The Third Degree

The Third Degree

Q&A with Eric Hippeau: Lerer Ventures’ New $36 M. Fund and the ‘Golden Age’ for NYC Entrepreneurs

Mr. Hippeau (Photo: Twitter)

Earlier today, Lerer Ventures revealed that the early stage investment firm–a powerful, active force in growing New York’s startup ecosystem–has raised its biggest fund yet. While raw SEC filings first indicated that Lerer Ventures was raising $30 million, the deal closed at $36 million. That’s more than $64 million combined in less than two years.

Partners Ken Lerer, Ben Lerer, Eric Hippeau, and Jordan Cooper have backed some of the most high-profile companies from New York’s new class of tech startups, like Warby Parker, MakerBot, OnSwipe, and Birchbox. Lerer Ventures has also had a number of notable exits, like GroupMe (acquired by Skype), Mr. Cooper’s startup HyperPublic (acquired by Groupon), and Venmo (acquired by Braintree). In fact, the Huffington Post mafiosos–Ken Lerer and Mr. Hippeau are both veterans–have been so busy building “the largest infrastructure in New York for entrepreneurs” that they apparently haven’t had time to move Venmo into the “Exits” list on the firm’s website.

Betabeat spoke to Mr. Hippeau this afternoon after his firm’s new fund and why we’re in “the golden age for entrepreneurs in New York.” Read More

The Third Degree

Quotidian Ventures and Its Venezuelan Founder Have Quietly Funded 34 New York Startups

Mr. Picón.

Pedro Torres Picón is an angel investor of the new breed: Young, hip, and handy with an Instagram, it’s suddenly clear how he managed to make his way into a slew of impressive investments despite moving to New York two years ago without knowing a soul. Mr. Picón has an easy manner, a sweet smile and a certain trustworthiness about him; and, in this town, being personable is most of the battle.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s sharp. Read More

The Third Degree

Gawker’s Ryan Tate On How You Can Do 20 Percent Time Better Than The GOOG

Mr. Tate

After years of reading Ryan Tate’s piercing coverage on the free time and foibles of Silicon Valley’s demigods at Gawker, Betabeat finally had the pleasure of making his acquaintance the other night. Spoiler alert: He might be the nicest dude in tech blogging, despite what the press releases regurgitation factories would have you think. Mr. Tate’s former pen pal Steve Jobs probably put it best: “He’s no dummy.”

We also had a chance to peruse his new book “The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business,” which takes its title and subject matter from Google’s much-admired practice of letting employees spent a fifth of their work week building whatever they want to. Like, say, multi-billion dollar revenue streams like AdSense or lifelines like Gmail. Read More

The Third Degree

The One Thing Startups From L.A. Have in Common


In the past couple weeks, two startups from Science (the Betaworks of Los Angeles!) have tried to break into the New York City market, so it seemed like high time we gave Mike Jones, the CEO of Science and former CEO of MySpace, a call.

The Betaworks comparison refers to the fact that Science, which raised $10 million last November, uses its capital to “take deeper equity relationships” in startups than a typical VC firm, Mr. Jones said over the phone, noting similarities to Obvious Corp. and Idealab as well.

Science both launches its own companies and is intimately involved with the operations of the businesses it invests in. Like Betaworks, Science also eschews the i-word—i.e. “incubator”—opting for the more Hollywood-appropriate “studio.” Read More

The Third Degree

10gen CTO Eliot Horowitz on the Rise of MongoDB, Partnering with Red Hat, and Hiring in a Talent Crunch

Mr. Horowitz

Earlier this week, 10gen, the promising AlleyCorp startup launched by DoubleClick cofounder Dwight Merriman, announced a new partnership with an eye toward helping developers who work with big data and cloud technologies. The boost in market share probably doesn’t hurt either.

10gen both develops and sponsors the open source NoSQL database MongoDB, which is used by companies as diverse as Foursquare, SecondMarket, and on up to MTV, Intuit, and Disney.

On Monday, 10gen revealed that Mongo will be partnering with Red Hat, a software provider focused on larger enterprise clients that crossed the billion dollar revenue mark—the first for an open source company—in March. As Seeking Alpha notes today, the Mongo connection puts Red Hat “on a collision course with the toughest guys in tech, Oracle.”

Betabeat recently talked to 10gen CTO and cofounder Eliot Horowitz, who’s been known to freestyle on tech topics for eager 10gen staffers, about the Red Hat partnership, how Mongo started attracting big name clients, and 10gen’s plans to hire 100 people this year, announced shortly after the company picked up $20 million from Sequoia and Union Square Ventures. Read More

The Third Degree

Yapp Founder and CEO Maria Seidman On Raising a Seed Round and Launching While Pregnant

Ms. Seidman

Earlier this week, Yapp, the New York City-based startup that helps regular folks create customizable mobile apps, announced a round of funding from Kleiner Perkins, North Bridge Venture Partners, Cue Ball, and other individual investors.

Yapp, which was “proudly made in a basement in NYC,” starts with web-based WYSIWYG editor offering themes and features like maps and photo sharing. Consumer use those tools to build an app that can be downloaded by their friends. Yapp’s first product is based around events, helping consumers create individual apps for fund-raisers, parties, weddings, etc. But the company plans on rolling out other templates as well.

Although Yapp declined to discuss the amount, the company, which had been bootstrapped until this seed round, previously filed two Form Ds. One  for a $800,000 debt round last July, and one for a $1.25 million debt round last November.

Betabeat chatted with CEO and founder Maria Seidman over Skype to talk about raising funds, wherein we made a surprising discovery.  Read More

The Third Degree

Q&A with Pivotal Labs on the EMC Acquisition: ‘We’re Committed to Working with Startups’


Pivotal Labs finally made the news official yesterday: the pioneering agile development consultancy known for its influence on startups like Twitter and Square would be acquired by EMC Corporation, a publicly-traded corporation with a market cap of $59 billion that manufactures and sells cloud and storage hardware and helps IT departments move to the cloud. (If that tune sounds familiar, it’s because Om Malik broke the story last Friday.)

The size of the deal wasn’t disclosed, EMC said it was an all-cash transaction that wouldn’t be material to its 2012 finances. Pivotal will remain a separate legal entity and is contemplating global expansion. Along with the acquisition, EMC announced that its Greenplum division would be open-sourcing a Big Data platform called Greenplum Chorus and then hosted a Webcast to explain how these changes would help EMC go “social, open, and agile with Big Data.”

As to expected from a Fortune 500 company, EMC’s jargon was a little hard to parse. We weren’t the only ones scratching our heads at what, exactly, this would mean for Pivotal and its fast-growing Union Square office. So Betabeat talked to Edward Hieatt, principal and VP of engineering, who is based in San Francisco but oversees its offices in Boulder and New York, to find out how the acquisition will affect its clients and engineers, more commonly known as “Pivots,” and what a corporation with $20 billion in revenue knows about being agile. Read More

The Third Degree

Skimlinks Founder: Actually, Merchants Love Pinterest

alicia navarro

Fast-growing social media startup Pinterest is making money already, it was revealed this week, albeit in a somewhat sneaky way. Pinterest uses a third-party service called Skimlinks that crawls through user-submitted links and checks whether a link points to a merchant (ex. Amazon). Then Skimlinks checks if Amazon or whoever offers an affiliate referral program through which the merchant kicks back a percentage to the referrer if the customer makes a purchase. If there’s a referral program, Skimlinks will change the link so Pinterest gets credit for the referral. Read More

The Third Degree

Greg Blatt, the Shouting CEO Who Runs IAC While Barry Diller Is Picking Out Carpeting


On the heels of IAC’s impressive year-end financials—showing revenues up 26 percent to $2.1 billion and profits up 75 percent to $174 million—the Financial Times decided to profile CEO Greg Blatt.

Mr. Blatt, if you recall, was put in place as Barry Diller’s successor in December, 2010. A former lawyer at Watchell Lipton, he helped take Martha Stewart Omnimedia public in 1994 and helped IAC spin off online properties like Expedia and Ticketmaster during the company’s “disaggregation period.” Read More

The Third Degree

Q&A With Brandon Diamond on His Plans for the New York Tech Meetup Board

Mr. Diamond at NYTM.

Brandon Diamond is a New York Tech Meetup superuser as well as the proprietor of the blog Your Startup Sucks and an engineer at one of New York tech’s most hardcore techie companies, 10gen. The hacker has been volunteering for NYTM for two years. Last year, he ran for one of the board’s four open seats and lost; but this year he won by a landslide (just 126 votes, as the election had just a 3.68 percent participation rate, but it was more than double the second-place candidate). It’s unclear what kind of influence the community board members wield, as the meetup just incorporated as a nonprofit last year and the organization is undergoing a lot of change. Betabeat caught up with Mr. Diamond by email to ask about his hopes for the future of the mothership of all tech meetups. Read More