Airbnb and Me

NYC Judge Rules Airbnb Stay Illegal, Fines Host $2,400

(Photo: Airbnb)

Temporary apartment renting service Airbnb has had its share of tussles with New York law. In 2011, the city instituted an illegal hotels statute that makes it illegal for users to rent out their apartments for less than 30 days, effectively rendering Airbnb hosts subject to fines. Last September, the city council jacked up the fines that could be levied upon illegal hoteliers advertising their wares through Airbnb from $800 to $2,500. Read More

Food Fight

Never Leave Your Apartment Again: Seamless and GrubHub Are Merging

seamless

After rumors swirled the past few days that food delivery companies GrubHub and Seamless were in talks to merge, the news is now official. Bloomberg reports that the companies are combining in an effort to out-deliver their competitors in the fast-growing online ordering sector.

Matt Maloney, CEO of Chicago-based GrubHub, will lead the merged entity while New York-based Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky will be its president. Financial details have not yet been released but neither company is paying to acquire the other. The company will be rebranded, although a new name hasn’t been selected. Read More

Venture Capitalism

Q1 Report: VCs Invested Nearly $7 Billion Across 841 Deals, the ‘Highest Level’ Since Dot Com Boom

(Photo via CB Insights)

CB Insights released a new report about venture capital financing for the first quarter of 2013, and after a bleak 2012, things are looking up for New York startups. The state beat out Massachusetts for the second time in the last two years on “overall number of deals and funding” (not exclusive to tech companies), placing just behind California. Read More

Metro Tech

Google Implements Real-Time Subway Data, Destroying Another Excuse for Brunch Tardiness

Don't lose this. (Photo: Hashgram)

Expect a marked drop in “running 15 late sorrrrrrryyyy don’t hate meee :(” texts thanks to a new feature on Google Maps that shows real-time travel updates on its desktop and mobile products.

Google is getting timelier information by pulling from the MTA’s open data program. However the improved intel is only available for numbered lines (sans the 7) and the Times Square Shuttle thus far. If you are dependent on perpetually infuriating lettered trains like, for example, the C, you are out of luck. Read More

Play Your Video Games

North Korea Uses Call of Duty Footage in Creepy Propaganda Video [Updated]

(Photo: LiveLeak)

What do you do when you lack the technology to create your own simulation of New York City under missile attack? You use footage from video games, of course!

Kotaku reports that a new space race propaganda video put online by North Korea’s propaganda arm Uriminzokkiri depicts a city that looks an awful lot like New York being struck by missiles. Buildings begin to burn as an American flag waves overtop the footage. The video is couched as a dream sequence, showing the dreaming man aboard the rocket the country successfully tested in December. Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Facebook Cofounder Chris Hughes Lives Out Powerball Fantasies of Literature PhDs Everywhere

Mr. Hughes. (photo via flickr.com/dsearls)

New York has just published a lengthy profile of Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, and it confirms what we’ve long suspected: This young man has the chutzpah of a well-capitalized comp lit major. After serving as PR interlocutor for Zuck and helping Barack Obama on his path to the presidency, Mr. Hughes is now plowing that Facebook fortune into the ailing New Republic.

But New York suggests that before he settled on his current property, the most literary of the Facebook mafiosos asked around about a different outlet. Buried in the profile is this tiny tidbit: Read More

Ride or Die

Off Duty Light Goes Off: Taxi Light System to No Longer Confuse Tourists

(Photo: Yellow Cab NYC)

It’s a secret point of pride for experienced New Yorkers that we know how to properly parse the mystifying taxi light system. It gives us a leg up over tourists, who spend so much time trying to differentiate between the Available and Off Duty lights that by the time they realize the cab is free, a local has already settled into the backseat.

But now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Taxi & Limousine Commission has voted to revamp the baffling system: during scheduled taxi inspections between January and April, all taxis will be outfitted so that their signs only display one light when they’re available. When they’re taken or off-duty, the sign will be dark. Read More