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TechCrunch50: 10 to watch

Notes from the pitch book: Here are some top picks for what to watch for at the conference, based on write-ups in the program.

There are 12 sessions for the TechCrunch50 pitches spread over three days. Here are my top picks for the ones to watch for this conference, based solely on the write-ups in the conference program. Hopefully the pitches will live up to, or surpass, the blurbs.

Although not every session gets a pick from me at this early stage, TechCrunch50 looks like it will be a very good launch conference. There are some creative ideas being presented here.

For the full lineup of TechCrunch50 presenters for day one of the conference, go here.

Rafe's 10 to watch from TechCrunch50

  • Shyrk is making a platform for building demographically targeted online banking systems. Why I like it: Handling OPM (other people's money) is always a good business, if you can find the code. This arms merchant to other OPM businesses is a level above that.
  • LiveHit is a "social discovery platform" that promises to help users pull in information they should like from social networks they participate in--Friendfeed with more proactivity, perhaps. Good idea, hope it works.
  • Yammer is Twitter for workgoups, based on the "What are you working on?" question. It's like Socialcast, which I recently covered, but even simpler.
  • Imindi says that it will learn to understand what you like and will suggest other people to you based on that. Lofty pitch. Can't wait to see it.
  • Me-trics plans to aggregate highly personal data, like financial and health care information, and feed it back to users with recommendations for smarter or healthier living. Fascinating. Terrifying.
  • Fitbit needs to talk to Me-trics. It's making a wireless, wearable sensor to monitor your physical activity all day.
  • Postbox is a new desktop e-mail client that's supposed to automatically categorize and tag your messages based on content and attachments. Likelihood for success in this business is low, but I would sure like to see a truly better e-mail client emerge. Note: Last year at TechCrunch40, another clever e-mail product, Xobni, was introduced.
  • Fotonauts is a digital photography solution for consumers. It handles uploading, sharing, and social commentary around photos. Best way to grok it: It's Wikipedia for your photo libraries. Clever and attractive. Tough market, though.
  • Playce is building 3D virtual worlds for gaming based on mapping the real world, giving users what they call a "mirror world" for their playtime. Should make immersive gaming more casual, since users will already be familiar with the playground surroundings. Bad Spock not included.
  • Birdpost is a social network and mapping service built for birders. Why I like it: The birding community is large, rich, and could really use better technology platforms to support the hobby. Only potential downside is that the demographic skews older, which could limit uptake.

Bonus: the Jargon Award goes to DotSpots. First sentence of the blurb in the pitch book: "DotSpots brings the power of Wikipedia--the wisdom of the crowds--to every mem on the Web, and leverages automatic semantic match to distribute each contribution to every instance of that mem across the Web."

Bonus No. 2: Redundant Award goes to Otherinbox. It's a tool for setting up extra in-boxes for when you sign up to Web sites or for commerce. Gmail already has this feature, and it's free.