Sunday, October 14, 2012


If you're a smartphone user, you probably like to send texts, take photos, and perhaps shoot a few videos. And you probably have a different app for each of those things, which you might then share to any one of dozens of social networks. It's a lot to keep track of, and can quickly clutter up your phone's real estate.

Pheed, a new social network that launches a web version today with an iPhone app on the way, is attempting to bring all of that piecemeal content creation into one simple platform. On Pheed, you create your own "channel" from which you can share text, photos, videos, voice-notes and audio clips, and live broadcasts. You can get updates from the channels you follow either as it happens, like on Facebook's News Feed, or based on what kind of content it is, such as just photos, or just audio clips.

Cofounder O.D. Kobo and his team cherry-picked their favorite features from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SoundCloud, and other social networks, some of which Kobo says he felt had hit a stalemate, such as Instagram.

"In the past five years I haven’t seen anyone do anything as masterful as them," Kobo tells Fast Company. "But after two years I kept thinking, Why can’t I do more? Why didn’t they introduce video? Why can’t I upload an album? Wouldn't it be interesting if Instagram offered text? Would Twitter have been shaking in their boots a little bit? Maybe it was necessary for other platforms to come about."

Kobo, of course, wants Pheed to be that platform. Celebrities, such as Chris Brown, David Guetta, and Ashley Tisdale, are one way he's trying to attract users. A monetization feature that allows you to charge followers for your content is another.

A channel owner on Pheed can choose to charge for content either through a subscription-based monthly fee or a pay-per-view model, with the latter mostly suited for the live broadcast feature. You get half of the gross revenue you make, and a portion of Pheed's half goes toward third-party processors. That's how it plans on making money, at least initially, though Kobo says down the road it will probably introduce some kind of advertising.

Much as music services like Rdio and video services like Vimeo are beginning to test out different compensation models for content creators, Kobo says it was important to offer at least the option for monetization to users that was about giving people more for their buck than a simple song, or a video.

"That whole model where people pay x amount for a video or song is a bit outdated," he says. "What social media is today is about selling bits and pieces of peoples' lives. It’s not necessarily selling that one song, it’s selling access to me."

After Pheed's app goes live next week, Kobo--whose team of 7 invested their own $2.5 million to launch--says he'll be going for the long tail. He throws out a 10-million user number in discussing critical mass. It's certainly lofty, but Kobo is hoping that Pheed will follow the legacy of the social network upstarts that improved upon their predecessors and won over users in the process.

"The wheel had to come about before the car," he says. "There are stages, like how Friendster came, then MySpace, then Facebook, each one improving on and adding to the format. There was Twitter and now Pheed--the evolution of a genre."

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