Keith Teare, co-founder of TechCrunch and partner at incubator Archimedes Labs, isn’t thinking small when it comes to his new project Just.me — he says that it’s “asking and answering the question of what would happen if the phone was upgraded to be truly social.”
The app hasn’t launched yet, but Teare previewed it today at the South by Southwest Startup Accelerator, and I got a few more details from him afterward. Right now, he says that if you want to share something from your phone, you have to open a different app depending on whether you want to share a text update, a photo, or a video, and depending on who you want to share it with.
Teare’s goal is for users to open Just.me whenever they want to capture a moment, and then to share that content with whoever they want, on multiple social networks. You tap a button to create a “message” on Just.me, and that message can be a photo, a video, an audio recording, or plain text. Then you can keep it completely private, share it with a limited group of people, or post it publicly (in the last case, you can also post it to Facebook or Twitter).
The ultimate result should be a fairly comprehensive record of your life, some of which has been shared, some of which is just for yourself. It’s similar to the Google Circles model of sharing, except with the option to keep things completely private, and designed specifically for the mobile experience. (I also know people who use Path as their “default” social app, sharing everything with a close circle on Path and then deciding what’s worth pushing more broadly on other apps — but on Path itself, everything is shared with the same group of people, without the solo option or the ability pick-and-choose recipients).
It looks easy to create collaborative threads or albums — once someone shares a message with you, say a photo at an event, you could respond with photos of your own. At the same time, you retain control over every message you create, so you can stop sharing it with someone whenever you want — if I created a thread with a coworker and they left TechCrunch, I can hide that content from them.
Just.me also implements some of the ideas that Teare has been presenting in guest columns at TechCrunch, specifically that “the address book was stolen by web 2.0,” and that the smartphone creates the possibility for users to take back control. So you share Just.me messages using your address book (for example, you could email them a link to a video), but that contact information is never uploaded onto Just.me’s servers.
As for the business model, Just.me will be including brands in the mix — users can add brands to their address book, thereby enabling private offers; and brands can also push public messages into the update stream.
Just.me plans to release its apps later this year. It has raised funding from Khosla Ventures, SV Angel, Google Ventures, True Ventures, Betaworks, CrunchFund (which is of course tied up with TechCrunch in several ways, including the fact that our parent company AOL is an investor), and individuals including Don Dodge and Michael Parekh.