Internet Week

Betabeat’s Official Guide to the Must-See Events at Internet Week 2012


Unless you’ve gone off the grid, you probably already know that Internet Week 2012 launches on Monday. But with a dizzying number of events to attend, it’s hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, effort and subway fare. Betabeat guest blogger Gary Sharma, something of an events truffle hound, already penned his personal list of recommendations. But consider this Betabeat’s official to-do list: blogger tested, Betabeat approved. Read More

Die Startup-Szene

Casacanda CEO Roman Kirsch on the Berlin Startup Scene and Becoming

Mr. Kirch.

Wilkommen! This is part one of Betabeat’s new mini-series, Die Startup-Szene, a peek at the up-and-coming tech hub of Berlin. We sat down with entrepreneurs from three leading young companies here in the city that is only very, very occasionally referred to as Silicon Allee.

Roman Kirsch, who skipped two grades, has studied in Los Angeles and London, backpacked in Australia and interned at Goldman Sachs. In July 2011, he and two cofounders started an Internet company most recently reportedly valued at $10 million. About six months later, he sold it to one of the hottest startups in New York. He is 23.

It’s enough to make you wish for some Schadenfreude. Until you meet Mr. Kirsch, that is, who gave Betabeat a hug when we met with him on Monday morning at Wohnzimmer Bar, or “living room bar,” a quiet and quaintly-decorated cafe in Berlin’s startup-heavy Prenzlauer neighborhood. Wrapped in Abercrombie, he ordered a hot mint tea with honey in place of coffee. He struck us immediately as, well, calmer than the average starry-eyed 20-something New York startupper, an even speaker with wry, smiling eyes. Still, he described his company’s acquisition by as “the best thing that could ever happen.” Read More


Fab Goes Euro Flash: Acquires Casacanda and Relaunches It as In Germany, Austria, And Switzerland


Another month, another milestone for master pivoter Jason Goldberg and his go-go daily deals for design startup, Fab. Today, the company announced that it has acquired Casacanda, a Berlin-based flash sales company. Along with the acquisition, Casacanda will relaunch as as, serving Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Last November ccTLDInvestors, “the online magazine for global domain investors” noted that a company called Sedo made a tidy profit by selling for $50,000. That same week, Fab also purchased for 35,000 Euros, so expect more updates for Fab’s fabulous European adventure.

According to Mr. Goldberg, Casacanda has been on something of a roll. The site has 250,000 members and grew by 90,000 in just the last 30 days. Add that to Fab’s existing membership, and the company has won over more than 2.3 million users in the past 8 months. Read More

Venture Capitalism’s Secret Sauce for Raising $40 M.? Show Them Your Data and Don’t ‘Slut Around’

Mr. Goldberg. (

For any startup looking to raise venture funding–or even VCs trying to figure out what entrepreneurs want (where is Mel Gibson on that, anyways?)–Jason “Prince of Pivoting” Goldberg offers a transparent look at how he went about raising $40 million for led by the likes of Andreessen Horowitz.

In Mr. Goldberg’s case, he faced the added pressure of not having time to go through the usual dog-and-pony show during the run-up to’s first ever holiday season. (Yes, that’s right, that $40 million came just six months after the company swerved from a gay social network to a flash sales site for design.)

So the serial entrepreneur decided to do things a little differently. Read More

Let's Cyber’s Fabulous Cyber Monday Returns


Some data from’s blog-happy CEO Jason Goldberg, who checked in with some data earlier this week from Fab’s Cyber Monday sale. Mr. Goldberg includes a triumphant illustration that would be a hockey stick if it weren’t a bar graph (and if it included all those early pivots). But as such, Fab’s orders by month have been steadily growing and in November, the company had what looks like more than a 33 percent increase, likely due to the big sale. Fab did more than $1.1 million in discounted deals on Monday alone Friday through Monday, the company reports. Read More

the startup rundown

Startup News: NWC+HP and a Hard Candy Launch


HIP LIKE HP. New Work City just signed its newest sponsor: HP. “This is really great for us, as their support will play a huge part in helping us make ongoing improvements to the space and community. To consummate the relationship, we’re hosting an event on December 5th. I’ll have more details next week. In the meantime, come play with some new gadgets and help us help HP make printing suck less!

FITOCRACY PUSH. “Fitness is something that people tend to take very seriously so it should be no surprise that when they embark on the quest to better bodies, they want their chosen tools to be the best they can be. Since the beginning, one of the most often requested features for Fitocracy has been a way to visualize your workout progress over time. And so it is with incredible excitement that we announce the official release of Graphs on Fitocracy.” Read More


Poaching Etiquette: As Talent Tightens, New York Startups Try to Stay Civil

(Illustration: Oliver Munday)

You can feel the love in Silicon Alley. The city’s tech scene is a brotherhood of mutual admiration and support. “Proudly Made in NYC” proclaims Meetup’s website; “Hatched in NYC” notes Aviary’s. Founders wear each other’s company T-shirts and tweet each others’ releases. They made “We Are NY Tech” buttons for South by Southwest and wore them proudly. Once in Austin, Betabeat asked the Bay Area superangel Dave McClure about the city’s tech prospects. “New York needs to stop smelling its own farts,” he said.

Yes, on the record.

Still, it turns out there is a limit to camaraderie. When it comes to hiring, especially in a competitive market, the shivs start flashing. Of the 184 startups that have “Made in NYC” emblazoned on their websites, no fewer than 130 are staffing up. That means if you want to build a startup, you’re going to have to poach some devs.

Slideshow: New York’s 20 Most Poachable Techies >>

Engineers don’t hop around in New York as much as they do in Silicon Valley, where noncompete contracts are unenforceable, but the city’s congenial entrepreneurs are raiding one another’s employees with increasing frequency. Before GroupMe was acquired by Skype for about $80 million, the well-endowed group-texting startup plucked developers from Gilt Groupe, Pivotal Labs and College Humor. The CTO of the fast-growing Betaworks startup Chartbeat, Kushal Dave, jumped to Foursquare in July 2010; the Union Square Ventures-funded Shapeways snagged Signpost’s former tech director a few months ago.

But startups don’t just compete over technical talent, which is in famously short supply. Thrillist nabbed Gawker’s Richard Blakeley to manage content strategy in March, and Crowdtap snatched marketing whiz kid Ben Kessler from SeatGeek in September. “We’ve hired about 500 people in the last 12 months,” said Kevin Ryan, the founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe, who still personally interviews every candidate. “They all have to come from somewhere.”

And while some take the Machiavellian view—“Is there any etiquette to that? I thought all’s fair in love and war,” said Lean Startup Machine founder Trevor Owens—most startups do observe certain gentlemanly guidelines. The unspoken rules of poaching are fairly clear cut. Don’t poach from early-stage companies you share an investor with. Get your investors involved if there is a possibility of taboo intraportfolio hiring. And by all means, keep your friends out of it whenever possible if you ever want to show your face at Tom & Jerry’s. “Never poach from close friends or people you know pretty well,”  said Jason Baptiste, the swaggering, crew-cut-sporting CEO of OnSwipe. “That’s a cardinal sin.” Read More

Talent Crunch

Jason Goldberg Is Not Hiding His Devs

Mr. Goldberg. (

The fast-growing design-centric superdiscount site, which executed a double pivot, is up to 90 employees and growing revenue at 33 percent per month, CEO Jason Goldberg told Betabeat. With head hunters poking around all the bigger startups in the city, that’s a lot of employees to hide. But Mr. Goldberg isn’t losing sleep over having his employees poached. “We’re a hot company,” he told Betabeat. “We’re growing really fast. We’ve had a number of companies who are trying to recruit some of  our team members. When someone on my team gets 10 calls from a recruiter a week, we think they should feel flattered.” Read More

Pivotal Moves’s ‘Fabulis’ Pivot: 800 Percent Growth and 500,000 Users in Ten Weeks


Kevin Ryan may be moving away from the flash sites that put Gilt Groupe on the map, but the sales device seems to be working just fine for After a smooth landing on a successful triple pivot [Ed Note: our bad, original idea plus two pivots does not equal three!]–from a daily deals site for gay men called Fabulis, to a flash sales sites for gay men, to a flash site for design for everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality–GigaOm reports that has grown 800 percent since May. It’s only been ten weeks, but the site is already approaching the 500,000 user mark. The key, according to CEO Jason Goldberg,  lies in part with a little feature they like to call the “inspiration wall.” Read More