News Picks: Echo River, Localeze & Tom Tom, A New ‘Decision Engine’ & More

Brand New

FindTheBestlogo.jpg is a new ‘decision engine’ launched by former DoubleClick founder Kevin O’Connor to help internet users gauge comparable data online on a variety of topics and make the most informed decision as possible. Not only does the site aim to provide objective information but it also ambitions to help “spot those hidden marketing schemes influencing the data you receive,” Search Engine Land reported O’Connor as saying. The site will “rely heavily on search and SEO for user discovery” but O’Connor does “not intend to go into products or travel,” it added, noting that those two areas are already well covered. FindTheBest also has a Q&A section that the publication deemed as “mostly intended to attract SEO traffic rather than engage users.”

Echo logo.jpg Echo River is the new real-time and fully social comment stream launched today by Echo. The service, which is embeddable on any website as a widget, allows readers to discover on the front page of publications and in real time all social conversations linked to an article without having to refresh the page. The tool thus enables publishers to see “where people are on the domain and where it’s hot,” Chris Saad, VP Strategy, said during a company briefing. Disqus, WordPress and IntenseDebate comments, as well as any site with an RSS feed of their comments are supported by Echo River, while publishers keep the capacity to drive any combination of comments, Tweets, Diggs, etc. in and out of the stream. The company said Echo River is designed to boost dwell time, CTR and consequently, user engagement.

Getting Together: Partnerships And Acquisitions

Localeze.JPG Today also, Localeze is due to announce a new partnership with Tom Tom that will give the navigation service access to Localeze’s 14 million U.S. local search business listings for “location content and navigation application developers and device manufacturers.” Localeze said in a statement that the layered information will be delivered via TomTom’s digital maps and content from the beginning of next year. The data will enrich content for points of interest (POIs), location-based applications and personal and in-car navigation systems. This confirms what Dave Dague, vice president of marketing, told us a couple of weeks ago about the company’s plans to ink more social-LBS deals. Localeze and TomTom, along with Foursquare and Gowalla, are already Twitter’s partners for the chirpy company’s “Twitter Places” feature. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Google logo.JPG Speaking of financial terms, Google is also discreet about its investments but its SEC filing for the quarter ending June 30th show that the company has paid $148 million for 11 startups during the period, Paid Content reported. This compares to $145 million spent on buying nine startups during the first quarter. Individual prices were not available, and the numbers don’t include the $681 million AdMob price tag or the $123 million acquisition of On2 Technologies. Altogether, the spend reaches “$1.1 billion this year to date–and will rise to $1.8 billion if regulators approve Google’s $700 million acquisition of ITA Software. As we pointed out when the Mountain View-based company released its quarterly results, it is set to raise $3 billion and has established a $3 billion revolving credit facility. The bets are that Google will use at least part of the funds for further external growth.

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