Ah, the power of choice. Browse through your Facebook News Feed or Twitter stream and you’re going to be assaulted with an endless array of links, shared songs, videos, and products. Add a few more topic-specific services, like iTunes Ping to the mix, and you have even more recommended pieces of content to choose from. And then you get a headache.
The latest startup to take the stage at TC Disrupt is Rexly, a service that’s looking to give you the power of content recommendations, minus the overwhelming amount of choice that makes many recommendation engines and social sites so confusing. You can sign up for the site right here.
The company’s founders say that when it comes to discovery, the problem isn’t with the algorithms — it’s with the data itself. The reality is that many people only trust a handful of their friends to make good music, book, or movie suggestions, but most services connect you with way more people than that, often via Facebook Connect. So Rexly takes a different tact: it actually forces you to choose six people whose taste you trust. Try to add a seventh, and you’ll get an error. The list of people you choose is never exposed, so you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, and the net effect is that you have way less noise to deal with.
Every action you take in iTunes, like listening to a song, will create an item in your Rexly stream, and the actions taken by the people you follow will show up as well. The service uses a variety of signals from iTunes, including how many times you listen to albums, to help figure out what you’ll be interested in.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to share all of your listening habits with everyone, as Rexly has a handful of privacy setups. First, if you want the experience to be private, you can share with only with the friends you designate (similar to the way Twitter’s private feeds work). Other people want everything to be broadcast to everyone, and you can do that too. You can also hide certain content from your feed.
The service monetizes through affiliate links (it recommends a song, you buy the song on iTunes or Amazon, and Rexly gets a cut).
The company says that down the line, it intends to expand far beyond music to include movies, books, TV, and more. The service is web-based now, but they’ll be coming to iOS soon with more platform support in the future.
Q: I think the question is, if you can really solve this in a way that iTunes Genius/Ping hasn’t. Then you’ve done something extraordinary. But how are you going to get past, is this something users have to decide how it compares to what they are using elsewhere.
A: You don’t have to stop using other media platforms. Easy to set up. We want to help netflix, we want to be the best iTunes affiliate. We can do something as a third party — cross platform data.
Q: In event Apple launched something deeply integrated, would this stand up?
A: I think they already did. We’re web based and cross platform. And we learned from their launch, looked at what people wanted.
Q: When would I as a user use Rexly instead of Netflix etc?
A:We could either be the place you go to when you have an hour to kill and want to see what to do. Or could be more personalized.