Visiting Dignitaries

Attention, Everyone: Steve Wozniak Has Already Met Kim and Kanye’s Baby

Mr. Wozniak. (Screencap)

Last night, Business Insider reports, Steve Wozniak appeared on “Piers Morgan Live.” Normally, there’d be nothing remarkable about that, but this time he had some rather unusual value to add.

That’s because Woz, the cofounder of Apple, is one of the few people who’s actually met North West, the firstborn child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

WTF? Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Startup Bros Quoting ‘Big Pimpin’ Reaches All-Time High as Jay-Z Cuts Deal With Samsung

You think he ever worries about the symbolism? (Photo: Getty Images/D Dipasupil)

Not to be outdone by Yeezus, Jay-Z announced last night–via a three-minute commercial midway through the NBA finals game–that he’s dropping his own new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, next month.

Midway through the rambling ad, Jay-Z waxes philosophical, all Paul Graham-like: “That’s why the Internet is like the wild west, the wild wild west. We need to write the new rules.” Apparently, that means cutting a hugely lucrative deal with Samsung to give away a million copies of the album.

Guess someone’s figured out the right way to run this “information wants to be free” racket. Read More

startup rundown

Startup News: Etsy Goes Shopping for a Twee App Maker and Dwolla Goes to the Gov

Mr. Vinh (Photo: Tumblr.com)

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.”  Read More

Oh You Fancy Huh?

The Fancy Lets You Live Out the Ashton Kutcher Fantasy You Never Had

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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. Read More

Insurgents

Tech Insurgents 2012: Ryder Ripps, Jonathan Vingiano and Jules LaPlace

(Photo: OKFocus)

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.

Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Kanye West Was at General Assembly in the Flatiron This Afternoon, Meeting with a Startup

Futuristic. (Photo: Morsipr.blogspot.com)

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. Read More

Oh You Fancy Huh?

Kanye West Is Advising NYC Startup The Fancy on the Future of Commerce

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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? Read More

Slow News Day

Kanye West-Themed Stuff on Etsy, on the Occasion of Gawker Rewriting an Old Post [SLIDESHOW]

14 Photos

Embroidered Kanye West Tweet

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. Read More

Oh You Fancy Huh?

Fancy, New York’s Own Pinterest Competitor, Doubled Its Users to 500K In Two Months

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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. Read More