Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spinvox in a spin over privacy worries

Spinvox in a spin over privacy worries

Spinvox in a spin over privacy worries

UK-based speech to text specialist Spinvox has been caught up in controversy this week over its data protection standards, as well as questions about the company's finances.

It has long been known that Spinvox uses people to transcribe messages under some circumstances; when the translating software fails to understand the message, for example. But recent claims by employees past and present go so far as to say that in fact the majority of messages are transcribed by call centre staff in Africa and Asia.

This has raised questions over data protection, and it now appears that the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is breathing down Spinvox's neck over the firm's claim that it does not transfer any data outside of the European Economic Area.

Despite extensive funding, it is the burden of running these call centres that is understood to be putting a strain on the company's finances, and it emerged last week that Spinvox staff had been asked to take share options in the firm instead of some or all of their paycheck for July and August. The firm is also known to be looking at other "cost cutting measures," which many take to mean job cuts.

The BBC on Thursday reported that Spinvox has also been locked out of a London data centre over payment issues, which lends credence to the speculation that the firm is under financial pressure.

Rapid growth has been blamed for the company's financial problems, and it should be noted that this same rapid growth was once a source of pride for the upstart firm. In June, the company signed a deal with Spanish carrier Telefónica that will see its text voicemail service made available to Telefónica's entire Latin American customer base. The carrier has almost 125 million customers in the region. spoke to one of Spinvox's partners, BestBefore Media, which uses the Spinvox API to do audio transcriptions as well as offer a service it describes as the "twitter of the spoken word," known as AudioBoo.

Mark Rock, CEO of BestBefore said that his firm used Spinvox because they were impressed by the quality, but added that he was surprised to discover that people managed most of the transcription manually. "The line we were spun is that humans were only used where necessary," he said.

Rock's greatest concern also centres on privacy issues as his firm offers transcription services used by journalists which may involve sensitive information, leading him to "look into the data protection issues." However, Rock noted that Spinvox is not mission critical and that there is "always somewhere else to go" if Spinvox were to run into trouble, financial or otherwise.

FlyCast Raises $2.1 Million For Mobile Radio

clipped from

Joseph Tartakoff02:00 PM

FlyCast Raises $2.1 Million For Mobile Radio

Radio streaming service FlyCast has raised $2.1 million in a round of funding, according to an SEC filing. A spokesman would not say who had participated in the round or detail the company’s plans for the new cash. Earlier this year, FlyCast hired radio industry veteran David Kennedy as its CEO.

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Shiny New Business

via Start-Up Blog

Have you ever had a new girlfriend? You can't stop thinking about her. You want to make it work. So you start putting in an extra effort to give this relationship the best chance of success. You start buying new clothes, ensuring you look your best, maybe even start going to the gym everyday. In this situation everything matters. You want to spend every waking moment with her, because it is so enjoyable, so much fun, the future looks so bright, the whole thing is so new. At this time we can't imagine the joy of being involved in this thing ever diminishing.

Eventually, the emotions driven by newness wear off. It doesn't necessarily mean we love our new girlfriend less, we might even love her more. It's just a different set of emotions. And this new set of emotions often mean we, are less enthusiastic to prove ourselves, and or make it work – she moves from a chase, to a catch.

new GirlfriendPhoto by Sami

A new startup isn't much different. Just re-read the above two paragraphs and think back to when you got going on your latest startup. It was a lot like the new girl friend. It was love. The emotions and behaviour have a strong analogy. What matters as entrepreneurs, is having the ability to keep up the momentum when the newness wears off. And there is nothing more certain than this. It will become less fun, less exciting and more arduous. It's especially evident when we need to undertake administrative tasks with our start up – or keep door knocking after many rejections. It's our ability to stay focused on 'old projects' that will determine our ultimate success.