BuzzFeed has purchased Kingfish Labs, a company specializing in Facebook data. This is probably the strategic equivalent of that point in the pandemic movie where the virus mutates, goes airborne, and gets really serious. [Business Insider]
“While it used to be that Apple was the brand which uncomplicated computing, for me, anyway, that’s simply no longer true.” [John Battelle]
Bad news, Android users: More than 50 percent of devices contain “unpatched vulnerabilities.” [BGR]
Maine is home to the first electricity-generating tidal turbine in America. [Portland Press Herald]
This Mennonite community is just about the last bunch of people left in the world who don’t look at a camera and start automatically posing for a Facebook cover photo. [Wired]
Ken Lerer’s answer to the Daily Show–a video startup formerly known as Planet Daily–is stealth mode no more. Today the company announced its proper name–NowThis News–plus the identity of its executive team. The site will launch with a partnership with BuzzFeed in place, positioning the company’s content to go viral like chickenpox in Mrs. Henderson’s kindergarden class. The mission is about what we’d expected: to offer “video news for mobile and social news consumers.” Finally, a real broadcast for those among us who turn YouTube in times of crisis!
However, as lifelong Lois Lane fans, we must register our disappointment that the site is losing its super-heroic code name.
A bit of late-breaking news for your Thursday: All Things D reports that men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist has raised a $13 million Series A, led by Oak Investment Partners.
Joining the funding fun were family outfit Lerer Ventures and Bob Pittman’s Pilot Group. Pilot was the first firm to put money into Thrillist, helping founder Ben Lerer get off the ground back in 2005 with $2 million in seed money. This is the first outside capital they’ve raised since.
A source familiar the deal told Betabeat yesterday that Venmo, a New York City-based mobile app that lets you split bills with friends, is in the process of being acquired by Braintree, a Chicago-based online payments company and PayPal competitor. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon, reporting a $26.2 million acquisition price. On the company blog, Venmo said the deal closed in mid-June and that its payment-sharing service “will remain unaffected” and continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Venmo and Braintree share an investor, Palo Alto powerhouse Accel Partners, which also invested in Facebook.
The two startups do seem to be in the midst of a mutual appreciation society. Last week, Braintree’s community manager Kristi Lynch tweeted, “I know it sounds weird, but the @Venmo app makes me wish I owed more people money.” Two Venmo employees favorited the tweet.
Venmo was founded in Philadelphia in 2009 by two former college roommates, Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismai. The duo eventually moved the company to New York City, where Venmo become one of the early stars in the city’s growing tech orbit, embraced by early adopters for making it easier to split the cost of dinner, drinks, monthly cable bills–or any of the innumerable costs of urban life–over their phones. There were even cutesy, customizable receipts, eagerly tweeted out by the Alley in-crowd.
Local maker-minded startup LittleBits just announced a $3.65 million Series A, led by True Ventures. Also participating were Khosla Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Lerer Ventures.
Founder (and MIT Media Lab alum, and TED speaker) Ayah Bdeir told Betabeat that the round will help the company to–pardon the expression–kick it up a notch. “The first phase was really sort of a proof of concept,” she said. The response did not disappoint: LittleBits sold better than expected, “so that we actually now know it’s time to press the peddle.”
The company describes itself as “an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnants for prototyping and play.” And what does that mean, precisely? Think wired Erector Sets.
CheckThis, the latest platform competing for your already-strapped attention, has just raised $910,000 in seed money. Lerer Ventures led the round, with SV Angel, Index Ventures, Betaworks, Seedcamp and Hudson River Angels participating, as well as angel investors Taavet Hinrikus and the cofounders of GroupMe, Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci. Advisors include Instagram’s Tim Van Damme; Google’s François de Halleux; and The Next Web’s Robin Wauters.
Users landing at CheckThis’s homepage are asked, “What do you want to do?” with the options being Tell, Sell, Ask, or Invite. It’s a little Twitter, a little Tumblr, a little Craigslist, and a little Evite, all rolled into one interface. Fill in your information as prompted, do a little customization (background, text color), hit publish, and you’ve got a digital flyer you can share across your social networks. You don’t even need to register an account to create a page.
Founder Frédéric della Faille distills the platform’s core concept down to making announcements, explaining that it aims to fill the gap between a tweet and a blog. Not quite as ephemeral as the former and requiring far less of a commitment than the latter, it’s “Instagram for publishing.”
Planet Daily, the new video startup announced a few weeks ago by ex-HuffPo execs Ken Lerer and Eric Hippeau, has raised $5 million from undisclosed investors, according to a Form D filed today with the SEC.
Do the guys over at Soho Tech Labs ever sleep? It would appear that the answer is no. Not only are they busy incubating social home exchange service CasaHop, which soft launches this week, but they’re also working on a video news startup aimed at the “Jon Stewart set.” Today, RebelMouse CEO and ex-HuffPo CTO Paul Berry told Business Insider that the previously-unnamed video startup has been giving a working title: Planet Daily.
Love in the Time of Algorithms
Huffington Post cofounder Ken Lerer is apparently at work on a stealthy startup aimed to “attract a generation of Web natives who watch Jon Stewart but not CNN or Fox News,” reports Peter Kafka at AllThingsD. Internet locals who love Jon Stewart and loathe cable news . . . wait, is he talking about Betabeat??
The startup is so stealth it doesn’t even have a name yet, although it’s already hiring. The service will function as a joint venture between Lerer Ventures, Mr. Lerer’s seed stage VC firm, and Bedrocket Media Ventures, the video studio and incubator he cofounded shortly after selling HuffPo to AOL for a cool $315 million.
Rob Fishman, former Huffington Post social media editor and eligible New York tech bachelor, has formally launched Yoke.me, the app that raised half a million dollars from investors for a better Facebook-based dating experience. “There’s this awkward moment when you’re on a date and you say, ‘I’m actually working on a dating website,’” the entrepreneur told the New York Post.
Mr. Fishman’s new startup, Kingfish Labs, is working out of Lerer Ventures “with lots of other HuffPo alums,” the founder told Betabeat by Twitter direct message. Mr. Fishman cofounded the company with Jeff Revesz, whose company Adaptive Semantics was acquired by Huffington Post in 2009.
Yoke.me is already getting a few happy reviews. Jacob Weisberg at Slate likes it! But what’s it got that the myriad other Facebook dating apps ain’t got?