Affinity Networks, a company incubated in LA’s accelerator Amplify, is debuting today as a network of mobile apps where users can connect and socially engage around niche topics (i.e. geeks, moms etc).
The company was co-founded by Jeff Solomon (who also runs Amplify along with Paul Bricault) and Charles Chase, who both previously founded Leads360 (now called Velocify) in 2004. Amplify has put $200,000 into Affinity, we’re told.
As Solomon explains, he sees Affinity has tying people together by their similar identities (I’m a “Geek”, “Mom”, “Entrepreneur”, “Musician”, “Christian”, etc.). The company has built a number of mobile communities using chat, featured content and other engagement tools. It’s simple in nature (and almost a little Ning-like in its ambitions) but engagement has been impressive.
Affinity has 6 owned apps (Geek, Mom, Bible, Recovery, Hunger Games Fans, Bitcoin). Across the apps, the company has seen 150,000-plus downloads, with 40,000 MAU and 150,000 messages per day. Within the app, there are 50,000 active discussions, with the average usage per user per day at 30 minutes. Around 80 to 100 messages are sent per user per day.
The big play, says Solomon, is to develop a real-time “interest graph” based on what people are interacting with now. This could then be used towards more targeted advertising (the company is also testing ads, which are performing well).
And Affinity wants to help create custom white-label apps for existing communities, and third parties. The idea is not to be a destination or a single app that is trying to create the latest “hook”, but rather a network.
As Solomon explains, Affinity is creating the modern network of forums. Of course, with the scale of forums brings concerns and challenges like moderation, abuse and much more. The question is whether we need more modern day, mobile forums?