The Medium is The Message

Introducing The Listserve, a Giant List Only One Person Can Email Per Day

(youtube.com)

It’s the sad truth of the Internet: you can tweet and blog your sweet little heart out, but there’s no guarantee that anyone is actually listening. But what if there was a platform that gave you the chance to deliver whatever thoughts, feelings or advice you had, right to the intimate confines of someone’s inbox? And they actually voluntarily signed up for the chance to hear you?

It’s not a newsletter or a shared-interest listserv: it’s a new project out of NYU’s ITP masters program called The Listserve that gives the chance for one person each day to share their thoughts with thousands through a random lottery email system. Users sign up to receive one email daily from a randomly selected user. The email can be about anything–from what they had for breakfast that morning, to a picture of a kitten, to a politically-motivated diatribe–and it’s sent, either publicly or anonymously, out to the other Listserve subscribers. Read More

Fresh Capital

Spin Transfer Tech Spins Out of PE-Backed Startup Factory Into a $36 M. A Round

Dr. Kent. (nyu.edu/object/andrewkent.html)

Where do startups come from? Today in Silicon Alley, they seem to come from engineers and disillusioned i-bankers. But Spin Transfer Technology, which just scored a whopping $36 million round, took a different track thanks to what is essentially a private equity-funded startup factory.

Allied Minds is a Boston-based, private equity-funded “innovation company” that discovers early-stage technology being developed at American universities and labs and then forms, funds, manages and builds startups around said technology. In September of 2007, representatives from Allied Minds visited NYU to check out research in magnetism by professor Andrew Kent, an award-winning physicist and serial inventor who was working on a “spin transfer” technology that could improve computer memory.

Allied Minds’s slogan should be something like, “We take your tech and make it into money.” Once AM determined the invention was legit, it cobbled together Spin Transfer Technology the way a record label might put together a new boy band. Read More

Machine Learning

Popular NYU-Stern Professor Offers His Classes For Free on Coursekit, 1,800 Sign Up

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This semester, Coursekit, an academic social network of sorts that gives teachers and students a way to communicate outside of class, tried a little experiment from the Peter Thiel school of thought.

Coursekit founder Joseph Cohen, a Wharton drop-out and TechStars New York alum, was already familiar with the work of Aswath Damodaran, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business with a big academic following. So last year, he cold-emailed Mr. Damodaran to encourage him to join Coursekit’s pilot program. “I don’t think he was looking [for a solution like] Coursekit,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat by Gchat. “But when he saw what it could do…he and I really hit it off.”

This semester, Mr. Damodaran decided to take it one step further and offer both his Corporate Finance and Valuation classes to anyone around the world, for free*. Considering that an MBA from NYU-Stern costs $100,894 for residents (with a “recommended annual budget of $82,867), we’d say that’s a pretty good deal. (*Beer pong networking sessions with the future 1 percent not included.) Read More

Silicon Alley U

NYU’s Brooklyn Tech Campus Is a Top Contender, But MTA’s Jay St. Asking Price Has Grown [UPDATED]

NYU's proposed campus at 370 Jay St.

For months, Mayor Bloomberg has dangled the possibility of picking two winners for the city’s tech campus competition. He even left the possibility open while announcing that the New York City Economic Development Corporation would give the full $100 million grant to Cornell-Technion to build an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. Now Crain’s is reporting that between the remaining contestants, NYU’s Downtown Brooklyn proposal may have “taken center stage” over Carnegie Mellon’s Navy Yard campus and Columbia’s Manhattanville proposal.

Hey, if the Fulton St. Mall can have its own Shake Shack, why shouldn’t the M.T.A’s derelict former headquarters on nearby 370 Jay St. be transformed into a Center for Urban Science and Progress?

Although Crain’s says NYU, the M.T.A., and E.D.C. all want to make a deal to help revitalize Downtown Brooklyn, “but money is the sticking point.” Read More

Silicon Alley U

Does Mayor Bloomberg Hold All the Power When It Comes to Deciding Who Will Build the Tech Campus?

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Throughout the drawn-out process to build an engineering mecca to rival Silicon Valley on city-owned land, the NYC Economic Development Corporation has maintained that there was no front-runner. The reason for that, EDC president Seth Pinsky has said repeatedly, is because the committee of government officials, city elders, and entrepreneurs have yet to see the proposals.

It didn’t matter that the Mayor seemed to have a sweet spot for Stanford, because it all depends, said Mr. Pinsky, on what the schools submit to the requests for proposals (RFP).

In the New York Times today, however, the paper reports that, “the decision as to who gets to build what, and where, will ultimately rest with one man“: Mayor Bloomberg. At the half-way marker of his third term which has been marred by cutbacks and managerial missteps, the campus is a potential crown jewel for his legacy. It’s not mere conjecture, even deputy mayor Howard Wolfson tells the Times, “This is going to be a mayoral call, because this is something that is incredibly important to him.”

Betabeat talked to a source familiar with the selection process for clarification. Read More

Silicon Alley U

NYU Wants the Tech Campus to Transform Brooklyn, But Is It a Match for StanfordNYC’s $2.5 B.?

Notice the plethora of subway lines? Ahem. (via NYU)

As we expected, with RFPs due tomorrow, this week has turned into something of a PR blitzkrieg to win a chance to build on an applied sciences mecca on city-owned land. After all, once the proposals are in, the competing schools are forbidden to speak publicly about their proposals. Until when? we asked Cornell’s PR wrangler Dan Levitan. “Forever!” he said ominously.

Hence yesterday afternoon brought some specs from “StanfordNYC” and NYU’s plan transform the MTA’s former headquarters at 370 Jay St. into a Center for Urban Science and Progress that will “make Brooklyn the urban center of the universe,” as NYU senior vice provost for research Paul Horn told the Daily News. Read More

Silicon Alley U

Cornell Keeps Gunning for That Tech Campus. But NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Unveil Surprise Plans

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With less than three weeks left until proposals are due to build a Stanford-like engineering mecca on the isle of Manhattan, no one is taking any chances. Rumor may have it that Stanford proper is a lock for the contract. But as Betabeat has reported, a source familiar with the decision-making process says it’s pretty much about the RFP. (Even Mayor Bloomberg’s imprimatur is merely  a “small to medium plus,” said the source.)

Cornell’s PR firm and power lobbyist, hired to help manage the school’s campaign, seem convinced that a little community spirit can’t hurt. This Saturday, October 15th, Cornell will be the only academic sponsor for Next Jump’s Silicon Alley 500 recruiting event on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, matching engineers and engineering students with hot Made in NYC startups like 10gen, Etsy, Boxee, Meetup, SecondMarket, and Tumblr.

Cornell may need the good will. Over the weekend, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia all showed a little RFP leg–with proposals that opt for Brooklyn and Manhattanville over Roosevelt Island. And this morning Stanford just announced that it’s partnering with CUNY and City College. Read More

Crime Does Pay

NYU Professor Learns It Doesn’t Pay to Catch Cheating Students

Do you feel lucky, punk?

Prof.  recently won tenure at the NYU Stern School of Business, where he teaches in the information systems department. With this added layer of protection, Dr. Ipeirotis decided to dig a little deeper into which of his students might be plagiarizing their assignments. He ran their work through Turnitin, which compares student papers against hundreds of millions of previous assignments, academic journals and the like.  By the end of the semester 22 students out of a class of 108 admitted to cheating and several were expelled from his class.

It was a moral victory, to be sure, but rather than simply celebrating, Dr. Ipeirotis did what anyone with a serious engineering bent would, he analyzed the cost of catching these perpetrators. In all, he calculated, it took 45 hours to catch and coax confessions out of these students. With one in five students a convicted plagarist, classes became quite awkward. At the end of the year Dr. Ipeirotis saw his score from student evaluations drop from above to below average, which meant that despite getting tenure, he received his lowest salary increase ever. Read More