The Real Startup Dogs of Silicon Alley

Dog Vacay, the Airbnb for Dogs, Launches In New York City

FINAL Aaron and Karine headshot

Accumulate enough animal-loving friends and you’re likely to find yourself on the receiving end of emails like: Anyone want to stay in a sunny 2-bedroom apartment next weekend FOR FREE . . . and watch Buster while we’re out of town? We promise he doesn’t bite! Or, even the occasional: Okay, so maybe he does bite, but we’ll leave a six pack in the fridge.

The idea behind Dog Vacay, a new service opening shop in New York today, is to offer pet-owners a third option besides pricey kennels and begging/bribing friends. Read More

Cordcutting

Aereo Picks Up $20.5 M. for a Thumbnail-Sized HD Antenna to Stream Local TV in NYC

How I Live-Streamed Your Mother

A magical thing happened at IAC’s headquarters this morning. A startup called Aereo displayed the most compelling argument for cord-cutting we’ve heard in awhile. It came in the form of a thumbnail-sized HD antenna. Sign up with Aereo and users get the right to license their own antenna, which are stored in a local warehouse. Then, log on via any web-enabled device (smartphones, iPads, even AppleTV) and ta-da, members can access major networks like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, and PBS, as well as other local channels. Better yet, you also have the ability store up to 40 hours of programming on their remote DVR.

“No cords or cable required,” the company’s press release says pointedly. The service is limited to New York City right now, but only costs $12 a month. Throw in a Netflix account, Hulu, and you’re probably good to go. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dying Cable Industry!

Aereo (formerly called Bamboom Labs) also anounced a $20.5 million series A round led by IAC. Read More

Venture Capitalism

Former First Round Capital Principal Charlie O’Donnell Launches Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a Seed Stage Fund

via BrooklynBridgeVentures.com

On his blog this morning, New York City tech stalwart Charlie O’Donnell announced the creation of a new seed investment fund called Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Mr. O’Donnell, who used to bike the 9.2 miles from his home in Bay Ridge to his last job—principal at First Round Capital in Union Square—says his is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn and that the borough “has the potential to be the very best place in the world to start a technology business.”

Business Insider‘s sources say Mr. O’Donnell’s fund will be $10 million. Betabeat has heard somewhere in the range of $10 million to $20 million and that Quotidian Ventures might be his first big LP, although Mr. O’Donnell would not return earlier calls to confirm. We have reached out to Quotidian and will update the post when we hear back. Read More

Curation Nation

Percolate Raises $1.5 M. and Turns Away from Consumers to Helping Brands Curate Content

Mr. Blier with his daily brew.

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. Read More

BE SEEN WITH CAFFEINE

The Great Coffee Shop Boycott

Coffee Shop (Will M., foursquare.com) vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W., foursquare.com)

Coffee Shop (Will M., foursquare.com) vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W., foursquare.com)

The Coffee Shop in Union Square, located on the bustling corner of 17th St. and Union Square West, is famous for several things: the waitresses are models, it turns into a Brazilian dance club on the weekends, was voted Best Bar for Modelizers in the Village Voice, and New York says it boasts a “high risk of poor service and unpleasant encounters with attitudinal (but often pretty) people” but praised the crayons and puzzle place mats for kids. This noisy, WiFi-less den is famous for something else within the tight-knit community of Silicon Alley: it serves as the de facto meeting place for VCs and founders such as Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and IA Ventures’ Roger Ehrenberg. “Pitch your startup to First Round Capital here. They’re right across the street,” says the Foursquare tip left by Charlie O’Donnell.  Read More

Funding Ding Ding

Chloe+Isabel Raise $8.5 Million Series A Led By General Catalyst

Chloe + Isabel

Jewlery design and sales startup Chloe and Isabel has just raised a healthy $8.5 million Series A round led by General Catalyst.

This round follows on a  $3.25 million in a seed round which the company raised just this January. That round was led by First Round Capital, Floodgate Fund, and angel investors including SV Angel Ron Conway, Founder Collectives’ Caterina Fake, Felicis Ventures’ Aydin Senkut, The Consigliere’s Mike Duda, Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green, and Ashton Kutcher.

“We’ve been reading a lot about the series A crunch, so it was  exciting to share the good news,” Lindsay Kaplan, their marketing director, told Betabeat by phone. Read More

Seed Stage Slaughter

Fund Em’? I Barely Know Em’!

Reap what you sow

Betabeat has been writing about the crunch for seed stage startups looking to raise series A since August of this year. The debate over this trend is now in full flower, with VCs divided over whether or not there is a reckoning in the works.

Regardless of what position you take on the series A situation, it’s clear that 2010 saw a surge in seed stage investments. Pulling data from crunch base, Alexia Tsotsis found seed investments grew substantially while A rounds stayed flat.

As Josh Koppelman of First Round Capital writes on his blog today, this is reflected in the amount of time his firm spent evaluating new deals before deciding to invest. Over the last four years, the amount of time it took for a Read More

Girl Problems

Charlie Hit On Me! One Silicon Alley VC’s Quest for Love and Other Startups

Illustration by Paul Kisselev.

Charlie O’Donnell has long eyelashes, an athletic build and a shiny shaved head: a 32-year-old in his prime working at one of the most highly-respected startup investment firms in New York, First Round Capital. The kayaking enthusiast and devotee of the fitness Bible The 4-Hour Body is known to broadcast his nine-mile cycling commute on Twitter, where he goes by @ceonyc, a reference to his initials.

A power networker, Mr. O’Donnell has made himself a fixture at tech parties in search of the next Mark Zuckerberg, or as it were, the next Margaret. Trouble is, he’s also looking for the next Mrs. O’Donnell.

“For men, if we are single, any single female that we are hanging out with has the potential, at least at first, to be a potential date,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote in 2004 on his popular blog, This Is Going To Be Big. “But for girls, you never really know. You can be doing all of the dating type stuff… showing interest, asking them out, etc… and they’ll seemingly go along with the whole thing, until the point that you’re sitting across from them and you realize, ‘Hey… wait a second… this isn’t a date at all!’”

Business and pleasure often mix in the Silicon Alley startup scene, where investors are known to karaoke with their portfolio companies. By now, everyone knows a pitch and a drink can be one and the same—but what about a pitch and a date? With more women on the tech scene, uncertainty is increasingly common.

“I once scheduled a meeting with someone and it turned out to be a date,” one well-connected female techie told Betabeat. That someone was Mr. O’Donnell. One female founder was “asked out to dinner on the pretense of it being a meeting, but it turned out to be a date” with a local venture capitalist, who followed up with an extended series of flirtatious text messages. That man also turned out to be Mr. O’Donnell. In fact, Mr. O’Donnell’s name came up repeatedly in the course of reporting a more general story about women in tech.

Even so, there are far more nefarious scoundrels on the scene. Betabeat heard some stories of other investors that sounded like fodder for Mad Men. “I’ve even heard of VCs trying to sleep with their potential female investees,” said one female founder who used to live in New York and now lives in the Bay Area. “Pretty sketchy stuff.” One woman who organizes tech events said she was stalked for years by a consultant who stopped only after her brother intervened; one female founder met with a Silicon Valley investor who followed up with an invitation to his hotel room via a midnight text message—“and he was married!” Read More