Internet Privacy Groups Say Attorney General's Airbnb Subpoena is an Illegal "Fishing Expedition" for Information on Users

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Flickr/Phil Campbell
We can't stop thinking about sleeping in this weird Swedish trailer.
As you're likely aware by now, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is deeply unhappy with Airbnb, which allows you a quick, easy way to sleep in stranger's houses. Earlier this year, Airbnb helped a New York host named Nigel Warren win an appeal against a $2,400 fine from the city for hosting two Russian tourists. In October, Schneiderman's office subpoenaed the San Francisco-based company for data on all its New York users; in a statement to tech site CNET in November, Schneiderman explained that his office hoped to "collaborate" with Airbnb "recover millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, and to stop the abuse of Airbnb's site by operators of illegal hotels."

Instead, the company pushed back, launching a petition drive to try to change New York state law to allow homeowners to rent out their space more easily. On their blog, Airbnb's head of global public policy, David Hantman, vowed not to comply with the subpoena, calling it "unreasonably broad" and a "government-sponsored fishing expedition."

The company is now trying to quash the subpoena in Albany County Supreme Court, and two powerful internet privacy nonprofits have stepped in to help.

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Airbnb Rallies Its User Base Around a Questionable Petition Drive

Categories: NYC Tech Scene

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Flickr/Phil Campbell
This Swedish trailer can be yours for the low, low price of $207 a night.
Early Monday, Airbnb launched a petition drive among its hosts and users to stop New York state's legal offensive against the company. Hoping to hit 20,000 signatures by October 20, one Airbnb host going by the name Mishelle has pledged to hand-deliver the petition to the New York Senate to stop the state Attorney General's office from accessing the private user data of over 15,000 New York City Airbnb hosts.

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New York Just Barely Breaks Top 20 in Startup Investment Per Capita

Categories: NYC Tech Scene

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Photo Credit: ervega via Compfight cc
For all the back-patting going on around here over Silicon Alley's ascendence, you would be excused for thinking that New York finally erased Silicon Valley's lead in rich computer nerds per capita.

Not quite yet, writes Richard Florida, pop geographer and high priest of gentrification-accommodating urban development. Atlantic Cities published his ranking of the top 20 venture capital destinations based on a unique calculation--the amount of VC money and number of VC deals as a proportion of each city's population.

Though other cities are attracting more and more startup companies, it's still a blowout when you compare San Jose and San Francisco to the rest of the country. There are over $216 million and $159 million in funding and 22.6 and 17.2 investment deals per 100,000 people in each city, respectively. (There's no info on the time period during which these investments were made, so the sober academics among us will take this data with a grain--or two--of salt.)

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Hey Techies, Start Your Businesses in New York City. We Promise We're Cool.

Categories: NYC Tech Scene

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Flickr/Rochelle, just rochelle
Reading from the same playbook as Texas Governor Rick Perry, Mayor Bloomberg toured the Bay Area this weekend trying to lure tech investors and young grads back east with promises of good times and pretty girls. As if San Francisco was just one extended sequence of Revenge of the Nerds.

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VIDEO: Do These Zynga Employees Running Between Traffic Lights on Lafayette Have a Death Wish?

Categories: NYC Tech Scene

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A group of Zynga racers in front of the finish...crosswalk.
On my way to work this morning, I came across something rather odd. A little past 11 a.m. at the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker, a group of 50-ish people were setting up a footrace in between two traffic lights. They waited until one light turned red, made the cross-walk at one side their starting line, and ran through a hastily pulled ribbon at the other cross-walk to finish. There were pictures. And applause. And a lot of people standing around going, "What the f*ck?"

It turns out that this was the second annual New York "footrace" for Zynga's mobile employees, during which they traverse a single block. I caught up with racer Alwin Ventura, an associate producer, at the finish line.

"Isn't this kind of dangerous?" I asked. "Oh yeah," he said, wiping the sweat from his brow.


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DateMySchool Expands To 204 More Campuses

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Last November, two Columbia students launched DateMySchool, an online dating service exclusively for college students. Columbia University Business School students Balazs Alexa, 28, and Jean Meyer, 29, came up with the idea for the site when they were discussing the "lack of dateable women" in their male-heavy business school. Alexa's girlfriend piped up, telling them that girls in her social work program had a similar frustration at the lack of males in their classes. The young upstarts realized there was a demand for a new place to cross paths on campus, and DateMySchool was born. Originally the site only served Columbia and NYU students, but it quickly expanded. In the last week, the site has grown to serve 204 new schools. DateMySchool now serves a total of 350 schools and has upwards of 25,000 registered users.

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Press Clips: Jared, Ivanka, and the New York Observer on Gossip Girl (Video)

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Target audiences: they happen.
The New York Observer hits the big time, getting a cameo on Gossip Girl. And who from their editorial staff was there? Gawker gets murked by some Taiwanese guys. Business Insider is making another hire. Speaking of which, Media Party Season has arrived, unless, of course, you work at the Observer! Press Clips, Day 16, Lunch Edition, here we go:

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Your Single-Serving Website of the Day: There's a Startup For That

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Single-serving sites, done correctly, are the dim sum of the internet: the really good ones are hard to find and often look like all the others, but when done correctly, and priceless and wonderful treats. I guess? Anyway, here's the latest, which will assauge your fears that something you don't need at all in your life has been covered by a tech startup, which are seemingly proliferating -- particularly on the East Coast, lately -- like children from Octomom's birth canal.

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Michael Arrington's Asshole Moment of the Week Number Two: Sad Water is Gross

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TechCrunch Disrupt - which is like a G8 conference for people who get evangelical over things like iPhone apps, except the protesters are inside with everyone else - is in New York right now. The person responsible for importing San Fransisco's tech scene to this city for three long, long days, TechCrunch CEO Michael Arrington, who basically invented gadget punditry, has now had his second Asshole Moment of the week.

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Mike Bloomberg Announces Mobile Tech Startup Investment, 'MyCityWay'; Doesn't Tell Arrington to F*ck Off

The mayor made a stop at New York's hottest (read: most..current tech conference right now, TechCrunch Disrupt) a few minutes ago. Here's what we learned:

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