A night out with WillCall If you want to see a show but hate Ticketmaster, you don’t have too many options. Most of the time, you can either try buying secondhand from Craigslist or StubHub, or you can stay home. But the WillCall app, which originally launched last year, capitalizes on the remaining few venues (mostly smaller, all noble) that don’t have deals with big sellers to bring you a curated list of recommended events and a quick way to get tickets. This week, WillCall announced that the latest version of the app will also make it easy to transfer tickets between users, in case they’re a gift or someone has to back out at the last minute.
GroupMe ups the Emoji factor It’s hard to text your friends about brunch plans when you don’t have a bacon emoji, you know? So maybe it’s time to download GroupMe, the group messaging app that now offers users a delightfully broader array of emoji than ever before. There’s a red Solo cup; a taco; an iced coffee; a freaking squirrel perched on a branch, people. There’s even a special summer pack that includes a sweat-stained t-shirt (ew?) and a fat dog wearing sunglasses—endless fun! Already have GroupMe? Access the new range of emoji by downloading the latest update.
On the Town
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.
So last week I did this blog post highlighting The 16 SXSW Parties You Really, Really Don’t Want to Miss. And I got a ton of email from you guys & gals saying a) “Thank you, you’re a life saver!” and b) “We want more, more, MOARRR!”
For the hardcore partier, I’ve put together the ULTIMATE Guide to all the SXSW Parties (a whopping 300+ and counting!). Print this out before your trip and you’re golden, my friend. And as you can see, there’re a ton of events that don’t even require a SXSW badge.
When Betabeat arrived downtown at a hulking brownstone bathed in red light with a double-digit Fifth Avenue address, there was already a line out the door. We were promptly assigned a pink wristband and told to head downstairs, where we discovered we’d be attending three classes over the course of the evening: Poker, music, and arts and crafts. So educational!
We’d arrived for the launch party of Experiences by GroupMe.* The company got its start with a group messaging service (which it parlayed into an $80 million acquisition by Skype) but recently expanded into the new group purchasing service, which allows numerous people to sign up for suggested events simultaneously and still split the bill.
The venue: the Salmagundi, an arts club founded in the mid-nineteenth century. GroupMe had conspired with event designer Adam Aleksander to send the service into the world in grand style. The suggested dress code was “elegant cocktail attire,” but budget Kardashian would have to do for this reporter.
Roughly a year-and-a-half after closing its second $25 million seed stage fund, Lerer Ventures is in the processing of raising money for a third. An SEC filing, first noted by TechCrunch, says the size of the round is $30 million.
Although the Form D indicates that the early-stage venture capital firm has yet to sell, expect the round to close quickly.
Last May, it only took Lerer Ventures “a matter of weeks” to raise that $25 million from individuals and family offices. And that was before the highly-regarded New York City firm–launched by Huffington Post cofounder (and Betaworks and Buzzfeed chairman) Ken Lerer and his son Ben Lerer, cofounder of Thrillist–boasted a handful of exits.
Thrive Capital, the New York-based venture capital firm helmed by 26-year-old Josh Kushner*, announced today that it has successfully raised a $150 million fund for early and later stage startups. The news comes almost a year to the day after Thrive announced a $40 million raise from investors like Princeton University. The fresh $150 million comes from a slew of some of the same investors, including Princeton, Wellcome Trust and Hall Capital Partners.
Last week, GroupMe*, the popular group messaging app acquired by Skype in late August–filed a complaint in Southern District of New York against Groupie, another New York City-based startup. Their stated motive: to “remove the ‘cloud’ of uncertainty” around the GroupMe trademark.
In the filing, GroupMe stops just short of calling Groupie a trademark troll. Funny, we’re more accustomed to hearing about the patent kind.
Alley vs. Valley
A little less than a year after being acquired by Skype for an estimated $80 million, GroupMe’s* founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci are still in startup mode. Today the company released “Experiences by GroupMe,” the biggest expansion beyond its core group messaging function.
The service, which was released to select New York users this morning, offers groups of friends a handpicked list of events like, say, a concert, dinner, or UCB improv showcase in Central Park. Each event comes with an “I want to do this” button and lets users create a landing page with a unique URL to recruit friends to sign up. Experiences then lets you split the bill–using standard Visa, Amex, and Mastercard options that won’t charge your card until all the spots have been reserved. Better still, GroupMe builds a group around the event for you to communicate with everyone who’s attending.
“We own the experience end-to-end,” Mr. Hecht told Betabeat over the phone.
What happens when a seasoned Alley veteran temporarily trades the MUD truck for Blue Bottle, the underdogs for the overlords, the stench of the East River for air that carries a hint of jasmine? A lot of anti-Valley tweets, apparently.
GroupMe’s community manager, Steve Spillman, tweeted his way through the Valley and came to the below conclusions.
Jack Leidlein, who was hired last week by First Round Capital to be their head of talent, really loves to use the word “exceptional.” It makes sense, though; the very core of Mr. Leidlein’s new job–recruiting brilliant engineers to fill the ranks at First Round-funded startups–hinges on exceptionalism, and his knack for finding diamonds in the rough.