1. What is your role at the Intercasting Corporation?
Sean Conahan is the CEO at a small startup, Intercasting Corporation. He is in charge of Strategy, Business Development, Execution and Products. There are 25 people in the company.
2. What does Intercasting Corporation do?
Intercasting Corporation has created a Mobile Social Networking platform. They add value to clients by quickly mobilizing any existing site with their platform. For brands, their product can wrap a community around a currently existing site or create a new community. Each individual brand can private label the platform.
The product uses a client/server model. The server portion powers the clients, and a client portion which sits on the phone. Both the platform and client portion are carrier neutral. The product is available on all carrier decks.
“We are concerned about the users and content, not in User Interface itself. We want to Brand Content and Community.” says Conahan.
3. Who is your competition? Yellowjacket, Dodgeball?
Intercasting Corporation has a technology platform. They concentrate on the content and the users of the community. Rabble is the company’s own branded product. The same platform used to power other clients in the mobile space powers Rabble. As a technology platform, it does not compete with social networking sites, but enables them in the mobile space. All social networking sites are similar in functionality, but they have different content and user communities that they cater to.
Some of the competitors are: Rave, which is Facebook for Mobile; Dodgeball, which is an SMS Friend Locator, and MySpace a WAP (thin client) version of the larger MySpace site.
4. How do you view MVNOs?
Intercasting Corporation views MVNOs as just another carrier. MVNO subscribers are using MySpace just like they would like to use Xanga, LiveJournal and other social networking sites on their mobile phones.
5. What are some of the challenges the company faces?
Web Based social networking’s free and ad supported business models do not translate into the mobile space. Social networking sites do not understand the mobile network operators cost. Both carriers and social networking sites need a deep understanding of each other’s world. Many Web Based social networking sites are making smaller versions of the larger Web Site, by aWAP site. This can create business model issues.
Just like Instant Messaging is monetized. Instant Messaging has a free and an ad supported model on the Web.
The wireless carriers can monetize their communities directly by subscriptions. Carriers have direct billing and access to consumers. They have millions of users paying roughly $800.00/year.
Web Based Social Networking sites can monetize their communities indirectly by ad supported model. Most social networking sites sell to carriers by a WAP site, usually on a per user, per month basis.
What is going to get interesting is there are many 2nd tier social networking sites, which have about 20 – 26 million people:
Xanga: 29 million
Friendster: 20+ million people
Yellowjacket: 20+ million people
Which added together is about the size of a MySpace or YouTube. What is going to happen when these sites are mobilized?
“The reason social networking hasn’t been mobilized in a big way yet, and will not until next year (2007), is that web-based social networking sites do not generally have the mobile technical staff and carriers generally do not have the bandwidth to do all the social networking deals they would like to do. With our platform enabling both social networking sites and carriers to bring the experience to users, these constraints are removed.” says Conahan.
Mobile Social Networking could be much bigger than IM on the phone. It is a communication play: mobile social networking is an evolved form of communication.
It will shape communication habits since it encompasses a fraction of the multidimensional communication ability.
“The Mobile Social Networking space is heating up and we are well positioned to power a good number of sites. In the next 6 months, the company will have rolled out many sites and we will be able to see how we are positioned in this space.” says Conahan.
We will just have to see what the Mobile Social Networking Space holds.