Founders Club, MC Hammer take over SNL studios

Nicholas Carlson · 11/07/07 01:00PM

Digital media types here in New York are always looking for a reason to celebrate their own achievements. A couple of months ago, a few of them began calling themselves the Founders Club and decided to start holding mixers around town. Last night, NBC hosted the latest in the series on the set of Saturday Night Live. Who showed? Mostly wantrepreneurs looking for a VC teat to suckle, of course. But I also ran into Digg CEO Jay Adelson, pictured above; a definitely not-pictured angel Ron Conway, who dodged my camera; a Facebook "founder"; and MC Hammer.

Auren Hoffman's fine whine

Megan McCarthy · 09/28/07 03:35PM

In vino veritas, the college kids say. But Auren Hoffman doesn't think there's much truth in wine. The entrepreneur rails against the practice of collecting and drinking wine in a recent blog post, going so far to call it — well, we'll just let him speak for himself:

Can Auren Hoffman's reputation get any worse?

Tim Faulkner · 09/18/07 03:28PM

Silver-tongued entrepreneur Auren Hoffman was able to extinguish a growing wave of criticism directed at his people-search company Rapleaf with a single blog post. He promised to mend his ways and bring fixes to Rapleaf's privacy practices. We didn't have much faith in Rapleaf's reform — Hoffman's post was mostly rhetoric, little change. A week later, Hoffman has gone out of his way to prove our doubts by partnering with MerchantCircle. MerchantCircle, of course, is the local merchant directory we've criticized before. Of course, Rapleaf and MerchantCircle are in some ways a perfect match.

Auren Hoffman's cynical ploy to set your profile "free"

Tim Faulkner · 09/06/07 04:11PM

Rapleaf is bragging that founder Auren Hoffman is an early signer of the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web. That blustering broadside, authored by Plaxo's Joseph Smarr, Macromedia founder Marc Canter, videoblogger Robert Scoble, and TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, wants to set your online profiles and friends lists, trapped on sites like Facebook, free. The central tenet of the Bill? That individual users retain "ownership of their own personal information" and that users have the "freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites." Which could come in handy as people begin to question Rapleaf's scraping of profile data from social networks — data these networks claim to own and have exclusive rights to.

The rap on Rapleaf, the "trust meter" you can't trust

Tim Faulkner · 09/06/07 02:42PM

Auren Hoffman, networker extraordinaire, hardly flies under the Silicon Valley radar. But his latest venture, Rapleaf, backed by Facebook investor Peter Thiel and launched more than a year ago, has managed to do so. Until recently. So what is Rapleaf, exactly, and why are people buzzing about it now? Hard to say — no, really. Launched as a "trust meter," a way to quantify people's business ethics — like eBay's buyer and seller ratings, but independent of any one site — Rapleaf's value proposition and stated goals have taken several perplexing twists and turns. And as with Hoffman's party patter, Rapleaf's premise is initially alluring, but leaves you feeling slightly nauseated.

MerchantCircle provides a circle jerk for local businesses

Tim Faulkner · 08/20/07 12:17PM

The first rule of Valleywag: Never pitch Valleywag. But sometimes the temptation just proves too great. In response to a post about Google and Yelp's rivalry in local search, a MerchantCircle employee contacted us to tout the company's supposed leadership in the market, pitching the site for some Valleywag love. Well, here's some tough love. We've looked into MerchantCircle's business model .. and found nothing but self-love.