Aside from a love of startups and a preference not to go by the name Bob, I don’t think Robert Scoble and I have a whole lot in common. And we’re especially different when it comes to our usage of social media. Scoble follows nearly 33,000 accounts on Twitter, while I follow only 350. Scoble has almost 5,000 people in his Google+ circles, while have 160. Scoble is a super-user of social media.
So when Scoble posted an eight-minute video interview with Mesagraph founder Sebastian Lefebvre to his Google+ page last week, I was, of course, thrilled that a cool Paris startup was getting such great publicity, but I was also skeptical that Mesagraph’s first product, Meaningly, could be relevant to me.
Mesagraph works, and it’s going to get better
See, Meaningly is a filtering and discovery service for Twitter (other social networks are on the way). It helps you manage your stream by culling the general topics of each tweet and categorizing them accordingly. Additionally, it recommends tweets to you based on your interests.
I can see why somebody like Scoble would find this useful. I mean, he follows 33,000 accounts. But then I thought about it, and I remembered that I recently pared down my following list, because I found that if I took a 30-minute call I would be 100 unread tweets deep. And I stopped following people who I really enjoyed, just because they simply tweeted too much. Clutter and volume are huge obstacles to the continued growth and evolution of social media sites like Twitter.
I got an invite to use Meaningly, and the results were pleasing. I should point out that it is still in private beta, so the UI is still pretty bare-bones, but it immediately identified politics as one of my interests. I set up a folder on the 2012 French presidential election (about which I know nothing and need to learn more), and within a minute Meaningly had found relevant tweets in my timeline, as well as added a few tweets from accounts I don’t follow.
According to Lefebvre, the CEO, the algorithm will only improve as more users are signed up and analyzed. The idea is that Meaningly is moving “beyond hashtags,” says Lefebvre. “There’s a simplicity of not having to define your interests.”
How can you work with Orange without getting crushed?
As the product improves and the need for it grows, you can see why Scoble predicts Mesagraph will be a company to look for in 2013. In the meantime, the company — which graduated from the first session of Le Camping earlier this year and then raised money led by regional investment fund, Sadepar — is focusing on a social TV API they built together with Orange, and they’re working to bring Meaningly to more languages (it’s currently only in English) and platforms.
They’re also entering the B2B marketplace right away, selling to media, journalists, and the television ecosystem of advertisers, producers, and others. Asked whether he thought this commercial approach might be too early for Mesagraph, Lefebvre said, “We need to validate the market, find a kernel of users and customers, and evaluate the verticals and make sure we’re going in the right direction.” That’s fine, but you have to wonder whether such a promising company in Silicon Valley would be worrying at all about commercial viability at such an early stage of growth.
Scoble is right that social media filtering and creation are going to be huge in the near future. With Meaningly moving toward a public release, Mesagraph is making a strong case to be smack in the middle of that fight. If they can maintain their global perspective and nimbleness while launching within the very traditional French corporate environment, they will have paved a path for other promising French startups.