When Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone stepped away to relaunch Obvious Corp. it was still unclear what they were going to do with their new venture. Now, we’re getting a sense of their ambitions as they announce their first partnership with Lift, a startup founded by entrepreneurs Tony Stubblebine and Jon Crosby, which is looking to encourage human potential through positive reinforcement.
Obvious Corp., which originally incubated Twitter, said it will partner with Lift and assist with strategy, design, funding, and recruiting, and will take an equity stake in return. It’s part of larger three-pronged approach for Obvious, which will build its own ideas, fund others and partner with some startups. It’s unclear how much Obvious is providing Lift in funding, but Lift will be known as an Obvious Company.
So what is Lift exactly? Though details are few, ReadWriteWeb took a look at a predecessor called Mibbles, which now directs people to Lift. The older site allowed people to share their accomplishments toward a public goal and let friends and others express their encouragement through a +1. For example, a user might share in the #health group that he or she ran for 20 minutes. The goals are grouped together and are listed in a news feed.
Stubblebine said he first worked with Crosby ten years ago, and they’ve collectively worked at Songbird, EngineYard, Crowdvine and Path before reuniting on Lift. Stubblebine said he’s known Obvious’ Williams, Stone and Jason Goldman, another Twitter guy, for six years since he worked with two of them at Twitter’s predecessor Odeo. He said there is “something crazy special forming” at Obvious.
We’ll have to see if that pans out. But it appears Obvious is looking not only to build its own ideas, but also partner with some interesting startups it can fund and assist using the talents of its team. It makes sense that they would look for more social startups that can benefit from all the work they’ve done at Twitter. Earlier, Stone wrote on the Obvious site that the company defined success with three ingredients: positive impact, happiness, and financial reward. He said the company wants to build products that benefit individuals, organizations, and society.
It appears Lift has the potential to fulfill that mission statement if it can really get people to achieve personal goals. Using social reinforcement is a great way to do that, and something people are already leveraging. It’s unclear if Lift has anywhere near the potential of Twitter, but at least it has some heavyweight backing to ensure it gets off to a good start. Now, we’ll have to see if Lift can not only encourage people to reach their own goals, but meet some of its own, as well. Lift is in limited private alpha, and those interested can sign up for a chance at early access here.