Adventures in Venture Capital
Airbnb Is a Belieber Early this week, CEO Brian Chesky tweeted out a photo of Justin Bieber, whose startup cred apparently extends to Airbnb renter. The Instagram shot was taken by Mazy Kazerooni, cofounder of #DominateFund, Ben Parr’s still hush-hush, celebrity-focused micro-VC. Gee, wonder who their LPs are?
Friday flashback This week the revamped Digg got an unexpected celebrity thumbs-up: Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit fame (infamy?) tweeted at developer Robert Tolar Haining, “I love Digg. Great job and beautiful interface.” “Why thank you sir!” Mr. Haining replied, because what else are you going to say when Fred Durst compliments your UI?
Exit Through the GIF Shop
Yesterday, word leaked that former Mashable editor Ben Parr is launching a seed stage VC fund targeted at celebrity investors. The cofounders of Tracks.by, a platform for music artists, are also partners in Mr. Parr’s fund. The tech world, as it’s wont to do, erupted into a collective scoff: A star-studded investment firm helmed by a “disgraced” journalist, who was fired for blabbing about his salary, doesn’t sound like the stuff of Sand Hill Road.
Unwilling to let an opportunity for backseat quarterbacking pass them by, tech bloggers immediately swooped in to offer their analysis of Mr. Parr’s newest venture.
Monday night, Betabeat headed downtown for a new twist on presidential debate punditry. Rather than merely wisecracking, drinking or even live-blogging, Internet types assembled for something new this election cycle: a “live GIF off” of the proceedings, arranged by Tumblr and Livestream.
Our destination was 111 8th Avenue, most famously Google’s New York HQ but also the home to Livestream, our hosts for the evening. Normally an office, the space had been transformed into a multimedia hub, with screens scattered throughout, streaming feeds from both the debate and (so meta) the event itself.
Pop quiz: what’s more bubblicious than a Silicon Valley party featuring a monkey that will pose for Instagram photos? A Las Vegas party featuring the founder of Instagram, of course. And here you thought the good times ended when Kozmo’s CEO jumped off his grand piano in 2000.
This past Saturday, Kevin Systrom spun a set at Rain nightclub at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, which was covered by TMZ. Before you insert an eyeroll emoji, please refer to this curtain-opener in Vegas Seven recounting Mr. Systrom’s teenage years selling vinyl records to Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk.
AllThingsD‘s Mike Isaac insists, “I spoke to a few people who are attending and they tell me that not only is it a fun Vegas road trip, but that Systrom is a legitimately talented DJ,” expressing some remorse about not attending.
Good news, Silicon Alley denizens. After much demand from fellow gossip-mongers, Betabeat has decided to resurrect your favorite recurring Friday feature. Welcome back to Rumor Roundup! Overheard a juicy tidbit about impending departures or imminent acquisitions? Dying to dish about startup blunders or frothy financing? Holler at your girls: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SUN SOMETIMES SETS ON THE AOL EMPIRE Multiple sources have told Betabeat that AOL Ventures plans on shutting down QLabs–the press-shy experimental think tank in Soho located at 670 Broadway. “The time frame must be darn near immediate,” one source told Betabeat, alluding to some urgency around winding down existing projects. “It’s dead,” said a source with indirect knowledge of the decision. “Their funding ran out,” the second source added, speculating that the initiative had a set funding size, but “nothing yielded.”