The Year Observed

Oh, Snapchat! And 2013’s Other Tech Winners and Losers

Buddies! Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Tumblr founder David Karp. (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Snapchat’s Staying Power

Despite being a picture-messaging app whose missives disappear in seconds, Snapchat made clear that it wants to stay on the tech scene for years to come.

Invented by fraternity brothers at Stanford University in 2011, the start-up is still profitless, but it hasn’t lacked for buzz in 2013—or controversy. In February, Snapchat achieved the ultimate start-up status symbol by being embroiled in a lawsuit by a spurned frenemy named Reggie Brown. He claimed that founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy stole the idea from him, in a Social Network-esque lawsuit. Read More

ATwitter

Let’s All Gawk at the Glorious Awkwardness of Twitter’s Founders at the IPO

The gang! (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Today Twitter, all primped and polished, made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was welcomed with open arms, the stock promptly popping from the initial price of $26 to $45.10. And, of course, there was a small army of photographers ready to capture every moment.

Behold, scenes from the morning–with a little color commentary from Betabeat.

Here’s Jack Dorsey, presumably counting down the moments until he can buy every piece of train memorabilia anyone’s ever even thought about putting up for sale: Read More

startup rundown

Startup Rundown: Brooklyn Tech Triangle Takes on New Startups, and Apple TV Takes on More Vampire Porn

Ultimate first-world problem solves: You can now watch True Blood on Apple TV

Brooklyn Tech Triangle welcomes new startups As New York gears up to overtake Silicon Valley in the quest for total tech domination, NYU-Poly and the New York City Economic Development Corporation have announced plans to develop a 10,000 square foot tech incubator for startups. Nestled within the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, the Clean Technology Entrepreneur Center will support 20 innovative startups “focused on solving urban challenges of sustainability, energy and resilience,” according to a statement. It’s set to open this fall on the 19th floor of 15 MetroTech. Read More

Fresh Capital

You Jelly? Jack Dorsey, Al Gore, Bono Invest in Biz Stone’s Stealth Startup

They'll also STING YOUR FACE OFF. (Photo: Flickr, Garrett Rooney)

Biz Stone’s mysterious new startup, Jelly, has just closed a Series A.

An announcement on the company’s Tumblr didn’t disclose the total amount raise, but revealed that Spark Capital raised the round, with SV Angel piling on, as well.

Also participating are several individual investors who, we can only assume, were rounded up in the parking lot of last year’s TED conference: Jack Dorsey, Bono, Al Gore, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Where Good Ideas Come From author Steven Johnson, Evan Williams and Jason Goldman, House (?!) director Greg Yaitanes, and Afghan entrepreneur Roya Mahboob. Read More

Faux Followers

Which Twitter Founder Has the Most Fake Followers?

It's meeeeee. (Photo: Straight From the A)

We wrote about the sketchy world of fake Facebook fans back in May, but the phenomenon is apparently just as rampant and shady on Twitter. To shed some light on the truth about fake Twitter followers, social media management startup Status People developed a tool that studies a sample set of 500 followers to determine what percentage of them are fake, inactive and good.

Fake followers are suspected spam bots; inactive are followers that haven’t tweeted in a while; and good are followers that are actively engaged.

Naturally, our first inclination was to plug in the cofounders of Twitter to see what their percentages looked like. Turns out they have some pretty inflated follower numbers. Read More

Commenting Wars

Branching Out: How Josh Miller Went From Princeton Dropout to Alley Darling in Just Nine Months

Big day for Josh Miller. (joshm.co)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Josh Miller, the precocious 21-year-old Princeton dropout behind Branch, one of tech’s most buzzed-about new startups, took The Observer on a tour of the Obvious Corporation, a growing operation helmed by the cofounders of Twitter that advises and invests in an elite set of fledgling tech companies, Branch among them.

The San Francisco office radiated industrial California coziness, with tall windows and exposed pipes, dark grey walls and a fridge overflowing with Vitamin Water. Mr. Miller, who is tall and insouciant, with the laid-back linguistic tenor of one who spent his childhood in Santa Monica, bustled about the office, seemingly unthreatened by the fact that he is both much younger and less experienced than the majority of Obvious employees.

“Check this out!” he called from a breezy conference room with a panoramic view of downtown San Francisco. He pointed to a wet bar fully stocked with top-shelf bottles. “You know, I’m just out of college, so sometimes I’m, like, afraid to drink any of this because it’s so expensive! It’s like, where’s the Franzia?” he joked, referring to the cheap boxed wine favored by destitute college students. Read More

Office Space

Inside the Super Secret Obvious Corporation HQ

6 Photos

The view from one of the conference rooms.

Not much is known about the Obvious Corporation, the new-ish, incubator-ish company that’s the brainchild of Twitter cofounders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Their website is sparse and coy: the only companies that they are publicly known to be working with are Lift, a social network for human potential, and dialogue platform Branch. They also announced this week that they’d invested in Neighborland, a site that seeks to create meaningful connections between neighbors.

The Obvious Offices are located in downtown San Francisco, near the Powell St. BART stop, just around the corner from the Apple store, which is convenient because everyone at Obvious uses Apple products. Macbook Airs, iPads, Magic Mice and Apple wireless keyboards: Tim Cook would not be disappointed. Read More