Seed Stage Slaughter
Exit This Way
“It’s harder to act in a disciplined way in summer. All around you, you see excess and nonsense, companies being bought or funded for zillions of dollars without traction.” Eric Ries, the pioneer behind the Lean Startup movement, wrote those words back in August, 2011, warning that in the cyclical startup business, “what goes up will eventually come down.”
Startupland, he explained, can only stay insulated from broader economic forces–like, say, today’s warning about a new global recession--so for long: “The LP’s that fund booms are, after all, pension, municipal, and sovereign wealth funds. Consumers need disposable income to invest in the latest products, as do the companies who serve them and advertisers who reach them.”
New York-based street style social network Thre.ad announced in an email sent out to users today that it will be shutting down. The company’s owners would probably rather you think of it as a pivot, however: According to the announcement, they’re folding Thre.ad into a new ecommerce site called That’s Foxy, which will deliver “shop-able products that are inspired by what’s trending in the community.”
After the Storm
Weeks after news broke that flash sales giant Gilt Groupe put its travel deals site, Jetsetter, up for sale, the Wall Street Journal reports that Gilt is looking for a new CEO to replace company founder Kevin Ryan. Sources told the Journal that Mr. Ryan and the Gilt board agreed two months ago to quietly begin the hunt for a new CEO who can help usher the struggling e-commerce site towards a successful IPO.
Despite flailing forays into verticals like menswear and travel, Gilt is still eyeing going public within the next 18 months, and wants a CEO who can revamp Mr. Ryan’s business strategy in order to “generate sufficiently predictable profits.”
Last week, startups across New York City galvanized to help support the victims of Hurricane Sandy, establishing coworking spaces, volunteer groups and easy ways for users to donate to recovery efforts. But it’s a new week, one where the subways are mostly running normally and many across the city have their electricity back. As the sense of helplessness brought by Sandy fades, the internet’s penchant for irony and offensive jokes has come roaring back. The first (and undoubtedly not the last) company to fall into this tasteless trap? New York-based daily email service Thrillist.
Ebay announced two new product features today to help better position itself as a competitor to ecommerce sites like Amazon and Etsy. With Ebay Now, an iPhone app, customers are able to order things from their mobile devices and have them delivered anywhere they choose, usually within an hour. Ebay Now has been tested in San Francisco. An Ebay rep declined to elaborate on when the feature would be available in New York.
The site also announced an interface redesign to make search and browsing easier, as well as a new Pinterest-like feature called “Feed” that, as Ebay CTO Mark Carges said, “is a little like creating a newsfeed, but instead of search it offers visual shopping inspiration.” Users can follow brands, styles, bands–basically any topic aggregated on Ebay–and streamline it into a visual shopping board, a lot like Pinterest, where they can easily click through and purchase items with a seamlessly integrated Ebay-Paypal account.
Oh You Fancy Huh?
There were 10.3 million tweets sent last night regarding the presidential debates–a new record for the site. [TNW]
However, between all the newly created Big Bird accounts and red tie/blue tie observations, it’s possible that Twitter went a little nuts over the presidential debates. Just a little nuts. [Politico]
Perhaps the most painful moment, though? When Mitt Romney basically classed beloved electric auto company Tesla as a “loser.” :( [Wired]
At least one analyst thinks ecommerce is going to have a great Christmas–because everyone has decided the economy is bad and that makes them scared of what other shoppers will do IRL. [CNET]
This morning Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook to announce the company has reached a billion monthly active users. Glad someone’s having a good day. [Facebook]
Looks like the team from review site Fondu got acqui-hired by Airbnb. [Fondu’s Tumblr]
The Fancy*, the New York City-based Pinterest competitor where users can browse and share products they love, has decided to enter the subscription box service. We thought you were too fancy for that, Fancy?
According to a press release sent to Betabeat, The Fancy has launched its first ever monthly subscription box that is curated entirely by the crowd. A $60 value for $30/month, users can pick from their favorite categories like “Art” or “Pets” and get a box filled with some of The Fancy users’ favorite products in that category.
Put a Spell on You
Reddit had its biggest day ever thanks to President Obama’s AMA. No surprise there, considering the site was inaccessible for most of it. [The Verge]
RIP Microsoft Zune, can’t say anyone will really miss you. [Engadget]
Shopbop is trying to make itself into a high-end competitor to sites like Net a Porter. [New York Times]
Facebook has been cleared to officially purchase Instagram. [Wall Street Journal]
Is TechCrunch a bully? [Lane Wood]
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.”