Venture Capitalism

Former First Round Capital Principal Charlie O’Donnell Launches Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a Seed Stage Fund

via BrooklynBridgeVentures.com

On his blog this morning, New York City tech stalwart Charlie O’Donnell announced the creation of a new seed investment fund called Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Mr. O’Donnell, who used to bike the 9.2 miles from his home in Bay Ridge to his last job—principal at First Round Capital in Union Square—says his is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn and that the borough “has the potential to be the very best place in the world to start a technology business.”

Business Insider‘s sources say Mr. O’Donnell’s fund will be $10 million. Betabeat has heard somewhere in the range of $10 million to $20 million and that Quotidian Ventures might be his first big LP, although Mr. O’Donnell would not return earlier calls to confirm. We have reached out to Quotidian and will update the post when we hear back. Read More

the startup rundown

Startup News: Black Techies Meetup is Tonight

Mr. Wanamaker.

DIVERSITY. Black Techies Meetup is tonight. “This meetup exists because I was damn tired of being the only black person at other tech meetups,” says Tumblr dev Kyle Wanamaker. “We aim to be a network of developers in NYC interested in becoming better, learning from each other and networking. Developers of all skill levels are welcome, from experienced hardcore, neckbeard hackers, to n00bs. If you want to be awesome, or more awesome, I hope you can find yourself at home here.” 7 p.m., at Tumblr’s HQ. Read More

BE SEEN WITH CAFFEINE

The Great Coffee Shop Boycott

Coffee Shop (Will M., foursquare.com) vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W., foursquare.com)

Coffee Shop (Will M., foursquare.com) vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W., foursquare.com)

The Coffee Shop in Union Square, located on the bustling corner of 17th St. and Union Square West, is famous for several things: the waitresses are models, it turns into a Brazilian dance club on the weekends, was voted Best Bar for Modelizers in the Village Voice, and New York says it boasts a “high risk of poor service and unpleasant encounters with attitudinal (but often pretty) people” but praised the crayons and puzzle place mats for kids. This noisy, WiFi-less den is famous for something else within the tight-knit community of Silicon Alley: it serves as the de facto meeting place for VCs and founders such as Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and IA Ventures’ Roger Ehrenberg. “Pitch your startup to First Round Capital here. They’re right across the street,” says the Foursquare tip left by Charlie O’Donnell.  Read More

Girl Problems

Charlie Hit On Me! One Silicon Alley VC’s Quest for Love and Other Startups

Illustration by Paul Kisselev.

Charlie O’Donnell has long eyelashes, an athletic build and a shiny shaved head: a 32-year-old in his prime working at one of the most highly-respected startup investment firms in New York, First Round Capital. The kayaking enthusiast and devotee of the fitness Bible The 4-Hour Body is known to broadcast his nine-mile cycling commute on Twitter, where he goes by @ceonyc, a reference to his initials.

A power networker, Mr. O’Donnell has made himself a fixture at tech parties in search of the next Mark Zuckerberg, or as it were, the next Margaret. Trouble is, he’s also looking for the next Mrs. O’Donnell.

“For men, if we are single, any single female that we are hanging out with has the potential, at least at first, to be a potential date,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote in 2004 on his popular blog, This Is Going To Be Big. “But for girls, you never really know. You can be doing all of the dating type stuff… showing interest, asking them out, etc… and they’ll seemingly go along with the whole thing, until the point that you’re sitting across from them and you realize, ‘Hey… wait a second… this isn’t a date at all!’”

Business and pleasure often mix in the Silicon Alley startup scene, where investors are known to karaoke with their portfolio companies. By now, everyone knows a pitch and a drink can be one and the same—but what about a pitch and a date? With more women on the tech scene, uncertainty is increasingly common.

“I once scheduled a meeting with someone and it turned out to be a date,” one well-connected female techie told Betabeat. That someone was Mr. O’Donnell. One female founder was “asked out to dinner on the pretense of it being a meeting, but it turned out to be a date” with a local venture capitalist, who followed up with an extended series of flirtatious text messages. That man also turned out to be Mr. O’Donnell. In fact, Mr. O’Donnell’s name came up repeatedly in the course of reporting a more general story about women in tech.

Even so, there are far more nefarious scoundrels on the scene. Betabeat heard some stories of other investors that sounded like fodder for Mad Men. “I’ve even heard of VCs trying to sleep with their potential female investees,” said one female founder who used to live in New York and now lives in the Bay Area. “Pretty sketchy stuff.” One woman who organizes tech events said she was stalked for years by a consultant who stopped only after her brother intervened; one female founder met with a Silicon Valley investor who followed up with an invitation to his hotel room via a midnight text message—“and he was married!” Read More

Startup News: Skillshare Creep! Forrst Recruiting! And Happy Birthday Wanderfly

forrst

SKILLSHARE EVERYWHERE. Skillshare had two big announcements yesterday: 1) the democratized education platform is available in “every major city” in the U.S. now, and 2) CEO Mike Karnjanaprakhorn has been named one of 12 TED fellows in 2012.

FORRST RANGERS. The developer community Forrst has started posting jobs. Bring it on, Stack Overflow.

SAVE AMIT. The campaign for Amit Gupta continues! Upcoming: bone marrow drive in Delhi and swabbing party in Somerville and much, much more.

DREAM TEAM. New Work City is joining forces with the hackers of NYC Resistor to cross-promote events. Synergy!

XX INNOVATION LUNCH. “I’m super psyched for my lunch this Friday,” Charlie O’Donnell wrote in his newsletter this week.  “Marissa Campise from Venrock and Sarah Tavel from Bessemer are co-hosting a lunch with me for up and coming women entrepreneurs to get a chance to meet venture investors.” Read More

Hyperlocal

Where NY Tech’s Culture Comes From (and Why We Owe Amit Gupta Our Bone Marrow)

Mr. Gupta

This is a guest post from Nate Westheimer. Nate is an engineer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Currently, Nate serves as Executive Director of the NY Tech Meetup, Advisor to Flybridge Capital Partners, and Founder/Advisor to Ohours.org. He blogs at innonate.com.

***

As the NY Tech scene has gained momentum over the past few years, I find myself talking to a lot of journalists who are trying to understand what’s going on here and how we arrived at this point.

In these interviews, I always highlight NY Tech’s unique culture, and in so doing I point out that this culture is both native to New York itself, but also cultivated and defined by folks in the tech community 5 to 10 years ago, before this Great Boom showed up in Gap ads and magazine covers.

In my opinion, the culture we have here has been defined by three people: Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Bnter Takes Over the Makery

rumormonger

BNTER ADOPTS THE MAKERY. Matt Langer, former GroupMe contractor, recently became Matt Langer, real GroupMe employee, even though his mug is still missing from GroupMe’s page of surprisingly unflattering team headshots. Mr. Langer is settling happily into his new environs, comforted by the security of staff meetings and welcome wedgies from senior GroupMes.

But what became of the beloved Brooklyn coworking space Mr. Langer bore, groomed and subsidized out of his own pocket? The Makery will continue as a coworking space, but is not accepting new tenants, Betabeat learned. Makery resident Bnter, headed by co-founders Lauren Leto and Patrick Moberg, has taken over the lease, Ms. Leto said. “It’s Bnter offices, but everyone is still here,” she told Betabeat. “As people leave, we will not replace them, because Bnter is growing weekly.” The startup has four employees now and will have five as of October 17, and probably seven by the end of the year, Ms. Leto said. “So weekly isn’t true,” she amended. “Ha, my math is lovely.”

The Makery officially closed on Sept. 1, Mr. Langer said, which coincided with the space’s one-year anniversary. “I was so happy to let it go because I was just losing so much money on it,” Mr. Langer said. “Like SO MUCH.” (We were speaking on Gchat.) “PEACE OUT, $500 CON ED BILLS.” Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Social Media Edition

rumormonger

OMGNATE. We posted about Nate Westheimer selling the first app he ever coded, Ohours, to Hirelite. Ohours was going great! People loved it! And yet Mr. Westheimer was ready to move on to bigger and better Rubylicious things. Although he demurred when we asked what. But the rumormill is suggesting it’s something to do with social gaming. A source tells Betabeat the stealth project is “a partnership with OMGPOP’s Forman,” referring to the infamous Charles, a friend of Mr. Westheimer’s. Read More

Welcome to New Fit City

I Hack the Body Electric

book_large-front

NEW YORK  CITY’S START-UP SCENESTERS were nowhere near the isle of Manhattan when the 4 Hour Body fad hit its tipping point among the local tech set. In fact, according to Rick Webb, co-founder of the Tribeca-based digital agency the Barbarian Group, the digerati diet craze currently upending start-up snack supplies and clogging Twitter feeds with the hashtag #4HB reached comic proportions during the city’s annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, back in March.

Mr. Webb traced the outbreak back to the carbo-loading marathon that is South by Southwest. Or “beer and taco week,” as Mr. Webb described it. He and several other techies had recently become disciples of The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman, a life-hacking manual written by Tim Ferriss that distills a decade of experiments into chapters about slow carbs, self-tracking and, yes, how to make a woman orgasm in 15 minutes. Read More