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With Amo, the founder of Zenly wants to make social apps social again

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In 2018, I wrote a TechCrunch article stating that 2018 was “the 12 months social networks have been not social.” Reflecting on that article, I’m undecided that 2018 was the turning level. However the premise of the article nonetheless holds up nicely.

In some unspecified time in the future, social networks have been not about connecting along with your closest associates, maintaining with long-distance members of the family and feeling a particular reference to folks you’re keen on.

TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Fb, YouTube and X (previously Twitter) are all slowly evolving to develop into the identical infinite scrollable feed of algorithm-optimized quick movies from prime performers.

And it seems that I’m not the one one who has observed that social networks have been slowly drifting away from their unique goal. Amo, a small workforce primarily based in Paris, has been working for the higher a part of 2023 on a model new social app referred to as ID.

ID is a social app launching in the present day on iOS that permits you to join with your mates in a artistic method. In some ways, it feels just like the early days of blogs, MySpace’s highly-personalized profile pages and the golden period of Tumblr.

However first, some context about Amo. There’s loads of hype and anticipation surrounding Amo’s launch as the corporate has been co-founded by Antoine Martin, who was the co-founder of Zenly with Alexis Bonillo. Zenly was a preferred social app targeted on location sharing that inspired you to spend extra time with your mates and uncover new locations.

Snap spent greater than $200 million to accumulate Zenly and saved the identical workforce to iterate on it, as a separate app. Underneath Snap’s possession, Zenly grew to become certainly one of Europe’s largest social apps of all time. At its peak the corporate had 18 million completely different customers opening the app day-after-day.

After which… it disappeared.

As a part of Snap’s cost-cutting efforts, the corporate determined to close down Zenly altogether. From what I’ve heard, this transfer even triggered discussions between French politicians on the highest degree and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.

Many key members of the Zenly workforce are actually working at Amo. In truth, there are 10 co-founders. Along with Martin, Corentin Kerisit, Michael Goldenstein, Claire Pluvinage, Charly Delaroche, Julien Martin, Quentin Perez, Nicolas Fallourd, Alexis Druon and Jean-Baptiste Dalido are all Amo co-founders and all former Zenly folks.

The second motive why Amo’s launch is very anticipated is that the startup closed an $18 million funding spherical in February or March at a valuation round $100 million with New Wave main the spherical, and Coatue and DST Global additionally collaborating. There are additionally 80 angel traders on Amo’s cap desk.

This can be a extremely uncommon funding spherical because it occurred in 2023 (throughout a VC funding downturn), Amo is a cell client startup (no income for now) and the startup didn’t have any product on the market.

An empty canvas

In 2010, Jürgen Schweizer from Cultured Code, the corporate behind private process administration app Issues, wrote a blog post shortly after Steve Jobs launched the unique iPad. In that submit, he in contrast the iPad to an empty canvas.

“If you wish to perceive what makes the iPad particular, you can’t take a look at what it has, however what it doesn’t have. The iPad is so skinny and lightweight, it turns into the show, and the show turns into the applying. No enter gadgets. The machine vanishes and turns into the applying you’re utilizing. The know-how is clear,” Schweizer wrote.

And this analogy applies notably nicely to ID and Amo’s work as nicely. There are various issues that you are able to do with ID. There are additionally many issues that we take without any consideration in a social app that merely aren’t there.

ID is an empty canvas paired with artistic instruments that aid you categorical your self. You need to use it to create a profile that completely describes your pursuits in a visible method. However there’s a social twist as you may each see your mates’ profiles and add issues to their very own profiles.

Picture Credit: Romain Dillet

If you first create your profile on ID, you get an empty whiteboard that’s ready for content material. You may fill it your self in 4 other ways.

You may add stickers out of your sticker library (extra on that later), you may seize content material out of your picture library, you may write textual content or you may draw. If you select a photograph, ID routinely creates a cut-out of the primary object or topic within the picture utilizing PhotoRoom’s technology.

This may really feel instantly acquainted to Pinterest customers who like to construct temper boards or software program builders who cowl their model new laptop computer lid with stickers.

Each digital object will be moved, resized and rotated. After some time, your profile turns into this kind of spatial canvas. You may make issues so small that they kind of disappear… except you zoom in.

You may create small islands that outline what’s in your thoughts proper now. As an example, you may have a Los Angeles nook with the favourite buildings you noticed throughout your trip, group pictures with your mates, the cup of your favourite espresso store there, and so on. You may also have a restaurant nook with pictures of meals from fancy eating places the place you’ve lately been.

All the things feels easy and pure. You scroll, zoom in, zoom out, leap from one profile to the opposite. There’s a way of depth and house that I’ve by no means seen in another app. Photographs by no means really feel pixelated and also you don’t really feel such as you’re ready for one thing to load.

If you happen to’ve been utilizing ID for some time, issues can develop into messy — however so is life. “And it’s high-quality. My character is chaotic — our personalities are chaotic. They’re multifaceted and so they’re not neatly organized in a 3×3 grid,” Amo CEO Antoine Martin stated.

Emergent gameplay

As you begin looking across the app and what’s new in your associates’ profile web page, chances are you’ll wish to steal one thing to your personal wall. ID allows you to add content material from different profiles to your sticker library as a way to both add it to your individual profile or put it on another person’s profile.

I’ve been utilizing the app for a bit bit greater than per week, and I can already see some tendencies spreading across the small neighborhood of beta customers. You may see who initially created a sticker because it strikes round from one wall to a different. Some customers have put good cabinets to allow them to neatly categorize the whole lot that issues to them. A person created a guestbook part on her profile. “If you happen to’re dropping by, please go away a notice right here,” she wrote.

Just a few video video games rely closely on the participant’s creativity to have enjoyable, comparable to Minecraft or latest Zelda video games. In these video games, you may create your individual fortress or construct your individual car.

And that’s additionally the primary idea behind ID. Amo offers you the artistic instruments and a limitless Figma-like canvas. Now, it’s as much as the neighborhood to determine what they wish to do with it. And the most effective half is that it doesn’t appear like another social app on the market.

Picture Credit: Romain Dillet

Possibly Amo will find yourself fostering a creator economic system with unique content material that may actually make your profile stand out. Possibly the corporate will add some premium options over time. For now, Amo needs to discover a hit.

“We’re prioritizing scale as a result of my purpose is to create an indestructible firm. And it’s Zenly’s founder who’s saying that! I used to suppose that 18 million [daily active users] could be sufficient to make an organization indestructible. However I used to be fallacious. I feel you want 100 million [daily active users],” Martin advised me.

Curing loneliness

When the Amo workforce began engaged on ID, they wished to discover a method to treatment loneliness. It appears a bit counterintuitive to construct a social app as folks spend a lot time on their cellphone already. However, based on Antoine Martin, it’s simply that present social apps don’t have your finest pursuits in thoughts.

“The [World Health Organization] now calls it the loneliness epidemic. And if they are saying that it’s an epidemic, it’s as a result of it’s really infectious. In different phrases, for those who’re remoted, your family members are too since you’re unreachable. So in the course of the two hours you’re on TikTok, they’ve nobody to speak to,” Martin advised me.

“And on the similar time, the human wants that the social client house can fulfill are not coated by these merchandise, whereas they was,” he added. “Within the early days of Fb, I don’t know for those who keep in mind, profiles have been kind of a mash-up. There have been drawings, video games, pictures, textual content. You’d write lengthy feedback, it might be a poem . . . And however, it was a reminder that you simply mattered to those folks.”

In keeping with him, the present era of social networks are very passive. You don’t must do a lot to spend two hours on TikTok or YouTube as a result of these corporations need you to spend as a lot time as doable in these apps. “We aspire to return to those earlier precepts and make them work,” Martin stated.

That’s additionally the rationale why Amo doesn’t need you to spend hours within the app. When you will have a couple of minutes, you may open the app to examine what’s new in your associates’ profiles by swiping up on the notification playing cards.

If you’ve reached the final card, ID reveals you a message that claims “get some recent air.” After which, the app closes itself. You’re again on the house display, you may put your cellphone again in your pocket.

Picture Credit: Romain Dillet

Amo & ID

ID is an opinionated tackle social apps, however is it going to work? Given the previous expertise of the workforce and Amo’s deep pockets, if there’s one workforce that has a shot at attempting one thing radically new within the house, it’s Amo.

“We’re intentionally transport one thing 8 or 9 months after the launch of the corporate as a result of we swore to ourselves that it wouldn’t take us a 12 months to get began, that we’d be taught extra by constructing in public,” Martin stated.

Whereas ID is Amo’s first concept, the corporate probably has different concepts within the client social house — Amo didn’t identify its app ‘Amo’ in any case. So it’s going to be fascinating to comply with the launch of this new app, but additionally Amo’s story as an organization.

Picture Credit: Amo

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