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Etacts, which makes useful tools for managing email and phone contacts, has raised $650,000 in angel funding. The two-man Etacts team has been busy since completing the Y Combinator program, adding features at a rapid clip and closing a round from well-respected investors. Read more »

Seed-stage investing is where it’s at these days. If you’re starting an Internet company with the slightest bit of potential, funders are probably already knocking on your door. Now comes word that three East Coast VCs focused on the web are forming another early-stage fund. Read more »

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The worldwide market for global payments will grow to $633.4 billion by 2014, up from $68.7 billion in 2009, according to a new report by Generator Research. Meanwhile, mobile payment users will grow 600 percent, to 490 million in 2014 from 81.3 million last year. Read more »

The startup SCVNGR is getting one step closer to creating a game layer on top of the world. Tonight it is releasing applications for iPhone and Android that allow users to build geo-targeted challenges for each other to play, just as its customers already do. Read more »

Presenters at the Smash Summit on social media marketing in San Francisco today offered up a few solid case studies about tweaks that worked. Here are some of the ones I picked up from Facebook, YouTube, Wildfire Interactive and Digg. Read more »

Facebook’s modus operandi is pushing the boundaries of user expectations, rolling out new features to user outcry, and making minor adjustments and rollbacks while continuing to pursue its lofty visions. But the company has done an especially bad job of explaining recent user privacy changes. Read more »

John Lilly will step down as CEO of Mozilla Corporation after just two years on the job, the company confirmed today after a report by BoomTown. Mozilla is carefully calling the move as a “planned leadership transition,” saying Lilly had always wanted to be a VC. Read more »

A comic from The Oatmeal cuts at the core of the social web: entrepreneurs in love with their unoriginal ideas. Titled “8 Websites You Need to Stop Building,” it skewers the likes of, for example, “Websites that let me know what my friends are up to.” Read more »

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Rich Barton today launched a side project called Pozit, which plays in the hot space of social Q&A. Pozit is a simple tool for starting a discussion with your friends. You ask a question and invite friends to answer using an invite-only short URL. Read more »

NileGuide is announcing the acquisition of the angel-backed Localyte, a participatory travel advice site that has had early success in engaging participation. The idea is for Localyte to help NileGuide scale up its travel advice coverage using free content to complement NileGuide’s local expert paid content. Read more »

Google says it’s willing to accept its shortcomings on social and bring in a “Head of Social” to set the right course. The company has hired an executive recruiter to fill the position, and is currently in the process of casting its net widely. Read more »

Zynga and Facebook have had an extremely symbiotic relationship to date, but after Facebook tried to use its weight to hold Zynga captive the social gaming company is mad as hell. Zynga is reportedly moving forward with efforts to launch its own social gaming network. Read more »

Every web portal would love to be the dominant and trusted provider of information about local businesses. What are the chances of an open collaborative database for places? According to industry experts, such a database is a long way off. Read more »

If you had any doubt that we are living in the future, Google today introduced visual translation tools for use with a camera phone. Specifically, the new version of its Google Goggles app can recognize pictures of words written in five languages and rapidly translate them. Read more »

In choosing two excerpts to publish from long-time Fortune reporter David Kirkpatrick’s new book The Facebook Effect, Fortune went for the “Jersey Shore” version, replete with a trashed summer home and puking in the party bus. It’s enough to make a movie starring Justin Timberlake! Read more »

Groupon, the fast-growing collective buying site, said today that it’s setting up an outpost in Silicon Valley by buying the mobile app development shop Mob.ly. We snagged some time with Mob.ly CEO Mihir Shah this afternoon and he explained the background behind the deal. Read more »

Though given the stage and the opportunity, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch declined to escalate his company’s fight against Apple to the level raised by Steve Jobs last week when he posted a 1,700-word anti-Flash screed on Apple.com. Lynch was polite but firm at Web 2.0 Expo. Read more »

Microsoft’s Lili Cheng, who leads the Future Social Experiments Lab at Microsoft, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo today, previewed a new product called Spindex, aka a “social personal index, or a modern rolodex.” The idea is to tap into your world of social contacts, live. Read more »

“Things I Like,” and really all the terminology around Facebook’s new practice of “liking” is super awkward. You no longer “fan” pages directly on Facebook or by using its buttons around the web, you “like” them, so instead of being “fans” we’re now, what, “likers”? Read more »

Wowd, a real-time search engine, may not have figured out how to get its own service to scale to a large audience yet, but it’s about to get some validation that it’s on the right track — in the form of two patents. Read more »

Locations identified within the 10 or 20 meters possible by GPS today are far too inaccurate — we need to know where we are we are right down to the millimeter! One futurist says with millimeter accuracy enabled by photographs, augmented reality will actually become possible. Read more »

The Green:Net launchpad event showcases 10 startups or new products hand-picked by the Earth2Tech staff. The judges selected ecoATM as the winner, with People Power and Soneter tied for second, while Soneter won the audience choice award. Read more »

Jonathan Koomey of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and Stanford is one of the world’s reigning experts on “dematerialization,” which he defines as two things. First, “removing the need to create a physical product.” And second, “the energy savings associated with not having to transport that product.” Read more »

With mainstream EVs entering the market in the next year, utilities are worried about cars plugging into the grid en masse. To anticipate and handle those overwhelming spurts of power demand, they are looking to infrastructure upgrades, networked management systems and customer education. Read more »

Turns out collective buying isn’t the only path down which LivingSocial is following local coupon hotshot Groupon. Less than two weeks after Groupon closed a $135 million Series C round, LivingSocial has raised a $14 million Series C round led by new investor Lightspeed Venture Partners. Read more »

Apple has apparently bought Siri, as documented in a FTC file flagged by Robert Scoble. Siri makes a really cool, almost magical tool that could easily be core to the iPhone experience. Read more »

AOL is finally offloading ICQ, to a newly familiar name in the tech investing space, Digital Sky Technologies, for $187.5 million. Back in another era — in 1998 — AOL paid $407 million to buy ICQ. Read more »

A long list of investors putting money in a jumbo-seed round earlier than ever is not uncommon these days. It’s not that there’s too few investments driving up demand; to the contrary, there are many young companies taking lots of money from lots of investors. Read more »

Here’s a company you should be paying attention to, if you’re not already: Zong, the mobile payments startup, said today it’s raised $15 million in a round led by Matrix Partners and is now fully spun off from Switzerland-based Echovox. Read more »

The secret behind Aardvark’s success was acute awareness of how close they were to failure, Aardvark co-founders Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz said Friday. They detailed a process of rapid idea rejection and extensive testing throughout Aardvark’s short startup history. Read more »

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