An industry comes of age, and a turning point for Socialight

Back when we founded Socialight, what we were building seemed like pure fantasy to most people. The idea that you could use your phone to post content at real-world places for others to find sounded like science fiction.

Just 6 years ago, Michael Sharon and I started cobbling Socialight together in my East Village apartment’s tiny 2nd bedroom. At the time, it was really hard to find a phone with GPS, and Google Maps hadn’t even launched. Clearly, our industry has come a long way. Over the years, our once fledgling user community expanded wildly to encompass areas for big multinational brands and later, we gave over a thousand smaller ones tools that let them communicate and share information, pictures, videos, and even audio clips around place. Today marks a new chapter. I’m happy to announce that Socialight has joined up with local, social commerce and deals B2B market leader, Group Commerce. Personally, I’m joining their product team, and leading mobile and social.


Local content and local commerce on mobile go together as clearly as towns need vibrant businesses. Now it’s time to tie this ecosystem together. Let people share, let media creators lay their stories down on the world, and let the local businesses that keep everything humming thrive. Group Commerce, with roots in companies crucial in monetizing people’s traversal of the web (DoubleClick, Google) and its financial backing from sources and people that built many of the world’s game-changing networked communications infrastructure and content companies (Twitter, Tumblr, AOL, Huffington Post, MTV) is well-suited to make it happen.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped bring Socialight to this point – in no very particular order and leaving many important people out: Michael Sharon, Karen Bonna, Eric Entin, Simon Baumgartner, Scott Kendall, Jeff Kovel, Naveen Selvadurai, Andreas Weigend, Ted Cohen, Chris Ackermann, Roger Ehrenberg, Ken McVay, Colin Nagy, Shawn Van Every, Ted Kaplan, Phoebe Espiritu, Kevin Slavin, Frank Lantz, Ashley Heather, Joel De Gan, Stacy Schneider, Beth Harrison, Jeff Schmidt, Dennis Crowley, Jackie Schaffer, Josh Nimoy, Hans Steiner, Kate Bauer, Max Salzberg, Ricky Cheng, Daniel Grippi, Michael Rakowski, Michael, Andrew, Naomi, and (of course) Annie Melinger, Tom Schlossberg, Elizabeth Kierstead, Daniel Quimper, Manish Shah, Pablo Lee, Cameron McInally, Clay Shirky, Ji Oh, Jury Hahn, Adam Rapp, Gillian Pressman, Mike Sha, Richard Allaway, Sean Legassick, Simon Davis, Vika Sukmanova, and Michael Chang. Thanks also to our customers, users, and friends. and the platform will continue to run for the foreseeable future. We’ll let you know when and if things change, and how to migrate your account if necessary (your content is and always has been portable). Don’t hesitate to email support or me directly with any questions. Here’s to the future of Group Commerce and to all the beautiful things that will happen when communities around the world can connect, share – and now transact – with the powerful tools we’re building at Group Commerce!

You can read GC’s blog post here, press release here and GigaOm coverage here.

iPhone Framework Demo

We just put together this walkthrough of Socialight’s iOS / iPhone Framework, and how it works together with the Admin portal. This will give you a good understanding of what our basic iOS apps look like and how they function, including the new features like Facebook integration and the updated note pages. You can get an app just like it for your own community.

The app featured is Kid Can Play. It’s available here for download from iTunes.

Socialight iOS Framework Demo from socialight on Vimeo.

Working with Events

For a while now, you’ve been able to connect your notes on Socialight with event information – like start and end times. Still, one of the features most often requested by customers has been more advanced event capabilities like querying and sorting based on event time and date. With those additions, you could build calendars, festival guides, schedules, and much more – of course all integrated with the places and community you already have.

Well – we’re happy to say that these new features are live for Socialight developers! As always, all the details are in the API docs.

Soon, we’ll be adding event capabilities to our mobile app frameworks too so watch this space.

Win $1,000 to hack with the Socialight API

We’re psyched to offer up our API for the NYC Geo Hack Day event. If you’re a developer in the area with some time to spare this weekend, come on down to Dogpatch Labs, meet people, have some fun, learn a bit, and – if you’re good – win $1,000.

Socialight developer, Eric Entin will be on-hand to introduce the API and help out with integration.

Can’t wait to see what gets built.

Learn more. Register.

NYC Geo/Mobile Hack Day is a two day event where start ups present their APIs to developers and share their ideas for the businesses and applications that can be built on top of the APIs they are creating. At NYC Geo/Mobile Hack Day we’ll discuss the current landscape of location based technologies and start exciting new projects!

At the end of the hack day developers can submit their creations for the chance to win $1,000!

We bring you APIs food, drinks, schwag and internet. You bring your laptop, hacking skills and creativity.

LOCATION: The Hack Day will be held at Dogpatch Labs in NYC.

DEVELOPERS: Why should you attend NYC Geo/Mobile Hack Day?


Learn about platforms available for developers to create businesses.


Meet other developers on NYC.


Chug AMP energy drinks, eat pizza, and hack to build an awesome application in less than 2 days.

A panel of 5 rock star judges will vote to select the top four apps. Top apps will be selected according the the following criteria:

  • Most Creative
  • Most Complete
  • Broadest Potential Reach
  • Most Useful

The top four applications will then have 2 weeks to be polished and will then present again at the Mobile Mondays event on September 27th. The attendees of the Mobile Mondays event will select the winner of the grand prize of $1,000.

Tweet about it #NYCHACKS


PC Magazine: “Concierge Services in Your Pocket”

There’s a great write-up by Courtney Boyd Myers, focused on our Socialight Concierge offering, in PCMag’s Connected Traveler section.  I love the lede:

PCMagThe Garment District, known as the fashion design center of New York, and perhaps the world, is home to numerous showrooms like Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. But between dodging vendors selling knock off handbags and restaurants barely maintaining health codes, navigating its barren waters in search of the promised land of sample sales and Karl Lagerfeld could be a tourist’s worst nightmare. Now, with the help of a new mobile app developed by the Fashion26 hotel and Socialight, help is just a few taps away.

Wyndham Hotels’ Fashion26 opened in April 2010 with the goal of catering to fashion forward tourists. Fashion26, already on Facebook and Twitter, wanted to stand out among other NYC hotels says Diedre Yack, the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing at Fashion26. Her team wanted to find innovative ways to connect with guests. In December 2009, they found Socialight, a mobile location based service based in NYC that had just begun to develop a location-based services platform for the hotel and tourism industry called “Socialight Concierge.”

Read the full article here.

AUGUST 9th: Mobile Monday NY Networking Event & Go800 Launch Party

Socialight is helping to organize this event next Monday. It should be a blast and the Socialight team will be there if you want to meet us in person. Apologies that I’m late posting it on this blog. The event filled up within 30 minutes of posting here, but there’s a waitlist and we may be able to open up some more registrations.

This month Mobile Monday New York is partnering up with NY-based start-up Go800 to throw a summer networking event at 873 Broadway, New York.

Come join us to celebrate Go800’s launch for the NY mobile marketing and advertising community.

RSVP to this free event at:


  • Location: Home Studios inc., 873 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 | Map
  • Date: August 9th at 7:00 PM
  • Cost: Free – but registration is required to attend.
  • Cocktails: Provided

This event is possible thanks to a generous sponsorship from Go800.

Voice Keywords™by Go800™ is a powerful and immediate direct response marketing method that places advertisers in touch with customers that are ready-to-buy.

Followers or Friends

One of the subtle, yet important differences between Socialight and most other social + local apps is that our social graph is, at its base, follower-based as opposed to friend-based. There’s good reason for this and it allows Socialight to be much more useful for the types of applications we concentrate on. More on this in a bit, but first some background.

Follower-based social graphs are like Twitter’s. The relationship is one-way. You might follow Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) along with 5 million others because you care what he has to say or think he’s funny, but Ashton probably doesn’t keep tabs on you and the other 5 million.

Facebook’s an example of a network founded as a friend-based, or a 2-way, social graph. When you’re friends with someone on Facebook, it implies a symmetrical trust relationship. Both parties must agree to connect. One initiates by inviting, the other accepts.

The social + local apps that concentrate first and foremost on presence information (i.e. “where are my friends now and what are they doing?”) like Gowalla, Foursquare, Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl, and others are friend-based. That’s a good thing. In most cases, and for most people, making one’s location available to anyone who cares would be considered overkill at best or downright dangerous at worst. Sharing with friends only, on the other hand, can be useful.

Socialight concentrates on local content (recommendations & tips, stories, media) and less on sharing where I am in real-time. For much content, one-way trust is all that’s needed. Additional layers of privacy can be layered on top (like the option to require follower approval, or control access to certain Socialight communities) for more sensitive applications like when private content or check-ins are involved.

Our communities derive a lot of benefit from this: 1-way makes network-building much more efficient. It’s a single click to follow, rather than a request to “friend” followed by a notification to the target, followed by the accept, reject, or ignore response from the target. The network can grow – along with the associated network effect – much more quickly.

Even more importantly, this has positive implications in terms of what people are incentivized to share, the potential number of connections in the network you can grow, and consequently, the breadth of trusted tips our users find in the real world. On Socialight, place is another content filter applied on top of the social one, and when you combine notes with place, one-way relationships mean there can be more stuff from trusted sources around you. On Socialight-powered Travel Channel GO, you can follow Anthony Bourdain and see what he has to say about the places you’re near. And with OSes and environments that allow for background location updates like iOS 4, you can create apps using Socialight’s super-quick local search that push local notes from followed sources. Then things get really interesting.

This post wouldn’t be complete without discussing the relevant changes afoot at Facebook. They manage what is possibly the most active social graph, founded on the principle of 2-way relationships. Despite the downsides of 2-way graphs, Facebook flourished in part because it differentiated itself as a safe space where people could share intimate details about their lives. People joined specifically for this safe space. Like the social + local services I mentioned that are 2-way since their primary goal is to get users to say where they are, the privacy afforded by 2-way relationships was important. However, Facebook decided that in order to continue growing, and compete aggressively with newer services like Twitter, they needed to migrate much of their new and existing relationships from 2-way to 1-way. They began making more and more content public by changing users’ privacy settings, and by making more and more relationships 1-way (most significantly, via their Like button). They’ve found it’s a difficult shift. Now privacy advocates are up in arms, people are upset and confused, and many speculate that it’s costing them usage. People are getting behind potential alternatives like Diaspora, a concept being developed by NYU computer science grads – including 2 alumni of Socialight’s internship program, Daniel Grippi and Max Salzberg.

Our goal with Socialight is to let people share opinions, information, and stories about the world. This lets people navigate their neighborhoods and the globe more intelligently and playfully, learning, staying social, and hopefully saving time and money along with way. The decisions we make in designing our platform are often crucial to making this work and we thought we’d shed a little light on why we make some of them.

Run for the Roses with Socialight

KDF iconThe two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival leads up to the May 1st Kentucky Derby.  It’s a huge festival and visitors can always use some help navigating it.  This year, thanks to Current Marketing in Louisville, Kentucky, visitors explored and shared their experiences in real-time with the Kentucky Derby Festival app.  Using the Socialight Community Platform, Katy Miller, Vice President, Message Deployment, seeded the Festival community with over 70 events throughout the Louisville region, and with our WYSIWYG iPhone creator, crafted an app that had over 6,000 downloads in the two-week period.  People found activities near them, browsed upcoming events, and shared their experiences with the community.

In Katy’s words:

Socialight’s platform is incredibly simple to use and produces a user-friendly and intuitive iPhone application. The success we had with downloads and marketing of the application were due in huge part to Socialight’s simple interface and publishing process.

Over 350 people used the app while at events to share updates and stories, along with photos of their families’ festival experiences.  We think Socialight is ideal for outdoor festivals and we’re going to continue updating our offerings to make it even better.

Mobile Monday New York Relaunch (& Party)

Socialight is helping relaunch Mobile Monday New York in June. If you’re a New Yorker or you’ll be in town on June 7th for Internet Week, come join. It’s being held on a beautiful rooftop bar on Fifth Avenue.


RSVP to this free event at:

230 Fifth

This month Mobile Monday New York is partnering up with Mobile Monday Brooklyn to throw a huge summer kickoff event at 230 Fifth on the roof.

We are planning the event at the beginning of Internet Week, and we are also teaming up with MMA to kick off their Forum New York events.

The topic is mobile advertising and we will have speakers and demos from Crisp Wireless, AdMeld, Jumptap and MMA. Each company will give a brief overview of what they do and their thoughts on the market, followed by demos on the side for more detailed conversations.

Make sure to stay until the end because Jumptap will raffle off an iPad!


  • Will Nann, National Director of Ad Sales-Crisp Wireless
  • Marc Theermann, VP, Mobile- AdMeld
  • Michael Becker, Managing Director, North America- MMA
  • Paran Johar, CMO-Jumptap


Location: 230 Fifth 230 Fifth Ave New York, NY 10001
Date: June 7th at 7 pm
Cost: Free – but registration is required to attend.
Cocktails: Provided
Parking: Garage at 800 6th Avenue. Entrance is on 28th Street between 6th and Broadway (South side)
N, R, W to ‘28th Street and Broadway’ Station Stop
F, V, B, D to ‘23rd Street and 6th Avenue’ Station Stop
6 Train to ‘28th Street and Park Avenue’ Station Stop
M2 and M3 to Fifth Avenue and 27th Street
M5, M6, and M7 to Broadway and 27th Street
This event is possible thanks to generous sponsorships from AdMeld, Jumptap and Crisp Wireless.

April is “3 for FREE” month at Socialight

Calling all Socialight Community Owners… The best way to make your community come alive is to take it from the desktop to the streets by transforming it into a mobile app.  We want to help you with that, so we’ve decided that April is officially our “3 FOR FREE” month, where we will waive the iPhone app publishing fee, a $495 value.

Communities that generate 50 PLACES with 50 NOTES of content (including photos) AND complete their layout on the iPhone dashboard will be eligible to win and publish their iPhone app for free.  And who said nothing in life is FREE?? Not us!

You have until April 30th to complete this task. When you are ready to submit, send an email to with the subject:  “3 For Free” with the name of your community.  On May 1st, we will randomly pick three (3) apps which have at least 50/50… 50 PLACES & 50 NOTES.

So invite some friends, add new members, call your mother, or whatever it takes, but let’s get your show on the road!!

P.S. – Ideally, your community should serve a real need.  It could be anything, but a local guide to watercoolers just won’t cut it (although a pot hole directory would be cool).

P.P.S. – Void where prohibited.