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Art.sy, a fine art discovery site, has raised a $1.25 million round of funding from a pretty prominent list of angel investors, most notably Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter and Square), and Wendi Murdoch, the wife of News Corps. founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch. Leading the round was Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner.
Other investors include Jim Breyer (of Accel), art mogul Dasha Zhukova, Founder Collective, Keith Rabois (executive at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide and Square), TechStars director David Tisch, Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever, Path co-founder and CEO Dave Morin, and Clickable co-founder and CEO David Kidder.
Previously, Art.sy raised around $160,000 in seed funding.
When it originally launched, the site was simply a place where users could search for and share fine art with each other. You could search for pieces based on its period, style, size, color and price. The site also had an application for Facebook that recommended art to users based on their social graph.
Now, Art.sy is private again and shifting gears to become a bit, well, finer. Founder Carter Cleveland is working on partnerships with high-end art dealers, collectors and galleries to showcase art from up and coming and established artists. To that end, prominent art dealer Larry Gagosian, who owns galleries in New York City, London, Los Angeles, Rome and Athens, has been brought on board as an advisor.
The company, which is aggressively seeking a lead developer as well as a software engineer, VP of Product, and intern, is currently working on an “Art Genome” algorithm, which sounds and feels a lot like Pandora’s “Music Genome.” Where Pandora’s project analyzed musicians, their albums, and their songs to provide relevant recommendations to users, Art.sy’s genome will do the same for fine art.
Focusing on higher-end fine art makes good business sense for Art.sy, because if there’s any money in art, it’s in fine art. Younger audiences won’t spend very much money on paintings or sculptures that a wealthier, older generation will.
Still, it would have been nice to have one elegant, comprehensive source (?) for all things fine art.
The Art.sy makeover is set to be unveiled publicly in the spring of 2011.
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.