Linkages

Booting Up: Tesla Drivers Hit the Road to Prove Times Reporter Wrong

(Photo: @TeslaRoadTrip)

What’s an attention-whore to do when the press stops turning up? John McAfee had an idea: he gave two freelance journalists $2,900 in cash to follow him to the Caribbean and document his reunion with his 19-year-old girlfriend. [PandoDaily]

There may still be plenty of complex issues to be resolved before online gambling is legal in the U.S., but that isn’t stopping tech companies from lining up at the regulatory gates. [NYT]

Kim Dotcom says Mega is “the Privacy Company.” To that end, Mega is now accepting payment by bitcoin, and plans to offer secure email and chat services.  [Mashable]

After New York Times reporter John M. Broder wrote about the failings of the Tesla Model S during his road test along I-95, nine Model S owners attempted to create the trip. Four drivers completed the 353-mile leg between Rockville, Maryland and Groton, Connecticut, though of the five drivers who dropped out, none reported the battery failures that dogged Mr. Broder. [AllThingsD]

In the aftermath of Ecomom founder Jody Sherman’s suicide—and word that the company is heading for liquidation—an argument that “‘Killing It’ Isn’t Worth It.” [TechCrunch]

Closing Time

IAC Has Shut Down Hatch Labs, Its Incubator for Mobile Apps

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Multiple sources have told Betabeat that IAC shuttered Hatch Labs–its incubator for building mobile tools, apps, and platforms–on December 31st. Hatch Labs closed both its fifth floor offices in the IAC building on 18th street and in Los Angeles.

“After exploring several strategic options for Hatch Labs, IAC stopped investing in the company, and their operations were subsequently discontinued,” IAC said in response to questions. “IAC is still funding and exploring options for a few of the assets that came out of Hatch Labs.”

Hatch Labs’ New York space is already occupied by other IAC entities. (The only exception is Blu Trumpet, which was spun out as an independent company in 2011, but remains in the Frank Gehry building.) When we stopped by the office last May, it had all the accoutrements of your standard startup accelerator, including a ping pong table and drawers full of free snacks. Read More

Forget That Fake Money

Meet Your New Addiction: Derby Jackpot, an OTB for Casual Gamers, Lets You Bet on Actual Horse Races

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“Any horse that has the name ‘Awesome’ in it? I bet on it!” Walter Hessert told us earlier this week from inside one of those noise cancel-ish sofa pods in the south wing of General Assembly. Also present in said pod: his brother Thomas Hessert. Along with a third brother (Bill) and their CTO Eric Gay (no relation), the Hesserts are the cofounders behind Derby Jackpot, an addictive online game that almost made Betabeat late for our meeting.

Showing up for an appointment seemed more professional than waiting to see if we’d parlayed the $2 offered to beta users into something more, so we sucked it up and hopped on the N. But it was a heady example of why companies like Zynga are counting on real money gaming to offer real revenue in the otherwise hits-dependent social gaming industry that relies on ad revenue or virtual sheep.  Read More

Forget That Fake Money

New Deal with Zynga Shows That Facebook Wants to Keep Its Frenemies Close When It Comes to Real-Money Gaming

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Both Facebook and Zynga filed documents with the SEC today detailing the terms of a new, more lax partnership. The two-year-old contract between the once interdependent companies–just check out their IPO filings–was slated to expire.

Under the loosened agreement, Zynga is free of a number of obligations, including implementing Facebook credits on Zynga game pages and using Facebook as its exclusive social platform. Naturally Zynga is interested in establishing its own network, with the ability to own its own players and establish its own ad relationships. Zynga also no longer has to display Facebook ad units, for example.

But Facebook also got one (big!) thing: the ability to develop its own games. That might explain why Zynga stock is trading almost 13 percent down after hours.  Read More