Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

TheIceBreak Gamifies Romantic Relationships

The Web is rife with dating sites, and in fact a team of early YouTubers was planning to add another one to the mix — they called it Pickv. But late last year the team seized on a different project: What comes after dating sites.

And so today they are launching TheIceBreak as a personal improvement site for couples — think of it as the equivalent of Mint or RunKeeper for relationships. (And you can use it even if you didn’t meet your partner on a dating site.)

TheIceBreak co-founders Christina Brodbeck and Dwipal Desai have read up on theories of relationships and enlisted the help of a couples therapist to design their service.

Here’s how it works: TheIceBreak asks one or both members of a couple to answer a daily icebreaker question about their partner or relationship, as well as capture a moment, like a photo of a smile. Once a week the service pings users to answer a survey about their relationship to be compiled into a stats report about how things are going and how they compare to other couples.

Participation on TheIceBreak is entirely private and/or anonymous, which could inhibit its growth, though the site does include hooks for users to share their relationship moments and accomplishments to Facebook and Twitter.

Brodbeck and Desai, who were a very early designer and engineer at YouTube, respectively, have funded TheIceBreak themselves and work out of the Founders Den in San Francisco. They’re letting anyone who signs up into their beta trial now and said they plan to launch mobile apps in the next few weeks.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work