Ben Popper

Pick Ups

Fab Makes Its First Acquisition: NYC-Based Fashion Stake

From the people who brought you Gay Yelp...


The surging startup Fab is spending some of the $40 million in funding it just booked. Today Fab announced that it’s acquiring New York based startup Fashion Stake as it looks to expand its focus on its best selling category, clothing. FashionStake’s co-founders Vivian Weng and Daniel Gulati will join Fab, but beyond that terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“They are super well respected with the kind of independent designers we want to feature on Fab, so having their industry connections will be a great help,” said Fab CEO Jason Goldberg. The Fashion Stake site will fold and become part of Fab.com. But Mr. Goldberg said that they may look to incoporate elements of the company, like their crowdsourced model for voting on items to see which goes on sale. Read More

Web TV Wars

Hulu Grew 60 Percent In 2011, But Whiffed On It’s Own Predictions

Good, just not as good as you promised

Depending on where you read the coverage of Hulu’s revenue numbers, the picture of the company looks very different. Read Write Web declares that the company turned in a “pretty big year,” growing 60 percent and “raking” in $420 million in revenue. But as Peter Kafka points out at All Things D, that falls short of the $500 million Hulu CEO Jason Kilar predicted the company would make in several blog posts.

Mr. Kafka attributes the miss to rumors of soft ad sales which have been percolating for a while. Hulu also was on the chopping block for a while, then off again, then back on. And several of its partners, most notably Fox, either took away next day rights for programming or discussed the idea. All that volatility is sure to make it tough for Hulu to sell ads.  Read More


Foursquare Debuts Explore Feature For Web In Push to Become City Guide

explore for web

Foursquare is bringing its “Explore” feature to its website today, hoping that users will turn to them when planning a trip abroad or finding the perfect sushi spot for a first date.

Alex Rainert, Head of Product, foursquare: The explore feature on mobile was really about helping users discover what was going on right around them right now. The desktop interface is way better for mapping things out and making plans when you’re hoping to travel somewhere. We also think it gives a unique perspective into a place, because you don’t have to search just for a certain kind of restaurent or venue. You can look for any word or term and Explore will scan through our huge library of tips for a match. (Betabeat recommends searching “sweaty” and “bonkers” when looking for the best dance party in Brooklyn) Read More

Web TV

Boxee Joins the TMI Party With Frictionless Sharing From Facebook

Boxee bought?

If you don’t have to make a conscious decision to share something, shouldn’t it be called something else? The effort to share something is what separates it from daily life and lets your network know its worth their time. Otherwise its just sort of exhibitionist spam.

In any case, Boxee is joining the party, adding its name along Spotify and The Washington Post as part of Facebook’s new “frictionless sharing” initiative. Watch an episode of The Colbert Report and without even the click of a button this info is shared with your Facebook network. Read More

New Education for the New Economy

Coursekit Taps The Hate With #EraseBlackBoard Campaign

It's not a competition, we're just saying

During interviews with Betabeat Coursekit’s Joseph Cohen has always played down Blackboard, which currently owns 80 percent of the market for educational software. “Our business model is not to compete with Blackboard by selling software,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat. “It’s to create large audiences of students and teachers that we can then leverage for all sorts of things.”

They may not see themselves as competitors, but that doesn’t mean Coursekit can’t leverage all the ill will towards Blackboard out there. Today the company launched an ad campaign, #eraseblackboard, featuring testimonals from students who had been screwed by Blackboard. “Brian’s Chem final didn’t go as planned, so he emailed the professor to fight the grade,” reads one. “Or so he thought. Instead he sent the message to the entire class. Now everyone thinks he’s a brown-nose, and he still has a C.”

We’re a little suspicious of these students. Read More


Former HuffPo CTO Paul Berry Building New Startup and Incubator With Lerer Ventures

Tech Wiz, Poach Perfect

The news broke today that Paul Berry, the longtime CTO of Huffington Post credited with their legendary SEO and early adoption of social networking tools, was leaving the company. Betabeat has learned that Mr. Berry will be reuniting with the old gang, Ken Lerer and Jonah Peretti, as he builds out a startup called Rebel Mouse and a new incubator focused on viral and social startups.  Read More

What If...

Why Startups Fear Amazon: The Price Cut Behind The Acquisition of Quidsi

The Amazon in the room

Here’s a little interesting history  for a slow news day. We were chatting with a well respected VC about the explosion of e-commerce companies in New York. On the list of IPO hopefuls at the recent Goldman Sachs conference in Las Vegas were a number of relatively young Silicon Alley companies: Birchbox, Warby Parker and One Kings Lane. A investor we spoke with recently was kicking himself for passing on Fab.com, which has hit more than 1.5 million users and a $50 million annual revenue run rate in the span of just six months.

The social infrastructure in place on the web today means e-commerce companies can scale up very quickly. One of the big success stories that people point to is Quidsi, the parent company of diapers.com, which was acquired by Amazon for in November of last year for $545 million. But while that purchase was heralded as a big win, it’s actually a cautionary tale. Read More

The DIY Economy

Makerbot Replicator: Bigger, Better and Now Two Color

Extra extruder means more making

3D printing for the masses has always been the mission of Brooklyn-based Makerbot. Today the company unveiled the Makerbot Replicator, a souped up version of its original device. It lets users print way bigger items, we’re talking the size of a breadloaf, instead of a cupcake. And because it comes with a dual extruder it now, “supports Dualstrusion 2-color printing” (dualstrusion, fun word to say), users can now print in multiple colors and materials, opening up all sorts of new possibilities.

The company is selling its new item as the gateway to a brighter future. “Students with access to a MakerBot have an edge in the future job market. Just like the youth of the 1980’s, who had access to computers, children with access to a MakerBot Replicator™ will become the leaders who make a better tomorrow.” Bill Gates brains not included. But seriously, there is an open position for a “maker” at the NY Times R&D lab right now, and according to Vimeo founder Zach Klein, “We’re going to be seeing a lot more of that job.” Read More