While you spent the summer day-drinking, the wunderkind founder of mysterious payments startup “Clinkle” was hard at work. Three months on, it’s no clearer what the startup, which was somehow able to net a $25 million seed round, actually does. Yet AllThingsD reports that the company has managed to sign Richard Branson as yet another investor.
Clinkle has also debuted an ad to sell us on the merits of this as-yet-unrevealed piece of technology. Rather than getting specific, though, they decided to go high concept. In fact, we’d say it’s all concept, no pitch.
Though Google Glass makes even models look vaguely dorky, a host of celebs are lining up to try them out. Stanford computer science doctoral student Andrej Karpathy analyzed the winners of the #ifihadglass contest and pulled them into a neat little table organized by follower count. The result makes it super easy to see which celebrities were chosen as part of the lucky 8,000 winners of a Glass explorers kit.
How do Stanford students get the human education they need to lead startups? Many of them take CS198, a program that teaches computer science TAs how to teach, but ends up being a crash course for future CEOs. [New York]
Steven Sinofsky–the dude who spearheaded the newly released Windows 8–has decamped from Microsoft. That doesn’t look bad at all, guys. [New York Times]
Yahoo Mail is reportedly working on a Gmail-like redesign. Just don’t expect that to attract any CIA directors to the product. [AllThingsD]
“The advent of 3D printers shows that technology continues to exceed the limits of gun control.” That’s a comment from a pro-gun group, by the way. [Animal New York]
Lockheen Martin–the top supplier to the Pentagon–has seen a sharp upswing in the rate of cyberattacks. [Reuters]
Teach Me How to Startup
NowThis News, the recently launched video news site created by ex-HuffPo founders Eric Hippeau and Ken Lerer, opted for an old-fashioned approach to deliver election results on a new-fangled platform. As the tweets poured by at an impossible-to-follow rate, NowThis News stuck out with a very web 1.0 approach: ASCII art.
The NowThis site (formerly called Planet Daily) currently pulls in newsy video clips from sites like Twitter, Facebook and–most typically–Buzzfeed, another Lerer Ventures portfolio company. The company’s Twitter handle, @NowThisNews, is run by its social editor, Drake Martinet, who’s also an adjunct professor at Stanford. Mr. Martinet said that 90 percent of the video content on the site is produced by the NowThis team.
Silicon Alley U
Today is the online debut of Forbes‘ “Top Colleges” issue. Only they should have called it the “Top College” issue, because–though the rankings aren’t online yet–that big splashy profile of Instagram founder Kevin Systrom makes it pretty clear that Stanford is coming out ahead. Apologies all around to Cornell, Technion, Columbia, NYU, MIT, Harvard…
Mr. Systrom’s debt to his alma mater is no secret, and Ken Auletta’s New Yorker profile is really patient zero in this epidemic of Stanford Fever, but Forbes takes it to the next level, devoting a fair bit of the piece to crowning the Palo Alto Trade School as king of the academic hill, tech-wise. The feature is full of lines like this:
XX in Tech
In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, the illustrious Ken Auletta, who recently profiled Sheryl Sandberg’s attempts to “upend Silicon Valley’s male-dominated culture,” looks at the Bay Area from a different perspective. This time, he analyzes how Stanford became “the farm system for Silicon Valley,” and whether the “gold-rush mentality” among both Stanford’s students and faculty is good for the university.
Tucked inside the story are also a number of details about why Stanford, which was widely considered a frontrunner to open a its first-ever second campus on Roosevelt Island, abruptly dropped its bid at the last minute.
Silicon Alley U
For a lifelong perfectionist overachiever, 36-year-old Marissa Mayer (known in some circles as Google employee no. 20), is rather adept at projecting an aura of relatability. Pro-tip: it never hurts to pepper your tales of 130-hour work weeks with verbatim quotes from High Fidelity. Of course, as the longtime friendly public face–sweeter than the acerbic Mr. Schmidt, less aspy than Larry–of a $212 billion company like GOOG, she’s had some practice.
That easy demeanor was on full display at the 92nd Street Y Tuesday night, when Ms. Mayer stopped by for an hour-and-a-half Q&A session with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel, who pointed out that her latest job title, “VP, Local, Maps & Location Services,” made it sound like she worked at AAA.
To give the Upper East Side crowd some idea of Ms. Mayer’s celebustatus in Silicon Valley, Mr. Tyrangiel pointed out that a YouTube loop of her unusual laugh, which sounds kinda like a guffaw being sucked through a vacuum, has been viewed a quarter of a million times. “They’ve also made it into a ringtone!” Ms. Mayer noted gleefully. But Mr. Tyrangiel needn’t have worried. In line for tickets, one heavily-perfumed older woman ticked off a list of influential projects Ms. Mayer has helped define since she started there in 1999: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail.
Silicon Alley U
On Monday, the lobby of the Weill Cornell Medical College, which resides on a particularly gray stretch of the Upper East Side, was crawling with men and women in wooly blazers dotted with “carnelian” buttons—the technical name for the maroon hue that invariably moves Cornell students to chant some version of “Go Big Red!”
Inside the auditorium, as an assembly of press, pols, and local technorati waited for Mayor Bloomberg to appear, a giant projector flashed a mosaic of the Cornell University logo.
The news had been leaked to every major news outlet by midnight on Sunday; there was no point in being coy.
Who knew a request for proposal to build a tech campus would offer such edge-of-your-seat drama? Late Sunday night, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Bloomberg, and the New York Times all put out stories saying that Cornell won the bid to build a tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Mayor Bloomberg will reportedly make the announcement Monday.
This latest development caps a tumultuous 72 hours in the year-long process of trying to build an engineering mecca that would transform New York into the next Silicon Valley. On Friday afternoon, Stanford–widely thought to be a front-runner and openly courted by Mayor Bloomberg–abruptly announced that it was dropping out of the race. Hours later, Cornell announced an anonymous $350 million donation towards its applied sciences campus proposal.
Stanford totally dissed New York City today by dropping its bid to build a tech campus on Roosevelt Island. What happened to all the lovey-dovey intercoastal necking that was so irritating to local contenders for the project? The city repeatedly highlighted the bid from the prestigious Stanford in speeches and press releases. But did Bloomie then say Stanford was “desperate” to build a campus in New York, during a talk at MIT? The negotiations fell apart suddenly; Stanford’s delegation was in New York and reportedly negotiating as late as yesterday. An announcement by Stanford took its competitors by surprise. Even the city did not have a statement ready, suggesting perhaps even they didn’t know. All signs point to: the city dropped the ball.
Fred Wilson was pleased; but what did the Twittersphere think? Turns out, most were sad to see Stanford go.