In 2018, I wrote a TechCrunch article declaring that 2018 was once “the 12 months social networks have been now not social.” Reflecting on that article, I’m now not certain that 2018 was once the turning level. However the premise of the object nonetheless holds up smartly.
One day, social networks have been now not about connecting along with your closest pals, maintaining with long-distance members of the family and feeling a distinct reference to folks you like.
TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Fb, YouTube and X (previously Twitter) are all slowly evolving to turn out to be the similar countless scrollable feed of algorithm-optimized brief movies from best performers.
And it seems that I’m now not the one person who has spotted that social networks were slowly drifting clear of their authentic function. Amo, a small workforce based totally in Paris, has been operating for the simpler a part of 2023 on a brand spanking new social app referred to as ID.
ID is a social app launching these days on iOS that allows you to hook up with your pals in an inventive approach. In some ways, it feels just like the early days of blogs, MySpace’s highly-personalized profile pages and the golden technology of Tumblr.
However first, some context about Amo. There’s numerous hype and anticipation surrounding Amo’s release as the corporate has been co-founded through Antoine Martin, who was once the co-founder of Zenly with Alexis Bonillo. Zenly was once a well-liked social app considering location sharing that inspired you to spend extra time with your pals and uncover new puts.
Snap spent greater than $200 million to obtain Zenly and stored the similar workforce to iterate on it, as a separate app. Below Snap’s possession, Zenly turned into one among Europe’s largest social apps of all time. At its top the corporate had 18 million other customers opening the app each day.
After which… it disappeared.
As a part of Snap’s cost-cutting efforts, the corporate determined to close down Zenly altogether. From what I’ve heard, this transfer even induced discussions between French politicians on the easiest stage and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
Many key participants of the Zenly workforce at the moment are operating at Amo. Actually, there are 10 co-founders. Along with Martin, Corentin Kerisit, Michael Goldenstein, Claire Pluvinage, Charly Delaroche, Julien Martin, Quentin Perez, Nicolas Fallourd, Alexis Druon and Jean-Baptiste Dalido are all Amo co-founders and all former Zenly folks.
The second one reason Amo’s release is extremely expected is that the startup closed an $18 million investment spherical in February or March at a valuation round $100 million with New Wave main the spherical, and Coatue and DST World additionally taking part. There also are 80 angel traders on Amo’s cap desk.
It is a extremely odd investment spherical because it came about in 2023 (throughout a VC investment downturn), Amo is a cell shopper startup (no income for now) and the startup didn’t have any product available in the market.
An empty canvas
In 2010, Jürgen Schweizer from Cultured Code, the corporate at the back of non-public process control app Issues, wrote a weblog submit in a while after Steve Jobs presented the unique iPad. In that submit, he when put next the iPad to an empty canvas.
“If you wish to perceive what makes the iPad particular, you can not take a look at what it has, however what it doesn’t have. The iPad is so skinny and light-weight, it turns into the show, and the show turns into the applying. No enter gadgets. The instrument vanishes and becomes the applying you’re the use of. The generation is clear,” Schweizer wrote.
And this analogy applies specifically smartly to ID and Amo’s paintings as smartly. There are lots of issues that you’ll be able to do with ID. There also are many stuff that we take without any consideration in a social app that merely aren’t there.
ID is an empty canvas paired with ingenious gear that allow you to categorical your self. You’ll use it to create a profile that completely describes your pursuits in a visible method. However there’s a social twist as you’ll be able to each see your pals’ profiles and upload issues to their very own profiles.
Whilst you first create your profile on ID, you get an empty whiteboard this is looking ahead to content material. You’ll fill it your self in 4 other ways.
You’ll upload stickers out of your decal library (extra on that later), you’ll be able to snatch content material out of your picture library, you’ll be able to write textual content or you’ll be able to draw. When you select a photograph, ID routinely creates a cut-out of the primary object or matter within the picture the use of PhotoRoom’s generation.
This will likely really feel in an instant acquainted to Pinterest customers who like to construct temper forums or tool builders who quilt their logo new computer lid with stickers.
Each and every digital object may also be moved, resized and turned around. After some time, your profile turns into this kind of spatial canvas. You’ll make issues so small that they type of disappear… until you zoom in.
You’ll create small islands that outline what’s in your thoughts presently. As an example, you’ll be able to have a Los Angeles nook with the favourite constructions you noticed throughout your holiday, staff footage with your pals, the cup of your favourite espresso store there, and so on. You’ll actually have a eating place nook with footage of meals from fancy eating places the place you’ve lately been.
The whole lot feels clean and herbal. You scroll, zoom in, zoom out, soar from one profile to the opposite. There’s a way of intensity and area that I’ve by no means noticed in another app. Footage by no means really feel pixelated and also you don’t really feel such as you’re looking ahead to one thing to load.
In case you’ve been the use of ID for some time, issues can turn out to be messy — however so is existence. “And it’s effective. My character is chaotic — our personalities are chaotic. They’re multifaceted they usually’re now not well organized in a three×3 grid,” Amo CEO Antoine Martin mentioned.
As you get started surfing across the app and taking a look at what’s new in your pals’ profile web page, you could need to scouse borrow one thing in your personal wall. ID means that you can upload content material from different profiles in your decal library in an effort to both upload it in your personal profile or put it on any individual else’s profile.
I’ve been the use of the app for a bit of bit greater than per week, and I will already see some tendencies spreading across the small group of beta customers. You’ll see who in the beginning created a decal because it strikes round from one wall to every other. Some customers have put great cabinets so they are able to well categorize the entirety that issues to them. A person created a guestbook phase on her profile. “In case you’re shedding through, please depart a observe right here,” she wrote.
A couple of video video games depend closely at the participant’s creativity to have a laugh, equivalent to Minecraft or fresh Zelda video games. In those video games, you’ll be able to create your individual castle or construct your individual automobile.
And that’s additionally the primary thought at the back of ID. Amo will provide you with the ingenious gear and a endless Figma-like canvas. Now, it’s as much as the group to determine what they need to do with it. And the most efficient section is that it doesn’t appear to be another social app available in the market.
Perhaps Amo will finally end up fostering a author financial system with unique content material that may truly make your profile stand out. Perhaps the corporate will upload some top class options over the years. For now, Amo needs to discover a hit.
“We’re prioritizing scale as a result of my objective is to create an indestructible corporate. And it’s Zenly’s founder who’s announcing that! I used to suppose that 18 million [daily active users] can be sufficient to make an organization indestructible. However I used to be flawed. I feel you want 100 million [daily active users],” Martin instructed me.
When the Amo workforce got to work on ID, they sought after to give you the chance to remedy loneliness. It sort of feels somewhat counterintuitive to construct a social app as folks spend such a lot time on their telephone already. However, in step with Antoine Martin, it’s simply that present social apps don’t have your best possible pursuits in thoughts.
“The [World Health Organization] now calls it the loneliness epidemic. And if they are saying that it’s a pandemic, it’s as it’s in fact infectious. In different phrases, in the event you’re remoted, your family members are too since you’re unreachable. So throughout the 2 hours you’re on TikTok, they have got nobody to speak to,” Martin instructed me.
“And on the identical time, the human wishes that the social shopper area can satisfy are now not lined through those merchandise, while they was once,” he added. “Within the early days of Fb, I don’t know in the event you take into account, profiles have been type of a mash-up. There have been drawings, video games, footage, textual content. You’d write lengthy feedback, it generally is a poem . . . And however, it was once a reminder that you simply mattered to those folks.”
Consistent with him, the present era of social networks are very passive. You don’t must do a lot to spend two hours on TikTok or YouTube as a result of those corporations need you to spend as a lot time as conceivable in those apps. “We aspire to return to those previous precepts and lead them to paintings,” Martin mentioned.
That’s additionally the explanation why Amo doesn’t need you to spend hours within the app. You probably have a couple of mins, you’ll be able to open the app to test what’s new in your pals’ profiles through swiping up at the notification playing cards.
Whilst you’ve reached the final card, ID presentations you a message that claims “get some recent air.” After which, the app closes itself. You’re again at the house display, you’ll be able to put your telephone again for your pocket.
Amo & ID
ID is an opinionated tackle social apps, however is it going to paintings? Given the previous revel in of the workforce and Amo’s deep wallet, if there’s one workforce that has a shot at making an attempt one thing radically new within the area, it’s Amo.
“We’re intentionally delivery one thing 8 or 9 months after the release of the corporate as a result of we swore to ourselves that it wouldn’t take us a 12 months to get began, that we’d be told extra through development in public,” Martin mentioned.
Whilst ID is Amo’s first concept, the corporate possibly has different concepts within the shopper social area — Amo didn’t title its app ‘Amo’ in spite of everything. So it’s going to be fascinating to practice the release of this new app, but additionally Amo’s tale as an organization.