Google announced a campaign this morning that would allow non-developers to score a pair of Google Glass by tweeting a missive about what you’d do with the specs along with the hashtag #ifihadglass. The whole thing quickly devolved into a bunch of bad Twitter jokes. But techies, it seems, are pretty desperate to get their hands on Glass.
2012 was quite a year for the New York tech community. Several NYC startups scored monster exits, while others raised millions to up their chances of scoring a ping pong table for the office. Whether or not that hotly debated bubble bursts, we imagine 2013 will be another exciting year for NYC’s tech set. Here are some New Year’s resolutions from some of the NYC tech community’s boldest names.
The Credit Card Killers
With an ever-crowded financial tech market and companies like PayPal and Google Wallet elbowing for industry dominance, the race to kill the credit card is heating up. But among the standouts is Iowa-based mobile payment startup Dwolla, thanks to an innovative pricing structure and a growing New York presence helmed by Michael Schonfeld and Alex Taub. Dwolla has raised money from two New York venture capital firms, Union Square Ventures and Thrive Capital. (Josh Kushner, a Thrive principal, is also part-owner of Observer Media Group.)
Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, recently tried to disabuse the tech industry of its infatuation with the word ‘disruption.’ “We don’t want ‘disruption,’ where we just move things around. We want a direction. We want a purpose,” he said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, humbly suggesting the biannual conference change its name. But it’s more than just semantics. The tech sector’s claim to produce world-changing products and services often gets drowned out in a chorus of me-too companies solving problems no one ever complained about. The umpteenth nightlife-recommendations tool or empty real-time dating app can obscure the whirr of a nascent robotics sector in Manhattan or a futuristic, even revolutionary, experiment in manufacturing in Queens.
Movers and Shakers
Looks like startup non-incubator Betaworks is in a hiring frenzy. Days after announcing it had snapped up former Tumblr VP Andrew McLaughlin, the company is making news again with another Entrepreneur-in-Residence hire.
Paul Murphy, COO of Aviary, is leaving his post at the photo editing startup to join the Betaworks folks at their sweet Meatpacking office.
Million Dwolla Baby
Dang, looks like we missed a couple prime candidate from our spring Poachables list.
Alex Taub, head of business development and partnerships at Aviary–and a familiar face to anyone in the New York startup scene–just announced that he will be starting a new post in a similar role at Dwolla, the online payments company that has investors swooning for its ability to reduce costly credit card interchange fees. After much speculation, Dwolla finally announced a $5 million round in February led by Union Square Ventures, with participation from Thrive Capital* and Marc Ecko of Artists & Instigators.
The fact that Mr. Taub will be setting up a Dwolla outpost right here in New York City should settle any feathers ruffled over Silicon Prairie poaching etiquette.
Always Be Hustlin'
Business development professionals still don’t have their own noun. It’s either “I do biz dev for ____” or “she’s in biz dev” or, our favorite, “they’re biz dev folks.” Maybe business… developers? Bizzy devvers? Bizzy dev bees? Hustlers-in-chief? Someone should come up with a phrase quick, because biz dev folks are increasingly visible and sought after, and more and more job listings are asking for biz dev rockstars and ninjas.
Nowhere does the business developer shine more than at the small, scrappy startup with a million users whose revenue possibilities are basically anywhere between zero and infinity. “Business Development is a mysterious title for a little discussed function or department in most larger companies. It’s also a great way for an entrepreneur or small business to have fun, create value and make money,” the marketing pundit Seth Godin wrote in 2009. “And often it’s a little guy who can be flexible enough to make things happen.”
While biz dev is still somewhat behind the scenes, some of these players are moving into the spotlight.
Aviary has done pretty darn well for itself in the four months since launching its mobile SDK. In a blog post announcing a new version of its embeddable photo editing software for web and mobile, the puppy-obsessed startup shared some noteworthy stats. Aviary is now editing more than 10 million photos were month on mobile alone and picked up 300 partners through its API. Both in terms of unique users and edits, the company is growing at 50 percent a month.
The Aviary blog features a number of luxe screenshots of what the updated user interface, which includes enhanced speed, sleek dials, overhaul of its cropping tools, and more effects, will look like. But Betabeat spoke to Alex Taub, head of business development and partnerships, to get the full story about the upgrade, which also includes some attempts at monetization. In the meantime, if you want to start playing around with it, Pic Stitch will be the first partner to implement and go live with V2.
Pics or It Didn't Happen
Hot on the heels of their successful hack day, Aviary launched a mobile SDK today to embed their photo editing tools into mobile apps. They launched with 31 partners including Picplz, Pictour, Pixable, Piictu, Getaround, Fashism, Yumalicious, Minus and iSocialize.
“Right now it’s all about Read More
First Hand Advice
This is a guest post by Alex Taub, who leads business development and partnerships at Aviary. He blogs at alexsrandomtechthoughts.tumblr.com
So you’re stuck in NYC for the last two weeks of August (and survived the earthquake/hurricane/tornado/zombie-pocalypse). You work at a startup in business development and don’t want to be dead weight as the summer comes to an end. You could probably convince your CEO that drink-up is a totally worthwhile use of your afternoon, but be honest with yourself, all the important folks are already checking in to their favorite clam shacks out in Montauk and the Hamptons. Here is a list of five things you can do to actually be productive in the dog days of summer.