startup rundown

Startup News: Ev Williams Hires a Literary Darling and Branch Finally Lets You Bro Out

Mr. Williams (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Power Literary Hire: Twitter cofounder Ev Williams’s new publishing tool, Medium, just added an impressive member to its team. Kate Lee, a former literary agent from International Creative Management (ICM), has joined Mr. Williams’s startup as the director of content. Ms. Lee was responsible for plucking several bloggers out of obscurity and giving them book deals. The Observer announced her leave from ICM back in April. In a blog post on the site, Mr. Williams described her job as “encouraging, soliciting, commissioning, and contextualizing interesting ideas, authors, and institutions” and noted that she would be building a small team in New York to help her do that.

Branch Finally Lets You Hang Out With Your Friends: Branch, the social conversations site, just launched a groups feature yesterday. In an email to Betabeat, Branch cofounder Josh Miller described it as “Branch’s equivalent of a Follow button.” The idea was inspired by the conversations that people have at dinner parties, in which smaller groups form to discuss topics that they care about. On Branch, these groups can be added into a conversation. Branch’s example site includes a group featuring Mr. Miller, Medium’s Ev Williams, John Borthwick from Betaworks, Michael Sippey from Twitter and Facebook’s Sam Lessin. These groups have a possibility to create Bloods and Crips-like warfare in tech. Choose sides wisely. Read More

It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It

Why Does Facebook’s New Timeline Feature Look So Dang Familiar?

Mr. Lessin

Of the many announcements to emerge from F8 –Spotify is now integrated with Facebook! Netflix is now integrated with Facebook! You can “watch” and “read” things instead of just “like”ing them! Things are just really different, okay?Good luck not friending your Mom, because she’ll be on there soon!– was Facebook’s Timeline.

Rather than having to hit “Older Posts” again and again, Timeline lets you stalk with the greatest of ease by arranging a user’s information in chronological order. As AllThingsD‘s Ina Fried notes, it also lets you pick a big, About.me-like cover photo for your life story.

Mark Zuckerberg introduced the feature with pictures of a toddler Zuck in pink tie and suspenders–and nary a thought about privacy in his head. But from the looks of the Facebook blog, it was former Brooklyn boy Drop.io founder Sam Lessin (now a product manager at Facebook, which acqui-hired him in last October) who was in charge of the feature. Read More

Talent Crunch

Emerging Talent Pool for New York Start-Ups: Freshly-Failed Entrepreneurs

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On his blog Sneakerhead VC, First Round Capital’s Phineas Barnes bemoans the plight of a friend who, after being forced to shutter his start-up, reverted back to his corporate ways. With a heavy heart, Mr. Barnes reports that the former founder will be, “joining a big company as some kind of VP of something.” He beseeches his readers not to let this kind of tragedy happen again:

“Having to give up on your company sucks for a month or two and it hurts forever, but it is not failure – if these teams are absorbed back into the world of cubicles and are allowed to return to the jobs they walked away from in the first place, that will be failure, and failure at the community level. When you meet the founder of  a failed business, reach out your hand, pick them up and do everything you can to keep them involved in our community… because our community depends on it.”

Mr. Barnes’s plea reminded us of a reoccurring theme we’d heard while reporting on New York’s geek gap. In “Raiders of the Last Nerd,” this week’s feature on tech recruiting, Kinda Sorta Media’s Rex Sorgatz offered Betabeat an ominous-sounding take on the struggle to hire local talent, “If you want a CTO, you have to go to, like, Tel Aviv.” But we didn’t have the space in the paper to really delve into why.

In his experience, Mr. Sorgatz said it wasn’t so much that New York was short on rockstar coders. Rather, it’s a side effect of the entrepreneurial bug gone viral. “People now run four-person companies where they may have otherwise led a five-person tech team in a twenty-person company.” (Is this a good time to say we told ya so? No? Okay, just checking.) Read More