Ah, Silicon Valley, where the proverbial sun is always shining and everyone walks around with proverbial murder in his heart. Nick Bilton’s history of Twitter isn’t out for a few weeks, but this weekend we’re getting preview, thanks to an excerpt in the New York Times Magazine.
It reads like a condensed Game of Thrones installment, if you replaced all the blood and sex with podcasting, and it’s not especially flattering to self-styled wunderkind Jack Dorsey. (And there’s nary a quote from the man in the whole piece.)
Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest were hacked this week, after a security breach at customer-service provider Zendesk allowed a hacker to access user email addresses at the three social media companies. [Wired]
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book marketing plans include “Lean in Circles,” in which women study Ms. Sandberg’s curriculum for career success. [NYT]
Twitter cofounder Ev Williams talks about when—and when not—to sell your company. [Medium]
Nevada became the first state to legalize online gambling. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may sign a law legalizing Internet gambling in his state as early as next week. [The Washington Post]
If you’re a “startup junky,” what are you really addicted to? [PandoDaily]
Bye bye beta
Conversation platform Branch announced in a post on its blog today that it is now out of invite-only beta and open to the public. With no more wait list, users can sign up immediately to start a conversation or group on Branch.
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.
The elevators to the BuzzFeed office are magnificently slow. Each fits about six people comfortably, and they trundle and groan up to the 11th floor, where the company’s ops, tech and marketing people sit. “Considering how fast the company moves, it’s amazing how slow its elevators are,” quipped one dapperly dressed man as we all awkwardly waited for the doors to open.
Betabeat was visiting the BuzzFeed office for the first time to attend a real-life roundtable. Hosted by Branch cofounder Josh Miller, the event included beers and mingling among some of New York’s prolific tech reporters and entrepreneurs, as well as a discussion with Twitter cofounder Ev Williams and BuzzFeed’s own cofounder Jonah Peretti.
We wrote about the sketchy world of fake Facebook fans back in May, but the phenomenon is apparently just as rampant and shady on Twitter. To shed some light on the truth about fake Twitter followers, social media management startup Status People developed a tool that studies a sample set of 500 followers to determine what percentage of them are fake, inactive and good.
Fake followers are suspected spam bots; inactive are followers that haven’t tweeted in a while; and good are followers that are actively engaged.
Naturally, our first inclination was to plug in the cofounders of Twitter to see what their percentages looked like. Turns out they have some pretty inflated follower numbers.
Not much is known about the Obvious Corporation, the new-ish, incubator-ish company that’s the brainchild of Twitter cofounders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Their website is sparse and coy: the only companies that they are publicly known to be working with are Lift, a social network for human potential, and dialogue platform Branch. They also announced this week that they’d invested in Neighborland, a site that seeks to create meaningful connections between neighbors.
The Obvious Offices are located in downtown San Francisco, near the Powell St. BART stop, just around the corner from the Apple store, which is convenient because everyone at Obvious uses Apple products. Macbook Airs, iPads, Magic Mice and Apple wireless keyboards: Tim Cook would not be disappointed.