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.
All the jobs
It’s tough being a platform, especially one that wants to be open but maintain a certain community identity. In the last six months or so, questions have started to bubble up about whether Etsy can balance its DIY ethos with the demands of scalability. Even so, the DUMBO-based startup has kept intact much of its friendly, show-love-it’s-the-Brooklyn-way aura.
Which is why this Change.org petition (spotted here) against the sale of “Golliwog” dolls on the site is likely to make everyone involved feel a little awkward.
Mad Data Science
New York’s unemployed tech talent and soon-to-graduate comp sci students assembled on the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center today with the hopes of snagging a job at the NYC Startup Job Fair. Betabeat attended the early session that was reserved for developers and engineers, which meant we missed the arrival of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who apparently greeted the crowd by saying, “It’s never been a better time to be a tech startup in New York City.” Judging from this fair, no one could disagree–it looked pre-recession, to say the least.
The jobless in attendance followed a snaking hallway lined with companies that were actually physically grabbing at programmers in order to draw them into their company’s pitch. At the end of the slender maze, a room opened up that looked way more like a recognizable job fair with four rows of tables.
Two cops stood in front of the sprawling windows overlooking the 1 World Trade Center construction site and 9/11 memorial. They were sporting a silly look on their faces that seemed to say, “These were the kids I beat up in high school?”
DataGotham is currently unfolding downtown at NYU Stern, and around lunchtime, a roundtable gathered for a discussion of what it’s like to be the first data scientist at a company. Panelists included Tumblr’s Adam Laiacano, Kickstarter’s Fred Benenson, and Etsy’s Roberto Medri. The common denominators, according to moderator Hilary Mason? “A love of math, a curiosity, and a lot of stubbornness.”
Much of the discussion revolved around the weediest of data science topics, dwelling on R and SQL and so forth. But the best part was when each of the panelists–at the prompting of Ms. Mason–admitted to something that had gone horribly awry. Not just because everyone loves a good blooper reel, but because they provide a pretty good snapshot of what data scientists actually do.
We’re joking, of course, because the truth is engineer Jack Zylkin has done something very cool in marrying old tech with new in his USB Typewriter. Mr. Zylkin, 25, happened to find an old typewriter on the curb and couldn’t resist messing with it. He took it to his Philadelphia hackerspace, Hive76, and got to work.
The end result is, as Mr. Zylkin says in an Etsy’s blog post about his creation, “a groundbreaking advancement in the field of obsolescence,” and to anyone who ever used a typewriter, oddly heartwarming and nostalgic:
Abe Stanway is a simple man. He doesn’t ask for much, just one good taco in this godforsaken metropolis. But there’s another thing the Etsy developer really wants–something that the vindictive, nostalgia-hungry startup Timehop has denied him for almost a year. It’s the @Abe Twitter handle, which is currently occupied by Timehop’s dinosaur mascot.
Mr. Stanway first noted that the handle was taken when Timehop announced its funding back in January. “My heart skipped several beats as I realized my personal brand was being hijacked by a dinosaur,” he lamented to Betabeat over email, his frustration palpable. “I watched my career prospects dwindle by the hour, alongside my professional relationships which shortly crumbled and burst into flames.”
On a mild, sun-dappled Sunday, Betabeat applied our sunscreen and ventured to the Long Meadow in Prospect Park for an event aptly named “The Internet Picnic.” A few weeks ago, a friend of ours named Nicole He had won the Listserve lottery and was tasked with sending an email out to 20,000 random Internet strangers. Ms. He works in community at the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter. “What should I write??” she frantically gChatted us, before eventually deciding to invite all 21,288 subscribers to a picnic yesterday in Brooklyn.
“I have a mole under my eye and I’ll be wearing red,” she wrote, and then posted the same invitation to her Tumblr, where it received almost 300 notes.
If you’re on Etsy selling jewelry with real pot leaves embedded into it or bracelets that claim to cure all of your infertility woes, you better come up with a new marketing ploy ASAP. Because according to the Daily Dot, the twee-commerce site has begun cracking down on “drug-like substances” and products that make “medical drug claims.”
Sooo… no weed soap then?
And the gold medal goes to . . . MissNev! No, we’re not talking another Olympic gold for Team USA, but rather prizes for this weekend’s first-ever New York City “Ecommerce Hack Day,” hosted by Dwolla and Etsy. The event was held at AlleyNYC–formerly known as The Hatchery–a coworking-space for early and growth-stage startups located in the Fashion District. More than 225 people showed up over the course of the hackathon, which started at 10 a.m. on Saturday and didn’t shut down until 5 p.m. on Sunday–amidst a pile of pizza boxes, empty gallons of coffee, and discarded bottles of 5-Hour Energy, of course.
In the end, developers presented 37 hacks and won over $10,000 in prizes from high-profile startups like Foursquare, Constant Contact, WePay, and Zappos.
“Maliyah, step away from the mouse!” called Ashley Gavin, a software engineer at the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and instructor at the Girls Who Code summer program. Maliyah Greene, the recipient of Ms. Gavin’s reprimand, reluctantly tore herself away from Photoshop to come and talk to Betabeat. We were sitting in AppNexus’s Flatiron office, watching her fellow Girls Who Code students work on virtually tagging brick walls with their names. “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” Ms. Greene smiled.
She is one of 20 high school girls who gave up summer vacation to learn about app development, robotics, web design and other topics at Girls Who Code, a summer computer-engineering program for girls.
Though this is its first summer in existence, Girls Who Code already boasts executives from Gilt Groupe, Twitter and General Electric on its board and has been working with AppNexus and other New York startups throughout the summer.