After the Storm
Given recent events, Betabeat decided to forego our Rumor Roundup this week for a roundup of all the things startups are doing to help get New York back to normal following Hurricane Sandy.
It didn’t take long for New York startups and techies to spring into action after Hurricane Sandy left parts of our fine city without power, water, shelter, or Wifi.
On Tuesday, we pointed you to New York Tech Meetup and New Work City’s attempts to mobilize tech-savvy volunteers to help local businesses and organizations get networks and websites up and running. Today, NYTM put out an official call to its 28,000 members, asking for more volunteers and taking requests (online or by phone/text 646-392-7353) from government agencies, small businesses, non-profits, and schools that need help anything from data recovery to Internet connectivity to getting servers back online.
Noel Hidalgo, one of the lead volunteers of that effort, has been manning an uber-useful Sandy Coworking map of offices space for displaced techies. And New Work City founder Tony Bacigalupo, has pretty much morphed into Silicon Alley’s Cory Booker.
Internet Wants to Be Free
Zappos’ Tony Hsieh is using his empire to help revitalize downtown Las Vegas. “I first thought I would buy a piece of land and build our own Disneyland.” [New York Times]
Sources say the SEC’s probe into Facebook’s IPO has found no evidence that the company withheld information from investors. Good news for those seeking relief for the stock dive in civil court: Whether retail investors were led astray by misleading info from brokers still remains to be seen. [Bloomberg]
BuzzFeed is opening a Los Angeles bureau; prepare for a lot more celebrity photo lists. [BuzzFeed]
Internet service providers like Verizon and Time Warner have launched the Copyright Alert System, a new warning feature that will send notes to customers they’ve found are pirating content. Users who ignore these messages could even have their connections throttled, because ISPs will pretend to care about piracy if it gives them an excuse not to pay for bandwidth. [CNN]
Shopping for glitzy gowns just got a lot easier. On Friday, Rent the Runway introduced a new feature that replaces models with everyday women, “allowing visitors to search for women of a certain age, height, weight and even bust size, to see how that dress looks on someone similar.” [New York Times]
Cable the Final Frontier
When not pissing off the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Time Warner Cable execs apparently take to their evil lair to devise new schemes to wring every last penny out of their hapless customers. The latest pocket gouger? A monthly modem fee.
The New York Times reports that Time Warner is planning to charge a monthly fee of $3.95 to rent a modem from them. If you want to avoid paying the monthly fee, you can purchase a Time Warner-approved modem for $50-$137. Time Warner will then promise to set the modem up during the Harvest Moon but then not show up until the spring thaw.
Window to the Soul
Stars, they’re just like us! When confronted with the monumental annoyance of having to install Time Warner cable in their apartment, they, too, resort to nihilistic thinking. Thus is the case with Sir Patrick Stewart, famed Shakespearean actor and Star Trek star, who recently moved to Park Slope.
We assume he doesn’t live in a building equipped with Verizon Fios, because the actor has signed up for that dreaded, monstrous monopoly Time Warner Cable, notorious for having fewer stars on Yelp than cannibal murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Apple is known for its sleek, modern stores with glistening white walls and futuristic gadgets adorning smooth tables. There are Apple stores all over Manhattan that serve as gleaming advertisements for a dreamy future. But what of Microsoft? With no gadget palaces in Manhattan to speak of, they’re resorting to a more temporary approach: opening a pop up shop over the holidays at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.
The MPAA and the RIAA aren’t raking in as much cash as they used to. [TechDirt]
This breed of ants works a little like the Internet. [PC World]
Time Warner is expanding its fiber network in New York City, hopefully preventing any more techies from tearing their hair out over problems getting high-speed Internet. [Wall Street Journal]
IAC has purchased About.com for $300 million, because of synergy. [The Hollywood Reporter]
America’s V.P. gets no Facebook love. [Buzzfeed]
Getting your Gmail hacked is going to look like a walk in the park once hackers can rifle through your innermost thoughts. [ZDNet]
CEO Reed Hastings has long-tried to maintain that Netflix is not, in fact, a nefarious plot to destroy the cable companies, but rather a “complementary” service that will leave cords to cable companies neatly intact. Whether or not Mr. Hastings is being sincere about Netflix’s end goal, it looks like that’s how it’s playing out for now. Using last night’s True Blood premiere as bait, HBO saw its 3 millionth download of the HBO Go mobile app (for the iPad, iPhone, and Android) this weekend. The app, a direct competitor to Netflix, can be accessed for free by paying HBO cable customers. Considering that there are 28 million HBO subscribers around the country, that means about 10 percent have tried out the app just since it premiered on May 2nd.
Time Warner and Cablevision customers in New York City still have to wait for the city’s largest cable service providers to close the deal. (And deal with their Soviet-style customer service.) But the New York Post reports that talks are underway.
In the battle to build the universal screen, where anyone can watch anything from anywhere so long as they are a paying customer, Time Warner has gone into retreat.
Facebook hosted a dinner last week for big Web publishers. Tina Brown was in attendance, along with reps from ESPN, The New York Times and Conde Nast.
According to Peter Kafka at All Things D, it’s part of a campaign by Facebook to woo big media and put itself in between consumers Read More