Twitter may be synonymous with the term “microblogging” but a new service launching in beta today brings a new chapter for the medium that could just find a niche in today’s distracted, busy world. Checkthis, a site dedicated to letting users create one-off, visually slick blog posts and other kinds of single-purpose web-content, is today announcing several bits of big news: the launch of a public beta, seed funding of $910,000 led by Lerer Ventures, a list of advisors that includes a design honcho from Instagram, and a relocation to New York from Belgium to better tackle the (distracted, busy) market of the U.S.
The list of investors and advisors is a strong one and says a lot about the company’s ambitions: in addition to lead investor Lerer, backers include SV Angel, Index Ventures, Betaworks, Seedcamp and angel investors Taavet Hinrikus (early Skype employee; founder of TransferWise) and GroupMe co-founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci. Among its advisors are Tim Van Damme from Instagram, François de Halleux from Google, and Robin Wauters (formerly of this very blog, and now at The Next Web).
Checkthis is created on the premise that people in today’s world sometimes like to publish more than just throwaway comments on social media sites, but perhaps not frequently enough to start full-fledged blogs to document what they want to say or do. Moreover, sometimes sites like Facebook or Twitter don’t really do the trick when you are looking for something with a bit more weight to it — say for a diatribe on the problem of rude people, or a party invite, or to hawk your car. Checkthis is fast and slick, and it has created several templates to fit different purposes: “tell,” “sell,” “ask,” and “invite.” And as you can see, that means that there is already a kind of potential business model worked into the platform (for example through selling and getting commissions on goods).
Frédéric della Faille, founder and CEO of the company, is charmingly lyrical (and tongue in cheek) when he describes what Checkthis is most close to: ”We feel pretty close to [defunct Yahoo blog site] Geocities,” he told me. “A kind of Tumblr for a new type of post that can be called a poster.” And the phrase that Robin caught when he first covered the site for TC (hopefully before joining as an advisor…) “Between nothing and a blog.”
This is done, Checkthis says, with “no registration, no clutter, no set-up, no ‘save’ button, no sidebar widgets, no theme picking — and with the utmost respect for user privacy.”
There does seem to be a checkthis-sized gap in the market at the moment: “There are numerous ways to quickly share a status update, set up a blog or create your own website, but there remain significant barriers to entry and inherent constraints with most services that checkthis aims to remove,” said della Faille in a separate statement. “Photo sharing on the web was supposed to be a solved problem as well, and then Instagram came along and garnered dozens of millions of users with a beautiful, innovative product that removed a lot of the friction that was still involved. Our goal is to do the same in the social publishing space.” In other words, checkthis wants to become the Instagram of social publishing.
There is a bit of viral interest in the site already: since launching with no marketing in October 2011, the site is seeing the creation of 4,000 pages each month, and at its current size, there are more than 260 pageviews per page on average, the company says.
In addition to helping out with relocation, the new funds will be used to staff up the company and continue developing its platform.