Nick Hanauer and Rich Barton’s Stealth Startup “King of the Web” Inches Closer to Revealing What’s Under That Crown
From the drip-drip-drip department comes this little update on what some big names in Seattle tech are planning with their latest company. King of the Web, a stealth-mode social gaming startup led by aQuantive founder Nick Hanauer and former Expedia CEO Rich Barton, says it’s heading for a private beta this month.
The company currently is reaching out to people to join its Twitter and Facebook pages, saying in an e-mail that King of the Web plans to “embark on a social quest to find the web’s most engaging personalities, content, and talents.” The Twitter bio also says King of the Web is an “online reality entertainment website.”
I’m just guessing here, but those descriptions combined with some excerpts from the company’s social feeds leads me to believe King of the Web is aiming for something like a crowd-based entertainment hub focused on remixing, mashing up and ranking content from around the Web—more like Funny or Die than Farmville.
Something in that area could be interesting—or it could just get lost in the shuffle. King of the Web’s top people have not shied away from this uncertainty: Hanauer previously told The Seattle Times that “if it works, it will be huge.”
Cheezburger Network is an obvious cross-town example of how user-generated humor and entertainment communities can become a big deal. The gamification element (implied not least of all by King of the Web’s name) also is a hot theme in tech companies these days—last year, Xconomy’s Greg Huang predicted it could be one of the five areas where Seattle tech could jump ahead of everyone else.
I guess we’ll see more soon. King of the Web does have a notable stable of people at the top—along with Barton and Hanauer, the chief executive is former aQuantive vice president Maggie Boyer Finch, and fellow aQuantive alum Scott Howe is listed as a co-founder and adviser. Former Microsoftie Wassef Haroun is listed as chief technology officer—King of the Web’s bio says he “built many products for Microsoft but played no role in the Kin, Vista or Live Search.”
In the meantime, you can check out this video of some meme-conscious King of the Web workers celebrating their 400th Facebook fan by parodying an unintentionally hilarious instructional dance video known as “Double Dream Hands.”