today in travel
Are you ever in the middle of a strange city looking for something to do that isn’t going to Madame Tussauds for the third time? You might be interested in Peek’s new app, which takes the same travel experiences as seen on the site but now makes them available to instantly purchase.
The San Francisco-based, Jack Dorsey-funded travel company released the app today for iOS that is targeting a different part of the travel sector: booking activities. They’re chosen by a team of fancy tastemakers (like recreating Adrian Grenier’s “perfect day” in New York!) and the app’s travel team to curate a list of things to do. Peek users can book tours in 17 U.S. cities and two European cities (London and Paris).
Book Em Charlie
Power Literary Hire: Twitter cofounder Ev Williams’s new publishing tool, Medium, just added an impressive member to its team. Kate Lee, a former literary agent from International Creative Management (ICM), has joined Mr. Williams’s startup as the director of content. Ms. Lee was responsible for plucking several bloggers out of obscurity and giving them book deals. The Observer announced her leave from ICM back in April. In a blog post on the site, Mr. Williams described her job as “encouraging, soliciting, commissioning, and contextualizing interesting ideas, authors, and institutions” and noted that she would be building a small team in New York to help her do that.
Branch Finally Lets You Hang Out With Your Friends: Branch, the social conversations site, just launched a groups feature yesterday. In an email to Betabeat, Branch cofounder Josh Miller described it as “Branch’s equivalent of a Follow button.” The idea was inspired by the conversations that people have at dinner parties, in which smaller groups form to discuss topics that they care about. On Branch, these groups can be added into a conversation. Branch’s example site includes a group featuring Mr. Miller, Medium’s Ev Williams, John Borthwick from Betaworks, Michael Sippey from Twitter and Facebook’s Sam Lessin. These groups have a possibility to create Bloods and Crips-like warfare in tech. Choose sides wisely.
How does a pre-product startup raise $1.4 million from the likes of Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt and Khosla Ventures with just an idea? It helps if you’ve worked with the investors before. And if you’re trying to bring a fragmented offline industry online, a particular hobbyhorse of Mr. Dorsey’s, whose mobile payments company Square has done just that with mom and pop shops.
Peek CEO and founder Ruzwana Bashir first met Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Schmidt when she directed business development and marketing for Art.sy, another investment of theirs, she told Betabeat earlier this week.