Timehop Revives Old Memories from Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter
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fleshing out the team to six full-timers, who will explore new opportunities to be more competitive. “We’re working on expanding in terms of the sources Timehop pulls from,” he says. “The vision for the product is to collect all the data you create across different services and devices and give it back to you.”
Wegener and co-founder Benny Wong started Timehop as 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo last February at the first Foursquare Hackathon. The original plan was to let users replay their past Foursquare checkins in the present. Other versions of the product were developed to work with Facebook and Instagram. Wong and Wegener eventually pivoted and combined all the versions into a daily e-mail that covered the gamut of the users’ activity.
At the time, Wegener and Wong were developing FriendsList as part of the first class of NYC TechStars. Wegener says FriendsList was supposed to be a Craigslist rival, where friends recommend jobs and other social classified ads to each other. “We worked on it through May before deciding that we didn’t see a future in the product and that type of business,” Wegener says. He and Wong killed FriendsList last summer to focus on Timehop.
Sharing content from the past is an increasingly competitive space. In addition to Facebook’s timeline, New York’s Proust.com is an online scrapbook to keep track of and share personal moments. Staying alive in this segment, however, can be challenging. Internet company IAC, parent of Proust, almost pulled the plug on the scrapbook in January but at the last minute chose to keep Proust.com active. IAC did not respond to requests for comment on Proust’s near demise but it is not hard to imagine Facebook’s timeline belligerently attacking this space like a honey badger.
Wegener says Facebook’s timeline is a different kind of product. “Ours is a more personal, private product about digesting your past one day at a time,” he says. Wegener says regardless of what others have done with content from the past, he sees Timehop as a more effcient option. “Twitter doesn’t even have a way of browsing past tweets, you have to scroll down,” he says. “We think there is a lot more to do with personal data and record keeping.”
The next step in the entrepreneurs’ evolution will be to figure out how to monetize their new company. At the moment Wegener says Timehop’s team is more focused on developing the product than solidifying a business plan to generate revenue. Wegener says he thinks of Timehop as similar to Flickr and iPhoto for storing memories. “If nothing else, we have an effective advertising business here,” he says. Timehop boasts an “open rate”—a measure marketers use to track how often e-mails are opened by the recipients—that’s up to three times the market standard, he says.
Wegener says his team is developing more features, including the ability for users to share Timehop content . They are also working on ways to make the content more interactive, with comments and tags. That will spell a change in medium in the future. “It means transitioning from an e-mail to a website product,” Wegener says. He also says Timehop is developing ways to help users document their lives now. “Those features are going to produce more content that lives on Timehop, versus Timehop scraping other services,” he says.