Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams have taken on a new project under the banner of their old home, The Obvious Corporation. They have agreed to fund an application by Crowdvine Event Social Networks founder and CEO Tony Stubblebine and Path’s former Director of Engineering Jon Crosby. It’s called “Lift,” and the specifics about what it does are still held pretty tightly under wraps. But we had an exchange with Stubblebine over e-mail and he shared a few details with us.
Let’s start with the back story. According to a Tuesday post by Stone on The Obvious Corporation’s Web site, Stubblebine and Crosby “have created an interesting new application for unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement.” Aside from that, there’s not much else in terms of describing what Lift does. But details have emerged.
A visit to the Web site allows you to sign up for an invitation to try it out, but do so and you’ll get an e-mail telling you to be patient and wait, since the project is still in alpha testing. That’s right — it’s not even in beta. But, according to Stone, the folks at Obvious “love the software for what it does” and assure readers that “it works.”
That’s probably because, as ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick reports, Lift has actually been live before, sort of. Lift’s predecessor, writes Kirkpatrick, is GetMibbles.com — a social networking site that allowed users to group around specific personal goals, such as losing weight. The site, according to Kirkpatrick, allowed users to give and receive positive feedback to and from others with the same goal as they progressed in achieving their own goals.
But, in a comment on Kirkpatrick’s post, Stubblebine wrote, “I read your description of ‘how it works’ and felt like that was probably only going to be 30% right. With that feeling, it’s hard to make any sort of concrete proclamations.” Stubblebine also wrote that the name “Lift” was decided on July 17, and was Williams’s idea.
In a separate e-mail to the Washington Post, Stubblebine added, “I didn’t nitpick [Kirkpatrick’s description] because there’s no such thing as accurate details about the app right now. The only accurate thing to say is that it’s still in development, has a handful of really strong success stories, and is going to change a lot before launch. Does the current design have groups, points, and activity feeds? The answer to two of those is no.”
As for making any comparison to Twitter, Stubbline says it would be wrong to do so. “It’s definitely not accurate to call it a variation of Twitter,” wrote Stubblebine in his message to the Post, “and probably misleading to call it a social network (it’s social, but you’re not going to have a photo album).”
Stubblebine was less eager to provide details about the project than he was about the back story and “human interest stuff” behind Lift, such as how he and Crosby met (“Our first job out of college was at MasterCard’s internet group in 2001 in St. Louis.”).
As for the media attention, Stubblebine has found it to be somewhat overblown, writing, “We didn’t have any goals for our announcement other than to let our friends know what we were up to and to do it in an official way rather than have it leak. The press coverage is a bit extreme for what is really just the launch of a landing page. But our core messages seemed to go out well.”
Stubblebine went on to write, “We wanted to have a positive vibe around aspiration, rather than get lumped into a guilt-inducing or navel-gazing category like self-help or quantified self.”
This is the first, official partnership for Obvious, which will own partial equity in Lift. In a blog post of his own, Stubblebine writes that both he and Crosby are “interested in ways new technology can help unlock human potential, especially through the use of positive reinforcement.” Stubblebine mentions the prototype and the fact that the team is looking for an “Epic Hire,” that can ”lead UX,” or user experience, design.
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