Can the world handle yet another location-based social network?
Andreessen-Horowitz is betting it can, after investing $500,000 with Baseline Ventures into Burbn. Burbn is a stealth location-sharing project from a well-connected former Googler, Kevin Systrom, who has had stints at several different companies including Odeo, the podcasting startup that begat Twitter.
Several blogs reported the funding last week, but few had details on what it actually was.
So what is it? It’s a web-based location app where people can share rich media about their whereabouts. Systrom gave few details, because the product is likely to evolve quite a bit. He hasn’t given guidance on when it will launch, either.
But from what we’ve seen of the app from beta testers, the current iteration includes best-of-breed features from a number of products. Think of it like a location-sensitive Tumblr where you can follow friends and places. You can share not only where you are, but photos of what’s happening there. There are “takeovers” of places, akin to the mayorship battles that take place in Foursquare‘s location-based mobile game. There is also tab for ‘Plans’, where you can share what you’re up to in the future, similar to Plancast‘s core offering.
That’s not to say other entrepreneurs in the space aren’t thinking along the same lines. Location-sharing should be a much richer experience, but the “check-in” is the user experience that helped the field take off. For now, Foursquare is relying on outside developers to create features like photo check-ins (see Photocheck.in) and map mash-ups like FourWhere. Location-sharing service Gowalla also released an application programming interface to attract developers last month.
The way Burbn is designed as a web-based experience, rather than one that’s confined to an app, is compelling given the number of platforms and devices developers have to accommodate to reach a broad audience.