Web TV Wars
In June, The Observer celebrated Pride Week by publishing a list of New York's most powerful gay men and women; we didn't include now-newly-minted Apple CEO Tim Cook, as his base seems to be Cupertino. But that doesn't mean he doesn't suit our other criteria. As we wrote in June, "gay power seems more Read More
The Start-Up Rundown
Techstars NY graduate Shelby.tv has been pretty quiet since raising $1.5 million in July. But today the young start-up, which aims to provide an immersive experience for watching, sharing and discovering web video, announced that content from the typically isolated Hulu will be available on Shelby.tv. Videos from IAC’s College Humor also came online today, along with Tumblr integration.
DAILY EXECUTIVE DEAL. “On the heels of its fifth acquisition in the past five months, BuyWithMe today announced that it has hired Charlie Gray as Chief People Officer. Gray will work with the BuyWithMe team to help manage the company’s fast-paced and aggressive growth plans, and to hire, train and retain the best talent in both existing markets and new areas of expansion.” Buy with me, Charlie Gray. That has a nice ring to it.
CASH AND MONEY. “Lot18, the site that provides insider access to the best in wine and artisanal selections, announced an investment from ecommerce pioneers Marc Lore and Vinit Bharara, founders of Quidsi (best known for Diapers.com and Soap.com) – recently acquired by Amazon for $545 million. With more than 400k users and over $1 million in monthly sales, funds help Lot18 continue its momentous growth. Please find full details in the press release below.”
OH HAI. Jux.com, which lets users create full-frame pages, sort of like a Tumblr-meets-About.me-meets-PowerPoint, “like blogging in HD,” just officially launched.
The Tao of Steve
You got to hand it to these real estate reporters. For the last two decades they’ve been discovering a budding tech scene in the real estate around Union Square. Call it Silicon Alley if you like, but this start-up hamlet never seems to get old.
“The emergence of Union Square as a destination for technology firms got its start several years ago. But the neighborhood’s tech community received a boost this year with the arrival of household names such as computer giant Apple Inc. and the impending arrival of user-review site Yelp,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Are you kidding me? Apple and Yelp are about the least important pieces of the tech scene around Union Square that you could think of, despite being national names. Hysterically, the map of the tech scene which accompanies the story, entitled “Silicon Square,” can’t seem to find a single tech spaces integral to the area, like Dogpatch, Pivotal or General Assembly.
Tao of Steve
Now that Steve Jobs has passed the torch to Tim Cook, the tech world is beside itself with nostalgia. But GroupMe intern Allen Paltrow’s Day-I-Met-Steve-Jobs story wins for most adorable. On his Tumblr, the computer science student at Princeton and self-professed “fan boy” tells the story of how he got invited to the opening of the 5th Avenue Cube. It was, as he says, “Probably the coolest thing that happened to me between the ages 6 and 12.”
Mr. Paltrow, you see, was in the habit of shaving the Apple logo into the back of his head to commemorate every OS launch. Thanks to Brew PR maven Brooke Hammerling, his dreams came true.
The Third Degree
We’re on the Footnoted.com email list, a daily serving of excessive executive compensation and corporate lavishness, but today’s missive about CEO compensation had a different tone. The blog took a look at what Mr. Jobs, who has been taking a $1 salary since 2003 even as Apple’s stock soared, is likely to take with him in the way of retirement benefits, severance bonus and other good-bye perks. “The answer: not much.”
When Betabeat first met Cole Stryker on the roof of the Barbarian Group this summer, the very tall, very blond young man was recounting the story of how he and ex-Valleywager Nick Douglas used to try to out-gross each other with images from 4chan’s /b/ board. But it wasn’t just for the lulz, Mr. Stryker’s fixation with 4chan and Anonymous also carried into the workplace, where he amassed a collection of posts on the community’s mayhem and malwebolence for Urlesque.
The publishing world took note and next week, the 27-year-old Mr. Stryker will release his first book: Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web. Naturally Betabeat wanted to know more. But before we could ask him a question, Mr. Stryker had something to report …
“They found out where I live. He tweeted me my apartment number!”
Are you serious?
I’m like freeeeeeeaking out. [laughs]
Diaspora, the distributed social network created by four students at NYU who would take on Facebook, has been quiet for at least six months after a deluge of media exposure following its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The company moved out to San Francisco, where the engineers have been laboring under the wing of Pivotal Labs. Lately, though, the team has been pushing updates to Twitter as well as Github. “Did u sign up for waitlist? If so, your beta invite will be there soon, if it isn’t already,” @joindiaspora tweeted today. The company has teased an Android client and an open API, coming soon, and it’s sending out beta invites now after almost a year of calling itself alpha.
The Tao of Steve
Couchsurfing.com is a website that lets travelers shop for free couches to crash on in the cities they’re visiting (and often includes meals, beer, tours and new friendship) which is, yes, in some ways similar to Airbnb, that “billion dollar business” that just raised a massive round. But Couchsurfing has always been about sharing resources for free, between people with a shared love of travel, with the vague idea that kindness to a guest would be repaid in karma when you needed a place to stay elsewhere in the network.
The website designed a clever reputation system, better than Airbnb’s, and though its user experience is not perfect, the nonprofit’s employees and volunteers have managed to iterate on the website and it’s gotten much, much better. And yet its founders decided they needed more money, enough to become a for-profit and invite the profit pressure that comes with tech start-up investors like Omidyar Ventures and VC Benchmark Capital.
“I wanted to come and just have chat this morning,” says Steve Jobs, seated onstage for the closing keynote of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference back in 1997. Mr. Jobs, who officially stepped down from his post last night, had just begun his second tenure as Apple’s CEO. The company’s stock had been dipping below $20 a share for much of that year, and it was clear to Mr. Jobs that someone needed to light a fire under the developers who helped support the Apple ecosystem.
“We get to spend 45 minutes or so together and I want to talk about whatever you want to talk about,” Mr. Jobs told the crowd. Coming from a legendary CEO, known for having things his way, it was a disarmingly humble and open stance. “I have opinions on most things,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “So I figured if you want to just start asking some questions, we’ll go to some good places.” It’s a turn of phrase that reminds one Mr. Jobs is in fact a Buddhist, raised in the apricot orchards of Silicon Valley.
But the first question was about OpenDoc, a piece of software Apple had just discontinued, and from there, Jobs transformed, becoming the confrontational yet charming executive whose reality distortion field drew standing ovations from developers and journalists alike. “I know some of you spent a lot time working on something that we put a bullet in the head of. I apologize. I feel your pain. But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management, I have to say it.”