Alley vs. Valley
eBay announced on its blog today that it has acquired Svpply, the NYC-based social shopping site that curates personalized collections of clothing and products. Located on Broome Street in Soho, Svpply raised $550,000 in seed funding back in 2010 from investors like Founders Collective, Spark Capital, SV Angel, Dennis Crowley and Jason Hirschhorn. Since then, Svpply has been bootstrapping itself to 620,000 product views per week and 140,000 registered members (as of May).
Last May, founder Ben Pieratt offered a candid perspective on first-time entrepreneurship, admitting his vulnerability. ”I have zero experience or expertise in building a company,” he wrote in a 2011 blog post. “So I’m learning on the fly.”
By the tweets of it, everyone, their mom, and Jennifer 8. Lee showed up for Y Combinator’s biggest Demo Day evah last night to watch the parade of hoodies try to convince folks they have the next Airbnb. To make sure no one got bored, the thoughtful editors of the Daily Muse even put together a BINGO card of expected phrases (that could also work well as a Mad Libs): “We make it easy to disrupt the future of ________. Please ignore the label-less Y axis on our chart of ______. So if you’re _______ come talk to us. “
But one company that seems to have emerged from the fray is Pair, an app built for two that lets couples send each other messages, pictures, and thumbkisses, which is when both users press their thumb to the screen at the same time, making the phones vibrate. It sounds like a mobile version of OurSpot, the social network (population: 2), we told you about in January, minus the good vibrations, of course.
Location Location Location
When you’ve got Evan Williams, John Borthwick, and Max Levchin chatting it up on your “curated discussion platform,” it’s probably just a matter of time before the high-powered investors,
incubators makers, and other loosely-defined collectives come a’ calling.
Today, Branch, the startup that initially launched in New York City as group blogging service Roundtable, announced that is now partnered with Obvious Corp and picked up investments from Lerer Ventures and SV Angel. Although Branch has been working out of Obvious headquarters since the beginning of this year, the startup will move to Betaworks this summer. Cofounder Josh Miller’s announcement is somewhat obliquely worded, but it sounds like Rick Webb, Lucas Nelson, Ryan Freitas, and David Tisch also joined the round.
The size of the round wasn’t disclosed. However, this Form D SEC filing for Roundtable Media (the startup’s original name) filed by Joshua Alexander Miller, seems to indicate that the size of the round was $1,999,997 and fully subscribed. The address on the Form D, for example, is the same address as Obvious Corp. According to the Form D, the funding was an equity round with seven investors and the date of first sale is listed as February 15th. We have reached out to Mr. Miller for confirmation.
Last June, Flickr and Hunch cofounder Caterina Fake announced that she had raised $2 million from investors like New York’s Founder Collective, True Ventures and SV Angel with an emphasis on consumers and social. If you’ll recall, in November of 2010, Ms. Fake left Hunch, a New York City-based startup she cofounded with Chris Dixon to build a “taste graph” of the Internet, rather abruptly. Speculation was that Hunch’s pivot—away from a consumer destination site towards a platform to power other sites (it was acquired by eBay last November)—was too far out of Ms. Fake’s wheelhouse. “The things I’m good at are building communities, participatory media, places where people contribute things of their own making,” she blogged at the time. Mr. Dixon chalked it up to a “founder-market fit;” other people had other ideas.
Regardless new startup Pinwheel, which launched out of private beta last night, seems to fit her comfort zone. The app lets users “find and leave notes all around the world.” The notes, which are pinned on a specific location on a map, can be both private or shared with an individual or group, as well as organized into sets.
For example, “Every place that you told me that you loved me, circa 2008″ (one of the potential sets Ms. Fake offers) you might want to keep private. Whereas “Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW,” (another example from Ms. Fake) might be a question you pose to a group. There is, of course, a social networking element, with the opportunity to follow both friends and sets:
Earlier this week, Inporia co-founder Ryan Junee launched Kaleidoscope, a more monetizable take on those suddenly ubiquitous fashion apps, in the Android market. (Relax, fangirls, the Apple version if coming soon.)
It’s being described as “Pinterest meets ShopStyle,” and indeed, Kaleidoscope uses the ShopStyle API to source potential purchasing options. But there’s also an element of “human expertise,” Mr. Junee told Betabeat, with a team of fashion interns making sure the “shop that look” function links to the best selection of similar items. Mr. Junee said he’s also working on automating that function.
Percolate, the New York-based curation engine that helps brands source relevant content for their social media presence, just raised $1.5 million. The seed round was led by First Round Capital. Lerer Ventures and SV Angel also invested, as well as Path founder Dave Morin and Rick Webb, who used to work with Percolate co-founder Noah Brier at the Barbarian Group.
Along with the added cash, which will be used to hire a sales team and engineers, Percolate moved its platform from alpha to beta and unveiled a new design with a focus on helping brands generate content for “the social web”–in other words their Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter profiles or other branded sites.
The last time we spoke to Mr. Brier, Percolate was being bootstrapped by its founders and had just announced that it would be powering Counterparties, the Reuters owned website, for its editors Felix Salmon and Ryan McCarthy. Since then, the company has helped find content Amex OPEN Forum’s Tumblr and taken on a similar role with sites from Mastercard and GE.
Paul Graham surprised us at Y Combinator’s first ever Manhattan meetup tonight. In town for the innagural YC in NYC, Mr. Graham recalled that when he set out to build his first startup, he was living in New York. It was the dot-com boom, and even though he hated the weather, and how sweaty it made his upper lip, he could see that New York would eventually surpass Boston. “New York investors had balls that folks from Boston didn’t.”
But the sudden prominence of New York has left Mr. Graham questioning his universe. “Will New York catch up to the Valley, will it surpass us?” he asked the hundreds of local hopefuls gathered at the Metropolitan Pavilion. He had long wondered why certain cities seemed to seemed to be poison for startups. “I realized I was asking the wrong question. Startups die naturally and certain cities are the antidote.”
The seed stage investors in GroupMe featured a lot of the same twenty-something investors Betabeat wrote about in our Littlest Angels feature back in February. David Tisch, Ben Lerer and Josh Kushner all saw their first big exits when Skype bought GroupMe, and according to one source, it was a doozy.
The seed stage round for GroupMe was $850,000 dollars, and according to sources, made at a pre-money valuation of around $4 million. That would mean a post-money figure of 4.85 million, which, given the reported exit price of $85 million, would be a multiple of roughly 17X.
In the same way that Kickstarter connects users with backers for their projects, SkillShare connects experts with students for their classes. The start-up just raised a $3.1 million in a Series A round of venture financing, led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, to extend its offerings. Previously the company raised a $550,000 round of seed funding from Founder Collective and SV Angel, among others.
Betabeat has been reporting on this funding for some time, but was too gun shy to publish without confirmation from the founders. Lesson learned.
A new fashion start-up launching in September has secured backing from some of the biggest names in angel investing on the East and West coasts. Edition01 has raised around $500,000 from David Tisch, Ken Lerer and Ron Conway’s SV Angel to build an e-commerce site focusing on capsule collections: limited edition runs of products by designers like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Narciso Rodriguez.