Crowded into NYU’s Skirball center, the New York tech world got one step closer to developing Skynet Tuesday night at the monthly New York Tech Meetup, just one day after NYTM reached the 25,000 member mark.
“What I fell in love with was the community. I had not really had any tech in my background at all, and yet felt totally at home here,” gushed Jessica Lawrence, the managing director of NYTM, as she announced their membership accomplishments to cheers from the boisterous crowd.
Perhaps of more relevance to the future of our society—Jonathan Gottfried, a developer evangelist at Twilio, did a live demonstration of the TwilioBot 3000, a possible predecessor of assassin cyborgs. Mr. Gottfried was able to control the TwilioBot with his phone, sending it commands by typing numbers on his keypad … until he accidentally hung up on the TwilioBot.
Password management app Dashlane is now ready for prime time, emerging from an invite-only beta phase preceded by super-secret stealth mode. And they’d like to pitch you on a solution for your no-good, very bad password practices.
We won’t attempt to spell the way Ilan Abehassera pronounces the word “entrepreneur.” It’s as elaborate, grand and guttural as you’d expect from a French native, but you can tell he’s holding back a bit, Americanizing the consonants and clipping his vowels just slightly. It’s probably unconscious; the entrepreneur has been in the U.S. for eight years, most of them in New York. “NYC Entrepreneur” is the title of his website. He is the founder and CEO of productivity suite Producteev.
It’s funny, the tech industry is so obsessed with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. “I’m an entrepreneur,” says Justin Timberlake in the Social Network, with a cocky half-smile, as he pulls a shirt over his head after bagging a Stanford hottie. It’s a favorite descriptor in Twitter bios and LinkedIn pages. Lately, nothing is sexier than “an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.”
We forgot it was a French word, we admitted. Mr. Abehassera laughed. “I don’t know why though, because you have much better entrepreneurs than in France,” he said.
Clicks and Mortar
Guess nobody polled FirstMark Capital for that recent survey about pessimism around the venture capital market for 2012. While their peers report dwindling faith in their ability to raise funds to invest, FirstMark reported yesterday that it had closed an oversubscribed $225 million early-stage fund.
Perhaps that’s why the New York-based venture capital firm opted for a subtle announcement: a blog post that, by the looks of it, has only been picked up by the New York Post and the Dow Jones Wire.
Emmanuel Schalit has lived in New York, Boston, San Francisco and Paris. A software engineer by training, he left the world of development more than a decade ago to help run M&A for Vivendi Universal, spearheaded the online gaming division for Activision and held various roles at traditional media companies looking to get hip with the web. But the startup bug kept biting him, and eventually Mr. Schalit decided to try his hand at creating a product again.
His new venture, Dashlane, hopes to revolutionize the process of signing up, logging in and checking out on the web. “You would never walk into a brick and mortar store, find and item to buy, then spend fifteen minutes detailing your personal information just so you could make a purchase,” Mr. Schalit told Betabeat over Skype from Paris. “We’re looking to eliminate that friction online as well.”