It was dark in the black room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel where media and tech types gathered Saturday night at the official launch party for New York’s quippiest startup, Bnter.com. Hostess Lauren Leto stood greeting guests who had run the gauntlet of wind, coat check and velvet rope and steadied themselves at the bar where sponsor Absolut Vodka had supplied a generous line of bottles, flavors plain and pear.
Exactly a year ago, Ms. Leto did the same at the book party for her first startup, Texts from Last Night, where she knew only seven people. But this time the guest list included friends from New York’s top startups, best newspapers, and David of PitchforkReviewsReviews, who DJ’ed; as well as Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, newly-arrived from San Francisco and allegedly still on West coast time.
To answer the question “What is Binter?” posed by one freelance writer on his bewildered way in, it’s pronounced “banter” (IBM owns the full domain), and it’s a social site where people post the Sorkin-esque conversations they have with friends in real life. Which is why The Observer was expecting attendees to be at their wittiest, and felt not a little pressure to be the same.
In fact, the banter stayed at the party, with a few exceptions–maybe because guests were entertained enough to overpower the urge to micro-document. Unfortunately the Guest of a Guest photographer had arrived and left too punctually, and failed to capture both understated New York Times reporter Nick Bilton and the boisterous Rex Sorgatz; she also got no footage of the dance party reliably initiated by Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar or the two times GroupMe developer Pat Nakajima planted an enthused kiss on the mouth of Foursquare engineer Anoop Ranganath.
The event officially ended at midnight when drinks ceased to be free, but guests pushed into the hotel bar, agreeing generally that New York startups–and company–know how to party. They continued until 4 a.m., even though Bnter’s more reserved cofounder Patrick Moberg slipped away early and Ms. Leto excused herself around 12:30 a.m., blaming a pair of shiny black heels.
Mr. Dorsey was comfortably stationed at the bar’s far corner, where guests came to talk to him. He told The Observer that startup festivities are unfortunately lacking in San Francisco, a reason he enjoys New York. “Like, maybe one day a week we’ll go out to a bar,” he said, and conceded the venue was usually 21st Amendment, the brewery across the street from Twitter’s office. One well-dressed entrepreneur was similarly approving. “I was at a Cipriani party at Citadel, and bankers are fucking boring,” he said, and ordered another whiskey.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries