VYou, the NYC-based video question and answer site that raised $3 million back in May 2011, will be shutting down its consumer-facing product next week. The company, which operates from an office in SoHo, sent out an email to users today announcing that they will no longer be able to upload videos starting April 3rd. By April 5th, the site will shut down completely.
The Real TechStars of New York
Yesterday night, Vine, the video-clip sharing app Twitter acquired back in October, held its launch party at Marquee. Yes, that Marquee. DJs spun above a lighted sign with the hashtag “#party,” and users obliged by Vine-ing the experience.
There was the meta-Vine of people Vine-ing at the Vine launch. And, because Read More
Adventures in Venture Capital
TechStars NYC has been quiet since August, when managing director David Tisch announced that he would be stepping back from his day-to-day role at the accelerator program. Almost exactly a year ago, we profiled Mr. Tisch’s rise to prominence in New York’s startup scene largely through his role in building a satellite program for TechStars, which entered the local market just when it could benefit from a little infrastructure.
(Early observers will recall that the first class of TechStars New York was filmed for a reality show, but managed to escape the humorless vitriol directed at Randi Zuckerberg–probably because the TechStars version was for Bloomberg instead of Bravo, and involved about 100 percent fewer toga parties.) Over the past few years, Mr. Tisch has become a prolific angel investor through Box Group, and his name frequently shows up in seed funding rounds for New York companies–TechStars and otherwise. Thus finding a replacement who is as well-versed in the scene might be tricky.
When we first joined VYou back in its beta phase, it seemed like just another platform for innocuous oversharing, albeit a higher maintenance one: instead of oversharing from bed in your PJs, you had to look rather presentable to record a video of yourself.
But now, as celebrities flock to the video question and answer platform as a new way to connect with fans, VYou is focusing on building out another aspect of its site: video-based knowledge sharing. In the upcoming weeks, VYou will be assembling groups of experts in various areas. Users can ask them questions and get responses directly from the experts.
When the Techstars reality show on Bloomberg TV gets too intense (What will happen to To Vie For!?!), award-winning producer Wilson Cleveland has a solution for you. His web series Leap Year, presented by Hiscox Insurance, chronicles the personal and professional lives of several employees at a startup called C3D, which is “like Skype with holograms.” The show follows the ups (but mostly downs) of building a startup, with a wry comedic voice and plenty of inside jokes for the tech set. In fact, the show garnered so many Startupland fans that a couple of New York’s better-known tech glitterati make appearances in this season.
Today, Mr. Cleveland and the Leap Year team released an episode featuring none other than Techstars cofounder Dave Tisch, Shelby.TV cofounder Reece Pacheco, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and Change the Ratio cofounder Rachel Sklar. Quite the star-studded cast.
Unless you’ve gone off the grid, you probably already know that Internet Week 2012 launches on Monday. But with a dizzying number of events to attend, it’s hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, effort and subway fare. Betabeat guest blogger Gary Sharma, something of an events truffle hound, already penned his personal list of recommendations. But consider this Betabeat’s official to-do list: blogger tested, Betabeat approved.
POACHER KING. In the course of researching a story about poaching etiquette—o, the ham-fisted ways of recruiters with unlimited InMail!—Betabeat learned of a notoriously aggressive recruiter who is a known poacher. “It is an individual male who has his name in the title of his company, it’s a very small company more prevalent in New York,” a source told us. Guesses, Betabeasties? Perhaps Dave Carvajal of Dave Partners, or Paul Daversa from Daversa Partners: “Daversa Partners is exceptional at the three things that drive legendary search work: we partner with the companies that dominate the market; we consistently capture the attention of game changing executives; and we close the unrecruitable candidates.”
WHO FAKED A TISCH? Betabeat was considering “The Real Dave Tisch” as a headline for this week’s profile, among other puns and permutations (a friend of Mr. Tisch’s submitted ”a Tisch named Wanda” via Mr. Tisch–makes no sense, looooooove it). So today we started wondering: who is @fakedavetisch, the occasionally-harsh but very funny parody Twitter account? We started poking around–but the secret is being held close to the vest. “Dave Tisch????” suggested one local VC. “Just joking.” We know it’s not the Tischster–he didn’t know who was behind the account himself until after the most recent demo day–but he did give us some clues. It’s three people: two employees of VC firms, one entrepreneur; two are female, one is male. One moved out to San Francisco. Hmm…
Phineas Barnes: The VC’s tweets are stylistically similar, and @fakedavetisch tweeted to his #todayskicks app. “But pretty sure Phineas doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” one VC countered.
Caren Maio: We got a tip that the Nestio CEO and TechStar could be the brilliant mind behind the snark. “Haha no, I’m not…but please let me know when you find out! I’ve been trying to figure it out for months,” she told Betabeat in an email.
Phoebe Espiritu: The hackstar doth protest too much, wethinks… “Nooo keep @fakedavetisch‘s identity secret! It would be like unmasking Batman!” she tweeted. Sounds like something @fakedavetisch would say, we countered. “No! I wish! otherwise I’d give myself hugs and hoodies all the time!” she said.
Sarah Tavel: The Bessemer VC just moved out to S.F. One source said she’s too much of a straight shooter; another claimed she “wasn’t around for TechStars.” But we’re not so sure…
The finale of the TechStars reality show is out, and it’s starting to look like Bloomberg took the Davids for a ride. Everyone in TechStars was required to participate–Bloomberg kept referring to the show as a documentary, and the program directors insisted it would be good publicity for everyone. “Tisch and Cohen fought VERY hard to make sure the finale episode was positive,” Melanie Moore, one of the first New York session alumni who was uncharitably portrayed, wrote on Hacker News last night when her blog post, “TechStars, Lies and Videotape,” hit the front page. “They felt just as disappointed and betrayed by Bloomberg as I.”
The show stitched together unrelated scenes and built a narrative that was in places entirely fabricated. It made Ms. Moore look like a ditz, David Tisch look like jerk and Jason Baptiste look like a braggert. But how did it make TechStars look?
With Demo Day coming up tomorrow, ten out of 11 companies is the number to beat. That’s ratio of startups from TechStars inaugural class that got funded. But keep in mind not everyone had a killer Demo Day. For some, funding didn’t come till a few months down the line. “It’s like the SATs,” one mentor told Betabeat of Demo Day. “Some people are good at testing, some aren’t.”
There’s a lot riding on tomorrow’s event–the funding environment isn’t quite as frothy as it was for TechStarsNY 1.0, and the companies are well aware of that, mentors told Betabeat. “It’s a more fragile period of time than last Demo Day,” said the mentor. “They realize that they gotta be on their game.” As such, companies have been pounding out the decks, practicing demos for each other almost every week.
Perhaps it’s because the cameras aren’t around, or perhaps because TechStars New York is more established, but there’s less ego in this class and fewer type-A personalities. Investors promise that this Demo Day will still have plenty of showmanship and say this season’s TechStars class is fundamentally very solid. Many companies have partnerships; some have revenue. Almost all have raised money or gotten commitments–several New York VCs told us they had invested in at least one of the startups. Two companies won’t even really be raising money, one mentor said, because they don’t need it.”
Curious to know who pivoted and who’s already closed their round? Check out our cheat sheet, get your game face on for tomorrow and pick your ponies in the comments.
Update: SideTour announced their funding today on TechCrunch, a $1.5 million round led by RRE and Foundry Group. We noted in the slideshow they already had their lead investors locked down, but it seems unlikely now they will try to grow their round tomorrow.