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.
It’s that time of the year again! There are holiday parties happening everywhere you look. This week alone has a ton, including Buzzfeed, Aol/Huffington Post, The Verge, Gawker Media, the New York Observer, WeWork Labs, Projective Space, Refinery29 and many, many more. So go crazy and party hard–but go easy on the eggnog .
PartyHat.GIF Tumblr just passed a huge traffic benchmark by finally reaching 170 million global users a month. It’s now the ninth most visited site in the U.S., according to Quantcast. David Karp took to the Tumblr Staff site to congratulate his users and say, “You guys have earned an audience bigger than the biggest TV networks, and you continue to make some of the most thought provoking, insightful, inspiring, funny, diverse, and compelling content being created today.”
Young Money Also worth noting is that Tiffany & Co launched their official Tumblr today. It’s called From Out Of The Blue. The blog contains a couple pictures of necklaces containing an unfathomable number of diamonds and a promotional video that would make any tween ask their parents for a diamond tiara. That’s what Tiffany is going for, right?
Silicon Wall Street
“That’s not Jamie Dimon,” joked Adam Sodowick, founder and CEO of True Office, as an avatar in his game walked onto the screen. However, Mr. Dimon’s employer, J.P. Morgan, was one of the 12 banks that mentored the FinTech Innovation Lab participants who demoed their products to potential investors and senior executives in the financial industry Wednesday morning at Credit Suisse. (Duh, “FinTech” stands for Financial Tech–get in the game!)
True Office was one of six companies who participated in the three-month long mentoring process, during which these FinTech entrepreneurs presented their products to and received guidance from key executives in the banking industry. True Office is a mobile game that allows companies to conduct more interesting and engaging compliance training.
“This is a very large and deeply unsexy market,” Mr. Sodowick said about compliance training. “It is akin to getting a flu shot.” But TrueOffice makes the training a game, arguably incentivizing users to pay attention and learn from the process. People may even end up reading the company’s policies, where they would inevitably learn that it is, in fact, unethical to lie about your Computer Science degree.
Animated news Reuters has announced the launch of an exclusive partnership with Next Media Animation. Starting this week, Reuters will offer around 20 animated news stories a week produced by Next Media Animation News Direct service, intended to offer visual chronologies of events not captured on video—such as the sinking of the Costa Concordia—as well as present clear illustrations of more technical news.
Master plan The Brooklyn Tech Triangle is seeking proposals for an area-wide strategic plan to support the growing tech sector, which is expected to nearly double in the next three years. Objectives of the designated planning team include improving transportation between the tech triangle and surrounding communities and developing implementable land-use strategies. An information session for potential respondents will take place on July 20 at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership office; proposals are due August 10.
How-to Open Air Publishing, an innovative digital publisher which produces interactive how-to ebooks for iOS, including Master Your DSLR Camera and The Better Bacon Book, just raised $800,000 in seed round funding from Digital Entertainment Ventures, SV Angel, Charles River Ventures and 500 Startups.
One Two Wall Street's Coming For You
Betabeat learned something this morning! Did you know that while the market for financial services startups may be in New York, and even though it feels like we’re swimming in bankers-turned-founders, most fintech startups have historically been on the West Coast or in Boston?
“The financial services market is here,” said Maria Gotsch, president and CEO of the NYC Investment Fund, the private $100 million fund that, alongside Accenture, is sponsoring the financial technology incubator FinTech Innovation Lab. “The size of the tech sector that works with them is disproportionately small. So on a macro level we’re trying to build up the tech sector, on a micro level the program is actually about picking out of the best of breed of six fintech companies and helping accelerate their development.”
Goodbye to All That
If the tenants at the city’s NYU-Poly incubator are any indicator, Wall Street is soooooo 2006. A number of the 20 tenants working out of 160 Varick Street are now wantrepreneurs who have given up finance salaries–by force or choice–for “fin-tech” start-ups.
These former suits are leveraging what they learned on the Street to create financial products and services that, in theory, their old employers will have to compete with, or buy into.
Crain’s New York points to Michael Chuang, who used to sell bonds and mortgaged-back securities for Lehman and then UBS. In March 2008, he founded iTB Holdings, an online brokerage dealing exclusively with bonds, relying on his parting gift from Wall Street ($3 million in savings) as well as funding from friends, family, and angel investors. He now has five full-time employees at the Varick Street incubator and ten more in Eastern Europe.
Tech Bubble Watch
Some of the nation’s biggest banks and venture investors have partnered with New York City Investment Fund to create the FinTech Innovation Lab.
The program is a annual twelve-week incubator to find and foster promising startups working on financial technologies.
Participating banks include all the big boys — Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Read More