Techies Be Snackin
Teach Me How to Startup
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.
On a clear November day, the hard-working students of Harvard College took a collective study break and poured onto the walkway in front of Lamont Library. Undergrads, an inordinate number of them sporting hoodies, pressed their bodies against a set of temporary barricades, their smartphones and cameras held aloft, eyes intent on a grinning visitor making his way from one of the Yard’s gates to a mic stand that had been set up smack in the middle of the walkway.
The excitement wasn’t for Jason Segel, who would be selected as the Hasty Pudding’s Man of the Year in February, nor for Andy Samberg, who’d be tapped to give the Class Day Speech later that year, but a former classmate—a “concentrator” in computer science and psychology—who eight years ago had been just like them, a hard-working kid with amazing grades and questionable social skills, well on his way to a comfortable future.
As Mark Zuckerberg paused to answer questions, the giddiness was almost enough to make everyone forget that, like Bill Gates before him, the Facebook founder had dropped out of Harvard well before receiving his sheepskin.
Tereza Nemessanyi, founder of Honestly Now, an online Q&A forum, brought her elementary school-aged daughter along to a tech demo that she said was unlike most others she has been to.
“Last time I demoed was January 2011,” Ms. Nemessanyi said. “I brought my daughter with me and she asked me ‘mommy, why is it all boys?’”
Well that certainly wasn’t the case this time. Last night, more than 100 tech-savvy women (and a few guys) filled rows of chairs in a large room in the Microsoft building in midtown to participate in the first-ever Read More
MySocialCloud was still in relatively early stages last year when Stacey Ferreira, now 20, saw a tweet from investor and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, which read, somewhat cryptically: “Enjoy intimate cocktails with me in Miami on June 15th – $2,000 to charity,” and including an email address to contact for more details. It was the perfect chance to pitch her startup, she thought.
Seed Stage Slaughter
Despite the fact that we love to spotlight the companies and characters that make this scene hum here at Betabeat, we occasionally grow weary of all the unbridled enthusiasm for the New York tech space. What can we say? We’re journalists–we were born skeptical. So when this parody video of a soon-to-launch startup popped up, its light-hearted jabs at the more eyeroll-inducing side of tech were all too familiar.
“Vooza is a mobile web app that’s real-time, cloud-based, social and local,” begins the animated video. “What does it do? SHHHH! We’re in beta!”
The Center for an Urban Future, a think tank headed by Jonathan Bowles, has released a lengthy report about New York City’s tech sector, titled “New Tech City.” The Center’s findings indicate amazing growth over the last decade. While “New Tech City” contains mostly good news for the local tech set, there is a dash of cold water–just a bit–to leaven any prospective startup’s bright-eyed optimism.
First, the good news!
If you’ve been to any NY Tech Day events recently, you may have heard of Return on Change, a new startup that allows every day individuals to help fund socially-conscious startup companies. Aimed at exploiting a hole in the market created by the passage of the JOBS Act, Return on Change officially launched its private beta site today.
At an industry breakfast yesterday, the commercial real estate brokers at Cushman & Wakefield announced that New York City has reached a tipping point: For the first time since 1999, the information and media sector (including technology) beat out financial services terms of office leasing.
In the first quarter of 2012, information and media accounted for 27.8 percent of office leasing by square footage, compared to the financial sector’s 26.3 percent. “New York is not just a financial town anymore,” Cushman’s managing director Ken McCarthy told the Real Deal.
You don’t have to tell Dumbo. Yesterday, the Brooklyn Paper reported that commercial vacancy rates in the neighborhood are down to 2 percent, prompting city planners to try to make Downtown more appealing to Brooklyn’s creative class. “Everyone in the tech industry wants to be in DUMBO,” said the paper. And here we thought the ideal spot was spitting distance from Union Square Ventures.
The Equity of the Crowds
In order to win its war against the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ has put together a little video outlining “What it means to be Made in NYC.” The logic goes something like: (1) this video convinces the next Mark Zuckerberg to launch in New York (2) Zuck 2.0 invents Facebook 2.0 (3) when it comes time to go public, he/she looks back fondly at the inspirational video that brought him/her here and gives Duncan Niederauer the finger.
The video is cute and charming and makes New York sound like one big happy family, well except for the sobering presence of recently-defoundered Naveen Selvadurai, of course. But the U-Haul advertisement also veers dangerously into caricature.
Ready your startups, the early stage investing climate is about to go into overdrive. This afternoon, the JOBS Act (or Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) passed in the House with an overwhelming vote of 380-41. Next, the bill moves to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. The JOBS Act originally passed in the House a few weeks ago with a 390-23 vote a couple weeks ago. The Senate’s version of the bill, called the CROWDFUND Act (or Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act), added a number of safeguards for investors and passed last week 73-26. The JOBS Act was then revised to reconcile with the Senate’s bill, which is why the final version had to move back to the House for another vote.