Corn Husking

What We Learned On Our First Trip to Big Omaha, Nebraska’s Answer to SXSW

Photo by Malone & Company / Big Omaha via Silicon Prairie News

Earlier this week, Betabeat shlepped out to LaGuardia and took a plane and then another plane to Nebraska. We could tell things were gonna be different when the view from the window seat was tract after tract of pastoral green and brown instead of the Lite Brites that usually greet us descending into Queens. Then our shuttle driver from the airport invited us over for a home-cooked meal. We could get used to Central Time!

We are here, of course, for Big Omaha, an intimate startup conference that people like to describe as “how SXSW used to be,” i.e. before the marketers descended, Jay-Z showed up, and the suits started ruining everything. Attendance is capped at 650 and batches of tickets sell out within minutes. Read More

Summer Jamz

Did’s Traffic Fly South for the Winter or Forever?

That's Betabeat on the dance floor with the lame avatar.

It’s possible Betabeat’s “Summer Jamz” tag for posts may have proved portentous. After looking at the site’s traffic and search trends, Digital Music News wonders, “Has the fickle internet already chewed this site up, spit it out, and moved onto something else?”

It echoes what a norms friend and former TTFM enthusiast said to us over coffee last weekend, “Remember when everyone was excited about!” She has since moved on to Spotify.

The tech press is just as eager to roast a failure as it to crown a startup prince (not us, of course, no never). But while the data is unverified, a unique visitor count from, ranking data from Alexa and Google search trend data all show a markedly similar downward-sloping curve after a steep spike in June and July. Read More

Summer Jamz

How Users Self-Categorize on

No, not that kind of bear.

Now that courts celebrities as investors, it’s fair game for the likes of The Hollywood Reporter, which had an interesting interview with co-founder Seth Goldstein over the weekend. In it, Mr. Goldstein discusses monetization (with engaged users it’ll come naturally) and how DCMA-compliant listening makes for a passive experience (“it’s primarily read-only”).

As an early investor in the taxonomic trailblazers behind Delicious, Mr. Goldstein also had some telling observations about how TTFM users have scrapped traditional genres for a different approach to categorization. Read More

Summer Jamz Picks Union Square Ventures as Investor Over Kleiner and Accel

In a room of bobbing avatars, Radiohead take on new meaning

While the legal paperwork is still being finished, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources that Union Square Venture is the big new investor in

Betabeat was the first to report the company was raising significant funds. It was later reported by Business Insider that the round had closed, which was not true at the time, and technically is still not the case. We have been told that BI was essentially correct on the numbers, which were reported as a $7.5 million round at a $37.5 million valuation.

TechCrunch was the first to report that Turntable was choosing between USV, Kleiner Perkins and Accel. The choice of USV over West Coast heavyweights like Kleiner Perkins and Accel makes a lot of sense. Both Kleiner and Accel have deep ties with Facebook, which is reportedly building its own music service, so there is a potential for conflict of interest. USV, by contrast, has deep ties with Twitter, which is’s most powerful distribution platform. Read More

Summer Jamz and the Siren Song of the Start-up Pivot

Pivot Prof. Billy Chasen

There is no more overused and reviled word in the world of tech start-ups than pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.

It seems to capture the manic energy of the current tech industry, in which an idea can get millions in funding before building a product and, if the users never materialize, or the business model never emerges amidst all hype, simply change their direction and try something new.

No company better epitomizes this idea of second chances than, a social music site, born out of the ashes of a failed venture called Stickybits. Founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein raised almost $2 million for Stickybits and worked on the project for about a year. The idea was to leave little stickers on physical objects that contained links to stories, photos and video on the web. Big brands like Pepsi thought it was a great idea. Users, not so much.

With little momentum and cash running low, they decided to pull a monster pivot., which launched a little over one month ago, has already attracted over 300,000 users and the interest of top tier investors on the east and west coast. Suddenly a team that was running low on funds is being courted for a fresh infusion of $5-10 million at a $40 million valuation, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources. Read More

Summer Jamz

We’re About to See the First Formal Marketing Experiment on

turntable gorilla

Today, a start-up is putting to the test. Mashable reports 1band1brand, a site for indie music and fashion brands, is hosting a Turntable room shortly with “trivia contests, giveaways, artist DJs (Eastern Conference Champions and Kopecky Family Band) and open mic spots for participating users.”

It’s scary how fast blew up. At the beginning of the month, invites went out to a small batch of early adopters, who used Facebook to spread it to their friends, and somehow it got picked up by a music blog in Germany, and then it was all over Twitter, and then the co-founders had to stop signing up new users for a while due to the unanticipated windfall. And that was just the beginning:

Developers started building hacks and apps for Turntable (the latest is the Turntable Dashboard, which shows what’s playing in all rooms with more than 20 people) About two weeks after its public launch, Turntable announced it was hiring and started iterating on features. Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

We Met the Co-Founder of Turntable.Fm Last Night and It Was Magic


When Betabeat’s crack trio of writers heard co-founder Seth Goldstein was going to be in town and trolling for developers at the Ace Hotel, we decided to stalk by. Uh, we mean Betabeat always holds its weekly editorial dinner at the halal Pakistani joint on West 29th St. And then we just happened to walk across the street for a drink at the Ace. Mmmhmm, totally. (Pro tip at Gourmet Palace: Order everything.)

Inside the lobby we spotted angel investor Chris Sacca, the “gatekeeper” of private shares in Twitter, right away by his leonine mane of hair. We tried to introduce ourselves, but a gentleman in a baseball cap and windbreaker with his back to us was in the middle of wowing a crowd gathered around him with a card trick. After it was over, the magician moved on, deck in hand, to entertain the couch to our right. “Have you met my friend David?” asked Mr. Sacca, as he walked by. “That’s David Blaine,” Mr. Sacca added, once the illusionist was out of earshot. Yeah, we recognized the face. Read More

Virality Yep, It’s Totally Viral. But Is This ‘Alive Web’ Burning Users Out?

turntablefm tweets

“The graph plotting the @mentions of over time just has a classic hockey stick shape to it,” Doug Williams, biz dev at Twitter, tweeted at TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsias regarding the site. is a browser-based and soon-to-be mobile app that’s basically a radio station where a few users “DJ” while other listeners vote on song choices and talk in a chat room sidebar.

“Screenshots or it didn’t happen,” Ms. Tsotsias responded.

Mr. Williams declined to give out the stats, of course. But we ran a semantic tweet analysis using the social media analytics tool ViralHeat and found some fun stuff from the past week: Read More

Summer Jamz Staffing up, Plans to Track Your Awesome


The folks at addictive music service are struggling right now just to keep the site up and running as its viral growth continues to surge. But co-founder Billy Chasen sent out an email last night with a few interesting updates.

One of the more addictive features on the service is the ability to follow a DJ and be alerted whenever they hit the decks. But so far there is no way to keep track of the songs you discover  and award points to for being awesome.

“We have a lot of exciting features on our roadmap, so expect to see new things getting rolled out over the next few weeks,” wrote Chasen. “Our biggest request right now are for multiple queues and tracking what you awesome. We are already logging everything you awesome, so you’ll see them soon.” Read More