Webutante Ball, Year Four

The prom of Internet Week returns to Marquee.
webutante Webutante Ball, Year Four

Mr. Pacheco and Ms. Appelwick. (Photo: Nick McGlynn)

The scene outside Marquee, a 700-some capacity club on 10th Ave. and 26th, was dramatic. Three fire engines wailed, police cars pulling up behind them, beside a long line of well-heeled public relations professionals that snaked around the block. A middle-aged man carrying a brown sack was getting into it with the bouncer. “I was invited, and this asshole…” Never attempt to gain leverage with one bouncer by berating the bouncer next to him. He will never take your side. “Who do you think you fuckin’ are?” the guest asked, before he turned and performed a pissy walk north.

A clearly-stressed Richard Blakeley was monitoring the lengthy queue. Were the fire engines related to the fourth annual Webutante Ball, a New York tradition that started as the Internet Week event where the young and webby must tweet and be seen? “No, not us,” he assured us as he ushered two sponsors into the shortlisted line.

Indeed, the fire trucks lumbered out of view as we slipped into the Marquee and past the entryway photographer. “Hey, where are you going?” we heard as we ducked past the step-and-repeat and pushed into the main room. Unidentifiable rock music thundered and we didn’t recognize a soul. Where was Julia Allison? We’d heard she was one of the judges arbitrating over who would be crowned the King and Queen of the Internet. (Answer: Communing with her shaman, apparently.)

Upstairs the crowd was thicker. In a corner, Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer was perched atop the back of a couch, the men of Thrillist around him like magnets. He introduced his “consigliere,” Eric Kramer. We were soon joined by VP of marketing John Wiseman, sporting a pair of spiffy Warby Parkers. “Some of the people in this room are younger than this club,” he offered, when we asked for a quote. Of course, that aphorism applied to the startups represented as well.

Back toward the stairs, we ran into WeWork’s Matt Shampine and Fitocracy’s Dick Talens, in a vest and noticeably bulkier than the last time we saw him. “I’m on steroids,” he said, running his fingers through his hair. Everyone laughed a little.

Attempts to elicit predictions for the King and Queen coronation yielded nothing. “I have no idea,” Mr. Shampine said. “What do you think?” asked Gary Sharma.

GroupMe’s Steve Cheney wandered by. Working at Skype is “great,” he said, and GroupMe is still run like a startup and is working on a lot of really cool stuff.

Beside us, CEO and TechStars grad Reece Pacheco was in a suit and red Converses. Mr. Blakeley approached. “We need to have a quick off-the-record conversation,” he apologized.

Betabeat politely looked the other way while the two whispered. It didn’t take long to realize what was up: Mr. Pacheco darted down to the dance floor where he joined’s brand director Lauren Appelwick. They were given tiny crowns with white faux fur and pronounced the King and Queen of the Internet. They did a short dance to “I don’t want to lose your love tonight.”

“She put them on the map,” Chloe and Isabel’s Lindsay Kaplan told Betabeat. She was speaking of the Queen.

At the bar, Mr. Pacheco was grabbing a few drinks with friends and fending off requests for photos. “Last month I was a vegetarian, this month I’m sober, and next month I’m writing a handwritten letter to someone every day,” he said. “I’m doing a new challenge every month.”

A good thing, because the King had a board meeting in the morning.

Mr. Sharma, whose fuzzy locks get longer every time we see him, had appeared again, talking to a gentleman with long dreadlocks. “Take a picture of us, with our hair!” the gentleman said.

We meandered a bit, bumping into General Assembly’s Matthew O. Brimer, who showed us pictures of graffiti in Berlin, where he had been last week and where General Assembly is opening a new campus. We bumped into digital media man Rex Sorgatz, who asked us, as always, “where have you been?”

The afterparty was at Destination Bar, Dan Maccarone’s haunt in the East Village, and Betabeat hopped in a cab with Barbarian Group cofounder Rick Webb, who speculated that the “Calacanis crowd” would be in next week for TechCrunch Disrupt. No Judah Friedlander this time.

Where was the hip crowd these days, we wondered?

“I don’t think they’re anywhere,” he said.

Destination Bar was a closed venue tonight, and the new media guard began to filter in clusters of three. “Get a drink before the open bar closes,” Mr. Maccarone said kindly. A glass of wine later, we slipped into the balmy eve. We had our own Internet Week party to get ready for.

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