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Quick acquisition news: Yappd, the visual Twitter clone has been acquired. I don’t have many details except that it appears basically the underlying technology has been purchased for inclusion into another application. Check out my interview with co-founder Brendan Lim from August. Kristen from Mashable has some additional insights into the acquisition.
I have enjoyed getting to know Brendan over the past few months. He has a great attitude about life and work and I look forward to seeing what he produces next.
Yappd, the service that is similar to Twitter, is announcing new service functionality. First up is the initial launch of their Developer API. Basically any feature/function available in Yappd is available in their API. They are in the process of setting up a developer community for discussion and bug fixes.
Their second product announcement is around their area of product differentiation. They have added a Web photo upload feature. Previously you could only upload a photo by SMS. From what I can tell the feature works pretty well.
You can add me as a friend on Yappd and check out our interview with Yappd Co-Founder, Brendan Lim. The key for Yappd is to keep pushing on differentiation features in the service so they can spread the distance between their product and Twitter.
Alright, I will admit that I have been Yapp'in all day today. Yapp here and Yapp there it goes since I read about the Yappd launch on TechCrunch and Mashable. Mike called it a Twitter-clone. I have always wondered what it would be like to be a clone. Would it be like showing up to a party and your BFF has on the same dress and drinking the same vitamin water you are? I called up the head Yapper, Brendan Lim, and asked about the tool and what it's like to be a clone. Our discussion is below with extra Yappage for your pleasure.
Note: You can become my Yapp friend if you want to test out the service.
Allen: Can you provide a brief background about yourself?
Brendan: We're recent college graduates that have been working in software development for the past couple of years. Brent and I met through our day jobs, since we both work for the same company, which also happens to be a startup as well. Andrew and I have known each other since middle school. He currently also works for a software development shop, except he is based out of Denver, Colorado, and Brent and I are located in Rockville, MD.
Allen: What is Yappd and where did the idea come from?
Brendan: Yappd is a service that allows people to let friends see what they are doing. Not only can you update your status from the web, but you can send a text message, e-mail, or even a picture message from your cell phone. We realized that we had an idea that no other microblogging website had implemented and thought that since it was something we would make extensive use of, others would as well.
Allen: How does the service work?
Brendan: Once you have your account setup, you can start yapping instantly from the web. From there you have the opportunity to setup your phone to be able to send in yapps as either text messages or picture messages. Off the bat, you can send e-mails with yapps containing text or pictures as long as the e-mail you send is from the e-mail that is on your profile. We also give you the ability to watch friends and monitor their yapps, that way your circle of friend's can always be informed on what you're doing or where you are.
Allen: What's the team like at Yappd?
Brendan: Right now, the team only consists of three people, Brendan Lim, Brent Collier, and Andrew Tilt. Brent and I developed most of Yappd, since Andrew hasn't had much time to contribute. The team dynamics though, are great. We knocked out our initial beta in about two weeks, just so we could get something that people could use as soon as possible. That way, we could get feedback on what new features to add in throughout the weeks to come.
Allen: What type of user are you targeting? (age/sex/income/etc.)
Brendan: We don't have much of a barrier for our target-base. As a service that helps people keep in touch, we would love to see a good range of users, from high-school students that want to let their friends know where they are at, to grandparent's that want to visually share things with their family.
Allen: Do you believe that Pownce has an advantage over the other offerings in this segment based on their founder's celebrity-status?
Brendan: It does bring Pownce some extra attention, but beyond that, I believe the market is still open for competition as long as you offer a different set of features. Pownce offers a good set of features, and Yappd is going to get some cool new features in the next few weeks as well.
Allen: Is Yappd a Twitter clone?
Brendan: In terms of what we offer at the moment, you can definitely say that we are, except the fact that we do offer two features that Twitter doesn't. You can visually let friend's know what you're doing or where you are at, and you can search and watch friends, without having to invite them. Our plans were to initially get something up and running as soon as possible with the picture messaging feature, since we knew that this has not been done before. Soon, you'll see a slew of great new features that will definitely set us apart.
Allen: Who are your competitors?
Brendan: We see Twitter and Pownce as the major competitors, since they are really in the forefront of this market.
Allen: If I am already using Twitter, why should I switch?
Brendan: We believe it depends on whether or not they find our features more appealing that Twitter's. I find myself snapping pictures with my camera phone and yapping them to my friend's all the time. It's a feature that I couldn't do without at the moment, since I've gotten so used to it. Again, some of the new features that are in the works are definitely going sway some user's this way. Also, who wouldn't want to hang out with the new kid on the block? :)
Allen: Do you have a monetization plan? If so, can you share some details? Are you funded?
Brendan: With our member base growing and our wide range of demographics, we see advertisements as a source of income, but at the moment, we'd rather keep the design clutter free and uninstrusive for our members. We are not funded at the moment, and we all still have our day jobs.
Allen: Can you share some details about your marketing plan?
Brendan: Right now, we're trying to see how far word of mouth will go. We believe that if a service is good enough, people will tell their friends, because it's what most people do.
Allen: What's coming in the next 3-6 months for Yappd?
Brendan: Many new features will be popping up pretty frequently. We'll be letting you know before it happens, but we can't spill any of the beans just yet.
Allen: In his review, Michael Arrington said, "Here's a me-too service that won't last long." How do you respond to that statement?
Brendan: We can't really be mad at him for what he said, since he is entitled to his opinion. One thing we did notice though, is that he didn't touch our picture messaging, or e-mail feature. Our only reaction after we saw our article was, "Look Ma! We're on TechCrunch".
Allen: What is the Web market like in Maryland? Do you find it's harder to compete with Valley apps?
Brendan: Andrew and I are from Alabama, and Brent is from Virginia, so our exposure to any kind of web startup in our area is virtually non-existant. In Maryland, beyond the startup we are currently working for, we don't know of any other web startups in the area. We do feel that the one advantage with being in the Valley is the ability to network with other individuals or companies that share your same interests.
Allen: What advice do you have for those thinking about starting a web application?
Brendan: I'm pretty much reiterating what Guy Kawasaki said in his book, Art of the Start, when he said that it's easier to jump on an idea that already has a market, since it's easier to gain traction. Beyond that though, it is extremely important to have something that sets you apart from the crowd — something that nobody has done before. Also, get your product out to market as soon as possible, since there's nothing worse than somebody beating you to it.
Allen: Which RSS feeds are you reading these days?
Brendan: Well, there's a variety that we read — first and foremost, we check out all of the latest yapps on Yappd. I, myself, am an Apple fanboy, so The Unofficial Apple Weblog is on my list. Add to that, CenterNetworks, Mashable, TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, Reddit, Digg, and Uncrate.
Thank you for joining me today Brendan!