When you write about tech, invites to startup launch parties promising logo stickers and an open bar are pretty much an everyday occurrence. But you aren’t usually promised that Pharrell Williams will be performing.
Such was the scenario at last night’s launch party for YPlan, an app that got its start in London and is available in NYC starting today. Pharrell is an advisor to the app; cofounder Rytis Vitkauskas said he signed on after many of the artist’s uber-chic London friends recommended its services. Mr. Vitkauskas added that the 10-month-old app is already on 15 percent of London’s iPhones.
YPlan is meant to solve two problems: filling seats at events, and giving its users something to do at the last minute. It connects users with available face-value tickets up to 48 hours beforehand, with prices ranging from free to $500 or more. YPlan takes a slice of each sale, and the events offered range from overpriced bottle service to Arrested Development Bingo.
Mr. Vitkauskas, a chill Lithuanian gent, started his first company at the tender age of 14, building personal computers and selling them in his native country. He met YPlan cofounder Viktoras Jucikas on a basketball court in college, then did three years at London VC firm Summit Partners. He was finally inspired to strike out and start YPlan when he couldn’t find anything do via Google in San Francisco one night. He and Mr. Jucikas started planning the app last June, launched it in London in November with 17 employees, and now employ 45 people on both continents.
Anyway, enough numbers. Here are the deets on the party:
It was held in the dark but swank basement at Finale on Bowery. Dudes sported button-downs and skinny ties. At one point, a dozen or so models strolled by in a long line like tall, pouty ducklings. We also noticed someone who kind of looked like Emily Ratajkowski of “Blurred Lines” video fame. Upon checking Getty this morning, Betabeat learned that, yes, that was Ms. Ratajkowski. Also in attendance: David Schwimmer, Kelly Rutherford, Adrienne Bailon, none of whom we recognized. Guess this reporter isn’t so good at spotting stars in the flesh, huh?
But we are good at spotting Vine celebs. We picked Jerome Jarre out of the crowd almost immediately upon arrival. Mr. Jarre is the jolly Frenchman who displays his brand of guerrilla comedy to 2.4 million followers on Vine, approaching strangers in the NYC streets to ask them weird questions and generally freak them out. We chatted about our mutual obsession with Vine, Muzzy‘s effect on Franco-American relations, and Mr. Jarre’s startup, GrapeStory, which connects influential Viners with brands so that they can get paid to make six-second movies. Nice work if you can get it.
Realizing Pharrell would be performing soon, Betabeat secured a spot close to what appeared to be the proscenium–a little platform in front of the DJ booth. We were tickled to learn we’d guessed right when Pharrell materialized before our eyes and began to sing “Frontin’.” His outfit: fedora, denim capris, shiny patent-leather oxfords, and not one but two tops, including an unbuttoned dark blue polka-dotted number that nonchalantly flapped in the breeze. Somehow, it worked, but everything works when you’re Pharrell, right?
He must’ve noticed our excitement at the performance, for he stuck his microphone in our face and allowed us to sing a few bars of “Blurred Lines,” among others. Well, it felt like singing, but there was an open bar, so who knows. He also performed “Get Lucky,” Beautiful,” and “Can I Have it Like That.” That last one prompted a Gwen Stefani solo stuff k-hole this morning, so thanks for that, Pharrell.
Betabeat ducked out moments after Pharrell’s performance ended. It was a school night, for Pete’s sake. All in all, though, it wasn’t a shabby way to kick off the weekend one night early.