A (literal) letter to the editor: When Betabeat freelancer David Shapiro wrote a damning review of the new BlackBerry Z10, saying that people would think less of you if you opted for it over an iPhone, we expected to receive some angry feedback. What we did not expect, however, was to receive a real paper letter, mailed to our offices, lamenting the “hugely irritating and pompous and dumb and plain silly” post. We suppose it’s appropriate, however, that such an impassioned BlackBerry user would take to the mailbox instead of email–does email even work on that thing? (JK)
The Chat-rooming Classes Today, seemingly every tech reporter in the business tuned into Jason Calacanis‘s “This Week in Startups,” presumably in the hopes that Mr. Calacanis would tell all re: the allegations of abuse against Michael Arrington. But as familiar names chattered away in the chat room, Mr. Calacanis had little to say beyond comparing himself to Obi Wan. That would make Mr. Arrington Anakin Skywalker, of course; Mr. Calacanis said he taught him how to be powerful in media, and “I regret that.”
As for the allegations themselves, Mr. Calacanis was quick to say he wouldn’t be commenting on whether they were true, citing his lack of direct knowledge. (He did, however, openly discuss the time that Mr. Arrington called a PR honcho “the c-word,”
thereby outing someone who’d never mentioned the incident publicly!) [Correction: Mr. Calacanis first mentioned the incident and the PR exec (Brooke Hammerling) by name in the comments of his Facebook post, prompting Ms. Hammerling to confirm the story, also in a Facebook comment.] All in all, it sounds like he (kinda sorta) regrets getting involved. He apparently thought writing a Facebook note wouldn’t go very far. “I thought that that would be a place where it just lived there,” he said. (Paging Randi Zuckerberg!) “I got a little P.T. Barnum in me and I feel like me commenting on all this stuff actually detracts from it,” he added.
Email Press Release Factory
All roads lead to Silicon Alley, or so it seems these days. You have your Wall Street quant to founder to investor route, your hedge fund to VC route and the Goldman Sachs to seed stage variant. There’s the standard McKinsey analyst to cofounder path, and then the rarer pivot from real estate sales to serial entrepreneur to co-working impressario. We’ve watched the leap from TV news producer to founder. What’s to stop them when even tech bloggers with big swagging … talent at picking companies are crossing the table to get to the other side.
One path you don’t see very often, however, is public relations to angel investing, which is a trajectory Dorothy Jean, vice president at Brew Media Relations, is choosing to pursue with the launch of Liberty City Ventures. Over macaroons in the Flatiron District last week, Ms. Jean–a familiar, smiling presence in startup circles–told Betabeat the fund has raised an undisclosed sum from private investors and already made a couple of investments.
Internet startups are rapidly earning—nay, fortifying—their reputations as engines of the economy, veritable job-growing trees, the answer to the nation’s loss of its manufacturing sector and attendant morale. And while it’s not exactly true that web startups make jobs rain down from the sky, it is true that startups create jobs with even the most modest success. Raise a seed round, and suddenly you, your cofounder and a lawyer have work. Raise more money and the effect is amplified.
“I’m not looking to be a PR firm,” Brooke Hammerling, founder of Brew Media Relations, a boutique agency that represents tech startups, said a few weeks ago from her company’s sunny Soho offices. “When I interviewed for jobs at PR agencies, I was given personality tests,” she said. “Seriously, that’s what large agencies do—to see if you’re a dolphin or an owl.” Ms. Hammerling, a vivacious blonde with a raspy laugh and doll-like features, called back to the young women sitting in two rows of desks behind iMac monitors. “What was the test called, the Myers-Briggs?” They giggled in the affirmative. At the neckline of her black silk dress, Ms. Hammerling had the ruddy glow of someone unafraid to spend time in the sun.
“They put you in a room and give you a topic to write a press release about and give you 30 minutes and boom you’re judged on that,” she continued. “And that’s not really how I think of PR.” Ms. Hammerling likes to think of Brew’s services as more strategic. Along with the help of her business partner Dena Cook, who is based in Los Angeles, Brew has represented a striking number of recent success stories to emerge from the tech scene, particularly in New York.
Class Is in Session
When the news broke yesterday evening that Skype acquired hometown start-up GroupMe, New York’s digerati took the party to Twitter. Indeed the acquisition and its hefty price tag, which Betabeat’s sources pegged between $50 million and $100 million, caused such a stir among a certain swath of tech circles that “GroupMe” even made into a New York City Twitter trending topic last night–albeit below penetrating questions plaguing tweeters such as, “Chris Brown OR Justin Bieber.”
The deal was the first major exit for Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital and BoxGroup’s David Tisch, so much of the tweeting action consisted of ebullient pats on the back. But a few notes of skepticism arose from the din. In case you were too busy watching Libyan rebels end a 40-year dictatorship, here’s what you missed.
Dear Josh – I run a really successful daily deals site, imagine a Groupon for the aging hipster set. Problem is, a bug in our latest feature release exposed a bunch of user’s emails and personal shopping history to everyone. Now we’re getting chewed up on the blogs for the privacy breach! What should I Read More