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Entries in betaworks (5)

Saturday
Feb272016

A New New Medium Company

[Reposted from Medium.]


It’s tasteless to brag, but I need to set up the Dramatic Twist that comes about halfway through this post. So I beg indulgence.

Here’s the brag: betaworks, my professional home since 2012, has been just killing it (in the positive, non-ironic, Silicon Valley sense) lately. Launching new companies, like Dexter and Scale Model. Shipping new products, like the Poncho iOS appInstapaper’s Instaparser, and Bloglovin’s Shop app. Growing like crazy, building new things, and winning the confidence of investors, as GIPHYDigg, and Chartbeat have all done. Reaching profitability, like Bitly. Just plain winning, like DOTS. Getting acquired, likeBlend by the music innovator ROLI. Creating a serialized podcast, The Intern. Publishing fascinating data science on everything from the network science of product launches to the effects of media coverage on 2016 election campaigns. And, not least, investing in terrific startups like AnchorUnmute,SlashSochatHowdyFutureflyVrideoGrapeGimlet MediaProduct HuntParlio, and Medium, just to name a recent few.

The betaworks studio companies I’ve worked on most directly have been shipping new features at a blistering pace: Digg’s upgraded web and mobile interfaces, a StoreDigg Dialogs, and many excellent Originals, Explainers, Roundups, and Digests; Instapaper’s webiOS and Android updates, notes and highlights, multitasking, picture-in-picture video playback, iPad redesign, InstaRank 2.0, Instaparser, Apple Watch app, speed reading, instant sync, tweet shots, and so on.

And on a personal note, betaworks is awesome. I’ve never been in a better, more enjoyable, more energizing, more functional professional environment. Excellent people, A+ talent, a culture that valorizes building and risk-taking, and a unifying mission to reinvent media.

Now comes the Dramatic Twist: I’m leaving betaworks.

Wut? you may be wondering. What, in light of that shameless set-up, could possibly drag me away from a dream job at betaworks?

Medium.

As of this week, I’ve joined Medium, where I’ll be leading its content organization, developing new business opportunities, and growing Medium’s NYC presence.

In a sense, it’s a move within the family — betaworks is an investor in Medium, and Ev Williams is an investor in betaworks. But more importantly,John Borthwick and my other betaworks partners gave the move their blessing because they recognized that Medium is an incredible match for me, my interests, and my ambitions, as well as the operating muscles I’ve been working to build over the past few years.

I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Medium. I’ve been an active Medium user since it first launched and have become increasingly fascinated/obsessed with it. Medium’s become the Internet’s best place for great writing and thoughtful conversation. It’s growing fast, scaling quickly, adding new capabilities briskly, and attracting an unmatched network of creators, thinkers, publishers, and the people who love them. And Medium is committed to things I care about, like freedom of expression, an open Internet, meaningful discourse, and excellence in product and infrastructure.I’ve known Ev Williams since we first worked together at Google, and have long thought it’d be fun to do something more directly with him. As I’ve gotten to know the Medium team, I’ve been hugely impressed with the level and diversity of talent, the sense of common purpose, and the bright culture of the company.

So: Medium(Woo-hoo!)

Happily, I’ll continue to be affiliated with betaworks as a venture partner, and will continue to serve on the boards of Digg and Chartbeat. I want to say a very heartfelt thank-you to everyone at betaworks, particularly John Borthwick, whose faith, friendship, and mentorship have been invaluable to me, Joshua AuerbachSam MandelPaul MurphyBrian DonohueGilad LotanSuman Deb RoyMatt HartmanPeter RojasAna RosensteinJames CooperDominic ButchelloMaya ProhovnikSaumya Manoharjonchin,Lisa Zhang, Nicole Ranucci, Erin GlennKuan Huang, Kyra Reppen,Giordano ContestabilMattias Bloglovin'Dan CarlbergPatrick Moberg,Christian CalderonPatrick Montague, Peter Margulies, Frank JaniaAaron KaporChristian RochaDaniel Ilkovich, Michelle Monteleone, along with the Digg and Instapaper teams and their alumni, and everyone else I’ve had the good fortune to work with across the betaworks studio.

When I first arrived in 2012, betaworks’s website described the organization as “A New Medium Company,” which struck me as both clever and accurate. And it harmonizes well with the full legal name of my new home: A Medium Corporation.

— andrew

PS — Hiring! Download on iOS or Android!


[A cartoon of my family that Cindy won't let me hang on the wall at home.]

Friday
Nov132015

Bigg Digg News: New Funding, New CEO, New Digs

Today marks a huge milestone for Digg. Three reasons: First, because we’ve closed a $4 million Series A investment from Digital Garage. Second, because Digg has a new CEO, Gary Liu. Third, because Digg is leaving thebetaworks nest and moving into its own office space downtown.

The formal press release is here. I’ll add a little color, spiced with just a dash of sentimentality:

We’re incredibly excited to have Digital Garage as Digg’s leading investor, and as a strategic partner. DG is an Internet-focused operating and investing company based in Tokyo, and has a long history of success partnering with American tech companies (for example, LinkedInTwitter, and Path) to enter Japan and other Asian markets. We think the Digg model of [curation + technology] can find sizable and enthusiastic audiences around the world, and we’re thrilled to get to work with Digital Garage in making it happen.

A betaworks partner, I’ve been running Digg as CEO since early 2013. From the initial rapid-fire relaunch, we’ve grown the user base exponentially, launched Digg ReaderDigg DeeperDigg VideoDigg TV, Digg on iOS and Android, Digg Originals, Digg’s Canvas CMS, Digg native ads, the Digg Store, the Daily Digg and email products, various mobile web UIs, and most, recently, Dialogs.

Through it all, the Digg team has been incredible, and I want to thank them so effusively it’s embarrassing. Digg’s technologists, editors, designers, and business developers have proven to be absurdly talented, committed, and creative. With a very small number of people, our engineers, led by NYC’s best CTO, Mike Younghave built a sprawling and sophisticated technical infrastructure at vast scale with many interlocking components and interfaces, and that works extremely well. Digg sites and apps look and feel terrific thanks to the vision, clarity, and detail-obsession of Justin Van Slembrouck. Our editors, led by the brilliant and exacting Anna Dubenko, range widely and ingeniously across the Internet and through our powerful data tools to find and package the best stories and videos on the Internet. Not a day has gone by that they haven’t brought me (among millions of other users) delightful things I wouldn’t otherwise have discovered, along with actual LOLs from their headlines, kickers, and growing corpus of original pieces. Finally, the business team, newly led by the enormously gifted and energetic Won Kim, has invented a native business model for Digg, scrappily building it from zero to impressive. I’m tempted to name and praise every member of the team individually, but that’d make a loooong post.

Tying these teams all together since March has been COO Gary Liu. Gary and I overlapped at Google, and his career has taken him through startups to Spotify, where he led Spotify Labs and Ad Product Strategy. When we hired him, my hope was that he would prove to be the right next CEO to take the company from Series A to success at global scale. And indeed, I was right. Gary’s been an absolutely fantastic operating leader for the company, gifted at everything from team leadership to monetization strategy to operational execution to finance to product and marketing, and I’m thrilled to hand the reins over to him. Though I’m going to be an active executive chairman of Digg’s board, Gary is the right leader for Digg’s next chapters, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s taken on the challenge.

And so as Digg gets ready to move into its own office in a few weeks, I’m returning to betaworks full-time, to get new initiatives off the ground. And I’m already more than a little wistful, preparing to miss the Digg team that’s been such a wonderful part of my day-to-day life for more than two years. Fortunately, not only do I still get the daily joy of Digg’s homepage, apps, videos, email, etc., but they’re letting me stay in the Digg Slack channel, which never, ever fails to crack me up.

For some press coverage, check out TechCrunch and/or VentureBeat.

Friday
Apr262013

In Which betaworks Acquires Instapaper

I really, really love Instapaper;  I use it daily for its clean aesthetic, its uncluttered reading experience, its super-well-honed features. So it's fair to say I'm pretty excited about this post by Marco Arment. Wired takes note.

Friday
Aug172012

betaworks!

A very exciting bit of personal news:  I've joined betaworks as entrepreneur-in-residence. Led by the incredibly gifted John Borthwick, betaworks is forging a new, ambitious, wildly interesting model for creating and scaling innovative tech companies. It's become a real center of gravity for the start-up scene in New York, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. 

To get a sense of betaworks, check out the amazing list of companies it has invested in -- for example, Twitter, TumblrAirbnb, BranchEverlane, ideeliGroupMe, Groupon, Kickstarter, Path, Tweetdeck. Its studio companies include Digg, Bit.ly, Chartbeat, SocialFlow, and Findings, with others under construction. (I'll have more to say about what I'm actually working on in the not-too-distant future.)

Huge thanks and a fond farewell to Tumblr, David Karp, and all my former colleagues there.  I'm really proud of what my teams -- international, outreach, communications, community, editorial, user support, marketing -- pulled off since I joined last year. Personal highlights: the amazing Storyboard blog, the Brazil launch, the human-friendly terms of service and policy docs, new policies on self-harm, SxSW, the fight against SOPA, and the vast global cohort of new Tumblr blogs and partners we brought onboard. I'm especially grateful to everyone who joined those teams on my watch. Tumblr's a terrific company, and an important platform for creativity, free speech, and community.

Monday
Oct312011

Betaworks Brown Bag: My Days in the White House: The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Here's a lunchtime talk I did at betaworks on my experience working in the White House, why it was awesome, why it was, um, frustrating, why it's hard to achieve large-scale change in the U.S. federal bureaucracy, and more.