What’s a good publicity stunt without a stable of pretty women? Apparently even Y Combinator startups fall prey to that age-old logic. DNAInfo reports that Shoptiques, a fashion marketplace for local boutiques, has planned an elaborate jaunt around Manhattan today to dole out free hugs in exchange for some brand recognition. And judging from their Facebook page, looks like they’ll also have a ton of hot pink swag in tow.
Starting at 11 a.m., five models will begin giving free hugs out in SoHo, then travel up through Washington Square Park, Union Square, Times Square and end at Columbus Circle. The whole schtick is so well-planned that you can even track the models’ location on a sweetly-drawn map on Shoptiques’ website.
Things sure do happen fast when you’re wicked popular. On Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg just announced that his social network has agreed to acquire the photo-sharing darling Instagram, adding that “their talented team will be joining Facebook.” In a press release, Facebook says the deal was for a jaw-decimating $1 billion “in a combination of cash and shares of Facebook.”
The news follows a whirlwind week for the clubby favorite. After launching on Android last Tuesday, the startup picked up an additional million users (it already had 30 million iPhone users) in 12 hours. That kicked off rumors via AllThingsD on Friday that Sequoia was close to investing $50 million for a Series B round that valued the startup at $500 million, which TechCrunch just confirmed.
Betabeat published a story yesterday about the ways in which tech investors who write about private companies on public blogs might run afoul of SEC regulations. It focused, naturally, on Mike Arrington, who saw the post around 2 a.m. this morning and responded with this tweet:
“Screw that. Let me introduce you to the first fucking amendment to our constitution.”
Mr. Arrington failed to provide any links to the first amendment, but luckily, Betabeat had spent yesterday afternoon conversing with Prof. John Coffee of Columbia University, one of the foremost experts on securities law in the nation.
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“People think there is a distinction between how an major investor can talk about a public company versus a private company,” said Ralph Ferrara, former General Counsel for the SEC. “But if you read the law carefully, you see that everything that you can do wrong when combining a public company with the media applies to investments in private companies as well.”
Michael Arrington wanted to have it all. The editor-in-chief of TechCrunch, the nation’s most powerful tech blog, had, except for a brief hiatus, invested his own money in the companies he covered. The move always prompted a bit of grumbling in the blogosphere, but nothing he couldn’t handle.
Then Mr. Arrington decided to go bigger. He tapped Silicon Valley’s royalty to raise a $10 million pool he dubbed CrunchFund.
The current wave of IPOs that investors hope will extend from LinkedIn through Groupon and onto Facebook is making some venture capitalists very, very wealthy. But the bonkers bubble money isn’t exactly getting spread around. Bloomberg reports that the success of firms like Sequoia, Greylock, Accel, and Andreessen Horowitz, all of whom have equity in the most valuable start-ups, is driving a massive wedge between “the venture-capital industry’s haves and have-nots.”