Color seems like one of those ideas that would be pretty rad if 1 million people already used it. Because no one has the app yet, if you fire it up it's totally blank. You take a picture of yourself, post it, then the rest of the UI is whitespace. There's nothing to look at or do. It's possibly the worst first-run user experience I've ever seen.
I wonder if the Color engineers were always using the app together and always seeing each other's photos. If that's the case the UI was always full of stuff to look at, and they probably demoed it to journalists like this as well. Did they ever actually see the app as an empty slate like everyone will see it the first time they use it? My guess is: no.
They should at least think about expanding the 100 ft proximity to town size until it gains some traction.
The best launch scenario for them would have been SXSW .. instead, all the group messaging apps got the limelight and these guys seem to have missed that boat ..
Also, what's the privacy aspect of this app?! I could think of a few concerns.. e.g. someone's photos popping up when the user doesn't intend to be seen at a particular place ..
Even if 1 million people used Color, I could those users concentrated in a few cities. Not only does the app require a vibrant, heavily active user-base that's willing to sacrifice their privacy, but it seems only useful in areas where the population density is relatively high. A 100 foot radius is an extremely limited area.
Furthermore, what's the point of seeing other people's pictures? I find very little "social" value in the realm of location sharing. I, for one, would not approach anybody that I see in my stream. Even in Twitter, I use location based services little to never. What am I missing out on?
Someone please tell me that I am wrong, but the success of Color requires far too many assumptions and is riding on a trivial purpose. I don't see how it deserves $41 million in funding... Color would work as a novel Facebook feature but, on its own, seems pointless.
For my own startup-wannabe, I had to pivot because of the same problem: the app would only be useful if millions of people were using it, the way it was originally conceived.
"All of your contacts are presented in a list of thumbnails ordered by how strong your connection is to that user. Whenever Color detects that you’re physically near another user (in other words, that you’re hanging out), your bond on the app gets a little stronger. So when you fire up the app and jump to your list of contacts, you’ll probably see your close friends and family members listed first. But if you don’t see a friend for a long time, they’ll gradually flow down the list, and eventually their photos will fade from color to black-and-white.
...If you fired up Color in that restaurant example from earlier, you’d only be able to see photos that had been taken by friends and strangers within 100 feet of that restaurant. That is, unless you jump to your social connections. Tap on your best friend’s profile photo, and you’ll then be able to see all of the photos that have recently been taken within 100 feet of them. In other words, Color is trying to give you a way to see everything that’s going on around you, and everything that’s going on around the people you care about."
"Color is also making use of every phone sensor it can access. The application was demoed to me in the basement of Color’s office — where there was no cell signal or GPS reception. But the app still managed to work normally, automatically placing the people who were sitting around me in the same group. It does this using a variety of tricks: it uses the camera to check for lighting conditions, and even uses the phone’s microphone to ‘listen’ to the ambient surroundings. If two phones are capturing similar audio, then they’re probably close to each other."
I don't understand it from neither a sharer, or a browsers perspective.
Although it might be hard on the battery, getting a push notification whenever I approached a hub of activity would also be very intriguing. (As long as it isn't the shirtless greeter at Abercrombie & Fitch.)
I've lived in the same country all my life, and I still discover new, interesting things in it.
(On another note, people who snap photos in restaurants should be punched in the face.)
The underlying technology sounds like it could be useful for everyone from Facebook to the FBI, but the service itself has more buzzwords than users in my area, and I don't see too many reasons why that state of affairs should change dramatically...
Answer: probably not enough to warrant a $41m investment.
Why are they restricting it to time? Given such a focused physical proximity, seeing what people were doing where you're standing a year ago might be interesting.
Too bad startups aren't checklists to tick off.
That photo is now public to anyone within around 100 feet of the place it was taken. So if anyone else in the restaurant fires up Color, they’ll see the photograph listed in a stream alongside other photos that have recently been taken in the vicinity.'
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when it comes to photo sharing, aren't the people in your immediate vicinity at the time you take a photo the people who are going to be the least interested in getting that photo shared to them?
Boy sees a cute girl but can't work up the guts to talk to her.
Boy notices she's taking pictures with Color and writes: 'will you go out with me' on a paper napkin.
Boy takes picture of the napkin with Color.
Girl sees the message but ignores him.
Boy secretly keeps the photos she shared longing for his lost love till he's an old man. Camera pulls back to show his grandkids using Color.
I guess I don't know about you, but when my wife gets together with a bunch of her friends at a party or event, they snap ridiculous amounts of photos, which they then post on their facebook walls to share with each other. Really, this app just seems to take out the step of sharing on facebook and replace it with sharing with its own network comprised of local people.
Whether that is something people want remains to be seen.
Not only are people in the immediate vicinity less likely to need/want to view a copy of your photo, but will they take out their phone and launch the app to do that?
I can see wanting to see the photos you took when we were together, but I don't think I want to see them at the time the photo was taken, rather I'd want to see them at a later time.
I'm sure the photo aspect was just a foot-in-the-door thing to get them known and work out some of the more impressive tech on the back-end.
I fully expect an api to your elastic network in the near future.
"But how exactly is Color going to make “wheelbarrows of
cash”... the company is still very early on, but it
eventually plans to offer businesses a self-serve platform
for running deals and ads
The high price tag mean they have several patents + trusting investors + solid plan, etc. It's similar to Facebook (Zuckerberg has patents of his own I believe).
Assuming they have a back-door API - this could be a freaking BOON for intelligence gathering arms that are seeking to know the surrounds of anti establishment types.
Further - wait until you apply spatial modeling capabilities (what was that MS tech demo called?) where you can start building 3d navigable models of spaces that all the data collected in that 100' radius allows.
Dont think the military is doing CRAZY things with optical intel:
"The system can also be used for general night vision; it can follow bats five miles away in darkness."
the military now has autonomous robotic helicopters that can
visually track bullets in flight.
Now they just need the general public to be a part of the larger sensor intel fabric.
The photo-sharing aspect just sounds like a hook to get consumers to actually put it on their phones. I'd imagine that the bigger play is trying understanding where people go, who they go there with, when they go, all of that. Facebook has the data to reconstruct that information after the fact, when people come home and upload their pictures, but this looks like an attempt to see it unfold in real time.
Advertisers are already getting used to having this kind of information on the web, with tracking cookies, twitter, and real-time ad auctions giving them immediate, constant feedback from and control over people's online experience. The company that figures out how to get a similar datastream out of and targeted advertisements into meatspace is going to make mad money; if these guys have a legitimate shot at doing it, $41M probably isn't so crazy.
On the other hand, just downloaded the app, and the first cut is kind of crap.
That out of the way, we are certainly envious about the 100-200 million dollar evaluation they got on day one. With about 4k spent so far, in our case and with three of us chipping in any extra time we have (me - any extra time I have outside of lurking here), we are still a couple of months away from a MVP that will make us cringe ever so slightly when we see how far we will have to go. Till then, no real sleep, and a lot of heartburn. Still, its good to see Color validating some of what we do, but in the end, we both will have to prove there is a market. We however can afford to fail early and not give any VC's any heartburn, just our own families.
One thing is for sure, we do not plan to build sonar capabilities. We dont have the knowhow and I am not sure that will be the make or break for us anyway.
We also dont have the same pedigree, and therefore its clear that VC's will not be snapping at our heels (But we go back six years, all three of us). We are ok with that, but heck..41 million is a lot of money.
As the weeks peel away, I hope to share here on HN where we stand with the product and hopefully even line up some kind souls here who will be willing to beta test for us in return for some good karma. We cant afford to pay (please refer back to the 4k burn total).
We however have some ideas on how we plan on monetizing. We plan on finding out as early as we can, whether our ideas coincide with real needs from local businesses.
Right now, I am shamelessly stopping people on the street, as they veer away, ignore, stare, and sometimes stop and tell me what they need and what they want. I do this as behind the scenes we toil away on building something that in the end we can be proud of.
In all fairness, right now, they have a far more capable app, employing 9 times our current strength and vastly more capital and brain power. In the end, may the best viable product and company win.
* 7 founders (~14% split evenly, unlikely though)
* 41M raised
* Staff of 27 (obviously get some equity)
Some valuation math:
(Dilution) Pre-Money Post-Money (Founder dilution from ~14.28%)
15% 232.3M 273.3M 12.1%
20% 164M 205M 11.4%
25% 123M 164M 10.7%
30% 95.6M 136.6M 9.99%
40% 61.5M 102.5M 8.57%
50% 41M 82M 7.14%
Think of a bar conversation, or a restaurant or something "It's quiet now but check it out on a Friday night! It goes mental!".
Actually, I guess it would depend on whether market validation is worth $10m -- which I doubt, because it's just a feature to them, not a whole product. Also, that's what interns are for, right?
Thinking about it maybe there's a kind of bathtub curve of photos that I'm interested in
- I'm highly interested in photos around me and of close friends
- I don't really care about photos of acquaintances and people I went to school with but haven't seen in years, etc,
-I'm highly interested in photos of people I am close to but that live far away.
The auto-social network based on proximity is awesome, though. I can't wait for this and the creep factor will be gone in five years anyway since we are all moving to a more open society.
In theory, If you've got multiple people taking photos at the same place with a short period of time, you can get sound media as well.
Though some may suspect they are trying to put together conversations, I doubt that is the case (but maybe if you want to go for a conspiracy theory).
-------------update apparently they are capturing your conversations --------------------
from their homepage "capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album".
There's no getting away from the fact this is just an app that shows you photos taken near you, by strangers.
I just don't get it. I might be wrong, in 12 months I might be kicking myself, I just cant imagine it.
But they clearly have a good story and their investors are happy. So silly or not, its the path they've chosen. It reminded me of this blog posting I ran across:
I sure believe they've hired a staff of 29 very talented people. But even if you give each of them a salary of more than 1 million dollars it would still take a year to burn that money.
The goal is to flip this to the next sucker. A cool domain name, a celeb team, an app that's bound to attract media hype (look for "The Color.com Revolution" coming from Tehran University in 2012) - a year or two from now, provided the bubble doesn't burst, Sequoia can unload this on Google or Facebook and make a tidy profit.
Don't get me wrong I think this sounds like an excellent idea that could turn out to be an excellent company. It's just such a large amount of money to raise that it kind of raises the question of what game the VCs and/or founders are really playing.
It seems like at this point there might be a possibility of VCs planning on Facebook and Twitter going public and either being acquired at an inflated price with all that new capitalization or going public themselves in the wake.
It is always wise to invest at the start of the bubble and withdraw your money before the euphoria peaks. Maybe they are hoping to create a bubble with these ridiculous deals.
I am setting up a photo-sharing company, like, now.
It still isn't clear to me that if there was a sudden readjustment of these overvalued companies how many companies would really be effected and what it would mean for the sector as a whole. I don't think its defining the whole sector the way it did in 2000. It might mean bad things for VCs in general, but maybe this is the economy working VCs out of the system.
Anyone with the technical skills and idea to launch a tech startup should collect the cash now. Act fast, at this rate the foolish money wont last long.
I'm considering building a clone on android and GPLing it. Who's in?
I'll level with a lot of their choices for being "different", but they've gone too far in some instances. It feels very un-iOS. Maybe because it's cross-platform?
Likelihood of success? Low, but that's ok as long as it works once every 10 years.
I've been working on something similar... $41M sure would be nice! For a group of proven talent I can understand the investment, but $41M is pretty crazy.
Also how does it feel: " I am using color" vs "I am using Colors"?
EDIT: Ok, RTFA seems to indicate that these groups are fluid and intended to form themselves according to whom you hang out with most often, so presumably if I keep taking pictures then it will figure out who my friends are. That's a neat idea, but unfortunately still moves against my instagram-a-like point above: if we should have learned one thing about how people make friends in the year 2011, it's that physical proximity doesn't really enter in to it.
1) The idea of creating groups on the fly to take photographs from a shared location is what got the funding.
But using a tighter geofencing (remember how in Gowalla one had to stand at a point to check in) the same can be brought in Instagram which already has a million or so members.
2)The photo is public for anyone in the vicinity of 100 feet or perhaps everybody (sorry for missing that) but one does realise that it limits my ability to share things with the world. I mean only in case when something is cool would I want to share it with the world and other times stop short of making myself look not so cool.
3) Local+Social+Mobile is great on paper but these are not the dimensions that make a great app. It is the underlying mechanics. For a $41 million investment and a overpriced domain name, they sure did not blow my mind off.
4) As far as the white noise of social apps is concerned it was the same problem with all apps, facebook included if you were in the party early! Can't hang them for that.
5)For the latent interest in finding photos around an area or location, there always are foursquare/gowalla (sitting on huge data) and instagram with the tags lately (remember #sxsw ?). You really think one would use them?
5) I remember Chris Dizon lately writing about investing in people over ideas and it looks like with 7 rockstar cofounders, thatis what happened here. But hey, who said anything about turning a blind eye to the idea?
6) Last, people around me wanting to see photos around them :) can just turn around or shoot foursquare to find a lot more info over a longer period of time than using the app, right?
Of course I am saying this all since I am a hater for seeing them receive such a huge funding for no apparent (to me) reason!
That passed. Wrote it all up on the blog, but here is what I think they have wrong and our Pixamid has right:
Privacy: I think most people want to more privacy on their photos, not less. If the camera can sense who you are with (like Pixamid and Color try), by default, share ONLY with those people. By default, Pixamid shares with only your friends at he same place as you - you can choose to share with everyone there too.
Network Effects: Color™ might be cool in a world where everyone uses Color™. But we don’t see such a world anytime soon. People will use lots of different apps: Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa -hell, even Ofoto (thanks Mom). We want to pull in your friends’ photos from any of these services, automatically as much as possible. See our post below about the Instagram magic we do; we’re dong a lot more of this cool stuff now.
Addressing a real problem: We are all taking more photos with our great phone cameras. But we hate to organize our photos. And if we add in Friend photos, it is even worse. Users of Pixamid get automagical photo organization as a byproduct of using the app. Each set of photos, with place, event, and who you were with. The things we will do with this in the future - can’t wait to show everyone! But we believe that our solution will revolutionize how people share photos online.
The idea is interesting, but not defensible enough for them to stop a couple of hackers with $15k from besting it.
Do they just have a mean, scalable roadmap that we are unaware of?
It seems like all Facebook need to do is add a "Merge Albums" feature for use between friends.
And I've come to the conclusion they're just after FB stock via acquisition. Fair plan.
as an aside, there should be full disclosure and responsibility for all hackernews users, who down voted me?
Yeah, I definitely want an app that is listening to what I say all of the time. Great idea.
The automatic Social Graph based on proximity is a good idea. But doesn't it make you best friends with all of your neightbors (at home and work) and other random people you just happen to walk by or meet every day?
And why would I want to see pics of a restaurant that some friend sits in?
I am not sure why the article did not have the link for the application.
edit - never mind they updated the article.
How does that algorithm work? Is that like a point-in-a-polygon problem? It could be lots of updates as to who is near what, etc. I just don't know.
This group is at the very popular intersection of photo-sharing, social network, real-time, local/location and I'm sure more. They have a rock-star proven team, and tech is a popular investment now.
It is redundant and I just dropped a note of English usage. If one has to emphasis, it would be "Even my wife...".
Just like saying Round circle or Straight line!
Or is the point of commenting only when you add hacking info?
If you discount the investment to 1999 value, it's under what Sequoia gave Google.