TransGaming Inc. (TSX VENTURE:TNG) announced yesterday that it granted options to purchase 1,800,000 common shares under the Company’s stock option plan, of which 530,000 were granted to directors and officers. The granted options have an exercise price of $0.82 (being the May 16, 2011 closing price of the shares on the TSX Venture Exchange), vest 1/4 each year on June 1 from 2011-2014, and expire on May 17, 2016. The stock option grants remain subject to acceptance for filing by the TSX Venture Exchange under Policy 4.4 (“Incentive Stock Options”) of the TSX Venture Exchange Corporate Finance Manual.
Glacier Media Inc. (TSX:GVC) is pleased to announce that, through one of its affiliates, it has entered into a definitive agreement with Rogers Publishing Limited to acquire a portfolio of media assets from Rogers’ business and professional publishing group. The assets comprise 15 trade publications and digital brands, together with their associated readership database, events and web presence. Properties acquired include established and leading publications such as Food in Canada, Le Bulletin des agriculteurs, Canadian Packaging, HPAC and Meetings & Incentive Travel (including Incentiveworks, Canada’s largest trade show for the meetings, incentive travel and promotions industry).
The assets will integrate into Glacier’s Business Information Group, a leading operator of Canadian trade publications and industry-focused web sites, and Glacier’s Farm Business Communications.
The acquisition allows Glacier to:
Expand the company’s growing print and digital footprint in the Canadian agriculture and food media industry;
Further leverage the operating platform of the Business Information Group (e.g. fulfillment systems, production services, web technologies);
Utilize acquired technologies to accelerate the online capabilities and reach of the Business Information Group’s directory products, especially Scott’s Directories.
The transaction is expected to close on May 27, 2011.
Yesterday was the official launch of Opportunity CAN, a 40-day event celebrating Opportunity International’s 40-year history empowering people across the developing world to work their way out of poverty using financial tools. During the event, Canadians will use their unique skills and creativity to fulfill a personal challenge or host a meal that will help end poverty through microfinance.
“In the last year, we’ve had people parachute out of planes and hike mountains to help end global poverty,” says Opportunity International Canada President & CEO, Paula A. Curtis. “Engaged couples gave up their wedding gifts and businesses offered a ‘Toonie at the Till’ promotion. It will be exciting to see how Canadians now respond to Opportunity CAN.”
Opportunity’s goal is to raise $1 million in 40 days that will help empower entrepreneurs to work their way out of poverty. The campaign, however, “is about more than raising money,” Curtis observes. “It’s about celebrating entrepreneurship and creativity. Our microfinance clients have been demonstrating this for 40 years. Now we’re giving Canadians the opportunity to use their gifts as well.”
Toronto-based branding agency The BrainStorm Group recently launched a new brand strategy and visual identity for Connecticut-based Open Solutions, Inc.®, an innovator of core banking platforms for financial service providers across the United States, Canada and other international markets.
The new brand position, “There’s Power in Community” reinforces the open architecture of the Open Solutions platform including the newly launched DNAcreator and DNAappstore. It also reflects the collaborative nature of Open Solution’s client relationships.
The new visual identity includes an updated logo, complete brand architecture and messaging – bringing the new identity to life. It also features an iconic green “O” that brings the positioning to life through its usage across many communication mediums – including a new website.
The rebrand was launched at the 2011 Open Solutions client conference in Washington, DC, on Monday, May 2, 2011, in front of more than 1,200 attendees.
“The BrainStorm Group exceeded our expectations and created a positioning and brand identity that serves as a catalyst to our vision to become the largest global provider of technology solutions to the financial services industry,” stated Open Solutions CMO David Mitchell. “The rebranding has been enthusiastically received by our employees and clients re-energizing our company at this pivotal time.”
The BrainStorm Group was selected for the rebranding project after a competitive search process based on their proven branding process, creative approach, experience and team. The search process and oversight of the project was managed by Lovallo Communications Group LLC, Ridgefield, CT.
Game Dev studio Endloop X has relaunched with a new name and a new look – Massive Damage Inc. The company’s official blog states that Endloop X was meant to be a placeholder, a temporary name until they came up with “the right name” – and anyone who has tried to name anything, knows how difficult this can be. The name Massive Damage fits well with the studio’s goals to disrupt the mobile social gaming space, and seemed to be the logical answer to the equation of Massively Multiplayer + Massive Disruption + Massive Impact.
Massive Damage is currently hard at work on Please Stay Calm, a location-based zombie MMO title. Again borrowing information from the studio’s blog, here is more information about the game:
Please Stay Calm is not Mafia Wars with a map slapped on top of it. Here are the game’s key features:
Location is key, it’s not about geography, it’s about people’s inherent affinity to their favorite spots. While the game can be played from your office, players will derive more value from moving around. The studio aims to be able to direct players to specific locations for special events.
A venue is a natural opportunity to drive organic social team play without the usual headaches involve with explicit teamwork. The studio calls this asynchronous dynamic massively co-operative gameplay.
Please Stay Calm integrates existing social graph information into the game narrative. Since the game fiction is layered on top of the real world, people will immediately feel like they are playing in a vibrant active game world even if few people are actually playing in their area.
All of you who are waiting to get more details on the next Assassin’s Creed title from Ubisoft Montreal need to take part in the studio’s viral marketing effort. The studio will reveal more information the more people share the AC Reveal app on Facebook. The images so far have been typically cryptic – reflecting the Subject 16-styled video puzzles Assassin’s Creed players have become familiar with. There is an image of what looks to be Jerusalem – is it the city under 16th century Ottoman rule? This could fit neatly at the tail end of Brotherhood, should the developers be continuing the Ezio story, that is. However, there are also flashes of the Phaistos Disc, which points to Crete – and a hint of the current Greek flag does seem to flash on the screen – but it didn’t come into use until the 1800’s. The armoured hand appears to belong to Altair, whose name is flashed across the screen in Arabic – or is it someone new to the franchise? Is that the Apple of Eden glowing in the image’s centre – or just the sun viewed through Eagle Vision?
There is the speculation that the next Assassin’s Creed will be titled Revelations, which is of course being fueled by Ubisoft’s social media corps. At press time the unlock graph was only at 11% – if you are at all curious about what the studio will reveal and have a Facebook account, share with your friends and get them to share with their friends so we can all have a closer look – as the Unlock level increases, there are more clues added to the cinematic.
While I’m pondering the next direction for Assassin’s Creed, here are today’s news briefs and reminders:
Microsoft Game Studios has revealed the official site for its Vancouver studio, which might be hiring, by the way – I say might because the MGSV site says there are no positions open, but the MGS Careers page says there are. According to the new site, the Vancouver studio is ‘dedicated to making games for “core” gamers. Our mission is to push the limits of proven and unexplored game development and show the world what’s possible on Microsoft’s game consoles.’ This makes me happy – I can look forward to new titles for my 360 – as long as they aren’t for Kinect, because we don’t have yet have that peripheral.
SIGGRAPH 2011 has begun posting the Birds of a Feather activities for the conference this August. Check out the offerings, and if you would like to see a group meetup added, you are invited to submit your suggestion to the conference committee. Don’t forget, SIGGRAPH 2011 is August 7th through 11th in Vancouver. Make It Home.
Okino Computer Graphics has announced that its 3D DCC/Animation/Skinning and CAD/MCAD/Architectural conversion software PolyTrans-for-3ds-Max (for 3ds Max 2012 & 3ds Max Design 2012), and PolyTrans-for-Maya (for Maya 2012), are now fully qualified and shipping to customers. This is a general notice to those Okino customers who have not upgraded to the 2011/2012 releases yet, and for those not aware of Okino?s software for 3ds Max & Maya.
Virgin Mobile Canada and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada are digging up some real treasure with their next A-list benefit for Virgin Mobile Members across Canada. As part of an ongoing program delivering the latest movies first, Virgin Mobile has already offered its Members access to advance screenings for hits like I Am Number Four. On May 18, winning Members will have the opportunity to catch the most anticipated film of 2011, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, before its general release on May 20, 2011.
A total of 140 winners and their guests from Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver will get the chance to see the action-packed flick – starring Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz – before anyone else. Plus, one super-lucky Member and their plus one will get some serious VIP treatment: travel and two nights stay in L.A., walking the red carpet at the Hollywood movie premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and access to a super exclusive after-party. Follow Virgin Mobile’s Twitter at @virginmobilecan to see all the latest tweets from the VIP Member while they walk the plank – or red carpet – at the premiere.
To enter for the chance to be at one of the pre-screenings or walk the red carpet at Disneyland as Virgin Mobile’s Red Carpet Reviewer, visit The Lounge on Virgin Canada’s site or the Facebook Contest tab on Facebook. More big time opportunities are always around the corner with the hottest new movies getting delivered to Virgin Mobile Members. The next big blockbusters coming soon to a theatre near you: the 3-D horror remake Fright Night and the high adrenaline Hugh Jackman action film Real Steel.
At the same time, the Commissioner will address recent concerns over location tracking in popular smart phones and mobile devices. This hotbed topic will also be featured at a session on the privacy implications of mobile computing led by the Commissioner’s Office. Renowned privacy experts will attend to discuss the protection of privacy in today’s world of ongoing technological advances. It is all taking place at The International Association of Privacy Professionals‘ (IAPP) Canada Privacy Symposium at Ryerson University.
“The fabled demise of privacy has been widely portrayed of late, which reinforces the reality that we need to reframe how we present the privacy equation,” says Commissioner Cavoukian. “This is precisely why it’s time for Privacy by ReDesign right now! It will help organizations rethink and redesign privacy into their existing, legacy systems and business practices.”
Since the 1990’s, Commissioner Cavoukian has advocated for organizations to proactively embed privacy into technology right from the outset, a concept called Privacy by Design. International privacy regulators unanimously passed a landmark Resolution in 2010 recognizing the made-in-Ontario solution as a Global Privacy Standard. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission now recommends Privacy by Design for protecting online privacy.
The Commissioner’s Office is leading many timely sessions at the event including:
* Addressing the Privacy Implications of Mobile Computing
* Biometrics: Enhancing Privacy, Security and Trust through Privacy by Design (Related to this, roll out has begun across Ontario of a new privacy-protective facial recognition system to support customers enrolled in Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s voluntary self-exclusion program)
* Embedding Privacy Protection into a Risk Management Framework (At this session, a new white paper will be introduced, showing how IBM implemented Privacy by Design, moving it from a theoretical concept to a practical solution)
Coming Soon:VI Technologies has announced that the company will be releasing VI Racing 964 3.3 Turbo: AI First Drive on April 30th.
Digital Leisure Inc. has launched Word Searcher Deluxe exclusively on WiiWare for 500 Nintendo Points. In this follow up to last years ‘Word Searcher’, gamers will need a sharp eye and a quick mind to complete these 100 themed word search puzzles. Word Searcher Deluxe contains fun words from multiple categories including palindromes, pirates and painting. Packed with a huge assortment of subjects to choose from, there’s sure to be a puzzle anyone will enjoy.
Word Searcher Deluxe will help improve your vocabulary, memory and problem-solving skills with its addictive puzzles. Keep track of your progress and try to beat your own play through times again and again as words are scrambled every time you play. Get your thinking cap on and conquer all 100 today, or take on the whole family and your friends with the full cooperative and competitive multi-player modes. You will also be able to download and enjoy additional puzzles via Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play
Toronto’s Mobile Game Studio will be releasing Web Swinger, the studio’s newest arcade game in just a few weeks’ time. This new fun packed game will put you in the role of a tiny creature who despite his size, is determined to rule world, reaching incredible heights while defeating enemies in a life and death battle for barn supremacy. Arcade-styled Web Swinger will take you into the world of insects, casting you as a spider and pitting you against numerous insect enemies as you battle against time in your quest to the bottom of the barn.
Click on the down or up arrow to move the spider down or up the web and drag your finger on the screen to swing the spider. Web Swinger features 20 different levels of unbelievable fun, but it is up to you to make your mark and defeat your enemies. You will lose the game if your spider loses all of its lives or is crushed by time. Stay tuned for the official release of Web Swinger in the Apple Store.
Parksville’s Pixton has been selected as an Official Honoree in the Youth category of the 15th Annual Webby Awards, one of the Internet’s most respected symbol of success. This year’s Webby Awards received 10,000 entries from 60 countries and 50 U.S. states. The Official Honoree distinction is awarded to the top 10 percent of all work entered. Fellow Honorees in the Youth category include such powerhouses as Disney, Lego, Teen.com, and Nickelodeon.
“We’re incredibly honored that Pixton has been selected. It reinforces Pixton as one of the best websites for youth, and that wouldn’t be possible without our active, vibrant community”, says Clive Goodinson, Creator and Founder of Pixton Comics.
Pixton pushes the limits of creativity on the web by giving anyone the power to create comics, full of original characters with life-like expression and movement. Every element of a comic is controlled with an intuitive click-and-drag motion. Comics can be shared in print as well as across the social web, in browsers, mobile devices, tablets, and interactive whiteboards.
“Kids today want not only to get inside their favorite characters’ worlds, they want to actively shape those worlds, in an online social environment,” says Clive, “Pixton is that place. Kids can carve out their own niche while being part of a shared world of digital stories and comic conversations.”
Already available in 9 languages, the website is continually growing as Pixton expands its reach to homes, schools, and businesses around the world.
Vancouver based interactive digital agency Appnovation Technologies has become an official systems integration partner with San Francisco based Strobe Inc., a company founded by SproutCore creator Charles Jolley, enables the delivery of cross platform mobile solutions using HTML5 and SproutCore technologies.
Appnovation’s expertise lies in designing, building and deploying content rich web and mobile applications using open source technology platforms such as Drupal and Alfresco. By adding SproutCore and Strobe technologies to their services arsenal, Appnovation will now be able to blend the robust content and document management capabilities of Alfresco and Drupal with ability to deploy applications across multiple mobile platforms. Appnovation is already working with Strobe to bring the value of this partnership to market and continue to drive open source solutions for its customers.
Vircom, an award-winning e-mail messaging security software company in Montreal has released directQuarantine™, an Outlook add-on module for its modusGate™ email security software that provides end-user control of quarantine emails directly from Outlook. Vircom’s directQuarantine software is compatible with modusGate 4.7 or 5.0, runs on Windows platforms (2003/2008/2008R2 for the server and XP/Vista/7 for the client) and is available to order today.
directQuarantine provides a Spam folder in Outlook that allows end-users to search for quarantined emails in real-time using the Outlook search toolbar or the blazingly fast native Windows search – no more waiting for nightly quarantine reports, logging in to a Web portal, or depending upon IT to check for and release blocked emails. The directQuarantine folder contains all emails caught and filtered by modusGate and any false positives can be quickly and easily released directly from the Outlook toolbar. Any attachments, viruses, phishing links and all other electronic threats remain safely on the modusGate server and are not downloaded to Outlook, ensuring the highest level of security.
Toronto’s AVIX Technologies, Inc. has announced that its its proposed wholly owned subsidiary, Florida-based Actus Interactive Software, LLC has developed a suite of cutting edge graphical multi-touch capable interactive kiosk and active digital signage products that are intended for broad market and vertical appeal.
Divided between active digital signage and interactive kiosks, these solutions feature self service content management in an easy to use, dynamic way, deploying to countless end point devices in a real time or scheduled manner. ACTUS’ kiosk and digital signage owners can also dynamically brand or “skin” end point devices uniquely or in groups.
Cornelia Volino, President of AVIX stated that, “As the Company moves closer to completing the acquisition of ACTUS, our focus is shifting towards integrating vertical and horizontal industry segments and those that will be capable of supporting the development efforts of ACTUS, which include multi-touch capability and gesture based technologies built on the NUI.”
This suite of kiosk and interactive digital signage products has the potential to significantly affect competition in the kiosk and interactive digital signage spaces across multiple vertical industries. ACTUS kiosk solutions are multi-touch (and eventually gesture) capable based on the latest advances in Natural User Interface (NUI) providing for high levels of usability beyond what is normally seen in today’s web based kiosk software. ACTUS kiosk and digital signage solutions deploy to multiple form factors on multiple platforms including large HD screens, computers, slates, and mobile devices and all leverage a common web & cloud capable back end architecture.
Vancouver indie developer and VFS instructor Roger Mitchell has partnered with UK indie developer Stephen Hawkes to launch Tiger Shark Studios, a small enterprise that will initially create assets for Unity projects with the possibility of taking on contract work for specific projects.
Both Roger and Stephen have several years’ experience as artists and modellers; Roger began his game development career in 1986, working on a Commodore 64 before moving on to an Atari ST512 – I had one of those, too. His first job came in 1994 at UK game development studio Ark Developments, where he worked on such titles as Rosco McQueen, Firefighter Extreme and Track Attack, which was when he first met Stephen Hawkes. Both Roger and Stephen further developed their skills while working for Psygnosis, before Roger moved on to Bullfrog, Kuju, Asylum Entertainment and Codemasters before being recruited by EA Canada in 2004 for its Fusion PSP department at the Burnaby Campus.
After falling victim to studio lay-offs, Roger moved on to work for other Vancouver game studios before co-founding a studio named DropShip with another EA Canada alumni, but he has since left that company. Over the span of his career, Roger has been credited on thirteen games and contributed to many more, with additional experience leading art teams in the creation of Wii and DS games.
In speaking about the motivation to start another partnership, this time with friend and former co-worker Stephen, Roger said that he has “always enjoyed making art as a primary function, and with Tiger Shark the main focus will be in producing polished, game-ready art assets. This means that it can be 2D, 3D, Low-poly, High-Poly and Super High. We will initially be concentrating on art with a goal of expanding into other realms. Our art assets will initially be available on the Unity Asset Store, but we will be selling them via other online stores as well as our own website.”
Both Stephen and Roger work with young people entering the game development world, Roger as an instructor at Vancouver Film School’s Game Design Program, while Stephen offers mentorship to share his experiences.
Distribution360 has announced the sale of the award-winning comedy cross-platform property TAC.tv to Belgian broadcaster RTBF (Radio télévision belge de la communauté française). The broadcaster will air the Québec-based Salambo Productions original French shorts (181 x 3 minutes), known in French as tetesaclaques.tv, over the next three years.
The series of shorts features a cast of hilarious characters such as The Googoos, The Secretary, and The Pilot, to name a few. The off-the-wall characters featured in the series are sculpted from modeling clay by the creator himself, Michel Beaudet. While in post-production, he superimposes his own moving eyes, mouth, and nose, creating unique characters with over-the-top personalities.
TAC.tv’s witty and humourous animated shorts are wildly popular and have proven very successful across all media, especially in French-speaking Canada and France. Originally in French, the series has expanded to add English shorts to its slate.
“We’re thrilled that Belgium’s French-speaking population will be able to enjoy TAC.tv’s crazy antics on RTBF,” says Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, Managing Director/Head of Sales, Distribution360. “Our goal has always been to showcase our dynamic lineup of cross-platform projects to international audiences,” adds Stephanie. “TAC.tv has already proven to be a highly successful and hilariously entertaining brand in many markets, and we’re excited to be able to share it with audiences in Belgium.”
D-BOX Technologies Inc. has announced that it has received approval from the TSX Venture Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange for its graduation and the listing of its common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange as of market opening on Friday, April 1, 2011. D-Box’s common shares will trade under the stock symbol “DBO” as opposed to “DBO.a”.
“The graduation to the Toronto Stock Exchange is part of a normal evolution reflecting our growth and the execution of our business plan,” said Claude Mc Master, President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies. “It’s a great achievement for the entire D-BOX team.”
Founders and CEOs of technology ventures wanting to improve their chances of building a successful company can now participate in the BCIC Mentor Program and benefit from the experience of seasoned technology entrepreneurs. The Program (in partnership with ACETECH) is a province-wide development program for early-stage entrepreneurs with the goal of improving the success of technology companies in BC.
“The BCIC Mentor Program matches mentors with ventures in a way that recognizes the needs of the entrepreneur and the interests of the mentor,” said Paulin Laberge, BCIC Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of the BCIC Mentor Program. “The focus of the mentoring is on entrepreneurial education in the context of building a real venture. Once an entrepreneur is accepted into the Program, we expect that the mentoring relationship will span multiple years.”
In order to be accepted into the BCIC Mentor Program, the CEO or founder must be referred by one of the Program’s Participating Organizations. The first four organizations to come on board with the BCIC Mentor Program are: ACETECH, BC Technology Industry Association, BCIC-New Ventures Competition and Accelerate Okanagan. With the addition of Accelerate Okanagan as a Participating Organization, the BCIC Mentor Program is available to entrepreneurs in the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan region. The program will expand into other regions, including Victoria, later this year.
While each Participating Organization has its own set of criteria under which entrepreneurs can access the BCIC Mentor Program, the criteria typically includes participation in current or recent entrepreneurial development programs offered by that organization.
“Through this Program, Accelerate Okanagan is able to expand the breadth of our current offerings to include long-term mentorship,” says Jeff Keen, Director of Acceleration Programs at Accelerate Okanagan.
Since the program launched last fall in the Lower Mainland, over 40 mentors have been accepted into the program and they are eager to begin working with the founders and CEOs of local technology ventures. Mentorship through the BCIC Mentor Program is provided to entrepreneurs at no cost. Stay tuned for additional Participating Organization announcements.
A large majority of Canadians and Americans believe business leaders need to be open to take more intelligent risks in order to create innovation, a Microsoft Canada survey conducted by Harris/Decima has revealed. The majority of office workers in both Canada (97 per cent) and the U.S. (96 per cent) also agreed that companies must embrace new technologies in order to remain competitive. Both Canadians (96 per cent) and Americans (99 per cent) agree that technology is shaping the future of how they work.
The survey, which ran from January 5th to January 14th 2011, polled senior and junior/mid-level Canadian and U.S. office workers to better understand their views about technology and innovation in the workplace. Of the 504 surveys that were completed among a random sample of Canadian office workers and 501 surveys among a random sample of American office workers, the results were clear: 84 per cent of Canadians and 77 per cent of Americans believe business leaders need to take more risks to create innovation, while only 53 per cent of Canadians and 55% of Americans feel the company they work for is already driving innovation.
“Canadian business leaders must embrace an appetite for intelligent risk instead of shying away from it to stay within the comfort of status quo,” says Eric Gales, President of Microsoft Canada. “Now is the time to createorganizational cultures where risk is not a dirty four-letter word, but is encouraged as a valuable ingredient in fueling learning, creativity and inspiring innovation.”
“The business world is in the midst of an exciting period of change driven by technology,” said Peter Aceto, Chief Executive Officer, ING DIRECT, commenting on the survey results. “For businesses to be successful in this environment, leaders need to promote a culture where employees at all levels not only understand their business but feel safe to experiment in it- to reach far across the divide – with no danger of the repercussions of failure.”
Added Gales: “What we need to do is overcome the misconception that risk automatically equates to danger. We need to transform the idea of risk into a true opportunity – whether in business, skiing down a mountain, or in improving Canada’s healthcare system. Business leaders need to empower their teamsand drive forward innovation to strengthen our economy and put Canada on the map.”
“Understanding the intersection of technology and innovation is critical to the future success of firms. It is particularly critical for larger organizations, that must not only embrace change and creativity, but most also “scale up” in order to survive global competition. This report is an excellent start toward understanding and infusing Canada’s corporate culture with the need to innovate and accept change,” commented Dr. Benson Honig, McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business, TeresaCascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership.
The survey also found that:
The younger generation of corporate/business workers entering the workforce are considered to be just as innovative (Canada 47%; US 46%) or more innovative (Canada 41%; US 39%) than today’s current leaders
The top reason for indicating the younger generation is more innovative than today’s current leaders is their experience, comfort, and understanding of technology (Canada 68%; US 80%)
Americans are more likely than Canadians to believe the younger generation is more innovative due to their experience with technology (80% vs. 68%), while Canadians are more likely than Americans to think the younger generation is more innovative because of their ability to learn and adapt (27% vs. 15) and their fresh approach (10% vs. 5%)
SimplyCast.com has released Version 6.2 of its SaaS all-in-one marketing application. The latest software release further enhances the multi-channel marketing process by adding powerful features throughout the application to help beginners and advanced online marketers get the results they want.
All users will immediately benefit from an improved reporting framework, faster image serving for newsletters, a list segmentation option for fax marketing and a manage subscription feature that allows recipients to decide what lists they want to remain on.
“Our product development has always been driven by customer feedback and what small business owners need to get the job done,” said Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO of SimplyCast. “This release represents another important milestone for our company as we continue to provide the most competitively priced all-in-one marketing product to users worldwide.”
Other new features of Version 6.2 include the latest version of SimplyCast’s one-of-a-kind Visual Editor, a revamp of the autoresponder marketing tool and key additions to the free Twitter Marketing service, including a RSS feed to Twitter option.
SimplyCast’s 11-in-1 multi-channel marketing platform is a web-based solution designed to create, track and deliver targeted online marketing campaigns such as email, survey, event, autoresponder, Twitter, fax, SMS and link tracking services.
Future Shop has introduced a new trade-in program which gives Canadians a chance to responsibly recycle their old DVDs and grow their Blu-ray collections with a special offer. Trade & Save will officially launch tomorrow, April 1st, and run until May 5th. Future Shop customers will be able to bring in their old DVDs in exchange for a $5 coupon to use towards purchasing a new Blu-ray movie from a massive selection of over 150 titles to choose from.
“Future Shop is excited to launch the new Trade & Save program that allows customers to upgrade their movie collections with Blu-ray movies at a discount,” said Nikki Hellyer, Director of Marketing, Future Shop. “This program provides a win-win scenario where customers can recycle old DVDs and receive a coupon geared towards helping them build their Blu-ray collections.”
To participate, customers can bring any DVD movies to their nearest Future Shop and exchange them for $5 coupons for select new Blu-ray movies at the Customer Service desk. Eligible Blu-ray titles are clearly marked with in-store with a Trade & Save sticker on the case. A $5 coupon will be provided per returned DVD to a maximum of 20 per customer per day. Customers can redeem one $5 coupon per select Blu-ray title.
The $5 coupon applies to a wide selection of Blu-ray titles from the industry’s top studios* in all genres: action and adventure, family, female favourites, comedies, dramas and musicals. Select new releases in the Trade & Save program, include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (April 8) and Gulliver’s Travels (April 19).
Here are a few examples of after trade-in pricing:
* $4.99: Heat, Speed and James Bond movies.
* $9.99: Alien vs. Predator, 300 and Ice Age movies.
* $11.99: The Dark Night, Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary, The Hangover.
* $14.99: Inception, The Sound of Music, A-Team, Faster, Robin Hood.
All DVDs collected will be responsibly recycled in Canada.
Register Now: The Great Canadian Appathon happens this weekend, don’t miss out on this opportunity for some collaborative learning and great prizes.
Congratulations to our friends over at Greedy Productions – the studio announced this morning that Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run now have an additional slot on CityTV Vancouver and will begin airing from 6-7pm nightly in addition to the 12-1pm & 11pm-12am time slots.
Footloose Games has launched Munchies Lunch, a game that the Cavechild took a look at back in December. Munchies Lunch is a puzzle game that involves some quick and clever maneuvering of your characters in order to avoid becoming a monstrous lunch entree for the Hungries, the story’s bad guys. The game’s premise is that you must lead your family away from the dangerous Hungries who are invading your forest dwelling. Travel the world to find safety in the far-away jungles, gathering food and power-ups for your family while eluding those nasty Hungries. Available now for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, you can try the family-friendly Munchies Lunch before you buy it. With the low price tag of only $5.99 and a high replayability factor, Munchies Lunch offers good value for its price.
Additional System Requirements for Munchies Lunch:
CPU: 1 Ghz
Ram: 512 MB
Hard-Drive Space: 150 MB
Video Card: Must support Pixel/Vertex Shader 1.1
Most of you already know this, but I’m going to share it anyway. Science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist Cory Doctorow has been selected to present one of the keynote presentations at SIGGRAPH 2011, the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques taking place this August 7th-11th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Di-o-matic is offering a free 85+ minutes masterclass, where viewers will learn many key techniques from modeling to rigging as well as animation using Autodesk 3ds max, MotionBuilder, FBX, Mudbox and Softimage FaceRobot as well as Di-O-Matic Facial Studio, Morph-O-Matic and Maskarad. As an Autodesk Authorized Developer, Di-O-Matic earlier announced that new versions of all Di-O-Matic plugins will be made available shortly after the release of Autodesk’s 3ds max 2012, Maya 2012 and Softimage 2012.
comScore is pleased to announce the release of the 2010 Canada Digital Year in Review, its annual report on the prevailing digital trends of the past year and their implications for navigating the uncertainties in the year ahead. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the digital landscape in Canada including overall Internet usage, high-growth categories, online advertising, video and search.
* How are Canadians consuming digital media, and how does this compare to other countries?
* Which trends dominated the digital landscape in 2010?
* How does media consumption differ across age and gender segments?
* What trends are we seeing in the social networking space, and what impact does that have on email activity?
* How has digital advertising shifted in the last year, and how has social media played a part?
* Which content categories are serving up the most videos? Who’s watching online video in Canada?
* What is the current state of the search market?
* How will mobile media consumption in Canada stack up against other markets?
Not surprisingly, the key motivator for consumers to pirate films and television programs is the reward of free content. But aside from the traditional reason of price, leading factors also include consumers’ desire for earlier access, a perception that “everyone is doing it” and the explosion of free content available online. This is according to PwC’s new piracy study from its US consumer research program measuring consumer attitudes towards piracy and related behaviours.
At the same time, consumers in Canada are being faced with escalating access fees and the usage based billing debate is ongoing. “Usage based billing if a reality will push consumers back to traditional and payment based methods of consuming content,” says Michael Paterson, a partner in PwC’s Canadian Entertainment & Media group.
Among key findings in the PwC study:
* 81% of the consumers who admit to pirating TV, movie and video content say they will likely continue to do so.
* 40% of those who report “pirating” content via traditional methods said they will probably also pirate on mobile devices within the next six months.
* US$3 for a movie and US$1 for a television show is the maximum amount consumers who admit to pirating are willing to pay to access content.
Combating piracy remains a struggle and a prime concern for entertainment companies – especially with the growing ease at which consumers can now access a variety of content on multiple platforms at their fingertips. Given the proliferation of smart phones, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the Internet—on average, 35 times per week.
“Mobile piracy is poised to escalate with the proliferation of smartphones, says Paterson. “This will need to be addressed in anti-piracy efforts. There is some good news in sight as consumers expressed concern about potential piracy pitfalls, including poor quality of some content and the possibility of downloading a virus or facing legal trouble.”
Funcom has unveiled a new site design for The Secret World, along with a brand new trailer that offers gamers a unique glimpse into the world, the monsters, the myths, and the gameplay of the much anticipated online game. In ‘The Secret World’ players get to play the character they want to play without being limited to classes or levels, as they adventure through modern-day, real-world locations. No release date has been announced. The game is being co-published together with EA Partners, a division of Electronic Arts Inc.
“It is truly exciting for us to show gamers just how much freedom they will be able to enjoy in ‘The Secret World’,” says Director and Producer Ragnar Tørnquist. “The video perfectly encompasses the four important pillars of ‘The Secret World’: the modern-day setting, the freeform character progression, the dramatic storyline, and the unique secret society conflict. It feels great to reveal new details on the ‘The Secret World’ as we continue to make strides in the development of the game.”
Score Media Inc. and WWE have expanded their partnership with a multi-year agreement that will bring more high-energy WWE entertainment than ever before to fans across Canada. The unprecedented deal builds on Score Media and WWE’s already successful, exclusive television relationship to include online, mobile and VOD rights. In addition, theScore and WWE will work together to bring new original WWE content to Canadians across all platforms.
More than 60 leaders who shape Canada’s ICT industry will speak at the 2011 Canadian Telecom Summit, being held this May 31st – June 2nd in Toronto. The event will include over 15 keynote addresses offering insights into the future of Canadian ICT, examining the services, technologies, consumer & business trends and regulatory & policy initiatives that drive the information economy. This year, in addition to its always popular Regulatory Blockbuster panel, the conference is featuring sessions devoted to:
* LTE: The future of mobile
* Connecting Canadians: Delivering broadband to all
* Wireless Broadband: Our insatiable thirst for spectrum
* Privacy & Security: Guarding information in a transparent world
* Unified Communications: The evolving future of business
* Evolution of Consumer Communications: Compete or collaborate
* Tablets, TVs and Smartphones, Oh My!: The explosion of the multiscreen universe
* Cloud Computing
Fair-Play has launched its new website. An essential reference tool, the site allows both industry people and the public at large to find out more about Fair-Play’s many television products among which are Quebec’s current mega hits Les enfants de la télé and Peut contenir des Rachid. Headlining the company’s latest news and featuring an exhaustive production catalogue, video excerpts, and a Who’s Who of the Fair-Play team, the new site profiles a company founded in 1998 now firmly established in prime time and on the Web.
Television series, variety shows, documentaries, comedy, drama, live performance recordings, public affairs – their catalogue has grown over the years and will continue to expand. As the organization looks forward to producing more entertaining and provocative content, it remains proud of the creative environment it strives to foster for its writers, creators, performers and other colleagues.
Canon Canada Inc. has announced the availability of its Cloud Portal software for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software enabling a broad range of Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems to access Google Docs and Microsoft SharePoint Online cloud-based services directly from the MFP panel. Using its MEAP technology, Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is available as a free application that allows users to scan and store paper-based documents directly to the cloud, as well as to print documents stored in the cloud to imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems.
The Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is a server-less, driver-less application that requires no additional hardware to enable direct connection to the cloud via the MEAP application. By facilitating direct integration with leading cloud services, the new application increases end-user flexibility and helps to increase productivity by allowing users to access cloud-stored data from a PC, tablet device or smart phone, and print or share the data with multiple users across locations. To print from the cloud, the Canon Direct Print Kit or the PS Printer Kit needs to be installed on the imageRUNNER office system. Please see the Canon site for full information not covered here.
Beginning this article has been somewhat like the production staff at Kensington Communications deciding which museums to feature in their first six episode run of Museum Secrets. As Series Producer Steve Gamester told me in a recent interview “choosing the museums was really like an embarrassment of riches, there were so many to choose from.” The team knew that they wanted to include at least one Canadian museum along with other well-known historic icons. Like Kensington, I have a wealth of information for this article, and the challenge has not been in writing it, but in putting it all in context and conveying my impressions of the series without sounding like the avid series fan that I really am.
When I was granted an interview with Steve Gamester, I almost went into panic mode because there were so many things I wanted to ask, but one important lesson from journalism class all those years ago is always front and centre in my mind – be respectful of your interviewee’s time. So came the task of narrowing down the kazillion possible questions to a dozen or so that would result in uncovering the most information. What I wasn’t prepared for was Steve’s passion about not only the show, but about history in general, and if you are not already aware of this, people who have a passion talk really fast. My notes looked like hieroglyphic rabble once the telephone interview was done.
Steve completed his post-secondary education with a major in history, and he said that there as there were not many career options open to him at that time, he opted for film, where he has worked since graduation. I understand his passion for times past, as I spend a good portion of my free time either watching shows about ancient history on the History TV Canada channel or surfing around the web visiting museums and historic sites – the internet, to me, is one enormous research facility.
Going back to the beginning of the series, I asked Steve where the show’s concept originated. He told me that History Television (Canada) had put out a call for proposals on shows about museums, and Kensington came up with the idea for Museum Secrets, a show that would be driven by the objects and characters one finds in a museum, following the thought that behind every object is a great story to tell – and “the objects on display in a museum are usually just a drop in the bucket of what the museum actually possesses.”
One of the most important considerations when choosing the museum locations was accessibility, as many museums are constantly undergoing some type of renovation, and there are some which do not allow camera crews at all. Also examined were the individual museum collections – which objects would offer not only a great story but also a new and interesting way to look at the artifacts, making them more than just a static object. It took six months to gain access to the archives in Vatican City, an area which is usually opened only to those who are sponsored by a member of The Vatican, and only for “serious” research purposes. Other considerations which also dictate where the crews will go for future filming of episodes include language barriers, current events and of course, cost.
It was eerily ironic when the episode about the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities aired, as History Television (Canada) carried commercials from Tourism Egypt, with the tag line “Where It All Begins” – and the episode aired just as the recent civic uprisings began. I asked Steve what thoughts went through his head as news about the riots and protests was coming out of Egypt, and he said that first and foremost was “the safety of the people they had met and worked with.” He continued on, stating that “What many viewers may not have realized is that the street where protesters were throwing molotov cocktails was the most vulnerable part of the building, as the museum’s wall is so close to the street, and behind that wall is the Royal Mummy Room.”
The Egyptian Museum was also Steve’s favourite site to visit. He said that the people who worked there were very charming and helpful, and the museum itself is an historic experience all on its own. The architecture of the current building is original, complete with antique display cases and peeling paint on the walls. The artifacts have inhabited this site on Tahrir Square since 1902, in a building which was designed in 1896 by the French Architect Marcel Dourgnon.
In deciding which artifacts would be featured in the six episodes, Steve said that there was an intensive amount of research done which preceded any decisions. Their teams looked at museum backgrounds and consulted with individual curators. They started with a huge slate of possible features, and then began the process of narrowing down their focus, looking for a balance between those items which were famous and those which were not. Of central importance, as he said earlier, was the story behind the artifact, and any emotional connection the item may have with people still living.
This is something I could relate to, as my family has lived in this area for over a century and has many historic ties to the town, including an old thresher which is in the BC Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum in Fort Langley. The thresher belonged to my great-great-grandfather, and was involved in some cross-border shenanigans with farmers and the sheriff’s department just across the border in Washington state. I wasn’t aware of the story until our historic society included it in one of their published area histories, and we’ve since been down to visit the thresher at the museum.
As a first example, Ernie La Pointe, great-grandson of Sioux chief Sitting Bull, was interviewed about his famous ancestor and the beautiful antique headdress in possession of the Royal Ontario Museum. The Royal Ontario Museum episode was the first of the series to be filmed, and it was here that the crew fully realized the personal attachments curators can develop with the artifacts. Egyptologist Gayle Gibson is emphatically passionate about her work with the ROM’s Egyptian Collection, and it is obvious in the segments examining the Egyptian mummy babies that every artifact carries with it some essence of humanity, and the curators echo that humanity in their treatment and care of the artifacts.
Every episode of this first series has thus far succeeded in showing how these moments in our history still have some type of impact on those living in modern times. One such interview was with Charles Napoleon, descendant of the youngest brother of that famous little tyrant, Napoleon Bonaparte. A new level of interest was definitely added to the Louvre episode when the story of the propagandic Jacques-Louis David painting of Napoleon’s coronation is told by the man who could have been the current monarch of France, had history played out differently.
Another segment aired during the episode on England’s Natural History Museum. Who doesn’t love a story about a cursed, priceless gem? Apparently the descendants of Edward Heron-Allen don’t. The Blasted Amethyst was gifted to the museum after decades of mysterious and nefarious events seemed to surround anyone who owned or touched the gem, which had been looted from the Temple of Indra during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Most interesting during this segment was the skepticism of Mineralogist Alan Hart, who does not believe in the curse, and the opposite opinion of Curator Richard Savin, who firmly believes the gem has exerted it cursatory power on his life. Ira Jones, the son of Edward Heron-Allen, was offered the opportunity to handle the purple treasure before it was replaced in its display case. He declined. While he did have the opportunity to handle some of the artifacts at the Egyptian Museum, series producer Steve Gamester did not lay hands on the gem either, but he did note that one of the show’s cameramen fell ill the day after the segment on the gem was shot. Coincidence or Curse?
Museum Secrets also takes the science behind some of the artifacts out of the museum and into the real world. Two segments which immediately stand out are the ones where the crossbow and musket go shot for shot in power comparisons and the top secret weaponry employed by Britain’s Special Operations Executive. Who knew that rats could be so explosively deadly?
What made the crossbow segment of the ROM episode so special was the opportunity for Curator Cory Keeble to actually shoot a replica crossbow which had been built to medieval specifications by prop master Chris Warrilow – and his delight in doing so.
During World War II, there was a very real threat that many of the treasures housed in the Natural History Museum could be forever lost should any German bombs fall on the building, so the building was emptied of its treasure hoard, and the spies moved in. The Special Operations Executive, of which author Ian Flemming was a member, were responsible for gathering intelligence on the Nazis and coming up with ways to put serious dents in their activities. The Museum Secrets team and explosives engineer Sidney Alford took a closer look at some of the blueprints for explosive devices used by the SOE to combat Hitler’s armies. Thankfully they took their experiments outside.
I have purposely left two episodes of the Museum Secrets series until last, because the Vatican Museum is one archive I would love be to turned loose in, and The Met has ties to secrets the Vatican would like to keep. No, I’m not a Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons fanatic – I’ve spent decades wondering what secrets are hidden away behind the thick walls of the Vatican. The Met was recently featured as a backdrop location to another conspiracy-based movie, The Last Templar, so I found some of the artifact choices by the Museum Secrets team intriguing simply because of the tie-ins to the whole Templar-Vatican story.
During my interview with Steve Gamester, he said that even with all of the preparatory research done before going on location, there is still the possibility of stumbling upon one special gem, the impact of which you don’t fully realize until you are on location. As he noted elsewhere in our conversation, many of today’s museums did not start life as a museum, and thus have additional stories aside from the ones on display. One of Steve’s favourite segments was the graffiti left behind in the Vatican by the looting army of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, when it sacked Rome in 1527. The graffiti was particularly intriguing, because members of the army had actually taken the time to scratch in the name of their leader, defacing frescoes which had been created by master artist Raphael.
Conspiracy theories and tall tales aside, I have always felt that history and its artifacts belong to the people, and we as members of the human race should have right of access if not to the real thing (in protective cases and covers, of course), then as digitized files – and this doesn’t go for just the Vatican’s treasures, but for all museums. I think that what Kensington and History Television (Canada) are doing, and promoting, with the Museum Secrets series is very commendable – they give viewers a taste of the real history behind the objects, and through the series website, invite you to learn more.
When we were discussing the Vatican Museum, I asked Steve which museum he would like to have unfettered access to, and he replied that one of his top choices would be The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which is another museum I would love to visit one day, as part of my family came from Russia, escaping soon after the deaths of the Romanovs. Steve mentioned that he has also been researching Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, as he also has an interest in the Ottoman Empire. This conversational line led to my asking Steve which period in history was his favourite, to which he replied Ancient Greek, and lucky for him, the crew is currently filming a new Museum Secrets episode at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. I asked him if they would be filming any segments at Santorini, and to my disappointment, he didn’t think so – but they would be taking a look at the legend of the Minotaur and the mysterious labyrinth.
If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to visit the Museum Secrets web site, because it is full of interesting things to learn and things to do. The interactive designers at Kensington have given viewers the chance to play with digitized versions of crossbows. There is also a feature called the Object Navigator, which allows you to look at the museum objects in detail and learn more about them. There are also non-featured artifacts sprinkled among them, and you can even save the objects to be looked at later. While the Object Navigator and My Discoveries features do require that you register on the site (if you want to save your lists), once you do, you can also make notes to go with the objects, and you can share them with others. There are many interactive components to be found on the web site, and while I could tell you where they all are, I think it would be more engaging for you to explore the site and find them as you go along.
Every segment also has its own short feature video to also give you a closer look at areas of interest to you, complete with the distinct animated segments used to describe historical events. I asked Steve about those segments, because to me they look reminiscent of the Monty Python shows, and I wondered if this was a kind of homage to those comedic creators of other …historic films. Steve answered that the team wanted a graphic novel feel, somewhat “Frank Miller-ish” to the animations, and that they were simply trying to find a signature way to portray historic episodes without using full CG, as well as stay within the budget. There was no resemblance to Monty Python intended in either the crossbow game or the show’s animated segments.
The Museum Secrets blog offers a behind-the-scenes looks at every episode, and a chance to hear from that episode’s director about the various locations. Speaking for myself, whose interest in history is probably only equaled by my interest in video games, Museum Secrets is one of the most original and educational series to grace the airwaves, and I enjoy it all the more because it’s made in Canada. These are the types of programs I am happy to see my tax dollars support, and I hope that we are given the opportunity to see many more episodes in the future.
Museum Secrets, produced by KensingtonTV with the participation and support of the Bell Fund, History Television, and the Canada Media Fund, currently airs on History Television (Canada), and will be airing in the near future in both the United States and Europe. The Museum Secrets team also welcomes input and feedback from fans on both its Facebook page and Twitter. Aside from the video on the site, you can also check out video on the Museum Secrets’ YouTube channel and see location stills on Flickr.
Competition: Student App Coders, don’t forget that the Great Canadian Appathon, presented by XMG Studio and the National Post, is THIS weekend. Register before noon on Wednesday, March 9th for a chance to win an Xbox 360 Kinect package! This is an awesome opportunity to learn more about app coding from the professionals, as well as a chance to win some major cash and other prizes, not to mention getting your app published. Please see the web site for complete details.
Former Playdom veteran Shohag Al-Mamun has joined Ratrod Studio Inc. as Chief Technology Officer. Shohag has several years of experience in video game development and held important roles for well established companies.
“With Shohag`s experience in various fields including games that launched on the social and mobile platforms, Shohag will be an important asset for Ratrod which will allow us to tap into a different type of market,” says Pat Toulouse, Ratrod Studio Inc. President.
After completing a bachelor degree in computer science and engineering, Shohag started his career at Deep Red Studio Ltd. where he was hired to develop triple-A social themed simulation games. He then worked at Playdom as lead developer where he was managing his team during the production of popular Facebook and iPhone social games such as TikiFarm, Verdonia, High School and MobAir, to name a few.
With a solid technical background, senior programming skills and plenty of experience in the gaming field, Shohag will be responsible for managing our day-to-day game development operations. His dedication, passion and knowledge of the industry will allow us to develop high quality content dedicated to the social and mobile space.
Big Sandwich Games has announced the release dates for upcoming versions of their critically acclaimed strategy arcade game HOARD™, which puts players in control of an ambitious dragon bent on gathering large mounds of gold while burning medieval villages, kidnapping princesses and roasting thieves.
HOARD™ will release on PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system in North America on March 22, retailing for $9.99. It will follow on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP system in Europe in early April. Pricing is yet to be announced. The PlayStation®3 system version is already available for purchase in North America for $14.99. All versions feature over 35 levels and 100+ badges to earn.
The game’s innovative design and addictive combination of action and strategy earned it a “Best Quick Fix” award and a nomination for “Best Competitive Multiplayer” in IGN’s Best of 2010 Awards. We haven’t had a look at the game yet, but Joystiq says “HOARD’s gameplay shines,” and 1UP reports “the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy.” Ars Technica quips it “will keep you scorching villages for hours on end.”
Colba.Net Telecom Inc., through its Quebec subsidiary Colba.Net Inc., is proceeding to launch and offer in 2011 its new Internet Protocol Television (“IPTV”) service. This follows a recent decision by the CRTC th approve the application by Colba.Net for a broadcasting license to operate a Class 1 terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertaking to serve the Montreal Island. Colba.net footprint currently covers approximately 400,000 households over the Island of Montreal - and on visiting their site, I see the company offers internet with no throttling and no limits. I wish we had that option in our neighbourhood, but instead we have a choice of Telus or Shaw.
At launch, the new IPTV service will offer several high-definition channels, some international channels, some of the most popular American channels as well as unlimited Internet access to websites of movies and TV episodes from NetFlix, AppleTV and TOU.TV for example. The new service will be offered at $19.95 per month for a 12 month fully paid upfront subscription.
“Once again, we are thrilled and proud to launch a new service such as IPTV at such a competitive monthly price. Our whole business model, core corporate values and reputation are based upon offering the best possible products and services at unbeatable prices. We strongly believe that both the industry and consumers stand to greatly benefit from increasing competition in our fast growing industry sector.” Said Mr. Joseph Bassili, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colba.Net.
Kik Interactive has closed an $8 million round of Series A funding with RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures. Kik also announced that Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures) and Adam Ludwin (RRE Ventures) are joining the company’s Board of Directors.
The new funding positions the company for its next phase of development, which includes the launch of new group messaging and picture sharing features. Following its explosive launch in October 2010, Kik Messenger is being used by more than three million people due to its speed, reliability, and unique user experience.
“Kik is a fast, simple, and elegant solution to cross device mobile messaging which we think is one of the most exciting investment opportunities right now,” said Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures. “We believe the Kik team has shown that they understand how to deliver the right set of features in the right package and we are excited about working with them to build the mobile messaging marketplace.”
Kik also released a new version of Kik Messenger today for iOS and Android devices that features real-time group chat and picture sharing. Kik’s group chat makes it extremely simple to add anyone to a conversation on the fly. Up to ten people can be included in a group.
Kik Messenger’s new picture sharing features allows users to share what they’re seeing with the click of a button. Other picture sharing applications are essentially a file transfer, while Kik’s photo sharing capability is built around the idea of visually connecting people in real time. “It puts you right there with them, letting you see what they see as it happens,” Livingston added.
Kik will be a highly visible presence at the upcoming SXSW conference this week. Kik will be offering a free real-time concierge service for conference goers. Users can add “SXSW” to their Kik contacts and ask any question they might have, from what time a panel is starting to how late Torchy’s Tacos will be open. A real person will respond with Kik and answer the question in real time.
Vancouver-based developer and provider of carrier and enterprise messaging solutions Voice Mobility International, Inc. has closed the debenture financing that was previously announced on February 2nd and 15th, 2011, for proceeds of $580,000.
In connection with the closing of the financing, the Company is also pleased to announce that it has completed the acquisition of all of the assets of Tagline Communications Inc. for total consideration of $425,000 and the issuance of 1,000,000 common shares of the Company.
The debentures are secured, bear interest at 12% per annum, and have a term of four months. As consideration for the debenture financing, the Company issued 1,500,000 common shares to an arm’s length party. The Company has also settled $87,500 in outstanding debt through the issuance of 875,000 common shares at a deemed price of $0.10 per common share. The balance of the proceeds of the debenture financing are being used to settle existing indebtedness, and for working capital purposes.
“We are taking a step by step, methodical approach to executing on our stated strategy. With the strengthening of our balance sheet brought by the closing of the AVST transaction in February, 2011, we are now commencing our strategy of acquiring Cloud based unified communications (“UC”) service providers. Each acquisition will lead us further along the path to profitability and value for our shareholders,” commented Jay Hutton, CEO of VMI. “We are pleased that we were also able to take the opportunity to eliminate some of our debt in this transaction and will continue efforts to improve our financial position and grow our business through acquisition. The Tagline transaction is the first step in this acquisition strategy. We remain committed to the growth strategy that we communicated late last year.”