Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

New Web Start-Ups Want to Help Your Offline Social Life

If you’re in New York City or San Francisco, you’ve got some new social options. An upcoming crop of Web start-ups want to help you find new friends and do new things.

In New York, there’s Grouper, which matches two groups (usually of opposite genders) of three friends to get drinks or dinner. And in San Francisco, there’s, which organizes group events like wine tastings and cooking classes.

Both companies are more on the social engineering side of a tech company than the engineering engineering side, though they’re working to develop systems for scheduling logistics and personality matching.

Grouper and — which have each facilitated only about 100 events — say they’re more appealing to retailers than Groupon and the like. Rather than tempting users with a deep discount, they ask would-be socializers to pay normal prices upfront.

Grouper, which is a two-month-old two-man start-up, says it’s already profitable. (It’s not to be confused with the last tech start-up named Grouper, which did online video and sold to Sony in 2006.)

Meanwhile,, which launched in May, says it’s about to close a round of angel funding. The San Francisco-based company has a four-person team led by brothers Dan and Jeff Morin, who are two-time Y Combinator founders but still looking for their first big hit.

The Morins think their secret sauce will be facilitation and follow-up, so they’re training community members to lead events and putting an emphasis on helping attendees keep in contact with each other.

At this point, it’s murky whether these approaches can scale into larger businesses. Elsewhere, an alternative like is much more generic, and the somewhat similar Table For Six is all about dating. There’s also some other early stage competition, like Grubwithus and Spoondate.

Further reading: “How Big is the ‘Social Discovery’ Opportunity?

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus