At last week's SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, 32 companies presented at the SXSW Accelerator awards, sponsored by Microsoft's BizSpark. The companies spoke in front of a panel of judges, one of which was ReadWriteWeb's editor, Richard MacManus, who helped in judging the news applications. By day two, 32 finalists were narrowed down to just 12, all competing for the top spot in one of four categories: news related technologies, innovative Web technologies, entertainment technologies and social media and social networking technologies.
So, who won?
The grand prize at this year's awards show went to the following:
- News Related Technologies: Storify
- Innovative Web Technologies: Hipmunk
- Entertainment Technologies: Tango
- Social Media & Social Networking Technologies: PopVox
If you're not familiar with these services, all are worth taking note of.
Storify is a useful tool for creating stories using social media. We've used Stofify here at ReadWriteWeb to curate tweets about popular events, for example, including SXSW itself. But you can also make collections that include Flickr photos and YouTube videos, using the service.
Hipmunk is an easy-to-use flight (and now lodging) search service which offers an improved interface for finding, sorting and filtering results. One of its sorting options is called "agony," which the company describes as a way of sorting flights taking into account price, duration, and number of stops, combined. Hipmunk also recently launched an iPhone application that lets you perform flight searches on your phone, then book on your mobile or email yourself a link to the flight you chose.
Tango is a free mobile calling service, that, unlike Apple's FaceTime, works across platforms (iPhone and Android, and others soon). It also works over Wi-Fi and 3G, while FaceTime is currently limited to Wi-Fi-only. Tango hit 3 million downloads in November, and has now just recently reached 10 million.
Finally, PopVox is a service providing real-time information on current legislation. Designed by people who have worked in around government for years, and advised by Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media, the site lets you locate a bill you care about, declare your opposition or support and share that opinion directly with Congress. For politicians, the site provides a number of bill-tracking tools to stay on top of public sentiment.
The other finalists at Accelerator included the Participatory Politics Foundation, a nonprofit promoting civic engagement; DocumentCloud, a tool for journalists that enables publishing public documents to a Web-based catalog; the eye-tracking service GazeHawk; Kabbage, a service providing funding to online merchants; Portalarium, makers of a new social game called Ultimate Collector; Viki, a crowd-sourced foreign-language captioning for the movies and TV shows; CompassLabs, a social media advertising agency; and Neighborgoods, a community that allows you to share items (e.g., a lawnmower, bike, drill, etc.) with your neighbors,
Neighborgoods also got Accelerator's Bootstrap Award for having done the most with the fewest resources.