Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Everyme Offers a Mobile-First Version of Group Social Networking

One of the potential big remaining social opportunities is to create a social network around the contacts in our mobile phone book. It would be intimate and respectful of privacy, and it would probably look like a cross between texting and a social news feed. This might be something a mobile OS does itself — say, as a better version of Apple’s iMessage, or built into Facebook’s phone project.

Or, it might come from a start-up. After all, the best mobile app for photo sharing is apparently worth $1 billion.

On that note, Everyme today launches its iPhone app. Everyme is built around circles of friends. Yeah, circles — like Google+. But not exactly. Everyme’s circles are small private groups of people where each member knows who else is in the group, what the group name is, and can change a large group cover photo, a la Facebook Timeline.

Members of the group don’t have to use the iPhone app; they can also get emails or text messages.

To help users get started creating circles and finding things to talk about, Everyme has come up with some interesting tricks. For instance, if you plug in your Facebook credentials, the app will find people you’re already grouped with there because you went to high school or worked together, or live in the same place. Then it will cross-reference them with your mobile address book and create “Magic Groups” that you can decide to use if you choose.

And then, within a group, Everyme will track people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and tell the rest of the group when something interesting happens to them. The app calls these “Magic Stories,” and they’re kind of like private conversation starters. So when you post that you’ve gotten a new job on LinkedIn, for example, your family could discuss it in your Everyme family circle.

This “magical” stuff is cool, but it may be disconcerting for some users. Everyme asks for a bucketload of privacy permissions to access user data before users can even get started, and then it’s not necessarily clear why these magical things are happening.

Everyme CEO Oliver Cameron explained the inspiration behind his app in an email. He said:

The concept of friending on social networks is a very flawed one. What I shared a year ago is vastly different to what I share today, yet every one of my friends can see everything I’ve ever posted. The moment I accept a friend request from someone who is somewhat different to my current group of friends, my sharing from that point on changes (for the worse). I can no longer be myself. I like metal music and tattoos, but that will never be shared on Facebook now.

(By the way, this is a topic I’ve been harping on for a while now. Here’s a “more than friending” story I wrote last May.)

Everyme raised $1.5 million in seed funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, CrunchFund, Tencent, SV Angel, Y Combinator, Dave Morin, Joshua Schachter and Vivi Nevo.

I’ve also recently written about a competitor called Kibits, and a two-person version called Pair.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik