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After the Storm

After the Storm

Via Airbnb, You Can Now Host New Yorkers Displaced by Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy drove many New Yorkers out of their homes and, given the impending Nor’easter, at the worst possible time. Something like 20,000 to 40,000 people need somewhere to stay. Hoping to help alleviate the situation: Airbnb. Thanks to a partnership with the mayor’s office, the displaced can now turn to the site for places to stay, free of charge.

The hub for the effort is this page, which greets visitors with the guilt-trip-inducing message, “It’s time to help each other.” Anyone with a place to stay, be it spare bedroom or humble couch, can list it for free.

In a statement, the company told Betabeat:  Read More

After the Storm

Why Did SquareSpace’s CEO Haul Diesel Up 17 Flights of Stairs? Anything Less Would be ‘Lame’

One of the Fog Creek volunteers, buckets in hand. (Photo: Squarespace)

When Hurricane Sandy smashed into lower Manhattan last week, customers of the data center Peer1 faced the prospect of major downtime. Just a blackout would’ve been no problem. But when the basement flooded, it took out the pumps that transport fuel from the reserve tanks to the generators on top of the building. That’s where Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena came in.

“I wake up Tuesday, I live in Soho,” said Mr. Casalena. “There’s no reception. There’s no power, so all the cell towers are dead.” Somehow a couple of messages snuck through to his cell phone: “Anthony there’s a major problem at Peer1, the basement’s flooded, they can’t access any reserve fuel, we have 12 hours.” He hurriedly packed a bag and started walking downtown. Read More

After the Storm

Here’s How Not to Reference Sandy in Your Lifestyle Newsletter

(Screencap: Thrillist)

Last week, startups across New York City galvanized to help support the victims of Hurricane Sandy, establishing coworking spaces, volunteer groups and easy ways for users to donate to recovery efforts. But it’s a new week, one where the subways are mostly running normally and many across the city have their electricity back. As the sense of helplessness brought by Sandy fades, the internet’s penchant for irony and offensive jokes has come roaring back. The first (and undoubtedly not the last) company to fall into this tasteless trap? New York-based daily email service Thrillist. Read More

After the Storm

Techie Do-Gooders: How NYC Startups are Helping the Sandy Relief Effort

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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 BookerRead More

After the Storm

Time Warner Cable Sends 10 Mobile Charging Trucks with Free Wifi to Downtown Manhattan

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Time Warner Cable is sending 10 mobile charging stations equipped with WiFi into areas of New York that still don’t have power. The local Time Warner Twitter account, @TWCABLE_NYC, will update users with the truck’s location. Today they plan to hit residential areas of Chinatown, the Flatiron district and the West Village. And tomorrow the crew will announce additional areas. Time Warner stores in Staten Island and at the Queens Center Mall are fortunately also opening their doors to let people charge up. That should quiet the TWC haters in New York City–at least for a couple weeks.

The photo on the left was taken this afternoon in Chinatown and you can see how many people really need a charge from the trucks by the mess of wires around the outlets. Read More

After the Storm

Less Looting, More Trolling: Daily Mail, Drudge Get Pwnd By Twitter Pranksters #SandyLootCrew

Original image (left), fake tweet from #SandyLootCrew (right) (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

The media hasn’t been as roughed up by Sandy as, say, the transportation industry. But with power failures and flooding, it can be hard to get a proper source on the line. And while Twitter may be a “truth machine,” fact-checking rumors in real-time, its constant flood of information is as unpredictable as the storm itself. That came into focus earlier this week when Shashank Tripathi was outed for spreading a false report about the New York Stock Exchange under the pseudonymous handle @comfortablysmug.

Well, add another troll to the list. Rather, an entire crew: the self-styled Gay N**ger Association of America (GNAA), an online activist group, behind the willfully misleading hashtag #sandylootcrew. False information and fake images of black looters tweeted under that hashtag were published by the Daily Mail, the Drudge Report and Infowars, which is exactly what the four core members of the GNAA wanted, Leon Kaiser, GNAA’s “interim president and head of public relations” told Betabeat by email. Read More

After the Storm

While Downtown’s Dark, Everyone’s Checking In Uptown

That's stark. (Photo: Twitter)

Right now, it’s like the literal dark ages downtown. No power, no internet, patches (at best) of cell phone service. People are chronicling the scene in video, narrative and photo form. But if you want to see a really stark visualization, check out this screenshot of Foursquare Explore’s trending locations, tweeted earlier by Peter Wu. His comment: “A tale of two cities.” Read More

After the Storm

Sandy Scramble: How Gilt Groupe, BaubleBar, Jackthreads Are Getting Ecommerce Back in Order

One of Bonobos' displaced Ninjas. (Photo: WorkingFromHomeDuringSandy.Tumblr.com)

Many startups are able to work remotely with just a laptop and a working Internet connection–though good luck finding one right now. But for ecommerce companies focused on pushing products out into the real world, “just ship it” is taking on a whole new meaning. Between extensive power outages and three days without a functional subway, the disruption is likely to last through the week.

“Eccommerce companies are lucky since we don’t have physical stores–we can handle a break pretty easily,” said Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan. “We are a little bit like an airplane,” he added: “you can turn off the engine for a little bit and there is no problem–if you turn off the engine for a while it is a disaster, but a few days is not a big problem.”

That doesn’t mean recovering from Sandy has been painless, though. Read More