“We need to form two lines,” said the Raise Cache volunteer, parting the sea of people amassed outside the Park Avenue Armory last night into those with VIP tickets and those without. “Separate, but equal . . . kind of,” she added. The crowd laughed and Betabeat patiently waited our turn. After all, it’s not everyday you see patent leather pumps and fringe mixed in with the Converse and jeans.
Everyone who’s anyone from the startup world had gathered there to raise money for a universally-beloved cause: a fundraiser for hackNY, the program that shepherds computer science students towards Startupland–and away from Goldman. And, oh boy, did folks clean up nice. Seriously, where have all you PYTs been hiding?
The last time we stopped by the Armory it was for a startup job fair back in June. But last night, the ping pong tables and meet-and-greet booths had been swapped out for an indoor red carpet, flood lights on the runway, and giant cut-outs of Turntable.fm avatars standing guard from the DJ booth overhead.
The techno was blaring when we walked in and ran into OnSwipe’s Jason Baptiste, the inspiration for our Tech Poachables article, who said he’s on the hunt for hires and had scoured our list. But, he assured us, Mark Bao, his 19-year CTO, wasn’t going anywhere. Duly noted. Rex Sorgatz also had a quibble with the list, namely whether $2 million plus equity wasn’t a little steep for HuffPo CTO Paul Berry. We allowed for the possibility that our super-scientific calculators may have been off on that one.
In addition to the sizable list of entrepreneurs-turned-models getting gussied up in the back, Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, Aviary’s Michael Galpert, Kal Vepuri, and GroupMe’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht were all there. Mr. Hecht invited Betabeat and Jenna Wortham to stop by GroupMe’s new Microsoft digs. Did they put the kibosh on those bottles of Johnny Walker lying around, we wondered.
Twilio’s Rob Spectre was on also hand, fresh off a trip across the pond to get London’s booming startup scene to play around with Twilio’s API, now that they’ve added UK phone numbers to the mix. It seemed like YouAre.TV founder Josh Weinstein was having a good birthday. “I just picked up a 50-year-old chick on UserTesting.com!” he exclaimed while checking his phone. He also extolled the design chops of Art.sy’s Robert Lenne, the IDEO veteran standing across from us, which we’re filing away for future poachables lists.
RRE Ventures’ Tom Loverro noted the “few if any poseurs” last night, taking the opportunity this morning to pontificate on what makes us different from the Valley. “Last night’s event couldn’t have physically happened in the Bay Area. Of course you could find hundreds of folks in SF to get together to celebrate tech, but it would have been different “
But you came here to hear about the fashion show, didn’t you?
Sure there were a couple glitches. The sound was off. Unless you were lucky to get a seat up front (ours got stolen, so we stole someone else’s, sorry row 5!) it was hard to hear Shelby.TV’s Dan Spinosa emcee the festivities, but his formidable mohawk more than made up for it. And Mayor Bloomberg‘s taped greeting closed the show instead of starting it. But his quip, “Hold on, I forgot to check-in,” got a big applause. The mayor was kind enough to take time out from arresting protesters in Zucotti Park to send the message that, “Now more than ever, [New York] is the place for to be for tech soirees.”
Once it got going, the notion of dressing up a bunch of nerds and having them prance down a catwalk, however, was a surprising success.”Carter just pulled off an epic Zoolander at #RaiseCache give him the trophy- nailed it!,” tweeted Aviary’s Alex Taub. Artisicle’s Alex Tyron sported red lips and a rocker up-do. TechStars’s Melanie Moore stomped with the best of them. Shelby.TV’s Reece Pacheco tried to run off stage, but made it to the end to pose. In Warby Parker glasses, disheveled hair, a corduroy blazer, and bright colored khakis, Lerer Ventures’ Jordan Cooper looked ready to be cast in a Wes Anderson film.
There were plenty of shenanigans at the end of the runway, with “models” pulling napkins out of their crotch, showering photogs with dollar bills, and whipping out a trademark baseball cap to top off a suit (we’re looking at you, Tisch). But without a doubt, the evening’s show-stoppers were Roger Ehrenberg and Fred Wilson. Mr. Ehrenberg shimmied and strut the entire way up and down the catwalk, pausing only to do the Robot. Mr. Wilson, however takes the cake for opening up his jacket to reveal a homemade OCCUPY sign. #powertothepeople
After Mr. Wilson exited the stage, Mr. Spinosa told the crowd, “You may not believe this, but he’s not a professional model. He’s a full-time blogger.” The young lady to our right had to explain the joke to her hipster friend who was slouched in his seat. “See, that’s why it’s funny. Actually, he owns half the people in this room.”
We didn’t make it to the after-party at the Ace, but it may have been a good thing. It was so crowded even the miniature femme fatales behind Small Girls PR couldn’t get in. And they did all the press for it. Mallory Blair emailed us a disclaimer: “We got in after 30 mins, but still, that’s half an hour of waiting in the cold for your own party.”