The Internet is ripe with statistical data. You can measure, rate, Like and +1 nearly everything, particularly places and things. But one Los Angeles based startup named SendLove.to believes there is a need to start rating and measuring people, particularly public figures.
“The problem with rating people is that it takes lots of opinions to start getting closer to the truth and no one has time to give hundreds of thousands of opinions about each other. But people have lots of time to give short opinions,” explains Corey Brundage, one of SendLove.to’s two co-founders.
“We’ve added to the social conversation. We’re a bit of a hybrid here,” says Brundage. It’s not Klout, which measures people’s social influence. And it’s not Honestly, which rates the reputations of potential business professionals. But it rates celebrities, public figures, and the kind of people who live in the public and should be transparent. To accomplish this, SendLove.to is allying itself with the people who write the news. The SendLove.to product is a free people-rating platform plug-in that enables users to rate people in the news and share opinions about them.
Users can Vote Up or Vote Down a public figure, impacting that person’s public score in real-time. Through their ratings and opinions, users can participate in discussions and discover new content, as part of a community that forms around a person. And that’s why SendLove.to is betting that publishers will dig it, because if the rating platform is addictive enough, publishers will be able to maximize content, increase readers, and improve engagement on the site, for free.
But what if big-time publishers don’t want more blue and green noise on their site? “We don’t mind winning the war from the bottom up,” says Brundage. “We’ve been shocked by our response rate, from our last Monday mailing we got a 10% install response rate. We are now embedded on 50-60 sites, which are largely political sites. Then this last week, the celebrity blogs went crazy and a bunch put us up. We’re currently hitting one million page views a month.”
One site, The Moderate Voice, which draws in 150,000 -200,000 uniques per month, saw a 72% increase in page views per session after installing the SendLove.to plug-in.
SendLove.to might be onto something: Currently, comments that follow articles become stale as quickly as the article does. Articles have short life spans in today’s blogging world, which is a problem for publishers and commenters. Often, it can feel like shouting into a black hole. So SendLove.to is changing the landscape from vertical commenting to horizontal commenting, by following a person. For example, if a tech site embedded SendLove.to, all articles about Steve Jobs, old and new would be visible as the conversation develops. It’s one way to rediscover content.
SendLove.to is careful not to disrupt existing site metrics, but just adds tabs alongside comments that might catch a reader’s eye. The plugin, which is available for WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, MoveableType, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace and other CMSs also offers publishers advanced features such as social sharing and authentication, real-time moderation, an analytics dashboard with deep demographics, and the ability to customize the look and feel. It is free for publishers and installs within minutes. While the bright green and blue iconography is jarring, SendLove.to says it will be coming out with a demure, monochromatic theme later this year.
When asked about monetization, SendLove.to says they’re not going to try to make any money on this for the next year. (Which is why they don’t have VC investors yet.) The company did recently raise a $500,000 round of angel financing from a group of Southern California entrepreneurs including Jeff Stibel, CEO and Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.; John Zdanowski, CFO/co-founder at PixelFish; Alex Kazerani, CEO of EdgeCast; and James Segil, president of EdgeCast. Obvious ways to monetize would be to charge publishers $20 a month, but right now the team is focused on user acquisition and big data collection.
SendLove.to’s founders Chris Lyman and Corey Brundage sport a bright green mohawk and bright blue spiky hair, respectively, to represent the colors of the company. They work 18 hours a day inside, in a fabricated outside world in Los Angeles. Check out their offices below:
For other great companies in the area, check out our list: 6 Los Angeles Startups You Need To Know About.