Managing your social media presence can be exhausting. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and (gulp) your own blog or website all demand attention, require separate logins, and show the world a slightly incomplete picture of you or your business. That’s the problem former Huffington Post CTO Paul Berry is hoping to solve with RebelMouse, a new platform that not only aggregates your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, but allows you to publish original content. Google+ and LinkedIn integration are on the way, says Berry, but stresses that “I’m much more interested in being a publishing platform,” than in being a social aggregator.
He’s got the chops to pull it off. Berry is widely acknowledged as the technical brilliance behind HuffPost’s founding team. Shortly after the company was purchased for $315 million by AOL in February 2011, he negotiated a six-month transition period, which, he says, “was constructed to help me think about what I would do next.”
Through the work he did with social integration at HuffPost, he says he constantly heard complaints from people who were struggling with their websites and with being spread too thin on social media. “I saw that there was this wonderful, terrible hole in publishing,” he says.
The day after he left HuffPost–February 15, 2012–he closed a family and friends round of funding for RebelMouse, a domain name he had purchased years ago. He can’t remember where the name came from but, he says, “I tested the name out and didn’t tell people what it was for. A high percentage felt they should know it and like it,” he says. “It’s humble, but ambitious.” Of course, there’s also a cute RebelMouse logo to go with the name, and Berry is hoping that his little blue rodent will eventually earn the same pop culture cache as, say, Angry Birds.
The platform, which launched in June, allows users to integrate their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates, plus their RSS feeds onto a Pinterest-like home page (you can check out my RebelMouse page). But what makes RebelMouse different from other social aggregators is that users can drag and drop postings around their pages, and assign them permanent positions so that they’re not bumped by more recent content. For instance, I can freeze my latest Startup of the Week column in the top center position until my next story comes out. Users may also delete posts they don’t want to appear on their page. Additionally, the platform allows users to add new, original content directly to their pages via a customized dashboard. “People were really ready for this format,” Berry says. “We’re proud of giving that power to the user.”
A week into the company’s launch, 12,000 people had signed up for the invite-only beta. Today, there are 200,000 Rebel Mouse pages, and Berry says the site has generated 300,000 unique visits in the past 31 days and “well over a million page views.”
While a basic RebelMouse account will always be free, Berry says the company will begin charging individuals and businesses monthly fees to power domain names. For example, if you’d like to direct the home page of your website to your RebelMouse page, you’ll pay $3 a month for an individual account or $3 a week for a corporate one. The result: Instead of a static home page, your visitors get an updated snapshot of your social media presence along with any original content you choose to post. Gary Vaynerchuck, an investor in RebelMouse, now has the company power his domain. “We now have well over 1,000 domains powered by us,” Berry says. “We want 10 million a year from today.”
Just three weeks ago, the company raised $2.5 million from several top investors, including Oak Investment Partners, SoftBank Capital, New Enterprise Associates, First Round Capital and others. In addition to that A-list team of investors, Berry has former top HuffPost executives Ken Lerer, Jonah Peretti and Eric Hippeau on his board. “I’m insanely proud to have them,” says Berry.
Early next year, the Manhattan-based company, which now has 20 employees, will begin a more intense focus on powering domains and developing other revenue streams such as e-commerce and sponsored content. According to Berry, Rebel Mouse has already generated interest from big brands such as General Electric, The Wall Street Journal, Pepsi and The New York Times. “It’s amazing how many incoming requests we’ve had,” he says. “We think this is a really, really huge opportunity.”
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Photo: Granny Cart Productions