Mobile

Ex-Googlers launch recommendation engine Stamped, with help from Google Ventures

A team of former Googlers has launched an iPhone app, funded by Google Ventures, for recommending experiences you might want to partake in.

Stamped connects to your Facebook and Twitter networks. It seeks to turn the social services into fun and useful sources of experience recommendations, but in a structured way. With luck, the makers hope, Stamped will eliminate the last minute group text messages and chain emails searching for the best places to eat, movies to watch, or the best art galleries.

“While there’s lots of ways to do shouts or check-ins about places that appeal to a small demographic of extroverts that like to tell everyone where they are, we still look for better ways for people to put their thumbprint on things, places that they like,” Google Ventures partner Rich Miner told VentureBeat. “I think Stamped makes that real simple. And with a very simple, straightforward metaphor that everyone likes to tell people about the things they like.”

As Google employees, founders Robby Stein, Kevin Palms and Bart Stein impressed the team at Google Ventures with their technical know-how and product chops, Miner told VentureBeat. Google Ventures and Bain Capital put an undisclosed Series A investment into the company, which is based in New York, in April.

In a  blog post the founders of Stamped write:

The problem we’re trying to solve is noise. Specifically, there’s too much of it today when you try to discover something new online, whether it be a restaurant, book, movie, or song. What does 3 stars from 70 strangers mean? Is that good or bad? Can I trust this person’s opinion? Who is he/she? If you’ve ever asked these questions, you’ve experienced the weaknesses of current review and rating sites.

What sets Stamped apart from other recommendation services such as Alfred, the digital concierge, is that with Stamped users start off with 100 points called stamps, and can earn more when friends engage with their recommendations. This is similar to “gamification” strategies that are a bit of a business trend at the moment.

Stamped recommendations are not just plain text, like Tweets or Facebook status updates, they are connected to structured data from sites like Google, iTunes, Amazon, or Fandango. That makes the recommendations easier to connect smoothly with an online purchase or other actions, such as bringing up a map.

The news comes on the heels of the sale of Hunch, a personalization and recommendation service, which eBay today bought for a reported $80 million.

Hunch switched gears from a question and answer service to one that personalized the web to each individual. Hunch co-founder and chief executive officer Chris Dixon wrote on his blog last October that personalization was so important to many companies that they were hiring senior executives as the head of personalization.

No one knows more about what you’re likely to enjoy than your friends, and Stamped and Google Ventures think they may be onto something. Merely acquiring the name Stamped.com couldn’t have been cheap, and it’s unlikely that Google would put money behind a me-too recommendation service just because the founders used to work at Google.

Home page image via vipa/Flickr, hands via Roobee/Flickr


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