You will probably notice that I have a new avatar on the blog this morning. That’s because our portfolio company Oddcast, which is the company behind the SitePal avatar that was on this blog for the past year, has released a new service called Voki, which launched in alpha last week.

Get a Voki now!

SitePal is designed for businesses who want to have an animated character for customer service, sales, and other business applications. It’s a very successful business for Oddcast, but the paid avatar model doesn’t make a lot of sense for social media applications like blogs and social network profiles.

Enter Voki. First and foremost Voki is free. So if you’ve been eager to get a free avatar for your blog or profile page, wait no more. Go visit www.voki.com

But there’s a lot more to Voki than a free avatar. Mashable did a nice job last week in their writeup of Voki, calling Voki "the right avatars for MySpace." Oddcast learned a lot from the frustrations that people like me had getting SitePal to work on blogs and social network profiles. All of that learning is in Voki and I really like how easy it is to build an avatar and embed it on my page. Very nice job Oddcast.

But my favorite improvement is the audio recording. For the past year, I’ve been recording my avatar audio via the phone (like leaving a voice mail). My Voki audio was recorded by talking right into my laptop. That’s a big improvement.

Next on my wish list – twittering in my audio to Voki via text to speech. That would be slick! And I also want a skinnier player so that it fits in my narrow sidebars. I am already working on getting that done.

I feel a lot of personal pride in the Voki service. It was Union Square Ventures’ investment in Oddcast that helped to fund Voki’s development. And our former analyst, Charlie O’Donnell, has been the product manager for Voki. Charlie blogged about the launch and what’s next on his to do list last week. Give it a read if you want to get a sense of what it’s like to finally get a new service out the door.

Like Charlie, I urge all of you to give Voki a try and tell Oddcast what you think. That’s how great services are built. With feedback from users.

Here my feedback. I love Voki.

#VC & Technology