Turning On The Lights

Earlier today, Rumr, a new pseudo-anonymous messaging app (backed by a group of folks including Google Ventures) unveiled itself to the world (well, technically just the U.S. for now). Given how hot the broader space currently is — actually, both “anonymish” and messaging services — the launch garnered quite a bit of coverage.

The most extensive article was by Natasha Lomas, while Ellis Hamburger was kind enough to quote me on a couple things. Much as I did with the Secret launch, I figured I’d paste my full quote to Ellis in context below:

As you’re aware, “pseudo-anonymous” networks have started to enter the cultural zeitgeist. I don’t think this is a matter of coincidence; I view it as a movement against the “real identity” social network to which we’ve all grown accustom. At the same time, I don’t believe fully anonymous — “fully” being the key word — networks will work for most use cases at scale. Hence, the rise of these pseudo-anonymous networks that are built on top of existing connections, like your address book, but still allow for a refreshing layer of anonymity.

Rumr strikes me as a fun, clever way to build a chat experience on top of this idea. The team behind it has great experience in the messaging space and I believe is well positioned to merge the two fields.

I think for something like this, use cases will present themselves as the network evolves. I could rattle off some, but I think anything I say, the community will ultimately prove wiser than myself. This is the single most exciting time for services like this one: when you unleash them into the world to see how the world reacts.

Ellis keyed in on my last point, and I think rightfully so. I test a lot of services before they’re ready to go live. A lot. And I’m often asked what I think about where they’ll grow. The truth, as we see time and time again, is that it’s nearly impossible to tell how a service will evolve once it’s out there. You can try to extrapolate it out based on your own use case, but you’ll likely be wrong.

I view this as both a good and bad thing.

In the best-case scenario, you have something like Twitter which is put out there as a simple tool to tell the world what you’re up to, and the community takes it and creates something different — including its own syntaxes.

In the worst case scenario, you have a team who labors on something for months and perfectly tailors everything for their vision, only to find it flop when it goes live because it’s too rigid. This is one of the reasons a true Beta App Store (for iOS) will be so vital going forward.

Until then, developers have to walk a fine line between making an app that’s polished but not too polished. And that’s extremely hard to do. But when it works, sometimes it really works.

So join me in watching Rumr turn on the lights, as they turn off the lights.

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