XXX in Tech
If you don’t have a tricked-out bachelor(ette) pad that reveals a water bed and mood lighting at the flip of a switch, perhaps the “Romance Pants” can interest you. Built by the team at Instructables, the pants are rigged with conductive thread and resisters that allow the zipper to interact with objects around the room.
The holidays are upon us! Time to trim the tree and drink some cocoa. For crafty types, though, this is basically the Olympics. This is the main event, the reason they’ve trained so hard for so long. Pinterest is therefore flooded with impossibly intricate, over-the-top DIY projects.
But other than a few twee over-achievers, no one is actually going to try these. You will be too busy drinking eggnog until you fall over and combing Kmart for last-minute gifts.
Meet Your Maker
“We leveled up to bring you this today,” MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis told the crowd at the company’s press conference in Brooklyn this afternoon.
The startup responsible for bringing 3D printing to the mainstream–with a nudge from Stephen Colbert, of course–announced a breakthrough: the fourth-generation of MarkerBot’s 3D printing device, dubbed the Replicator 2. You’ll see it soon enough. The gleaming metal rectangle graces the cover of the October issue of Wired.
DIY-ers, you may now begin crocheting celebratory pillows and other yarn finery: E-commerce site Etsy, also known as Amazon for Twee People, announced today that it has raised a $40 million Series F round from investors, including Union Square Ventures and Accel Partners.
In a lengthy blog post, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson strayed from the typical tech funding announcement, instead choosing to first focus on Etsy’s growth and continued commitment to making the world a better place through business. The DUMBO-based startup has scored a B Corporation certification, which “gives [them] a framework to measure Etsy’s success against rigorous values and responsible practices as [they] scale as a company.”
Think of the Children
The last time we checked in on Vimeo cofounder Zach Klein, the self-described “proselytizer of country living“ was adding listings to his upstate New York real estate blog and tending to his Cabin Porn tumblr. The New York native–who also cofounded Svpply and BustedTees, is a partner in Founder Collective, and has invested in Kickstarter–still has East Coast ties in the form of a dreamy cabin called Beaver Brook that he built using a salvaged barn frame.
But yesterday, Mr. Klein finally revealed what he’s been up to since moving to San Francisco last fall: an online community and app for kids called DIY. It’s a zeitgeisty idea that taps into both the Maker movement and the fact that children find themselves immersed in technology at a younger age. (Yes, a rugrat who grew up playing with iPads will soon make you feel obsolete.)
Over the past 32 days my fiancee and I have been running a Kickstarter project. We were trying to raise funds to build a teaching farm on an abandoned lot in Brownsville, Brooklyn. On Tuesday of this week we reached our goal of $23,000 dollars.
I’ve been writing about Kickstarter as a journalist for a while, but using the service myself really changed my perspective on how the company manages to successfully fund an incredible 43 percent of the projects it features on its site.
For a while I was critical of the fact that Kickstarter continued to curate by hand which projects were approved for funding. While the company has seen some incredible growth, at some point it seemed like they would lose their ability to reach web scale. I imagined they would need to take an open approach similar to Etsy if they really wanted to build their business.
But in chatting with our donors, I came to realize this selectivity creates the power of the Kickstarter brand. We received pledges from Australia to Hawaii and back again. A lot of these people had backed a dozen or more projects on Kickstarter. They had diverse interests across music, film, art and food. What they believed in was Kickstarter, and our project was one way of expressing that.
Quirky, a crowdsourced creation platform, just raised $16 million. What numbers were those venture heads looking at when they opened their wallets? Well Quirky recently partnered with Bed, Bath & Beyond, and company says this has spurred big growth.
Since the start of 2011 it has expanded its user base by more than 40 percent to over 78,000.
The average number of ideas submitted in each weekly round has doubled from 114 to 227. A show about the company is about to air on the Sundance channel, so expect that growth to increase.
Makers Get Made
Quirky founder Ben Kaufman prefers not to give out quotes when raising new funds, focusing instead on the details of what Quirky has been up to.
But he sure does like to raise fresh capital. It raised $6 million A round last April led by RRE and, according to Venture Wire, just closed a $16 million B round led by Norwest Venture Partners with RRE participating again.
As Betabeat has written recently, start-ups are rushing to close their financing, fearful that a tanking stock market will scare off potential investors or, at the very least, drive the valuations they can negotiate way down.