Lobby 2.0

With an Eye on Citywide Elections, New York Tech Tests Its Political Klout Score

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It’s never too early to start speculating about the next election cycle. So we’re calling it, less than a month into the new year: 2013 will be New York tech’s debut as a political force.

Tech moguls and politicians have always been willing bedfellows, of course. Last year, technophiles in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area outpaced “Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street moguls” in funding President Obama’s reelection campaign, according to a report from MapLight.com. On the other side of the aisle–like far, far to the right–Facebook investor Peter Thielalmost single-handedly” funded Ron Paul’s super PAC. After his fringe candidate dropped out of the race, Mr. Thiel donated $1 million to Club for Growth Action, a Tea Party super PAC. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: Celebrating Diwali White House Style and Ben Lerer’s Beer Pong Skills

(Photo: Twitter)

In less than a week, you’ll be sitting on your parents’ couch with a belly full of booze and turkey watching shitty cable TV, because ain’t life grand? To tide you over until that wondrous day, we’re back with another batch of juicy rumors. Happy Friday!

Beer Me Storied New York venture capital firm Lerer Ventures knows its target audience. According to a tweet from Scoutmob cofounder Dave Payne, Lerer is hosting a beer pong tournament for some of the companies it has invested in. “just got invited to a beer pong tourney by one of our venture investors,” tweeted Mr. Payne. “that’s hard core @lererventures. well done.”

Competition at the tournament seems like it will be quite fierce. “hope you’ve been practicing,” responded Northeastern student Scott Edelstein. “i’ve seen@benjlerer win with his eyes closed.”

In fact, here’s proof: Read More

XX in Tech

Last Night’s Girls Who Code Gala Proves Beyonce’s Thesis: Who Runs the World? Girls!

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Reshma Saujani

There are precious few tech events for which Betabeat would agree to wear high heels. But if there was ever a worthy cause, it’s Girls Who Code. Thus between subway transfers, we swapped out our beat-up boots for patent leather and teetered our way around the cobblestone patches outside the New York Stock Exchange for the organization’s startup-studded gala.

The cause for celebration was two-fold. The first was showing off demos from its inaugural class of 20 girls, who represented all five boroughs and some disarmingly ambitious ideas. (We’re still scratching our head at Cora Frederick‘s plan to use data mining and machine learning to classify tumors.) The second was to announce an audacious new goal: to train one million girls in computer science by 2020, starting with a national expansion outside New York City next year.

The nonprofit organization, founded by former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani and run by former Jumo managing director Kristen Titus, offers teenage girls an eight-week, full-time education in robotics, web design, and mobile development, with mentorship from engineers and executives at Twitter, Google, ZocDoc, Gilt Groupe, and more. In fact, Ms. Saujani noted last night, CEO Dick Costolo volunteered Twitter’s first philanthropic donation to Girls Who Code, although she politely declined to specify the dollar amount. Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Which New York Techies Came Out to Support Obama at Last Night’s Splashy Fundraiser?

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Waiting for Obama

With Super Tuesday looming, President Obama cut a swath through New York City last night, attending four separate fundraisers, beginning his evening in a Manhattan penthouse. The big ticket events of the night both happened in Union Square, starting with a $35,000-a-plate dinner at ABC Kitchen, run by celebuchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and then moving onto ABC Carpet & Home showroom, where Aziz Ansari made a special appearance and both The Roots and Ben Folds put on a show for the “young, hip-looking crowd.”

In seven hours, he managed to raise $5 million.

The press has focused on high-profile attendees like Deepak Chopra and Russell Simmons, as well as the turnout from the upper echelons of Wall Street. Indeed, Republicans would probably love to make stumping in front of an $18,000 piece of driftwood this season’s $400 haircut. But under the radar, New York techies also showed up–and paid up!–for the Democratic cause, and the ancillary bonus of getting to watch Questlove bang on some drums. Read More

MoLoSo

LocalResponse Goes Pro, Launches Analytics Dashboard for Brands to Act on Geo-Targeted Consumer Intent

Any excuse to post photos of @stanleythepuppy

LocalResponse announced some big news today in the way of every startup’s favorite word: monetization! (Well, it might be your least favorite if your name rhymes, say, with Shmumblr). The advertising platform, which helps marketers make good on real-time consumer intent by mining mentions and location-enabled check-ins on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla and the like, is now offering an “analytics and action platform for marketers.”

In the past, LocalResponse has managed fly-over state friendly campaigns for clients like Walgreens. Consumers who checked-in to Walgreens on Foursquare or merely tweeted “I’m at Walgreens” or even “I’m going to Walgreens,” got a tweet back directly from the store offering promotions and coupons. Click-through rates for that that kind of offering are more than 50 percent, a good 20 times that of other direct response marketing campaigns, says the startup.

The secret sauce of LocalResponse’s approach to social media deluge is that the company is able to analyze both implicit and explicit check-ins. “No one is using semantic NLP (natural language parsing) to extract the implicit ‘check-in’ or presence—in fact we have a patent pending on this process,” LocalResponse CEO Nihal Mehta told Betabeat. “Sprout Social, Tweetdeck, SocialFlow all operate on generic mentions, instead of ‘presence’ like LocalResponse does,” he added. Data from Foursquare, who is also trying get in on the ad game, is only two percent of LocalResponse’s data set. “The vast majority comes from people mentioning they are at places or doing things on Twitter itself!” he said. Read More

MoLoSo

Let’s Monetize! How LocalResponse Turns Social Media Emphemera Into Mobile Ad Inventory

Nihal Mehta

Betabeat is pretty sick of “big data” as a buzzword, but the amount of personal information that consumers are throwing up on the web is staggering. Facebook has had some success advertising against this information, Twitter less so.

LocalResponse was born out of the ashes of Buzzd, a city guide that mashed up Foursquare and Twitter to help users find local hotspots. Founder Nihal Mehta learned a valuable lesson in defeat, and this week raised a $5 million round from new investors Cava Capital, Vodafone Ventures, Advancit Capital and Progress Ventures, along with its existing investors

Buzzd was a consumer facing platform, but failed to attract enough users. LocalResponse, by contrast, take the massive amount of public data being shared on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and turns that into ad inventory. Read More

Location Based

LocalResponse Adds Big Brands and New President

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LocalResponse, which soft launched two weeks ago, aggregates more than 1 billion check ins per month from 200 million different users across a range of services like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and more. It breaks that data down and makes sense of it so business owners can target different kinds of customers in specific locations. Read More