Techies Be Snackin

Silicon Valley Favorites Cater2Me Expand to New York, Want to Feed You

Note the "lunch" sign, in case someone was confused. (Photo: courtesy of Cater2Me)

Founded a year and a half ago in San Francisco, Cater2Me quickly found its niche feeding the ravenous techies of Silicon Valley, nabbing clients like Dropbox, Square and Klout. “You can call it the Google effect, if you want,” cofounder Alex Lorton told Betabeat, and “that idea is becoming the norm in New York, as well.”

Hence the company’s decision to expand to New York City. The service just launched yesterday, but it sounds like Mr. Lorton is already halfway to going out for the cheerleading team.

“I think it’s cool to be part of the expansion of Silicon Alley, to use the phrase, to be part of that startup community,” he said. “People in startups are, I think, more willing to embrace something that’s new, something that’s initially not as tested.”

Well, hopefully it’s not that untested. Read More

Hires and Fires

Seamless Founder Jason Finger Joins IAC as CEO of CityGrid Media

Mr. Finger.

This morning Seamless founder Jason Finger, legend of Silicon Alley, sent an email out to friends with subject line “Back in the saddle. . .” It seems the Silicon Valley Alley vet has taken up the reins at CityGrid Media and will join IAC’s local listings website network. “I’ve joined IAC as CEO of CityGrid Media,” Mr. Finger said in the email. “CityGrid is the largest content and ad network for ‘local’ and includes several owned and operated websites including Citysearch.cominsiderpages.com and Urbanspoon.com, as well as BuzzLabs.” Read More

Food Fight

FoodToEat Takes on Seamless and GrubHub With Low Fees and Food Trucks

Ms. Kapur.

As if Seamless didn’t have enough to worry about with GrubHub nipping at its heels. Ever heard of online food ordering service FoodToEat? Maybe not, as the young startup has been quietly growing in beta. But FoodToEat launched in June 2011 and after a recent redesign, founder Deepti Sharma Kapur, 25, is ready to feed her public.

FoodToEat offers food from 500 restaurants, and Ms. Kapur charges vendors just $.10 per order–a huge savings compared to her competitors, who she said charge between 10 and 18 percent.

FoodToEat has also signed up 50 food trucks, thanks in part to the fact that Ms. Kapur speaks four languages. The original inspiration for the site came when she was preparing for the LSAT and pondering how many minutes of studying the long line at Treats Truck would cost her. Read More

Ribbon-Cuttings

Mayor Bloomberg Stops by New Seamless Office

seamless bloomie

The Mayor is on a techie ribbon-cutting roll lately. Twitter office. Facebook engineering headquarters. New York Tech Meetup appearance. Yelp office opening. Cornell-Technion tech campus. Mike Bloomberg wants to be remembered for his impact on the New York internet industry, and today he stopped by a granddaddy of web startups: the company formerly known as SeamlessWeb. “Seamless is exactly the type of company we’re looking to grow,” the mayor said as he ordered chicken soup for lunch. “Seamless is transforming the city’s restaurant industry.” Read More

Food Fight

Seamless, Fresh Out of Corporate Fetters, Buys MenuPages for $15 M. as GrubHub Comes Nipping

(thedeliverybag.com)

New York City-based online food ordering service Seamless, born SeamlessWeb during the dotcom boom in 1999, has purchased Menupages from New York magazine publisher New York Media for $15 million and the right to sell advertising against MenuPages content for a year, Betabeat has learned.

New York Media Holdings CEO Anup Bagaria, who would not disclose the price but said it was “significantly more than we bought it for,” said the reason for selling MenuPages, which “has actually grown 100 percent since we’ve purchased it” in 2008, had to do with New York Media’s reluctance to invest in growing the business beyond advertising revenues.

Mr. Bagaria says New York Media started thinking about a sale at the end of the first quarter of 2011, when an undisclosed buyer approached with an offer for MenuPages. The unsolicited offer could have come from a long list of related companies, but Betabeat’s sources think was most likely either Zagat, which was exploring the possibility of adding menus to its reviews before it was acquired by Google; or the London-based Just-Eat, which raised $48 million to expand globally around the same time.

The offer inspired New York Media to find out who else might be interested. By the time the publisher was done, a source familiar with the situation says, it had spoken to a number of companies including Google, the publicly-traded reservation service OpenTable and Just-Eat.

For Seamless, the MenuPages acquisition is the latest in a string of aggressive moves spurred by fierce competition in an increasingly-heated market. Seamless has maintained a serviceable but increasingly stale product since it was bought by corporate caterer ARAMARK in 2006. But in June, Seamless spun out from under ARAMARK, raising $50 million in outside investment. Now, after years of complacence, Seamless is going after the consumer market with renewed vigor. Seamless’s fiercest competition comes from GrubHub, a seven-year-old Chicago upstart that completed a parallel purchase last week: the acquisition of Dotmenu, owner of online ordering site CampusFood and menu library AllMenus.

MenuPages actually approached GrubHub about an acquisition earlier this year, but “we couldn’t come to an agreement on price,” GrubHub CEO and co-founder Matt Maloney said. However, one source points to the timing of GrubHub’s Dotmenu acquisition, which was likely already in the works.

The rivalry between Seamless and GrubHub started long before the bidding war over MenuPages, however. Read More

Funding

DFJ Gotham Leads $3.25M. Round In SinglePlatform, Wiley Cerilli’s One-Stop Shop for Restaurants

wiley

Fresh off winning Bloomberg Businessweek’s vote for one of the country’s most promising start-ups, SinglePlatform just announced it raised $3.25 million in Series A round led by DFJ Gotham. New investor New World Ventures also jumped on board, as did existing backers like First Round Capital and RRE Ventures, responsible for the $1.2 million seed round raised last September.

SinglePlatform solves a problem so simple, we’re surprised no one’s mastered it already. Despite the fact that 89 percent of consumers look up a restaurant online before they eat there, very few restaurants have up-to-date websites. Founder & CEO Wiley Cerilli should know, he spent 10 years running sales for Seamless (now without the -web). With SinglePlatform, local businesses can publish their menu, special, events, and photos across a network of 11,000 mobile apps, and destination sites including 34,000 hotels, 620 universities, and, recently, Foodspotting. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Customer Service Edition

rumormonger

CHRIST, AIRBNB, GET IT TOGETHER. Airbnb, a company heretofore known mostly for a beautiful website, innovative business and the charm and grit of its founders, as well as their notorious Craigslist spamming, has potentially smashed its reputation to pieces as one user’s horror story came to light. CEO Brian Chesky responded publicly yesterday with a rather mild apology, and then the victim, a travel blogger named Emily whose existence and story have not been independently confirmed, wrote an update on her blog claiming that: Read More

Pizza's Here

SeamlessWeb Drops the Embarrassing ‘Web’ Suffix, Reborn as ‘Seamless’

seamless no web

“When SeamlessWeb was founded in 1999, the dot-com bubble was nearing its peak and the word ‘web’ was on the tip of everyone’s tongues,” the company formerly known as SeamlessWeb writes on its blog. “No wonder we thought it was such a good addition to our name! And with the iPhone and mobile apps many years away, we kind of had a point. The web ruled the day and we made ordering food online a seamless process. Simple enough, right?” Read More