Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Jumping into funding

The same night, a short walk uptown from the Seaport is a world (well, neighborhood) that's a throwback from Chinatown in the 50's. Laundry strung across the balconies stiffened in the brisk April wind and I couldn't imagine the dingy brownstones with restaurant wholesalers below having a lot of high-speed access. If you go as far north as the Manhattan Bridge you'll see a Blue Awing with White Letters, which is as much the name of da joint as it is a description of where you're going. Inside this former chop shop (or body shop) were rows of banquettes and clear acrylic table-cubes with white Styrofoam inside. Blue lighting and three video games were projections to full-wall dimensions. Upstairs in a red-lit room is where guests could sit and play, still being serviced by a waitress who rode an electric lift to get drink orders and fill them at the bar below. Tips spiraled around in an acrylic air chamber.
The first person I saw was David Corales of HereandNow.net, who was telling me how Jumpcut handled all their production needs for some of their recent work. He also relayed how big DragBall.com has gotten and that Oberlin College students really get into the festivities with classes on how to dress in drag and everything! He introduced me to Shirley Petchprapa, who did the web design for HereAndNow and also works at MTVi as a designer. Seated quietly across from us was Ernabel Demillo of Fox 5 News and a friend.
Then Marc Scarpa, CEO of Jumpcut, and his posse arrived, doling out small pieces of candy, redeemable as drink tokens. The cause celebre? A major investment infusion came through of course! I spent some quality time with Shawn Gold (of Raremedium fame and now with WhatsHotNow.com) and Mark Tribe of Rhizome.org fame. Dennis Adamo (Vision.com) was there amidst the ambient lounge surroundings. Melissa Blau (Constellation Ventures) and Stephen Krupa (Psilos) redeemed their pieces of candy for some margaritas. Tim Nye and John Morisano of Sunshine Amalgamedia spoke in hushed tones about bandwidth issues while Jean-Francois Formela of Atlas Ventures boasted of his firm's aspirations. I spoke briefly with Belgian Antoine Debouverie of EVS Broadcast Equipment who assured me he'll find some muscles from Brussles to contribute to my newsletter! Oolala! Huddled in one corner was Michael Diamante and some friends. Cecilia Pagkalinawan of Boutique Y3K was playing the role of gracious hostess, as was Marc, who introduced me to Ray Stewart, director of technology for Jumpcut and video game extraordinaire! The games were in full-action now and the hip-hop-lounge music was filling the vast room as people mingled and mused, congratulating Marc and the Jumpcut crew on their recent success.