A theme I've seen people getting behind is the idea that 2020 was the start of a new trend in social apps. As someone who spent most of his career building social products and really enjoy using them, it's been something on my mind. I coupled it with a couple other smallish posts and links related to social products I had laying around.

The Tailwinds behind Consumer Social

Most new trends have some help to get them started. In the case of Consumer Social, I feel like there are quite a few tailwinds blowing in the same direction. Some have been discussed others are not so obvious. Here's what I see:

  1. The pandemic has caused not just increased demand to virtually socialize but needs for different levels of social interaction. Zoom is a great example of this. Clubhouse, which came out at the perfect time, is another one. Before the pandemic, the major social apps were used mostly to broadcast your analog social activities. During the pandemic, they've had to supplant that.
  2. The majors aren't cool anymore. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are mature in their development and filled with ads and, in some cases, product bloat. I've always thought of social networks like real estate and gentrification. First the early adopter/tech set moves in, then the cool, hipster fast followers and early influencers, then the celebrities, media, and bigger influencers, then the brands show up and there is a bank on every corner. During this process eventually the early adopters and "cool" kids eventually give up and move to a new neighborhood. Once Facebook bought Instagram, they became a real estate developer. Facebook started out as a cool underground club, but is now a strip mall in Naperville with two Applebees, dollar margs and everyone is drunk. Instagram started as an art gallery and is now a high end shopping district with boutique shops and a few great restaurants and clubs that are hard to get a table at. It happens.
  3. Big Social is under the microscope. It will be more difficult for Facebook and other social platforms to scoop up their competition when the world is mad at them and wants to break them up. If they do break them up it even makes the social world flatter. Couple that with so much liquidity from VC's and SPACs and you don't even need that exit.
  4. 5G and Wearables are going to help expand beyond text. If you haven't noticed, Apple is unbundling the iPhone. Airpods now are a direct audio input and output that you can wear all day. The Watch doesn't even need the phone anymore and is going to get faster and better as a computer over time. Add on some sort of glasses for a HUD and you are living in a video game. When coupled with 5G wireless, real time audio video social technology becomes more possible and Twitch for your life becomes a thing. Big breakthroughs in technology and devices have the potential to usher in a new breed of social products - as mobile did over the past 10-15 years.

Josh Elman on Next Wave of Consumer Social

There's a great post (and podcast) on NFX with Josh Elman who has either invested in, helped grow and scale every large social platform on earth where they discuss this theme of social being back.

Twitter: The Musical

Yesterday I came across an amazing tweet by Dan Hon, who is criminally underfollowed on Twitter. It was about Tik-Tok the biggest new social app to come along in quite some time.

What an amazing thought. I agree 100%.

TikTok has a Twitterness to it. It's not about following your friends. The algorithm matches you to your interests. The content is a bit out there. The posts go viral and have some shelf life but there is a fleeting nature to it all.

What a punch in the gut to Twitter who at one time both had Twitter Music and Vine, and killed them both, when all they needed to do was combine them. I mentioned Social Media as Real Estate earlier, and Twitter hasn't ever been able to see themselves as a Real Estate Developer. Perhaps its cultural in that they were once bricks and stones and had to shift as a company to being a building and its hard to see anything in between.

Two Social Apps I would Love to See Built

Here's a couple social apps that have been bouncing around in my head that I don't have the time to build, but someone should. The names are just placeholders.

  1. Warm Call - Warm Call is simple. It's Chat Roullete but with phone calls around interests, and no way to see a penis. Warm Call lets on the phone with a complete stranger around some shared interest. Download the app, enter your phone number fill out what you want to talk about, when Warm Call finds a match it reaches out and texts you to arrange a time or times, and then calls both of you. You can rate and/or flag people.

    This is such an easy MVP to build on Twilio and was an app I almost built at the beginning of the pandemic myself. Since them Lunchclub has come around and is very much in the same vein - but I see Warm Call as even more lightweight and less network-y.
  2. Daily Take - Daily Take is an app that publishes one talking point or question a day and asks the users to write about it. There could be voting mechanisms and filters based on existing social networks as well as potentially discussions that can happen around that one thing. Daily Take is focused and somewhat not as prone to the serotonin drip of more. While it surely could expand across verticals, it's built on the concept of less is more. The topic of the take itself becomes it's own thing outside of the app. The key to this would be that it is built by a team that knows how to ask great questions and get people talking in a productive manner.

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