(AFP) – Sep 10, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — In what could have been a sequel to one of his own smash television shows, Ashton Kutcher played celebrity-geek this week as he launched an irreverent gossip website for girls.
Katalyst Media partners Kutcher and Jason Goldberg made a pilgrimage from Hollywood to debut the Blah Girls at a TechCrunch50 gathering of promising technology startup firms in northern California.
The interactive online cartoon program launched at www.blahgirls.com features three young female characters that dish the dirt on celebrities and pop culture in unabashed girl talk.
An online social networking component of the program aimed at teenage girls lets viewers chime in with comments and exchange emails with Blah Girls whose responses are personalized with artificial intelligence software.
"There are plenty of gossip sites, but ours is an original take written from the perspective of the teenage girl," Kutcher told AFP in an interview at TechCrunch50.
"It is not potshots at famous people. It is humor that takes on the notion of fandom. I think girls will appreciate these characters are reacting and talking back to them."
Kutcher and Goldberg say their first online endeavor stems from their success reaching teenage audiences with television programs such as "Punk'd" and "Beauty and the Geek."
"It feels like a natural extension, but a very different avenue," Goldberg said of setting out with Kutcher on what they hope will be the first of a series of increasingly interactive online shows.
Katalyst is tuned into the teenage demographics and companies interested in reaching that segment of the market. Kutcher and Goldberg came to TechCrunch50 to connect with people adept at the latest Internet technologies.
"We know our weaknesses," Kutcher said as he gestured toward technology startups demonstrating slick new offerings in a cavernous San Francisco Design Center.
"We are the babies here. We are surrounded by people that know more about this business than what we know."
Sponsors of the three-day startup confab include technology giants Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, MySpace and Norton from Symantec.
Startups vying to be crowned hottest offering at the event bore names such as Tweegee, Yammer, Twingz, Grokit, and Akoha.
BriteClick showed off a tool that lets people search the Internet without ever leaving a desired web page. For example, someone reading a news story could learn more about terms by simply highlighting them in the article.
"It understands the website you are on and what you are trying to do," said Dan Lee of BriteClick.
"It gives you more information in less time."
Startup Qik, which lets people easily stream live video from mobile telephones to social networking web pages or other websites, was among those that caught Kutcher's interest.
Snap Page displayed tools that would let typical people create professional looking websites.
And MobNotes showed off a network that lets people keep track of where they and friends have been and are going at any given moment of the day using the Internet and mobile device messaging.
"New technology spills out of conferences like this," Kutcher said. "I'm a bit of a geek about it. Learning keeps you from getting old."
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