Monday, June 16, 2008

Wowzio Widgets Platform launched

As you might know, we launched blogsJam, a simple and fast web based RSS reader at the beginning of 2008. It received very encouraging feedback. Around the same time, we also launched a simple content widget. Since then, we have rolled out a couple more widgets, i.e. a slideshow widget, and a tagcloud widget. These widgets provide navigation tools to blog readers. Bloggers have really liked these widgets, and a good number of bloggers have installed these widgets on their blogs.

This has been very thrilling for us. It tells us that these widgets are indeed useful, and has led to us spending a lot of time working on building a widgets platform, which we are launching as Wowzio.

Wowzio widgets are based on open standards ( javascript, css ), and supports all blogging platforms that allow javascript to be embedded. The architecture is designed for high performance and scale from the ground up.

We invite you to come and check out Wowzio, our new widgets platform, and give us your feedback. We've posted a sample slideshow widget for the blog 'BollywoodBuzz.in' in the top right corner.

Thx,
The BlogsJam Team

Thursday, February 21, 2008

blogsJam versus TrafficJam

We heard of the beta launch of TrafficJam this morning. We checked it out, and found the service to be delightful. We had ourselves soft launched blogsJam last week. These 2 services have some similarities, they both organize blog posts by topic/channel, and they are both web based blog readers. But there are also some differences between the two, so I thought I'd list them out in this post :

1. TrafficJam uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the popularity of blog posts ( based on clicks, time spend, etc. ), this is used to rank posts within a category. blogsJam has editorially selected the top blogs ( & bloggers ) and categorized their blogs into channels like 'Green Energy', 'India Technology', 'BollyWood' etc. Within a channel/category, the posts are ranked chronologically, with most recent first.

2. TrafficJam uses data from the BlogRush network, I think this implies that a blog needs to install the BlogRush widget, for its post to show up on TrafficJam. blogsJam has no such requirement, an editorial decision is made to whether a blog should be included in a given channel/category a priori.

3. TrafficJam's algorithm relies on feedback paths and needs a certain amount of aging. blogsJam pulls up blog posts in real-time, there's no delay in a blog being posted, and it appearing on blogsJam.

4. TrafficJam has build a product for a global audience, they cover a large number of blogs and aid in the discovery of good quality posts. blogsJam's intended audience is primarily comprised of Indian users, and the value proposition is the ability to read good quality blog posts fast, where the bloggers have been editorially pre-qualified.

These are just a few things I've noticed, needless to say, there might be others. I would like to congratulate TrafficJam on a delightful and very-cool looking product. I hope both these services contribute in their own unique ways to the ever-growing blogosphere ecosystem.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi & Hyderabad go live

CitiPals continues its nationwide rollout with the recent launches of 5 new metros across India, namely Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi & Hyderabad.

For those of you new to CitiPals, we are building a lifestyle oriented search engine for India. Besides able to find a restaurant, pub, disco or coffee bar, we also help you discover some of the hidden gems in your city. We do this by bubbling up reviews and recommendations from your friends.

So go on over to http://www.citipals.com, review your favourite hangouts, and help out your friends discover exciting new places.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Facebook's Open Platform : Master Stroke or Big Mistake

The conventional wisdom is that facebook making itself an open platform was a stroke of genius. However, over the last few weeks, some data+news and some thinking has led me to question the conventional wisdom, especially from the point of view of facebook being a business wanting to drive up revenue in the coming years.

I am gonna divide the discussion into 2 scenarios. In both scenarios, the starting point is the same i.e facebook is already a well-established social networking site, growing very fast. Scenario #1 is what facebook has done so far and the path it will have to follow given it's action so far. Scenario #2 is a hypothetical one i.e "what if" facebook would not have made itself an open platform.

Scenario I:
# Facebook starts focusing its time and resources on building a platform with open API(s), client libraries, guidelines, building a very flexible and extremely scalable architecture with caching etc.
# Facebook launches its platform and makes it available for developers. A lot of time and energy is spend on working out the kinks.
# Tons of apps are launched increasing the need for facebook to scale up its system ( hardware and software )
# New problems/issues surface. Apps are spammy and facebook has to spend a lot of time/energy fighting feed/notification spam.
# Facebook also launches an ad system based on profile-based targeting. An amazing feat given all the other challenges they have been facing.
# However 2 huge issues with the ad platform :
(1) eCPM is extremely low. I have heard of and myself experienced eCPMs of a few cents ( less than 10 cents ). On the other hand, high monetization verticals like autos have eCPM of ~$20 ( with a single ad unit ).
(2) privacy concerns.
# So now, facebook will be spending a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to increase their monetization. It is definitely not easy to have a good monetization engine based on profile and some user action/messages. Remember that the canvas page now belongs to the app owner and not facebook.
# For a given vertical ( say movies ), there are multiple applications available. If things on facebook work out the same way as it does otherwise, we will see 2-4 big players in each vertical. Now, this means that although you and your friends are on facebook, you might have installed different apps but of similar nature. This would mean that information that your friends are sharing in 1 app will not come to you at all and vice-versa. Isn't that the same problem that exists on the internet today ? And yes, it exists because the internet is an open platform and web sites are application and the same effect will happen since facebook is now a platform and the apps are the applications.
# Users become unhappy about the spam they get or the useful info that they do not get in their news feed.

I am not suggesting that facebook is doomed in this scenario. It's still doing extremely well. But the question is for themselves to prove their valuation and increase it. Seems like in scenario I, facebook did increase it's pageviews and user enagagment ( as well as spam ) but they have paid a huge price for it. In a certain way, they are hosting the internet ( part of it ) and will be unable to extract tons of value from it. And at the same time, they have created islands within facebook itself which do not talk to each other, leading to bad user experience.

Scenario II:
# As mentioned, Facebook has already solved the hard problem of building a large social graph.
# They still create a platform on which apps can be built internally ( or selectively with partners, a la Apple's iPhone ) since it's a good model/architecture. However, they do not have to worry about a lot of things, including scaling very rapidly, fighting feed/notification spam, etc.
# Instead, they spend time/energy on building killer apps themselves and along with partners, one for each vertical or functional area rather than multiple ones, which is the case today.
# Pageviews/Engagement grows ( maybe not as fast as it has grown by opening up the platform ).
# However, facebook is now able to monetize at much higher eCPM. It owns/partners on all the app pages and targeting is easier, examples being a travel app where a page is about boston or a car app where the page is about an audi.

Bottom line, in scenario II, user experience is much better, no spam and no multiple applications even amongst friends leading to isolated islands. More importantly, facebook would have been able to spend it's time and energy on a path leading to much higher monetization and revenues.

Your thoughts ?

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Citipals reaches to Kolkata

"Good Friends, Good Times". Kolkatians now have a new web destination, its http://www.citipals.com/kolkata , the home url of CitiPals Kolkata. Whether you enjoy Kolkata's food & dining, its arts & entertainment, movies, or its night life, now you can come to http://www.citipals.com/kolkata, to find out what your friends opinions are about all these places in Kolkata. You can also share your thoughts and opinions with your friends. CitiPals's goal is to
connect you with your friends to help with everyday choices.

Opinions of reviewers are good but opinions from your "friends" are priceless to help you make the right choice. There's an implicit level of trust you associate with folks you know. CitiPals captures this and provides trusted recommendations by weighing in your social network higher. Opinions of folks in your social network are not only weighted higher as you peruse information on CitiPals, they are also displayed prominently along with your 'relationship map' to that user. Your social network on CitiPals comprises of friends ( and their friends, up to 3 degrees ) as well as users you trust. Over time, you might start trusting some users whose opinions have helped you, and/or whose tastes are similar to yours. These are users you trusts, and CitiPals allows you to mark them as "trusted reviewer", and include in your social network.

The notion of trust has been extended to the web at large, and is not just limited to reviews written on CitiPals. CitiPals has adopted the open model of web 2.0. Opinions are aggregated from the web and a CitiPals user can trust someone who writes on other publications, websites and blogs.

If you are a blogger, if you have discovered some hidden gems in Kolkata, or someone who would simply like to share your thoughts about places in Kolkata, head on over to and invite your friends to join you as well. Your reviews will be useful not only to your friends, but to the web community at large.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MovieMatch : A new Facebook App for Indians launches

Indians have a passion for cinema, Bollywood as well as Hollywood. CitiPals has just launched a Facebook app called "MovieMatch", that helps you compare your tastes in movies with your friends. Moviematch facebook app url is http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=5173393793

"MovieMatch" lets you share opinions and reviews across a comprehensive set of Bollywood and Hollywood movies. The app has a 'Language Setting' thats lets you pick 'Bollywood only' or 'Hollywood only' movies, If you are a fan of both, you can pick 'Bollywood + Hollywood' movies. The app features rich content like experts reviews, video clips and photos.

To play MovieMatch, you rate/review a set of 25 movies from 5 categories (it takes only a couple of minutes). You can then compare your tastes with your friends and see how much you have in common. Now, when you read a review from a user who has played MovieMatch, you also know how your taste in movies match up with the reviewer's taste. If your tastes are aligned, you might be more inclined to trust this reviewer.

More about Facebook: Facebook, the fastest growing social network in the world is making big strides into the Indian market. There are 300k plus users from India on facebook. And an additional 500k to 700k Indians or users of Indian origins from other parts of the world are on facebook, bringing the target market of this app to a existing user base of approx one million users.

More about Citipals: There is a universal need to get advise, opinions and recommendations you can trust. CitiPals.com is building a platform that processes and filters information specifically for you, to deliver recommendations, that you can trust. The web-site url for CitiPals is http://www.citipals.com .

For more info or feedback, pl. contact us at http://www.citipals.com/common/feedback or via email at bizdev@citipals.com .

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Answer to "User's quest for trusted recommendations" ...

Note: This press release has been published on 3rd October, 2007. This is just for records and for people who wish to know more about citipals.

There is a universal need to get advise, opinions and recommendations you can trust. CitiPals.com is building a platform that processes and filters information specifically for you, to deliver recommendations, that you can trust.

Problem/Need: It's common on the web, to get reviews, however in most cases the reviewer is not known to you. You also have no way of knowing how much you have in common with the reviewer or how trustworthy the reviewer is.

Solution: Opinions of reviewers are good but opinions from your "friends" are priceless to help you make the right choice. There's an implicit level of trust you associate with folks you know. CitiPals captures this and provides trusted recommendations by weighing in your social network higher. Opinions of folks in your social network are not only weighted higher as you peruse information on CitiPals, they are also displayed prominently along with your 'relationship map' to that user. Your social network on CitiPals comprises of friends ( and their friends, up to 3 degrees ) as well as users you trust. Over time, you might start trusting some users whose opinions have helped you, and/or whose tastes are similar to yours. These are users you trusts, and CitiPals allows you to mark them as "trusted reviewer", and include in your social network.

The notion of trust has been extended to the web at large, and is not just limited to reviews written on CitiPals. CitiPals has adopted the open model of web 2.0. Opinions are aggregated from the web and a CitiPals user can trust someone who writes on other publications, websites and blogs.

CitiPals is launching MovieMatch, which lets a user rate/review a set of 25 movies from 5 categories (it takes only a couple of minutes). You can then compare your tastes with your friends (for fun), or any other user for that matter (more fun). Now, when you read a review from a user who has played MovieMatch, you also know how your taste in movies match up to this user. If your tastes are aligned, you might be more inclined to trust this user's reviews. MovieMatch can be found at http://www.citipals.com/moviematch

CitiPals's slogan is "CitiPals connects you with your friends to help with everyday choices”.

Coverage :

CitiPals currently covers food & dining, nightlife, health and beauty categories in India ( Mumbai and Pune ) along with Bollywood & Hollywood movies. There are plans to cover more categories, as well as major metros and towns across India.

Feature Set :

1) Higher Weighting of reviews/opinions from your social network across the entire site.

2) Relationship map ( showing how a person is connected to you ).

3) Allowing 2-way relationship (friends) as well as 1-way (trusted reviewer).

4) Increased inter-action between users by having features like "Send compliments to reviewer"

5) Making it easy to ask your friends/network for recommendations.

6) Giving user level stats like profile views and review views, to gauge one's popularity.

7) Relevant search eg, if you search for "chinese" in a specific city/suburb, you will see the top-rated restaurants higher.

8) User generated content - business listings, photos, videos, reviews.

9) Aggregation of reviews and videos from the web.

10) MovieMatch – a fun and engaging way to compare your taste in movies with those of your friends.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Social Networks Mania


Does all the buzz about social networks have you wondering where this phenomenon is headed? We have been wondering about it at CitiPals, here's our (somewhat humorous) take on where all this could be headed ... . We've tried sprinkling in some satire and hyperbole, to make it funny. We hope it helps lighten up your day. Needless to say, Social Networks Mania is purely a work of fiction.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

MovieMatch - compare your tastes in movies with friends

Ever wondered if you and your friends share the same taste in movies. If you knew that your tastes align well with a bunch of friends, you would be more inclined to trust their recommendation when a new movie comes out.

MovieMatch ( http://www.citipals.com/moviematch ) lets you compare your taste in movies with your friends.

Its simple. You rate/review a set of 25 movies from 5 categories (it takes only a couple of minutes). You can then compare your tastes with your friends (for fun), or any other user for that matter (more fun). Now, when you read a review from a user who has played MovieMatch, you also know how your taste in movies match up to this user.

We had been busy working on this for a while now, and are happy to make it available to you.
Needless to say, pl. provide your valuable feedback at http://www.citipals.com/common/feedback

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Movies - Hoi Hoi

yes, we saw how much demand there is for movies, and are rolling out movies in a more comprehensive fashion. we have also aggregated video clips of your favorite movies and songs, so you can get a much better and direct feel about a flix, to help you decide if you would like to watch it. here are a couple of examples http://www.citipals.com/business/catalogvideo?bizid=25695&videoid=12512 and http://www.citipals.com/business/catalogvideo?bizid=28102&videoid=12400

as usual, pl. keep all the good feedback coming ....