Over The Aereo
Aereo, the online service that lets users livestream local channels, announced today that it will be rolling out service to Boston, its second major metropolitan area. Starting May 15, customers in the Massachusetts area who have pre-registered for the free service will start receiving their invites to try it out. On May 30, membership will available to all 4.5 million people in the Boston area.
Nearly 30 channels will be available for streaming, including the city’s network affiliates, specialty channels (i.e. PBS Kids, The Country Network) and some Spanish-language networks. The Boston market extends beyond Massachusetts and includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. Aereo has been staffing up in Boston and has several engineering job openings listed on its Career page.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, many Redditors stepped forward to help in the only way they knew how: Gathering up scraps of information from across the Internet and sitting in front of their computer screens sorting through the pile.
Unfortunately, the wisdom of the crowd turned up little beside the suggestion that a missing Brown student might be involved, an accusation that went viral. He wasn’t, and now Reddit feels really, really bad.
General manager Erik Martin has posted an actual public apology for Reddit’s part in the rumors. (Not the site’s usual m.o., to say the least.) While “the vast majority” of Redditors’ responses were positive, he said, some of the activity “fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties.”
The dirtbags who make malware are at it again. Sophos’s Naked Security blog reports that scammers are already taking advantage of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon, because they have zero sense of decency.
Scammers are sending out emails with subject lines like, ”2 Explosions at Boston Marathon,” “Aftermath to explosion at Boston Marathon,” and “Boston Explosion Caught on Video.” Inside the emails is a link to a website with the promised YouTube videos–plus a Windows virus. ”Clearly, there are no depths to which cybercriminals are not prepared to stoop in their hunt for victims,” Sophos said.
In response to questions about layoffs, Zynga emailed Betabeat an internal memo that CEO Marc Pincus sent out to staffers this afternoon. In the note, Mr. Pincus confirmed that the company cut approximately five percent of its full-time workforce today, including the shuttering of its Boston studio and mass layoffs at its Austin location.
Mr. Pincus also said that Zynga is proposing closures of its Japan and U.K. offices. In addition, the company will be sunsetting 13 of its games and reducing investment in TheVille, a Facebook game that’s facing a lawsuit from EA for looking a whole lot like a Sims game.
In the memo, Mr. Pincus wrote that he believes the cost-cutting measures will “improve our profitability and allow us to reinvest in great games and our Zynga network on web and mobile.”
The memo comes after a day of intense rumors about the flailing social gaming company filled the tech universe. Despite the fact that the news emerged during the attention-sapping Apple keynote, TechCrunch reported that the timing of the news had more to do with Zynga’s impending earnings call, scheduled for tomorrow, than with the Apple presentation.
Social gaming company Zynga has endured a rough couple of months. After its acquisition of the NYC-based company OMGPOP–producers of the fad-friendly game Draw Something–Zynga has experienced a downward spiral. Earlier this month, it reported an estimated net loss of $90 million to $105 million for its third quarter, sending its already-low stock price into a tailspin. Now, The Next Web reports that the company has laid off 100 staffers from its Austin headquarters, and may even be shuttering its Boston office altogether.
This weekend, several outlets ran an AP story about New York’s startup scene, hitting all the high points–CornellNYC, the river of VC money, the local outposts of national companies like Google and Facebook. BostInno, however, has a quibble:
There are many industries worthy of large-scale disruption, including dry cleaning and the line at Shake Shack. But one crucial industry that Betabeat forgot to mention in our list of things we wish techies would disrupt? Candy. How could we forget?
According to All Things D, a coterie of celebrities–including bus-riding Square cofounder Jack Dorsey, model Gisele Bundchen and full-time Boston tour guide Matt Damon–have teamed up to sing the praises of a new candy company. Unreal Candy purports to be a natural, non-corn-syrup alternative to the gross chemical-laden stuff that somehow still tempts you every time you enter a bodega.
Alley vs. Valley
The latest CB Insights report on venture capital investment just dropped, and we’ve spent the morning digging into the data. Local entrepreneurs might want to sit down, because this is gonna sting a little.
Overall the quarter was a big one, with 812 deals adding up to $8.1 billion. The report points out that’s the biggest single quarter since the dot com days. (And what with Digg and Yahoo dominating the headlines, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused on the year.) Seed stage investments made up 22 percent of those deals, which fits with our anecdotal sense that startups are springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.
In terms of deal volume, New York held onto the number-two spot for the second quarter in a row. A big part of that is digital: The report calls California and New York a “two-headed monster on the internet front,” and points out that “larger funding deals enable Florida and Washington to challenge Massachusetts for the #3 spot.”
Last Friday, Democratic Assemblymember Micah Kellner proposed a new tax credit to incentive investing in local startups–an area of particular interest to Mr. Kellner, whose district includes Roosevelt Island, the future home of Cornell and Technion’s applied sciences campus designed to unleash an army of developers and untold number of startups into the five boroughs.
The Angel Investor Tax Credit, which Mashable reports is currently under discussion in the New York State Assembly, would give 25 percent tax credit to investors who invest between $25,000 and $1 million in a New York City-based startup. In order to qualify, 60 percent of the startup’s employees must be based in New York. According to Mr. Kellner, similar incentives in Connecticut and Wisconsin, have seen boosts in angel investments of up to 500 percent over five years.
Some fresh data out this morning from CB Insights shows New York slipped backed behind Beantown in terms of overall venture capital. But that is largely due to the deals in biotech and medical companies that Boston did. When it comes to tech, and more specifically the web companies Betabeat covers most, New York is still second only to Silicon Valley.