Punchbowl Throws a Punch, Checking In Is Out, TechStars Boston Changes Guard—Some Tech Tidbits

Another busy week in Boston-area tech news. Here are a few items I didn’t have a chance to properly digest yet:

—Startup wars: Punchbowl founder and CEO Matt Douglas stirred the pot a little with a blog post calling out SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch for what Douglas considers his self-promotional bravado and unhealthy work-life balance, and telling him to “get a life.” Douglas also called out the media and some unnamed VCs for glorifying Priebatsch’s behavior. (I think it’s all just a good story, Douglas’s post included; we need more people in the innovation community willing to speak their mind publicly.)

As for actual news from Punchbowl: Last month, the party-planning company formed an interesting partnership with Cozi, a Seattle maker of online software to help families manage their busy schedules. Reached by e-mail, Douglas said the deal is important as an example of Punchbowl’s co-branding strategy, and that it has “lots of upside for both companies” as traffic grows. He added that Cozi is “the leader in the space in terms of family calendars and organization.”

—Checking-in is out. Pre-check-in and checkout are in. Follow me? OK, me neither. But this week, Boston-based Where.com released a new “local discovery” app that makes personalized recommendations for restaurants, stores, and so forth on mobile devices—the goal being to own the “pre-check-in” space and reinvent local search. Not to be outdone, Boston-based Aislebuyer released a new app that allows shoppers to check out—that is, buy merchandise—at certain retail stores using their Android smartphones (or iPhones). Apparently, both of these ideas are hotter at the moment than “checking in” through location-based social networks, once popularized by Foursquare.

—Lots of deals happening in mobile applications and advertising. Localytics, a mobile analytics startup based in Cambridge, MA, has signed up to help the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Turner Broadcasting track the performance of their mobile apps.

And Cambridge-based mobile ad startup Jumptap has formed a strategic alliance with Japan-based Cyber Communications; this arrangement includes an undisclosed investment in Jumptap by Cyber. Jumptap’s other investors include AllianceBernstein, General Catalyst, Redpoint Ventures, Summerhill Ventures, Valhalla Partners, and WPP.

Katie Rae succeeds Shawn Broderick as managing director of the Boston chapter of TechStars, the seed-stage fund and startup mentoring program. Rae is an accomplished tech executive and startup advisor, so it sounds like a good fit. She also co-runs Project 11 Ventures with Reed Sturtevant, which can’t help but gain from plugging into TechStars’ network of investors and entrepreneurs. (You can read more about Rae’s appointment in the Boston Globe and Mass High Tech.)

—Lastly, a bit of self-promotion. We have a few tickets left for the Xconomy Forum next Wednesday (Dec. 8), “5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas.” Come hear Bill Warner speak on how to build a startup from the heart. And catch Bob Metcalfe on his farewell tour before he departs for Austin, TX. You can register here, or talk to me if you’re interested in attending. See you all next week.

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