Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
Continuing our coverage of startups working on helping non-technologically savvy consumers build websites, we bring you ZooLoo. Zooloo, which launched this July, and launched a redesign in September is out to not only give you a personal website and domain (for a price), but also to change the way you interact with your social graph.
Quickly, ZooLoo, like many other similar startups, allows you to build a website on a subdomain of Zooloo.com, with drag and drop components. You can upgrade to their premium service ($30/yearly) and get your own domain name. ZooLoo has a wide feature set including zSocial, which is a dashboard to connect to the social services that you already use.
Zooloo, unlike most of its direct competitors, does much more than offer website creation for the user. ZooLoo also has a social layer, with strict privacy tools to keep people inside, or away from what you have built. Zooloo seems to combine the website creation of Webs, some of the social functions that Facebook provides, and its dashboard accretion of social networks, blogs, and widgets, feels similar to iGoogle.
All that and you begin to wonder what the purpose of the service is? Simply because you can put everything into a single box does not mean that you should.
Aaron Baer, ZooLoo’s PR leader, told us that ZooLoo is growing quickly both in the United States, and internationally. So far, the largest markets that it reaches outside of the States are India, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. Also, he reported that “over the past two months we’ve seen more steady growth from day-to-day and week-to-week.” That seems to coincide with their redesign, so users are reacting positively to the recent changes.
While the technorati will still prefer Tweetdeck, WordPress, and Facebook, as opposed to what ZooLoo offers, it is possible to see the appeal to the larger, who perhaps have never tried to set up a server, or tinker with a WordPress theme. ZooLoo has 20,000 users at the moment, and is growing. Not bad for just a few months in the public space.
Of course, if ZooLoo wants its social features to have any meaning, it is going to have to multiply its userbase ten-fold, on the double. The platform may be in place, the userbase for their vision is not. Until they find enough bodies, they are hardly more than a run of the mill website creation tool, with a dashboard to avoid browsing.
It is interesting to see a mixture of social networking and freemium, something that you usually only see in the dating sphere of the internet. Still, with 20,000 users total, it is hard to think that the website is making fistfulls or money. Indeed, I doubt that they are cash flow neutral.
In total, ZooLoo is an interesting concept: provide a nearly end to end social experience, inside of a single package. That said, the tech-minded will not use it, opting for more powerful stand alone tools, and it may be too complex for the most basic user. ZooLoo is going to have to attack the middle market, who will have to be swayed from their current solutions.
Have you ever used ZooLoo? Leave a comment with your experiences.
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