Google today launched a new feature that organizes articles on the web in a way that resembles print magazines, called Google Fast Flip. Marissa Mayer, the search engine giant’s VP of search products and user experience, who unveiled the feature at TechCrunch 50 this afternoon, explained that Google founder Larry Page had questioned why the web wasn’t similar to a print magazine, where the content is already available for you to read as soon as you turn the page. Using the Google Fast Flip page, people can click on a topic — say, entertainment — and scroll through small screenshots of articles on that topic from various sites, such as (in the case of entertainment) Us Weekly, People and Seventeen. Click on an article to view a larger image of it and a second time to read it on its original site. Or you can simply scroll through a string of articles from 30 well-known news brands, including the Washington Post, Slate and BBC News, publishers with which Google will share advertising revenue.
Prior to the Fast Flip unveiling, however, startups focused on advertising and monetization took the stage to show off their wares to a panel of judges, which included Mayer and Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh. Two of the startups that presented, SeatGeek and Rackup, have a gambling-like feel. For sports fans and concert goers, SeatGeek forecasts for users the prices of event tickets on secondary markets, such as StubHub and eBay — and takes a 7-10 percent cut of each sale. Rackup, meanwhile, holds online auctions that take place over very short time periods (e.g. 60 seconds) during which people can bid for gift cards to their favorite stores. And it adds a sweetener: It will increase the money value of the gift card a person is bidding on based on how early they placed their bid and the size of it relative to other competitors in the auction.