Last week as I browsed the TechCrunch50 DemoPit I stumbled across a startup called Moonit that offered to “uncover why you hang with your friends, hate your boss, and have the hots for that special someone.” Intrigued, I asked one of the site’s founders to give me a demo. She asked me for my name, date of birth, and Email, then entered her own information. Voilà! We had a 73% compatibility rating, along with a page of text detailing why we would be good co-workers.
At first I was perplexed — clearly the site had done some analysis of our social graphs to generate these results. But I hadn’t entered my credentials for Facebook Connect, and it didn’t seem like it was looking at my Twitter or LinkedIn accounts either. Eyebrows raised, I asked the founder for an explanation. Moonit’s secret? The “science” of astrology. Here’s how the site explains it:
“Moonit is a social compatibility tool that is rooted in astrological and psychological underpinnings. We use thousands of years of data from the stars to help determine whether two people are compatible from a romantic, platonic and professional perspective. Then we track your relationships to help you learn from them over time so that you never make the same mistake twice, kinda like a virtual relationship therapist. We know you could probably figure out if you’re compatible with someone after a few interactions, but we can save you some of that time so you can spend it doing fun things instead.”
Now, let me be perfectly clear: I don’t pay attention to horoscopes at all, and think astrology has about as much basis in science as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I would never use these tests for anything other than my own amusement. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people out there who do play close attention to this stuff — to discount it entirely simply because it’s based on what many would call a pseudoscience or superstition would be to miss a significant market opportunity. And even if you believe that they’re totally bogus, the tests can still be entertaining.
Moonit’s core functionality stems from its compatibility tests, which include exams for personal relationships, friendships, or professional compatibility. I’m not going to get into the astrology behind them since I don’t understand it in the slightest, but Moonit does feature things like Facebook Connect and Twitter integration, so you can easily pull in your friend lists and syndicate your results. There’s also a section that saves your past results, which you can track over time.
Aside from these compatibility tests, it seems like the site is placing a heavy emphasis on catering to a young crowd that’s interested in relationship advice and celebrity gossip. Moonit offers a blog called ‘The Stars’ that includes recent celebrity news and another called ‘The Couch’ where you can ask the Moonit community a question (most of which seem to be related to personal advice and dating issues).
Moonit could easily crash and burn over the next few months — there are countless other astrology-related sites on the web, and it’s sort of difficult to prove that Moonit’s algorithms are more accurate than its competitors’ given that they’re all based on celestial bodies. That said, Moonit does look nice, and it doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously — if it can figure out the right mix of astrology and pop culture, I could see it gaining some traction in the teen and young adult crowd.