Shh You'll Wake the Neighbors
Airbnb has come a long way since last August’s PR disaster, when a blogger returned home to find her apartment trashed and unleashed a flood of horror stories. But there’s very little they can do to head off the occasional nightmare, as evidenced by a Quora thread that hit Hacker News this morning.
In town for Internet Week, The Next Web reporter Anna Heim booked what she thought was an apartment with high-speed Internet. She arrived to discover the location wasn’t as-advertised, and the Internet wasn’t even remotely high-speed. Nor could that be fixed, since the service provider was, in fact, the next door neighbor’s unsecured wireless network.
It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It
The New York Times has dedicated its front page web spot to a story on the incestuous world of ex-Facebookers and the many companies they have spawned, funded and acquired since leaving Facebook. It should probably strike you as unsurprising at this point that the majority of these people are newly-rich white dudes with vast amounts of influence.
Around the time of the demise of Jumo, the social network for nonprofits and activists started by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Betabeat got an email from a source intimately familiar with the social media startup sector. “I’m intrigued by the fact that Facebook doesn’t seem to be proving to have the kind of second-act momentum among early employees that PayPal had, and I wonder why that is,” the source wrote. “I don’t have high hopes for Asana, Quora, or Path either, but maybe it’s too early to make a judgment call.”
With the rise of secondary trading, many Facebook employees have already cashed out. The company’s hefty exodus of early employees has been well-documented. Sarah Lacy, writing for TechCrunch, identified the emergence of a “Facebook mafia” as “early and distinct” last year. But with the Facebook-spawned startups still unproven, is it fair to say that yet?
The timeline of New York Knicks overnight superstar Jeremy Lin on social networks probably goes something like:
1. Twitter (“Who’s this Jeremy Lin guy?“)
2. Facebook (“Look at this Jeremy Lin guy.“)
3. Foursquare (“I’m watching this Jeremy Lin guy right now.“)
4. Tumblr (“Fuck Yeah This Jeremy Lin Guy Dot Tumblr Dot Com.“)
5. Reddit (“Here is everything about this Jeremy Lin guy that will be reported by news outlets in no less than two weeks.“)
6. Quora (“What is it like to play basketball with Jeremy Lin?“)
Well, not only has the question been asked, but it now has an answer, and it’s basically set Quora on fire.
Alley vs. Valley
Quora, the Palo Alto-based question and answer site, launched its first mobile app today, with some nifty features like the ability to filter by nearby topic. Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever told AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes that the app was developed to try to tap into local by inspiring more location-based Q&As.
But the biggest reveal was the fact that most of its users are based right here in New York. According to Ms. Gannes, “That’s important because Quora is often dinged for its Silicon Valley-centricity, a criticism people at the company said is becoming less valid.” But Betabeat has a different theory.
Path, a social network focused on sharing with a limited circle of close friends and family, was launched with much hype by Dave Morin, formerly of Facebook. Path allowed users only 50 friends. But last week the increased that number to 150, sometimes referred to as the Dunbar number, after Robert Dunbar, a sociologist who posited that 150 was the upper limit of meaningful social connections a single human could have.
“The problem with 50 is that it is annoying but not structurally useful,” said tech intellectual Clive Thompson, who has written extensively on Dunbar’s number. “When I first heard of path my thought was, don’t go with 50, go with 10 or 3, make it really interesting, like, this is a group for me to pay serious attention.”
If you’ve been reading Betabeat carefully (and who hasn’t?!) you may have noticed a few mentions of a startup called Subjot co-founded by the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Becky Carella. The service came out of private beta today and we gChatted Mr. Carella about what users can expect and why Subjot is “not just another social network.”
The basic premise is simple: sharing online is great and all . . . until the content that’s being posted is of no interest to you. To fix that problem, Subjot organizes everything by–you guessed it–subjects. Every item posted to Subjot is tagged with a particular subject, like say “tech” or “music” or “food.”
The couple was inspired by topic-specific threads on Quora. Indeed, Mr. Carella told us beta users have been describing Subjot as “a cross between Quora and Twitter.” But where Mr. Carella described Twitter as more of a “broadcast mechanism” where a discussion between people you follow can quickly become tedious to outsiders, “We think of Subjot as more of a conversation platform.” The trick to keeping it conversational? In-line comments.
About six weeks ago, a pair of New York Times developers met with founders at question-and-answer site/discussion forum 2.0 start-up Quora in order to “brainstorm how the organizations might work together.” Just as the Times has tried to maintain journalistic loftiness in the age of slideshows and other internet tabloidism, Quora launched as a counterpoint to content farms like Yahoo Answers–so it makes sense that the Times is attracted to the platform. The paper is dipping its toes in this week by hosting a discussion there with three Business Day reporters who will be answering questions related to their recent books.
Hard to say whether it’s Quora’s confusing interface or the face that the way people use the site is still evolving, but the most buzzed-about post on the question-and-answer site today is a 914-word article that in no way resembles a question–and is filed as the only query in the “not a question” category–which addresses the future of innovation in mobile payments, titled “In Fifty Days, Payments Innovation Will Stop in Silicon Valley.”
Dennis Crowley answered a Quora question from a San Francisco user on Monday that starkly shows how charged the fundraising climate is right now versus just a few years ago. ”I know the press is usually interested in the cost paid for Dodgeball by Google,” user Kay Patel asked. “But I am interested in knowing why you sold it? Is it because it was a different time when apps on phones weren’t a big thing?”