Summer Jamz

Turntable.fm and the Siren Song of the Start-up Pivot

Pivot Prof. Billy Chasen

There is no more overused and reviled word in the world of tech start-ups than pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.

It seems to capture the manic energy of the current tech industry, in which an idea can get millions in funding before building a product and, if the users never materialize, or the business model never emerges amidst all hype, simply change their direction and try something new.

No company better epitomizes this idea of second chances than Turntable.fm, a social music site, born out of the ashes of a failed venture called Stickybits. Founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein raised almost $2 million for Stickybits and worked on the project for about a year. The idea was to leave little stickers on physical objects that contained links to stories, photos and video on the web. Big brands like Pepsi thought it was a great idea. Users, not so much.

With little momentum and cash running low, they decided to pull a monster pivot. Turntable.fm, which launched a little over one month ago, has already attracted over 300,000 users and the interest of top tier investors on the east and west coast. Suddenly a team that was running low on funds is being courted for a fresh infusion of $5-10 million at a $40 million valuation, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources. Read More

Blog Lords

Caterina Fake’s New Start-Up Will Not Be In New York, Has Already Pissed Off Michael Arrington

caterina_head

It looks like New York has lost one for good—or at least as long as it takes build a “consumer-facing,” “social” start-up with “optimal founder-market fit!” Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, who signed an agreement to leave Hunch, the recommendation engine she co-founded with Chris Dixon, just blogged that she will be launching her new company from across the country in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

Ms. Fake didn’t divulge any more details about the business itself, aside from a link to join her mailing list and become a beta tester. But she did shout out to a long list of investors, including her own New York-based fund Founder Collective, True Ventures, SV Angel, and friends like Square COO and angel investor Keith Rabois.

It was rumored that Ms. Fake left Hunch because of irreconcilable differences with Mr. Dixon. However, her post, which linked back to Mr. Dixon pontificating on that aforementioned “founder-market fit,” seemed like a friendly detente. That is, until Michael Arrington got involved. Read More

The Tao of Steve

New York Times Takes a Preemptive Strike Against The Patent Trolls at Lodsys

From the fake Lodsys Twitter page.

Woo boy, the normally dry and wonky world of patent law is getting interesting. The New York Times has filed suit against Lodsys, a patent firm (some might say troll) that has been targeting Apple developers.

FOSS Patents Florian Mueller sees the filings as confirmation that Lodsys sent out “a vast number of patent assertion letters” targeting more than just small-time developers.

But unlike the seven tiny iOS developers Lodsys sued in May for violating a patent for in-app purchase mechanism, today’s suits from the Times and market research firm Opinion Lab are a counter-strike to ensure that “they sue Lodsys before Lodsys sues them,” Mr. Mueller explains. Read More

Business Models

The Lean Machine Hits the New York Startup Scene

eric reis

“There is no point in building a mousetrap, if there aren’t any fucking mice around,” said Patrick Vlaskovits, leaning his back against the wall in the kitchen of General Assembly. The broad shouldered Californian was in town for the weekend as an advisor to the aspiring entrepreneurs participating in Lean Startup Machine, a 48  hour event where 12 teams conceived, built and tested a business. “A lot of engineers are great at building things, but not at finding out what customers really want.” Read More

Tech Bubble Watch

The Littlest Angels

justin wohlstadter

Justin Wohlstadter navigated easily through the crush of long-legged beauties and laptop jockeys crowding the lobby of the Ace Hotel on a chilly Thursday night. His informal office when he’s not in the U.K. doing postgraduate work at Oxford, the wood-paneled bar is also his hunting ground for tech deals to fund Read More