The company appears to be pursuing growth over immediate revenue streams, such as the lucrative delivery of SMS notifications and the ability to ‘white-label’ the service with a company, group or organization’s own branding and features. It’s into this latter category that products such as laconi.ca and Folkstr as well as startups like Shout’Em are entering.
The Croatian Shout’Em recently received €350’000 in seed funding to further develop its service, a tool to ‘roll your own microblogging networks. This essentially allows you to host and operate your own Twitter-like communites. I was prepared to be skeptical about a Twitter-clone, but have been pleasantly surprised by how sophisticated and powerful the Shout’Em user experience actually is.
A VC recently told me that startups offering white-label options are generally a sign of an inability to capture a broad consumer audience along with the associated value and volume. However, there’s a place for non-venture funded startups to offer good quality services to thousands rather than millions of customers.
Upon joining the service, users can operate multiple microblogging networks, picking a subdomain of shoutem.com for each and adding from a bunch of a la carte features such as file-sharing, photo-sharing, privacy levels, restricting membership by domain and even choosing feature sets modeled around Twitter and Pownce as templates. More adventurous users can tinker directly with CSS and template designs to bring in their own branding.
Premium services starting at around $10/month allow networks to use private domains, increased storage and bandwidth, inline advertising to generate modest revenue. Upcoming features include SMS notification, Facebook/GoogleTalk integration and an Android application.
It’s an impressive application, rolling up many features offered by Twitter add-ons into an integrated, brandable service. There’s certainly a modest demand for private Twitter-y networks. However, like Ning – the ‘roll your own social network’ platform – it remains to be seen whether white-label microblogging platforms are viable against their large consumer counterparts.