The latest crop of TechStars companies are just now filtering into New York, and the full list of companies won’t be public for a week. Normally, during this moving-in period, TechStars startups are as quiet as mice. We’re not quite sure why; perhaps they’re cowed by the big city, worried about stepping on the toes of their new mentors, or self-conscious about the fact that they may barely have a product. For whatever reason, they don’t usually take our calls.
But not Craig Danuloff, a dot-com veteran who sold one of the first e-commerce platforms, iCat, to Intel in ’98 (and wow, here’s the CNET post), who was more than happy to get the press. No, it’s not because his startup Rewind is raising money, although they’re “having discussions” about that, he said. It’s just that the product is pretty far along and he thought it was time to start talking about it, he told Betabeat.
“What we’re trying to do is put the first version of the app out early as close to the start of [TechStars] as possible,” he said, in order to have a live product to play with as the session progresses. The formerly Philly-based entrepreneur spoke to Betabeat by iPhone (AT&T, drop count: 1) as he headed home from signing a lease in Manhattan.
When you’ve got Evan Williams, John Borthwick, and Max Levchin chatting it up on your “curated discussion platform,” it’s probably just a matter of time before the high-powered investors,
incubators makers, and other loosely-defined collectives come a’ calling.
Today, Branch, the startup that initially launched in New York City as group blogging service Roundtable, announced that is now partnered with Obvious Corp and picked up investments from Lerer Ventures and SV Angel. Although Branch has been working out of Obvious headquarters since the beginning of this year, the startup will move to Betaworks this summer. Cofounder Josh Miller’s announcement is somewhat obliquely worded, but it sounds like Rick Webb, Lucas Nelson, Ryan Freitas, and David Tisch also joined the round.
The size of the round wasn’t disclosed. However, this Form D SEC filing for Roundtable Media (the startup’s original name) filed by Joshua Alexander Miller, seems to indicate that the size of the round was $1,999,997 and fully subscribed. The address on the Form D, for example, is the same address as Obvious Corp. According to the Form D, the funding was an equity round with seven investors and the date of first sale is listed as February 15th. We have reached out to Mr. Miller for confirmation.
The Real TechStars of New York
TechStars New York managing director David Tisch is neck-deep in applications for the accelerator’s eagerly-anticipated upcoming class. But he managed to share a few scintillating details with Business Insider.
Among the 1,000-plus would-be entrepreneurs that have already applied (well ahead of last year), are some notable surprises including: graduates of previous accelerators, a current NFL player, and two former Olympians.
This is our second funding scoop of the day. Who wants to make it a hat trick?
Numberfire is a New York startup company taking an algorithmic approach to crunching data, helping fantasy sports nuts find the best players at the lowest prices. Founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio got his first $100,000 in seed capital from Regis Philbin, after starring in an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Nothing against Regis, but the company has now put together a slightly more tech savvy group of investors. Numberfire, a graduate of the recent ER Accelerator program, has raised a $650,000 seed round from investors that include RRE Ventures, Pennyblack’s Eliot Durbin and TechStars David Tisch.
The Real TechStars of TechStars
David Cohen, David Tisch and Katie Rae (Boston managing director) of TechStars are teaching a Skillshare class, “How to Get Into TechStars,” on January 5th in advance of the application deadline. The proceeds will be donated to Summer Internship Fellowship program started by the Berkley Center and Entrepreneurs Exchange Club. It’s a meet-and-greet as well as an info session, the description says, and you can grill the Davids in person and shove your business cards into their hands!
When someone gets around to writing the history of Silicon Alley, 36 Cooper Square is going to be front and center. The long time home of foursquare will now be the new office for TechStars New York, helping to incubate the next generation of Silicon Alley startups.
HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN
One week ago, Betabeat rolled out a story about the dangers of depression among young founders in the startup world: ‘U CAN’T HAZ SADZ: The Hushed Dangers of Startup Depression.’ We’d be lying if we wrote that we didn’t expect some kind of response to the story. That said: We didn’t even remotely expect the scale of the response to the story, in size or intensity.
Over the last week, we’ve seen everything from openly empathetic comments to blisteringly cynical retorts; founders and startup celebrities penning posts about their own experiences with the matter; nitpicks about everything from the cover to individual lines, and then some. It also, on the first day, became one of the most read stories on Betabeat since the blog’s inception.
As such—and without further ado—we thought we’d do a follow-up on the story: crash notes on everything from the reactions the participants received for coming out to speak on the matter, to the lines they felt were missing from the story, and of course, some of the behind-the-scenes editorial notes on how the story came together.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, ON A SUNDAY MORNING, the startup world woke up to that rare stripe of news which quietly sends shockwaves reverberating throughout an entire culture of people: Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 22 years old, had passed away. The cause of death “appears to be a suicide,” noted a San Francisco police officer who spoke with CNN. A forthcoming coroner’s report will make a final determination. Mr. Zhitomirskiy was one of the four co-founders of Diaspora*, once breathlessly hyped in a May 2010 New York Times article as a “cry to arms” against Facebook, in a story that employed a classic tech narrative: four brilliant young men, on the verge of changing the world, subsisting on ramen and pizza.
Y Combinator’s Hacker News link to the item racked up pages of comments, many devoted to shouting down those who wanted to have a discussion about depression in the technology and startup community, noting it as an inappropriate moment for that topic. One user noted that a breaking news thread announcing Mr. Zhitomirskiy’s death was “a terrible place to have a discussion about ‘the stresses of life … related to tech.’”
Another disagreed: “We don’t talk about suicide in society very well let alone within the startup community. Founders find themselves in extremely stressful situations and living lifestyles that exacerbate the effects of this stress.”
This second comment read in contrast to the first, whose final suggestion on the matter was to “have that discussion inside your head” for the time being, and then go talk about it some other time.
“We need to form two lines,” said the Raise Cache volunteer, parting the sea of people amassed outside the Park Avenue Armory last night into those with VIP tickets and those without. “Separate, but equal . . . kind of,” she added. The crowd laughed and Betabeat patiently waited our turn. After all, it’s not everyday you see patent leather pumps and fringe mixed in with the Converse and jeans.
Everyone who’s anyone from the startup world had gathered there to raise money for a universally-beloved cause: a fundraiser for hackNY, the program that shepherds computer science students towards Startupland–and away from Goldman. And, oh boy, did folks clean up nice. Seriously, where have all you PYTs been hiding?
Get Into My CloudHeyYou
Our personal favorite among this recent crop of TechStars NY startups was Dispatch, mostly because we can relate to the pain point they are trying to solve. The company gives users a single login and interface for managing their files across all their different cloud hosting services. So I can, for example, bring together all the different music I have on Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music.