Is there room for another social network? A new startup, Pheed, certainly hopes so.
Pheed is trying to court users of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. And it’s got some powerful friends. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and David Guetta have already signed up for Pheed. Since soft-launching last week, more than a million users have signed up for the new service.
Pheed is the ultimate “mashup” of other sites, says Pheed cofounder and CEO O.D. Kobo. Kobo and his team “cherry-picked” what they liked best of their social media predecessors, and left out what bothered them, creating in Kobo’s opinion something both significant and simple.
The site features a Facebook-inspired “timeline,” trending topics ala Twitter, and the ability to easily incorporate photos, videos, audio and even live broadcasts into posts. Pheed allows users to “rate their channel” marking them as PG-13 or R based on the content you plan to produce. You can even share your “pheeds” back to Facebook, Twitter or any other blog.
More than just social features, Pheed also has a business model by way of an optional paywall.
Pheed’s concept is based on offering premium content. Pheeders have the ability to apply a month subscription fee ($1.99 to $34.99 per month) to their streams or users can charge on a pay-per-view basis ($1.99 to $34.99). Pheed takes 50% the content’s revenue and the user takes the rest.
“The next step up of the [social media] evolution includes monetization to users,” Kobo tells Mashable. “It’s not fair that just platforms make money for content. The content creators need to have a fair playground.”
Kobo says everyone from celebs to high schoolers have something to gain from the premium option. A famous singer or a high schooler in a band, he says, can charge to broadcast a concert from their living room. Even if the high schooler only makes a few hundred bucks, Kobo says, it could mean a lot to them.
The premium content is only an suggestion, not a requirement of the site. It’s something Kobo says he hopes will only take off once Pheed has gained “critical mass.” He thinks charging for content is a huge responsibility which he doesn’t want users to exploit until they’ve really mastered the power Pheed offers.
And when that happens, Kobo hopes that Pheed will be the answer to the Internet’s white noise. The need for a content filter is what drove Kobo’s startup, he says, believing that if money becomes a part of the process, there is a better chance to increase the quality of information coming through social media streams.
The site has gained about a million users since its soft launch last week and with the app dropping later this week, it is poised to draw in a big crowd in the days to come.
Kobo says mobile advertising will also be another focus of attention for revenue.
“Our business model is based on the long tail,” Kobo says. “We don’t want to be like other platforms that get to 15 million/20 million users and then go round and round looking for money to raise.”
Will This Work
Although charging for access to a network isn’t unheard of — App.net requires users to pay in order to use the service (though non-users can browse the global content and individual user feeds for free). Vimeo is preparing to launch features that will allow its Vimeo Pro creators to charge for access to video content.
Still, paying to watch a video is very different from paying to read a status update or to see an Instagram photo. Will users be willing to pay to access basic social feeds?
Though Kobo believes premium content means elevated content, he forgets that lots of free content is already above par. Payment may simply decrease, instead of increase, access to what’s already high quality. Pheed’s premium channels could backfire, expanding the reach of the lower quality, free pheeds and create a class war of social media. “Elite” pheeds versus the visions of Facebook and Twitter — making people and information more open and connected and less controlled.
Moreover, the service lacks originality and innovation on many fronts. By compiling the services of other social media companies, Pheed offers very little new and creative and could hinder the chances of users splurging on premiums.
So you tell us, are you excited about Pheed and the concept of monetized social media? Answer in the comments below.
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