The Real TechStars of New York
Abe Stanway is a simple man. He doesn’t ask for much, just one good taco in this godforsaken metropolis. But there’s another thing the Etsy developer really wants–something that the vindictive, nostalgia-hungry startup Timehop has denied him for almost a year. It’s the @Abe Twitter handle, which is currently occupied by Timehop’s dinosaur mascot.
Mr. Stanway first noted that the handle was taken when Timehop announced its funding back in January. “My heart skipped several beats as I realized my personal brand was being hijacked by a dinosaur,” he lamented to Betabeat over email, his frustration palpable. “I watched my career prospects dwindle by the hour, alongside my professional relationships which shortly crumbled and burst into flames.”
The Real TechStars of New York
Timehop has always passed the explain-your-startup-in-a-sentence test with aplomb. It’s a daily email that shows you what you were doing a year ago today through Foursquare checkins, Facebook posts, and tweets. But simplicity isn’t its only charm. The service, which started out as a Foursquare hack by TechStars alums Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong, switches out of social media’s only gear (realtime–i.e. what’s next, what’s new, what’s now) to look back fondly at the past.
Call us raging solopists, but it’s one of the few newsletters (old news letters might be more apt) that gets opened on arrival. The self-aware copy–upbeat, not cheesy–certainly helps, especially when they accidentally email you multiple times on the worst day of the year.
Social media’s dominion over the Internet tends to skew conversation toward the real-time. Facebook may have dropped the What are you doing right now? but the emphasis remains. Investors, however, are eager to back something that bucks that trend. Timehop, an app that culls your Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter history to answer the question What were you doing a year ago today?, just announced that it picked up $1.1 million in funding. The round was led by OATV and joined by Spark Capital. Also participating? TechStars, where co-founders Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong worked on a Craigslist competitor called Friendslist, which flopped.
Fittingly for the app, which was born as 4 Square & 7 Years Ago during a Foursquare Hackathon at General Assembly last February, the round featured some bold-faced names as angel investors, including Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai, and Alex Rainert from Foursquare, GroupMe co-founders Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, as well as Rick Webb and Kevin Slavin.
Maybe it’s the revelation that Facebook’s IPO might happen as soon as the third week of May (at least according to 143 phone calls made by Kara Swisher and, yes, she’s counting), but it seems like even the local press has Mark Zuckerberg on the brain.
The New York Daily News, a paper about as known for its tech coverage as Zuck is known for his formal wear, decided to pick out 12 tech folks to watch and led with the portentous line, “The next Mark Zuckerberg might be right here in the city, sharing space with a dozen other startups in a loft near Union Square.” HE WALKS AMONG US!
It was all sort of an accident. Developers Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong decided to take a break from TechStars NY and have a little fun at a foursquare hackathon. “It was the one day during the entire program we didn’t go to the office, just a way to step off the grind of 15 hour days,” Mr. Wegener told Betabeat.
The product, originally called Foursquare-And-Seven-Years-Ago, sent users an email reminding them where they had checked in one year prior. “People had a really strong reaction to it,” said Mr. Wegener. “We kept thinking of it as this jokey little app we built, but when we had so many users it was starting to cost us money just to send out the daily emails, then we couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
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