As 2011 came to a close, we looked back at our most popular posts. But this year, we’re a little older (a mature year and nine months!), a lot wiser, and thought we’d try something a little different. Thank you for reading!
Ultra-Orthodox Jews Take a Hard Line on the Internet at Rally of 40,000 Men (And Me) In which our intrepid reporter sneaks into Citi Field in drag.
Faith, Hope, and Singularity: Entering the Matrix with New York’s Futurist Set It’s the end of the world as we know it, and they feel fine.
The Real TechStars of New York
At any startup accelerator, Demo Days are a relentlessly upbeat affair–a parade of promotional pitch decks and stats about market size that somehow always reach up into the billions. But in New York City, Techstars’ biannual showcase takes the cake.
Founded in Boulder, the program launched in New York in 2011 (just as the startup scene cried out for tent poles to rally around) and easily fills auditoriums. Companies often announce “soft-circled” funding or even that the round has already closed. Mayor Bloomberg even called the number of investors who fly to New York to check out presentations, “proof positive that the TechStars is going to change this world and certainly change America and this city.”
Or as TechStars mentor Joel Spolsky put it before introducing one of the startups at Webster Hall: ”Time to get my company oversubscribed.”
And I Will Always Google You Google just released its year-end zeitgeist list and Whitney Houston was named the most searched person and term of the year. Gangnam Style clocked in as the second most searched thing of the year and the now-pregnant duchess Kate Middleton was the second most searched person in 2012. In terms of New York’s search history, Hurricane Sandy took the number one slot and was followed by “MTA” and then “NY Knicks” (The new Brooklyn Nets didn’t manage to crack the top 10). In terms of restaurants, Nobu was the most searched place to eat in New York, but Daniel and Chef’s Table didn’t fall too far behind.
It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Tumblr Tumblr is instructing its users to tag their favorite posts “#TumblrGiftGuide.” The Tumblr team then will troll through the entries and reblog the best entries onto the official Holiday Gift Guide Tumblr. A look on the site shows a knit skull and a case for an iPad with cute typewriters all over it. No GIFs are currently on the site or for sale anywhere in the world.
The Gmail app for iPad and iPhone got an upgrade. [Gmail Blog]
Despite the cluttered app market, half of all revenue from the app store goes to just 25 developers. [The Register]
Techstars company Karma has launched its $79 4G mobile hotspot that rewards users for sharing their connection. [TechCrunch]
If the Curiosity Rover can last eight more years, it will get a friend. NASA plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020. [BBC]
Why walk or drive to work when you could trampoline? [The Guardian]
The Real TechStars of New York
TechStars NYC has been quiet since August, when managing director David Tisch announced that he would be stepping back from his day-to-day role at the accelerator program. Almost exactly a year ago, we profiled Mr. Tisch’s rise to prominence in New York’s startup scene largely through his role in building a satellite program for TechStars, which entered the local market just when it could benefit from a little infrastructure.
(Early observers will recall that the first class of TechStars New York was filmed for a reality show, but managed to escape the humorless vitriol directed at Randi Zuckerberg–probably because the TechStars version was for Bloomberg instead of Bravo, and involved about 100 percent fewer toga parties.) Over the past few years, Mr. Tisch has become a prolific angel investor through Box Group, and his name frequently shows up in seed funding rounds for New York companies–TechStars and otherwise. Thus finding a replacement who is as well-versed in the scene might be tricky.
Cha-ching! GigaOm reports that TechStars New York just got its first acquisition: 2011 graduate ThinkNear, a hyperlocal mobile ad startup, was acquired by GPS purveyor Telenav for $22.5 million. The startup will be incorporated into a newly launched mobile ad platform called Scout Advertising. It’s the largest TechStars acquisition thus far.
Not too shabby.
Teach Me How to Startup
New York University’s premier tech club, Tech@NYU, is in the midst of its annual Startup Week. This year’s series of panels featuring familiar faces from Silicon Alley are all organized under the theme ”Hacking as a mentality.”
Hence last night’s event starring Charlie O’Donnell, partner of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and David Tisch, the former Read More
The first sound we heard upon ringing the doorbell at the Onswipe offices just off of Union Square was the pitter-pattering of puppy footsteps. “Is that a dog?” we asked aloud to the well-dressed man who was also waiting to be let into the office. Sure enough, an Onswipe employee opened the door and a scruffy white dog excitedly greeted us.
Once we were in the loft-like offices, out came TechStars alum Jason Baptiste, Onswipe’s colorful founder, who after introducing himself made the dog (named Johnny) sit and shake. Johnny refused to do a spin though. “He’ll do anything if you have food,” acknowledged Mr. Baptiste, wearing a dapper grey suit and pink tie.
We were at Onswipe to discuss the company’s recent growth, which has been on an impressively upward swing since February. Onswipe’s staff has quadrupled to 25 in the last year, with plans to grow to 48 employees by year’s end. The company also recently added two new executive level positions: former VP of AOL Video Richard Bloom as its first COO, and former VP of sales at Jumptap Jared Hand as its first CRO.
The Real TechStars of New York
My, how quickly they grow. It seems like just yesterday Betabeat was following TechStars managing director David Tisch around Union Square for a profile of the new crown prince of the tech scene. But in an unexpected August surprise, Mr. Tisch just announced on his blog that he would be stepping back from his day-to-day duties at the startup accelerator.
“The program was at a point of stability. I was incredibly proud of what we built over two years: three programs, 36 companies,” Mr. Tisch, who also invests personally through Box Group, told Betabeat by phone. “We were in between a big lull in the program, so it felt like the right time.”
Mr. Tisch’s new title will be cofounder of TechStars New York. “I’m still going to be involved and help with all the other stuff. It’s just not day-to-day anymore. I’m going to mentor, I’m an investor in the program. I’ll help with the selection committee and stuff like that and we’ll figure out where it goes.”
New York-based “Word-of-Mouth” platform Tout’d announced this morning that they raised $1.4 million in a seed round led by Warner Hill Angels. Tout’d, led by Techstars alum Arron Kallenberg and Wall Street vets Rob Morelli and Saro Cutri, allows users to crowdsource questions like, “What’s the name of a good plumber?” to your social connections, who can provide helpful answers.
Tout’d users can sign in using Facebook Connect and have personalized recommendations immediately delivered to them based on their social circle. Picture Foursquare tips, but for anything, and with more in-depth details.
Tout’d CTO Mr. Kallenberg, who is basically the definition of “serial entrepreneur,” has had his fair share of experience knocking around startup ideas. “When I got to college I wanted to study cultural anthropology, but my family operates a commercial fishing boat in Alaska and the fishing industry took a nosedive economically, so I started a consulting company doing app development when I was pretty young,” Mr. Kallenberg told Betabeat by phone.