On the Saturday that thousands of protesters marched to Times Square, the brass bells of the New York Stock Exchange rang out at noon–signifying the takeover of the trading floor by the New York startup community. Companies like Etsy, Meetup and ZocDoc were handing out t-shirts and branded ping pong balls to fresh-faced engineers in backpacks who circled the screen-filled roundabouts while munching the complimentary sandwiches provided for SA500, a Silicon Alley recruiting event.
The choice of venue could be interpreted as symbolic aggression. New York startups compete fiercely with the finance sector for programmers and MBAs–and while they can’t match Goldman’s salaries, they do make the social argument. Knewton wants to transform education, Sulia wants to reinvent news, and the mobile payments app Venmo wants to replace credit cards. Meetup is “starting a local community revolution”; Etsy’s mission is to “empower people to change the way the global economy works.” The lofty talk of startups is not unlike the rhetoric of the protesters, who are advocating–albeit vaguely–the most radical agenda of any political movement in recent memory.
“I see them as very, very similar,” said Scott Heiferman, co-founder and CEO of Meetup.com, who orchestrated a field trip to the protest after a recent board meeting. “Most of the successful startup people are out to make a dent in the universe and change the world in some way, and that’s what they’re trying to do downtown. I can’t speak to the people who are just hanging around for the free pizza, but there are people downtown who are really fired up to see some sort of systemic change in culture.”
But while they’re definitely talking about the protest, many techies aren’t sold. The movement has high engagement (and revenue!) but the brand, the marketing and the roadmap need work.
Real TechStars of New York
Although the tongue-in-cheek excitement of a reality show that substitutes David Tisch for Heidi Klum and Bloomberg for Bravo was lost on some people, exactly no one in the packed house at Fiddlesticks in the West Village last night seemed to give a hoot. They were too busy watching their friends–and themselves–show up on teevee for the New York tech scene’s illustrious small screen debut.
RRE Ventures footed the bar tab for a breathing-room only crowd that included the grinning founders of TechStars companies like OnSwipe’s Jason Baptiste and Shelby.tv’s Reece Pacheco, along with the usual suspects like GroupMe’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht and Aviary’s Alex Taub, and the adorable “Bubby” Tisch, the eldest of the three generations in attendance, who gamely sat near the screen in over-sized glasses watching her grandson getting the f7$%ing bleep bleeped out of him on Bloomberg TV.
Web TV Wars
Techstars NY graduate Shelby.tv has been pretty quiet since raising $1.5 million in July. But today the young start-up, which aims to provide an immersive experience for watching, sharing and discovering web video, announced that content from the typically isolated Hulu will be available on Shelby.tv. Videos from IAC’s College Humor also came online today, along with Tumblr integration.
Start-Up Fairy Tales
Around the time that on-fire TechStars start-up Shelby.tv was closing its $1.5 million round, co-founder Joe Yevoli walked. It wasn’t that he didn’t have faith in the product; he didn’t have a falling out with the team. He just… wasn’t feeling it. “Truth be told, I don’t watch a lot of web video,” he wrote on his blog today. “But right now if I watch a web video it’s something specific. And, if I miss something, I’m fine with it.” And there was something else: HomeField, a web-based video platform for coaches to share game footage, the precursor to Shelby.tv, was being neglected as co-founders Dan Spinosa and Reece Pacheco found their time sucked away by the social video site.
Shelby.tv founder Reece Pacheco was reportedly fielding offers for $200,000 in funding minutes after getting offstage at the TechStars NY demo day.
The company was initially aiming for a $500,000 seed round, but has since graduated to a what Onswipe’s Jason Baptiste calls a “series Awesome”.
Betabeat learned today that Shelby.tv plans to double Read More
Yesterday New York expat Matt Mireles “speared a sacred cow,” in his words, by questioning the credentials of TechStars director David Tisch, whom he has never met. “Why is Techstars NYC run by a non-entrepreneur?,” he tweeted, with a link to Mr. Tisch’s TechStars profile, and tagged the tweet “#confused #BigCoSubsidiariesAreNotStartups.”
We have to admit, we were curious about Mr. Tisch’s credentials too. We didn’t know the story of how Mr. Tisch came to be director of TechStars NY. Turns out it’s a pretty interesting one.