AppRats Can Make You Huge on YouTube–It Hopes…

It’s been a long time since Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer ruled Hollywood and decided on the fates of the legion of stars under their strict command.

Today, of course, it’s a mess out there for talent, as the media landscape continues to fracture into ever tinier bits.

Thus, the curtain rises on AppRats, a start-up out of i/o Ventures that is taking an aggressive approach to helping YouTube’s top 100 celebrities build their fan bases on Facebook.

How aggressive?

AppRats isn’t asking for permission, even from clients.

I met with AppRats’ only two employees, CEO Charlene Kuperstein and CTO Ryan Moriarty, near their new Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters to talk about the market opening they think needs filling.

And, when asked what they were doing exactly, Moriarty–who recently became Dr. Moriarty after finishing a PhD in computer science and cryptography from UCLA–was quick to answer: “We’re hacking Facebook.”

After a recent round of seed funding, led by George Zachary of Charles River Ventures, and joined by the likes of Twitter’s head of Geo-Othman Larakai, AppRats now has another $230,000 with which to be disruptive.

Currently, a YouTube celebrity often interacts with fans using the Google-owned video site’s comments box directly below the video player.

A channel page–such as this one from MysteryGuitarMan–will list all the videos published by the producer’s account, and allow a some customization by the owner.

Fans leave comments, post response videos and follow along with the two to three videos most of YouTube’s top 100 channels post in a week.

AppRats has created FaceBook apps for each of the YouTube 100. They act like YouTube channel pages, but drop them inside Facebook and shake in some soft-core game dynamics.

“We make a branded spot to hang out with your favorite YouTube celebrity. It allows users to rate themselves as fans,” said Moriarty. “They can see how many videos they’ve watched, which ones they’ve missed, and get alerts about when the next video is published.”

Kuperstein said there was a three-week period around Thanksgiving when AppRats was adding 100,000 users a week, or three times its typical traffic, which is usually generated by YouTube celebrities linking to the AppRats Facebook app from elsewhere on the web.

The reason: AppRats started adding posts to a Facebook users’ wall every time they viewed a video.

But would that be essentually spamming all of a user’s friends?

“Exactly. And then Facebook shut that down,” admitted Kuperstein. “Now, we are emailing people whenever a new video from a subscribed channel comes out.”

For all its bravado, a great many questions remain for AppRats’ services, which its founders only seem to regard as a workaround.

That includes a major move into social from YouTube or, more likely, a major video push from Facebook might, overnight, fill in the crack that currently incubates AppRats.

Whether AppRats can hack its way out of these kinds of jams, of course, remains to be seen.


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