Rick Marini, who co-founded Tickle.com, the quiz site that Monster.com acquired for $100 million in 2004 and later abandoned, is back with SuperFan. The site, which went live this week, is a social network where people can join the fan pages of various celebrities, bands, sports teams and other pop culture icons and compete to win control of their favorites.
SuperFan has two notable things going for it: the integration of game mechanics directly into the site, and a solid team behind the scenes. The company’s board includes proven names such as Rapture’s Sean Fanning, WonderHill’s James Currier and social gaming application guru Blake Commagere. Plus, all of SuperFan’s employees came from Tickle. As for the site itself, it incorporates game mechanics and quizzes –- Tickle’s stickiest feature -– to both monetize it and augment the amount of time people spend on it, something fan pages on Facebook and MySpace don’t do.
On SuperFan, people set up a profile and then select from a variety fan pages of celebrities, TV shows or other pop culture items to designate as their “Faves.” As people build up a collection of “Faves,” they can make quizzes, blog or play games related to them. It also offers people the chance to compete to become a “SuperFan.” They do so by buying “credits,” a virtual currency that can be bid to control a fan page and add content to it (it costs $1 to buy 1,000 credits.) For example, if you’re a big Britney Spears fan, you can bid credits against other fans to control the page dedicated to her. If you win and are crowned the “SuperFan,” you have the ability edit the page, deciding, for example, which profile picture of Britney it should run.
“Bringing gaming to social media has been more successful than any of us would have thought,” said Marini of the decision to employ such a model. “If you can get users really engaged (in a game), to the point that it’s competitive and ego-driven, people are willing to pay for that.” Indeed, social gaming companies such as Zynga and Playfish have enjoyed lucrative success on Facebook and MySpace.
It remains to be seen, however, whether SuperFan can draw people away from MySpace and Facebook to its site. But with MySpace floundering to get its act together, it’s a perfect time for a new competitor to enter the social network ring.