Odd Man Out

Building Backwards: The Rare NY Startup Putting Business Before Product

Snap Interactive CEO Cliff Lerner - image via We Are NY Tech

There is a conventional wisdom among web startups building social services for consumers. Build the product first, focus on perfecting it for your users, get as big as possible, then figure out how to monetize. It’s the story behind Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare.

But what if you went about things from the opposite direction. Snap Interactive has their holiday party last night at their offices in the west 30s. There flagship product is Are You Interested, a dating app that began life as one of the first apps on the new Facebook platform back in 2007.

“I won’t lie to you, user experience, design, those have not been our focus. We optimized for revenue and growth. Now we have those thing on cruise control, we can start to work backwards on building a great product.” said Cliff Lerner, Snap’s CEO.  Read More

Social Networking

Goldman Sachs Increases Facebook Ties with a $20 Million Round in Media Buying Platform Network Insights

Lloyd Blankfein likes this.

Networked Insights, a startup that helps marketers make media buys by analyzing cues from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, has raised a $20 million round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. That’s the same Goldman division that shopped around private shares of Facebook before media attention and government scrutiny forced them to take it back. Read More

Internal Memo

ZocDoc CEO Misses the Days When Investors Used Real Checks

Mr. Massoumi

ZocDoc’s CEO Cyrus Massoumi has a soft spot for paper money. The ZocDoc offices sport a giant $100,000 vanity check from Forbes, which its founders debated taking into the bank when the actual money proved to be less than speedy in coming. But today’s $25 million investment from Goldman Sachs won’t come in the form of a check in any size. And it means the loss of a ZocDoc tradition, Betabeat learned after we got ahold of Mr. Massoumi’s memo to ZocDockers today: Read More

Fresh Capital

ZocDoc CEO, Upon Raising $25 M. from Goldman Sachs: ‘We’re Not Planning an IPO Soon–We Don’t Need To’

Nick Ganju (left, co-founder & CTO), Cyrus Massoumi (back center, co-founder & CEO), Oliver Kharraz, MD (right, co-founder & COO) and Netta Samroengraja (front center, CFO).

ZocDoc just announced a surprise extra $25 million on top of the $50 million the startup recently raised from Yuri Milner and DST, and the money came from high places–Goldman Sachs is investing directly in ZocDoc. That is to say, not through Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and not through Goldman’s Principal Investment Area, but with money off its own balance sheets, ZocDoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi told Betabeat.

One of ZocDoc’s first angel investors works at Goldman Sachs in a “unique position,” Mr. Massoumi said. Goldman also manages some of ZocDoc’s finances, and can be expected to handle or at least advise them on any acquisitions ZocDoc might make in the future. Plus ZocDoc’s executives have personal friends at the firm, Mr. Massoumi said. (He and co-founder Dr. Oliver Kharraz used to be closer to that world–the two previously worked at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and continued to wear suits and ties after starting ZocDoc until a friend told them they looked too much “like consultants” to be entrepreneurs, which prompted them to hit the Gap.)

“We’re just really excited,” he said. “There is not a large healthcare institution domestically, perhaps internationally, that does not have a relationship with Goldman Sachs.”

Talks with Goldman started a few weeks ago, in a “mutual conversation,” after the DST investment, Mr. Massoumi said. Read More

Privacy Police

Finding a Laptop in the Trash is Not the Same as Hacking


From the department of hackneyed plot twists comes today’s New York Times story about Goldman fall guy Fabrice Tourre.

Turns out the Grey Lady had long term access to Fab’s emails. Was it through some crack investigative reporting?

Nope, turns out an artist found his laptop in the trash and, after seeing Fab’s name in the paper, started handing the correspondence over to The NYT.

This led Felix Salmon to ask the question: does this constitute hacking by The New York Times? Read More