It's All About the Bitcoins
When the Department of Homeland Security seized the funds from Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox’s Dwolla account, we were unsure just how much was taken; now, according to court documents, that number totaled $2.9 million. [Gigaom]
Yesterday Twitter added “related headlines” to tweets, and everyone momentarily freaked out. [PandoDaily]
If you’re building an app that connects to Instagram, better not put “Insta” or “gram” in the title or else you’re gonna have a bad time. [Techcrunch]
Internet citizens, typically reasoned and level-headed when it comes to these sorts of things, freaked the fuck out yesterday when Amazon temporarily went down. [Fast Company]
Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S achieved the highest safety rating of any car. Ever. We like to imagine Mr. Musk celebrating with a lavish party on Mars. [Tesla]
It's All About the Bitcoins
Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security shut down Bitcoin trading platform Mt. Gox’s ability to accept or send transfers using Dwolla, a mobile payment service. A representative from Dwolla told Betabeat that the DHS had sent them a “seizure warrant” for the account, but declined to provide further detail. Now, in the warrant, obtained by Ars Technica, the reason for the seizure has been revealed: DHS believes Mt. Gox is operating an “unlicensed money transmitting business.”
Update: Warrant Reveals Homeland Security Seized Mt. Gox’s Dwolla Account for ‘Unlicensed Money Transmitting’
The Department of Homeland Security appears to have shut down the ability to use Dwolla, a mobile payment service, to withdraw and deposit money into Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin trading platform. A Dwolla representative confirmed the move to Betabeat. Chris Coyne, cofounder of OKCupid, posted a screenshot of an email he received from Dwolla, stating that due to recent orders from the Department of Homeland Security, Dwolla cannot complete the bank transfer to Mt. Gox.
Dwolla*, the Des Moines-based payment platform that has a strong presence in NYC, announced today that it has received a $16.5 million Series C investment led by venture capital behemoth Andreessen Horowitz, with contributions from NYC firms Thrive Capital* and Union Square Ventures. The fresh funding will allow Dwolla to double its staff of 40 to 80 and open a third office in San Francisco, according to The Next Web. Andreessen partner Scott Weiss will be joining Dwolla’s board.
Shopping Site Goes Shopping Back in 2011, Khoi Vinh, the former design director for The New York Times’s website, attempted to launch an iPad collage maker called Mixel that even Taylor Swift would love. The interface was kind of clunky, and the company soon pivoted to a smoother iPhone product, which became fairly successful. And now Mixel has been acquired by the custom product giant Etsy.
No, you won’t be creating any collages of your twee collectables any time soon. According to AllThingsD, The Mixel team is being acquired for its stellar mobile talents. Mr. Vinh and his cofounder Scott Ostler, along with employees Akiva Leffert and Roy Stanfield, will all make the move to Etsy’s Brooklyn offices. Mixel will be shutting down the social side of its app, but will leave up its collage-making tool. In an email to Betabeat, Etsy CTO Kellan Elliot-McCrea explains, “We expect our mobile traffic to surpass desktop traffic by the end of 2014.”
Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
2012 was quite a year for the New York tech community. Several NYC startups scored monster exits, while others raised millions to up their chances of scoring a ping pong table for the office. Whether or not that hotly debated bubble bursts, we imagine 2013 will be another exciting year for NYC’s tech set. Here are some New Year’s resolutions from some of the NYC tech community’s boldest names.
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
A couple of months ago, while attending the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to chat with a ton of upcoming startups, and I noticed a surprisingly higher-than-usual number of enterprise-focused companies. Yesterday Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson wrote an interesting post highlighting how the consumer web might be entering a stage of maturation as the action shifts from the desktop to mobile, where it’s becoming increasingly harder to reach scale. 500 Startups’ Dave McClure has an excellent rebuttal post on the topic.
The Credit Card Killers
With an ever-crowded financial tech market and companies like PayPal and Google Wallet elbowing for industry dominance, the race to kill the credit card is heating up. But among the standouts is Iowa-based mobile payment startup Dwolla, thanks to an innovative pricing structure and a growing New York presence helmed by Michael Schonfeld and Alex Taub. Dwolla has raised money from two New York venture capital firms, Union Square Ventures and Thrive Capital. (Josh Kushner, a Thrive principal, is also part-owner of Observer Media Group.)
Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, recently tried to disabuse the tech industry of its infatuation with the word ‘disruption.’ “We don’t want ‘disruption,’ where we just move things around. We want a direction. We want a purpose,” he said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, humbly suggesting the biannual conference change its name. But it’s more than just semantics. The tech sector’s claim to produce world-changing products and services often gets drowned out in a chorus of me-too companies solving problems no one ever complained about. The umpteenth nightlife-recommendations tool or empty real-time dating app can obscure the whirr of a nascent robotics sector in Manhattan or a futuristic, even revolutionary, experiment in manufacturing in Queens.
Time Warner Still Sucks On Friday, Mayor Bloomberg made a big move toward ing promise to expand broadband in New York. He launched ConnectNYC, a contest for small businesses that will award free fiber cable wiring (overall value of up to $12 million) to 240 local businesses across the five boroughs over the next two years. But will it make slow cashiers go faster?
All Your Dwollas Belong To Us Dwolla, the way to pay people via smartphone, just rolled out a cool feature called MassPay. It allows you to pay up to 2,000 people at once, which is great for business owners or degenerate gamblers who have a lot of friends. Payments under 10 dollars are free, while anything higher than that requires a small fee of 25 cents per transaction. Parking Panda, VHX and Major League Gaming have all pledged to start using the service immediately.