Growing up

Fitocracy Now Has a Dick, a Wang, and a Cocken

Mr. Cocken.

Mr. Cocken.

Fitocracy, the New York-based fitness gamification startup that recently graduated from the Mountain View incubator 500 Startups, likes to hire its users. The company announced it has hired a chief product officer today, Jared Cocken, a Fitocracy user and until now, the creative director of the high-profile web design agency The Wonderfactory.

Fitocracy’s CEO is Brian Wang and its CTO is Dick Talens, so Mr. Cocken will fit right in. But besides the name coincidence, the startup just generally lucked out with the hire. Fitocracy was scouting for a designer, and Mr. Cocken had been helping them with screens for the iPhone app. “We noticed he was really really passionate about the product,” Mr. Talens told Betabeat. They didn’t have high hopes, and Mr. Talens says he’s still not sure how they managed to woo the talented Mr. Cocken. Read More

Mama I'm Coming Home

Return of the Diaspora: After a Taste of the Valley, New York Techies are Coming Home

(flickr.com/usnationalarchives)

Underlit bars and blaring techno set the scene at the Park Avenue Armory earlier this month, when a who’s who of New York’s tech scene gathered in the cavernous block-length building for the sort of startup event that bore little resemblance to the usual beer, pizza and Powerpoint office gathering. No, this was a fashion show; a nerdy fashion show, to be sure, but one with glamour and theatrics. Raise Cache, a fundraiser for the apprentice developer program HackNY, tapped local tech personalities to walk the runway outfitted in glasses from local e-prescriber Warby Parker, slacks from e-tailor Bonobos and accessories from e-jeweler Bauble Bar. Larger-than-life cartoon avatars lorded over the crowd from the DJ booth as amateur DJs spun tracks using Union Square-based streaming music startup Turntable.fm. Founders and VCs milled about in gowns, coattails, pinstriped vests, glittery tights and cowboy hats. A recording of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has been pumping his pom-poms for the New York tech scene of late, boomed out at the close of the show: “Now more than ever, [New York] is the place for to be for tech soirees!” Read More

Healthy Obsessions

The Fitocrats: How Two Nerds Turned an Addiction to Videogames Into an Addiction to Fitness

Fitocracy CEO Mr. Wang, bottom, with CTO Mr. Talens, outside the pair's office in Soho.

IT STARTED BECAUSE BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, Dick Talens was too fat and Brian Wang was too skinny. Or rather, Mr. Wang was “skinny fat,” meaning he had stick limbs and belly pooch, as the 25-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate explained to Betabeat during a recent visit to the Soho co-working space where the pair’s startup, the viral hit fitness game Fitocracy, is headquarted.

Mr. Talens and Mr. Wang sit next to each other in a sunny corner alongside their gym bags, with greasy athletic shoes tucked under their desks, an economy-sized bin of almonds and a filing cabinet of goodies such as protein powder, vitamins, oats and Splenda. Read More

Start-Ups

Seeking Angels: Fitocracy Hits 16K. Users with 6K More on Wait List [Invites]

Fitocracy founders Brian Wang and Richard Talens, flexing at Betabeat's request.

Fitocracy founders Brian Wang and Richard Talens, flexing at Betabeat’s request.

Fitocracy, which tracks workouts and turns personal fitness into a social game, has had a good six months. The two-person, bootstrapped start-up has users foaming at the mouth for invites–and we’ve got some!–and they’ve just hired a third developer to join the team working out of WeWork Labs. “Every time we’ve introduced Fitocracy to a forum community, people go nuts for invites,” co-founder Brian Wang wrote on Quora yesterday in a call for angel funding.  Read More