AnyBeat: Not a Facebook Replacement But an Online Global Public Square

WHAT: An online community for public discussion on topics ranging from politics to religion and meeting like-minded individuals. Users can sign up with their real name or use a pseudonym and post content of any length -- all profiles are public. AnyBeat's directory lets users browse profiles based on a variety of criteria, including gender, age, occupation and interest. 

AnyBeat also lets users post questions. When a user answers a question, AnyBeat associates the response with the user's profile. Power users monitor the site for bad behavior.

LAUNCHERS: Dmitry Shapiro, co-founder and CEO, was CTO of MySpace and founded Internet TV service Veoh; Jordan Fowler, Scott Rushforth, Andrew Arrow.

WHY: Dominant social networks don't make it easy way to find and interact with new people. Facebook explicitly prohibits people from meeting "strangers" and has become boring (for some people). Social networks today don't have much soul and don't require much engagement. Google proved the search market wasn't dead when everyone thought it was -- same could be true for social networking. 

WHEN/WHERE: Sept. 13, 2011 (private beta), Los Angeles.

AnyBeat, formerly known as Altly, came out of Dmitry's frustration with privacy settings on social networks. During his year as CTO at Myspace, he realized that a lot of people simply missed the original MySpace, and he kept that in mind while creating AnyBeat.

"It was a public place," Dmitry says. "It was a place to manage relationships with people you know. It was a place where you could go and meet people and it was a friendly place. It was a place where you could go and find someone's profile and say hello."

BUSINESS MODEL: Not decided. Dmitry says it will probably be ad-supported with potentially a premium component. 

COMPETITION: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tribe, Diaspora, Tagged

"[Facebook] is not wonderful for allowing me to be ultimately open," Dmitry says. "Most people are not willing to be that disruptive. Instead, Facebook and Google+ forces people to shut up. They're afraid to say something meaningful." 

Dmitry continues, "There is very little discussion on Facebook. There's little talk of politics, religion, sex and philosophy because those are taboo topics and no one wants to offend anyone. We have no place to discuss this." 

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Nearly 100K pre-registered with the service. 

"We live in a world that is desperately trying to get us to conform and to all march to the same beat," Dmitry says. "In some ways that's good for society -- in other ways it's detrimental to the individual. Our own beat gets drowned out and people don't know who they are."

"We want to be the water cooler of the world," Dmitry says. "We want to be a place where people gather and communicate and meet each other. They can meet each other to do business together, for dating, to simply have interesting conversations with people who either share or don't share their point of view."

"When we are forced to use our official first and last name in a service, it changes the way we communicate," says Dmitry. "We start to watch what we say because we understand that everything we say can be used against us, including in a court of law." 

 Freestyle Capital, Social Leverage, DFJ, Howard Lindzon, Tom Anderson, other angel investors.




Anybeat profile page. A pink star next to a user's name indicates that person is a ranger, or in other words, an Anybeat power user. Power users have the ability to put those behaving inappropriately in a "time out" that can be a few minutes or longer (AnyBeat is still determining the length of time). Users also gain "cred" for being an active, respectful user.


In the news feed, clicking "share" enables users to repost -- similar to a retweet -- content to their AnyBeat page as well as "like" on Facebook, +1 on Google+ and post to tumblr. When a user reposts content, the comments from the original post will also appear on the repost.


The AnyBeat directory is both searchable and browsable.


Users can create both public and private groups. As an extra layer of security, users can restrict a group by email domain.  


In the AnyBeat public square, view and write posts on topics such as technology, relationships, religion and entertainment. Everything posted in the public square gets attached to the user's profile. 


User profiles show answered questions and also give visitors an opportunity to answer questions by clicking "Answer this." 



1. Dmitry Shapiro on "This Week in Startups" (Episode #187, Sept. 13, 2011)

2. "Protecting Your Privacy on Social Networking Sites" (NPR, May 21, 2010) 

3. "The Need for An Alternative to Facebook" (Altly blog, May 24, 2011) 

4. State of the Media: The Social Media Report" (Nielsen, Q3 2011)


Dmitry Shapiro 
Email: dmitry at altly dot com 
Twitter: @dmitry 

Jordan Fowler
Email: me at jordanfowler dot com 
Twitter: @TheBreeze 

Scott Rushworth

Andrew Arrow
Twitter: @andrewarrow   

Twitter: @AnyBeatDotCom