Your smartphone is useful for more than Bejeweled now that there’s Wifi in many stations, and the MTA is trying to use that connectivity to make your commute better. (Just don’t ask when your train is getting a countdown clock.)
This weekend, techies gathered in Brooklyn at NYU Poly’s MetroTech Center campus for the first official, MTA-approved transit hackathon. Participants threw together a total of 17 submissions judged by authorities like Rachel Haot, General Assembly cofounder Matt Brimer and AT&T New York president Marissa Shorenstein.
The Real Nerd Prom If you want to relive your high school dance days while getting the chance to mingle and drink with some of the biggest names in tech, you might want to consider buying tickets to the Webutante Ball, which go on sale today. One of the highlights of the upcoming Internet Week New York, the Webutante Ball will be held at the Marquee Nightclub in Manhattan on May 23 and features drinks and dancing, along with the crowning of the annual Webutante King and Queen, which rewards two people for their achievements in tech. Who’s cool now, JOCKS?
API Rate Limit Exceeded Back in April of 2010, the Library of Congress promised to add every tweet up to that date to its famous archives. But like anyone following too many people at once, it’s just caused one big mess. The library now has an archive of approximately 170 billion tweets totaling to a compressed 133.2 terabytes. Now the librarians of Congress are planning to work with Gnip, the company currently organizing all of the data, to develop a plan for archiving all of the tweets.
Apparently there have already been more than 400 access requests to the Twitter archives from researches doing work on citizen journalism and political communications. Someone needs to teach the librarians how to make lists as soon as humanly possible.
Silicon Alley U
r/findmeaparkingspace ParkWhiz, the Chicago company that enables users to find and reserve guaranteed parking spaces before reaching their destination, today announced that it has closed a $2 million Series A round of funding led by Hyde Park Venture Partners. Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian also took place in the round along with Hyde Park Angels, Amicus Capital, and others. In a press release sent to Betabeat, the company said that since its launch in 2006, it has driven $10 million in parking revenue to parking operators and provided access to 3 million parking spaces nationwide.
Fab Goes To India Jason Goldberg, the founder and CEO of Fab, took to his personal blog yesterday to announce that his company had acquired new funding. Times Internet, the digital arm of The Times of India Group, India’s largest media company, has chosen to invest in the company. Mr. Goldberg notes in the post, “As part of this investment Fab will be working with Times Internet to explore and execute on our India market strategy in the coming years.” Since launching in June 2011, Fab has raised over $150 million from investors.
Tech and the City
UPDATE: Read our liveblog of the Mayor’s press conference about the NYU’s new Brooklyn campus here.
Well that was well-timed! Hours after The New Yorker posted a profile of Stanford that tore at old wounds about the innovation engine’s decision to drop out of building an engineering campus in NYC–blame sour grapes or Seth Pinsky, depending on who you ask–the city is finally ready to make an announcement about a secondary initiative.
According to Mayor Bloomberg’s schedule, it looks like the second-place winner is a bid from NYU and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). In its initial proposal, NYU wanted to transform the derelict former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay Street into a Center for Urban Science and Progress. At 1pm this afternoon, the Mayor will be joining NYU President John Sexton to announce a partnership to create a new “applied sciences center in Downtown Brooklyn.”
Goodbye to All That
It appears ex-Wall Street wantrepreneurs may make good entrepreneurs after all. The Varick Street Incubator, a collaborative project between the City of New York and NYU-Poly, announced today that it will have graduated 22 companies by the end of July, supporting more than 300 jobs in the process.
If the tenants at the city’s NYU-Poly incubator are any indicator, Wall Street is soooooo 2006. A number of the 20 tenants working out of 160 Varick Street are now wantrepreneurs who have given up finance salaries–by force or choice–for “fin-tech” start-ups.
These former suits are leveraging what they learned on the Street to create financial products and services that, in theory, their old employers will have to compete with, or buy into.
Crain’s New York points to Michael Chuang, who used to sell bonds and mortgaged-back securities for Lehman and then UBS. In March 2008, he founded iTB Holdings, an online brokerage dealing exclusively with bonds, relying on his parting gift from Wall Street ($3 million in savings) as well as funding from friends, family, and angel investors. He now has five full-time employees at the Varick Street incubator and ten more in Eastern Europe.
. . . You gots to put a shingle up to attract the start-up talent. With a 1.7 percent acceptance rate for its last class, TechStars NY already bested the Ivy League at its own game: the enviable aura of exclusivity. But New York’s glut of incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces—all loosely-organized around the goal of mentoring, housing, funding and growing baby start-ups into big companies—have led to a noticeable distinction between the varsity and JV leagues of support networks. Admission into TechStars vaunted ranks, of course, comes with $18,000 in funding—and exposure. And even General Assembly is known for having VCs saunter-through its effortlessly cool coworking space, which has led to some investment deals.
Osama bin Laden was the talk of Twitter today, wasn’t he, and we regret to say none of these rumors are bin Laden-based. However, they are mostly about tech! Read on for office angling, kittens, and the petty trials of internet mad men.
OFFICE SHUFFLE. Many tenant shakeups at the NYU-Poly incubator today, we hear from a source, “mainly because the biggest tenant, Ecological, moved in to their own office.” Finally–Ecological announced its intention to move months ago; companies had been itching to move into their old space. The freshly be-officed start-ups include Weeels (carpooling, “social transit”), BestVendor.com (social recommendations), and “Two Lines and a Dot,” a consulting company that uses NYU-Poly students as labor. “Not really a tech company, as I understand,” source tells us.