Seesmic vs. Hictu: a lesson in bootstrapping

Loic Le Meur’s new company, Seesmic, was given raves by Mike Arrington this morning.

That drew out Luca Filigheddu who asked whether Arrington was talking about his service, Hictu. Now Hictu had remained off of my radar screen until he made that comment so off I went to check it out.

First of all, notice the difference in launch strategies used by these two guys. Loic has been visiting a whole series of bloggers and showing off his software. Asking for advice. Doing videos where he doesn’t feature himself, but features the blogger he’s visiting. This is HUGELY smart. It’s PR that takes advantage of our egos — in a good way. I have good feelings about Loic because of how he launched his company. It’s the smartest launch I’ve seen in a while and not very expensive.

Also note that he moved to San Francisco to start his company. Why did he do that? Well, because most of the top journalists and tech bloggers are within an hour of San Francisco. So are tons of the world’s top developers and marketers and business people (not all, but enough of a concentration that Loic noticed it all the way from Paris). Smart #2.

But back to the point of this post: bootstrapping.

Why did I call Seesmic “video Twitter?” Because it actually uses Twitter and builds on top of it. Hictu doesn’t do that. I don’t see any of my friends on Hictu, while I see anyone who posts a video in Twitter in Seesmic.

That’s brilliant and is why, I think, Arrington was so addicted all weekend long.

Also, why am I more addicted to Twitter than the prettier (and more capable Pownce)? Look no further than Seesmic (and Dave Winer’s TwitterGram and FlickrGram). Among others. The API is bringing us really cool new services that aren’t possible on Pownce.

Seesmic IS addicting. I saw that immediately when Loic showed it to me. Sorry Hictu.

I sure wish companies would stop building new social networks and start bootstrapping on top of existing ones.

Comments

  1. I sure wish companies would stop building new social networks and start bootstrapping on top of existing ones.

    If the extra utility is marginal, sure, but not otherwise, else we’d all still be using ICQ. Even though Facebook goes back a lot further, though in a locked down sense, Facebook’s “development” of a new social network that superseded MySpace isn’t a bad thing. Twitter was also a new social network.

    Perhaps of more interest that coercing developers into being restricted by living on someone else’s platform, are the efforts to make social networks work together and integrate better. That way, even if you set up your own social network base, there’s a way to integrate with a user’s existing systems. Development in this area is still pretty slow but we might get there one day!

  2. I sure wish companies would stop building new social networks and start bootstrapping on top of existing ones.

    If the extra utility is marginal, sure, but not otherwise, else we’d all still be using ICQ. Even though Facebook goes back a lot further, though in a locked down sense, Facebook’s “development” of a new social network that superseded MySpace isn’t a bad thing. Twitter was also a new social network.

    Perhaps of more interest that coercing developers into being restricted by living on someone else’s platform, are the efforts to make social networks work together and integrate better. That way, even if you set up your own social network base, there’s a way to integrate with a user’s existing systems. Development in this area is still pretty slow but we might get there one day!

  3. Peter: good point. But I have social networks at Flickr, Upcoming, Yelp, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and a variety of other places. I hate all these islands and it’s just getting worse, not better, so I have to praise companies when they do bootstrap on top of another service instead of trying to reinvent everything.

  4. Peter: good point. But I have social networks at Flickr, Upcoming, Yelp, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and a variety of other places. I hate all these islands and it’s just getting worse, not better, so I have to praise companies when they do bootstrap on top of another service instead of trying to reinvent everything.

  5. The key is the people, just like the P in P2P was people. You rob banks because that’s where the money is, and you build on Twitter because the people (I want to communicate with) are there. Q.E.D.

  6. The key is the people, just like the P in P2P was people. You rob banks because that’s where the money is, and you build on Twitter because the people (I want to communicate with) are there. Q.E.D.

  7. Building your success on top of an existing network is not risk free. The network itself can, at any time, leverage itself, build what you’re doing, and kill you.

    Granted that if you get critical mass within the network before they can do what you do, the it would be difficult for them to catch up but remember, you’re in their territory, and if they want, they can do really nasty things in order to get their way. Of course, if you have your own network, you can still become obsolete if a large networks starts doing what you’re doing, but at least they cannot shut you down. Remember Alexaholic? Or the many widget sites for MySpace?

    I guess what I’m saying is that building on top of an existing network has its own set of risks.

  8. Building your success on top of an existing network is not risk free. The network itself can, at any time, leverage itself, build what you’re doing, and kill you.

    Granted that if you get critical mass within the network before they can do what you do, the it would be difficult for them to catch up but remember, you’re in their territory, and if they want, they can do really nasty things in order to get their way. Of course, if you have your own network, you can still become obsolete if a large networks starts doing what you’re doing, but at least they cannot shut you down. Remember Alexaholic? Or the many widget sites for MySpace?

    I guess what I’m saying is that building on top of an existing network has its own set of risks.

  9. Is there a real difference between this and… YouTube? Seems so hard to tell from these writeups.

    Also, since it’s a closed site in alpha, has he actually “launched” or just showed a few people?

    I like Loic too from the brief times I’ve chatted with him, but I am just not as wooed by “another video startup with a little twist”…

  10. Is there a real difference between this and… YouTube? Seems so hard to tell from these writeups.

    Also, since it’s a closed site in alpha, has he actually “launched” or just showed a few people?

    I like Loic too from the brief times I’ve chatted with him, but I am just not as wooed by “another video startup with a little twist”…

  11. YouTube doesn’t display videos that are being discussed on Twitter. YouTube doesn’t give you a way to mashup videos and/or comment on them with more video ala Kyte.tv.

    But it’s early. Loic’s company is only a week old and I’m not the PR guy for it. It’s actually a competitor (if you look at it through a certain lens) to what I’m doing at PodTech.

  12. YouTube doesn’t display videos that are being discussed on Twitter. YouTube doesn’t give you a way to mashup videos and/or comment on them with more video ala Kyte.tv.

    But it’s early. Loic’s company is only a week old and I’m not the PR guy for it. It’s actually a competitor (if you look at it through a certain lens) to what I’m doing at PodTech.

  13. Robert,
    as already explained by email, there are a couple of good points in this post. But, on top of reasons why a service gets more attention than others there is people and money. Loic is certainly better known than me or my company in the web 2.0 space and did great things before, has a “story”. Like Pownce, this service is launched by a well known person in the Web 2.0 space. In addition, money. If you get money from well known VCs, you get more attention.
    So, how to get more attention from press and tech bloggers? People + Money + a good idea = definitely more attention.

    All that said, thanks for taking a look at Hictu. My comment to that TechCrunch post led to something at least… :-)

  14. Robert,
    as already explained by email, there are a couple of good points in this post. But, on top of reasons why a service gets more attention than others there is people and money. Loic is certainly better known than me or my company in the web 2.0 space and did great things before, has a “story”. Like Pownce, this service is launched by a well known person in the Web 2.0 space. In addition, money. If you get money from well known VCs, you get more attention.
    So, how to get more attention from press and tech bloggers? People + Money + a good idea = definitely more attention.

    All that said, thanks for taking a look at Hictu. My comment to that TechCrunch post led to something at least… :-)

  15. Robert

    Do you know how Seesmic compares to Kyte? Not having had a chance to try it yet, the first thing when I saw the description was that this is a marriage of Twitter and Kyte.

  16. Robert

    Do you know how Seesmic compares to Kyte? Not having had a chance to try it yet, the first thing when I saw the description was that this is a marriage of Twitter and Kyte.

  17. Deepak: Kyte is attractive to me because of its chat room and mobile integration along with its Facebook app. Seesmic is definitely going after the chat room aspect and probably will get to the Facebook and mobile parts, but is behind in those.

    So, will Kyte get a better UI or will Seesmic get onto mobile and Facebook first? That’s the question.

  18. Deepak: Kyte is attractive to me because of its chat room and mobile integration along with its Facebook app. Seesmic is definitely going after the chat room aspect and probably will get to the Facebook and mobile parts, but is behind in those.

    So, will Kyte get a better UI or will Seesmic get onto mobile and Facebook first? That’s the question.

  19. It would seem to me that they will clash at some point. Who executes better will win. Seesmic will have to get into those two spaces for long term success.

  20. It would seem to me that they will clash at some point. Who executes better will win. Seesmic will have to get into those two spaces for long term success.

  21. “Also note that he moved to San Francisco to start his company. Why did he do that? Well, because most of the top journalists and tech bloggers are within an hour of San Francisco. So are tons of the world’s top developers and marketers and business people”

    At the end of the day it is all HYPE. Someone (I do not remember who) made a remark at the last Etel Conference “there 200 million cell phones in the USA, and 2 billion worldwide – I am going after the 2 billion”

    Robert – no offence, but you and many bloggers live in a bubble where you write about each other. Sometimes forgetting there is a real world out there.
    250 million in the USA alone, how many use these services that you write about?
    In that direction, I do agree with you on the point of building on top of existing services – that is the way to go!

  22. “Also note that he moved to San Francisco to start his company. Why did he do that? Well, because most of the top journalists and tech bloggers are within an hour of San Francisco. So are tons of the world’s top developers and marketers and business people”

    At the end of the day it is all HYPE. Someone (I do not remember who) made a remark at the last Etel Conference “there 200 million cell phones in the USA, and 2 billion worldwide – I am going after the 2 billion”

    Robert – no offence, but you and many bloggers live in a bubble where you write about each other. Sometimes forgetting there is a real world out there.
    250 million in the USA alone, how many use these services that you write about?
    In that direction, I do agree with you on the point of building on top of existing services – that is the way to go!

  23. Moshe: good point. Over in Brasil the #1 social network isn’t MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, but rather Google’s Orkut.

    I visit Europe often and have been to Japan and China too and they are quite different from the US. You underestimate how connected we are here, though. Most of the tech companies visit my town to gather funding and then visit me to show me what’s up.

    And you also don’t have a clue. Go watch http://www.twittervision.com for 10 minutes. It’s a world-wide thing, not just one in California. Although it was designed/developed in San Francisco. How did that happen?

  24. Moshe: good point. Over in Brasil the #1 social network isn’t MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, but rather Google’s Orkut.

    I visit Europe often and have been to Japan and China too and they are quite different from the US. You underestimate how connected we are here, though. Most of the tech companies visit my town to gather funding and then visit me to show me what’s up.

    And you also don’t have a clue. Go watch http://www.twittervision.com for 10 minutes. It’s a world-wide thing, not just one in California. Although it was designed/developed in San Francisco. How did that happen?

  25. The most exciting aspect of Seesmic (from what I read on TechCrunch) is the ability to have one load point for all your video which then propagates it across your various social networking sites. In addition to Facebook I’d love to see him strike some deals with Six Apart or Google’s Blogger to have them create posts when you upload video to Seesmic.

    As someone getting ready to look for funding in the next few months for a new idea, I agree that the way in which Loic promoted and launched this site is very smart and offers several good lessons for any entrepreneur. I’ll certainly be using Seesmic as soon as it’s available to the public (or sooner if I’m picked as an alpha tester.)

  26. The most exciting aspect of Seesmic (from what I read on TechCrunch) is the ability to have one load point for all your video which then propagates it across your various social networking sites. In addition to Facebook I’d love to see him strike some deals with Six Apart or Google’s Blogger to have them create posts when you upload video to Seesmic.

    As someone getting ready to look for funding in the next few months for a new idea, I agree that the way in which Loic promoted and launched this site is very smart and offers several good lessons for any entrepreneur. I’ll certainly be using Seesmic as soon as it’s available to the public (or sooner if I’m picked as an alpha tester.)

  27. [...] does officially open its doors, we could give Hictu a shot. Here is an interesting post from Robert Scoble about Seesmic and Hictu. Checkout the comments where the people behind Hictu chime in with some interesting and valid [...]

  28. It is funny reading this post now… Being popular doesn't help to make a service sticky, but helps to get a lot of money. With Hictu, we realized months ago that people DON'T like video commenting neither video micro blogging, but we spent almost zero with one/two developers and it was a side project for us. Fortunately we don't have to justify in front of our investors how we are spending 12M and how we will use that money to improve a desktop client (one developer needed, two to add the iPhone version). Anyway, good luck to Loic.

  29. It is funny reading this post now… Being popular doesn't help to make a service sticky, but helps to get a lot of money. With Hictu, we realized months ago that people DON'T like video commenting neither video micro blogging, but we spent almost zero with one/two developers and it was a side project for us. Fortunately we don't have to justify in front of our investors how we are spending 12M and how we will use that money to improve a desktop client (one developer needed, two to add the iPhone version). Anyway, good luck to Loic.