When we first told you about Vibe, a New York-based pseudonymous mobile messaging app, last September, Occupy Wall Street was in full swing. In fact, Vibe app creator Hazem Sayed earned the nickname “White Hat” for walking around Zuccotti Park passing out flyers for his protester-friendly service. There was even an iPad hooked up to a projector showing hashtagged messages about #OWS.
Well, as TechCrunch reported yesterday, we weren’t the only ones to take note. Betaworks quietly acquired Vibe back in December. According to the blog, the deal was “likely in the low six figures, with Betaworks now owning a majority of Vibe.” In a post on the Betaworks Tumblr this morning, CEO John Borthwick wrote, “There’s no better feeling than falling in love,” noting that Mr. Sayed will stay on to run the company.
Some of the top minds in the startup world have been sharing deep thoughts in plain sight on the Internet for anyone to see. Your host for this chance to peer across the dinner table of the tech elite? The conversation platform Branch. (For when 140 characters and an @ is not enough . . . is an imaginary tagline we’re toying with.)
The startup, originally launched as the group blogging service Roundtable in New York City picked up early traction from industry insiders and recently reemerged with a shiny new interface.
Conversations stem from a particular question, like this one from Twitter/Obvious Corp’s Evan Williams wondering about the downside of parallel entrepreneurship. That line of questioning yielded a particularly compelling series of responses from Betaworks CEO John Borthwick, PayPal CTO Max Levchin, MySpace CEO Mike Jones, and former Mozilla CEO John Lilly, with an invitation for Fred Wilson to join.
The Data Deluge
Our apologies to evangelists of gamification and QR codes, but 2012 is all about data—at least according to New York startup non-incubator Betaworks. “We know the importance of understanding big data,” Betaworks CEO John Borthwick wrote in a confidential letter leaked to PandoDaily on Saturday. “Data is the new plastic. The network is both the frame and the metaphor we are building towards and on. This network-centric model is core to betaworks, and a key competitive advantage.”
The More You Know!
Findings, the fifth company out of the betaworks incubator, just opened to the public today. Using a bookmarklet, the service lets users save and highlight quotes from digital texts online as well as from their Kindles.
Clips, which are imported into a user’s “library” can be annotated with comments and shared via Twitter and Tumblr. On the Findings homepage, users can also see the latest quotes and sources with the option of following people to add their “findings” to your stream.
For straphangers, like Betabeat, who miss the pre-Kindle days of sneaking a peek at the book covers of our fellow C train riders, Findings brings that social element back to reading. Perhaps in an even more intimate way since the service allows you a glimpse beyond the cover, into fellow readers’s marginalia.
The hunt is on. Last week, we broke the news that Andy Weissman was making the leap from betaworks to Union Square Ventures, formalizing the marriage of a Silicon Alley Power Couple that would have made a big splash in the Vows column, if only the New York tech scene had its own Wedding section.
Since Mr. Weissman will be out by the end of the month, betaworks isn’t wasting any time looking for “a new member to our team to help us with our seed-stage investments,” according to the listing on its careers page. In an email to Betabeat, John Borthwick wrote:
Last night Betabeat broke the news that betaworks (no relation) co-founder Read More
Betaworks co-founder Andy Weissman has made a major and unexpected move. After four years at the innovation lab, Mr. Weissman is leaving to join New York’s most prestigious venture fund, Union Square Ventures, which Betabeat learned today is in the process of raising a new $150-200 million round.
Below is the internal email from Mr. Weissman’s co-founder, John Borthwick, to the betaworks staff.
Fog Creek Software is a Silicon Alley survivor. Founded in 2000, the company ran smack into the dot-com bust before it had fully hatched. “We were just trying to keep ourselves in business, so we looked at what we had built for ourselves, and we settled on this bug tracker we had made in Read More
A great interview with New York’s guru of the real-time-social web and Alan Murray, executive editor of WSJ.com.
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.