Hashable, a New York startup in private beta, wants to create and facilitate introductions and interactions. But CEO Michael Yavonditte sees a much more ambitious future for the venture as a way to encourage more real world engagement, measure social relationships and create a decentralized social network that operates on multiple existing platforms. It might also retire the business card.
Yavonditte, who sold contextual ad network Quigo to AOL for $340 million, believes it’s this focus on relationships that will separate it from other social networks and broadcasting platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s unclear how Yavonditte will build a viable business (he isn’t discussing the business model yet), but I think Hashable has a chance to take our relationships to the next level. We’re already flooded with data and connections, and the next generation of social media will need to create better rankings and filtering within our collection of relationships, giving them more context, relevance and value.
Hashable currently works via Twitter, e-mail and through the Hashable.com website, allowing people to make introductions to each other. A Twitter user, for example can introduce two people by mentioning them in a tweet along with Hashable and including an #intro hashtag. The more people you introduce, the more HashCred points you get and the higher your ranking is on the Hashable leaderboard. The process works similarly on e-mail or through the website and gives the two people being introduced a way to see personal information about each other on an “ice breaker” page. Yavonditte said this creates an easy and incentivized way to bring people together. It can also simplify personal exchanges of information that usually occur with the trading of business cards. Android and iPhone apps are also expected to be launched in the next month, creating what Yavonditte believes will be a kind of decentralized social network that can be accessed from any number of devices and platforms. The introductions are listed publicly by default in an activity stream, though they can be made private at any time.
The site isn’t simply aimed at fostering introductions, which would put it on a collision course with LinkedIn and other introduction startups like Sumazi and Namesake; it’s meant to record interactions over time. As people meet up in person or over the phone, they can post that connection to Hashable, which documents the interaction between two people. It’s sort of like Facebook’s Friendship pages that catalog your history of interactions with a friend, but it’s meant to encourage and reward more engagement. The more you interact with people, the higher they rise on your list of strongest connections. That allows people to measure the intensity of their relationships with people, and allows others to see how strong your ties are to certain folk, helping others in your network understand who they might want to know.
Hashable will need to build a solid audience outside its current base of entrepreneurs in California and New York, many of whom are buzzing about the service, which comes out of beta in December. Users will have to get used to the idea of broadcasting their connections and interactions, but as we’re seeing with Foursquare, Blippy and DailyBooth, many are already moving down that path. If it’s successful, Hashable can help people better understand, manage and capitalize on their relationships.
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