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New Austin app Desti uses TikTok-like videos to get you on dates


It’s not too late for some summer loving. A new dating app called Desti has launched in Austin and it aims to help singles explore the city.

The app works by having people build a profile and then select three different “desties,” which are places or activities that the user wants to go to. That way, when you’re swiping, you’re replying about a potential outing rather than simply liking a person.

COO Nick Dominguez said the app came about by brainstorming with founder John Taylor about some of the problems with the dating apps already available. The team brought on one of the designers at Hinge who explained the roadblock for getting virtual matches to meet in person.

“She said, imagine a woman in the middle of a room surrounded by 200 guys at the same time. They all come up to her and say, ‘Hey, what's up? How are you?’” Dominguez said. “200 strangers at once trying to have small talk with you, it turns into white noise. So we were like, how can we change that user experience?”

The answer to that is by making something that can appeal to the next generation. Dominguez talked about witnessing social media being repositioned for its audiences like with Myspace’s popularity transitioning to Facebook then to Instagram. With TikTok gaining traction as a way to discover and see reviews of places over other modes like Yelp, an interface that’s heavy on video made sense.

“We know short-form video is the future. It's just what people expect,” Dominguez said. “Every other dating app is more or less the same as far as the mechanism of showing people here's everyone around you, swipe through. For us, it starts with a destination, with where you want to go. So it is a completely different orientation of a dating app than anything else that exists.”

The team also sees their differences from the others in the opportunity they have to monetize, though they declined to disclose what that model will look like. Still, they say they’re prepared to scale quickly. Over the weekend, Desti had a launch party at the Belmont and is considering which markets they’ll enter next.

And it’s not just dating. If you’re looking to make new friends around Austin, this app could help. Using Besti mode, people can plan meetups with other users. Forming bonds outside of dating is an idea the team liked, particularly for a city like Austin that’s drawn in many transplants.

It’s features like this that make the team excited for the future of the app.

“Desti is poised to not just be a dating app,” Dominguez said. “The name is really about destinations. That's the center of our value proposition is around that short-form content. So we'll definitely lean into that quite a bit.”


Brutally honest ACL lineup review
Ismael Quintanilla III /

There are only two logical reasons for you to click on an article about Austin City Limits one week before the annual festival makes its grand return to Zilker Park: You’re either psyching yourself up for another whirlwind weekend, or you want to justify your decision for not snagging tickets.

Luckily, there’s something in this article for both parties.

This year’s ACL lineup delivers several heavy-hitting triumphs along with a few puzzling inclusions. One praiseworthy feature that immediately sticks out: There’s at least one woman occupying the top line of each day on the festival poster, and two on Friday (The Chicks, SZA) and Sunday (Kacey Musgraves and Paramore) apiece. It might not seem like much, but in an era where music festival lineups are still overwhelmingly male (and white), it’s a notable gesture that hopefully signals even greater diversity in future bookings.

Female headliners are also supplying the bulk of the star power this year. C3 Presents had their work cut out for them matching last year’s megawatt George Strait headlining performance, but they rose to the occasion with the savvy booking of the Chicks, who haven’t played a proper Austin show since 2016 at the Germania Insurance Amphitheater (they also dropped by the Moody Theater in 2018 to perform at Mack, Jack & McConaughey’s annual gala). And with Musgraves returning just three years after her last Zilker Park romp (admittedly a strange move), ACL further shores up its identity as a top-draw festival that’s more country-friendly than many of its contemporaries — this is the Lone Star State, after all.

Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of a solid rock lineup, which feels increasingly like an afterthought at ACL. Don’t get it twisted: Paramore are poised to make a triumphant ACL debut, and with a new song, “This Is Why,” out this week and an album of the same name coming in February (their first since 2017’s After Laughter), they’re a no-brainer booking. But it’s harder to get excited about their Sunday night counterparts, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Sure, the veteran funk-punks recently reunited with classic-era guitarist John Frusciante and will be promoting two new albums, April’s Unlimited Love and the brand-new Return of the Dream Canteen, out Oct. 14. But the band headlined ACL just five years ago, and in a year featuring mammoth tours and residencies from Rage Against the Machine, My Chemical Romance, Elton John and Aerosmith (not to mention the Strokes, who just finished supporting RHCP on their U.S. stadium tour), the booking feels particularly uninspired.

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8 Austin people make the Forbes 400 list

Thai Lee co-founded technology services company SHI International in 1989.

The new list is out from Forbes. Here are the Austin, or in some cases, Austin-ish, people on it:

1. Elon Musk, $251B, technology (various locations, primarily Austin)
16. Michael Dell, $50B, technology
86. Robert Smith, $8B, private equity (Vista Equity located here but he may reside in Florida)
99. Joe Gebbia, $7.6B, Airbnb
202. Tito Beveridge, $5B, beverages
234. Joe Liemandt, $4.5B, software
252. Thai Lee, $4.2B, IT
369. John Paul DeJoria, $2.9B, hair care, beverages

Click here to read the complete list on Forbes.