Sometime last night, just before taking off from work for the day, we became convinced that human fender bender Amanda Bynes had hacked our Twitter account.
Maybe “hacked” is too strong of a word, but it seemed like this troubled celebrity had somehow mastered Twitter in a way that tech reporters hadn’t.
Shopping Site Goes Shopping Back in 2011, Khoi Vinh, the former design director for The New York Times’s website, attempted to launch an iPad collage maker called Mixel that even Taylor Swift would love. The interface was kind of clunky, and the company soon pivoted to a smoother iPhone product, which became fairly successful. And now Mixel has been acquired by the custom product giant Etsy.
No, you won’t be creating any collages of your twee collectables any time soon. According to AllThingsD, The Mixel team is being acquired for its stellar mobile talents. Mr. Vinh and his cofounder Scott Ostler, along with employees Akiva Leffert and Roy Stanfield, will all make the move to Etsy’s Brooklyn offices. Mixel will be shutting down the social side of its app, but will leave up its collage-making tool. In an email to Betabeat, Etsy CTO Kellan Elliot-McCrea explains, “We expect our mobile traffic to surpass desktop traffic by the end of 2014.”
Oh You Fancy Huh?
Have you ever had a fantasy about being like Ashton Kutcher? Ours involve the emo-induced time travel powers from “The Butterfly Effect,” but some version of “untold startup riches” or “dating Mila Kunis” are also acceptable.
New York City-based startup The Fancy* is trying a different approach. In September, the commerce-minded photo-sharing network–which lets users post pics of products and in theory purchase the items directly from the site–went the Birchbox route with a monthly subscription service. The idea being luring in users with small-scale affordable versions of the pricey, aspirational goods like garcinia cambogia that The Fancy tends to attract.
The Merry Pranksters
From Old Spice’s viral “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign to the contentious Skittles spot that made One Million Moms cry bestiality, bizarre or aggressive advertising has become commonplace in our internet-addled society. To nab the attention of customers toggling between screens, advertisers frequently toe the line between inappropriate and outrageous, but few are as unabashedly controversial as the Queens-based OKFocus. Named to AdAge’s Creativity 50 in July, OKFocus is a rebel brand’s dream, equal parts design snob and attention-seeking internet troll. And as advertising moves online, OKFocus clients like Google and the Museum of Contemporary Art have taken note.
Fresh off blowing up Mitt Romney’s tax scheme spot on the opening track of Cruel Summer, Kanye West must have decided it was safe to take his eye off the throne for a minute. We hear the rapper dropped by General Assembly’s East campus at 902 Broadway today to meet with a startup. “He was just there. He was in the classroom,” an entrepreneur stationed in the coworking space told Betabeat. “He didn’t have many people with him and was just in the front. I think he was in the classroom most of the morning.”
We first noticed the sighting via a tweet from Matthew Witheiler, principal at Flybridge Capital Partners. Alex Taub, head of biz dev at Dwolla, also tweeted about the surprise guest–and his stylish wardrobe choice. Another venture capitalist, Nikhil Kalghatgi at Softbank Ventures, used the social network to express his disbelief. Meanwhile, student developer Chevon Christie was bummed to have missed the whole thing.
Oh You Fancy Huh?
Earlier today, New York City startup The Fancy* emailed Betabeat to let us know that “One of our favorite users stopped by the office today :).” Oh, yes we’d noticed. And retweeted.
We’ve documented Kanye West’s interest in The Fancy–a fast-growing startup that turns posted photos into a consumerist’s dream–before. But what exactly was Yeezy doing palling around the office?
Slow News Day
It’s Memorial Day, the sun is out, and no one is clicking things on the Internet. The New York Observer newsroom is quiet; half the Betabeat team is on vacation and one quarter is “working from home.” Even the bluegrass band in Times Square is absent.
So when Gawker writer Louis Peitzman, casting around for a subject on a slow news day, inadvertently rewrote an old Jezebel post about an Etsy seamstress who embroiders Kanye West’s tweets, we sympathized. We also wondered where else the Kanye West phenomenon and the world of Etsy might overlap. Many places, it turns out: a search for “Kanye” in Etsy’s section for handmade goods yields 242 results. Here’s the best and worst of the West. All for you, dear readers. All 10 of you.
Oh You Fancy Huh?
The last time we checked in with social commerce startup Fancy was back in February, around the time Kanye West tweeted out his approval for “My friend Joseph’s site.” The Joseph in question is ThingD founder Joe Einhorn, the wunderkind entrepreneur trying to create “the Facebook of stuff” as Ben Popper wrote in a profile of Mr. Einhorn in The Observer in 2010. (Somewhere along the way, The Fancy opted to drop the “The.”)
Like Pinterest, Fancy is focused on discovering and collecting images of things. Unlike Pinterest, which relies on affiliate marketing links, anything on Fancy can be bought. You “fancy” a thing and Fancy lets brands and retailers sign up to sell that item on the site. That photo of the Eiffel Tower, for example, comes attached to a deal for hotel nights in Paris.
After some sleuthing, Betabeat discovered that WhoDat.biz is in fact a project of New York-based OkFocus, a full service digital agency run by Ryder Ripps and Jonathan Vingiano that’s notorious for their PR stunts.
Mr. Vingiano confirmed to us over email that WhoDat.biz is “an OKFocus project.”
We all got punked.
WhoDat.biz, the silly site claiming to be Kanye West’s newest startup, is not in fact affiliated with the rapper. Everyone from The Washington Post to Ars Technica to BuzzFeed to our very own Betabeat got swept up in the WhoDat madness–which is probably exactly what the unknown architects behind WhoDat wanted.