Dwolla*, the Des Moines-based payment platform that has a strong presence in NYC, announced today that it has received a $16.5 million Series C investment led by venture capital behemoth Andreessen Horowitz, with contributions from NYC firms Thrive Capital* and Union Square Ventures. The fresh funding will allow Dwolla to double its staff of 40 to 80 and open a third office in San Francisco, according to The Next Web. Andreessen partner Scott Weiss will be joining Dwolla’s board.
Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about Foursquare, the New York-based check-in and recommendations app that was the breakout darling of SXSW 2009.
Former Square COO Keith Rabois recently engaged in a very public dustup with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley on Twitter, tweeting that only a “Hail Mary Bebo-style acquisition will bail you out.” In January, data and research company PrivCo predicted that the startup will fail by the end of the year, eventually surrendering to an acquisition price of no more than $50 million (though the analysis didn’t account for mobile traffic). In November of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that investors were “cooling” on Foursquare. “The company claims more than 25 million registered users, but only about 8 million of them use the app at least once a month,” it wrote.
The Wall Street Journal has unearthed more details about the Silicon Valley political advocacy group first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.
Mark Zuckerberg–fresh off his fundraiser for Republican governor Chris Christie!–is working on launching the group, along with his close friend Joe Green, a former Harvard University roommate. Mr. Green was previously involved with NationBuilder.com and Causes.com and is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz. (As we noted last fall, founder Marc Andreessen himself contributed exclusively to a number of Republican campaigns, after previously supporting Clinton-Gore.)
But the tech and Republican connections don’t stop there.
Teach Me How to Startup
Mark Zuckerberg is hardly the first billionaire turned off by the antics of Rap Genius cofounder Mahbod Moghadam. As Betabeat learned while reporting a feature on the startup’s $15 million investment round from Andreessen Horowitz, Mr. Moghadam’s career in tech began only after he yapped his way out of an internship with Warren Buffet.
In the midst of the recession, Mr. Moghadam was given a year off–with reduced pay–from the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf. Only Berkshire Hathaway found his personal blog, Beneficent Allah, where he wrote a satirical billable memo referencing the “Ballstate Insurance Company.” Allstate was a client of Dewey’s, the offer was rescinded and long story short, Mr. Moghadam now gets to dine with Nas.
Real Genius Andreessen Horowitz invested $15 million in Rap Genius to help its Ivy League cofounders to annotate the Internet. But how much will they have to pay to rein in the braggadocious Mahbod Moghadam?
In a recent issue of Wakefield, a newsletter covering “tech and startup insight not captured elsewhere,” Maboo was up to his old shenanigans, volunteering information about a “feud” with Mark Zuckerberg, who also happens to be backed by Andreessen Horowitz.
Apparently, Mr. Moghadam was at Ben Horowitz’s home, “chilling” with Zuck and Nas as is the new mode of Silicon Valley socializing. (Mr. Horowitz happens to be close friends with Steve Stoute, Nas’ former manager.) Despite Zuck’s heightened privacy concerns (it’s complicated?) Rap Genius cofounder couldn’t resist Instagramming his good fortune.
Twitter attempted to have a conversation about race and the tech industry yesterday. The loudest voices? White men on either side of the argument shouting each other down. What got obscured along the way was just how much pattern-matching plays into the lack of diversity in the tech industry and the people who cover it and how that holds all of us back.
They almost made Jamelle Bouie’s point for him.
In a feature for The Magazine, Mr. Bouie examined why the mastheads of tech blogs like The Next Web, The Verge, Engadget and Gizmodo were overwhelmingly white and male. Rather than “overt racism,” he found a prohibitive combination of dependence on unpaid internships–and the network effect of a wired boys club whose members sometimes seem to be talking solely for each other’s benefit.
Marc Andreessen talks fast. And so when the Andreessen Horowitz co-founder sat down for a conversation with The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at Dealbook’s Opportunities for Tomorrow conference, he covered a lot of ground, from the fiscal cliff to higher education, the future of English majors, newspapers and self-driving cars, and other topics our fingers weren’t fast enough to keep up with.
Nintendo is releasing a Wii Mini on December 7th, just in time for the holidays. [The Verge]
Startup incubator Y Combinator has announced a VC program, allowing YC students access to guidance and an $80,000 investment from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst. The program will replace the Start Fund. [Y Combinator]
First we worried that tech sites were turning into press release regurgitation factories; now it turns out some of those press releases aren’t even true. Here’s how PRWeb helps distribute fake and sketchy press releases. [Search Engine Land]
Tumblr has broken into the top 10 sites in the U.S. with a worldwide audience of 170 million people. [Tumblr]
Don’t worry: the Pentagon says a human will always decide if a robot kills you. Feel better now? [Wired]
Kickstarter is being sued for patent infringement over a $3 million 3D printing project. [The Daily Dot]
Exit This Way
Earlier today, serial entrepreneur and investor Chris Dixon made it official. The cofounder of SiteAdvisor (acquired by McAfee) and Hunch (acquired by eBay), who invests both personally and through Founder Collective, will be decamping our fair city for sunnier shores to join Andreessen Horowitz as the Sand Hill Road powerhouse’s seventh general partner. We spoke with Mr. Dixon by phone shortly after the announcement was made to find out what it means for the many ventures he’s involved in here (like eBay’s massive new Flatiron R&D lab, which is slated to house 200 developers and data scientists).
Don’t hold your breath for an East Coast outpost, as cofounder Marc Andreessen emphasized earlier, his is a “single office firm.” In fact, based on the tenor of our questions, Amy Grady, a representative from Andreessen Horowitz who was also on the call, wanted to assure us Mr. Dixon’s hire was about more than just geography. “We didn’t hire Chris just because of New York. It’s a huge bonus, he’s obviously really tapped in, but if we find an entrepreneur with a great idea in Idaho, we’ll invest!”
Silicon Prairie, start your pitch decks.