Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Seesaw Decision-Making App Helps Ask Friends for Opinions

The other day, I had a meeting with a startup founder at my office. We’d gotten a box of fancy chocolates, and I wasn’t sure which one to eat. So I took pictures of each of them and created a little poll to ask the general public to vote. Then, the other night, I was at Bed Bath & Beyond, and I remembered that my husband needed new razors, but I wasn’t sure if he used Mach 3 or Mach 3 Turbo. I took pictures of the two and sent him a quick note to ask, “which one?”

In both cases, I used the new free iPhone app Seesaw, which launches today. It made it easy to draw up a nicely formatted poll, where other people tapped to vote. For the razors, Seesaw automatically created a Web version of the poll to text to my husband, who didn’t have the app.

On the one hand, it felt like I was totally overdoing it. Am I really so insecure in my own preferences that I need to ask the beta users of an app which chocolate is better? And wouldn’t it be easier to just text my husband?

But, on the other hand, the polls that Seesaw helped me create were simple and pretty, and I got responses quickly in both cases. And, of course, there are lots of reasons other than chocolate and razors that you might want to ask for people’s advice.

Seesaw is particularly notable because of the team behind the app. After having success with the sale of early social media management tool CoTweet to ExactTarget in 2010, the band is back together. Aaron Gotwalt, Jesse Engle and Kyle Sollenberger even brought on many of the same investors: Freestyle Capital, Baseline Ventures and First Round Capital went in for a $1.1 million seed round.

In part because Seesaw’s social network is based on users’ mobile phone contacts, Gotwalt thinks what he’s doing is more than just polls — it’s about decision making with the input of close friends.

Gotwalt said he also thinks that people are likely to use the app when they’re looking to buy something, so it could be viewed as a “real-time intent stream” of possible purchases.

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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