After six months, news aggregator Upworthy has proven that viral videos work as a conduit for politically-relevant information just as well as, say, cats or Carly Rae Jepsen. The Chris Hughes-backed site, which describes itself as “social media with a mission,” picked up an impressive six million uniques in September according to Google Analytics, up from just over 4 million in August.
To help catapult that growth, the company has raised $4 million from the venture capital firm NEA, as well as a host of familiar angel investors, including Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and BuzzFeed cofounder John Johnson. Mr. Hughes, who is also fighting the good fight as owner of the The New Republic, reupped, participating in this round as well, the company confirmed.
“You don’t want your analytical efforts to be obvious because voters get creeped out.” Data mining in politics is harder than it looks. [New York Times]
It’s “20 under 20″ time once more! If you’ve just gotten to freshman year and you absolutely hate it and you’ve already got a good idea for something you’d like to do instead, the Peter Thiel Foundation probably wants to see your application. [TNW]
Late Friday afternoon, Gawker’s Adrian Chen released the results of his epic trollhunt: “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez.” You’ll no doubt be shocked to learn that he’s pretty much as expected. [Gawker]
It sounds like the whole matter has been one long headache for Reddit HQ, but it doesn’t seem to have made so much as a dent in Alexis Ohanian’s confidence in the world-improving powers of the Internet. [The Verge]
Sprint has agreed to sell a majority stake to Japanese telecom SoftBank–pending regulatory approval, of course. [Dealbook]
Has Microsoft finally stumbled onto a good idea? The company is launching Xbox Music, a streaming music offering 30 million songs strong. [New York Timess]
Thanks to Loosecubes, you can now work in a cutely outfitting shipping container, in Downtown Brooklyn. [Curbed]
Apple loves Daring Fireball. [Businessweek]
Mr. Ohanian goes to Washington, talks about “awesomeness.” [Washington Post]
Apple has no intention of ceding any musical ground to Internet radio, and so the company is apparently building a Pandora challenger. [New York Times]
Turns out Kansas City was very helpful with the process of building Google Fiber. [Ars Technica]
A little over 20 minutes ago, President Obama announced that he would be doing an AMA on Reddit, and the Internet promptly imploded. Within minutes of the announcement, it was confirmed by both Reddit moderators and the New York Times. Ladies, geeks and lady geeks everywhere swooned at the photo of the President stationed at his Macbook prepared to address the Reddit masses, who will undoubtedly only ask questions about weed.
Can You Digg It?
First came the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a document defending a free and open internet that would probably have moved the Founding Fathers to eye-roll, hard-core, had they been around to see it. Then there was the Internet Defense League, a collection of websites that promised to bond together in the name of the internet whenever the signal of a cat is flashed. And now? Well, now there’s a bus tour, spearheaded by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, to raise awareness about the importance of a free internet across the country.
In the winter of 2004, soon after the husks of once-great dot-com startups had dried and shriveled, a 27-year-old college dropout named Kevin Rose deployed a barebones new site, simply named “Digg.”
It was one of the first social networks in existence. Back then, the term “social networking” hadn’t shouldered its way into our lexicon yet. Facebook was a nascent, walled platform for college gossip; Google was still idly toying with its search algorithm; Twitter wouldn’t launch for another two years.
News itself was a hierarchical affair, largely produced and disseminated by trusted broadcasters and editors. Journalism’s democratizing forces hadn’t congealed, yet; bloggers weren’t sitting front row at fashion shows or making a living off of Google Ads. The idea that a community of Internet geeks could manipulate the news cycle would’ve elicited howls of mocking laughter from the Conde kingmakers.
Last night, gangs of glammed-out New York techies and science enthusiasts trekked uptown to the Rose Center for Earth and Space to take in a stunningly optimistic program presented by Gizmodo and the American Museum of Natural History. The event was planned and hosted by Gawker Media founder Nick Denton (with the help of Brew PR), who appeared so eager about the “celebration of technology and discovery” that he tweeted about it numerous times prior to the event, published a grandiose blog post on Gizmodo reveling in the glorious achievements of science, and sent out an email to attendees: “This evening should be inspiring and fun,” he wrote.
“I’ve never seen Nick so excited for a social event,” one colleague remarked.
And who could begrudge Mr. Denton his excitement? The event was everything he claimed it would be–and perhaps more, depending on how many free cocktails you indulged in. Hosted by Ellen V. Futter, the president of the American Museum of Natural History, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and Mr. Denton himself, the gathering was as swank and inspiring as expected.
Founders & Dragons
When the Techstars reality show on Bloomberg TV gets too intense (What will happen to To Vie For!?!), award-winning producer Wilson Cleveland has a solution for you. His web series Leap Year, presented by Hiscox Insurance, chronicles the personal and professional lives of several employees at a startup called C3D, which is “like Skype with holograms.” The show follows the ups (but mostly downs) of building a startup, with a wry comedic voice and plenty of inside jokes for the tech set. In fact, the show garnered so many Startupland fans that a couple of New York’s better-known tech glitterati make appearances in this season.
Today, Mr. Cleveland and the Leap Year team released an episode featuring none other than Techstars cofounder Dave Tisch, Shelby.TV cofounder Reece Pacheco, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and Change the Ratio cofounder Rachel Sklar. Quite the star-studded cast.
Though he reportedly hasn’t played Dungeons and Dragons since high school, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian tweeted today that he will be interviewed for a documentary about the fan favorite role-playing game. Mr. Ohanian, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, will have his apartment temporarily turned into a set for Dungeons & Dragons: The Documentary. As he put it, “Wee!”
The top-scoring link of all time on the social news website Reddit is a post that users were never meant to see at all. It is titled “test post please ignore,” but almost 27,000 Redditors found it so amusing that they voted it up.
That is testament to the website’s impassioned community—and their brand of dry, often geeky humor (the site’s logo is an alien, after all). But Reddit’s user base, which a recent PBS documentary pegged as 72 percent male, has wide-ranging interests. Other top posts include a link to a news item about the elderly volunteering to clean up nuclear waste in Japan following the 2011 tsunami, and a Q&A session with the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Reddit is one of the country’s most highly trafficked websites, but its general manager, Erik Martin, keeps a remarkably low profile. Most Redditors know the 33-year-old Mr. Martin solely by his username: HueyPriest.