1. We all have a story.

    A story or a message that needs more than 140 characters. More than a status update or one picture.

    We are a generation of communicators and social butterflies looking for a place to display and share our creativity. Tapestry started out simply as an online home for storytelling and we’ve grown (with your help) into a home for mobile creativity. Now, with 8.2 million taps since our last update (whew) we’re so excited to share with you another way to create and share your story.

    Introducing the new Tapestry app.

    Tapestry whoa

    Using images, GIF’s, taps and text, Tapestry now allows you to publish your ideas, stories and messages right in the iOS app.

    While we have watched our evolution grow quickly in the young adult community, we have remained true to our mission of giving people to a platform to publish, illustrate, collaborate and enjoy writing and reading short stories in a simple and fun way.

    Many have hailed 2014 as the “Year of Storytelling.” We say it is the year of mobile storytelling. Tapestry is ready to push digital short storytelling forward into a more thoughtful and thought-out manner of communication. We want to give our young community more credit, more tools, more opportunities to make and share meaningful stories.

    Tapestryooo

    So, again, we’re pretty excited to share with you the latest version of Tapestry.  It “taps” on all the things we have heard you want. This is your personal invitation to give Tapestry a try– go ahead and make something beautiful with us.

    - jana

    If you have any questions, feedback on Tapestry or just want to say hello? Email me jana@readtapestry.com.

     
     


  2. #homescreen2014

    At betaworks we aim to build apps that people love: the essential apps that people use every day and that they obsessively want to have on the homescreen of their devices, one touch away. Yet, measuring progress against this goal is a challenge. We have internal analytics, tools, and KPIs that give us an indication of progress. We are obsessive users of Chartbeat, which we helped design specifically to track real-time social engagement. We use Twitter and social channels to measure the scale of engagement and its depth. Twitter is especially good at giving us a sense of depth: examining the language, the influencer clusters and the sentiment that people use to describe our work. When people talk about Dots as an obsession they love or a Tapestry story as something that moved them, we take these as indicators that we are accomplishing our goal. However, it’s just an indicator and the world we build in today is balkanized. More often than not, we can’t get enough visibility into many of the platforms on which we build experiences.Whether it’s the App Store, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, most platforms today are opaque in terms of metrics and data. But at the start of each year there is an elegant hack we apply.  

    #homescreen2014 was written for the 2014 betaworks shareholder book, which will be out in a week, an excerpted post by John is on medium.

     


  3. Alpha-working

      Today, betaworks is announcing an opportunity to invest alongside us in a company we love: See.Me. We invested in See.Me last summer, and we’re committing additional capital in this new round.  We’re also announcing for the first time today that we’ll be opening this investment opportunity up to our community using a new product we’ve built called Alphaworks.

    Alphaworks is a distributed funding platform and toolset that enables passionate communities to become investors in, and owners of, the companies they love. We’ve designed Alphaworks so that betaworks and our founding partners can sponsor investment opportunities on our respective sites, building relationships with these new investors directly — and in a way that’s legal / regulatory compliant.  At launch, there are three sponsors that will be offering investment opportunities on Alphaworks:  SV Angel, Lerer Ventures and betaworks.    

    You can learn more about the investment opportunity here, you can learn more about the company see.me here.   And you can learn more about the Alphaworks on its FAQ.   

    The underlying mission behind Alphaworks and the public investments that betaworks offers is to engage communities in a new way through ownership. Our hunch is that companies that are community owned, even in some small way, will grow faster, be stronger and be more profitable over time.

    For the time being, until the JOBS Act regulations allow, the investment opportunity in See.me is only available to accredited investors. However, in order to include everyone, we’re offering several equity gifts to passionate supporters of our communities. You can find out more by signing up.

    We couldn’t be more excited to be engaging our communities in this new way, and to be partnering with See.me, SV Angel and Lerer Ventures to do it.

     


  4. Gerry Laybourne joins the betaworks board

    I’m excited to announce that Gerry Laybourne is joining the board of betaworks.  Gerry is a serial entrepreneur in media and technology. Currently she is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Kandu, a technology company for kids. (Betaworks invested in Kandu last year and we’re very excited about it.) She founded Oxygen Media in 1999 and served as Chairman and CEO until she sold it to NBC Universal in 2007. Gerry was a cable programming pioneer in the 80’s and 90’s: she led the team that created Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite.   

    image

    Betaworks is a blend — a media and technology company in one. Gerry’s experience is an amazing complement to what we do, how we think and where we are going. 

     


  5. Josh Miller

    I’m thrilled to announce that Josh Miller is taking on a part-time role as a venture partner here at betaworks. Josh and I have known each other for a while. We first starting working together when he moved back to New York City to launch Branch. Betaworks invested in Branch and Josh and his team actually worked here at the studio for nine months or so.   

    Josh is an unusual entrepreneur — he is a product leader who thinks deeply about the social conversational web. The recent acquisition of Branch by Facebook gives him and his team a much larger platform to realize their vision. His role at betaworks will be focused on working with seed-stage companies in New York. This way he’ll be able to continue to work with entrepreneurs who are just getting started, just as Josh himself was a couple years ago.  Josh’s role here will be a terrific addition to the New York tech ecosystem and we’re super excited to continue to work with him.

    jb

     


  6. Janet Balis and James Cooper Join betaworks

    Since the beginning at betaworks, we have met regularly but informally with brands and agencies to share insights, new products and ideas. As social and data have become increasingly relevant to marketers, some of these discussions have turned into partnerships, for example between GE and Dots, and Fox Searchlight and several betaworks brands.

    Today, we are excited to announce that Janet Balis and James Cooper are joining betaworks as founding members of a new team working with brands and agencies across all of our companies. Janet and James are two of the most talented people in their respective fields, with impressive records in the advertising and marketing world. Janet, who is joining as betaworks’ first Chief Revenue Officer, was most recently Publisher of the Huffington Post, and held senior roles at Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Time, Inc. and Aol. She has consistently blazed new ground in connecting her clients to audiences at the cutting edge of creativity and technology.

    James, who is joining as betaworks’ Executive Creative Director, joins from the Emmy winning production company Tool of North America. Before joining Tool, James was a Creative Director in the advertising industry; he won the first ever Cannes Gold Lion for Mobile and was lauded as “one of the brightest stars in digital advertising” by a leading industry publication.

    We sometimes talk about betaworks as a “media company for this century.” An important part of that is harnessing the power of our products, and social and data generally, to allow brands to communicate in entirely new ways. Janet and James are here to make that happen.

    Drop them a note at janet@betaworks.com and james@betaworks.com, respectively.  

    - Sam

     


  7. Millions of taps and counting - Meet Tapestry 2.5

    As Robin Sloan once said, “To love something is to return.” And you have returned to Tapestry over and over again to the tune of millions and millions of taps.

    What makes tapping and Tapestry so special? Tapping is a new way to engage with storytelling and an author. It begs you to spend one-on-one time with a story. To slow down. To tap is to repeatedly ask the author for more.

    Funny vs LOL has seen over 1 million taps. Another million for #Unplug. And millions more for our collection of 4500 stories (and growing!)

    Now we want to make it even easier to find and tap stories you love. With that, we’re proud to unveil the latest Tapestry app, Tapestry 2.5.

    image  image

    With Tapestry 2.5 we’ve welcomed a new iOS7 design and re-introduced Tapestry for Android. And yes–you’ll notice right away that browsing Tapestry stories is now in portrait mode. It makes it effortless to browse and find your favorite stories.

    What we heard most from you was that it was difficult to know when new stories are available. The easy answer is every day–but we shifted the design in 2.5 to make it easier to see your author subscriptions and see what your subscribers are up to. You also can subscribe to your friends and other Tapestry authors you know through Twitter and Facebook.

    All of these changes are leading up to our next few months of Tapestry features we’ll be rolling out. Our ongoing goal is to make it easier to enjoy more Tapestry stories. But how about making it easier to publish one?

    The Tapestry 2.5 update sets us up for authoring Tapestry stories in app (coming soon, we promise) and partnering with new creative companies to keep pushing the definition of storytelling.

    Buckle up and get ready for an adventurous ride the next few months. We’re so happy you’re coming along.

    JanaFrankChunxi and Kris

     


  8. Openbeta Syndicates - Two Weeks In…

    Two weeks ago, we announced a plan to syndicate investments as part of our Openbeta program. 72 hours after our announcement, we had successfully completed (although we’re still closing) our first investment syndicate in a company we’ve fallen in love with called Estimote

    There’s been a lot written about AngelList Syndicates in the past couple weeks — what they are, what they aren’t, and how venture capital will be affected. Jason, Fred, Howard, Hunter and many others have all given valuable opinions and you should go read them. I don’t need to repeat them, but needless to say, we think investment syndicates represent an important shift for the industry.

    That’s why we did one.

    The tl;dr version of the post below is that we’re even more encouraged by the possibility of syndicating a portion of our investments than we were two weeks ago, but that actually structuring and executing them is complicated and takes a lot of hard work and patience.

    Here are some preliminary notes and thoughts:

    - 46 people reserved spots in our syndicate for a total of $298k, almost double our goal of $150k. The first $100k was filled relatively quickly (in about a day), mainly through the network of people that follow us on AngelList. Going forward, we plan to give investment preference to our syndicate backers. On the third day, AngelList featured the company and commitments accelerated dramatically until we closed the doors. In short, an AngelList feature holds weight, but relying on it is a risky strategy.

    It will become crucial for angels and venture funds to build their own proprietary lists of accredited investors. Over time, as the regulations continue to evolve, this will include non-accredited investors too. The angels and seed funds that can build engaged communities around these folks (or have already built them), will have a meaningful advantage in this new environment. We’re already seeing this through the incredible growth of the backers program behind people like Kevin Rose and Dave Morin.

    Think about this for a minute, because it’s deeply important and poetic. Many of the same community, customer acquisition, and distribution capabilities that VCs have been instructing their startups to build into their companies’ DNA — they’ll now have to build for themselves.

    - The legal and regulatory environment surrounding general solicitation is still unclear, and so we’ve decided to remain conservative and not publicly discuss our investments until our syndicates are closed (like Estimote). Others have chosen to be more explicit. We’re not quite sure how the regulatory environment will evolve in the months to come, but in the meantime, not being able to market specific syndicates is a hurdle. What’s amazing is that despite our decision to not discuss the company, demand for our first syndicate was remarkably strong. That’s often the mark of an incredible product: it works and it grows despite its many flaws.

    - Actually executing an investment syndicate is difficult and time intensive (right now). Many of the investors that have announced syndicates and syndicate funds have no idea what they’re in for. There are seemingly countless regulatory issues, legal issues, structural issues, accredited investors issues, issues with managing allocations, firm-specific structural issues…I could go on and on and on. The only way to discover and manage this complexity is to do one (or send us an email…we’re happy to chat). Obviously, we think that over time some of the complexity will be simplified and that the long-term benefits greatly outweigh the work we’re doing now to learn the process and manage it. Announcing a commitment to do 50 syndicates of 500k each? Holy moly, may the force be with Brad Feld and the Foundry Group.

    - The reaction to AngelList syndicates from folks we work closely with has not been entirely positive. Much of it is driven by fear and many are right to be worried. There are tens, maybe hundreds of new competitors at the seed stage now, and none of them are charging fees. At the very least, early-stage valuations will rise, maybe dramatically, simply because there are a lot more people now investing a lot more money (on behalf of others) in the same number of opportunities. But for the best performing and most helpful investors in the market, not all that much should change (for now). David Lee tweeted something interesting a week ago:

    This is spot on. The best value-add investors are not going to be replaced by AngelList syndicates any time soon. This has been repeated ad nauseum by now, but I’ll repeat it again as a statement to the angel investors and seed funds that we’ve worked closely with for many years and plan to do so for many more. Rather syndicates, in our view, represent a huge long-term opportunity for the best investors in the industry.

    - It hasn’t been discussed much yet, but I also wonder about the effect of AngelList syndicates and backers on the LP ecosystem. I’ve never raised a fund, but if I did, I’d seriously consider raising a virtual fund through AngelList backers. LPs are now competing with the “crowd.” Over time, as the administrative, regulatory, and legal hurdles of syndicates are lowered, I wonder if this gives the best venture investors more leverage and pricing power with their LPs. I’m just now trying to understand how this plays out, but my guess is that AngelList has implications for venture capital higher up in the stack too, and it will probably look like this:

    image

    - As a final note, one of the most interesting side affects of our syndication is the strong working relationship that we’ve built with Jakub, the founder of Estimote, over a very short period of time. He and his team did something brave with us, and they didn’t have to. It speaks to their high level of integrity, and I’ve never been more convinced that they’re the right guys to build what they’re building. I encourage you to check out their product, order a few beacons, and I think you’ll quickly understand the power of their technology.

    It’s been an incredibly exciting couple weeks for us, we’ve learned a great deal, and like everything else we do, the goal is to open source these lessons in order to begin a conversation with the larger community. There are many questions that remain unanswered about syndication, including regulatory, structural, and operational. We’re discovering answers to many of the legal and administrative issues now through the syndication closing process and we’re looking forward to learning more by working and engaging with you.

    If you’d like to chat, you can reach out to me anytime at nick@betaworks.com.

    - Nick

     


  9. The new betaworks website

    Today, we’re excited to announce a redesign of betaworks.com

    image

    In the past, updating our site was a multi-step process that involved lots of people, with different needs. Because things change quickly here — we launch a new product, add an investment, or hire someone new at least once a month — we’ve faced a steady stream of updates by different people with different skill sets.  

    This redesign not only makes it easier for our stakeholders to update the site, it frees up designers and engineers so they can get back to doing what we do best: building world class products. We also think this update is great looking, and more visually aligned with our brand and design. 

    image


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    Special thanks to Tom Rose for the great front-end development,  Zach Desart for his amazing photographs of the betaworks office, Joey Pfeifer for his great feedback and Alex Bedder (Mr. Poncho) for giving us a hand on the site copy.

    -Jason

     


  10. Openbeta v2

    Betaworks is announcing today for the first time that we’ll be syndicating seed investments as part of our larger Openbeta initiative. While this announcement comes on an important day for crowdfunding, with the lifting of the ban on general solicitation, it’s something we’ve been thinking about for a long time. We think that in the next few months, as the crowdfunding regulations are clarified, this new funding environment will be hugely positive for startups and how they approach raising capital. Unfortunately, because implementation of the laws is still underway, we can’t yet discuss the specific company we’re syndicating, but we’re excited to partner with AngelList to do it.

    We’re beginning to syndicate seed investments for reasons both philosophical and structural — we believe it’s consistent with our open architecture at betaworks and it gives us an additional advantage as seed-stage angel investors. This is a new form of startup financing, it’s innovative and disruptive. And like most things we do at betaworks, this is a beta.

    How did this come about? It started with a list of questions:

    - How can we offer great companies the most efficient access to capital?
    - Does the existing seed-stage financing system work the way it could? And what will the seed-stage angel / fund look like 6 months, 2 years, 10 years from now?
    - Could users be more helpful to early-stage companies than venture investors are?
    - Should early-stage Internet investment opportunities be limited to LPs and wealthy individuals?
    - What would happen if we gradually opened up our investment doors to the world?

    This is just a small sample of the questions we ask ourselves every day.

    Earlier this year we started a project called Openbeta as the first step towards creating a more open ecosystem around betaworks and our community of users. We believe we’re better at what we do — building and operating companies — because we work with and have the support of a larger community of users and technologists. In a very short period of time, Openbeta has become a place where thousands of people can participate in the betaworks ecosystem — help us test the early products we build and invest in, join us for events at the betaworks studio, and today, for the first time, invest alongside us in the companies we fall in love with.

    This new part of Openbeta is more than just a philosophical exercise. We believe crowdfunding strategies such as syndicates will help our startups. It will allow them to raise additional capital efficiently and shield them from the complexity of having lots of angel investors on their cap table (betaworks manages this for them as part of the AngelList Syndicate feature). We do not believe this type of capital replaces the seed fund partners and angel investors we already love working with (and who are very helpful to their startups), but we believe betaworks-led syndicates will add to and complement these folks nicely.

    To invest in our syndicates, you must:

    - Be a member of Openbeta, click here to sign up
    - Be an accredited AngelList investor. (We hope that as crowdfunding regulations progress, we will be able to include a broader group, both accredited and non-accredited investors, but right now you must be accredited to participate.)

    If you have any additional questions, you can reach out to me directly at nick@betaworks.com.

    These new regulations combined with our announcement today marks a significant change for the technology industry, particularly for startups and venture capital. As usual, we’re happy to be smack in the middle of it and we hope you’ll join us in this journey.

    - Nick