Diary.com re-invents diaries for Generation Twitter

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When the history of the Internet is one day written, as it will be, URLs will probably figure high on the list of the jewels Web companies tried to amass, alongside the services themselves. Some of them have been notorious, like Sex.com (wiki entry). But the best are always those that bring something new to the party, not just a memorable address and a dull, predictable application.

Which is why it’s encouraging to see a UK startup take “Diary.com” and turn it into an interesting new kind of lifestyle service which is absolutely not a simple calendar application slapped onto an obvious URL.

One’s first impression of Diary.com is that it has a clean interface, a little like like Twitter. You have a simple entry window where you can plug in status updates, which go into a life stream, just like Twitter. But Diary has taken the “stripped-down” Twitter conceipt and applied it more more of a journaling, diary writing environment. In other words, you can paste in anything you like, from text (not Twitter’s 140 characters but up to 1000 – a good sized paragraph for the ADD generation), or URLs pointing to pictures and videos. The site then sucks in the actual video/picture, to make it appear in your life stream. It’s this aspect which starts to take Diary away from micro-blogging into the realms of private life-streaming and Digital Lifestyle Aggregation.

As TechCrunch wrote last year, DLAs are a new class of startup which are about winning people for years to come. Digital Lifestyle sites help people to assemble their memories (blogs, images, video) and, bluntly, aim to lock them in through the amount of sheer time they’ve invested. In the US, Our Story raised $6 million in VC, and joined Story Of My Life, dandelife and My Family in the sector. Coming out of the UK there is Rememble and Miomi (backed by Brightstation Ventures). However, there remains a problem at the core of these sites which is how to keep users coming back once they’ve uploaded some memories, and keeping their attention. Diaries might just be the way to do it since keeping a diary is a very old and recognisable concept. A “DLA” is not.

Diary is also pulling away from both micro-blogging and DLAs, because while your initial Diary is private you can also create any number of shared diaries with other users. At this point it seems obvious to point out that Diary doesn’t sound too dissimilar from old-fashioned blogging, or perhaps running a Tumblr site. The difference comes in that there are a lot of privacy controls on the diaries, and it’s not really a blogging environment – you don’t input HTML tags for instance. It’s a very mainstream concept and probably plays well into a crowd of people who will never bother to understand blogging, let alone microblogging. However, the apparent simplicity of Diary.com might also make it look too simple.

The Diary guys say that user testing so far suggests that a few significant niches enjoy using the site. Women – traditionally bigger diary keepers than men – are using the site a lot. As are the younger female base of 16-24year old, who are mainly in the US where journaling and “scrapbooking” has a long history. Some 50% of the test user base so far has been from the USA, while 20% are from UK (the rest are from Asia and Russia).

However some of the site’s core features lend themselves not just to broadcasting your diary entries but to instant diary feedback, so some users are scrapbooking observations, links, pictures and videos and then chatting around this as the shared diary opens out into a sort of group discussion. There are users with travel diaries, shopping diaries (interestingly), and even some diaries between lovers – because a Diary.com diary is more secure than email and allows pics/video and conversations between the diary owners.

To an extent Diary.com is closer to Friendfeed than Twitter, but where Friendfeed allows threaded comments on posts and is essentially and aggregator, Diary is designed to be a destination site, not an aggregator.

Diary.com plans to allow the importing of importing a couple of key feeds like flickr and twitter just to store in your private diary but they don’t plan to become a FriendFeed style aggregator, given the commoditisatoin of that space and the privacy issues around diaries.

So, monetisation strategy? Hard to say until Diary captures a use base following this public launch. There’s obviously an attempt to monetise attention here – perhaps there is scope to offer power users premium accounts, advertising, SMS revenue (mobile would be a natural fit), virtual goods (“pimp out” your diary) and affiliate revenue.

Running in stealth mode for some months, Diary.com is a team of which consist of co-founders Keld van Schreven and Peter Brooke (who’s owned the domain since 1996), Richard Taylor (CTO) and Ken Lee. So far Diary has raised £300,000 in angel money, but say they are going out for a modest series A round later this year.

  • http://www.samkidd.com Sam Kidd

    Interesting idea, but is this just another site we signup up for, use for a while before we get bored with it. The amount of my friends now that are not using facebook anymore is growing. People are now getting bored with it.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/27/diarycom-scrapbooking-for-the-twitter-generation/ Diary.com - Scrapbooking For The Twitter Generation?

    […] Read the rest of this entry on Techcrunch UK CrunchBase Information Diary.com Keld van Schreven Peter Brooke Information provided by CrunchBase techcrunch508:http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/27/diarycom-scrapbooking-for-the-twitter-generation/ Next Post Previous Post Leave a ReplyClick here to cancel your reply. […]

  • http://www.payscroll.com Alfred Toh

    Seriously, their blog http://blog.diary.com/ is Powered by Tumblr and wouldn’t Tumblr be their competitor? I would have used their own product for their blog rather than Tumblr.

  • http://tinycrunch.com =jason

    I think diaries will always exist primarily as an offline activity because of the novelty and personality that comes with handwriting. New age diary writers are more into community, sharing things that once prior would be seen as private. Blogging and micro blogging have eclipsed the diary concept and redefined it. Diary.com will do fine, but the lines aren’t established enough as to why you will be writing in a diary online and not in a blog. Couldn’t you have a blog that is your diary? I’m just not sold. Polling on this at tinycrunch.com

    @Mike, when do you get a re-design like the flagship?

  • http://michiel.wordpress.com Michiel van der Blonk

    @Sam, what do you know? You’re a guy! (eh.. or Samantha?)

  • http://michiel.wordpress.com Michiel van der Blonk

    @Jason. A blog? I am amazed. Who would actually want to share their diary? Isn’t it supposed to be private? What’s with all the sharing?

  • angus

    what I want to know is why poor crunch UK didn’t get a lick of paint too.

    poor mike must be feeling all left out :(


  • http://www.dianaraab.wordpress.com Diana Raab


    I never thought I would join the blog world…but I did. It’s interesting and it gives you and excuse to write and puts the pressure on you to get your word out there!

    I am a journaling advocate and you might be interested in reading my memoir, Regina’s CLoset: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal.

    Happy writing!
    Diana Raab
    blog – http://www.dianaraab.wordpress.com

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/10/09/fowa-rocks-london-while-startups-pitch-to-techcrunch/ FOWA rocks London, while startups pitch to TechCrunch

    […] couldn’t find their video pitch but we wrote about it here already. This is a bit like the diary for the Twitter generation. Diary.com has a clean interface, a little […]

  • http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/06/03/invites-to-pleet-like-a-plancast-for-the-near-future/ Invites to Pleet – Like a Plancast for the near future

    […] has been bubbling under for a while but Pleet looks like it’s a sort of reinvention for the startup’s Diary.com app. CrunchBase Information Keld van Schreven Information provided by CrunchBase CrunchBase […]

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