With “daring” billboard (and lack of punctuation), PrimeHangout aims at Facebook

At least it's not another messaging app.

At least it’s not another messaging app.

The social networking wars resurge, this time in the form of billboard dares. The latest entrant to the arena is PrimeHangout, spotted in San Francisco by Jonathan Cowperthwait, Product Marketing Manager at social analytics startup awe.sm.

Taking aim at Facebook’s billion-or-so users, PrimeHangout offers “Social media with artificial intelligence!” adding, “The future is here” — apparently a future freed from the constraints of pesky, sentence-ending typographical marks.

We are the Next Step” claims the Philadephia-based startup, to approximately fifteen Twitter followers.

Registration for the site is “FREE” (emphasis theirs) and features a bevy of in-network apps, including sClassified©, Transparency©, PH Mall, Relationship, MyPicBook©, DocuTrail©, and Music & Movies.

“All these,” they enticingly claim, “plus Games and more.” (Ed: Punctuation added.)

Brave internet pioneers may sign up today, turning dares into dollars that will hopefully fund even more of these fantastic advertisements.

Let the competition begin

PressFriendly Offers Startups a DIY Alternative to PR Agencies

The future of PR is in your hands.

The future of PR is in your hands.

Back in 2006, several months into launching my first startup, ZapTix, an enticing email arrived from a Chicago-based PR agency, where I was located at the time. We had a compelling back-and-forth conversation about their services, which all sounded great — until, that is, I learned about the price: $5,000 per month.

As far as PR agencies go, this, I’ve since learned, is on the low-end of retainers. In Silicon Valley, rates for reputable agencies hover around $10,000 to $15,000 per month, and only go up from there.

For the right company, in the right circumstances, this can be a bargain, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for PR professionals who go to tremendous lengths to craft stories, build momentum, and communicate effectively on behalf of their clients.

That said, the agency model often feels like a one-size-fits-all solution, flopping like a bulky sweater over the bodies of lean and bootstrapped ventures, who may need far less than what an agency provides. Often, the best pitch for an emerging startup comes not from an agent, but from the direct, authentic voice of a company’s founder.

Realizing this, a new venture, PressFriendly, offers a compelling, freemium service to help startups create their own news and share it with receptive journalists.

Founded by Paul Andren and Joel Denya, who met at YCombinator startup HelloSign, the company guides startups through a nine-step PR wizard, starting with a one-line takeaway, proceeding to various details about the release (angles, important details, type of announcement, and so on), and finally matching the story with journalists who are likely to express interest in the content.

VentureBeat reporter Rebecca Grant reviewed PressFriendly in a recent piece, catching on to their value — not to mention their disruptive potential:

As a reporter, I spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through irrelevant, un-newsworthy, uninteresting pitches. I (and I think I can speak for my colleagues here) am not any more likely to cover a startup that is pitched by a PR person than I am to cover one that’s pitched directly by an entrepreneur. In fact, I prefer the latter. What matters is the pitch has to catch my interest and contain relevant information.

Furthermore, all of our email addresses can be found on our author profile pages, so it’s not as if there is some secret, exclusive pipeline to our inbox.

So startups, with their limited resources, do not need to shell out for an expensive agency if they can get the pitch right.

#sfbeta Endorses Boycott of Coca-Cola

#sfbeta endorses the the Boycott of Coca-Cola and calls on other startups to do the same.

Coca-Cola is a signature sponsor of the 2014 Olympic Games, which have come under intense scrutiny due the fierce anti-gay legislation recently enacted in host country Russia.

The anti-gay law has unleashed a series of violent actions against the country’s LGBT community, with police often joining homophobic aggressors in contributing to, rather than curtailing, hate-inspired violence.

“It’s a scary place for LGBT people in Russia right now.”

Despite the public outcry against the law, which Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leaves General Manager, has called “repugnant,” Coca-Cola refuses to withdraw their sponsorship of the games, and remains silent on the controversial law itself.

Reactions against Coca-Cola have been fierce and swift, driven largely by the LGBT and allied communities. A Facebook page called Boycott 2014 Olympic Games in Russia has attracted 55,000 likes, whose frequent posts attracted the attention of television pundit Keith Olbermann:

On August 29, demonstrators gathered in Times Square, crushing Coca-Cola cans and pouring the sugary drink conspicuously down city drains. Journalist Craig Takeuchi reports, via the slightly-ironically-titled Straight.com,

Queer Nation NY and RUSA LGBT staged a demonstration in Times Square on August 29 to protest Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The activist organizations stated in a news release that they are demanding that the company withdraw its sponsorship.

“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” Queer Nation cofounder Alan Klein stated. “Coca-Cola is sacrificing the safety and security of Russian LGBT people for profit—a position that opposes fundamental Olympic principles, runs counter to the International Olympic Committee charter, and that will tarnish its global image for decades to come.”

Klein also noted that Coca-Cola also sponsored the Olympics in Nazi Germany in 1936.

Crisp, clear, repressing.

Homophobia has no place in a just and civil society, and #sfbeta condemns the individuals who practice it, and corporations that condone it.

Besides, companies should know better: in the leadup to the 2012 United States Presidential Election, Aimee Castenell received over 115,000 signatures in a petition protesting Google’s sponsorship of ultra-conservative CPAC conference, and enjoined Google: “Don’t sponsor bigotry.” Aligning oneself with homophobia, whether in the form of a country, a conference, or a commentator, is never cool.

As an active voice in the startup and entrepreneurship community, #sfbeta calls for an end to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

To co-sign your support (or express a rebuttal), please share your perspective in the comments below.

Accelerating Business Goals with Vidcaster

Vidcaster helps organizations and enterprises manage, measure, and optimize videos on their sites. We’re joined by Erik Koland and Ryan Kubin to talk about the company’s past, future, and how they help some amazing clients, including AirBNB and MIT. We also discuss the challenges, both technical and cultural, of selling to enterprises, verses SMBs.

Meet the Vidcaster team at #sfbeta :: Data & API Edition on October 1, 2013.

Networking Beyond the Handshake

Networking is an invaluable process in the life of an aspiring professional or entrepreneur. Cesar Plata knows this better than anyone — he’s hosted networking events and seminars across the Bay Area for more than 14 years.

Speaking from the heart, Cesar shares his time-tested secrets on how to network successfully by build lasting, reciprocal, and enduring connections. From the first impression to the follow-up to the lifelong relationship, we discuss how to make the most of networking events, a process that begins by putting others first and helping them succeed.

Find out more about Cesar’s events — and a calendar of community business events — at his site, EveryCircle.