King of the Web Lets More People in on the Secret: It’s a Video-Heavy Popularity Contest with Cash Prizes

3/9/11Follow @curtwoodward

King of the Web, the social gaming startup led by some big names in Seattle tech, is opening up the private beta I speculated about earlier this month. Passwords were doled out to Twitter and Facebook followers today, and I took a peek under the hood.

From what I can see so far, King of the Web is a humor-oriented social networking site that pits everyone against each other in a quest to amass votes for the best profiles. The site says its “election cycles” are on a monthly basis, and the current cash prize right now is $1,000.

Here’s a screengrab from what looks to be the page of co-founder Nick Hanauer, who really does not need another $1,000 (I presume he’s not eligible to collect). Other top names at King of the Web include former Expedia CEO Rich Barton and Hanauer’s former aQuantive colleagues Maggie Finch and Scott Howe.

I’m reminded right away of Funny or Die, the comedy-video ranking site started by Will Ferrell and friends (although that has professional comedy content). There’s also a bit of pop-culture DNA recalling the meme factory over at Cheezburger Network, and even the ratings feature on plain old YouTube videos.

But it’s not just about comedy. The leader when I checked in was “Pwn Star,” who is actually campaigning on a platform of making female characters in video games better—less sexpot cliché, more butt-kicking awesome. Her page gives good and bad examples of what she’s talking about. The previous “king” was someone who posted a ton of puzzles to their page.

Other people are making it more of a straight-up popularity contest by posting videos of themselves doing funny things. That includes someone’s dog chasing a radio-controlled truck. The site is putting an emphasis on video as a means of getting your face and candidacy out there.

So let’s count the Internet trends being weaved together here: The social graph, gamification, and user-generated content. I’m not sure where to file the cash prizes part, but that’s really timeless.

As for the business model, we’ll have to see about that later. The people running the site are heavy Facebook and Twitter users, and I would guess this really will rely on lots of integration with those portals.

But you have to like the candor of the top guys: Barton told TechFlash last year that “It’s one of those ideas that’s totally binary. It will be huge or it will be nothing.”

As a side note, it’s interesting to see such a big elections angle from a guy like Hanauer. He lost big-time on his last foray in elections, when he vocally came out in support of Initiative 1098, which sought to establish a Washington state income tax on the rich.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • http://www.youtube.com sam dearce

    whiteboy7thst should get the 1000 dollar prize