TechCrunch first covered KickApps in July 2006. I had the opportunity to speak with CEO Alex Blum this week. Blum was previously President and COO of JumpTV and before that Vice President of Product Marketing for AOL.
KickApps’ numbers aren’t as impressive as Nings. KickApps powers over 3000 social networking sites compared to Nings 67,000+, yet Blum believes that KickApp’s offering is a superior platform.
The overall KickApps experience is thorough. Nothing obvious is left out. White label sites have a full choice of 13 features; profiles, guest books, video and feeds are some of the options. The backend is simple to use and smart at the same time. The moderation of videos option doesn’t just present the uploaded video; numerous screenshots are automatically generated to immediately give a reviewer a good idea of what is contained in each video.
Widget/ embedding support is extensive and delivered complete with DNS masked domain; users never link to KickApps itself, the specific domain is always presented in the embedding code. It’s a small thing but one that defines KickApps in comparison to Ning.
KickApps also offers an open API and developer kit. Blum told me that whilst most sites simply use the features offered, a number of high level users have implemented the API on their sites, delivering a custom solution.
KickApps comes in two flavors and the difference between the two only comes down to advertising. Free users get full range of functionality with KickApps taking a part of each site for advertising. This doesn’t prevent free users from advertising themselves, simply a portion of each site must include a KickApps ads. The paid version is perhaps remarkably not sold on a licensed basis, KickApps charges a CPM rate per site served, meaning that less successful sites pay a lower rate. Blum believes that this model is fairer in that sites pay proportionality to their success, and therefore everyone wins; it therefore becomes in KickApps best interest to offer the best possible platform and experience to maximise revenue.
Overall it’s a great offering. Strictly from a publishers view point the ability to keep your own domain on top of the white label service is compelling, and the feature set is remarkably easy to use and set up. The company has numerous existing deals and will officially announce a tie up with Vibe Magazine today. Given what I’ve seen I have little doubt that despite the competition KickApps will go from strength to strength, it’s a white label social networking platform that delivers.