Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Caterina Fake’s Findery Launches Mobile App for Stories About Places

It would only be natural for a location startup to have a smartphone app, right? But Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake’s new company Findery didn’t have one. Until now.

Photo courtesy of Robert Scoble

Findery, which Fake describes as a collection of “stories about places,” is releasing an iOS app today — a year and a half after launching its website — but only in Australia.

The Findery app will help users find stories that have been geotagged to where they’re located, zip themselves around the world to explore another place, and follow favorite writers for their latest posts. Users can also create their own stories.

Findery (which was formerly called Pinwheel) is not some master aggregator of location-based stories; it is explicitly a repository of notes added by individual people.

If it works well, the Findery app will interrupt users with notifications for delightful tidbits of information about the backstory, history, trivia and personal stories associated with nearby places.

Findery sorts through posts — and people’s reactions to them — to give them a measure of “notability,” parallel to Flickr’s “interestingness” filter for finding captivating photos, Fake said. “We probably have hundreds of ‘hello world’ and ‘asdfasdf’ posts, but you won’t see those,” she explained.

There’s no Findery Android app yet, but there is a mobile Web version.

Fake said today that she didn’t want to release Findery as a mobile app until the service had a critical mass of content, out of concern that the so-called “empty restaurant syndrome” would take effect, where people assume that a place sucks because nobody is in it at that moment.

Fake is a proponent of growing online communities slowly and organically. It’s an odd thing in this age of network effects and viral growth. But Fake can afford to wait a year and a half to get enough content to launch a mobile app, because her track record as a successful Internet entrepreneur has earned her the patience of investors who gave her $9.5 million in seed and Series A funding (they include Redpoint Ventures, True Ventures and Betaworks).

The app went live today in Australia as a sort of beta release. If all goes well, it will be released to the rest of the world in the coming weeks or months, Fake said.

“Is it counterintuitive for us to wait this long to do our mobile app? Yes!” Fake said. “It’s like being 11 months pregnant. I’m a Web person. My credo has always been release early and release often.”


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