Teach Me How to Startup
Visitors who search for Harlem rapper Azealia Banks’ breakout hit, “212,” on Rap Genius, an online platform that crowd-sources explanations of hip-hop lyrics, will find nearly every verse annotated by the site’s users, who clocked more than 2 million monthly uniques in August, according to comScore. Click on the line “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening / And fit that ton-tongue d-deep in,” and a pop-up immediately appears explaining that Ms. Banks is employing a metaphor for cunnilingus and that “She stutters the words tongue and deep to mimic the stuttering that occurs when one receives such a gift.” That exegesis received 11 upvotes, earning the contributor jamima-j, a female “slam poetry writer,” a healthy bump in “Rap IQ” points on the site.
Readers might find her analysis either amusing or unnecessary. But the reigning kings of Sand Hill Road, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, view Rap Genius as “one of the most important things we’ve ever funded,” co-founder Ben Horowitz told Betabeat last week. The prominent V.C. firm, which clawed its way into the Silicon Valley firmament in just three years by aggressively plowing millions into fast-growth tech start-ups like Facebook, Pinterest, foursquare and Airbnb, often at towering valuations, were the sole investors behind the site’s $15 million Series A.
While you were clinging to your A/C unit over the weekend, Newark mayor and Twitter addict Cory Booker was ushering his new startup out of stealth mode. The company, called #waywire, is a media platform that combines original and syndicated videos with relevant user-generated content from young adults about what’s important to them and their perspective on issues in the news.
Wait, didn’t Al Gore have the same idea in 2005?
“Traditional news sources aren’t in any way talking to millennials,” Mr. Booker tells TechCrunch. Perhaps the site can start with whether any young adult actually wants to be labeled a “millenial”?
Startups From the Stars
Backplane, the startup co-founded by Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter and therefore branding it as the “Lady Gaga startup” forever, has raised $4.5 million from the most elite investors in the Valley and will probably raise a series B soon. The round includes Sequoia Capital, Greylock Discovery Fund, Battery Ventures, Formation 8 and Advance/Newhouse Investment Partnership, reports the Wall Street Journal. Existing investors include Google Ventures, Founders Fund Angel, Menlo Ventures, SV Angel, i/o Ventures, and some angel investors. TomorrowVentures, Eric Schmidt’s fund, was also a seed stage investor.
Lady Gaga’s social network, LittleMonsters.com, is in beta, though we’re not sure why. The Gaga-themed Pinterest-like site, in production for more than a year, is black and white and red all over. Users become “fans” of each other and bookmark posts as “inspired.” It’s so Pinterest-y that some bloggers are calling it a ripoff. We eagerly await Farhad Manjoo’s review.