UberMedia, the company best-known for acquiring and launching Twitter apps such as Echofon and Twidroyd, just announced a social network of its very own called Chime.in.
In some ways, this seems like a smart attempt by the startup to reduce its dependence on Twitter, which has suspended some of UberMedia's apps in the past, and in fact CNN reported in April that a project like this was in the works. However, CEO Bill Gross has repeatedly said that he's not interested in building a Twitter competitor.
So was Gross lying? Well, he argued last week that Chime.in isn't meant to compete with Facebook or Twitter—which he described as, respectively, a site where you can connect with friends and family and a real-time network for sharing news.
"This is more of something where you can dive into your passions," Gross said.
At the same time, Gross said Chime.in solves two of the big problems that he sees on existing social networks: relevance and monetization. Rather than arranging each piece of content (called "chimes") into chronological streams, Chime.in sorts them based on a user's individual interests and on the response from other users. Users can also follow communities focused on specific interests. Publishers, meanwhile, don't have to try to drive users from Chime.in to their own sites. Instead, they can make money directly from the social network and can run advertising alongside their accounts, either taking the entire payment (if the publisher does the selling) or sharing the revenue with UberMedia (if Gross' company sells the ad).
The startup has now split into two divisions, Gross said, with one focused on Chime.in and another continuing to work on its existing apps. A number of publishers have already signed up for the new service, including E! Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Disney—Gross said these kinds of partnerships will also help the fledgling site build its audience.
In addition to the website, Chime.in will also be available as an app for smartphones. In fact, it was originally scheduled to launch on Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Summit, but the app went live early in the Apple App Store.