TechCrunch50: Interesting start-ups at San Francisco conference

TechCrunch50-logoTechCrunch has rapidly established itself as the go-to Blog related to technology, start-ups, venture capital and Silicon Valley. Unlike testosterone-fueled sites like Engadget and Gizmodo—entertaining enough in their own right—founder Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch is more concerned with the business side of tech. Although not so much that they can’t have their own drinking game.

Their annual conference, TechCrunch50, is becoming one of the top shows, if not the top, for showcasing emerging technology.

The timing of this year’s show could not have been better. Just days before it started, Mint, the Web 2.0 online personal finance Web site, was purchased by Intuit for a smile-inducing $170M. A nice return for investors who only poured about $30M into the company. Mint was the TechCrunch50 winner in 2007. The exposure, according to CEO Aaron Patzer (who started the company to track his personal finances), helped give the company a head-start.

So, people are watching TechCrunch50. Can it produce another star? Or two? Here’s some of the highlights and interesting bits from day 1.

A Visual Endorsement Engine

Udorse enables you to connect via Facebook and tag product endorsements on your photos. If someone makes a purchase because of your endorsement, you receive 25% commission.

Shaking up the $100B Gift Card Market?

The goal of start-up Rackup is to bring the ‘Black Friday’ feel into people’s lives online, every day. The process is somewhat confusing, which concerns me for those not interested in figuring out sophisticated auctions. It involves a bidding war. The higher you go, the better you do. It looks interesting. One to watch.

Google Flips Out

What’s a tech conference without yet another Marissa Mayer shindig? This time it’s a good one though. It’s called Google Fast Flip and it allows you to visually flip through the pages of various Google News sources. It gives the information and Web sites a newsstand feel which aesthetic and branding junkies like me should love.

Make Your Child a Hero!

Here’s one for the parents out there. StorySomething generates personalized stories for your child that puts them at the center as the hero. How does it work? You select a theme. Enter the child’s name, et voila… story time just got 10x better. And no Dad, I never did believe that the Hardy Boys took pees behind the bushes…

A Little Vegas Penn & Teller Magic Via iPhone

Forget David Copperfield, sawing people in half and glorious hairspray coifs. Take it to the streets! Penn & Teller announced an iPhone application—of course!—at TechCrunch50 that allows them to astonish your family at the dinner table by guessing cards remotely. To read out more details, including how (spoiler) it works click here.

More to come later after day 2 wraps.

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