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Web 2.0 Summit: You Pick The Launch Pad Winner

One of the most popular sessions at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco is the day-ending Launch Pad, a sort of American Idol for startups in which six entrepreneurs get to present their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, who then provide their critiques. At the end, the crowd votes on the winner in several categories. Here are the contestants from today's Launch Pad:
One of the most popular sessions at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco is the day-ending Launch Pad, a sort of American Idol for startups in which six entrepreneurs get to present their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, who then provide their critiques. At the end, the crowd votes on the winner in several categories. Here are the contestants from today's Launch Pad:Tripit, a Web-based travel-plan organizer that takes all of your booking information (just forward confirmation e-mails from airlines and hotels, etc.), pulls out the critical information, and collates it into one user-friendly Web "master itinerary" that you can then share, print, and so on. Tripit adds related material like weather, destination guides, and maps and offers a cool feature where you can send an e-mail from any device and have the information instantly sent back to you.

Spiceworks, an ad-supported, Web-based provider of IT management tools to small and midsize businesses. Sort of like a free Salesforce.com, except focused on network management, Spiceworks already claims to have 160,000 IT pros at small companies as customers. Along with straightforward IT management tools, the site also offers educational material, purchase lists with an integrated store, and an online community of peers.

Realius, an online multiplayer fantasy real-estate game. Capitalizing on the American obsession with real estate, this is sort of a fantasy football league for homes. Driven by real-world data on actual existing homes, the game has several versions, including one in which you try to guess the sales price of a home currently on the market. Revenue comes from product and service placement, license fees from brokers, market-data subscriptions, and lead referrals.

Ghost, which stands for Global Hosted Operating System. The ultimate logical conclusion of Web-hosted apps, Ghost takes the software guts of your computer, the operating system, and hosts it in the Internet cloud so that all apps are on a "virtual computer" that lives on the Web. All you need is a computer with a browser. This company gets extra points for having founders in both Jerusalem and Rumallah, Palestine.

Click Forensics, a startup that aims to solve the problem of "click fraud," or advertisers seeing click-through rates that don't reflect real humans with real eyeballs. Click Forensics assigns a "click score" or a "site score" based on where the traffic on a given page comes from and whether it can be established that it's actual humans doing the clicking. It aims to rationalize the online ad business by scoring, auditing, and improving traffic quality.

CleverSet, a "relevance engine" that uses Relational Bayesian Modeling to provide online shoppers and retail Web sites with "true personalization," i.e., the ability to harness data on behavior, surfing patterns, products purchased, and a host of other data related to people, online places, and things. CleverSet then leverages the data into a more personalized and targeted online experience, from ads to product suggestions to navigational tools.

Four awards were handed out based on audience response: Best in Show, Best Presentation, Most Creative Idea, and Most Likely to Exit Soonest. I'm not going to share the winners, or my own opinions, in this post. Instead I'm going to collapse those four categories into one -- "Most Likely to Succeed Wildly" -- and give you, the readers, the chance to vote just as if you, too, were in the ballroom of the Palace Hotel at Web 2.0. I'll come back tomorrow to tally the results and let you know who won today. Use the comments field, below. Vote early and often!