Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].
At The Pool is pivoting away from its “anti-Facebook” social discovery platform with the upcoming launch of Yeti, a mobile app intended to drive local-focused conversations.
When At The Pool launched a year and a half ago, the LA-based startup focused on helping connect users offline through its website and then mobile app, which arrived last November.
“After 3 million introductions and growth into more than 100 countries, we realized social discovery doesn’t work,” founder Alex Capecelatro said.
Over time, At The Pool realized that members were using the app to have conversations and post questions more than they were meeting up with strangers.
The Yeti app will draw on At The Pool’s discussions and existing content in order to provide a Tinder-like card interface for swiping through the conversations taking place around you. Interestingly, Tinder CEO Sean Rad suggested the card-swiping interface to At The Pool last year during a meeting between the two companies.
As you swipe, Yeti will apply machine learning in order to improve your recommendations over time. Yeti also employs the same algorithms and artificial intelligence that the startup built for matching up At The Pool’s member interests. Content will also be ported over from the original service; existing members can login to have their posts carry over.
As for the original At The Pool product, the startup plans to keep it running for now, but Capecelatro said that the team is definitely “moving away from At The Pool and toward Yeti.” At The Pool currently has tens of thousands of members.
If, like me, you’re curious about the thinking behind the app’s name, Capecelatro said the idea is that the hunt for the mythical creature is similar to how we hunt for just the right place when going out. The name is also meant to convey the app’s light-hearted approach.
For now, Yeti’s goal is to compete directly with Yelp to become your go-to app for local recommendations. The question-asking aspect of Yeti also sounds quite similar to how Jelly is trying to help users tap their social networks to gather information.
Capecelatro also described the app as a “sort of an open-network Twitter that’s localized.” Yeti is especially designed for travelers and folks who are new to town and want to learn more about their area.
In the long-term, Capecelatro said the re-focused company aims to take on Google for mobile search.
“We think we can make a recommendation engine that understands what you want before you know you want it,” Capecelatro said.
When I asked how At The Pool/Yeti’s runway looks with the new transition, Capecelatro said the company has plenty of room to ramp up. According to him, the firm’s existing investors are “extremely excited” about the new direction.
Local discovery is becoming a crowded space, with new entrants like Superb gunning for companies like Foursquare, which is trying to reinvent itself with a two-app strategy. Yeti benefits from the data and code that it collected as At The Pool, but solving the location problem stands to be about as difficult as, well, tracking down a yeti. We’ll see for ourselves how the startup fares when the app launches to the public in coming weeks.
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