I am excited to announce that betaworks is participating in the seed round of Yo. I wanted to share a few thoughts on how I see Yo fitting into the ecosystem of services on, and beyond, phones.
Over the past year, year and a half, we at betaworks have become increasingly interested in the notification layer of the phone. This is a natural evolution and companion to our work and thinking about homescreens. It is also a critical part of the emerging mobile ecosystem. As operating systems are now starting to allow richer interactions via notifications it’s becoming the primary layer of navigation on your phone. And non-operating system owners — app developers like betaworks — are working on ways to reach our users in more useful and more contextually relevant ways.
Over the past year we have seen a handful of apps that function exclusively in the notifications layer — i.e., the content lives in the the notification, the content is the notification. At the end of May, Matt Hartman invited Or Arbel, the co-founder of Yo, to visit betaworks, and we started using the Yo app. Since then Yo has become part of our communications flow at betaworks and in my life. We Yo with co-workers alerting them that a meeting is starting, I Yo with my wife as a hi during a busy day. I Yo with friends, without any more expectation or need than a Yo back. I get Yo’s from services that I am interested in tracking without having to download their apps.
We are fascinated by these uses of simple yes/no on/off communications tools. There is no payload in Yo — no pictures, no text, just a deceptively simple on/off state that over time has the potential to become a platform. As the notification layer becomes the primary interface of alert-based information on your phone — as the OS’s allow navigation and controls in those alerts — there will emerge a new class of applications that mediate this layer for web sites, other apps and connected hardware.
Some examples. Last week Jake launched the kickstarter for Electric Objects, EO1. As of today he has close to $500k of pre-orders for the device. Now, I want a Yo account to change the picture on our EO alpha unit. We connected Digg and Product Hunt to Yo for fun. You can try URL schemes on your phone by clicking, if you have Yo installed:
Yo://PRODUCTHUNTED (alerts you when there are more than 100 votes on a Product Hunt)
Yo://DIGG (alerts you when there are more than 5,000 Diggs on a story) and this morning I got a Yo card, yo figure.
Web sites and services aside, as the number of devices connected to your phone increases, the need for simple, on/off communication with those devices becomes important. Yo can provide a simple interface for those actions. A while back betaworks invested in a wonderful company called IFTTT. At the time it seemed like a simple switching protocol between web API’s; since then Linden and his team have built IFTTT into an amazing platform controlling, managing actions across web, mobile and IOT devices. Yo’s IFTTT page begins to expose the power of both the switching platform, IFTTT and a simple on/off switch, like Yo.
Today Yo has 2,000+ developers who have started working w/ the API and over 2m installs of the app. It’s a new class of apps as I outline above. And as always betaworks is excited and ready to take a plunge into a fundamentally new mobile expression and join the seed round of funding in Yo.