The sheer churn-and-burn of the startup scene can be grueling: Some hot new company is always ascendant, and some formerly hot new company is always headed for the ash heap of history. Ever wanted to just chuck it all and retreat to the more stable environs of an old-fashioned profession like, say, magazines?
Now, before you begin laughing, its worth first considering this Ad Age paen to this year’s honorees for the magazine’s A-List Awards, which asks, “Would You Rather Own a Magazine or a Digital Startup?” The subtitle clarifies, “That is not a trick question,” and the article goes on to point out that for every Newsweek, there’s a Marie Claire doing a brisk business in ad pages. The conclusion: “You probably won’t read about that on TechCrunch or Mashable, but you’re reading it right here.”
Felix Salmon promptly replied with a long, measured answer that basically amounts to “digital startups for $800, Alex.”
New Kids On the Block
When someone forwarded Betabeat Aubrey Sabala’s New Year’s Eve Uber misgivings (“@Aubs While I’m glad I’m home safely, the $107 charge for my @Uber to drive 1.5 miles last night seems insanely excessive. :(“) before we’d even woken up Sunday morning to greet 2012, we knew the holiday backlash against the car service app was on its way. (A different type of holiday backlash, mind you, than the Halloween 2010 incident that left 95 percent of customers stranded.)
Not everyone was appeased by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s apology the next day, in which he called the evening an overall success despite 95 complaints and 15 users who didn’t get the surge-pricing notifications that a safe, prompt, and sober driver on New Year’s Eve was going to cost them a pretty penny, or in some cases, a pretty Benjamin.
Percolate, the New York-based curation engine that helps brands source relevant content for their social media presence, just raised $1.5 million. The seed round was led by First Round Capital. Lerer Ventures and SV Angel also invested, as well as Path founder Dave Morin and Rick Webb, who used to work with Percolate co-founder Noah Brier at the Barbarian Group.
Along with the added cash, which will be used to hire a sales team and engineers, Percolate moved its platform from alpha to beta and unveiled a new design with a focus on helping brands generate content for “the social web”–in other words their Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter profiles or other branded sites.
The last time we spoke to Mr. Brier, Percolate was being bootstrapped by its founders and had just announced that it would be powering Counterparties, the Reuters owned website, for its editors Felix Salmon and Ryan McCarthy. Since then, the company has helped find content Amex OPEN Forum’s Tumblr and taken on a similar role with sites from Mastercard and GE.
Groupon has fallen hard since it was the “fastest-growing company in the world” with a valuation of $25 billion, thanks to revelations of accounting discrepancies, revenue numbers, payouts to early investors and a class action lawsuit by employees. Groupon already looks overvalued at its current $10 billion valuation, says Henry Blodget, who estimates a more appropriate valuation would be in the $7.5 billion range in a post titled, “I Wouldn’t Touch Groupon’s Stock At The IPO Price With A 50-Foot Pole.”
Bummerzone for Andrew Mason. But there may be some Groupon backlash backlash. “But just for the sake of symmetry, here’s a simple bull case for Groupon, and for how it could get its really high revenue growth back,” writes the highly-regarded Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon this morning.
Oh You Fancy Huh?
In Grub Street column out today, Felix Salmon takes an infographic approach to what people actual throw down for fine dinning in New York City. But the finance writer goes into even more detail over at his Reuters blog.
Using data from a new Made in NYC startup called Bundle, which shows “how people spend and save money,” as well as Zagats, Mr. Salmon displays the mean cost of a restaurant meal (the blue line) as well as the median cost of a meal (the red line). The data is broken down for some of the city’s ritziest spots, such as Per Se, Megu, Daniel, Babbo, and Mr. Chow.