The Future of the Feed, the Read, and the Reader
This week brought Google’s long-feared announcement that it will euthanize Google Reader, which will cease July 1. Some are interpreting the move as a death knell for RSS. And indeed, where RSS (and Atom) used to be the only widely-used, machine-readable feed infrastructure for Internet content, we now live in a world marked by new ways to discover new articles, posts, and updates to read, most notably social feeds powered by networks like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
But Google Reader, both the API and the user-facing web site, are just tools for using the underlying technology of RSS. And we at betaworks do not agree — one bit — that RSS as a technology is dead, or even dying. Rather, we think RSS is evolving, nudged by the explosion of social networks and social feeds. We think there are lots of useful products and valuable companies yet to be built in this space.
More generally, we believe that reading as an activity still matters: the display and delivery may change (from paper to big screens to small screens and tablets, from human carriers to wires to wireless), but reading remains one of the most wonderful parts of civilization. We’ve bet on reading in the past and we’re going to keep making those bets.
In the area of RSS, in particular, we’re doubling down, but in ways that we think are different from traditional “RSS Readers.” Our biggest commitment is Bloglovin’, one of our studio companies. Bloglovin’ is a beautiful and simple web-based blog (RSS) reader — that helps you follow the blogs you read by letting you know when they update. Their audience is broad, with over 2 million accounts and a particular strength in women’s lifestyle and fashion. In response to the Google announcement, bloglovin’ released a single-click importer to give users a seamless way to move all of their feeds and favorite blogs to bloglovin’.
We are also investors in Superfeedr, a real-time publish-and-subscribe service. Superfeedr aggregates and publishes RSS feeds, saving publishers money and allowing users to get information even faster. We’re also investors in IFTTT, which connects services — including RSS feeds — through “recipes” that users can create and share.
Last, we already have a wonderful reading experience at Digg. Over the next few months, Digg will build and launch a reading experience that takes the best parts of Google Reader — its simplicity, speed, ease of use, and embedded social and sharing functions — and moves them forward with new features and options that help users organize and distill the often vast and overwhelming social network feeds that they wrestle with daily. Digg is actively seeking input as it builds its reader, so head over and let your voice be heard.
Google Reader may be going away. But readers — people like you — are here to stay.
Announcing: Done Not Done
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Done Not Done today - the iPhone and web app that helps you find and do things you’ll love. With this product, our goal is to help you see more great movies, read better books, and listen to more interesting music — with your friends.
The easiest way to get started is to download the iPhone app or visit the site — and find your friends. Once you add a few people, you’ll start getting ideas of things to do and you can either add them to your Not Done list or mark them as Done along with a rating, to help guide your friends. The more you use it, the better the product gets for you and your friends.
Over time, we’ll add new verbs (play, eat, visit) and look for smarter ways to bring in existing data from services to make things a whole lot easier for you. Our promise is once you’ve told us the things you want to do, we’ll do everything in our power to make it easier to do those things.
Done Not Done was built in partnership with our friends at Fictive Kin, and is one of several exciting products we plan to announce in the coming months.
Happy New Year!
Here’s some news to kick off the year from the betaworks network.
Keen On… John Borthwick-Why The Facebook-Instagram Deal Is The Most Important Tech Event Of 2012:
With Funding For Svbtle, Dustin Curtis Wants To Build A Business In Long-Form Online Content:
Just.me helps your phone become truly social:
Bitly Launches Social Data APIs For Real-Time Search, Attention Spikes, And Deeper Looks At URLs:
12 weeks later it feels like Digg is coming back:
Jon Steinberg discussed Digg on Bloomberg:
Branch has announced their groups page, forums-for today’s internet:
Layervault announces Dropbox and GitHub integration:
Teleported raises $1M to continue work on Instagram analytics platform:
Collabfinder, a platform to find someone to work with you on your next big project, has launched:
Bloglovin’ launches its iPhone app. In less than one month they have 150k daily users:
Livestar 2.0 has been released, check it out:
Given the holidays are coming up, nice to see The Pope is using Tweetdeck. Looking forward to him using Bitly:
betaworks is thankful for…
The holiday season has begun. Turkeys are being stuffed, potatoes are being mashed, and the team at betaworks is thankful for the great month we’ve had. Here are some of our standout fall successes:
betaworks has launched Swirl, a new iPhone app that automatically creates albums from your Instagram & Twitter networks.
betaworks has launched Tapestry, a collection of tappable stories for your iPhone or iPad.
Pickie raises $1M.
RebelMouse Raises $2.5M.
17 year old founder creates Summly, one of our new seed investments.
We hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
seed investments update
We spend our time at betaworks in three areas. Structured as a company, rather than a fund, we’re afforded the flexibility to build, to invest, and to buy. Most of our time is spent building new products at the studio and scaling our existing core companies. This is why we identify first and foremost as makers, builders, and operators. So far, 2012 has been an insanely active year for us at betaworks. We have launched new products like Tapestry and Swirl, acquired and re-launched Digg, acquired a significant stake in bloglovin’, and closed more seed investments than any year in our history.
As John outlined in a blog post over two years ago, we do seed investments in order to create an ecosystem of founders and companies that share our vision for the future of the real-time social internet. In betaworking for almost five years now, we’ve made almost 100 investments in the category and have seen a tremendous amount of value emerge in the network that we’ve built.
We believe that the real-time social web represents a massive change in the way companies will be built and operate, and the way in which people interact and communicate with one another. We continue to be fascinated by products that are social, data-driven and design oriented, as well as extraordinary entrepreneurs that have the guts and commitment to build something big and different and often times terrifying.
In 2012, we’re on pace to be our most active yet, having already made 20 new investments (several not yet public) in early-stage companies. We pride ourselves on being “first money in,” making investments in entrepreneurs with very early betas (or alphas) because it’s at this stage where we think we have the most to add. We understand this awkward period in a company’s lifecycle because we do it ourselves all the time, building and breaking products that are every bit as experimental as the companies and entrepreneurs we invest in.
The year is not over yet. In the next few months, we’ll have a few new things to announce that we think you’ll love. So stay tuned, more soon.
betaworks launches swirl
Today we are excited to announce the official launch of swirl, the new iPhone app from betaworks that automatically creates albums from your Instagram & Twitter networks.
Several apps are trying to solve the problem of group photo sharing. Some require one person to create a set and invite friends to join, while others attempt to guess which photos are related and auto-create sets for you. swirl simply creates a photo set from a shared hashtag among your friends.
When you log in with your Instagram and Twitter accounts, swirl will index everyone you follow on those networks, and place all hashtagged photos into sets called ‘swirls.’
We also love the everyday events we see tagged. The designer swissmiss tags her 2-year-old’s tantrums with #itshardbeingtwo, while Dennis Crowley tracks his most caloric meals with #fatdenny. Tech Ethnographer Tricia Wang tags an ongoing set of her dog’s balancing acts with #stuffonelleshead.
You can try swirl’s public web view, which is a great way to browse photo sets. Far more fun though is seeing the personal sets swirl creates for you and your friends on the mobile app. Download the swirl app to check them out.
betaworks launches tapestry
Today, betaworks launches tapestry: a collection of tappable stories for your iPhone or iPad.
With tapestry, we’ve created a way to write and publish essays designed for the iPhone or iPad — tappable stories. These are short-form stories that you tap through to read. After downloading the app, you’ll gain access to the library of short stories designed specifically for tapestry from New York Times best-selling author Robin Sloan and many others, with new stories released regularly.
The tapestry site allows anyone to create and share their own tappable stories. If you go to tapestry.is you can create an account and write a story. Once your story is ready to be published, you get a URL which you can send or tweet to others that will insert your essay right into their version of the tapestry app. Periodically, we’ll look for interesting tapestry stories to feature in the app.
Download the app and tap a story today.
October update from Betaworks
The season has changed and the weather is cooler but the world of betaworks has never been busier. Check out what’s been happening:
How Digg was saved in 6 weeks:
Digg Ipad app has been released:
Layervault aspires to become a designer’s best friend:
Rap Genius closes a $15M funding round:
Livestar launches at Disrupt:
Branch is embedded for the first time on NYtimes.com:
Betaworks also had Eli Pariser, chief executive of Upworthy, discusses the “filter bubble” and the work they are doing at Upworthy. Check out his brown bag video:
Digg is hiring. Check out their job postings here: