Springpad Upgrades Digital Notebook App for Sharing, Discovery, and Persistence

4/11/12Follow @gthuang

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social equation. Instead of struggling to keep up with the latest post-of-the-minute, users can go to an app where information is sorted by topics and curated by friends—and where things do change over time, of course, but at a pace more relevant to their lifestyle. “This is a way to retain information so I get it when I’m ready,” Chow says. “It’s there when I look for it. It’s persistent.”

Ah, digital persistence. That fleeting notion most of us gave up once we started trying to juggle the demands of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media while still holding down a job (don’t get me started on the news cycle). Well, a lot of innovators haven’t given up; that’s why we’re seeing a new crop of micro-social networks, online pinboards, timelines, and other apps that surface relevant information that the Web is so good at storing, but so bad at helping us organize and access in a coherent way.

All of this is particularly interesting in light of Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram, the photo-sharing mobile app startup. “The Instagram acquisition—and Pinterest for that matter—speak to the same trends of social discovery and curation from those you trust as we’re focused on in addition to collaboration,” says Janer.

So, if we think of the evolution of consumer behavior on the Web as—very broadly speaking—moving from search (Google) to sharing (Facebook) to something new, what is that something new?

“I think it’s action,” Chow says. “It’s task completion—doing research, reading a book, or cooking something.” Right now there is still a big gap between getting information on the Web and using it to do things efficiently, he says. “Search is not a decision engine,” Chow adds. “And social today is not enhancing discovery.”

That’s where the Springpad guys think their app can catch fire. They aren’t the only ones going after a big piece of the pie, of course, and time will tell whether the new app resonates with users. But the former Third Screen Media veterans have been around long enough to know they have to keep trying new approaches to see what pops.

To date, Springpad has grown quickly and steadily, but not virally. The app has more than 3 million users, most of them accessing it via both the Web and mobile devices. (Janer says 75 percent of Springpad’s user registrations originate from mobile app stores.) The company, which has 17 employees, took in $4 million from Fairhaven Capital back in 2008 and says it will probably look to raise more money later this year.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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