Brad Hargreaves | Building Things

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Archive for the ‘nyc’ tag

The Scene Will Kill You

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If you’ve taken a deep dive into tech startups, you know about the scene. The scene is the siren song of the innovation community. The scene will kill you.

The scene is building sexy things that gain the approval of a certain (small) group of people. Sexy things get lauded, and celebrities coalesce out of the blogosphere’s protoplasm. The scene builds and sells a dream. Skip to the beginning of the line; pass go; collect $200 and a DUMBO loft. Get in SAI 100, speak at conferences and spend your Friday nights at launch parties. The scene lends these things great importance. The scene assigns value to popular acknowledgement of value rather than actual value. The scene is all these things – it is at once a state of mind as well as a loose community of people in any city with a large startup community.

I will spend this weekend’s post on a warning: the scene will kill you. It will misdirect your efforts and focus your attention on the cool and the shiny rather than the substantive. Your product will be driven by the spotlight rather than the user or the dollar. It will inspire envy of your co-founders, your friends and your colleagues.

People in the scene don’t say nice things about other people when they aren’t around. They’re too political, too strategic for that. Don’t expect these people to watch your back. If you’re in the trenches building a product or raising money, you must surround yourself with people you trust. You cannot tolerate politics and political people.

Building a startup requires blinders. Fred Wilson is right — being agnostic to the zigs and zags of competitors is critical. But it’s not just about ignoring competitors; it’s about identifying fads and unproductive behaviors and mercilessly cutting them out of an organization. And if you don’t do it, someone else will — and they’ll have a competitive advantage, whether for market share, talent or financing.

The scene provides a useful disguise for wannabes and dilettantes. The back-biting and politics of the scene enable B- and C-level players to skip from venture to venture, destroying value and poisoning relationships.

The scene is why I enjoy hanging out with developers. Developers/engineers tend to be grounded by a sense of the inherent usefulness and value of products. In a city like New York that is swimming with smart, non-technical entrepreneurs, it’s surprisingly easy for an entire community to be distracted from building meaningful things that tackle real problems. The webutante is dying, but not quickly enough.

The scene will kill you and your company. That’s as clear as I can make it. The scene is the antithesis of innovation and collaboration. Avoid political people and cut them out of your organization wherever you find them. This won’t necessarily make you successful, but it will let you be happy with yourself regardless of how things turn out.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

November 7th, 2010 at 9:54 am

An Interesting Meeting Every Week

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I’ve struggled with the right way to use Letter.ly for a while. I don’t want to move Startup Adventures onto Letter.ly. The social value I get out of my blog exceeds the social + monetary value I would get from a comparable newsletter. Still, I’ve always been a fan of the exclusive / high-quality content network that Letter.ly is creating.

So I decided to do something different with it. I present: The Most Interesting Meeting of the Week. Every weekend, I pick out the single most interesting meeting I had over the previous week and write about it. For this service, I am charging $1.91 per month ($0.48 per interesting meeting!).

Obviously, I won’t disclose confidential information, and if a meeting is so filled with confidential information that it would be pointless to feature, I’d pick the second-best. Still, there’s a lot of value here. One of the most common questions I hear — especially from investors — is seeking information on the most interesting things in the tech/startup community happening right now. Typically, this is deal-related, although my writings won’t be exclusively focused there.

This is a social experiment. My end goal is not to make $0.91 per month. Rather, I’m very interested in social capital hacks, a topic I’ve written on before. Interesting Meeting of the Week (IMOW) is adding some simple game elements to my professional life. Every weekend, someone I have met with over the past week will get the title of “Interesting”, which will be communicated to all my newsletter subscribers. Whether this turns out to be a desirable title or not — and further, whether this changes the dynamics and quality of my meeting requests — is the experiment. Should be fun. Sign up here and see how it goes.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

October 16th, 2010 at 8:52 am

The Game Design of Cities

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There’s an old adage in the game design field that good games are easy to learn, yet difficult to master. That is, a game should be simple enough for even the most uninitiated user to understand yet challenging enough for a master to spend years working to hone their skills. Chess is one oft-cited example. Picture of New York City, Wall Street

Cities operate by similar principles. Great cities are easy for visitors to navigate yet take years if not decades for residents to fully explore and understand. Cities can be too simple, like so many in middle America that bore their smartest residents into submission (or departure). And cities can be too complex for newcomers — New York, for instance.

This is why Adopt a Hacker is a great idea. New York is possibly the most fascinating city on earth to master — but it’s also one of the most difficult places for a newcomer to learn, especially when it comes to meeting new people. Adopt a Hacker NYC lowers the bar to get great hackers engaged in the city by lowering the learning curve. By pairing visiting developers up with veteran NYC residents, it adds a tutorial to an otherwise dense game.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

September 14th, 2010 at 8:42 am

How Entire Industries Become Unethical

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Every office building in New York City grows by a few percent per year. Each stuffy pre-war tower, art-deco complex and shiny corporate center. They’re all growing, like those Kafkaesque SimTower projects that added a few lone offices to the roof each quarter when the rent came in.

Except they’re not actually growing — just adding more space on paper. All office buildings in New York City add a few percent per year to their official square footage, often in lieu of raising rent. So if you are a startup paying $30 per square foot for 1,000 square feet of office space and need to renew your lease, it is more likely that your landlord will claim that your office has grown — perhaps to 1,050 square feet — than attempt to raise your rent.

This is simply the way the commercial real estate world works, and it’s second nature to people in the business. All buildings grow every year — it’s called “loss factor“. But to someone who isn’t familiar with commercial real estate, the concept is completely absurd and unethical.

What makes it seem particularly wrong? Well, square footage isn’t just some abstract number. It’s a real measurement of area. Burger King can claim that a new line of burgers is “50% tastier” regardless of reality, but they would step over the line if they claimed that these same burgers had 50% less fat unless that were actually true. “Tastiness” is a subjective, abstract concept. “Fat” is not.

Somehow, over the course of the development of the commercial real estate industry, square footage has converted from a concrete unit to an abstract unit in the minds of people in the industry. But to the rest of us, square footage remains a concrete measure of area. When I hear 400 square feet, I think of a room that is 20×20 or 40×10 or perhaps even 4×100. When someone in commercial real estate hears 400 square feet, he or she thinks of a space they can lease for $12,000 per year at $30 per square foot. It doesn’t matter how big the space actually is.

Now that we’re here, I don’t see things getting any better — the Nash equilibrium of the situation is for each player to continue increasing the “size” of their spaces by a few percent per year. If one landlord bucks the trend, they’ll need to correspondingly raise their rent per square foot to stay competitive with other landlords. But if everyone else is smudging the size of their buildings, why should you stop? It just means that anyone who wants office space in New York City has to figure out this bizarre system — or get screwed.

So how does this kind of thing start? First, it’s important to recognize how commercial real estate is leased. A commercial space shares a nasty problem with an airline seat: a product that is not a commodity yet is bought and sold as one. In most searches that brokers perform, they are given a price cap by their clients — say, $35 per square foot. If a space falls above that cap, it simply isn’t shown to the client. Thus, a landlord (like an airline) is heavily incentivized to keep their price as low as possible to get visibility in front of lots of potential tenants. The other shoe can drop once the tenant is in the door. This is all analogous to bag check fees, ticketing fees and the other unpleasantries of 21st century air travel.

Therefore, landlords will try to throw as much as possible into the square footage to lower the all-important “cost per square foot”. Initially, the included items were somewhat reasonable — shared bathrooms, hallways and HVAC. In fact, that’s how loss factor is still explained by most brokers. But then someone decided to include not only hallways, but the elevators. Another landlord responded by including not only the elevators, but the lobby and delivery bay. Pretty soon, it got so complicated that square footage became an utterly abstract, meaningless number in the minds of anyone involved in the industry. The square foot was no longer a concrete measure of area.

I don’t think most people in commercial real estate are unethical. Rather, the industry has adopted unethical practices due to a combination of individually innocuous factors: the characteristics of pricing, selection and demand. The airline industry is also clearly trending in this direction, as is higher education. Once an industry is at the bottom of an ethical slope, it is ripe for disruption by young companies that can sell through an honest, straightforward process.

Like this? Vote for it on my favorite news site, Hacker News.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

August 28th, 2010 at 9:01 am

Is Tumblr the new 4chan?

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I’m not sure anyone who reads Startup Adventures has been paying attention to the sad story of Jessi Slaughter, 4chan’s latest tween meme-toy, but you can read about it on KnowYourMeme here or ED here (NSFW). It’s a fascinating story about the fluidity and power of the anonymous web, but a couple points in the articles particularly stuck out:

From KnowYourMeme:

The effects of her videos being posted to /b/ and various Tumblr blogs brought out the best of Anonymous, who began trolling her with taunts of her being stupid and ugly. She replied with comebacks that had little effect on the trollers.

From Gawker:

Here’s how the Internet’s rage—funneled by Tumblr and 4Chan’s infamous /b/ board—ended in this sad and ridiculous scene.

From ED:

She also seems to be an underage b& lurker or a total Know Your Meme n00b, due to her knowledge of several memes. She is the latest target of tumblr’s and /b/’s ire.

Call me old or out of touch, but what the hell, Tumblr? 6 months ago, this would’ve been attributed to “4chan” or maybe “4chan and eBaumsWorld”. In my world, Tumblr is the happy realm of new media hipsters — artists, designers, entrepreneurs and urbanites posting the latest LCD Soundsystem track.

When did it suddenly become Encyclopedia Dramatica with more whitespace?

I get how it works — Tumblr has taken serious VC money from some of the best consumer web investors on the east coast, and they need to continue to grow by orders of magnitude to justify the capital and achieve a proper venture exit. David Karp’s a smart guy, but I have to believe that this kind of growth will constrain the company’s ultimate value. There are a lot of reasons why Chris Poole has difficulty monetizing 4chan, but I don’t think it’s for stupidity or lack of trying. It’s just hard to make money off Anon.

Perhaps this is still a really small segment of Tumblr’s community. But given the natural virality of the platform, I would be seriously worried about these elements polluting the rest of the site. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the anonymous web is generally a Good Thing. I’m just not sure it’s a good business.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

July 16th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

The Future of Gaming

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I write a lot about where the gaming industry is headed — specifically as it relates to building game mechanics into non-game apps. Past posts have talked about serious problems in the current thinking about “gameification” and the next game mechanics to be implemented across the internet.

Next week, some of these thoughts will be brought into event format. The New York Gaming Meetup is partnering with the Y+30 to host a panel event on the Future of Gaming at 92YTribeca in New York City. Specifically, we’ll be looking at what gaming will look like in thirty years. If you’re interested, RSVP here. Panelists include Ben Feder (CEO, Take Two Interactive), Stephen Totilo (Editor, Kotaku), and Eric Zimmerman (CEO, GameLab). I’ll be moderating (read: desperately attempting to keep mental pace with the panelists).

It should be a fascinating event. Sam Lessin’s Y+30 always brings a unique outlook to these things by stretching the scope our projection to thirty years. In the words of Bill Gates:

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.

The Y+30 tends to be conscious of this quirk of the human mind — and accounts for it. It’s hard to project out thirty years without getting into the realms of sociology, psychology and philosophy (often in that order), so you have to be prepared for a wide-ranging discussion.

While I’ll save the best parts for those of you who attend the event, here are some topics I hope we’ll cover:

The future of the console. Will independent gaming consoles (or their analogue) exist in thirty years? Are full-body inputs the way of the future?

– Relatedly, what platforms will be most important to the gaming industry in thirty years? Will mobile gaming dominate?

– What features will be most important to gamers in thirty years? What trends will we want to read about?

Games and Society. Will the prevalence of online games for younger and younger children change the way those children interact with games (and the web, and society) as teenagers and adults?

The expansion of game mechanisms to non-gaming apps. How far is it going? Are we going to live in the world of Jesse Schell’s vision?

– Will people develop an immunity to traditional game mechanics? If so, how will this impact other aspects of life?

I’m sure plenty more will come up. Hope you can join us.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

July 13th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Welcome to New York, Paul Carr

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If you haven’t read Paul Carr’s piece on his experience at New York Internet Week, go read it now. If don’t have time, I’ll summarize. Paul’s interaction with New York went something like this:

1. Media tool gets invited to New York by other media tools
2. Media tool goes to an internet week party populated by “identically unique hipsters”
3. Media tool only sees other media tools
4. Media tool goes back to the ‘burbs and writes shit about New York

Well. He argues that good content is dead, so at least he’s eating his own dog food. But he does get some things right. Old media is dying, and lots of people don’t understand how it’s dying. Many of those people hold on to false hopes that the bright shiny piece of technology of the day (social media, the iPad, Web 3.0) will save their shitty business models. Many of those people are in New York. He’s totally right on there.

But he’s the equivalent of a European tourist who visits Disneyland and thinks it is an accurate representation of America. He goes to an Internet Week party and thinks he gets it. Well, people who are actually creating interesting tech companies in New York don’t go to those hipster-filled digital / new media parties because they are clogged with PR reps, “content creators”, glassy-eyed social media strategists and starfuckers. Or they aren’t even aware of these panels and parties — as I’ve written before, the New York tech scene is huge yet strangely siloed, with founders aligning with particular industries rather than the broader “tech community”.

But — in Paul’s defense — the media world has used its superior resources to more or less occupy “high profile” NYC tech. If you go to a “tech” or “internet” event in the Valley, you’ll meet tech people. If you go to a similarly branded event in NYC, you’ll meet media people. And you’ll think there’s nothing to New York tech beyond hipsters and old media dreamers*.

Want to meet New York tech? Head over to Hackers and Founders or the Y+30 or NextNY. You’ll meet awesome people there, but they won’t fly you out. If you insist on having your ticket paid for, you’ll end up in the same media bubble-world you unfortunately fell into this time around.

* Many in nyc new media are great people, and quite a few are my good friends. But they aren’t what Paul Carr is looking for at a tech event, and those are the buckets he’ll throw them in.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

June 14th, 2010 at 9:49 am

Spend for your Next Job

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Lots of people talk about startup burn rates. But there isn’t quite as much said about personal burn rates. But if you want to accomplish anything in your life, managing your personal burn is far more critical.

Lack of control over personal finances is the biggest reason why people who want to start companies don’t. It’s difficult (often impossible) to do a startup the right way while managing a full-time job. But quitting the day job cold-turkey is pretty much impossible for most people. Why? Well, expenses have a strange way of rising to meet income. It’s a rule with spooky consistency, especially in a city with so many opportunities to spend money like San Francisco or New York. People who make $50K a year tend to spend approximately $50K, and people who make $200K a year tend to spend $200K. And from from what I can tell, people who are used to making $200K don’t “feel” remarkably wealthier than people who are used to making $50K.

But since expenses tend to scale to meet income, we spend for the job we have. We lock ourselves into apartment leases, phone contracts, credit card debt, car leases and lifestyle expectations based on our current salary. And that sucks, as our material obligations lock us in to work that we don’t want to do forever. Thus, I propose a new rule of personal finance: set your expenditures to meet the anticipated salary of your next job.

If you are planning to leave the corporate world to start your own company, cut your personal burn now. Move into a cheaper place. Ditch your cable TV and your car. Stop going out to expensive dinners. Suddenly, you’ll find that your job becomes a lot more of an option and a lot less of a necessity. Then, you’re free.

And from my experience, you won’t feel much poorer.

Oddly, I think this principle actually works in the other direction as well. If you are solidly on the corporate track and are expecting a promotion to the next rung on the ladder (and salary level), spend a bit more than you would otherwise. Keep following the rule — set your spending to the salary of your next job. Lock yourself into an apartment that is slightly nicer than you can afford. Make yourself a little desperate to have that raise. This is, of course, counter to most of the personal finance advice you’ll read out there. But I think most of the people dishing out financial advice for a living are more interested in telling you want you think you should hear (“Clip coupons!” “Don’t go to Starbucks!”) than something actually meaningful. Necessity on the path to desperation can go a long way to making meaningful things happen.

But so can freedom from material obligations. If you are unmarried and without children, loans or serious health issues in New York or San Francisco, it is entirely feasible to lower your monthly personal burn rate to $1500 – $2000/mo. I know people who have gone lower — the lowest I’ve heard in NYC is approximately $900/mo — but I wouldn’t wish that lifestyle on anyone. And you can reasonably make $2000/mo by tutoring on weekends, waiting tables on Friday and Saturday nights or doing some very part-time development work — which leaves the rest of your time to make startup magic happen.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

May 29th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Diaspora: Think about Brand

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Charlie O’Donnell had an interesting post this morning on what Diaspora should do with their Kickstarter riches. One thing he didn’t mention? Figure out your market positioning and brand.

Let’s think of this in terms of the possible likely outcomes of Diaspora’s work:

Low: The team / product / initiative falls apart for some reason or another. Nothing is accomplished.

Middle: Diaspora creates a product that is useful but is restricted to the tech community and never gains strong adoption. Even techies still have both Facebook and Diaspora profiles, limiting the impact and fulfillment of the mission.

High: Diaspora gains mainstream traction, becoming the first legitimate threat to Facebook in years.

Right now, most of the focus is on the distinction between the “low” and “middle” scenarios: How does the team focus and produce anything at all? How do they build the basic operations of their business? These are important, but they aren’t the elements that are going to separate the “middle” and “high” scenarios. And to me, that’s the really important distinction — if they’re aiming to open the social graph, they have to reach beyond a small circle. But what are some of those upside differentiators, you ask?

Usability: How easy is Diaspora to install and customize? Does it “feel” nice?

Dynamics: Facebook spread because it is viral. It uses the fundamental structure of the social graph to spread and stick. Can Diaspora capture those similar dynamics?

Brand Association: This is Diaspora’s biggest long-term problem. Right now their brand is closely associated with a techie revolt against Facebook, and there are real questions about (a) how long this revolt will last and (b) how “deep” the revolt spreads into Facebook’s user base. Diaspora is currently riding a wave that may simply peter out in the near future, perhaps withing weeks if previous Facebook user “revolts” are any indication. In this frame, the Diaspora founders need to take the money they harvested from dissatisfied Facebook users and quickly pivot to a brand that has long-lasting and broader appeal.

Many great companies do this eventually (e.g., Facebook’s shift from a geeky Ivy League classes and social site to a full-blown online manifestation of the social graph), but Diaspora risks being pigeonholed sooner rather than later. It’s getting lots of press way too early and around a message that may work for them now but probably doesn’t reinforce their ultimate goals — and risks forever framing them as something very specific to a tech audience.

This doesn’t necessarily involve a change in strategy or mission — just the frame. Product is still the king, but brand matters if we’re going to be talking about these guys in six months, let alone two or three years.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

May 13th, 2010 at 8:24 am

Why VCs Write the Way They Write

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Both Matt Mireles and Mark Davis write about startups. Both write well, and both are must-reads for entrepreneurs. But their blogs are really, really different. Matt is controversial — he’s gone after a number of high-profile targets over the past couple months, including David Rose, just about every venture capitalist and New York itself. Matt’s writings are about working outside of the system, struggling against larger institutional forces in an attempt to hack together a company. Mark’s (or Larry Lenihan, or Phin Barnes or any number of VCs)’s writings are insightful, but they focus on learning the ropes and working within the existing system to achieve success.

For the visual learners among us, I’ve thrown a few startup and VC bloggers I like to read on a chart. I guess this is my form of a blogroll.  Apologies in advance to anyone not included, I love you too but I budgeted 10 minutes to make this damn thing:

Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs Who Write in NYC

The placement of the dots is a gross estimate, but you get the point.  While those at the VC-oriented side of the spectrum tend toward more educational, less controversial fare, entrepreneurs tend to be a bit more inflammatory.

Does this mean that VC bloggers are more restricted by the environment of the VC firm and the potential downside of annoying entrepreneurs or (worse) LPs or other partners?  Maybe.  But just as controversial writings could be enabled by freedom, controversy is also a tool for gaining pageviews and notoriety.  Just look at compete.com’s chart of The Metamorphosis, Matt Mireles’ blog.  

Plus, you have to consider supply and demand. There are fewer VCs than entrepreneurs, and content written by VCs simply tends to be in greater demand since they are the ones dishing out the money to young entrepreneurs.  So you could say that VC bloggers are don’t need to write controversial content in order to get noticed. It’s certainly true with guys on here like Fred Wilson and Mark Suster — they write controversial stuff when they want to, but they certainly don’t need to start crafting linkbait.

I’d argue that it’s not only smart, it’s necessary for anyone in the startup world to pay close attention to the entire spectrum. Focus too much on the VC writings and you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture and the way founders really think about things. Focus too much on the entrepreneur crowd and you’re just delusional — and missing out on a lot of good posts.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

May 8th, 2010 at 10:22 am

NY Gaming Meetup: A Study in Iteration and Hockey Sticks

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The more time I spend working with startups, the more I find useful lessons for growing companies in random places. Take my gaming (industry) meetup, for instance. I’ve been running it for over a year, but only recently has it begun to “hockey stick”, in industry parlance.

NY Gaming Meetup RSVPs

The Opportunity: After running a gaming company in New York City for six months, I realized that there wasn’t a good place for people in the gaming industry to meet others in the gaming industry in an open, cross-pollinated environment. The International Game Developers’ Association’s New York chapter held regular events, but they were primarily focused on software developers, not the entire game creation ecosystem.

The Tactic: Create the New York Gaming Meetup, a (monthly) event where game developers can freely interact with others in the gaming industry as well as those outside the industry. Events would be regularly attended by investors, marketers, designers and others with a big role in making successful games. Meetups would be oriented around a series of demos of games built in the NYC area with networking before and after the demos.

Challenges:

(1) The NY gaming industry is highly fragmented with a focus on small (1-3 person) indie development shops. This isn’t Seattle or LA; there are only a handful of mid-sized gaming studios in NYC. It was critical to recognize that New York is a very different place and build a program that caters to those differences.

(2) There are few potential sponsors of such a meetup in NYC. This event would have to take root with minimal budget.

(3) Space in New York is hard to come by. The event would have to be structured and timed to let us take advantage of free space in bars and restaurants.

(4) As I’ve previously written, the New York tech landscape is very siloed, with little cross-pollination between verticals. In Silicon Valley, anyone working on a tech-enabled solution considers themselves part of the tech industry. In New York, we frame ourselves in terms of the particular vertical we are tackling — the “advertising industry”, the “gaming industry” or the “fashion industry”, for instance. This makes it difficult for events to reach across the social graph, and to this day I rarely see any Gaming Meetup regulars at other big tech events like the NY Tech Meetup or the Y+30.

Execution: For its first year, the event took place at Gallery Bar in the Lower East Side on Tuesday nights. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the location a 2, the venue a 7 and the cost a 10 — it was a free (but good) space with AV equipment in a out-of-the-way Manhattan neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I love the LES, but it’s a suboptimal place to host an after-work event.

Initial Results: The Gaming Meetup got a decent but not overwhelming response. We had a fairly predictable number of attendees — 55 to 75 per meetup — over our first ten months. The event wasn’t really gaining traction, but it was establishing a good core of game developers and people who loved what we created. The content (demos from local game developers and entrepreneurs) was hit or miss. There weren’t enough games being developed in New York City for us to be truly selective, and for every awesomely cool and instructive game that took the stage we had one guy just trying to sell something to the audience.

Iteration: A few months after starting the meetup, I started iterating on the model. Here are some things we tried and the results we got. Since metrics are important, changes were evaluated on (a) the number of attendees we got, (b) how long those attendees stayed and (c) how people reviewed the event.

Moving it later: Most people would show up at 7:30 anyway, so our 6:30 start time didn’t make any sense — especially since attendees had to travel to the Lower East Side. Good change, kept it.

Focusing on networking rather than demos: The demos started to get stale after a while, so I created one networking-only meetup to see how people would react. Bad idea; many people will only travel for content.

Fewer Demos: This was partially out of necessity, but ultimately it proved to be a good call. Six demos is simply too many. Four is much better.

Themed Meetups: We ran our first themed meetup (on Mobile Gaming) in March, and it was a tipping point of sorts. As it turns out, there is a certain “optimal specificity” in this kind of stuff — make it too general (“Game Demos”) and people aren’t sure what they’ll get. Make it too specific (“Android Development Best Practices”) and most people won’t care. Something in the middle (“Social Games”, “Mobile Gaming”, “Innovation in Consoles”) is ideal.

Higher-profile speakers: Last month, Kenny Rosenblatt (CEO, Arkadium) came and spoke on the topic of social games, and our meetup got 2x the number of people we’ve ever gotten. I’m a bit surprised that I hadn’t gone the high-profile-keynote-speaker route before. I’m certainly capable of sourcing them, and they give me far fewer logistical headaches than half a dozen demoers (one of which will inevitably bring a mac without the right VGA adapter).

The Hockey Stick: As you can see from my chart of RSVPs, I’ve started to figure this thing out. Popularity, of course, is self-reinforcing — now that we’re getting real traction, we’ve landed a great venue at AOL Ventures in the Union Square neighborhood. And our May meetup already has 90+ RSVPs, which is well beyond what any previous NY Gaming Meetup has gotten by this point. Most excitingly, we’re lining up partnerships with other Meetup groups for this summer — for example, we’re getting together with the Y+30 to host a panel on the future of gaming.

Written by Brad Hargreaves

May 2nd, 2010 at 9:13 am

The NYC Startup Drink List

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I hosted a party with Superconductor’s Matt Brimer a couple weeks back. Since I’m more or less incapable of throwing a party these days that doesn’t turn into a NYC tech mixer, we decided to embrace it and craft an appropriate drink menu.

I wish I could take credit for more of this, but it’s primarily the work of Brimer and HomeField‘s Reece Pacheco.

[Click to enlarge]
NYC Startup Bar Drink Menu

They tried to capture the spirit / theme of each startup in the drink. Or something like that.

The Bit.ly: Tequila shot

The Boxee: Vodka, triple sec, lime, shaken, serve on rocks in tumbler

The Drop.io: Beer + Shot of Bourbon, Vodka or Tequila

The Etsy: Vodka, muddled lemon, sugar, ginger ale

The Foursquare: Vodka, sour (shaken), garnish w/cherry + orange

The GoodCrush: Vodka, triple sec, lime juice, cranberry, shake on ice and strain into martini glass.

The Hot Potato: Jager-Bomb

The Hunch: Gin and tonic

The Kickstarter: Muddled bitters, sugar, orange, cherry, add rocks, bourbon.

The OMGPOP: Lemonade, Gin, Peach Schnapps, sour mix. shake. Highball or glass on the rocks.

The Parse.ly: Muddled mint + sugar, bourbon, sour. Tumbler glass on rocks.

The Postling: Bourbon, Ginger Ale, highball or tumbler on the rocks.

The ScoopSt: Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec, Sour Mix, Jagermeister

The SpeakerText: Tequila, mixers

The Tumblr: Vodka Cranberry with a lime.

The Yipit: PBR

Written by Brad Hargreaves

April 28th, 2010 at 4:56 am