Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twittering Inferno: “Holy Crap. This Is an Actual Fire”

Nat Turner, the co-founder of Philadelphia-based ad-tech start-up Invite Media, was in a fire Thursday night. How do we know? Because he broadcast the experience via Twitter and documented it on Flickr.

To get this out of the way: Turner says he and everyone else who was in his office, near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia’s Center City district, is OK. So the story, which kicks off just before 9 p.m., has a happy ending.

8:55pm “Fire at the office. Holy f–k.”

9:01 “Electrical fire.”

9:06 “Everyone’s ok. Smoke everywhere.”

9:15 “Holy crap. This is an actual fire. The piano store next to us is fully engulfed in smoke. Dozens of firetrucks. Crowd gathering.”

9:18 “They just broke down all of the windows.”

9:50 “They just broke the floor down. Flames everywhere. 17th and chestnut. I really hope they play my 911 call.”

10:57 “Can’t go back in the building. Everyones ok. Our floor may have lucked out.”

The upshot, Turner writes via email: “The first floor is gone. We are on the 3rd.”

There’s more documentation now up at Turner’s Flickr stream, which seems to indicate that he and his co-workers didn’t spend much time in the building while it was ablaze. So that’s good. But one of these days, one of these “I’m Twittering live from the scene of something hair-raising or worse” incidents isn’t going to end well. Glad this one did.

Turner, by the way, got his undergrad degree from Penn last year. And his company, funded by First Round Capital and Genacast Ventures, is doing some interesting work with ad exchanges–much headier stuff then your prototypcial Web 2.0 start-up. They’ve been more or less in stealth mode up until now, but that may be harder to pull off in the future.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald