“Maliyah, step away from the mouse!” called Ashley Gavin, a software engineer at the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and instructor at the Girls Who Code summer program. Maliyah Greene, the recipient of Ms. Gavin’s reprimand, reluctantly tore herself away from Photoshop to come and talk to Betabeat. We were sitting in AppNexus’s Flatiron office, watching her fellow Girls Who Code students work on virtually tagging brick walls with their names. “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” Ms. Greene smiled.
She is one of 20 high school girls who gave up summer vacation to learn about app development, robotics, web design and other topics at Girls Who Code, a summer computer-engineering program for girls.
Though this is its first summer in existence, Girls Who Code already boasts executives from Gilt Groupe, Twitter and General Electric on its board and has been working with AppNexus and other New York startups throughout the summer.
Fundraising platform Indiegogo just released some interesting stats regarding the do-gooder campaign for bullied bus monitor Karen Klein. The fundraiser, which was launched last Wednesday by nutritionist Max Sidorov to raise money for a vacation for Ms. Klein after a video of her being bullied surfaced on YouTube, has raised more than $660,000 in just one week. Indiegogo, which takes a 4 percent cut of every campaign, stands to make more than $26,000 from the Internet’s philanthropy.
On June 19th, just before a heat wave clutched New York in its punishing grip, a YouTube user named CapitalTrigga uploaded a video to YouTube entitled “Making the Bus Monitor Cry.” The video shows a gaggle of middle schoolers from Greece, New York hurling vicious insults at a senior citizen bus monitor named Karen Klein, who is forced to don her sunglasses to hide the fact that she’s crying. The cruelty drags on for a painful 10 minutes and 9 seconds. Anyone who was bullied as a kid will certainly find it difficult to watch.
The local school district quickly moved into damage control mode and held a press conference about the video, but several enterprising Internet denizens decided to take matters into their own hands. A Ukranian nutritionist named Max Sidorov started an Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $5,000 for Ms. Klein to help raise money for a much-needed vacation following the incident. As of this writing, the campaign had raised over $175,000.
When Lawyers Send Letters
It was glaringly sunny in Washington, D.C., on April 5, the day President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act, and there was some confusion as to the location of the afterparty. One faction of Rose Garden attendees gathered on the roof of the W Hotel and wondered where everyone was. The rest assembled at Off The Record, a dimly lit bar in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel, and kicked things off with an icebreaker.
About 30 smartly dressed men and women, still sweating out the adrenaline of being three rows away from the president, stood in a circle. Many had worked with each other but never met. Each stated their names, the role they played in the bill, and perhaps a few words about the brave new world of so-called equity-based crowdfunding, which had just been legalized by one of the six constituent laws that make up the JOBS Act. The new rule will allow “ordinary Americans,” in the president’s words, to invest in a nonpublic company in exchange for shares for the first time since the enactment of the securities regulation that followed the 1929 stock market crash.
The mood was triumphant and boozy. Tim Rowe, a Cambridge-based venture capitalist, raised a glass and offered a toast to working together in the future. “The Marine Corps was founded in a bar in Philadelphia,” he said. “Big things can happen starting in a bar.” Attendees signed up to join a trade organization for the newly minted market. “There was the sense of elation that we had cracked the monopoly of Wall Street,” one attendee recalled.
When Lawyers Send Letters
We’re not going to lie: We’ve enjoyed following every single development of the FunnyJunk/Charles Carreon-versus-Oatmeal/Matthew Inman fustercluck. But at this point, with a lawsuit targeting the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, it’s getting a little ridiculous. And if Mr. Carreon digs himself any deeper, he’s going to pop out in Beijing. That’s probably why Mr. Inman just addressed Mr. Carreon’s eyeroll-inducing legal antics with a blog post informing him as gently as possible (well, for the “ptero-you-a-new-asshole” Oatmeal) that he is making matters worse.
“You’re upset, I get it,” grants Mr. Inman, before doling out a little real talk: “My advice: take a few weeks off, stop saying crazy shit to journalists, and come back when you’ve calmed down. Write an apology to whomever you feel is appropriate, or just don’t write anything ever again.” (This is actually pretty solid counsel for anyone who ever incurs the wrath of the Internet.)
When Lawyers Send Letters
Late Friday afternoon, the legal dustup between popular Oatmeal webcomic creator Matthew Inman and FunnyJunk lawyer Charles Carreon careened full-speed into OMGWTF territory. Mr. Inman initially launched a campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise money for the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society in response to a trademark complaint filed by FunnyJunk. On Friday, Mr. Carreon, who is representing FunnyJunk in the case against The Oatmeal, filed his own lawsuit against Mr. Inman, alleging that he incited “cybervandalism” and initiated an “Internet jihad.”
In the suit, Mr. Carreon alleges that Mr. Inman’s campaign unleashed a swath of cybervigilantes who have fraudulently impersonated him and harassed him. But the thing is–Mr. Carreon is also suing the charities that were unwittingly dragged into this mess, as well as Indiegogo.
Beef in the Crowdfunding Game
Round three of The Oatmeal versus FunnyJunk isn’t looking so great for the latter.
For those just tuning in: Earlier this week, accused of defamation and faced with a demand he immediately fork over $20,000 in damages, Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money. However, he proposed to split it between the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. FunnyJunk’s lawyer then alleged that the campaign was a violation of Indiegogo’s terms of service and that he would be petitioning the crowdfunding site to remove it.
Well, it turns out that Indiegogo does not agree with that assessment. The company just sent us the following statement:
When Lawyers Send Letters
Last week, we covered Vergence Labs‘ canceled Kickstarter campaign and relocation to Indiegogo. Kickstarter’s no-comment policy regarding suspended projects means there’s no way to know the official reason for the cancellation. But now it looks like someone–though it’s not entirely clear who–has embarked on a spammy promotional campaign for the Indiegogo project, blasting out emails from a “Sergey Grin” and blitzing Twitter with @replies linking to the new project.
Founders Erick Miller and Jon Rodriguez were unable to respond by publication time (despite multiple requests for comment), but it’s presumably either them, or someone who is very, very enthusiastic about their idea.
Popular webcomic The Oatmeal has reportedly been threatened with a lawsuit for making allegedly defamatory statements about FunnyJunk.com. Did the threat work? No, not at all, as of this writing.
FunnyJunk is a site with which Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman has some history. In response to the demand for $20,000 in damages, Mr. Inman proposed raising $20,000 on on Indiegogo, which he has pledged to donate to the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. The project hit $20,000 in 64 minutes and is up to $25,000 with 15 days left to go. How do you like them oats?
Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo just raised $15 million from venture capital investors in order to staff up, build out and take on Kickstarter and 400 other competitors (including one crowdfunding platform that launched after raising money on Indiegogo). “We launched in January 2008 and we’ve been growing pretty steadily,” founder and CEO Slava Rubin told Betabeat from some unspecified location in New York. “We want to improve the product to make it easier and better to have campaign owners get discovered and get more funding.”