The human race has always been innately curious – always wanting to know what others in our life are doing, where they are, who they are with, what the latest is in someone’s life and an unending list of other things. Modern technology has been evolving rapidly to provide almost real time access to other people’s lives. The history of this evolution can be traced back to Instant Messengers such as ICQ which let anyone chat with others anonymously in various chat rooms in the 1990s. This evolved into the more structured chat with friends on Yahoo! and MSN chat. Next came the enterprise IM that enabled remote teams to work together collaboratively.
With the advent of mobile devices, the access to others became even more real time with apps such as WhatsApp which let you share your current whereabouts, current status and the latest in your life effortlessly with friends and family. With so many mobile messaging applications in the market like Mirage, Snapchat, Telegram, Whatsapp, and India’s own Hike etc. trying to build their own network of millions of users, the market potential seems to have a lot of headroom. Sup, a new mobile application takes this real time information to a whole new level.
Sup, if it catches on, can open up a whole new category called ‘live’ messaging service, where a sender can send a request and if the receiver accepts it, the sender gets access to the camera of the receiver for a 10 second video. The sender can request the receiver to move left, right or forward and even take their selfie. The best part is that nothing is ever stored in the servers, promising a modicum of privacy.
This messaging application service is developed by ex-Yahoo employees Nick Meyer and Bart Stein. Bart had developed Stamped, which was the first acquisition made by Yahoo CEO Marrisa Mayer. Nick, on the other hand, departed Yahoo just a year after his frequent flyer assistant startup Milewise was acquired. As an aside, these examples show how the acqui-hire strategy of Marissa Mayer’s over 20 acquisitions might have been flawed considering many of the acquired founders chose to leave Yahoo. We believe that the live messaging segment is at an extremely nascent stage, with the full potential probably not understood even by the founders. Some thoughts from our end on how it could evolve:
- With a few tweaks, it could be used by various stores to know the exact location of the customer and provide them offers and services in a hyper local environment
- Tech support can be more guided, with the expert able to direct the user more accurately without having to rely on assumptions and workflows
- Help in grave situations like robbery or theft or accidents and let someone know in real time
- If more features are added then it could be put into use for the people who are visibly impaired. It can be used to help them to cross roads or know about their locations and landmarks from the place where they are
Based on these hypotheses, various business models and monetization techniques can be enabled for this mobile application:
- They could allow a facility where the user would be able to store the videos and view it unlimited number of times. This could enable brands to create their own stories and build followers to publish offers or promotions
- It could use a referral fee in generating videos and content with partners and promoters. It could be used to create 10 second commercials for targeted users
- Traditional advertisements or sale of user behavior data could also be on the cards
Sup has raised its entire seed round from Khosla Ventures and was launched in the App Store two months ago. It is interesting to watch this space of live messaging and see how it evolves.