App for That
Silicon Alley Smackdown One of the many tech events on rain delay because of Hurricane Sandy was the Big Apple Smackdown ping pong tournament, whose guest list included an impressive number of familiar names from the New York tech scene. (Betabeat is one of the media sponsors, so we may be a little biased.) Among the techno-athletes scheduled to play was Gilt Groupe CEO–and soon-to-be Gilt Groupe chairman–Kevin Ryan. Apparently, we missed quite a show.
The tournament was scheduled for Sunday, “and I played on Friday and on Sunday just to get ready for it!” Mr. Ryan told Betabeat. Really? “Oh yeah, because I won a tournament about a month ago.” That was an invitation-only affair for ping pong ringers at the Hamptons manse of ABC Carpet & Home’s Ken Pilot. “You had to put $100 into the pot and the winner got two-thirds of the pot, so I was pretty excited about that,” Mr. Ryan enthused.
In recent months, LOLcat emperor and Bravo TV star Ben Huh has systematically leaked handfuls of details about his news startup, Circa, to the press. Back in April, Circa raised $750,000 from a slew of investors (many of whom were named David). In May, Nieman Lab caught up with Mr. Huh at ROFLCON, where he provided buzzword-laden answers and metaphors involving newspapers and teenagers to their questions about the startup. But today, Mr. Huh’s efforts have finally solidified into a cohesive company: Circa is an iPhone app that wants to change the way readers consume news.
Circa isn’t just a news aggregator. It employs teams of editors who curate and synthesize news stories into digestible bites, optimized for reading on mobile devices. The point is to write stories that are designed exclusively for mobile, instead of repackaging stories released on other platforms and trying to fit them into a mobile setting.
After the strange initial success and eventual flameout of the Twitter-inspired sitcom, $h*! My Dad Says, it was only natural that memes got their own TV show too. LOLwork, a show about the interoffice workings of Ben Huh’s Cheezburger Network, premieres Wednesday, Novemeber 7th on Bravo. And now that memes have already been done, there’s one final frontier in Internet-inspired TV shows–the GIF.
Everyone’s new favorite medium was used to save the Olympics, as well as reinvigorate the presidential election and now it’s going to save TV too! CBS just bought the rights to a show based on the reaction GIF blog and What Should We Call Me clone site, Hollywood Assistants. The GIF has finally arrived.
Ben Huh, the CEO of Seattle-based Cheezburger Network, stood in the lobby of the Le Parker Meridien hotel on W. 56th St. peering into his phone as he uploaded a photo of a soggy Central Park snapped from the view outside the elevator. “All my friends have switched to Path,” he told Betabeat, pulling to refresh. “Twitter just has too much noise.”
Mr. Huh was in New York for a charity gala and a few business meetings on his way to the third bi-annual ROFLCon. ROFLCon is a Boston conference for “people at the center of memes and people who make their living from Internet culture, and people who are just fans,” as Mr. Huh described it. The conference consists of two days of talks and panels about subjects like GIFs, webcomics, supercuts and “lulz.”
Ben Huh, the genius behind Icanhascheezburger who has delivered cute and crazy cat pictures to the masses for years, is working on a new startup called Circa that wants to “reimagine the way you consume news.” Today, TechCrunch reports that Circa has raised $750,000 from a slew of A-list investors, including a few notable New York techies.
Redditors can now count a sitcom star among their ranks, well sort of. As we told you yesterday, a Redditor named self-prodigy started a grassroots campaign to punish GoDaddy for supporting SOPA (the draconian, Internet-destroying Stop Online Piracy Act) by urging others to switch their domains to a different provider. Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh followed suite and now it seems even newbie tech investors have joined the fray.
@aplusk just tweeted out: “I am moving my domains off of @Godaddy due to their support for #SOPA. Paul Graham is also doing the right thing (cc @paulg)”
It’s always interesting when viral content kings try to get people on the internet to take their vitamins. “Why are we still consuming news like it’s 1899?” Ben Huh, founder of the Cheezburger empire of humor sites and graduate of a prestigious journalism school (though he never worked in journalism) asked in a blog post yesterday.