Metro Tech

Meet Your 2012 NYC Venture Fellows: The Founders of Warby Parker, MakerBot, Yipit, and More

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On its Tumblr, the New York City Economic Development Corporation posted an announcement this afternoon about the 28 individuals named to the city’s NYC Venture Fellows Program. The press release was actually issued last Tuesday, the NYCEDC confirmed by phone, but was only just added to Tumblr. C’mon, guys, until they plant that RSS chip in our brains, you gotta get with El Bloombito’s new social media agenda: everything updated all a’ the time.

This is the second year of the Venture Fellows program, developed with the agency along with Fordham University. “NYC Venture Fellows promotes emerging business leaders and encourages international entrepreneurs to start or expand their operations in New York City. The program connects fellows with mentors who are investors, serial entrepreneurs, CEOS, and operational managers from New York City and abroad.”

Combine that description with the word “fellows” and you might picture some accelerator-stage startups in real need of mentorship and connections, not far off the the lean Ramen life. Not so with the 28 rising stars on this year’s list, which includes BillGuard founder and CEO Yaron Samid, MakerBot cofounder and CEO Bre Pettis, Warby Parker cofounder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa, and charity: water founder and CEO Scott Harrison. Read More


How to Get Arrested for Insider Trading, in Two Easy Steps


A tech analyst named John Kinnucan was arrested today, accused of insider trading on tech companies that resulted in $110 Million in illegal, insider trader-y gains. Maybe as important as his crime is the example he sets for future generations of those whose lifelong dream it is to get your door busted down by the F.B.I., arrested for insider trading, and consequently extradited to New York for trial.

Mr. Knnucan's experiences set a handy, simple, two-step example for those seeking to tread the same path he's taken: Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Kerfuffles Edition


FROM RUSSIA WITH CAPITAL. Once upon a time Betabeat reported that RTP Ventures, the $750 $700 million Russia-based fund, was establishing a U.S. office with venture capitalist Kirill Sheynkman based in New York. Less than five months later, sources say the fund will no longer be a one-man show. If all goes according to plan, RTP will be bringing on two splashy-name hires in the next month to six weeks, we’re told.

GO IPO YOURSELF. A young coworker in our newsroom has quit Facebook, she says, because she doesn’t want the company and its shareholders making bank off her data in an IPO. And she’s not the only one! When she told a friend, the friend said she’d done the same thing for the same reason. Just one more and it makes a trend! Meanwhile, that high school senior who wrote a florid New York Post editorial which said, among other things, that “Lost in the hype of the company’s stock-market debut this year is that while Facebook is ubiquitous, it may also be a fad,” merely quit because the site was making him feel bad. Read More

It's Who You Know

After Perks, Klout Tries Gamification To Get You to Care About Your Social Media ‘Influence’

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In an email to members today, Klout, everyone’s favorite dubiously scientific social influence analyzer/punching bag announced it would be teaming up with Badgeville, a gamification platform that lets companies like eBay, Samsung, and Dell find and reward engaged customers with badges, tokens and online prizes.

By integrating Klout’s “influence ranking technology,” Badgeville will now, in theory, be able to help those brands figure out which loyal users have more influence and reward them accordingly. Judging by our latest Klout score, this only works for Betabeat if there’s a brand out there interesting in courting someone who influences 2,000 people on topics like “Blogging, Stanford University, Reddit.” That has to at least qualify us for a “Nerd” badge or something, right? What about “People who spend too much time in front of screens”? Read More

Art Meets Computers

Remember Rejected? Digital Artist Series at Pratt Includes Animator Don Hertzfeldt and Algorithmic Artist Roman Verostko

Roman Verostko. Epigenetic pen plotted drawing,  3" by 5", 1987

Starting next week, Pratt will showcase six digital and new media artists for its free and open to the public spring lecture series. The lineup looks pretty sweet: Don Hertzfeldt of Bitter Films, the Academy Award nominated animator whose short Rejected was a viral hit, will give a talk on March 28; algorithmic artist Roman Verostko, who started his career as a Benedictine monk, will talk about his “richly colored algorithmic pen and brush drawings,” designed with his own hand-built software, on Feb. 22. Read More


High-Frequency Trading Approaches the Speed of Light


The finance industry is in a race against science being waged with transatlantic cables and ever-tinier chips. A new paper authored by a team of physicists, engineers and industry data experts explores what Physics of Finance blogger Mark Buchanan calls the “approaching singularity.” Improvements in the technology behind high-speed trades is being measured in increments of “sub-seconds” and approaching the physical barrier of the speed of light which will, as the paper puts it, culminate in an “all-machine phase characterized by frequent black swan events with ultrafast durations.” Or, in Mr. Buchanan’s words, “likely lead to disaster.” Read More

Venture Capitalism

ff Venture Capital Quietly Raised a $27 M. Fund Last November and Has Already Invested in 23 Startups

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ff Venture Capital has been giving new meaning to word stealth mode. Tucked into an interview on TechCrunch yesterday was the news, reported for the first time, that the New York City-based seed investment firm had raised a $27 million fund last November. What’s more, it had already invested in 23 companies and expected to finish its goal of 30 to 40 companies perhaps by the end of the year.

According to ff Venture’s—the fund insists on the cummings-style “ff”—Form D filing, which sneakily offers a Roseland, New Jersey address, rather than its Midtown headquarters, the company filed an intent to raise on November, 29, 2010. Partner John Frankel says the firm was already deploying capital from the new “silver” fund even as it was raising the dough. Of the 23 investments, which includes startups like Klout, ThinkNear, Livefyre, Voxy, and Kohort, four have had up rounds. “So, it looks like performance is accelerating,” he told Erick Schonfeld in a video interview.

But ff has another feather in their cap, their previous $6.3 million fund, raised in 2008 “two months after Lehman collapsed,” as Mr. Frankel, a Goldman Sachs refugee, points out. According to him, Prequin ranked that fund, called “ff blue,” the top-performing VC fund through the end of 2010. Read More

Location Location Location

Caterina Fake’s New Startup: Pinwheel, ‘A Flickr for Places (Ish),’ Lets You Leave Notes on a Map


Last June, Flickr and Hunch cofounder Caterina Fake announced that she had raised $2 million from investors like New York’s Founder Collective, True Ventures and SV Angel with an emphasis on consumers and social. If you’ll recall, in November of 2010, Ms. Fake left Hunch, a New York City-based startup she cofounded with Chris Dixon to build a “taste graph” of the Internet, rather abruptly. Speculation was that Hunch’s pivot—away from a consumer destination site towards a platform to power other sites (it was acquired by eBay last November)—was too far out of Ms. Fake’s wheelhouse. “The things I’m good at are building communities, participatory media, places where people contribute things of their own making,” she blogged at the time. Mr. Dixon chalked it up to a “founder-market fit;” other people had other ideas.

Regardless new startup Pinwheel, which launched out of private beta last night, seems to fit her comfort zone. The app lets users “find and leave notes all around the world.” The notes, which are pinned on a specific location on a map, can be both private or shared with an individual or group, as well as organized into sets.

For example, “Every place that you told me that you loved me, circa 2008″ (one of the potential sets Ms. Fake offers) you might want to keep private. Whereas “Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW,” (another example from Ms. Fake) might be a question you pose to a group. There is, of course, a social networking element, with the opportunity to follow both friends and sets: Read More

Fresh Capital

Lady Gaga Startup Has Revenue, Raises $4.5 M. From Top Tier Investors

(David Jacobs on Mixel)

Backplane, the startup co-founded by Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter and therefore branding it as the “Lady Gaga startup” forever, has raised $4.5 million from the most elite investors in the Valley and will probably raise a series B soon. The round includes Sequoia Capital, Greylock Discovery Fund, Battery Ventures, Formation 8 and Advance/Newhouse Investment Partnership, reports the Wall Street Journal. Existing investors include Google Ventures, Founders Fund Angel, Menlo Ventures, SV Angel, i/o Ventures, and some angel investors. TomorrowVentures, Eric Schmidt’s fund, was also a seed stage investor. Read More


Booting Up: Be Evil Edition

It doesn't matter

Google has been bypassing the privacy settings of mobile Safari users [The Wall Street Journal]

Pretty soon every news outlet is going to have an annoying Facebook app just like the Washington Post Social Reader [VentureBeat]

Will OS X Mountain Lion face backlash from developers? [ExtremeTech]

Smart phones sell faster than babies are born [The Age]

Nevada establishes regulations for self-driving cars as the state prepares to become a testing ground for the new technology [TechCrunch]

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have created a computer program with an IQ of 150 [Gizmodo]