Startup News: Ev Williams Hires a Literary Darling and Branch Finally Lets You Bro Out

BaubleBar goes bonkers for Christmas

Mr. Williams. (Photo:

Power Literary Hire: Twitter cofounder Ev Williams’s new publishing tool, Medium, just added an impressive member to its team. Kate Lee, a former literary agent from International Creative Management (ICM), has joined Mr. Williams’s startup as the director of content. Ms. Lee was responsible for plucking several bloggers out of obscurity and giving them book deals. The Observer announced her leave from ICM back in April. In a blog post on the site, Mr. Williams described her job as “encouraging, soliciting, commissioning, and contextualizing interesting ideas, authors, and institutions” and noted that she would be building a small team in New York to help her do that.

Branch Finally Lets You Hang Out With Your Friends: Branch, the social conversations site, just launched a groups feature yesterday. In an email to Betabeat, Branch cofounder Josh Miller described it as “Branch’s equivalent of a Follow button.” The idea was inspired by the conversations that people have at dinner parties, in which smaller groups form to discuss topics that they care about. On Branch, these groups can be added into a conversation. Branch’s example site includes a group featuring Mr. Miller, Medium’s Ev Williams, John Borthwick from Betaworks, Michael Sippey from Twitter and Facebook’s Sam Lessin. These groups have a possibility to create Bloods and Crips-like warfare in tech. Choose sides wisely.

Christmas Swag on a Million: BaubleBar, the discounted jewelry online megastore, is going all out for the holidays. In addition to its Soho pop-up shop The Bar, the company is partnering with nail polish giant Essie and teaming up with Elle magazine for a guided shopping experience. On Cyber Monday, Baublebar will be giving customers a free product for every $40 they spend in what it calls its Cyber Monday Gifting Suite. And the “20 Days of Buried Baubles,” in which 20 style influencers will offer a daily BaubleBar deal to their fans,will begin on the 30th. You’re going to need a new jewelry rack.

Like the Song From Legally Blonde: Peek, the Eric Schmidt- and Jack Dorsey-backed travel site, is launching a new feature called Perfect Days. It allows users to share their ideal 24-hour game plan for a city. Users looking for places to recommend can pull from their Foursquare and Google Places accounts. The site already has some celebrities that have made their own Perfect Days, including designer Tory Burch and prolific tweeter Piers Morgan.

Designers Should Apply to This:  The investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has announced that it’s starting a design fellowship program to help young designers get acclimated to working with startups. The three-month program will pair up designers with some of KPCB’s funded startups like Coursera, Flipboard, Klout, Square and Path. Applications are being accepted now and will be taken until January 31.

Makeup Ladies Go to the Net: Chloe + Isabel, the e-commerce jewelry brand, just announced the launch of its new online platform. Instead of just a regular store, the company is now employing an Avon model for direct sales, through which its users can now sell products to their friends and profit. These users can pull photos from their Instagram accounts to better display their products. Prepare to be spammed by your friend’s hip mom.

Let’s Pretend We’re Rich: Zaarly, the online marketplace for goods and services, has just launched a virtual pop-up shop for Thanksgiving. If you burn the turkey, just hire a local chef to cook the meal for you. Or perhaps you’re not a very good cleaner: just pay someone to do it for you. Hire a fleet of professional help to impress your out-of-town guests and say, “Oh them? They’re here year-round!”

Don’t Forget to Rate, Comment and Subscribe: Rightster, a service that helps content providers maximize revenue from online video, just announced that it has broken into the top 10 of the U.S. comScore YouTube rankings. It now owns around 300 YouTube channels. John Dillon, a former software ad exec at Alcatel Lucent, just joined Rightster as its new vice president of marketing.

A Really Pretty Junk Drawer: If your inbox is maxed out with daily deals and coupons from your favorite stores, then Sift is the new iPad app for you. It sorts your junk emails into a scrollable shopping experience. The YouTube demo is an EDM shopping party. Go nuts.

Companies Love Paying for Mobile: Usablenet, the company that makes mobile sites for big businesses, has just been named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a power list that rates the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Started in 2000, Usablenet claims that its revenues have grown 861 percent in the past four years.

Startup News: Ev Williams Hires a Literary Darling and Branch Finally Lets You Bro Out