had similar features for information, but Kadoo went one step further to do it with specific files you had stored.


Other notable tidbits

While I was putting this article together, StockMood, a TC50 launch, had its site down for maintenance for more than a week. Its company blog still spits out 500 server errors, but after an e-mail to its domain owner, the site magically reappeared. I've put it down as still alive, but it could be on its last legs. (6/1/2009 update: The site is back down again).

Infovell, a search engine for research, changed its name to Deepdyve and has a paid pro version that costs $45 a month.

Tikitag, an RFID and QR tag hybrid service, renamed itself Touchatag in late February. It's still the same technology, though.

MeWorks, a Web site-building service that showcased custom site designers and their works seems to no longer offer an English-speaking site.

RealNetworks' RealDVD DVD-ripping application, which was shown off at Demo, was quickly yanked because of a lawsuit from the Motion Picture Association of America citing a DMCA violation. The case goes to court in less than two weeks. Until then, RealNetworks has set up a mailing list for people who want to be notified in case it's re-released.

MeDeploy, a company that specializes in handling the rights and sales tools for online media content had an open beta shortly following the DemoFall conference. It's since been closed in anticipation of another beta round aimed at content owners, which the company says is coming this week. Following that, there will be a third private beta, after which the site is likely to become open to everyone.

iCharts, a site that opened up a few weeks after its debut at the TechCrunch50 conference, is currently closed to new user registrations in anticipation of a business-centric product that will let companies display things like sales data and usage numbers with a white label publishing tool the company will provide. In the meantime, you can still view and embed existing charts on the service, but you cannot create new ones, which is what the service was pitched to do.

PersonalRIA, an investment product that was announced at the show is currently in hibernation mode. Its parent company Vestopia has spent the last few months investing in patents instead of development while the market recovers.


Conclusions for 2009

While a good chunk of these sites are forgettable, a select few have put out some really good things in the past seven months. These include Ffwd, Postbox, Popego, Dropbox, OtherInbox, GoodGuide, VideoSurf, Yammer, Rudder, and SpinSpotter. Several, including Yammer, OtherInbox, and Dropbox, now have paid versions of their services and charge a monthly or yearly subscription fee, which is exactly the kind of business you want to be in right now (just look at Netflix).

Going into this fall's Demo and TechCrunch50 conferences, we're still likely to see a good majority of the products launching in private or very limited beta. However, given the credit crunch and tepid funding from VCs and incubators, there could be a larger number of companies trying to push out products that are ready to bring in users and cash from the get-go.

As a reference to all the data mentioned in this article, here is an updated version of the spreadsheet we published the last time around.


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About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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