Re/code does not usually post on startups getting small seed rounds, but well-known Silicon Valley figure John Furrier has an interesting one, so why not?
Palo Alto, Calif.-based CrowdChat, which has been in a free public beta, is also launching a paid business version today. Overall, it is being described as offering social media an “engagement container” to allow users to create online conversations using hashtags across social networks Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Founded in 2012, it has just closed $650,000 from New Enterprise Associates, as well as a number of angel investors.
In this frothy environment, that’s not a whole lot for a startup, but CrowdChat’s aim is a good one — making sense of the noisy social media environment if you are someone like a publisher. There’s a lot of different and competing solutions out there like this — think TweetChat — to unify public group conversations and give good metrics around social media. In this case, CrowdChat is trying a crowdsourced approach and is designed for targeted conversations.
“It’s hard to have and make sense of quality conversations on social media or understand who is talking to you,” said Furrier, who runs the SiliconANGLE blog and other digital businesses and co-founded CrowdChat with CTO Dani Rayan. “Even if you start a conversation that takes off online, there is no way to capture it or really engage with the audience again.”
Perhaps that is why people like social media services like Twitter — the ephemeral nature of your opinionating is heady — but many who use social media to attract people to their content or offerings do want more.
Among the features of CrowdChat is this so-called engagement container “that instruments and reports in real time the interests around the groups of users.” It also has social search of the conversations and also claims its algorithm will remove spammers, a problem that plagues social media and the quality of its audience.
Once used, any session can be posted to social networks that participants are using and those posts get a link back to the CrowdChat conversation. Current customers of the seven-person startup include EMC and IBM.
Furrier said his aim is to make hashtags — which have now #becomeamainstreamconcept — like little social networks. It’s not clear if it’s possible; even CrowdChat convos seem somewhat random though definitely less noisy.
But it’s nice to try in the fractious social media space, where tweets — modifying poet Carl Sandburg’s take on arithmetic for the digital age — “fly like pigeons in and out of your head.”