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Sequoia gives photo-sharing startup more money than they gave Google (techcrunch.com)
193 points by parth16 on Mar 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 175 comments

I just tried out the iPhone app and I'm pretty disappointed.

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.

When you mix location + user generated content, you need to deploy city by city.

^ When Facebook started, they deployed University by University. They understood that in order for social apps to become popular, they need a critical mass of people to work. If you're the only person in your town that tries it, you're going to have an empty social network and no stickiness.

They should at least think about expanding the 100 ft proximity to town size until it gains some traction.

Right on, a ton of these new social apps have this same problem. I remember Path 1.0 was a similar experience.

I feel the same. Unfortunately, after spending a few minutes with such an app and not having a positive impression, it's pretty rare that I would revisit the app again later in the future. Most of the people I know behave the same way: if it catches their attention, it stays on the phone or else the app's gone.

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 ..

While I agree that the privacy of this feels a little weird, it's always opt in, just like 4sq is opt in. If you don't intend your photos to show up at a location, don't take photos on Color.

I think he is talking about appearing on other peoples' photos on Color

Yea, similar to initial Google Wave experience.

I have a question for those who know better than me: What's the critical mass for a social network to be self-sustaining?

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.

there's no absolute critical mass - what matters is how many of your most important peers use it. I'd say as soon as the probability for a random person to have a friend on said social network lies above 10-20% then you've achieved critical mass. it's a chicken and egg problem, which means you have to provide some value even if none of your friends use it - which is exactly what color is doing wrong.

I personally think they just solved a huge problem. Oh wait..what problem were they solving again?

This product reminds me of cue-cat, in the sense that it fails to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Exactly... they are only creating more of a problem, in that everyone now uses different methods to take, store and share photos. And no one organizes photos, so it is a huge mess. If only someone could address that... oh wait, we do. For less than half of what Color spent on a domain name, we build our Pixamid app...

Eff that problem solving thinking! This is hip inner circle echo chamber visionaire big capital sponsored royalty man, they think ahead, its not about solving, its about creating, creating problems. Number one, how to recover 40 million.

It would seem pretty short-sighted for the developers to not have realized this though (though I wouldn't say the same for venture capitalists and media). I'm guessing they must have figured this out, but just don't have a solution for it yet.

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.

Maybe it would help to increase the proximity radius dynamically so you always get results. It probably would have made your first-run user experience better, even if the photos had been taken farther away (same city, same state, or same country).

color's cold start issue reminds me of the zune's wi-fi sharing feature, even before it got neutered by the recording industry.

Title doesn't do it justice. The photo-sharing part isn't what's novel. They seem to be building a social graph automatically weighted on physical proximity+frequency, using smartphone sensors (the most important one of which happens to be a camera). That's cool, and potentially game-changing.

"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."

Yeah, based on what they said they have some much more ambitious plans than just photo swapping. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) they were vague about what those plans entail — they made some references to heavy data crunching, but I couldn't really get a straight answer as to exactly what they were crunching or what it would be used for.

Knowing Sequoia, I'm guessing it will automatically trade exotic derivatives by using ambient lighting data to make better weather predictions.

I'm thinking getting in bed with the government is not out of the realm of possibility.

From what I've read they can automatically reconstruct a space on the fly using the images captured.

How, why and when would I want to do this?

I don't understand it from neither a sharer, or a browsers perspective.

From a browser's perspective, I look forward to use it to find "interesting" things - maybe even something that's breaking. Ideally something I would otherwise not have known about. This might be contingent of the demographic of the people who actually bother to snap the photos, though.

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.)

It's like Facebook for the people you spend time with without adding as friends; Foursquare for people that aren't motivated to deliberately broadcast their whereabouts; Grindr for people in your area not looking to hook up.

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...

How many times has anyone sat and looked at photos on Flickr, and used geocodes to restrict results to the local area?

Answer: probably not enough to warrant a $41m investment.

or just used android google maps with buzz etc...

That's fucking creepy.

If there's no cell signal, how do the phones know they're capturing similar audio?

I assume wifi.

Based on this description, I envision the Dark Knight situation where the world is seen through phones.

> you’ll then be able to see all of the photos that have recently been taken within 100 feet of them.

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.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but how is "Let all the people you know find out all about your current surroundings" a selling point?

It's mobile, it's social, and it's local! They managed to hit all the buzzwords in one startup!

I'm a little concerned that it isn't viral and/or paradigm-shifting.

It probably is viral and paradigm-shifting too, based on the description. It really is the perfect startup - hits every buzzword, founder with a previous exit, all-star team, etc.

Too bad startups aren't checklists to tick off.

Maybe after they pivot.

They forgot group buying.

Actually I think they talked about that too "it eventually plans to offer businesses a self-serve platform for running deals"

No wonder they invested $41 million… It's the perfect app…

Heh. I believe the VC-approved word for this is 'solomo'.

After trying hard to understand their idea, I think you just delivered the best explanation. They even mentioned the possibility to integrate "coupons" in their system!


'Say you walk into a restaurant with twenty people in it. You sit down at a table with four friends, and start chatting. Then one of your friends pulls out their phone, fires up Color, and takes a snapshot of you and your buddies.

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?

I think you have a great point here. Other than documenting an event I cannot see any utility in sharing photographs with people in my immediate vicinity.

Well that really depends on how cute the people around you are and how much you'd like to contact them without you know, actually getting up and talking to them.

I can see the viral ad now:

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.


Maybe at the exact moment, but generally look at pictures later to spark memories of places they were and things they did. The people who are around when the picture is taken are therefore most likely to want to see it again later.

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.

Though I like what their doing from the perspective of trying to find a filter for which friends you're most often physically around, you point to what I think might be a big flaw.

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.

The premise is that we will be so busy looking at all these cool mobile apps on our phones that we do not even see what is going around us. The only way to find that out is using Colors!

Ha! The UI is so bad that you will spend the entire event trying to figure it out – missing the entire event. Then you HAVE to use Color to see what the hell happened.

Not really. Let's say you walk in a club at 1AM, you get to see what the party was like before you. Also clubs are usually concentrated in the same area, so you may also see what happening in the other establishments.

Do you really care at 1AM what the party in a club was an hour or two ago?

Not a good use case. Long shot.

Different perspectives can be valuable, if only to feed the narcissism of youth, but I have my doubts it will be enough to grow or sustain this thing.

  "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
$41 Million for a photo sharing app and this is the best they came up with? You gotta be kidding me.

I'm guessing when the user takes a picture of yourself near a logo/brand, it automatically offer deals/ads based on the fancy proximity guessing thing. The company seems to be trying to build up eyeballs at this stage.

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).

Here is some tinfoil for you...

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.

Cool but take a look at the links that I posted which are years old. The fact is that there are amazing technologies employed in certain military and defense research projects that when coupled with todays consumer internet applications have unbelievable capabilities... As a former employee of Lockheed - I can assure you I am not the only person who believes this...

None of the anti establishment types I know are stupid enough to use this. They dont even have smartphones, for the same reasons.

As long as enough people around them use smart phones, it doesn't matter.

I think the "MS tech demo" that you are referring to is Photosynth: http://photosynth.net/

The underlying technology sounds like it was inspired by The Dark Knight - sensors in cell phones streaming data back to a central server where it can all be processed together into a cohesive view of what's going on in the world.

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.

Disclaimer: Three of us are building a pet project that has some similarities with Color. One big difference - all user generated content is private by default.

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.

Would love to chat, sounds like what we are doing with Pixamid.

A couple of things stick out from this numbers wise:

* 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%
I realize the percentages are essentially a wild guess, but I feel its a good data point to add in.

sometimes its just not about the money.

Of course it's nice to have someone do the work for you and present it like this. You know, just in case it is about the money.

When you raise $41M with Sequoia, it definitely is

Hey Color dudes, if you're here - presumably those photos are being stored on a server, can I browse a timeline of photos taken in my area? Like if I'm in some place on a Saturday and want to see what it was like last Saturday, or what it's like on a Friday night?

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!".

I'm curious how a proximity-based social network is going to keep from placing me closer to my upstairs neighbor than, say, my brother on the other coast.

I'm curious as to why Facebook won't just add a "photos your friends have taken around this place" feature and make these guys a distant memory

I think from Color's perspective, that's the idea -- only figuring that "adding" implies an acquisition.

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?

I'm pretty sure that Color also takes interaction within the application into account (i.e. if you frequently comment on a user's photos, view their stream, etc., then it also boosts your social connection).

I agree, it's an interesting problem.

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.

Yeah, or the idiot in the cube next to me that I spend 10 hours a day with.

Creepiest part- "it uses the camera to check for lighting conditions, and even uses the phone’s microphone to ‘listen’ to the ambient surroundings."

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.

What in the world does a picture app need to use my mic for?

There have been some research projects which can use snapshots of the lighting and sound around you to tell which building you are located in with 90% accuracy. I.E. they can tell you are in the Starbucks and not the hardware store next door. See "SurroundSense: Mobile Phone Localization via Ambience Fingerprinting" in the proceedings of Mobicom 2009.

Not sure why you would have been down-voted for that question.

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".

Creepy indeed. I wonder if it has a backdoor to ECHELON.

Echelon is Facebook, Twitter, and Color. :)

"The app Josef Stalin would have used..."

In Soviet Russia, Color sees you?

Batman would be proud

$1m for product, $3m for marketing, $37m for curation of a constant stream of chatroullette-esque pornographic images?

This is a good point. If I'm sitting in a very densely populated area the odds that some couple within 100' are exhibitionists must be pretty high.

>Nguyen has visions of fundamentally changing some aspects of social interaction and local discovery with the app, which he considers part of the so-called Post-PC movement.

webvan anybody?

Sounds technologically impressive, I'm just wondering if a dynamic friend list is really an advantage over a static list. The last thing I want to be doing when hanging out with friends is to be on my mobile phone checking out what they've posted to Color. I'd rather, you know, interact with them in real life. Maybe I missed a vital point of it, though.

The best part about a dynamic friend list: instead of friend requesting a cute girl on Facebook, you need to take lots of photos of her and be near her location all the time.

But you can look at photos of them! On your phone! Sorted magically!!!

I'm gonna just go ahead and say this, does anyone else think this is a bit silly? $41m.

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.

Absolutely, but that is what makes the speculating fun. You have to ask, what possible story could you spin around what they have that justifies $41M pre-revenue. Even assuming a healthy multiple of 20, and investor exit of $250M you're talking about projected earning of $12.5M with a gross margin of say 60% that's like $21M/yr in revenue. And I'm assuming an ABC round (which is to say the would expect to not do another round prior to some liquidity 'event').

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 don't care what it does, $41 million at pre-launch for a mobile app is ridiculous.

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.

If you're trying to evaluate based on how useful it is, how cool, potential income etc you're missing the point.

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.

Any "there isn't a bubble" believers want to comment on this one...?

I've previously been in the camp that there isn't a bubble. This seems like its a valuation of 1 or 2 hundred million for a company that hasn't launched yet. It's very hard to see how this deal could make sense in a traditional way.

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.

I think the VCs realize that this is the start of a bubble and soon wall street will bring loads of public money through fancy investment instruments to the game.

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.

Buble is when pre-launch companies go public. Here we have a noble and successful desire to help VCs to part with their money.

I am setting up a photo-sharing company, like, now.

The thing that always gets me is that my local movie theatre is playing terrible unoriginal flicks shot for a budget higher than that.

At least they have a solid business plan (sell tickets, DVD/BluRay and PPV, TV rights, etc). Color doesn't even accept revenue.

I think movie flops are much more uncommon than failed companies though. Maybe this investment represents a very uncommon level of certainty in the company's success. It could also just be a bad investment, there is always a range.

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.

This is the deal which firmly cements my belief that there is a big big bubble.

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.

41 million??? No part of me believed there was another bubble. About-face!

I'm considering building a clone on android and GPLing it. Who's in?

The article makes it seem as if Color hasn't launched yet but it actually has (presumably today). I downloaded it and am pretty stunned at how confusing of a UI $41 million can buy you.

Parts of it are downright broken: the swipe-to-delete makes the "delete" button appear in a very awkward position.

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?

Yes, it's mind boggling, but Sequoia has a problem: they have way too much money under management. So when they find one idea they like, they invest like crazy to push it to the extreme. Add senior VPs to the executive staff because it will help go from a $100M company to a $1B company. That costs a lot of money.

Likelihood of success? Low, but that's ok as long as it works once every 10 years.

the Tyler Durden in me wonders how they are going to stop people broadcasting cock shots to every person within 150 feet

Proximity based advertising is cheaper and more efficient to smaller and local businesses.

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.

Was anybody able to find the android app? They don't link directly to it and searching for "color" is too generic. Which, btw, is a problem with their name.

Even on the iPhone, you can't find the app searching for "color". I followed the link from color.com

Problem with such a cool yet common domain is that you do not get shown at the top unless you already are big.

Also how does it feel: " I am using color" vs "I am using Colors"?

It is coming out later tonight. I tried looking for it as well.

I'm using this right now and I still really don't get it. As far as I can tell, this does the exact opposite of a social app: instead of bringing together people with similar interests or relationships (like Instagram, for all its faults), it exposes me to people who I have nothing in common with except happening to be in the same neighborhood. I mean, am I right? Can that possibly be the point? There is a 'group' composed of myself and three other people I've never met, all of whom presumably live or work nearby—and then another 'group' that's not apparently any different, except I haven't joined it yet. I'll admit that some of my confusion is due to the completely opaque interface.

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.

Is anybody else actually able to use the app? I got past the "take a picture of yourself", but now I just see blank white screens everywhere.

Same happened here. It's totally blank until more people around you actually have & use the app. Which no one will do because... it's blank unless other people use it. Classic chicken or the egg problem. I guess $41 million doesn't buy you an answer.

Just tried it. Works. Don't know if the photos I'm seeing are from the neighbors in my office building, though.

Ok, correct me if I am totally mark on this one but here are my takeaways:

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!

Is it April 1 already?

I wonder how much color.com cost?

"Bill recently acquired the domain color.com for $350K" according to Steve Thommes in the TC comments.

Wonder how much colour.com cost.

first thing that I thought to myself when I saw the name - half the world spells it different, so they may want to also buy and brand the colour.com domain

They actually own Colour.com as well! :)

i might see if I can get colorapp.com for £3.50

Why don't you buy colorapp.com then Geoff

update: I can't, its taken. But I've been offered colour.com for £350k, I'm considering it.

i don't really know anything about domain value but i'd honestly have guessed higher.

holy cow

I wonder the same about colour.com which they also own.

350k is a steal

Isn't 7 founders a little excessive?

Well, at least they have enough money to market it down people's throats. They're going to need every single dollar they can get to eventually get some of those Facebook users to want to use this thing.

I can totally see people using this like Craiglist's missed connections...

Since our tiny 4 person startup built a photo sharing app with very similar core ideas, I was scared shitless this morning on first reading about Color.

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.


I just tried using this app and it crashes every time I try to take a pic on a fully updated iPhone 4, after a fresh restart. I'm not sure what they're doing with that $41 million (besides buying trademarks and unoriginal domain names), but there are some really talented people doing much more with much less. I'm sure they'll fix it, but seriously guys...

The idea is interesting, but not defensible enough for them to stop a couple of hackers with $15k from besting it.

I can see how people would find this valuable, but what does the company need all that money for?

Do they just have a mean, scalable roadmap that we are unaware of?

The link to the Android Market does not go to the app page. With a name like 'Color', it's almost impossible finding it in the market.

Try "Paradigm shifting" as a search keyword.

Exactly, been searching for a while now. Can anyone who finds it, post a link to a QRcode?

I just fired it up on a couple devices, and it's not very intuitive. It's a great idea, they just need some UX help now.

"Simultaneously use multiple iPhones and Androids to capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album. There’s no attaching, uploading, or friending to do. "

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.

So the idea here is that it will let me see more and be more in touch with... the people who I already see and am in touch with? I'd rather do the exact opposite - it's my friends in other states who I want digital tools to keep me more in touch with.

(This is offtopic, and probably best put in a AskHN thread, but) Why no love for BlackBerry?

This is a great idea I think. It has the potential to fundamentaly change the way people use photos, and because of the all media exposure they will get (41M..) it might actually work. The only thing that's sad is that about 6 month ago I met a guy who had been trying to raise money for his idea, which was very very similar, and all the big funds turned him down. So there's again the repeting lesson of the value of who you are when you raise an idea and money. Hope it'll work anyway - sometimes it's nice to know that your idea was really good even if you're not the one who made it in the end.

meagan's a hotty.

why the downvote? this is not just some random comment that has nothing to do with the article; i was merely making a social comment via performance art about how easy it is to stalk with this tool. meagan's picture can be found at the 8AM mark, she's an attractive woman and what caught my initial reaction.

as an aside, there should be full disclosure and responsibility for all hackernews users, who down voted me?

This is an app built by engineers in the valley for engineers in the valley. This "bubble" project is truly a bubble. You need to step outside your own experience and understand if your products are viable to others who aren't you. Walk around anywhere that's not SF or NY and this app will be useless for at least the first year. And who can can make sense of this UI other than an engineer? Engineering breakthrough? Yes. Useful mobile tool? No.

"... and even uses the phone’s microphone to ‘listen’ to the ambient surroundings ..."

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.

Sounds interesting, but shouldn't they have a huge user base before this kind of money comes in? There are a lot of interesting things going on in this space (and with this app), but minus user base and revenue, I just can't help but wonder if this kind of funding is an example of the bubble that we may well be in. Kudos to them if I'm wrong and they're actually able to mint cash from this app.

> 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.

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.

Poor title on the part of TC, but I think it is important to remember that when Sequoia invested in Google, everybody thought search was dead, tech had just taken a bath, and the founders were an unknown.

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.

All embrace big brother!

sharing pictures all around you, tagging your location, listening to the ambient sounds around it, centralized server.... anyone else see this as a serious privacy fail.... I'm still going try it out, but just saying.

What about the spammers or weirdos sending their images to an unsuspecting crowd. I will be wary of seeing photos shared by unknown people in a public and crowded place like Times Square. And what about children using this app? Can they watch all uncensored, unfiltered images any stranger wants to share?

So, I wonder how long until someone is going to use this to create a real-time location based hot or not?:P

Just played with it. I was intrigued by the sign-up process - it only asked for my first name and photo. Is it doing something magical to tie my'account' to my name and photo? Or is the user name a much 'looser' association and not something you have a strong hold over?

What has YC (and every other prominent investor) been emphasizing lately? That the team is the most important part of the deal. And that team looks rock solid, arguably more so (on paper) than google did in 1999.

True. But does that alone deserve a 100 million dollar evaluation? I dont know enough tech luminaries who can constitute a team that can command such a high price tag, on launch day none the less. What do I know? My own wife wouldnt put down $100 on me to win :)

My own wife is a funny term. Redundancy at it's maximum.

Why the downvote?

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?

There's nothing wrong with "my own wife". (A Google Books search quickly turns up "my own wife", "my own child", "my own father", and "my own mother" in Dickens, for instance.)

So you take pictures of others at their free time and publish them without consent to the world and call it social? I call it paparazzi. Isn't paparazzi one of the most admired and respected profession? :-)

It's pretty difficult to search for this on the iPhone App. Store, I went through pages and pages on a search for 'color' before going to color.com and clicking the link. Will most people do this though?

Let's say I'm having great time with my girlfriend, other friends and their girlfriends, etc. in a restaurant. Why would I wan to share our photos with the creepy guys next table?

Very cool and a bit creepy at the same time. I'm thinking about Hitchcock's Rear Window. I'm able to see what my office building neighbors are doing (I think...).

Looks like they spent most of the money on the domain name. Color.com is now live..

Finance fail?

If you discount the investment to 1999 value, it's under what Sequoia gave Google.

that much money sounds ridiculous, but there's definitely something very cool about proximity-based social networks and these guys now have the time and cash to find the right application.

"And what I'm interested in is investing in people." -Arthur Rock

$41M to spend in what?

With all this excessive photo-sharing going on, I think we'll soon find ourselves wanting to counter the adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" with its opposite.

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