You don’t need an inbox full of breathless press releases trumpeting identical calorie-counting dating apps with free weather alerts to know the start-up scene can be monotonous.
Ironpants and Guess the 90’s are today’s sparkly flakes at the bottom of the millrace, and every would-be Jack Dorsey with a beta and fancy card is joining the stampede.
For that reason, it takes a lot to catch Betabeat’s hype-weary eye. But every once in a while, we come across an app or a website that looks like it could actually—yes—improve modern life (or at least insidiously colonize another lobe of your brain).
Here, we’ve assembled our annual list of tech visionaries based in New York City, a group of innovators, impresarios, paradigm-twisters and all-around entreprenerds leading the city’s tech scene.
It’s a brand new year and time to take stock of what’s happening in our world.
Has Snapchat effectively eliminated the need for all forms of verbal communication? Almost. Do we now spend more time taking selfies than any other activity? Yes. Is Juan Pablo the hottest Bachelor in the show’s 17-season history? Definitely yes.
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The Merry Pranksters
From Old Spice’s viral “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign to the contentious Skittles spot that made One Million Moms cry bestiality, bizarre or aggressive advertising has become commonplace in our internet-addled society. To nab the attention of customers toggling between screens, advertisers frequently toe the line between inappropriate and outrageous, but few are as unabashedly controversial as the Queens-based OKFocus. Named to AdAge’s Creativity 50 in July, OKFocus is a rebel brand’s dream, equal parts design snob and attention-seeking internet troll. And as advertising moves online, OKFocus clients like Google and the Museum of Contemporary Art have taken note.
Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and Square, recently tried to disabuse the tech industry of its infatuation with the word ‘disruption.’ “We don’t want ‘disruption,’ where we just move things around. We want a direction. We want a purpose,” he said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, humbly suggesting the biannual conference change its name. But it’s more than just semantics. The tech sector’s claim to produce world-changing products and services often gets drowned out in a chorus of me-too companies solving problems no one ever complained about. The umpteenth nightlife-recommendations tool or empty real-time dating app can obscure the whirr of a nascent robotics sector in Manhattan or a futuristic, even revolutionary, experiment in manufacturing in Queens.