2012 was quite a year for the New York tech community. Several NYC startups scored monster exits, while others raised millions to up their chances of scoring a ping pong table for the office. Whether or not that hotly debated bubble bursts, we imagine 2013 will be another exciting year for NYC’s tech set. Here are some New Year’s resolutions from some of the NYC tech community’s boldest names.
The Merry Pranksters
From Old Spice’s viral “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign to the contentious Skittles spot that made One Million Moms cry bestiality, bizarre or aggressive advertising has become commonplace in our internet-addled society. To nab the attention of customers toggling between screens, advertisers frequently toe the line between inappropriate and outrageous, but few are as unabashedly controversial as the Queens-based OKFocus. Named to AdAge’s Creativity 50 in July, OKFocus is a rebel brand’s dream, equal parts design snob and attention-seeking internet troll. And as advertising moves online, OKFocus clients like Google and the Museum of Contemporary Art have taken note.
Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, recently tried to disabuse the tech industry of its infatuation with the word ‘disruption.’ “We don’t want ‘disruption,’ where we just move things around. We want a direction. We want a purpose,” he said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, humbly suggesting the biannual conference change its name. But it’s more than just semantics. The tech sector’s claim to produce world-changing products and services often gets drowned out in a chorus of me-too companies solving problems no one ever complained about. The umpteenth nightlife-recommendations tool or empty real-time dating app can obscure the whirr of a nascent robotics sector in Manhattan or a futuristic, even revolutionary, experiment in manufacturing in Queens.
In an effort to catalog the underappreciated diversity of style in gentrified Williamsburg, a team of Brooklyn technologists has set up a camera outside their apartment that records the street stylings of passersby and posts the images online. But if passersbys don’t want to be recorded, they’re kind of out of luck.
The site, called Styleblaster, aims to “become a destination for New York City peacocks to traipse by and show off what makes the neighborhood hop.” Using a camera perched a block from the Bedford Ave. L train, the site captures and immediately uploads images of Brooklynites walking by in real time. Users can then click a tophat to signal whether or not the subject is “stylin’.”
After some sleuthing, Betabeat discovered that WhoDat.biz is in fact a project of New York-based OkFocus, a full service digital agency run by Ryder Ripps and Jonathan Vingiano that’s notorious for their PR stunts.
Mr. Vingiano confirmed to us over email that WhoDat.biz is “an OKFocus project.”