I Want My Aereo TV

New York Tech Meetup

Client obligations and travel took me away from the last couple of New York Tech meetups, so I was glad to be back at NYU Skirball Center to witness first-hand what the city’s hot hot hot tech startup scene had up its collective sleeve. I wasn’t disappointed.

As we settled into our seats, I had a chance to chat with Kelly who was seated next to me and attending her first NYTM. She told me she worked at Moveline, a startup, but I thought she said Movieline and then Moodline, both of which sounded par for the NYTM course. She actually worked for Moveline, a site that “…makes it easy for people who are preparing for a long-distance move to quickly gather the information they need to save money and make smart moving decisions.” Perhaps we’ll see Kelly and her moving industry-disruptive colleagues on this stage before too long.

Fol.io Showcased

The evening’s fare ranged from more established startups like Disqus, an evolved website commenting platform, to Square Inc., the Jack Dorsey-founded, mobile payment system that has transacted $4 billion in just two years of existence.

We also saw the 24-hour hackathon creations Audigram, the music playlist discovery site germinated at my #3 son’s university, and Sensible Text, a “psychic text editor” that auto-fills your sentences using prose from pre-selected sources, e.g., Google Search or “Pride & Prejudice.”

Attendees also had a chance to hear from the founders of Folio, which makes it easy for graphic designers or anyone in the content creation business to monetize their own digital content.

Plum Perfect’s Asmau Ahmed

And what would the New York Tech Meetup be without the obligatory site that helps consumers enhance their personal style. In this instant, we were treated to Plum Perfect, which allows users (of the female variety) to upload their headshots and then use the site’s sophisticated color technology to take the guesswork out of finding just the right beauty products. It does for beauty (and fashion and home decor) what Kayak does for travel. Right?

Having personally stood on the stage of the New York Tech Meetup to showcase a new media search engine for PR professionals, I took special interest in a startup from “the first father and son team to co-present at NYTM.”

Launch.it: “Dad, don’t hog the mike.” 

Brian Cohen, a tech PR pioneer who founded the firm Technology Solutions and was one of Pinterest’s earliest investors, and his son Trace, a
PR pro and NY tech entreprener, used the meetup to Launch.it, I mean to debut their socially driven, self-publishing platform for PR pros called Launch.it.

The platform takes the owned media model a step further by allowing PR peeps to craft, post and socialize original stories about their clients’ new product and services, thus bypassing the media filter for direct customer engagement.  I’ll be keeping an eye on this.

Finally, and clearly the crowd favorite, we were treated to a demo of Aereo TV by its CEO Chet Kanojia. If you’ve been living in a cave on Fiji these last few months,  you’ve likely missed the uproar this little Brooklyn-based TV startup, buoyed by IAC’s Barry Diller, has created for broadcasters, MSOs and those in DC who regulate such things.

Aereo’s Antenna (actual relative size)

In a nutshell, Aereo has developed a tiny antenna and cloud-based, back-end technology that allows anyone (in New York City, for now) to receive live or time-shifted high-definition broadcast TV (only) programming on their mobile devices.  As a result of its ingenuity, Aereo has thrown the broadcast industry into a tither prompting a copyright lawsuit and a new injunction to stop the service.

Aereo’s Chet Kanojia makes the case

Aereo made a most astute PR decision to showcase its service before this particular crowd, which has little sympathy for the cable companies, and by extension, the entrenched broadcast industry. Aereo was thus roundly embraced, especially after Chet explained that broadcasters’ FCC license requires them to freely serve the public good. On its website, Aereo asserts

“Consumers are legally entitled to access broadcast television via an antenna and they are entitled to record television content for their personal use.”

Video of the evening’s presenters can be found here.