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Jack Smith IV

Jack is a reporter covering tech business in NYC, Silicon Alley founders and funding, trends in tech innovation and venture capital investment.
Digital Publishing

Vox Media May Open Their Coveted CMS To the Wider WordPress-Plagued World

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Every blogger, writer and reporter has a love/hate relationship with their content management system. If your professional life belongs to WordPress, for example, the woes of formatting overkill and half a dozen SEO fields have no doubt caused you to look up to the sky and ask: why isn’t there a better way?

Vox Media, the network of mostly profitable news sites that includes The Verge, SB Nation, Curbed and Vox, has its own coveted in-house system called Chorus. In a recent post about the future of blogging, Vox Media Editorial VP Lockhart Steele hinted that Vox could be preparing to open Chorus up to the rest of the publishing world: Read More

Money Money Money

Former Bond Villain Builds Personal Submarines For International Billionaires Like Richard Branson

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As Graham Hawkes describes it, he was sitting in the front seat of what is basically an underwater sports car when he was ambushed by a great white shark. He’d recognized the shark’s behavior as a territorial challenge, and wanted to pull away, but unfortunately he had business magnate and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson riding shotgun.

“I remember Richard saying ‘Get closer, get closer!’ and I thinking ‘I’m not going to face down a great white shark,'” Mr. Hawkes told Betabeat. Read More

Kickstart or Kill

This Is the Most Bizarre Crowdfunding Video We’ve Ever Seen

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At Betabeat, we consider ourselves connoisseurs of the Kickstarter horror story. Usually, the strange videos we’ve come across have been poorly made home videos — honest attempts by clueless civilians. Sometimes though, you find that perfect marriage of high production value and complete WTFness.

The crowdfunding video for a productivity app called Wimble looks like Barney Stinton’s video resume meets The Room. In it, a Finnish man wearing all black errthang is chased through an urban dystopia by a swarm of flying clocks before discovering the almighty Wimble. Read More

Going Viral

Media and Tech Companies Are Weirdly Obsessed With This Team Management App

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When we think of something “going viral,” usually the first association is videos of pandas sneezing and clicky BuzzFeed listicles, not office management software. But a program called Slack is sweeping through media and tech companies, mostly because people who leave Hipchat and Gmail to try it out become major converts, and can barely shut up about it.

In only one year, Slack has become the go-to for teams at the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb, HBO, eBay, Gawker Media, Medium, BuzzFeed, PayPal, and dozens of other companies that are just as impressiveRead More

Social Network of No

Social Network Is Powerless to Prevent ISIS From Using it to Recruit, Organize

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App creators are often surprised by how people end up using their creations. Unfortunately for *diaspora, a hands-off social network that allows people to control their own decentralized groups, their software is being used by terrorists.

Terrorist organization ISIS has now fled other social networks to the aptly named diaspora*, a company that, by its own admission, can’t actually kick anyone off of their network. diaspora* has responded by publishing a blog post advising their citizen moderators how to deal with accounts that could belong to terrorist organizations:

diaspora* is a completely decentralized network which, by its nature, consists of many small servers exchanging posts and messages. There is no central server, and there is therefore no way for the project’s core team to manipulate or remove contents from a particular node in the network (which we call a “pod”). This may be one of the reasons which attracted IS activists to our network.

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Crowd Power

Accused Indiegogo Scammer: ‘I Do Not Own a Ferrari’

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When backers of the Kreyos smartwatch Indiegogo campaign were promised a cutting edge wearable and received an inferior, junk product, they were upset and confused. When they saw pictures of Kreyos founder Steve Tan with a Ferrari, they felt totally cheated.

After seeing our reporting on the Kreyos disaster and similar dubious campaigns, Indiegogo reached out to Kreyos and encouraged the company speak out. This morning, Mr. Tan himself went to the official Kreyos Facebook page to issue his response. Read More

Kickstart It

There’s a Kickstarter For a Documentary About People Addicted to Kickstarter

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Anyone with Facebook knows what it’s like to be solicited by some annoying friend for a Kickstarter campaign to fund their upcoming album or MFA film thesis. But beware: it turns out that sometimes, that spirit of charity can give way to compulsively giving money to every campaign that needs it.

Backers” is a possibly upcoming documentary about compulsive crowdfunders by Ana Barredo, a filmmaker and production manager. She originally set out to take a look at why people give money to crowdfunding projects in general, but stumbled upon a subset of users who seem unable to stop donating to hundreds of campaigns at a time. Read More

Better Advertising Bureau

NBC Rejects Porn Site Jasmin.com’s Emmy Awards Ad

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Quick: what do you think is the top adult entertainment brand in the world? Playboy? Hustler? PornHub? Turns out, it’s none of the above. That throne belongs to Jasmin.com, a lesser-known camming site that has grown to pull in nearly a million dollars in revenue every day.

That little known fact could remain a secret as long as major cable networks have anything to say about it. Jasmin.com has been denied from running a relatively tame advertisement during the upcoming Emmy Awards. Megan Morahan of NBC Universal’s ad sales team told them:

I ran your spot by our standards group, and unfortunately we cannot accept advertising for Jasmin.com.

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