Scott Poniewaz

Entrepreneur, globetrotter, foodie, and the Silicon Alley Roundup

Silicon Alley Roundup: Tech Trends, NYC Rent Subsidies, and Must Reads

Last weekend’s marathon was unfortunately a bust due to the expected 95 degree weather, but I still was able to run the half marathon as a replacement and have a PR which put me in 214th of 4400 runners.  Okay, it is 214th, but I’m also an amateur runner, so given the field, I’m pretty proud of it.  I finished in 1 hour, 35 minutes, 22 seconds, or about a 7:17 pace for the 13.1 miles.  Best of all, I was quoted in Madison’s Wisconsin State Journal regarding how the cancellation was handled.  Thanks for tuning in, and enjoy this week’s roundup.


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•If you work in technology, this is a must-read, or perhaps, must-view report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers partner Mary Meeker.  This is basically the what’s worth watching on the web and in mobile:

KPCB Internet Trends 2012


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Silicon Alley Roundup: Running Down Dreams

I talked about the Facebook IPO being a stimulus package.  That lasted for just a few minutes and I won’t even mention the mess that has come up over the last week.  I’m sure you’ve read plenty, and I’m tired of hearing and talking about it, so I’ll spare you.

Great weather for the beach, dangerous heat for 26.2 miles of running.

Another Friday and another trip out of NYC.  Memorial Day weekend has most people heading to sunny beaches, but I’m flying to Madison and Chicago for the weekend to do the Madison Marathon and spend time with my family.  However, it is now expected to be 95 degrees, which means, the chances are it will be canceled.  All of those hours spent training and committing to a goal, only to be let go by things outside of your control.  I think that is a good lesson in many aspects of life.  No matter how much work you put into something, how many hours and years you have sacrificed, sometimes, it just will never be enough and outside factors will keep  you from achieving something you have worked so hard for.


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•This is just awesome.  No words can explain how cool the next generation of space travel will develop to become, but Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon making the first hookup with the International Space Station today is groundbreaking.  You can see more about it on MSNBC here: “Cosmic Log – SpaceX’s Dragon craft makes historic hookup with space station” (bonus is this BusinessInsider piece on why Musk is the most inspiring entrepreneur in the world)


•There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the boom in accelerator programs (full disclosure, I’m an ERA 2012 grad).  The big thing, is knowing what you’re getting into before you make the leap and understanding it isn’t an end-all-be-all fast track for success.  Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator, has a couple pieces of advice: “Beware the Artificial Accelerator” (and check out my Dibsie co-founder’s piece in VentureBeat on the subject here)

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Silicon Alley Roundup: Facebook IPO Edition

Talk about a stimulus package.  Facebook rang the bell on Nasdaq, and just started trading.  Off we go! Thanks to Betabeat’s shoutout last week as well. Here is this week’s abbreviated and pretty Facebook-centric roundup…


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•If you were wondering who was going to get rich off this IPO, here is a quick rundown by Fortune: Facebook IPO – Who got Rich(er)


•One of those getting rich is Eduardo Saverin, the man made famous in the movie, “The Social Network.” He also is getting famous for allegedly evading the taxes by renouncing his US citizenship.  Well, now that he’s getting rich, he sent his thank you to Mark, via Facebook of course.


•Facebook had a hackathon to keep true to its roots before going public.  I think it is just one more way that Zuck is showing he is willing to ‘stick it to the man’ and wall street.  Mostly according to Wall Streeters.  VentureBeat got the inside line on what went down: The Facebook Hackathon


•Because of the famous hoodie, the New York Times went deeper into the fashion and style of Silicon Valley (and the Alley here in NYC indirectly).  Startups are know for flip flops and t-shirts, but in reality, they are bespoke jeans and hoodies according to this article: Reticent Rich: Preferred Style in Silicon Valley (or as their meta data says, “At Facebook, Peer Pressure to Spend those Millions Quietly”)


•Couldn’t leave this one out either.  Just in and hot off the presses at Business Insider: Groupon is Under Investigation for a Sketchy Stock Spike.  Looks like Mr. Mason’s days may be numbered.


Quote of the Week:

“People for years were asking me why aren’t we trying to make more money. I would say I’m trying to build a business for the long term and it was clearly the right strategy. I think the same is true now. Maybe there will come a time down the road when most of the industries we think should be social are already social and the primary thing we can do is optimize the amount of money we can make.” [Wall Street Journal, October 2011]

– Mark Zuckerberg

Videos that inspire:
To all the entrepreneurs and people that told Mark Zuckerberg he could never make it. He just created a whole new breed of millionaires, and hopefully investors:


Nomads of Ladakh

I just found this picture again and it reminded me of my time spent staying with the Changpa nomadic group in Ladakh, India.  They move around seasonally near the Tsomoiriri Lake region that straddles India and Tibet.  I spent quite a bit of time living with them and helping care for their pashmina goats.

Silicon Alley Roundup: Betabeat’s Porn Obsession & Booming NYC Tech

This happens far too often.  You find a restaurant you want to try, google it,
jump onto their website, click the ‘Menu’ link, and up pops a PDF.  This is so outdated and archaic.  I just had one come up where it was 14 pages of PDF.  Granted, most is their alcohol list,  it really makes me not want to even bother with the place, no matter how good the food is.  Public announcement to the restaurant industry, and the developers making their simple websites, learn to update your menu on your website.  With all the content management platforms out there, how can you not build a site that is easy for someone to quickly update?  If they can upload a PDF, they can update a WYSIWYG menu. Thank you, the rant is ended.


The weekend is here, the weather is here, and tomorrow morning should be a great run through Central Park.  Two weeks until the Madison Marathon.  Off we go!


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•Is it a tech boom, or a tech bubble?  Depending on the week, or the press, it is both.  According to a recent research report by the Center for an Urban Future, it is a boom.  I’ll take it.  The Wall Street Journal dissected it on the front page of the New York section earlier this week and highlighted the growth in VC investing, as well as job creation: New York City Tech Boom Sets Pace (WSJ).


•I don’t really want to talk too much about the Facebook IPO, because if you’re anything like me, you were over the hype  few months back.   Continue reading

Silicon Alley Roundup: InstagramNYC, Accelerators, and Jumping the Shark

First Dick Clark and now Levon Helms.  This week has been tough with the passing of prominent people in music.  Both have created memories that shaped my childhood.  Dick Clark for all of the New Years Eve’s as a child with my family and old episodes of American Bandstand, then Levon and The Band for his music that fueled many family road trips and expanded to me following bands like Phish or Bob Dylan during my high schoool summers, or while driving through the night with friends to chase a winter storm from  Montana to Utah.  Music plays a big part of my life, and The Last Waltz is an album that will always resonate with me.  Dick Clark brought so many bands into the spotlight.  The two of you will be greatly missed.

On to our Silicon Alley Roundup for the week… (And apologies for any editing errors, it is a busy week and I wanted to make sure this got out).


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•Aside from all the hoopla around Instagram being bought by Facebook for $1B (missed that news?), I just heard that InstagramNYC got it’s first official gallery show at the W Hotel in Times Square.  It will kick off May 1, 2012 and feature Instagrammers around the city.  Cool Hunting has more details here: Instagram NYC Gallery Show.  While most people also tend to avoid Times Square on a Saturday, only Instagram can pull you back in.  That same group will be doing a cool photowalk through Times Square and the Theater District on Saturday:  Okay, enough Instagram talk for one week (or a lifetime).


•Need to toot my own horn, and mention that is officially out of beta and launched.  VentureBeat and DailyDeal Media both did their own versions of the same story, then I also wrote about my co-founders and I being the “Three Amigos.”

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Friends Build Innovative Companies

Introducing the “Three Amigos”


In our small, shared Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator office behind a large Times Square billboard, a conversation was happening.  It was based around revising the team slides within our deck for next week’s demo day.   Fast forward a couple of hours when the Dibsie Google alert popped up for an article from Daily Deal Media (E-commerce Player Ready to Emerge from Beta) about Dibsie referring to my co-founders and I as the “Three Amigos.”


While we probably won’t pull the references to the Three Amigos into our deck, it has definitely crossed my mind to keep running with it.  Entrepreneurship is like a long-term relationship and a marriage among investors and founders.  At this early stage, it often becomes more about the team than the business.  There are always ups and downs, there are financial strains, and there are heated debates about the right way to run the business, even with everyone aiming for the same bullseye.  Fortunately we have the team and the business, with many of those initial growing pains behind us, where we’re ready to scale.


Dibsie grew out of an earlier version of itself after shedding it’s premature features that equate to emerging out of your teens with a little bit deeper voice, a few more inches in height, and a scruffy beard on the verge of maturity.  We educated ourselves while we navigated CampusDibs, as the “Groupon for College” as TechCrunch covered, and this last week we just went “Public” as VentureBeat broke Monday afternoon.  It is fair to say we’re now open for business and the clock is ticking to prove ourselves and the growth of our company.


After working together and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each product, mostly while bootstrapping, we have built an innovative solution in social commerce to spice up an otherwise dull world of e-commerce.  If we weren’t the “Three Amigos” that DailyDeal Media labeled us as, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  While the reference offered a few laughs around the office and among outside friends, I think it defines what we’ve built.  Dibsie was built with the mission of making it easier to shop with friends, so I’ll take it if we become defined as the “Three Amigos” of the New York tech community.  It means we’re in it for the long haul.


Silicon Alley Roundup: DC Marathon and Co-founder breakup’s edition

With my company entering the ERA incubator January 1, I had decided my two year streak for the DC Marathon was coming to a close. However, a couple friends, a few beers, and me inspiring a couple others that if they really wanted to do one, they could, I suddenly was also roped in. Unfortunately, the others have backed out or down to half marathons, but I’m still going for it.


Hammer Nutrition - my energy and endurance fuel. Natural and Montana-made, this is the magic stuff that gets me through training and races. My special discount lets you try it for 15% off too!

Not going to lie, last year was rough. I ended up with stomach issues and vomiting off the bridge at mile 20, and running on a completely empty tank during the part of your marathon where your mind needs to take over and shut down what your body is trying to say. The 5 am (sometimes even 4:30 am) mornings, 20 mile weekend runs, and balancing work and life, the new years resolution is reaching step 1 of 2. My training has been much more regimented, so I am ready. DC this weekend and I’ll do Madison over Memorial Day weekend. DC bound shortly, but ready to run tomorrow. Wish me luck, here comes the three-peat.


Roundup Reads for the Week:

•Being a co-founder is a lot like a marriage goes the old adage.  When the news of Dennis and Naveen of Foursquare going their separate ways made its way across the tech gossip news blogs, the rumors started to fly.  Betabeat/New York Observer dove into it a little deeper this week about what happened.  Or at least what they suspect happened: How to Avoid Being Pushed Out of the Company You Founded


•Speaking of gossip in the tech world, I feel I successfully avoided all the hoopla around SXSW this past week.  The one big announcement I did get excited about though, is that Instagram is FINALLY coming to Android.  Get me on the beta please! Mashable reports here: Instagram Announces Android Version.  Maybe now I can start hanging out with @bridif and @stephenthorpey for their InstagramNYC meetups.

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