The Real Startup Dogs of Silicon Alley
He Said He Said
Betabeat is inclined to lump hardy-har April Fool’s Day humor in with Dad jokes. It’s sweet you tried, but we’ll keep our sullen face on all the same. Tech companies in particular seem to attack the holiday with all the corporate-sanctioned zeal of a marketer at SXSW. As esteemed president Adrianne Jeffries put it, “I feel like it was a gift that it was on Sunday so we can just ignore it.”
But Warby Parker’s seasonal prank turned our head for one reason: puppies in glasses–a genre in which we have some personal experience. Why try to be funny when you can just give the Internet what they really want? Anthropomorphized fur-balls. Thus with help from photographer Noel Camardo and videographer is Kenie Huber, the New York-based online eyeglass purveyor redirected visitors to Warby Barker where the company offered up doggy monocles and “chew-resistant” eyewear in colors like dusty bacon and gravy burst–complimentary gluten-free dog treat with purchase.
Yesterday a Williamsburg-based startup called Classic Specs posted what looked like a rather damning open letter accusing one of its competitors of attempting to tamper with investors. “We’ve been having a number of great meetings with advisors and potential investors lately,” Classic Specs cofounder Andrew Lipovsky wrote. “That’s why we were surprised to hear that someone was telling them, ‘hey..make sure you know the full story behind Classic Specs (wink).’”
Who would want to spread rumors about Classic Specs, which sells its stylish glasses at Brooklyn Flea and donates a portion of its proceeds to charity? “Our sales keep growing because we have a great product that people love (and that we hand deliver if you’re nearby) and because we have a very attractive dog as a mascot,” Mr. Lipovsky wrote in the stirring letter, which embedded a picture of said pooch.
Mr. Lipovsky suspects that the rumormonger is Warby Parker: the eyeglasses e-vendor, investor darling and customer sensation, that also happens to be based in New York. Why? Because the much-larger Warby had tried to shut Classic down before, he alleged.
The story seemed to have it all: copycats, unfair competition, and underdogs, and it shot up to the top of Hacker News yesterday afternoon, garnering at last count 169 points and 71 comments. “Hipster fight,” wrote one commenter. “This whole thing makes me so glad I got LASIK a few years ago,” said another.
But what, exactly, is the beef?