Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

PlayModi: “It’s Like Hot or Not Meets SurveyMonkey”

A former Google product manager and designer this week launched PlayModi, a new Web site that helps users create sets of items and encourages people to rate them.

So, for example, PlayModi users can vote on a list of Airbnb’s top 40 rentals. They can either like an item or skip it as they go through the list. Then the selections with the most votes are tabulated and ranked.

PlayModi users can also create new sets based on images or text uploaded directly or transferred from sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Then they could share these sets with their friends or a broader audience.

PlayModi is kind of like “Hot or Not meets SurveyMonkey,” is how co-founder and CEO Greg Hochmuth explained it.

At Google, Hochmuth had worked on a variety of products, including ads, Toolbar and Chrome. Meanwhile, his co-founder, Shaun Modi, seems to have had an outsized impact, despite spending just a short time at Google. Even after Modi left the company, his former coworkers have been quick to credit him for key parts of the Google+ design.

Hochmuth and Modi left Google earlier this year, and had worked on a few commerce ideas before settling on PlayModi, Hochmuth said. The two raised angel funding from a German investor.

The PlayModi concept sounds terribly simple — and it is. So what’s the big picture? “The big picture is helping you discover and be inspired and getting a lot of data in a very easy and playful way that doesn’t feel like work,” Hochmuth said.

That perspective is similar to Amen, an app I wrote about last week, which asks users to submit simple declarative statements about the best and the worst things in any category.

The creators of both services told me that by asking users for small and engaging bits of participation, they think they can collect a byproduct of a massive, interesting data set. (It’s kind of the inverse approach of Top10, a user-generated list-making service that also launched this week.)

PlayModi’s additional twist is that it puts a lot of emphasis on making content easily embeddable and shareable — without requiring new visitors to log in to participate — so that it can spread more easily, Hochmuth said.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald