Summits

BuzzFeed Cofounder Jonah Peretti Preaches the Science of Memes

Mr. Peretti (flickr.com/wonific)

If Arianna Huffington is the Madonna of the media industry, what does that make Jonah Peretti, cofounder of burgeoning meme factory BuzzFeed? Prince, perhaps? (In keeping with the ’80s references, of course.)

Ms. Huffington, who founded The Huffington Post with the help of Mr. Peretti, was so excited to hear the nerd king’s presentation, which directly followed her own, that she announced offhandedly that she was changing her schedule so that she could stay. And Mr. Peretti, whose slideshow was chock full of cute animal photos and other humorous BuzzFeed absurdities, did not disappoint. (Though it was apparently quite similar to the one he did at Ad Age Digital a few weeks ago.) Read More

Commenting Wars

Branching Out: How Josh Miller Went From Princeton Dropout to Alley Darling in Just Nine Months

Big day for Josh Miller. (joshm.co)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Josh Miller, the precocious 21-year-old Princeton dropout behind Branch, one of tech’s most buzzed-about new startups, took The Observer on a tour of the Obvious Corporation, a growing operation helmed by the cofounders of Twitter that advises and invests in an elite set of fledgling tech companies, Branch among them.

The San Francisco office radiated industrial California coziness, with tall windows and exposed pipes, dark grey walls and a fridge overflowing with Vitamin Water. Mr. Miller, who is tall and insouciant, with the laid-back linguistic tenor of one who spent his childhood in Santa Monica, bustled about the office, seemingly unthreatened by the fact that he is both much younger and less experienced than the majority of Obvious employees.

“Check this out!” he called from a breezy conference room with a panoramic view of downtown San Francisco. He pointed to a wet bar fully stocked with top-shelf bottles. “You know, I’m just out of college, so sometimes I’m, like, afraid to drink any of this because it’s so expensive! It’s like, where’s the Franzia?” he joked, referring to the cheap boxed wine favored by destitute college students. Read More

The Incubators

New Startup Incubator Soho TechLabs Is Hiring [UPDATED]

soho tech labs

Soho TechLabs, the fledgling startup incubator formed by several Huffington Post refugees, announced via an inaugural tweet today that they’re recruiting early founders and employees. The company, backed by Lerer Ventures, was originally announced in Ad Age in January; it will be lead by a team of ex-Huffpoers, including founders Paul Berry, Jonah Peretti and Ken Lerer, as well as former Huffington Post president Greg Coleman. As we previously reported, the new incubator will be housed at 560 Broadway, the current home of Lerer Ventures. Read More

Personalities

Jonah Peretti’s Meme Streak

20 Photos

'Going Viral'

Jonah Peretti’s office has two glass walls, two white walls and no decoration except for a giant, multicolored rectangle, with blue and violet hues fading upward and coalescing into a tight little rainbow wheel at the top. The Brooklyn artist Cory Archangel, a friend of Mr. Peretti’s, makes these “gradient paintings” with one click in Photoshop, blows them up and sells them for lots of money, Mr. Peretti said. It is, in his words, “kind of a joke.”

Mr. Peretti, 38, a navy-eyed, wavy-haired nerd-king with a machine-gun giggle, was a cofounder of the Huffington Post before he moved on to other things. He likes these gradient paintings a lot. His Twitter page is also a gradient. Mr. Peretti, a career mischief maker with a “great, sort of trollish sense of humor,” as one former employee put it, likes jokes best when they’re subversive. He’s infamous for arguing that Mormonism is superior to Judaism because of its growing numbers, a shtick he uses in presentations. As a grad student at MIT in 2001, he ordered a pair of custom Nikes embroidered with the word “sweatshop,” extracting a series of awkward emails from an unlucky customer service rep. He forwarded the emails to a few friends, who forwarded them to their friends, and so on. Literally millions of people have read them. Read More

Disruptions

BuzzFeed Scooped CNN Last Night

buzzfeed politics

BuzzFeed had arguably one of its first big scoops last night since it hired Politico rockstar Ben Smith earlier this month, beating the major media outlets. “McCain To Endorse Romney Tomorrow,” is the headline on the un-bylined post, slipped to the blog by a “well-placed former McCain aide” early this morning. It must have tasted sweet to read the words, “News of the endorsement was first reported by BuzzFeed Politics,” on CNN’s version of the story, now the top result in Google News. Read More