Tourist Season

Vayable Launches a Concierge Service, Because Alcatraz Sleepovers are No Longer Enough for People

Those people on the tour bus sooooo want to join that homeless man-guided walking tour (Photo: blog.vayable.com)

If you’ve ever hoped of touring Paris’s sewer system in the dead of night accompanied by a lovely French homeless man, then you and I have a slightly different definitions of the word “vacation.” But for more adventurous travelers, Vayable might be able to make your unorthodox dreams come true. The San Francisco-based travel start-up announced a few new features today, including concierge and improved international payment services.

Y Combinator-backed Vayable, which launched in April 2011 and opened an office in New York a few months later, offers over 2,500 unique travel experiences to its users in 600 cities around the world. Some special souls have used the site to spend the night on San Francisco’s former prison island –Alcatraz – while others have gone on tours of the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco guided by a homeless man. Read More

Betabeat Investigates

Playing the Mystery Startup Guessing Game: Which New York App Wants to ‘End Loneliness’?

Mr. Waxman. (Photo: Twitter)

Would you answer this mysteriously vague job listing? “Hackers seek hackers in NYC for absurdly fun + challenging startup” is the title of this ad for a Y Combinator startup that claims to already be funded by “some of the best investors in the world” and is now seeking “social hackers.” The ad, a repeat of a listing posted back in April, is at the top of the Hacker News forum. Read More

Planet Reddit

Loving the Alien: How Erik Martin, King Bee of Reddit’s Hive Mind, Harnessed the Buzz

erickredd

The top-scoring link of all time on the social news website Reddit is a post that users were never meant to see at all. It is titled “test post please ignore,” but almost 27,000 Redditors found it so amusing that they voted it up.

That is testament to the website’s impassioned community—and their brand of dry, often geeky humor (the site’s logo is an alien, after all). But Reddit’s user base, which a recent PBS documentary pegged as 72 percent male, has wide-ranging interests. Other top posts include a link to a news item about the elderly volunteering to clean up nuclear waste in Japan following the 2011 tsunami, and a Q&A session with the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Reddit is one of the country’s most highly trafficked websites, but its general manager, Erik Martin, keeps a remarkably low profile. Most Redditors know the 33-year-old Mr. Martin solely by his username: HueyPriest. Read More

Searching Towards Bethlehem

Can This Y Combinator Startup Solve the Site Search Problem?

Swiftype's sweet offices. (swiftype.com)

Talk to anyone who primarily works on the Internet, and you’ll eventually bump into the same grievance, no matter the industry: site search–the mechanism that allows users to search your website for key words–is broken. Actually, broken might be too soft a word: fucked is really more apt. On the whole, site search is fucked.

Last week we were at a bar with a fellow Observer staff writer, when the conversation turned to site search. “I abandoned my Tumblr because their site search doesn’t work,” he declared. We all nodded our heads in agreement.

But it’s not just Tumblr. Have you ever tried to search this very website? Read More

Lawsuits

Pair, the Buzzy App for Couples, Gets a Third Wheel: A Lawsuit

Can Pair thumbkiss its way out of a lawsuit?

Looks like thunderstorms could ruin the honeymoon for Pair, the “perfect sexting app” that struck us as less sexy than monogamy-inducing. The Y Combinator-backed social network for couples just raised $4.2 million last week from a slew of high-profile investors, but today TechCrunch reports that the company is getting sued for employing the very name that defines it; a Pittsburgh-based hosting company named “pair Networks” filed a suit against the app Pair for trademark infringement. Read More

Teach Me How to Startup

About One New Accelerator Is Launching a Day, Says TechStars Founder

(Photo: CERN)

Yesterday we wrote that the tech accelerator epidemic had hit New Jersey. The truth may be closer to: The tech accelerator epidemic has hit everywhere. Tech accelerators are so in vogue that Forbes added an accelerator ranking to its “Midas List” coverage, which includes a list of the top 100 venture capitalists.

Incubators have become so popular that about one accelerator launches every day, David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars, told Forbes. He’s said it before; he was echoing his own earlier line from a panel about accelerators at SXSW. “It’s become a new college for entrepreneurs,” he added.

Forbes has rated Y Combinator, TechStars and DreamIt Ventures as the top three accelerators in the country. We’re all for accelerators, but one a day seems excessive. Echoes of ’99?

Kickstarted

Pebble the Smartwatch, the Most-Funded Kickstarter EVAH, Is Now at $4.6 M. and Counting

Pebble smartwatch

Yesterday, we called it. The fact that Pebble the e-paper watch had raised $3.5 million with more than a month to go meant that KickStarter had hit the tipping point, surpassing even Double Fine Adventure’s previous high-score of $3,336,371. Maybe we shoulda waited awhile. Between now and then, Pebble has raised another million and change. The new total is $4,625,453 from 32,120 backers with 30 days to go.

At this rate, Pebble is going to raise $34 million before the jig’s up and Kickstarter should just secede from the Union and start minting their own currency. Maybe cfundrs or crowdsiesor something. Read More

Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

Today In Y Combinator Hacks: PairMixer Lets You Thumbkiss a Stranger

Screen Shot 2012-04-10 at 4.07.05 PM

Tired of reading about Pair, the Y Combinator Demo Day darling, but having no partner to test it out with? Singletons, meet your solution.

For the uninitiated, Pair is a social network built for two. It lets you send texts, photos, videos with that special someone. In other words, everything you can do already, but contained in a handy PG-13 app. “Hey Pair, Go Ahead and Centralize My Entire Relationship,” Pando Daily’s newest blogger wrote yesterday. Oh yeah, it also invented something called a “thumbkiss” where your phone vibrates if you and your Pair partner touch the screen at the same time. Perhaps you’re starting to understand why we called it more of a monogamy-enforcer than “the perfect sexting app“? Read More

RAAAAAAAANDI!

Meet the (Tentative) Cast of Randi Zuckerberg’s New Bravo Reality Show Silicon Valley!

6 Photos

Kim Taylor, Digital Director Ampush Media

Bravo is no slouch in the whetting one’s appetite department. Along with the news yesterday that Randi “Sister of Mark, Singer of Songs” Zuckerberg would be the executive producer of a new reality show, the House That Andy Cohen Built also released a short, but tantalizing preview wherein geeks were likened to rock stars and Silicon Valley to high school, “but it’s only the smart kids and everyone has a lot of money.” Sold! Sign us up for the schadenfreude when reality TV’s potent cocktail of ambition, desperation, and actual cocktails collides.

Thankfully, Drew Olanoff at The Next Web was kind enough to single out some of the potential players so we can start doing our due diligence. According to Mr. Olanoff the show will “star” The Next Web’s Silicon Valley video director Hermione Way. Her brother Ben Way, founder of The Rainmakers, Kim Taylor, digital director at Ampush Media, and Dwight Crow, founder of Carsabi.com also all appear in the preview. Read More

Alley vs. Valley

Pair, Y Combinator’s ‘Perfect Sexting App,’ Sure Doesn’t Sound Very Sexy

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By the tweets of it, everyone, their mom, and Jennifer 8. Lee showed up for Y Combinator’s biggest Demo Day evah last night to watch the parade of hoodies try to convince folks they have the next Airbnb. To make sure no one got bored, the thoughtful editors of the Daily Muse even put together a BINGO card of expected phrases (that could also work well as a Mad Libs): “We make it easy to disrupt the future of ________. Please ignore the label-less Y axis on our chart of ______. So if you’re _______ come talk to us. “

But one company that seems to have emerged from the fray is Pair, an app built for two that lets couples send each other messages, pictures, and thumbkisses, which is when both users press their thumb to the screen at the same time, making the phones vibrate. It sounds like a mobile version of OurSpot, the social network (population: 2), we told you about in January, minus the good vibrations, of course. Read More