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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.
College

This Startup Gets College Kids Jobs as Dildo Merchants, Liquor Evangelists, Nail Polish Bloggers

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No job description is more soul-suckingly droll than a campus work study gig — anyone who’s ever been forced to give a campus tour for minimum wage can attest to that. Unfortunately, those are often the only jobs available to students with full-time course loads and no cars.

Enter Campus Job, an online market that connects college kids to unlikely employers for part time jobs during the school year. The service officially launched earlier this month and is seeing over 1,000 new signups each week. Read More

High Tech

3-D Printed Marijuana Inhaler Lets You Up Your Dose Using Your Phone

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As the U.S. starts legalizing marijuana for recreational use, many states are dipping their toes in the water by legalizing medical marijuana. The medical clubs, in turn, have been engineering the most potent strains of cannabis in the history of dilated pupils. Well, now it looks like they get all of the best gadgets, too.

A totally chill Israeli company called Syqe has created a handheld inhaler that gives a metered dose of medical marijuana with the mission of making medical marijuana more respectable. The Syqe Inhaler will be available in Israeli hospitals by the end of the year and home use some time in 2015, but don’t get too excited: home use is still clinical, prescribed use only. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Why Brands Making Ello Profiles Doesn’t Ruin Everything, Destroy Ello

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Social network newcomer Ello has been going nuclear among people looking for a social network that helps them escape advertising and its evils. And because brands will do everything in their power to sell shit, Ello already has profiles for Netflix, Sonos and news orgs like the Wall Street Journal, the Independent, Engadget, and the Guardian.

This bring a certain confusion for people who aren’t thinking very deeply. That train of thought goes like this: Ello doesn’t sell out to brands, but brands are allowed to be on Ello? Doesn’t that go against their manifesto? Wait, Ello founder Paul Budnitz has one to promote his bicycle company? Hypocrite!

Yes, having marketers ruin everything. Hell, the reason people have flocked to Ello in the first place is escape the social network titans who are alienating every user they can for the sake of advertisers. But there’s a clear divide between Ello simply letting brands make a profile, and re-engineering their site and business model to cater to advertisers, a la Facebook. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Ello Cofounder: ‘We Have NO Exit Strategy’

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It’s been about 48 hours since interest in Ello flew off the damn charts, and the number of think pieces about its inevitable downfall is … well, expectedly enormous. Outside of the Medium.com designer circle-jerk about how unintuitive the interface is or complaints that a product in beta testings feels incomplete, most of the focus has been on Ello’s promise that they’ll never sell user data or put ads on the site. Mainly the claim is they’re either lying or just wrong, with headlines like “Ello Says You’re Not a Product, But You Are.”

The first piece of the why-Ello-is-doomed puzzle is their proposed freemium model, which many think just plainly won’t work. Instead of selling ads, data or putting up a paywall, Ello will eventually offer on-site purchases like multi-user logins, layout adjustments, or new ways of organizing your follows beyond Ello’s current Friends/Noise system. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Ello Founder Says VC Funding Is No Big Secret: ‘That’s Silly’

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Update #1: For anyone wondering when Ello will sell out, Todd Berger has gone on record with Betabeat saying that they “have NO exit strategy.”

Update #2: Brands are showing up like crazy to make profiles on Ello. Will it ruin everything Ello stands for? Nah.

The explosive new social network Ello bills itself as a safe haven for the cast aways, the artists, the anonymous — a new kind of community built around freedom of expression and lack of advertising. A social network with a manifesto that not even Valleywag can manage to be cynical about. But among many concerns about whether or not Ello can fulfills its promise is a sudden uproar about their funding.

On Ello itself, tech blogger Andy Baio wrote a post bringing to light the $435,000 seed investment from FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based VC firm. The post exploded in popularity, collecting over 13,000 views in its first hour as it was furiously tweeted with cries of betrayal. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Ello’s Traffic Deluge Almost Caused a Total New User Freeze-Out, Crisis Averted

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Yesterday, we reported that Ello, the social network with a manifesto, had suddenly gone nuclear and was pulling in 4,000 invite requests per hour. Throughout the day, as word spread that Ello was the new safe haven for people fleeing Facebook’s invasive ads and purge of non-verified users, that number ramped up to over 27,000 and then to 31,000 requests per hour.

When we spoke to Ello founder Paul Buditz late last night, he was getting off a plane and totally exhausted. Ello was facing a crisis — traffic was coming in much faster than anticipated, and the Ello team was getting ready to stop all new invites to their site.

“It seems like we’ve got a big portion of the U.S. and much of Europe all trying to get on Ello at the same time,” Mr. Budnitz told Betabeat, saying that in the morning they’d have to “turn off the spigot for a while.”

But over the course of a few frantic meetings, the tech team has decided that Ello will stay online, soldiering through the storm and letting the hype-machine rage on. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Ello Will Remain Ad-Free and Porn Friendly, Says Founder

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Update #1: Overwhelmed by the deluge of new users, Ello almost choked off all access for new members, but have gone all-hands-on-deck to keep Ello alive and soldier on through the hype.

Update #2: Brands are showing up like crazy to make profiles on Ello — here’s why it won’t ruin everything.

When we broke the news about Ello, a new social network that claims to be the safe haven from its fiendishly invasive competition, it mostly fell on deaf ears — but the past six months were nothing compared to what’s happened in the past 24 hours.

Since the sudden Facebook exodus to Ello, requests to join went from 4,000 to 27,000+ per hour, Twitter exploded with desperate requests for invites, eBay responded with an enormous black market for invites, and Ello became the fifth hottest trend on Google searches. No big deal. Read More

Anti-Social Media

Mysterious Social Network ‘Ello’ Explodes In Popularity For People Fleeing Facebook

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Update: #1 For anyone concerned about the future of Ello, they’ve assured us that the site will remain ad-free and porn friendly!

Update #2: Overwhelmed by the deluge of new users, Ello almost choked off all access for new members, but have gone all-hands-on-deck to keep Ello alive and soldier on through the hype.

Update #3: Brands are showing up like crazy to make profiles on Ello. Will it undermine everything Ello stands for? Nah.

When we broke the news of Ello’s impending launch last March, we worried it might be destined for obscurity, like the thousand other failed, would-be Facebook competitors. But the mysterious social network and anti-Facebook hideaway has suddenly exploded in popularity as Facebook has begun driving away artists, performers and the LGBTQ community.

When they started their roll-out in July, Ello got a few sign-ups from the mailing list generated from word-of-mouth buzz. Each day after, they grew twice as large, which ramped up to three times as large each day. Then, after The Daily Dot declared yesterday that “the great gay Facebook exodus” had begun, interest in Ello went nuclear. Ello’s founder told Betabeat that he’s seeing 4000 new signups each hour. People are frantically tweeting each other about Ello, and traffic on our Ello stories from six months back has exploded. Read More