L013: MyLikes -- Monetizing Tweets before Twitter's "Tweetsense"

MyLikes [ mylikes.com ]
LAUNCHERS: CEO and co-founder Bindu Reddy was a Google Apps product lead and worked on Google Docs, Video, Blogger and Shopping. Co-founder Arvind Sundararajan is dipping his toes into entrepreneurial waters for the first time, coming off a senior staff software engineer position at Google.

WHAT: Essentially "tweetsense," a cost-per-click ad service that matches marketers with anyone with a Twitter account who wants to make a little extra cash. They also provide the ability for marketers to sponsor blog posts and YouTube videos.

WHEN/WHERE: Originally launched in March 2009 as Likaholix (horrible name), they pivoted to MyLikes in January 2010. The company is located in San Francisco.

WHY: Celebs have long been shilling for dough on their Twitter accounts either directly or with the use of Los Angeles-based advertising rep firm Ad.ly, so why shouldn't the masses get their beaks wet?

Bindu tells LAUNCH: "We all agree... publishing is going crazy. It's democratic, everybody can publish something, somewhere. All you need is some place to say it where you can gather an audience. This is the best form of advertising there is."

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SCREEN SHOT 1: Choose categories you're interested in, and MyLikes gives you options. Right now it's a shallow group of marketers, and the most effective device seems to be marketing quizzes about celebrities.   


SCREEN SHOT 2: After you "like" a campaign, customize your tweet about the product and choose when to post it. You can post it repeatedly for up to five days. "-- Ad" is placed at the end of your tweet automatically.


WHO BACKED IT: A group of ex-Googlers, to the tune of $630K in the seed round, followed by a Khosla Ventures-led series A of $5.55M.

LAUNCH Analysis: We've always hated blatant, pay-per-post advertising in our friends' personal content streams; however with ample disclosure -- and low frequency -- we probably won't bother to unsubscribe from friends who use MyLikes. This is a serious threat to Ad.ly, which doesn't disclose its revenue split with individuals (really lame), because MyLikes is an actual marketplace with transparency run by Google nerds. We could see many celebrities defecting from Ad.ly to MyLikes based on bigger returns and more ad buys. MyLikes already claims Snoop Dogg, Snooki and Kourtney Kardashian as members.

ONE MORE THING: Bindu assured us that MyLikes can't be used to improve Google search results because Twitter uses no-follow, but we're certain this will become a quick way for SEOs to buy page rank (even if only on sites that syndicate tweets). After all, no one actually knows how the Google or Bing search teams are using social data, and it's hard to believe that 1,000 tweets on Twitter don't have any impact on search results. We're laying odds that if, not when, Matt Cutts does drop a hint on this front it will probably be along the lines of "probably not a good idea."

AND ONE MORE THING: If you want to be taken seriously you can't have so many spammy advertisers. While the concept of democratized advertising is one we can get behind, if MyLikes isn't judicious in curating its stable of advertisers, the company may see the stream of the even marginally credible influencers and advertisers run for the hills. Perception is reality, and the reality is these advertisers suck right now.

AND ONE MORE THING: The creator of Gmail, Paul Buchheit, is on the board. Interesting.

ODDS OF GETTING BANNED BY TWITTER: 5 to 1. Dick Costolo doesn't have a problem with Ad.ly we're told, but we're certain his indefatigable capitalism isn't thrilled with it. We're laying 5 to 1 that he might find this product a little too close to the self-serve "tweetsense" that Twitter is in the process of building and ban it. The risk, of course, is that celebrities might move to an open Twitter-like platform.

1. Sponsored Tweets Launches: The End of Twitter As We Know It? (Mashable, Aug. 3, 2009)

2. Navigating FTC's Guidance on Social Media Marketing (Adweek, Nov. 30, 2009)

Bindu Reddy, CEO & co-founder
bindu at mylikes.com

Arvind Sundararajan, co-founder
arvind at mylikes.com

Paul Buchheit, investor & board member

Jobs: http://mylikes.com/jobs
Blog: http://blog.mylikes.com/


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