Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!

Best Tech Events This Week (Open Tech NYC, First Round Capital Business+Startup, Columbia University Earth Summit, Fashion Disrupted, Startup Grind, NYC Gaming)

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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.

First things first: Mark your calendars for this Sunday March 31, when Game of Thrones returns for Season 3. Finally!

The city recently announced NYC BigApps 2013, the fourth annual BigApps competition, an ongoing series of software challenges to promote government transparency and innovative new technologies. It’s your chance to solve big issues with data and design and maybe win $150,000 in prizes. There are also a series of events planned, starting with the BigApps expo and hackathon at eBay next week, on April 6.

Kaplan and TechStars are partnering to launch the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, a three-month intensive program for ten startups in New York City from June to September. What kindsof companies are they looking for? Apps, platforms, K-12, higher ed, professional ed, and everything in between. Deadline is April 14. You can apply here, and there’s an info session on April 2. Contact Phil Schwarz at edtechaccelerator@kaplan.com with any questions.  Read More

Facebook Faceoff

MessageMe, the Addictive App Facebook Tried to Buy Before Cutting It Off, Already Picked Up More Than 1M. Users

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There have been a rash of reports recently about Facebook’s mercurial approach to third-party developers. The social network may not want to be “in the business of king-making,” by boosting–or suppressing–traffic to popular apps, as Douglas Purdy, director of developer products, told Reuters. But Facebook is increasingly willing to shut the castle gate on competitors.

While Facebook claims it’s an effort to stop spam and promote apps that add value to the network, “Developers say the crackdown is an attempt to stifle applications that compete with Facebook-owned services,” or pay for ads on Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported last night.   Read More

Over The Aereo

Here Comes Aereo! Service Expanding to 22 New Cities [UPDATED]

Killer Diller. (Photo: flickr.com/techcrunch, by Dave Getzschman)

Hey, look: It’s some actual news out of CES, which has absolutely nothing to do with Evernote-integrated refrigerators! New York-based, Barry Diller-backed TV-streaming service Aereo has been teasing an expansion for some time now, and in a speech today from CEO Chet Kanojia, the company made its move.

The service will roll out to 22 new cities, including Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C, starting in the late spring. Aereo will continue its “Try for Free” program in each of the cities, so would-be cord-cutters can get a taste, but it’ll be invitation-only at first.  Read More

Teach Me How to Startup

First Round Capital Couldn’t Choose Between ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Gangnam Style’ for Its Holiday Video

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We thought for sure First Round would go with “Gangnam Style,” Silicon Valley favorite. But apparently, the spray-and-pray strategy favored by investors also applies to parodying viral hits. Hence the cost of doing business with First Round also means aping Bieber protégés. Gotta say, that production quality doesn’t look very “run super lean eat the ramen,” as the founder getting his head bopped on by someone else’s crotch croons.

If you’re wondering why some people say, “the past five years or so of startup mania has been insufferable and obnoxious and annoying,” here is one example. Read More

Buy Local

Shopping Sites According to Their VCs? First Round Capital Showcases Exclusive Deals From Its Portfolio

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Here’s a novel idea for flexing your consumerist impulses on Cyber Monday: organize your shopping by a company’s cap table. For Cyber Monday, First Round Capital, which specializes in ecommerce, has set a site that shows off exclusive deals from portfolio companies like Birchbox, Chloe & Isabel, Refinery 29, Hotel Tonight, UrbanSitter, TaskRabbit, DogVacay, One Kings Lane, and more.

Honestly, we’re surprised New York techies haven’t already set up a buy local site that encourages only shopping at startups for Christmas. Read More

Fresh Capital

With Its $9 M. Series A, Percolate Might Become the Next Buddy Media By Turning Brands Into Microbloggers

Mr. Gross.

Smart pivots can pay off handsomely. Earlier this week, Percolate, a fast-growing New York City-based startup that helps brands curate content, announced a sizable Series A led by GGV Capital, the same Silicon Valley VC firm that backed Buddy Media, which was acquired by Salesforcefor a eye-popping $698 million. Existing investors First Round Capital and Lerer Ventures also participated in Percolate’s latest round.

Roughly a year ago, Percolate shrewdly changed its focus from helping users find the most relevant top stories toward a (more profitable!) service that helps brands figure out the most compelling content to push out to their followers–a process that starts by helping them interest graph, something that comes more naturally to humans. Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Hacking Press Coverage for Fun and Profit

Time for school! (Photo: flickr.com/slambert)

First Round Capital has built a brand-new platform for startups seeking press coverage: HackPR, designed to connect them with journalists. The firm is hoping to replicate the same kind of buzz that made Warby Parker an e-commerce darling after an early profile in GQ. [TechCrunch]

Kids from Cornell got a tour of the New York startup scene yesterday. [New York Daily News]

Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures are all backing a startup called LendUp, which’ll make small loans (think $300) to people with poor credit. Basically, it’s an alternative to the traditional payday loan, with friendlier customer service. Good luck and God bless. [AllThingsD]

No, you’re not just imagining it: There are Meetups everywhere, all the time, for everything. You’re going to need to be strategic in your selection. [WYNC]

Please enjoy this cri de coeur against Instagram filters, which are basically photography training wheels. [Wired]

Fresh Capital

Fab Raises Another $105 M. from a Skype Cofounder Just Seven Months After Locking Down a $40 M. Series B

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A scant seven months after Andreessen Horowitz “plowed” $40 million into Fab at a $200 million valuation, the pivot-happy flash sales site for design items just announced a massive Series C. The company closed a $105 million round led by Atomico, an international investment firm out of London run by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, says the new round values Fab at $600 million.

Yes, folks, that’s a 200 percent jump in valuation in seven months. We bet even Fab doesn’t sell a sleek-enough vessel to hold all that (theoretical) dough.

In a press release, Fab said ru-Net Technology Partners (RTP), the international fund backed by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky–with an office in New York City!–also participated. As did Palo Alto’s Pinnacle Ventures and DoCoMo Capital and Mayfield Fund. (It’s worth noting that Mayfield previously backed another flash sales venture, the troubled startup BuyWithMe, which was acquired by Gilt Groupe, the mother of flash sales sites, after major layoffs. Gilt Groupe, of course, later faced its own brutal round of layoffs.) Existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Baroda Ventures also participated. Read More

Fresh Capital

Oprah and Eric Schmidt Back Cory Booker’s New Startup #waywire, a Media Site for Millenials

RIP. (Photo: waywire.com)

While you were clinging to your A/C unit over the weekend, Newark mayor and Twitter addict Cory Booker was ushering his new startup out of stealth mode. The company, called #waywire, is a media platform that combines original and syndicated videos with relevant user-generated content from young adults about what’s important to them and their perspective on issues in the news.

Wait, didn’t Al Gore have the same idea in 2005?

“Traditional news sources aren’t in any way talking to millennials,” Mr. Booker tells TechCrunch. Perhaps the site can start with whether any young adult actually wants to be labeled a “millenial”? Read More