the startup rundown
MEET ‘N GREET Monday, June 5, is this month’s New York Tech Meetup. Presenters range from Fitocracy to Loosecubes. If you haven’t bought tickets, you’ve got one more chance: There’s one batch left, and they go on sale Friday.
MORNING, SUNSHINE News.me has just revamped its morning email, ramping up the “daily briefing” angle. Not only has the company redesigned the whole thing, News.me’s editor will be pick three big stories to summarize every morning. Also added: stuff you missed and an image. Because images are snazzy.
SALE SALE SALE For all the pinatics out there: social commerce platform Lyst has debuted a tool that’ll allow you to receive an instant sale alert whenever something on your Pinterest boards goes on sale. In addition, Lyst will notify users who pin an item from a store whether that item can be had elsewhere.
One of Turntable.fm’s earliest proponents was a music blog in Germany that helped send the music sharing game viral. However, the startup soon discovered that the licensing and rights rules abroad were more complicated than the rules at home, and had to pull the service down outside the U.S. The announcement yesterday that Turntable has signed direct licensing agreements with the four major music labels shows the company hasn’t forgotten about its international fans. “We’re trying to go international,” cofounder and CEO Billy Chasen told Betabeat this morning from Austin, where Turntable is revving up for South By Southwest: Music. “It’s going to take a little bit of time but we’re actively talking to all the people and publishers and rights holders internationally that we need to talk to.”
Turntable should become available in countries outside the U.S. sometime in the next few months, Mr. Chasen said. “We’ll slowly turn on countries because they all have different specific requirements on what we have to do to actually play music in them.”
Licensing deals with Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal make Turntable.fm makes “less dangerous,” but is it still rock ‘n roll? [VentureBeat]
Homeless men and women defend the company that turned them into Wifi hotspots [Digits]
Zynga tries to manage a price dip from employees selling shares with a secondary offering. Good luck with that, guys. [TechCrunch]
Before Goldman Sachs sucked up all the air, there was “Why I Left Google” [JW on Tech]
AT&T settles lawsuit for slowing down a dude’s “unlimited” data. A victory for datakind. [Associated Press]
Startups don’t wanna rely on Facebook no mo, mo, mo. [Wall Street Journal]
Tim Armstrong takes a look at Yahoo, considers becoming a patent troll [AllThingsD]
the startup rundown
WICKA WICKA. Turntable.fm is in the big leagues now as the young music based social platform signs deals with Sony BMG, Universal, EMI and Warner, TechCrunch reports. Turntable has over one million users now and a new mobile app since September.
HIPSTARTER. San Francisco based Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform with offices in Soho that competes with Kickstarter, announced the perfection of their “gogofactor,” a proprietary algorithm that ranks projects based on popularity and viability. This makes Indiegogo the only crowdfunding platform with this type of merit-based ranking functionality. Your move, Kickstarter.
Hires and Fires
This morning Betabeat learned that Rolling.fm co-founder and former Googler Tim Zhou had joined Tumblr. It has also come to light that another Rolling cofounder and Xoogler, Thomas Chau, has joined another prominent New York startup: Squarespace. “We liked Thomas’s strong entrepreneurial spirit (take risks and run fast) along with his perfect Squarespace DNA of product design sensibility coupled with engineering awesomeness,” Squarespace SVP Jesse Hertzberg wrote in an email. Squarespace, if you’re not familiar, is a website builder and hosting platform (that is often likened to Tumblr, as it happens) founded in 2003. Now we just need to suss out what has become of the third Rolling co-founder, Xoogler Nhon Ma…
Back in September, Turntable.fm fast follower Rolling.fm was trumpeting achievements and rolling out new features. “We are excited to announce there has been over 1,000,000 friendships made on Rolling.FM since our launch a little over a month ago! Our platform has definitely become the music AND social discovery platform,” cofounder Nhon Ma wrote in an email announcing more social features and an enhanced profile browser. But the streaming music game built by former Googlers seems to have dropped off the map sometime last month. “Was curious to know what was going on with rolling.fm after their site hasn’t been resolving for previous couple weeks,” a tipster wrote in.
Indeed, Rolling.fm does not resolve and the last tweet was on November 19. Rolling’s precursor, a social deals site called Tenka.com, is also not resolving.
Betabeat covered the rise of Turntable.fm this summer and the pivot/restart founder Billy Chasen made from his previous company Stickybits. During the most recent episode of Founder Stories, he told Chris Dixon about how he came to make this hard decision and break the news to his investors and employees.
“I was looking at the health of the company, just a dozen different metrics, how are users liking it, where is the product at, and everything was just kind of a mediocre success. So I wasn’t as excited going in, I was like, can I really see myself doing this for another year.”
One of the best engines for growth at a web startup is a core group of power users who evangelize for the service—not because it will increase their Klout score or possibly win them a free iPad 2, but out of a love for the community being created online.
Turntable.fm experienced big growth during its first months after launching this summer and rode that wave to a nice round of funding. But their traffic seems to have dipped recently, indicating they are on the trough of the Gartner hype cycle.
The path forward is slow—organic growth, not driven by media hype or celebrity sign ups. And the Inaugural Mashtival, a mashup festival happening on Turntable this week, seems like a good example of passionate users who will help the site grow.
It’s possible Betabeat’s “Summer Jamz” tag for Turntable.fm posts may have proved portentous. After looking at the site’s traffic and search trends, Digital Music News wonders, “Has the fickle internet already chewed this site up, spit it out, and moved onto something else?”
It echoes what a norms friend and former TTFM enthusiast said to us over coffee last weekend, “Remember when everyone was excited about Turntable.fm?!” She has since moved on to Spotify.
The tech press is just as eager to roast a failure as it to crown a startup prince (not us, of course, no never). But while the data is unverified, a unique visitor count from Compete.com, ranking data from Alexa and Google search trend data all show a markedly similar downward-sloping curve after a steep spike in June and July.
Silicon Alley is buzzing for tonight’s fashionable tech fete, the runway party to Raise Cache for HackNY. The DJs for tonight’s event will rocking the house via Turntable.fm, which bestowed special avatars on Fred Wilson, Andy Weissman, Dennis Crowley, Dave Goldberg and Lauren Leto.
Betabeat chatted with Turntable.fm co-founder Billy Chasen, who will also be spinning tonight. “To be honest, I’ve never really been a DJ in real life,” Mr. Chasen said. “It’s a little intimidating.”
Online, however, he has no such hang ups. ”When I am DJing on Turntable.fm and a whole room is listening to what I want them to, people pressing the awesome button, that’s just a powerful feeling.”