Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
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.
So we survived! The Mayan-predicted end-of-the-world-armaggedon-pocalypse was a no-show. Now it’s time to party! Of course, I still have a dozen cans of anti-zombie spray lying around… interested? :)
In the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Mayor Bloomberg and 750 other mayors have come together to create Demand A Plan to fight for gun safety. A ton of leaders from the tech industry, both here in New York and in Silicon Valley, have joined the cause including Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures), Marc Benioff (SalesForce), Evan Williams (Twitter), Dennis Crowley (Foursquare), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz), Laurene Jobs, Randi Zuckerberg and many others. And a large-scale social media effort is underway, similar to how the industry came together during SOPA/PIPA.
SoundCloud Busts Out Of Beta At this point, SoundCloud is basically the audio version of YouTube. A private-beta version of the site launched earlier this year called Next and the newest version integrates a bunch of those social features that the company hopes will help its users discover new music. “From today, ‘Next’ is now simply SoundCloud,” said Alexander Ljung, founder and CEO of SoundCloud in a press release sent to Betabeat. “It’s a platform for people to discover new, original music and audio, for creators to build audiences, and for everyone to share what they hear whether online or on mobile.”
The company claims that users now post over 10 hours of music and audio every minute while reaching over 180 million people. That’s a staggering 8% of the entire internet population, every month. On December 6th, mobile users will be able to enjoy reposts, updated mobile search, and UX updates on both iOS and Android SoundCloud apps.
Lots Of Tiny Wicker Puppets Sold Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson took to the company’s blog to address his craft-obsessed minons and report big new numbers. Etsy recently hit 20 million members across over 200 countries. In the first week of November, they passed the $700 million sales mark and their direct checkout system has now processed over $100 million in transactions. By the end of the year, Etsy projects that it will have sold over 100 million items in the company’s history.
The company is also going all out for the holiday season and expects to have its best month yet. It’s running a multi-million-dollar online advertising campaign and opening a Etsy Holiday Shop in SoHo from November 29th through December 8th. SoHo though? Isn’t Greenpoint or Williamsburg more on target with the Etsy brand?
Chu Bets Against Zynga Betable has already announced partnerships with big game companies and is right on the path to become the Spotify of online gambling and pass its closest rival, Zynga. Ya-Bing Chu, a former VP and GM of Zynga’s mobile division, has now joined Betable as the company’s new Chief Product Officer. At Zynga, he was responsible for operating Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends. Mr. Chu explains the move in an essay on Betable’s blog, where he says, “I realized that Betable was the only frictionless way to enter the real money market, which is revolutionary.”
Worst nightmare for workday Skype gossipers: It appears until very recently there was a vulnerability that made it possible for anyone who knows your email to hijack your account. UPDATED: Skype says it’s been resolved. [TNW]
Do you fret about the amount of info you’ve shared with Facebook? Think for a minute about your Google Search history taken as a whole, and you’ll have a panic attack. [Buzzfeed]
As we head into the holidays, an update from Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson reveals that the community is now 20 million users strong and did more than $700 million in sales in 2012. By the end of the year, total all-time marketplace sales will surpass 100 million products. The company is also doing a holiday popup shop in Soho this year–right next to Dior. Fancy! [Etsy]
Are startups funded in the early-stage investing boom starting to run out of money? [Business Insider]
Judging from this video about the Jawbone UP, wearable computing requires a whole lot of trial and error in the design process. [Fuse Project]
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.”