The first sound we heard upon ringing the doorbell at the Onswipe offices just off of Union Square was the pitter-pattering of puppy footsteps. “Is that a dog?” we asked aloud to the well-dressed man who was also waiting to be let into the office. Sure enough, an Onswipe employee opened the door and a scruffy white dog excitedly greeted us.
Once we were in the loft-like offices, out came TechStars alum Jason Baptiste, Onswipe’s colorful founder, who after introducing himself made the dog (named Johnny) sit and shake. Johnny refused to do a spin though. “He’ll do anything if you have food,” acknowledged Mr. Baptiste, wearing a dapper grey suit and pink tie.
We were at Onswipe to discuss the company’s recent growth, which has been on an impressively upward swing since February. Onswipe’s staff has quadrupled to 25 in the last year, with plans to grow to 48 employees by year’s end. The company also recently added two new executive level positions: former VP of AOL Video Richard Bloom as its first COO, and former VP of sales at Jumptap Jared Hand as its first CRO.
When we stopped by the publishing industry trade show Book Expo America midday on Wednesday, the “Digital Discovery Zone” was essentially deserted, except for the people attempting to sell enterprise software solutions from small booths. Amazon’s editorial arm had a serious footprint and all the galleys you could carry, but the end result wasn’t that much more impressive than, say, the Scientologists’ presence. Plus, it was off center, out of the way of the big boys. Rival ebook retailer Kobo (now owned by Rakuten) had an objectively better location, square across from Random House, one of the busiest booths.
The Realtime Rodeo
There was a reason Jeff Bezos came all the way to New York to unveil Amazon’s new suite of Kindle e-readers and tablet devices. Like the iPad the Kindle is first and foremost a device for consuming media, with the new Kindles going beyond the book to offer music, television and movies as well. And the Big Apple’s high end publishers are thrilled to have a second dance partner for the party beyond Apple.
As the NY Times reports, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet will come with a digital newsstand front-and-center where users can buy magazines and newspapers. To glossy publishers, this sounds like a haven from a digital world dominated by Angry Birds.
When a huge surge of traffic suddenly starts washing over a website, publishers have to act fast to capture the most value from these visitors. Yesterday, for example, Betabeat popped our cherry on a pickup by John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog, which turned on a fire hose of new readers who had never previously been to our site.
I knew there was a high percentage of first time visitors because I was using Newsbeat, a more powerful version of the real time analytic engine Chartbeat, which breaks down the percentage of new versus returning visitors. I was able to throw some additional links into the story taking these reader back to some of our best coverage on the mobile space.