shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: Demi Does BuzzFeed, Grouper Hosts a Speakeasy and Will Someone Please Buy Woz a Tesla

Mr. Berger and Mr. Lehman (Photo via Grouper)

Grouper get together Last night Betabeat ventured to Chez André at The Standard for a popup speakeasy for Grouper, an online “social club” that matches groups of friends up with each other for a night out on the town. The crowd appeared to be populated by the well-groomed facet of the technology sector–maybe it was heavy on the fintech and fashtech arenas?–with besuited bros and well-dressed ladies sipping drinks from the open bar and swaying along to Icona Pop. Read More

startup rundown

Startup News: Sony’s ‘Secret’ Gaming Announcement, Vimeo Enters the GIF Game, and Outer Space Gets an App

Sony's PS4 Announcement

Sony Needs to Work On Keeping Secrets Although Sony is still only referring to it as the, “future of Playstation,” everyone knows that tonight’s press conference at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City will be for the reveal of Sony’s Playstation 4, codenamed Orbis. An image of the next generation system’s controller was Read More

Betabeat Investigates

Playing the Mystery Startup Guessing Game: Which New York App Wants to ‘End Loneliness’?

Mr. Waxman. (Photo: Twitter)

Would you answer this mysteriously vague job listing? “Hackers seek hackers in NYC for absurdly fun + challenging startup” is the title of this ad for a Y Combinator startup that claims to already be funded by “some of the best investors in the world” and is now seeking “social hackers.” The ad, a repeat of a listing posted back in April, is at the top of the Hacker News forum. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Former HuffPostie Launches First Indie Project; Yoke.me, a Facebook Dating App that Raised $500K

Download Yoke.me, and you could be kissing your very own New York tech bachelor. (Twitter)

Rob Fishman, former Huffington Post social media editor and eligible New York tech bachelor, has formally launched Yoke.me, the app that raised half a million dollars from investors for a better Facebook-based dating experience. “There’s this awkward moment when you’re on a date and you say, ‘I’m actually working on a dating website,'” the entrepreneur told the New York Post.

Mr. Fishman’s new startup, Kingfish Labs, is working out of Lerer Ventures “with lots of other HuffPo alums,” the founder told Betabeat by Twitter direct message. Mr. Fishman cofounded the company with Jeff Revesz, whose company Adaptive Semantics was acquired by Huffington Post in 2009.

Yoke.me is already getting a few happy reviews. Jacob Weisberg at Slate likes it! But what’s it got that the myriad other Facebook dating apps ain’t got?  Read More

What Could Guo Wrong?

Jerry Guo: What I Did Was ‘F-ed Up’ and I Must Leave for Grouper to Survive

Jerry Guo and the Dalai Lama

Jerry Guo, international rules-bending journalist turned startup CEO, just issued a public apology on his Tumblr. The apology is addressed to the startup world and to the CEO of TechStars company Ignighter, Adam Sachs. Mr. Guo told Mr. Sachs he was a journalist, visited Ignighter and asked lots of questions about the business. Mr. Guo wanted intel on the competition because he was starting his own company, Grouper. “I didn’t tell Adam this, and met him under false pretenses,” Mr. Guo writes.

In the wake of the sudden attention after Betabeat’s article earlier this week, and Gawker’s subsequent interest, Mr. Guo has left Grouper in what he says was a mutual decision with his co-founder and CTO Michael Waxman. Read More

What Could Guo Wrong?

How Newsweek’s Most Notorious Fellow Got Caught Conning Silicon Alley

jerry guo puppy

UPDATE: AOL Editor who fired Mr. Guo in 2008 writes to say he regrets not doing more to warn others. Story here.

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Jerry Guo considers himself a modern nomad. The 24-year-old Chinese-American stays in a different apartment each month, couch surfing or subletting, whatever works best. “Moving around makes it easier to find cool new venues,” Mr. Guo explained. His recently launched startup company, Grouper, sends six users on platonic group outings to lux hotspots around New York, so maintaining a fresh supply of trendy locales is key to Mr. Guo’s success.

“I like to keep moving,” Mr. Guo told Betabeat, hunching down into a leather chair at our Midtown offices. He wore a purple sweatshirt, jeans and yellow-trimmed topsiders with no socks. Over the last two years the rakish Mr. Guo has touched down in exotic locales on practically every continent on earth. There was a rare trip inside North Korea, which Mr. Guo wrote about for the Washington Post. And the time he spent running with the rebel forces in Iran during the summer of 2009, which he chronicled in The New York Times. It was his Chinese passport that allowed him access to nations typically hostile to America*.

“Jerry is…I think the best word is irreverent,” said his co-founder at Grouper, Michael Waxman, who met Mr. Guo when the two were freshman at Yale in 2005. “After all the crazy shit he has done, he’s lucky just to be alive, so he kind of brings that to the table as an entrepreneur.” Mr. Waxman is the CTO/CEO of sorts, while Mr. Guo handles partnerships, operations and marketing. “He has the kind of charisma you can’t learn.”

Check Out Our Slideshow Adventure Around the World With Jerry Guo >>

Mr. Guo’s charisma—and his irreverence—were on stark display in the spring of 2011, when he reached out to Adam Sachs, CEO of the very successful group dating site, Ignighter. He told Mr. Sachs that he was a freelance journalist who had been commissioned to write a piece on Ignighter for The Atlantic Monthly, and sent along some of his clips from his time at Newsweek by way of credentials.

“It was really strange,” Mr. Sachs said. “He showed up to the interview with this other guy, who I later learned was his co-founder. They asked a ton of questions and we talked for maybe an hour.” A few weeks went by and Mr. Sachs heard nothing, so he emailed Mr. Guo to ask about the story. “He told me it was still being edited and that it would come out soon.” Another month or so passed. “Then all of a sudden I see Grouper.” Both companies relied on users’ social graphs to choose clusters of people they would send on group outings.

Mr. Sachs emailed editors at The Atlantic, who informed him that Mr. Guo had indeed pitched the story but that it had never been assigned. He emailed Newsweek, who told him that his complaint was just one of many they were sorting through involving Mr. Guo. Mr. Sachs was upset, but he didn’t feel threatened by Grouper, and he decided to let things go. We thought the incident warranted a closer look. Read More