I don’t feel strongly enough yet to turn any of these thoughts into standalone blog posts so instead:
Yo (single note notifications)
- Last week has been less like Yo and more like Whoa as lots of folks had pretty passionate debates about whether this was a new social platform or the dumbest investment ever.
- First, single purpose websites have been around for a long time but now we’re seeing single purpose apps. Both are the result of maturing platforms and increasing number of folks with digital skills. This are good milestones which support experimentation. It means it’s easy enough to develop that eight hours or so is all it takes to build something that can then be distributed/accessed for free by lots of people. This is the way the Internet is supposed to work, no?
- Second, it’s the rise of anthropology over algorithm in social mobile apps. Once basic technology challenges are commoditized, it frees creative people up to more quickly explore human behaviors and reactions. Again, I believe this is a Good Thing. More experimentation, even those which are fads or failures, help spur ideas in other teams. Maybe there’s a piece of Yo which catalyzes a feature in the next version of WhatsApp or Yammer?
- Third, the discussion around its investment potential seem overblown. Yo is not a referendum on the state of tech. Your reaction to it says more about what you want to believe.
Slingshot (Facebook’s temporal messaging product)
- Wow, already out of the Top 100 Free iOS apps. Perhaps Facebook hasn’t turned on its marketing channels yet but I’m surprised reaction has been this weak off the bat. Maybe I shouldn’t be since large percentage of their target market is already addicted to Instagram, Snapchat and other messaging apps.
- Personally I’m enjoying the app – it’s not conversational, it’s not high urgency, it’s not about slinging the perfect shot. My behavior is I send out a photo (usually with some text or drawing) and over the next 12-24 hrs let responses pile up. Then I send another photo and look through the past day. Wide range of shots (some creative, some just to unlock) but to date at least, overall amusing without taking up much time.
- Also think their reaction mode is smart plus their photo shoot UI is a nice simple full screen mode.
Taptalk (social photos app)
- Example of “slow graph” trend. Last two years was “fast graph” -> app bootstrapping via “connect your FB account and autofollow all friends.” Now we’re seeing some social apps back away, especially when relying upon symmetrical permissions.
- With Taptalk you need to (a) add directly using someone’s Taptalk user name or (b) respond to a Taptalk invite sent via email or SMS. There’s also the opportunity to suggest accounts to a friend once you’ve connected to them.
- The result is a smaller graph of higher intent. You can also think of it as an app-specific graph which of course is the holy grail for high engagement. Because mobile apps are tending towards single-purpose push buttons, having a graph which is unique and optimized for your product helps increase differentiation and increase habit IMO.
- Too many people have tried to take on Yelp by looking like Yelp with some slight tweak.
- The Yelp competitor will look more like Hotel Tonight for Local. Based on where I am, what I want and what you know about me, show me only a handful of choices. Make them actionable – eg make reservation, book appointment, preorder a coffee – even if you need to fake it via Turk prior to having APIs.
- People say Foursquare is best positioned to head in this direction. I don’t disagree but their revised app needs to be even simpler than Explore functions today.
- Related: if you’re building something like “Hotel Tonight for Local” and have a compelling approach to getting initial consumer traction, I’d be interested in chatting with you (hunter at homebrew dot co).
Product Hunt (product discussion by product people)
- PH generating increased buzz because (a) filling tech community hole for product-centric discussion, (b) early days of communities are really high signal:noise ratio so everything is supportive, fun, etc, (c) founder Ryan Hoover is relentless participating/community builder and (d) press is writing about how VCs are ‘discovering’ startups there for investment.
- Some are talking about how (d) could be PH’s value/business model but I think that’s likely wrong. In fact, I hope PH takes steps to ensure investor interest/activity on the platform is not the validation for great products. More so than ever there are remarkable products (and businesses) where venture funding isn’t necessarily the appropriate end goal. Our industry often derisively calls these “lifestyle businesses.” To perpetuate the idea that the only products worth discussing are ones which attract VC interest is out of step with the massive entrepreneurial opportunities in the world today. And it’s never been easier to fill the gap between SBA loan and venture funding with crowdfunding, crowdborrowing, etc.