Power Literary Hire: Twitter cofounder Ev Williams’s new publishing tool, Medium, just added an impressive member to its team. Kate Lee, a former literary agent from International Creative Management (ICM), has joined Mr. Williams’s startup as the director of content. Ms. Lee was responsible for plucking several bloggers out of obscurity and giving them book deals. The Observer announced her leave from ICM back in April. In a blog post on the site, Mr. Williams described her job as “encouraging, soliciting, commissioning, and contextualizing interesting ideas, authors, and institutions” and noted that she would be building a small team in New York to help her do that.
Branch Finally Lets You Hang Out With Your Friends: Branch, the social conversations site, just launched a groups feature yesterday. In an email to Betabeat, Branch cofounder Josh Miller described it as “Branch’s equivalent of a Follow button.” The idea was inspired by the conversations that people have at dinner parties, in which smaller groups form to discuss topics that they care about. On Branch, these groups can be added into a conversation. Branch’s example site includes a group featuring Mr. Miller, Medium’s Ev Williams, John Borthwick from Betaworks, Michael Sippey from Twitter and Facebook’s Sam Lessin. These groups have a possibility to create Bloods and Crips-like warfare in tech. Choose sides wisely.
After the Storm
Many startups are able to work remotely with just a laptop and a working Internet connection–though good luck finding one right now. But for ecommerce companies focused on pushing products out into the real world, “just ship it” is taking on a whole new meaning. Between extensive power outages and three days without a functional subway, the disruption is likely to last through the week.
“Eccommerce companies are lucky since we don’t have physical stores–we can handle a break pretty easily,” said Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan. “We are a little bit like an airplane,” he added: “you can turn off the engine for a little bit and there is no problem–if you turn off the engine for a while it is a disaster, but a few days is not a big problem.”
That doesn’t mean recovering from Sandy has been painless, though.
Non Hustlers Need Not Apply Lerer Ventures is looking to hire a new analyst. The job requires one or two years of experience at a venture backed startup or major tech company. You have to also be “a sweet and cool person,” so no mean losers need apply. According to the listing, they’re looking for “A hustler and/or hacker who works smart.” We’re sending this to Cassidy right away.
Playing Hooky Not Cool On Friday, AT&T and NYC Digital will kickoff a hackathon designed to help Mayor Bloomberg’s Truancy Task Force. Designers and coders will be given the challenge to create a mobile app to keep kids in school. The first prize is pretty sweet and includes $2,500 in Gift Cards for the team to split, a $5,000 donation from AT&T to the team’s choice of non-profit organizations, and one year of the ”Small” service from Github for each team member. No word on whether college dropouts are allowed to compete.
No Sleep ‘Til Back in July, Betabeat revealed that Williamsburg-dwelling coworking space The Yard would be launching a General Assembly-like roster of classes–and at “Brooklyn prices,” no less. Well, the curriculum site is now live, with a full list of offerings. Examples include iOS app development for beginnings and Intro to Makerbot. A course on Kickstarter makes the joke about would-be creators of mason jar cocktail shakers almost too easy.
Your Digital Newsstand Now live: DuJour, an ultra-luxe magazine targeted to the rich and fabulous. Glossy photo shoots are all well and good, but DuJour hopes to distinguish itself by thoroughly integrating print and digital–meaning readers can finally click through to featured items that strike their fancy. Giving the pub a long leg up: A partnership with Gilt Group, which’ll allow the magazine to launch with a subscriber base of three million.
Master merchandiser Rachel Shechtman is treating the launch of her new store not unlike the launch of a startup. To that end, the stealth shop, which was hidden behind an installation by the artist JR, launches today at 144 Tenth Avenue at 19th Street, “in beta” with the e-commerce component to follow in February.
“I kind of geek out around new business models and I think the future of the physical retail environment are gonna become less about consumption and more about content and community, so that’s what we’re doing.” said Ms. Shechtman, who founded her own retail consulting group Cube Ventures in 2003, and has offered an amalgam of marketing, merchandizing, and business development to clients like Gilt Groupe, Tom’s Shoes, Bliss Spa, and AOL.
“The concept,” she explained, “Is a space that has a point of view like a magazine, but it changes like a gallery and it sells things like a store.”