Could the world now be ready?
In 2009, along with a group of bright, energetic team members, I founded a startup called Grabbit. in a nutshell:
Grabbit created a new web services platform, for social media publishing and subscribing, real-time content consumption, and highly targeted social shopping. The Grabbit Social Commerce system matches content, people, and the products, services, and brands they want, all based on recommendations from both Grabbit and from the people in their social networks. “As much as 25% of retail e-commerce is based on automated recommendations such as Amazon’s “Recommended for you” offers.” (Gartner Group)
Grabbit’s analysis of users, content, and content consumption results in very timely and highly personalized product, service, and donation recommendations. Grabbit starts by analyzing content items using keyword analysis, tag analysis, and semantic analysis and embeds matching social commerce offers in that content. Grabbit’s optional social tools add the ability to analyze profiles, behaviors, and preferences of users and their friends to increase the ability to the match offers and recommendations to content and people.
In short, the beauty of the service is this: collect all of your streams (email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email accounts…), SAVE them all from inception (they are “yours” after all), back them up, and efficiently be able to sort and search across all of them. Like Google Desktop, but sequestered to your own files, not hidden files like many people were suspect of with Google Desktop and other services like it.
Grabbit™ aims to become the leader in real-time stream management and in the monetization of real-time streams. Grabbit has developed a rich “stream browser” that helps with tasks such as stream aggregation, content filtering, friend management, and more, making it compelling for people to use Grabbit as their primary real-time stream. Grabbit gives users access to personalized streams from Twitter, Facebook, news, blogs, email and other content sources any place, anytime. Grabbit runs on smart phones (iPhone, Palm Pre, Android), the web, and TV to provide an integrated multi-platform system that allows people to view, send/receive, and manage ongoing real-time updates and alerts across a wide range of social networks, information, media, and commerce.
Grabbit leverages the high level of user attention and interaction given to real-time streams by offering vendors and service providers the ability to make highly targeted and personalized offers directly to consumers using Grabbit’s revolutionary new Real-Time Direct Marketing™ and e-commerce system. The profit potential is enormous.
Grabbit leverages the major new trend of people spending significantly more of their attention on real-time online streams of short or summarized information.
More and more information from the web is being streamed to users in real-time. Twitter is credited with igniting the shift from browsing relatively static web pages full of information to browsing a real-time stream of short snippets of information, shared among a social network of friends. Now many other web services, including Facebook, Google, and AOL are jumping on the bandwagon by offering real-time streams of information to their users. The value of such companies is high, with FriendFeed recently selling to Facebook for approximately $50 Million.
But, more than just social networks are delivering real-time streams of information. The move to smart phones such as the iPhone has created a bumper crop of applications that deliver summarized real-time information that is well-suited for the small form factor of smart phones. Some of the many examples of these smart phone apps on the iPhone are iPhone mail, Google News, Bloomberg News, and many e-commerce smart phone micro-sites such as Amazon’s.
The massive popularity of receiving and sending small amounts of information is indicative of today’s “short attention span society” in which there is more competition for an individual’s attention than ever before. Delivering summarized information in real-time streams helps people cope with the massive amounts of information available, and the resultant information overload. The real-time nature of streaming services offers an immediacy that is appealing and attention-grabbing. For many people, real-time streams are the “new” news.
But the popularity of these real-time streaming message services has created some new problems: keeping track of all of these real-time streams, and keeping track of friends and associates on various social and business networks. It’s inconvenient to have to check all these streams individually, for example, logging into Twitter or using a Twitter app to participate in the Twitter stream, and then having to do the same for Facebook, AOL, Plaxo, LinkedIn, etc. It’s also difficult to keep track of and manage various friends who may be on one or more of these various social networks or other online services. Furthermore, all the messages create a lot of “noise” and it is difficult to find and focus on what is most interesting and important.
Despite the enormous popularity of Twitter, it has had trouble developing a viable business model. Other similar services face the same problem. There is both a real need and a major opportunity for a new system that can effectively monetize the attention of people browsing real-time streams of information.
Grabbit solves these problems, and more. For the user it aggregates all of their social network streams into a single stream, the Grabbit Stream. Other services such as FriendFeed provide limited solutions, but Grabbit takes real-time stream management to a new level with its rich “stream browser.” Grabbit not only consolidates many different types of streams, but also helps users with tasks such as managing alerts, messages, friends, and subscriptions. Grabbit gives users the ability to add many different types of real-time streams, updates, and alerts – e.g. email alerts, news alerts, blog alerts, alarms and reminders, shopping alerts, and more – across a broad range of social networks, information, media, and commerce.
Because aggregating all of that information into a single stream could create its own information overload, Grabbit lets users instantly filter their streams in a variety of ways to focus on specific information or people. Grabbit also gives users a powerful set of tools for managing friends, contacts, and groups of friends and other contacts, across a wide variety of social and business networks.
For marketers, Grabbit offers a new platform for real-time direct marketing and e-commerce that is highly targeted and personalized. Grabbit leverages the specific interests of each individual user based on detailed analysis of the content within their stream and their friend’s streams, behavioral analysis, and explicit information users provide in their profile and on other areas of Grabbit. Ongoing interests that are actively subscribed to and viewed in a user’s stream are more powerful for targeting active buyers, and more effective in generating impulse buys, than the more passive and unpredictable interest levels represented by search engine marketing or other types of advertising.
By aggregating a comprehensive array of information sources into a single, manageable stream, and delivering a unified service across phone, web, and TV platforms, Grabbit provides more value to users than its competitors. Grabbit profits from this value exchange via its innovative real-time direct marketing and e-commerce system, a major revenue source that other social messaging services lack.
Grabbit’s system connects buyers and sellers in real-time, allows users to purchase items immediately with a single click, and eliminates significant inefficiencies inherent in traditional advertising. Grabbit offers a large inventory of products and services directly to users through its extensive affiliate/partner network. In addition, Grabbit features a self-service vendor interface (similar in concept to Google Adwords) that lets anyone offer products or services directly to consumers. Grabbit provides direct payment methods via credit card, PayPal, and phone billing, thus allowing sellers to close and complete sales, and maximize the potential for impulse buying. The efficiencies of Grabbit’s system provides benefits to both consumers and marketers, and maximizes Grabbit’s revenue and profit potential. Annual revenue from this type of service could be in the $100M to $1B range.
Grabbit Service: Grabbit is a free service available on smart-phones, the web, and TV that provides consumers with a powerful new type of browser for real-time streams of information and a set of tools and utilities for managing content, alerts, and networks of friends and associates.
Grabbit helps users send and receive real-time messages and updates to and from people in any of their social networks, as well as receive and forward updates from a wide range of information sources including:
- Social networks: Grabbit imports friends and aggregates updates from Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc., and lets users manage both their updates and friends
- Email: users can get alerts when they receive new mail, and can filter alerts by sender or keywords
- News: Grabbit provides a “personalized news stand” where users can discover and subscribe to a large number of news sources from major news outlets to special interest news, and filter news by keywords, news sources, etc.
- RSS/Atom feeds: Grabbit users can subscribe to any RSS or Atom feed, get a summary delivered to the user’s Grabbit stream, and then link to the full content
- Blog updates: Grabbit can notify users when a favorite blog has a new post, and provide a summary
- Alarms/Reminders: users can program alarms and reminders to appear in their Grabbit stream at specified times
- Shopping alerts: users can get notifications from eBay about auctions, from Craigslist about new posts, and about products and services they are interested in buying from other Grabbit partners
- Grabbit Deals: users can subscribe to particular categories of deals and offers from Grabbit’s partners
Grabbit is designed to be multi-platform and available anywhere, any time, on your phone, the web, or TV. Grabbit will be offered in the following formats:
- Smart phones: an application for smart phones, initially the iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android. Other phones will be supported via a dynamic web interface for the phone’s browser
- Web site: the Grabbit web site will provide the easiest way for users to perform advanced tasks such as creating filters for feeds and emails, importing contacts, organizing friends into groups, etc.
- Grabbit stream web widget: allows users to place their customized Grabbit stream on almost any website
- Grabbit deals web widget: Allows users to place a widget on any web page to offer deals from the Grabbit real-time direct marketing system based on specific keywords, meta tags, or content related to that page
- TV: Designed to work on gaming platforms such as Wii, Xbox, and PS3. Eventually a version for set-top boxes will be developed as that market develops
Grabbit Discovery Center: The GrabbitDiscoveryCenter is a real-time personalized portal that helps its users discover other users, new real-time content, and real-time commerce. Accordingly, the DiscoveryCenter is composed of three main sections, the People Finder, News Finder, and Deal Finder. Each user’s DiscoveryCenter is a personalized micro-content portal, drawn from editorially-selected items most closely matched to each user’s interests. This matching is based on the user’s viewing history, online usage, profile, and metadata, as well as a friend recommendation system that draws on data such as analysis of other user’s social networks, content usage, reputations, marketing responses, and system interaction. Whereas existing portals focus on web content, Grabbit specializes in helping display, organize, and recommend friends, and real-time streams of content and commerce.
Grabbit Real-Time Direct Marketing and E-commerce: Grabbit’s powerful revenue engine is a sophisticated platform for real-time direct marketing and e-commerce based on a number of technologies including a distributed data repository code-named the “Deals Database.” The Grabbit Real-Time Direct Marketing system makes offers to users based on detailed profiling, content analysis, behavioral analysis, and other metrics. Offers are provided to users in a compelling yet unobtrusive, soft-sell, opt-in manner that doesn’t clutter up or otherwise interfere with the user’s Grabbit experience.
Grabbit’s Real-Time Direct Marketing system uses this advanced content and behavior analysis to provide a very high degree of targeting, which is used to present users with marketing messages, special deals, e-coupons, and other e-commerce offers that are precisely targeted to that individual’s current interests. Users who register a payment method with Grabbit (e.g. credit card, PayPal, phone billing, etc.) will be able to purchase items directly from the Grabbit application on their phone, on the web, or from their TV.
Fred Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer: Fred has a long string of publishing and technology successes. Fred was on the founding teams of a number of startups including Wired, CNET and Ask Jeeves. Prior to that Fred was a top executive at Ziff-Davis Publishing where he served as editor of PC Magazine, PC Week, MacUser, and A+, as well as running and leading the industry-leading product testing laboratories at those publications. Fred has been named one of the most influential people in the industry by several publications in both the U.S. and Japan, and is listed in Who’s Who in America.
Lisa Padilla, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer: Lisa has been helping businesses like Apple, Intuit, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Datek, Clorox, Levis and Drugstore.com reach consumer customers and partners with effective marketing campaigns for over 15 years. She has led product launches and corporate marketing for companies in technology, financial services, entertainment, travel, sports, news, gaming and other industries. Lisa’s strategic and hands-on experience offers specialization in advertising, search marketing, social media strategy, micro-media and channel marketing. Lisa is also the host of Lisacast.com.
Danilo Black, Development Partner: Grabbit is working with the world-renowned design and development group, Danilo Black. In its 20-year history in media, Danilo Black has helped many major news organizations successfully convert their print brands into digital hubs. Roger Black has designed many of the publications you are familiar with today such as Newsweek, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Readers Digest, and many major web sites such as MSNBC.com and Discovery.com. Danilo Black brings considerable expertise and development p rocess helping us deliver a world-class product design and user experience.
Grabbit presently resides on Github, awaiting it’s next development and distribution partners. If you are interested in getting involved, in management, fund raising, engineering or as a partner or customer, please contact us.