The limos were lined up outside the Hammerstein ballroom Monday as the crowd, who had subsisted on boxes Dean & Deluca breadsticks and bags of some kind of buttery-popcorn elixir for the past couple hours, exited into the in smoggy Midtown night. The 15th annual Webby’s were over. The last five-word speech had been given. The champagne supply had been kicked, at least up on the second floor balcony, and it was time for the after-party. Betabeat opted to walk the seventeen blocks south to the Hiro ballroom at the Maritime Hotel, but we’re pretty sure we were the only ones.
We spotted Jetsetter founder Drew Patterson right away and demanded to know what happened to the killer acceptance speech he promised us on the red carpet. Mr. Patterson said the preponderance of Anthony Weiner riffs made him decide last minute to swap out “A picture tells a story . . . Ask Weiner” for the more chaste, “Kids, we’re going to Disneyland.”
Mr. Patterson was standing next to GroupMe’s Steve “Bosu ball” Martocci, a fellow Gilt Groupe alum, who hadn’t made it to actual ceremony. The two reminisced about the old days. “About this time last year I had this little product,” said Mr. Martocci, making his hands into box-shape. “I asked Drew what I should do . . .”
“What did I tell you?” Mr. Patterson asked.
“Don’t take money from Gilt,” Mr. Martocci shot back. They laughed. It was hard to tell if it was a joke.
Betabeat walked past the cordoned-off VIP section, but didn’t recognize any VIPs and headed upstairs where we ran into the affable Evan Gregory, one of the co-founders of Auto-Tune the News, who performed earlier that night with inadvertent Bed Intruder Antoine Dodson and a full band. “In some ways, we look at ourselves as odd talent scouts for unintentional singers. Having applied our craft over months and years to Congress and newscasters–we look for people that have many of those same qualities that a conventional, intentional singer might have, meaning like sonically . . .”
” . . . Like cadence?” Betabeat interrupted?
“Exactly. Antoine is at the top of the hall of fame of unintentional singers.”
Mr. Gregory, who grew up in Virginia–along with the rest of the Gregory brothers–said he had been living in Williamsburg, close to the bridge for the past eight and a half years. Betabeat gave his boyish face the once-over. Wait, how old are you?
“Exceedingly old, just very very old.”
“What are you 24?”
“Yeah I’ll be 21 next week and I’ve been in Brooklyn for 8 years,” he laughed. “I’m 32.”
Mr. Gregory then helped Betabeat parse how exactly Auto-the-News was connected to tech-scene veteran Fred Seibert. “Our relationship with [Seibert's] Next New Network doesn’t exist anymore because they were bought by Google. I’m looking at like six of their employees now,” he said gesturing at a of people walking past the booth. “Everyone there is now a Google employee. But our deal with them was basically: they manage our partnership with YouTube while we create all of our content independently. They simply operated the relationship between us and YouTube and were allowed to sell ads against us. Now that deal is dissolved so we’re even more independent.”
So, we had to know. How do the Williamsburg hipsters react when they find out what Mr. Gregory does? “It varies between (a) What is that? (b) I’ve never heard of that, or occasionally (c) I think my mom showed me that!”