Put a Spell on You
For the Thrill of It
We were delighted to learn yesterday that it’s possible to purchase a magic spell on eBay that will merge your soul with that of a dragon. However, in the process of researching the Very Important subject of paranormal goods on the ecommerce site, we reached out to an eBay representative regarding the legality of listing these items.
It was a very busy morning for Ben Lerer, the 30-year-old Lerer Ventures scion and CEO of men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist. The company announced yesterday that it had closed a $13 million series A, the first outside financing since Thrillist raised a $2 million seed round way back in 2005. Growing Thrillist from a Daily Candy-like daily newsletter to a men’s lifestyle empire with little venture capital in just seven years is no small feat.
“That’s the cool thing for me,” Mr. Lerer told Betabeat by phone this morning, his voice still colored with the excitement of closing a solid round. “That we were able to legit boostrap a business to 200+ people and $60 million in revenue without the money. It really gives me confidence that we have the right habits and the right discipline so that now that we have this money, we’re going to know how to spend it the right way rather than spastically run around spending it.”
Apple in Your Eye
Yesterday, Lot18–the members-only site for flash sales of wine–announced in a statement distributed to wine industry publications that it will permanently shutter its U.K. operations, effective at the end of the week. That includes laying off six full-time employees.
Apparently, British oenophiles are hard customers to come by these days.
The statement explains the closing: “The supermarkets’ stranglehold on the UK market proved too powerful for us to compete with and we have not experienced the anticipated growth rate.”
For those keeping score at home, this is not the first time Lot18 has dropped the axe on a significant number of employees. Back in January, the luxe startup let go of 15 percent of its staff–its first stumble following an explosive expansion. At the time, Lot18 CEO Philip James told Betabeat, “A lot of this is a natural part of the way a business grows and evolves.” Think he’s currently eating–or perhaps swigging–his words?
Even as we speak, you are leaving digital bread crumbs scattered all over the Internet, there for the taking by marketers. Nor do the details have to be anything particularly consequential to translate into a money-making opportunity.
For example: Orbitz has realized that customers who visit its site from a Mac tend to spend more money on hotels. The company is therefore adjusting its search results accordingly.
New York-based Usablenet is the largest provider of mobile and multiplatform services for brands, powering the mobile presences of 75 of the top 300 retailers–so why have we never heard of them?
Usablenet was founded way back in the dark ages, after the 90′s dotcom boom but far before the current one, in 2000. Its original business was focused on making websites more accessible for the visually impaired, which typically boiled down to translating complicated website designs into sleeker, simpler formats that were easier to read. But when smartphones began their prodigious rise, Usablenet wised up quick and used what they’d learned from making websites for the visually impaired to begin building simple mobile sites for clients. They began doing so as early as 2006–way before ‘mobile’ became a buzzword–with just a three person team situated in a 6th-floor walkup on the Lower East Side.
Betabeat was working this morning and not looking for Knicks tickets on company time when we wandered over to SeatGeek, the hometown sports tickets aggregator, and typed in a search for NBA games. In the event you haven’t heard: NBA players and team owners recently announced a tentative agreement to restart the season on December 25 after a long contract negotiation stalemate ended. Imagine our surprise when we saw what appeared to be a normal season.