If you’ve been reading Betabeat carefully (and who hasn’t?!) you may have noticed a few mentions of a startup called Subjot co-founded by the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Becky Carella. The service came out of private beta today and we gChatted Mr. Carella about what users can expect and why Subjot is “not just another social network.”
The basic premise is simple: sharing online is great and all . . . until the content that’s being posted is of no interest to you. To fix that problem, Subjot organizes everything by–you guessed it–subjects. Every item posted to Subjot is tagged with a particular subject, like say “tech” or “music” or “food.”
The couple was inspired by topic-specific threads on Quora. Indeed, Mr. Carella told us beta users have been describing Subjot as “a cross between Quora and Twitter.” But where Mr. Carella described Twitter as more of a “broadcast mechanism” where a discussion between people you follow can quickly become tedious to outsiders, “We think of Subjot as more of a conversation platform.” The trick to keeping it conversational? In-line comments.
In private beta, the site amassed 4,000 users. Mr. Carella says 90 percent of the site’s most active users (people who visit at least once a week), end up visiting at least once daily.
Betabeat: Does the distinction you want to draw between Subjot and Twitter mean users won’t be able synch tweets or Facebook status updates to Subjot?
Well right now you can push jots (posts) out to Twitter and Facebook. There is a little icon next to the jot box that lets you do that. And we have been pulling in tweets with hashtags on our feature list. So really I want to be integrated to the extent it makes sense.
Ah okay. But not all tweets?
It’s very hard to categorize tweets using natural language processing.
We can imagine.
The whole point of Subjot is that you only see the posts you care about. In our early beta, really the prototype, we had this notion of Google Reader for people. You could hook up your Bnter account and your Ex.fm account, Foursquare, etc. And every time you posted to that network it pulled into Subjot. It was pretty cool, and I still love the concept but in execution it felt very spammy. Because it turns out you generate a lot of content on those other networks.
Like an RSS feed of everything a person does?
Yeah, totally. I think there is a better execution of that we could try. I don’t want to know when you check in to your office but maybe I do want to know if you check into a bar.
So I personally have a bunch of Twitter lists and Google Reader subject folders just for the purpose of organizing content by subject. That inherently makes sense to me.
The problem with Twitter lists in my opinion is that I have you on my tech list, but then you start posting about your son’s little league game. And only one of those 2 things I’m really interested in.
Right. However, I”m curious what you think users appetite is for posting on yet another service?
I think that might be the $1B question.
In our earliest prototypes, we had maybe 50 people and I was kind of testing that theory out. Becky and I have built tons of prototypes and had those same 50 people play. In most of the previous ones they got bored very quickly. So when they started sticking around Subjot and posting more content than they did elsewhere we started to feel like we were on the right track. Once we added inline comments, the service got a lot more sticky.
That makes sense. Clean and conversational.
I used Hot Potato like crazy (I also did some work with them). I literally don’t have a great social network to talk about NFL football on. Twitter people follow me for tech, they literally unfollow me with every NFL tweet. Facebook is a mess of people who care about all kinds of things. So yes, I think there is room for posting to another service where I can talk football with people who care or hip hop with other people who like it.
The Subjot blog describes the service as a combination of graphs.
Facebook has your social graph, who you connect with. We’re building an interest graph: what you care about (based on what you post about and what you follow). So imagine logging into the NYTimes.com with your Subjot account and having it more customized for you, which is hard to do with the Facebook and Twitter APIs. But not so hard with Subjot’s graph. That’s what I think is the really big opportunity.