For agencies, networks, consumers, and investors, social entertainment check-in apps are white hot. So hot, in fact, that some industry observers expect a quick blow up and burn out, especially for apps sold directly to users. And it doesn't help that 2011 has been hailed as "the year the check-in died."
That's why San Francisco-based Loyalize has much bigger plans for its app platform. Launched last week at AdTech, the company’s white label open platform, which aims to take users beyond the check-in, met a fervent reception, according to CEO Todd Greene.
"We had incoming interest from seven investors, four who wanted to invest immediately. We had two unsolicited emails from two of the largest broadcasters in the world, so I’m reeling, in a very good way," Greene said.
Until now, social entertainment app builders have looked a lot like Foursquare. You check in to whatever TV show you're watching, you see what your friends (via Twitter or Facebook) are watching, you earn badges or awards for frequent use, and in some cases, you can interact with your social circle.
And even while the market becomes increasingly crowded, check-ins alone have been sufficient. GetGlue, which snail mails stickers to its users as rewards, this week announced it's reached 1 million users, for example. Venture capitalists have taken note of the category's momentum. GetGlue, doing business as AdaptiveBlue, has raised $12 million over three rounds of funding since 2007 from Union Square Ventures, Time Warner, and RRE Ventures. Social TV platform Philo last July received an undisclosed round of funding from North Bridge Venture Partners, DFJ Gotham Ventures, and angel investors. Miso has raised $3 million from Google Ventures, Hearst Interactive Media, and angel investors. Hot Potato, an event-focused social entertainment app which features television, was acquired by Facebook in August 2010.
Despite the crowded market, Loyalize thinks it can distinguish itself via the flexibility it can offer to partners. Unlike GetGlue, it won't sell its apps straight to consumers. Instead, businesses seeking an interactive app for an event—concert promoters, TV networks, sports franchises, even brands—can develop their app over the Loyalize platform, allowing them to customize everything from rewards to instant polls to related e-commerce.
The company announced one such deal alongside its launch: Motorola’s SocialTV Companion Service, a second screen TV-focused app, was built on Loyalize’s platform.
And, like its peers, Loyalize has had no problem raising capital. Before its official launch, the company secured $6 million in funding from its founders and angel investors, including Shahar Smirin, former CEO of Comverse Inc.