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Whether they’re being groomed for acquisition or poised for long-term profit as standalone entities, Web 2.0 startups continue gorging on investors’ millions, according to a new report today from Internet Evolution. Despite the confusion of the current economic climate, “Web 2.0’s Biggest $inkholes” highlights key areas where VCs and angel investors think big Web 2.0 payoffs await:

  • Targeted advertising: JellyCloud couldn’t hack it and $11.5 million later went belly up; Lotame is staying afloat with its $28 million purse.
  • Social networking: All-purpose inbox company Xoopit is working on a $6 million round, while Orgoo is on indefinite hiatus; AOL’s $850 million for Bebo ended up being largely a write-off for the company.
  • Video: Lots of money’s chasing the desire to be the next YouTube – too bad most of the hosted content is porn; Trooker and others are betting there’s a market for video search.
  • Search: Cuil ($33 million) and SearchMe ($43.6 million) might imagine themselves Google killers, or at least viable alternatives. For investors, imagination makes for a crummy investment strategy.
  • Self-publishing/social-publishing: Uber.com and Bricabox litter this landscape, having shuttered themselves as things got rocky. It’s unclear whether ShareNow.com can thrive here.

“These startups are gambling that they’ll be acquired by the dominant players in each of these Web 2.0 sectors – Google, Facebook, YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo,” says Terry Sweeney, Editor in Chief of Internet Evolution. “As if today’s market wasn’t enough of a hindrance, many of these startups also suffer from fuzzy business plans, poor execution, and even crummy company names. Incredibly, that’s not stopping the flow of investment in some below-average companies.”

About Internet Evolution: Internet Evolution hosts more than 100 world-famous Internet experts – such as Kevin Mitnick, once the most-wanted computer hacker in the world; Dr. Lawrence Roberts, inventor of packet switching, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on telecom network architectures; Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.com; Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS); Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity adviser; and Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is killing our culture — all of whom are addressing today’s critical socio-economic issues within its ThinkerNet blogosphere. Internet Evolution also offers broadcast-quality broadband video documentaries and interviews; investigative reports; and user-generated content facilitated via the latest Web 2.0 technology.

About TechWeb: TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market. Today, more than 13.3 million* business technology professionals actively engage in our communities created around our global face-to-face events, Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat, and VoiceCon; online resources such as the TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com, and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet Magazine, MSDN Magazine, and Wall Street & Technology magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services including next-generation performance marketing, integrated media, research, and analyst services. TechWeb is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion.

About United Business Media Limited: United Business Media Limited (UBM) is a global media and marketing services company that informs markets and brings the world’s buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. UBM serves professional and commercial communities, from IT professionals to doctors, from journalists to jewelry dealers, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. UBM employs more than 6,500 people in more than 30 countries. UBM’s businesses operating in the US include CMPMedica, Commonwealth Business Media, Everything Channel, PR Newswire, RISI, TechInsights, TechWeb and Think Services. UBM is listed on the London Stock Exchange (UBM.L) and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

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Amateur and independent filmmakers, writers, actors and film buffs from around the nation can develop short films together, thanks to a new interactive online destination. Rootclip, located at http://www.rootclip.com , encourages site visitors to create customized short film storylines.

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore says, “When I first heard the idea of Rootclip I was very impressed. It’s the ideal venue for established and up-and-coming filmmakers to interact and express their creative talents on the world stage. We’ve entered a new era of filmmaking and I believe that our next great generation of filmmakers might be inspired by places like Rootclip.”

To engage site visitors, Rootclip holds contests for filmmakers. The first Rootclip.com competition, entitled “Good Luck,” runs from April 28 to July 7. The winner and a guest will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City, Mich. from August 1-3, where they will meet with Michael Moore and screen the completed short film in front of a live audience.

“Rootclip was conceived as a catalyst to get people thinking about and being creative with short films in such a way that it radiates out to the masses and brings new life to the art form,” said Erik Luchauer, co-founder of Rootclip, about Rootclip’s development into a national destination for independent filmmakers. “Our goal is to create connections between directors, writers and actors across the country.”

How It Works: Each Rootclip process plays out over a six chapter cycle, beginning with the Rootclip in-house team developing an inaugural film chapter to jump-start the story. Participating filmmakers then view the root clip, a few minutes of content that begins the story but has a completely open-ended conclusion, and then shoot their own rendition of what should happen next. The users’ upload their one-minute chapters to Rootclip.com, where online viewers then judge the submissions and select the chapter winner. Once the winner for that “chapter” is announced, the open submission period begins again. This process repeats itself four times before culminating in a final chapter competition between all previous chapter winners.

Rootclip began as a social networking tool supported by the Scripps Newspapers Entrepreneur Fund, whose primary goal is developing brands that increase the reach and audience for local media.

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Brightcove Inc., the leading global Internet TV platform, announced the formation of a majority-owned Japanese subsidiary, Brightcove KK. The new subsidiary is backed by $4.9 million in new investment from Brightcove Inc. and four market-leading Japanese strategic partners: Dentsu, Inc., J-Stream, Inc., transcosmos, Inc. (transcosmos), and Cyber Communications, Inc. (CCI). Three of the investment partners, Dentsu, J-Stream, and CCI, along with Brightcove Inc., will be sales agents for Brightcove KK in Japan, giving Brightcove KK immediate and powerful access to the Japanese market.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Brightcove KK will operate a localized version of Brightcove’s award-winning, on-demand Internet TV platform, which is currently used by media companies and marketers across North America and Europe. With Brightcove KK, Japanese media companies and marketers will gain access to the most powerful and scalable software as a service (SaaS) solution available for online video players, distribution, and advertising.

“Brightcove enters the Japanese market at a time when household broadband penetration has surpassed 50 percent, presenting enormous opportunities for media companies and advertisers to build online businesses and engage audiences,” said Jeremy Allaire, chairman and chief executive officer, Brightcove. “It is a great privilege to be partnering with the market leaders in Japan for digital media and advertising. By combining the proven Brightcove technology with the capabilities of our partners, Brightcove KK will give media companies and marketers in Japan a unique solution for implementing their online video strategies and unlocking the potential in the market.”

The Brightcove KK partners represent the market leaders in Japan in digital media, advertising, and content delivery.

  • Dentsu, Inc. is the largest advertising company in Japan with a market share of approximately 30 percent and has over 6,000 clients Groupwide.
  • J-Stream, Inc. is Japan’s largest content delivery network specializing in streaming media for content providers and business corporations.
  • transcosmos is Japan’s leading information processing outsourcing company adopting the latest Internet technology through the strategic investment and business development.
  • CCI is Japan’s largest interactive adverting company that currently has more than 30 percent of the country’s digital brand marketing, a popular advertising serving technology, and online advertising network.

These companies bring tremendous reach into the media and marketing sectors in Japan, and will help ensure the success of Brightcove KK in the Japanese market.

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On June 11, leading authorities on the World Wide Web will gather at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for an old-fashioned debate with a social media twist. The questions for discussion will be shaped and selected by the collective wisdom of Web users from around the world.

Tetherless World Research Constellation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

After delivering a keynote address, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, will join a panel of experts from academia and industry for a public discussion about the Web’s future. The content of the debate will be collaboratively created by Web users, who can submit questions and promote them through a user-based ranking system, similar to the community-based news site Digg. The most popular questions will drive the discussion at the June 11 debate.

The public debate, which will be streamed live via an interactive Webcast, is part of a daylong event to celebrate the launch of the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer – a new academic center devoted to the emerging field of Web Science.
A wide range of issues are up for discussion, from sustaining the usefulness of the current Web to creating a next-generation Semantic Web, as well as the role of politics, education, and sociological factors in the Web’s continued evolution. Following introductory remarks by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, participants in the panel will be:

  • Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium.
  • Wendy Hall, vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery and senior vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • Nigel Shadbolt, former president of the British Computer Society and chief technology officer of Garlik.
  • Nova Spivack, high-tech entrepreneur and founder of Radar Networks.
  • Deborah McGuinness, Web language expert and Rensselaer Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation.
  • James Hendler, one of the inventors of the Semantic Web and Rensselaer Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation (moderator).

Members of the public are invited to submit and vote on questions until the day of the debate. During the discussion, viewers will be able to interact with the panelists by submitting follow-up questions and comments in real time. For details about this innovative event and how you can participate in the discussion, go to: http://tw.rpi.edu/launch.

Since its inception, the Web has changed the ways people work, play, communicate, collaborate, and educate, according to James Hendler, Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer. There is, however, a growing realization among researchers across a number of disciplines that without new research aimed at understanding the current, evolving, and potential Web, opportunities for new and revolutionary capabilities may be missed or delayed.

“If we want to be able to model the Web, if we want to understand the architectural principles that have provided for its growth, and if we want to be sure that it supports the basic social values of trustworthiness, personal control over information, and respect for social boundaries, then we must pursue a research agenda that targets the Web and its use as a primary focus of attention,” Hendler said.

The Tetherless World Constellation will address this emerging area of Web Science, focusing on the Web and its future use. Faculty in the constellation will explore the research and engineering principles that underlie the Web, will enhance the Web’s reach beyond the desktop and laptop computer, and will develop new technologies and languages that expand the capabilities of the Web. They will use powerful scientific and mathematical techniques from many disciplines to explore the modeling of the Web from network- and information-centric views.

“Our goals will include making the next generation Web natural to use while being responsive to the growing variety of policy and social needs, whether in the area of privacy, intellectual property, general compliance, or provenance,” Hendler said. For more information about the Tetherless World Constellation, go to: http://tw.rpi.edu.

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Bravo, Apple, Showtime, HBO, Absolut, and Levi’s, are the gay-friendliest brands, while WalMart, Dunkin Donuts, Cracker Barrel, Exxon Mobil, and Samsung earn the lowest marks from gay and lesbian consumers, according to the 2008 Prime Access/PlanetOut Gay and Lesbian Consumer Study released the other day.

HBO.Conducted by Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo on behalf of advertising agency Prime Access and PlanetOut Inc. (Nasdaq: LGBT), the survey is one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of gay and lesbian consumer habits and brand perceptions. A total of 2,259 adults aged 18-64 participated in the study, which was broken down into two panels: general population (1,502 respondents) and gay and lesbian population (757 respondents).

Prime Access is the leading advertising agency specializing in reaching the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. PlanetOut Inc. is the leading global media and entertainment company exclusively serving the LGBT community.

Lesbian Girls.The report confirms why many of the world’s most successful brands recognize that being gay-friendly equals good business. According to the study, more than two-thirds (68%) of gay and lesbian consumers said they are more likely to buy from a company they considered to be gay-friendly, a perception they base largely on a company’s advertising, followed by input from friends and the media.

The study also reveals that 71% of gay and lesbian consumers said they have a more favorable impression of companies or products that feature gay imagery in their advertising. Howard Buford, president and CEO of Prime Access, noted that Levi’s, one of the top gay-friendly brands, recently featured a gay couple in television advertising.

“The study reveals that gays and lesbians are fiercely loyal customers to brands they perceive as reaching out to them,” said Buford. “A marketing communications program directed at the gay and lesbian audience can be a significant opportunity for brands to build business.”

Kevyn Aiken, Vice President of Marketing, Media Sales at PlanetOut, said the study also confirms why gays and lesbians represent one of the most coveted and active demographics.

Apple Macbook Air.“Gays and lesbians have many similarities to straight people, with one pronounced difference: they’re more powerful consumers,” said Aiken. “In virtually every category – from financial services to fragrance – the study shows that gays and lesbians tend to be ahead of the curve when it comes to embracing new products and trends. They are early adopters that their peers look to for advice, opinions, and ideas. As a result of their influence, they impact many more purchases than just their own.”

For example, Aiken said the study revealed that gays and lesbians are almost twice as likely (60% vs. 34%) as their straight counterparts to say people seek their advice.

Among other notable findings in the 2008 Prime Access/PlanetOut Gay and Lesbian Consumer Report:

  • 8% of adults in the general population panel identified as gay or lesbian, reflecting conventional wisdom that 5-10% of adults are gay.
  • Sexual orientation is the primary community with which gays and lesbians identify. 47% of gays and lesbians said their sexual orientation is the community that most defines them, followed by gender (45%) and religion (28%). This compares to gender (36%), nationality (32%), and religion (30%) for the general population.
  • While almost three-fourths of both gays and lesbians and the general population are opposed to outing, 61% of gays and lesbians support outing if an individual is actively opposed to equal rights. Only 33% of the general population agrees.
  • 69% percent of gays and lesbians are Democrats, while 7% are Republicans.

The report also surveyed 3,156 PlanetOut subscriber and reader respondents, drawn from email promotable lists provided by PlanetOut. Notable findings among this group include:

  • 85% of PlanetOut respondents said they are more likely to purchase products from companies they know are gay-friendly.
  • PlanetOut respondents are 36% more likely than the general population to consider themselves “someone in the know”.

To view a summary of key highlights from The 2008 Prime Access/PlanetOut Gay and Lesbian Consumer Study, please visit: http://www.primeaccess.net/c2_gpr.php.

Methodology: The 2008 Prime Access/PlanetOut Gay and Lesbian Consumer Report is one of the largest, most comprehensive studies ever of gay and lesbian consumer habits and brand perceptions. The study was conducted by Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo, a leader in custom media marketing research. The respondents were sourced from both the Harris Interactive general population panel, one of the largest online panels available today, and from Harris Interactive’s GLBT specialty panel. A total of 2,259 adults aged 18-64 participated in the study, broken down as follows:

  • General population: 1,502
  • Gay and lesbian population: 757

The Harris Interactive GLBT specialty panel is recruited from various sources, and is not specifically enlisted from gay and lesbian websites. In addition, 3,156 PlanetOut subscriber and reader respondents, drawn from email promotable lists provided by PlanetOut, were also surveyed. The PlanetOut “universe” includes readers/subscribers of Out, The Advocate, gay.com, out.com, planetout.com and outtraveler.com.

An online methodology was selected primarily for the critical anonymity it offers respondents. Because online research allows respondents to complete surveys with anonymity and privacy, respondents are often more comfortable sharing their experiences and concerns.

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Summary: Indie rock band Kindred Souls is sponsoring a photo contest on http://www.Fotki.com. The winning photos selected from entries worldwide will be used in their ‘Leap of Faith’ music video bringing together people from around the globe and celebrating their personal triumphs.

A band, a song, a website, and hundreds possibly thousands of music lovers worldwide will soon join forces to produce a user-generated music video about taking their “Leap of Faith.”

What is a “Leap of Faith?” First, it is an inspirational song by Indie rock band Kindred Souls that is about overcoming obstacles and achieving personal triumphs.

“The song is about saying to yourself, ‘I believe in you!’ It means taking a great leap towards believing in yourself and what you can accomplish,” says Kindred Souls singer-songwriter Jeff Rafferty.

Kindred Souls joined forces with international media social network website http://www.Fotki.com to ask people to share photographs of their “Leap of Faith” – whatever that means to them. Fotki.com is based in 215 countries. This is an opportunity to collaborate on producing a video with people around the globe including photographers, proud parents and grandparents, students, athletes, performers, and non-profits.

To be in the music video, visit http://www.Fotki.com or http://www.kindred-souls.com. Download the song for free, and submit a photo and a brief story about your “Leap of Faith.”

The contest started May 7 and photos will be accepted for two weeks. After that, fans will be asked to vote for their favorites. The photos will be compiled into a music video for the song “Leap of Faith” and launched on YouTube and on http://www.kindred-souls.com.

Lon Bachrach“We will include as many photos as possible in the video and donate $100 to the favorite charity of whoever submits the most popular photo,” says Kindred Souls songwriter and keyboardist Lon Bachrach.

What inspired Leap of Faith? Band founders Rafferty and Bachrach agree it was drawn from overcoming some of their own personal struggles, which includes trying to achieve success for their music.

Playing in clubs ranging from Asbury Park’s Stone Pony to New York’s Knitting Factory, Kindred Souls is an all-original rock-n-roll band whose music has shades of blues, jazz, R&B, funk, and soul. The band features bassist Stan Quincy Adams, guitarists Ted Heman and Jeff Samet, and drummer PauPreview this Postl Lavenhar.

“There isn’t anything else that I can do but make music. Being a musician is who I am,” says Bachrach. “Part of our message is to tell other artists and folks of vision, who are the carriers of creativity’s torch, don’t stop! Continue to share, to create, and to believe. Take your leap of faith!”

Music video by Kindred Souls from their CD “Takes Two”.

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DeepRockDrive, the world’s first interactive online concert venue, has launched a global free concert series in partnership with Pepsi. Featuring five of today’s hottest musical artists including multi-platinum Disturbed, the series reinforces DeepRockDrive’s prominence as the world’s most popular destination for online, interactive concerts.

Presented by Pepsi, five compelling live acts will be performing to global audiences beginning May 16th through May 29th 2008. Kicking off with country music’s hottest new act, Lady Antebellum on May 16, the series continues with YouTube sensation Marie Digby on May 18, singer/songwriter/ guitarist Matt Nathanson on May 27, R&B performer Lloyd on May 25 and culminating with hard rock’s Disturbed on May 29.

Each concert will feature interaction between fans and artists using the revolutionary service that DeepRockDrive has created.

By logging on to http://www.DeepRockDrive.com, music fans around the world will experience a live, online, interactive exchange between performers and their audience where the fans collaborate with artists in real-time to build magical live experiences. Fans can send shout outs to the stage, vote on the next song in the set, personalize camera angle selections and send digital applause to the artists on stage in the form of emot-applause(TM), which are video game-like icons, such as hearts, fists, and lips that blow a kiss. These animated icons appear on giant screens in front of the artists while they perform.

Thanks to the support of Pepsi, the shows in this series are available free of charge, bringing a front row seat to music fans from Las Vegas to London, San Francisco to Singapore, and anywhere where a broadband connection is available.

Of the band’s participation in DeepRockDrive, Disturbed singer David Draiman said, “We are looking forward to taking part of something this unique and powerful.”

The innovation extends to the marketing of the concerts, as DeepRockDrive’s service enables a direct bridge between artists and their fans. Marie Digby, born from her channel on YouTube, created this direct invitation to her fans to attend the show – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzcKij_1RK8

“We jumped at the chance to be a part of this innovative, online experience with DeepRockDrive and the Pepsi Concert series, exposing Matt Nathanson to a worldwide audience,” said Tricia Rice, the Director of Digital Media at Vanguard Records.

“Thanks to the early support and commitment to innovation from Pepsi, DeepRockDrive has built the next generation of live entertainment,” said DeepRockDrive co-founder Danny Socolof.

Free tickets for all shows are available now at http://www.DeepRockDrive.com. Fans can grab a ticket and invite all of their friends. Live music has a new home…yours, and it’s powered by Pepsi!

About the Artists

Disturbed, which is frontman David Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and bassist John Moyer, self-produced their forthcoming album “Indestructible” which will be released June 3rd on Reprise Records. The first single from the album, “Inside The Fire,” marks the band’s sixth Number One single at Active Rock, and their fastest-rising single to date. Known for their punishingly powerful music and Draiman’s passionate, socially conscious lyrics, Disturbed has sold a collective 10 million copies worldwide of their three albums – 2000’s RIAA-certified triple-platinum The Sickness, 2002’s Billboard album chart-topper Believe, and their second consecutive Number One Ten Thousand Fists – since forming in Chicago in 1996.

Lady Antebellum – Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood – blend classic and contemporary country with R&B soulfulness, giving them a unique sound that’s generating a deafening buzz as one of modern country’s brightest hopes. Their self-titled debut, LADY ANTEBELLUM, debuted at the top of the Billboard Country Charts, their debut single, “Love Don’t Live Here,” is a Top Ten hit and still climbing, and the trio has been nominated for “Top New Group” at the 2008 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards. They’ve performed on the legendary Grand Ole Opry, and have opened shows for some of the top names in country music including Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. Lady Antebellum will be touring all across the country this summer, giving their enthusiastic fan base many opportunities to see them live.

Lloyd is mid-stream in a solid career growth mode: his 2007 album, Street Love, which debuted at No. 2 on both the national Billboard Top 200 album chart and the R&B/Hip-Hop album chart, was certified gold within eight weeks of its release, and spun off two major smashes: “You” featuring Lil Wayne, an R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1 and Top 10 pop hit; and “Get It Shawty,” a No. 4 R&B/Hip-Hop track and Top 20 Hot 100 entry. Lloyd’s upcoming LESSONS IN LOVE is in stores on July 15th with a top-tier list of collaborators including Nelly, Tricky and The-Dream, Polow Da Don, J-Lack, Jasper and Big Reese and Eric Hudson.

Marie Digby’s recently released debut album, Unfold (Hollywood Records) debuted at # 29 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. The album, described by People Magazine as “radiant guitar pop,” also reached # 2 on the iTunes album chart and # 3 on Billboard’s Digital Top 100 album chart. The first single, “Say It Again,” is in heavy rotation on Hot AC stations across the country. Since Digby burst onto the national stage in 2007 via YouTube, she has become the 7th most subscribed artist, and her homemade videos have accumulated more than 26 million views. Marie also became one of the faces of GAP’s “The Sound of Color” campaign, landed on top 40 radio charting with her version of Rhianna’s “Umbrellla,” and has had her music featuredon MTV’s the Hills, CW’s One Tree Hill, and Smallville. Marie will embark on a nationwide tour kicking off on May 20.

Matt Nathanson’s current Vanguard CD, Some Mad Hope, has spawned two singles, “Car Crash” and “Come On Get Higher” which continue to grow in popularity with fans and radio alike. I “Come On Get Higher” was featured in the Amazon/Pepsi Stuff national radio campaign in the past few months and the track is currently rising up both Triple A and Hot AC radio charts. His music has been prominent in such acclaimed shows as Private Practice, NCIS, One Tree Hill, Women’s Murder Club and will be heard in upcoming episodes of Men In Trees.

About DeepRockDrive

DeepRockDrive was founded in 2007 by music industry marketing veteran and MEGA founder Danny Socolof, and former Microsoft Xbox executive producer Jeff Henshaw. By harnessing the excitement of live performance and the interactivity of the Internet, DeepRockDrive is creating the world’s most popular online destination for interactive live performances. The Company is headquartered in Las Vegas and Seattle with 25 employees and a community comprised of over 50,000 passionate artists and fans worldwide.

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