Law and Order

ICE Launches Project Cyber Monday 3, Knocking Sellers of Counterfeit Goods Offline

Website seized! (ICE)

Anyone searching for cheap, counterfeit sports memorabilia, media, clothing and jewelry today may be disappointed. In conjunction with other law enforcement agencies around the world, U.S. authorities have taken down 132 domain names as part of their Project Cyber Monday. This marks the third year for the project, which goes after sites identified as sources for fake, illegal goods.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a statement about the take-downs, which noted authorities targeted sites meant to fool unwitting consumers “into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season.” Read More

It's All About the Bitcoins

WordPress.com Is Now Accepting Bitcoin Payments

(Photo: Wordpress)

WordPress.com, which hosts close to 58 million blogs across the world, announced last night that it will now accept payments for upgrades via Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer digital currency. The blog hosting platform says its mission is to “make publishing democratic,” and because PayPal and other payment companies block access in a fair amount of countries, the company has decided to accept Bitcoin, enabling users without access to PayPal to still purchase WordPress upgrades. Read More

Insurgents

Tech Insurgents 2012: Alex Taub and Michael Schonfeld

Mr. Taub and Mr. Schonfeld

The Credit Card Killers

With an ever-crowded financial tech market and companies like PayPal and Google Wallet elbowing for industry dominance, the race to kill the credit card is heating up. But among the standouts is Iowa-based mobile payment startup Dwolla, thanks to an innovative pricing structure and a growing New York presence helmed by Michael Schonfeld and Alex Taub. Dwolla has raised money from two New York venture capital firms, Union Square Ventures and Thrive Capital. (Josh Kushner, a Thrive principal, is also part-owner of Observer Media Group.)

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startup rundown

Startup News: Braintree Gets a $35 M. Boost, TED Gets Trippy, and Real Estate Gets Gamified

Jon Carin rocks (Photo: wikipedia.org)

Brain Boost This morning, Braintree, a Chicago-based online payments company announced, a $35 million series B round of funding. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). By investing in Braintree, new investors join Accel Partners and others and the company’s total funding is now set at $70 million.

Braintree acquired the beloved bill splitting app, Venmo, back in August and has kept it independent so far. Braintree allows businesses to accept payments from costumers, but Venmo allows consumers to make payments to anyone. It’s a natural fit for both parties.

Braintree’s client list includes fast-growing startups like Uber, Fab.com, Airbnb, who use it, “through periods of rapid growth without disruption to their ability to accept payments,” the company said in an email to Betabeat. They also name-checked competitors like Stripe and PayPal, noting that one “big difference is that merchants receive their funds typically in two days with Braintree, vs. seven days with Stripe.” Read More

Scandals

Violentacrez Takes to Reddit to Solicit Sympathy, PayPal Donations

(Photo: Gawker)

Violentacrez, a notorious Reddit user who moderated controversial subreddits like Creepshots and Jailbait, was revealed by Gawker on Friday to be a Texas-based IT worker named Michael Brusch. Adrian Chen’s post, “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web,” painstakingly detailed Mr. Brusch’s dark online history–including the fact that he has created subreddits for submission of racist, sexist and borderline pedophiliac content–and served as the apex of a brewing inter-website war.

Now, Violentacrez has returned to Reddit under his “clean” handle–mbrutsch–in an attempt to explain his side of the story. In a subreddit for point and click adventure games, Mr. Brutsch surfaced, publishing an innocuous link entitled “Tea Break Escape.” But comments on this link quickly turned to Mr. Brutsch and how he is dealing with the fallout from the Gawker article. Read More

Shake-Ups

Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson to Lead a Company You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Liar? Who, me? (Photo: technorati.com)

As it turns out, cheating does not actually pay off in the long run, as one Pennsylvania mom and one disgraced Yahoo executive are finding out today. Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson announced today that he would be heading-up the two-year-old shipping service ShopRunner, a slight downgrade from leading one of the world’s largest tech companies.

In May, Yahoo sent Mr. Thompson packing after discovering he lied about his credentials on his resume, where he falsely claimed that he had a computer science degree. Presumably, Mr. Thompson has corrected his resume, though both ShopRunner and Mr. Thompson suspiciously forgot to mention his past at Yahoo when announcing the news. Read More

Paypal Mafia

YouTube Founders Launching Zeen, a DIY Online Magazine Builder, Next Week

Zeen's splash page. (Photo: Zeen)

Having already succeeded in building two of the most spectacularly successful Internet companies of the modern age–PayPal and YouTube–what on earth do you do next? We’d be inclined to buy an island and never touch a computer again, but that’s not the plan for Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who just announced that their digital magazine building platform, Zeen, will roll out next week.

Zeen is a part of AVOS, an Internet company helmed by the duo that acquired bookmarking tool De.licious last year. Precious little info is known about the mysterious Zeen. “Discover and create beautiful magazines,” reads the sparse splash page.

Perhaps the biggest hints about Zeen’s ethos come from its Facebook page, where avid fans have been posting about beta testing and wanting more information since April. Read More

Paypal Mafia

PayPal Cofounder Peter Thiel Wants to Found a Libertarian Utopia in Honduras

Mr. Friedman (ideacityonline.com)

We’re not sure how closely you follow the fascinating world of college dropout fans Peter Thiel & Pals, but the writers at Betabeat have had more than one animated conversation about Thiel-funded libertarian utopias and life longevity experiments. One of the PayPal cofounder’s buddies is Patri Friedman, the San Francisco-based grandson of economist Milton Friedman, who shares some of Mr. Thiel’s notions of libertarian politics: mainly, that establishing floating cities in international zones will “give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together.”

Mr. Thiel has funneled millions into the Seasteading Institute, the primary initiative working to construct these floating cities, which is the brainchild of Mr. Friedman. But recently, Mr. Friedman stepped down as the institute’s executive officer to become chairman of the board, a move that had some wondering whether Mr. Thiel and Mr. Friedman had had a falling out. Read More