Posted January 7, 2014 1:24 pm by with 5 comments

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JellyIf I were to bet on a company doing great things, it would be one founded by Biz Stone. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Biz and he’s one smart cookie–I’m stating the obvious considering he co-founded Twitter.

His new company is called Jelly and it’s an app that lets you share photos with your friends and ask them to identify the contents. Here’s how Jelly describes its use:

Say you’re walking along and you spot something unusual. You want to know what it is so you launch Jelly, take a picture, circle it with your finger, and type, “What’s this?” That query is submitted to some people in your network who also have Jelly. Jelly notifies you when you have answers.

No matter how sophisticated our algorithms become, they are still no match for the experience, inventiveness, and creativity of the human mind. Jelly is a new way to search and something more–it makes helping other people easy and fun.

JellyAssuming they can ensure politicians don’t use the app to ask random women to identify different parts of their genitalia, Jelly sounds promising. Right?

Well, maybe not. You see, we’ve seen this before. Back in 2008,  Aardvark launched with a similar mandate: ask your friends to help answer your questions. I suggested that the company might suffer from “participation fatigue” once the novelty wore off (remember when we all used to read and reply to each other’s tweets?).

We never did get to find out the answer to that question, because Google came along, acquired Aardvark, then promptly shut it down. Why? Likely because they wanted the people and they saw Aardvark as a feature, not a product. In other words, it was something that could be rolled into Google, but couldn’t really make it as a stand alone product.

Fast forward to 2014 and we have Jelly. Will it be a success? Who knows? I was one of the many early adopters of Twitter that couldn’t see if 140-character messages would ever take off. The answer comes, when we define “success” for Jelly. If it’s to become as big as Twitter, then that might be hard to achieve. If success is to sell to Google for $100M and move on to something else, then I suspect it will be very successful!

As for marketing? It’s still too early to tell how it will fit in with our marketing strategies. We’ll keep an eye on it. In the meantime, let me know where you see Jelly working for you.

  • cynthialil

    I needed this two days ago. I was in a thrift shop and found a unique item but the writing was in Japanese. I think it was valuable but I needed someone to tell me what it was. The difference here could be the treasure hunt element – helping people identify something is like playing a game of Where’s Waldo. I could see people skimming through photos when they’re bored. Could work.

    • Good point. There could be a lot of “niche” uses–enough to make up a lot of users.

    • The Marketing Design

      The unfortunate part is the app would need to be launched months (or years) before you needed it. B/C it may take that long for your network to catch on, download the app and for you to even get answers.

  • Jed

    I relied heavily on Aardvark in grad school, especially when doing field work. I was FB friends and Twittered up with tons of fellow students and experts in my field. The ability to take a picture of something I could use help with (a symbol, art, architecture, a difficult section of a text to read or translate), and have instantaneous feedback from knowledgeable people who were excited to help (and show off their knowledge, a big thing anywhere but especially with grad school types 🙂 was amazing. This is a great niche for something like Jelly to re-fill.

  • Sheila

    I think this Jelly venture would increase its success chances if it included peanut butter. 😉