startup rundown

Startup News: Ev Williams Hires a Literary Darling and Branch Finally Lets You Bro Out

Mr. Williams (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Power Literary Hire: Twitter cofounder Ev Williams’s new publishing tool, Medium, just added an impressive member to its team. Kate Lee, a former literary agent from International Creative Management (ICM), has joined Mr. Williams’s startup as the director of content. Ms. Lee was responsible for plucking several bloggers out of obscurity and giving them book deals. The Observer announced her leave from ICM back in April. In a blog post on the site, Mr. Williams described her job as “encouraging, soliciting, commissioning, and contextualizing interesting ideas, authors, and institutions” and noted that she would be building a small team in New York to help her do that.

Branch Finally Lets You Hang Out With Your Friends: Branch, the social conversations site, just launched a groups feature yesterday. In an email to Betabeat, Branch cofounder Josh Miller described it as “Branch’s equivalent of a Follow button.” The idea was inspired by the conversations that people have at dinner parties, in which smaller groups form to discuss topics that they care about. On Branch, these groups can be added into a conversation. Branch’s example site includes a group featuring Mr. Miller, Medium’s Ev Williams, John Borthwick from Betaworks, Michael Sippey from Twitter and Facebook’s Sam Lessin. These groups have a possibility to create Bloods and Crips-like warfare in tech. Choose sides wisely. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Elle Advice Columnist E. Jean Carroll Has a New Startup For All You Special Ladies

Miss E. Jean, if you're nasty.

Celebrated Elle advice columnist and former “Saturday Night Live” writer, E. Jean Carroll is kind of a riot. Or so Betabeat discovered when we called up the 69-year-old author and serial Internet entrepreneur last night to talk startups as she was “having my wine.” Maybe it’s the red hair or the emphatic voice modulation, but she sorta sounded like a sultrier Carol Burnett.

E. Jean’s first startup—2002′s GreatBoyfriends.com, which let women recommend a good catch they were willing to throw back—was purchased by The Knot in 2005. Then came the ill-fated Facebook spoof called Catch27.com that let you make online trading cards of yourself and trade your friends for hotter friends. Last year there was FLAAB, where users made a bet to see if they could lose weight and paid up if they failed.

A week ago, she launched a new dating venture called Tawkify that forgoes online profiles for a brief questionnaire, photo, and a chance to let E. Jean—personally!—set you up for a blind phone date. No surprise to members of the New York Tech Meetup list-serve who were recently treated to a lively back-and-forth when E. Jean requested help getting good men to sign up. Read More