Posts Tagged: Social network

New investment: Figure 1, a healthcare photo sharing app

Over the years, we’ve seen web and mobile technology disrupt business, education, legal and many other fields as professionals adopt products that help them work more effectively and efficiently.  While the healthcare industry has always been more conservative, it is now primed for change.

At Version One, we have been looking intensely for investment opportunities in healthcare, believing that the leaders of this disruption will be companies that are able to connect people (doctor-doctor, patient-patient, doctor-patient) in a large, secure, and regulatory-compliant network in order to democratize medical knowledge and increase access to care.

Today, we are thrilled to announce our first investment in this space:  Figure 1, a safe photo sharing app for medical professionals.  The product is a mobile, crowdsourced platform where healthcare professionals can upload, tag and discuss images (for example, images of surgical procedures or rare medical conditions).

Doctors may already share images with one another while in the same office or medical facility, but Figure 1 now offers the medical community a way to collaborate and communicate around images, no matter where they’re located. It breaks down traditional information silos which is key to improving patient care and medical education.  The app already has users across Canada, the US, and the UK.

Figure 1 was founded in early 2013 by a super talented team:  Joshua Landy, a critical care physician; Richard Penner, a mobile developer; and Gregory Levey, a JD/MBA. We are co-leading this investment with Rho Canada Ventures and are joined by several angel investors.  We are really excited to be a part of Figure 1’s journey going forward!

To learn more, visit or follow @figure1app on Twitter.

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The stream is broken

One of the key innovations in social media was Facebook’s newsfeed and it transformed the site from a social network built around profiles to a truly engaging communication platform. But as every site with a focus on social has adopted a feed, the noise seem to have reached an unproductive level. No viral marketing strategy is complete without a site encouraging their users to push updates to their social networks, tools help to cross-post easily (e.g. Twitter stream into Facebook) or re-post several times (apparently between 2-4 times is ideal) and breaking news situations clock the social stream with duplicates. No wonder that even the time of the day matters if your social signal is being heard or not.

All this unfiltered noise makes it harder and harder to find the really good stuff within a social stream and the opportunity seems to be shifting away from publishing to curation. Facebook has done a very good job with EdgeRank but as social services multiply we need better tools that do this across different sites (perhaps based on vertical-specific approaches) and take all social signals into account to determine what is relevant for me and cut out the noise and spam. I am excited about the progress that my portfolio company Summify has made over the last little while – their Email Digest product sends you a daily newsletter with the top stories from your Google Reader, Facebook and Twitter accounts (and the quality speaks for itself) but I would love to see more approaches to curation and filtering that brings productivity back to the social stream.

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Search Engine Optimization versus Social Media Marketing

Google Analytics Drill Down 2
Image by dannysullivan via Flickr

In the past couple of months many people started claiming that Social Media Marketing is becoming more important than search engine optimization. While there is no doubt about the fact that Twitter, Facebook et al. are driving an increasing amount of traffic to websites, it is also not as simple as saying that only social media marketing counts and you should forget about all the rest – the reality is: it depends!

Search engines have always been (and will continue to be) the most efficient way to find long-tail content. If you need some quick information on a very specific topic (perhaps you are looking for ideas about baking with fresh, frozen and canned peaches), then it is highly unlikely that your friends just shared this information on a social network.

Very different story for popular, current content like opinions on the new Harry Potter movie or updates on politics. In this case, social media is far more important for driving traffic to your website as friends like to share and discuss such content. At the same time this social media traffic is not necessarily replacing search engine traffic but often direct traffic (as people don’t go directly to a content website anymore but rather use Facebook to discover stories). Very often the social media traffic is even incremental as better discovery drives more visits.

I checked the Google Analytics numbers of a few content websites in our portfolio and they seem to generally prove my point: search engine traffic is stable / slightly growing, social media traffic is increasing significantly with some of the traffic being incremental and some having replaced direct traffic.

As a side effect of content discovery becoming more efficient (both through search engines as well as social networks), the page view / visit ratio has been declining constantly over the past couple of years as people are finding the right content quicker and spending less time on a website looking for information. Which is good news / bad news for publishers: unique visitors numbers tend to go up, engagement metrics tend to go down.

So if you run a website, focus on all 3 areas: search engine optimization, social media marketing but most importantly building up direct traffic.

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New investment: Summify, a social news reader

August seems to be “funding announcement month” so after Empire Avenue and Barcode Hero, here comes a 3rd new investment: Summify is a social news reader that addresses the information overflow we all are experiencing with the explosion of social media. What that exactly means is best described by the Summify team on their blog:

People are increasingly getting their news from the social networks they’re part of (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), but this is rapidly getting overwhelming. If you’re connected with a few hundred people and companies, it’s hard to stay on top of the news they share. There’s currently no way to get the important stuff without going through all your news.

Summify gives you a river of news in a way that you can consume it in minutes, rather than hours. The important stuff bubbles up at the top so, however much time you have at your disposal, you always know you’re reading the important stuff first.

It’s a HTML5 web app (only modern browsers supported, sorry!). It aggregates all your incoming news from your Twitter and Google Reader account (Facebook and Google Buzz support on the way!). It then curates your news feed by using the social reactions gathered from your networks. The important news makes it to the Top News section. There’s also a Recent News section that allows you to see everything in chronological order.

Summify is the first Bootup Labs company I have invested in. I got to know the team after spending more time over at BootUp and was immediately impressed by their technical strength – Mircea and Cristian are probably the best “strong engineers & early-stage entrepreneurs combo” I have ever come across in Vancouver so I am extremely excited to working with them to build a great company!

The product is still in private beta but you can get an invite code by sending me an email (bwertz [at]wmediaventures [dot] com – looking forward to getting your feed-back!

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Build your own (site-specific) social graph

Facebook‘s success in building out the social graph is exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting as it has turned social into one of the key growth drivers of the web, scary as one company seems to control the “social infrastructure” that we all want to build companies on. I am pretty sure that Facebook will remain the only mainstream social graph on the web for the next little while but also think that more and more site-specific social graphs will emerge (check out the thoughts on this topic by Albert Wenger and Fred Wilson). So if you are a startup building a product based on a social graph, I would recommend to follow two strategies:

  • Use existing social graphs to build your own (site-specific) social graph by making it as easy as possible for people to find their Facebook and Twitter friends / followers that already use your service (or let them invite additional friends / followers to the service). Up to a year ago most sites focused on email invites to build the social graph but the uptake on this is considerably smaller. So this is really an “ease of use” question with the best implementation award going to Plancast in my opinion as they have really nailed the UI.
  • Help create new connections on your site by making it as easy as possible for your users to discover other users of your service that they should follow / friend. This is probably the area where most value could be created but not many sites have built anything interesting. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Foursquare pointed out people to me that frequently check into the same locations as I do? Or Disqus would recommend following people that comment on the same sites as I do? A big chunk of Facebook’s growth has been driven by their “friends recommendation” feature and interestingly enough, no other site has so far focused on the same strategy (with perhaps the exception of Linkedin).

Controlling as much as possible of the social graph will be extremely important for any site so leverage the existing social graphs as much as possible but really focus on creating new (useful) connections among your users.

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