Summer Jamz

Turntable.fm and the Siren Song of the Start-up Pivot

Pivot Prof. Billy Chasen

There is no more overused and reviled word in the world of tech start-ups than pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.

It seems to capture the manic energy of the current tech industry, in which an idea can get millions in funding before building a product and, if the users never materialize, or the business model never emerges amidst all hype, simply change their direction and try something new.

No company better epitomizes this idea of second chances than Turntable.fm, a social music site, born out of the ashes of a failed venture called Stickybits. Founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein raised almost $2 million for Stickybits and worked on the project for about a year. The idea was to leave little stickers on physical objects that contained links to stories, photos and video on the web. Big brands like Pepsi thought it was a great idea. Users, not so much.

With little momentum and cash running low, they decided to pull a monster pivot. Turntable.fm, which launched a little over one month ago, has already attracted over 300,000 users and the interest of top tier investors on the east and west coast. Suddenly a team that was running low on funds is being courted for a fresh infusion of $5-10 million at a $40 million valuation, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources. Read More

Blog Lords

Caterina Fake’s New Start-Up Will Not Be In New York, Has Already Pissed Off Michael Arrington

caterina_head

It looks like New York has lost one for good—or at least as long as it takes build a “consumer-facing,” “social” start-up with “optimal founder-market fit!” Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, who signed an agreement to leave Hunch, the recommendation engine she co-founded with Chris Dixon, just blogged that she will be launching her new company from across the country in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

Ms. Fake didn’t divulge any more details about the business itself, aside from a link to join her mailing list and become a beta tester. But she did shout out to a long list of investors, including her own New York-based fund Founder Collective, True Ventures, SV Angel, and friends like Square COO and angel investor Keith Rabois.

It was rumored that Ms. Fake left Hunch because of irreconcilable differences with Mr. Dixon. However, her post, which linked back to Mr. Dixon pontificating on that aforementioned “founder-market fit,” seemed like a friendly detente. That is, until Michael Arrington got involved. Read More

Recommendation Engines

How Hunch and StumbleUpon Are Different

hunch taste graph

Local taste-grapher Hunch recently rolled out a feed of social recommendations and made it the default landing page, which has confused some users who wonder how it differs from sites like StumbleUpon and Digg, which also rely on the social graph and user feedback to serve recommendations. The crucial difference? StumbleUpon and its ilk emphasize web content–news, websites, apps, videos, especially whatever memey thing is trending that day or week–while Hunch is equally interested in recommending restaurants, events and books. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: And What Was With Today, Today

rumormonger

Ugh, this day. Maybe it was the Amazon Web Services outage? Or exhaustion from all that Internet Week panel campaigning? “Today suckckckckcks,” one Betabeat staffer said. But the rumor roundup must post. On to it:

500 DISSES: Remember how Dave McClure’s 500 Startups accelerator was going to have a demo day in New York? And it was supposed to be at General Assembly in mid-April? We heard a rumor that Mr. McClure had nxed it so we txted him. Turns out the 500-strong don’t need New York’s money. “To be honest, most of our start-ups already got funding,” Mr. McClure (or whoever does his texting) wrote back. “We decided to hold off coming to NYC until later this year.” Read More

Startups

Hunch Crunches Taste With Super Powered Server

No one startup should have all this power.

Hunch is a NY startup building a taste graph that will allow them to offer precise, intimate recommendations to users almost instantly.

When users first go to Hunch they answer a series of questions. At the end, the site delivers recomendations to them about everything from poetry to food to clothing.

To do this, Hunch Read More