Branch founder Josh Miller will be joining technology studio Betaworks in the newly created position of part-time venture partner, CEO John Borthwick announced in a blog post today. There he will “be focused on working with seed-stage companies in New York,” according to Borthwick, who told us by email that the position was created to help source startups for either investment or acquisition.
Miller, in case you forgot, is the guy who successfully “negged” Facebook. As founder of Branch Media, he had written a few critical words about Facebook before, you know, being acquired by Facebook. But he’s also widely regarded as a pretty awesome and thoughtful product guy, which is no doubt part of the appeal for Betaworks.
In a phone conversation today, Miller said that he decided to take the position because he wanted to give back to the New York startup community as thanks for all the help he got in building Branch. He said he was especially grateful for the guidance that was given to him by folks like Meetup’s Scott Heiferman and Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti as he first started building and prototyping the Branch product.
Miller said that he already spends a lot of time meeting with other New York City-based entrepreneurs, and offering the same sort of advice and guidance as they build their products. The new role will merely provide another way that he can be of service, by connecting them with possible funding or help from Betaworks.
Betaworks, which bills itself as “a company of builders,” is a technology studio and investment firm that finds, builds, and invests in a wide range of interesting products. It’s home to products that include Digg, Instapaper, Dots, Bitly, and Chartbeat — some of which it acquired, some of which were built in-house.
Betaworks also makes investments in other companies in the New York ecosystem, which is how Borthwick and Miller came to know one another. Branch was one of the companies that Betaworks had invested in, and it even spent several months working out of Betaworks.
That investment itself has an interesting backstory: Miller says Borthwick had somehow caught wind of an early build and tried to reach out via Facebook message — but since they weren’t already connected, it disappeared into his “other” inbox. It wasn’t until weeks later, after Borthwick had participated in one of the earliest Branches, that the two were able to connect. Luckily, it was around the same time that Miller was raising a seed round.
While Miller wants to identify the next round of interesting entrepreneurs in New York, he says he’s not setting out to become your typical VC. He remembers how distracting fund raising was while he was doing it, and hopes to help them navigate the process. And Betaworks will give him the opportunity to do that.
“I just owe so much to the NYC community,” he said. “I’m so indebted to them and I want to pay it forward.”