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Hotshot investor Fritz Lanman has just launched a new iPhone app called Livestar that aims to upend reviews services like Yelp, Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes. It even takes shots at Foursquare.
Livestar’s app lets you see reviews for restaurants, movies, and music from “trusted sources” like newspapers and blogs that are near your location. You can also use your Facebook friends and people in your contact list to help get more recommendations. Eventually, the app will also include categories like TV shows, apps, books, apparel, and wine.
“We want to take the friction out of the reviews process,” Lanman said.
If you take a look at the photo above, you can see that the app includes features we’ve all come to expect from a social networking app. You can see your friends’ reviews and recommendations, a news feed for reading and responding to people’s banter about things being reviewed, and there’s a tab for sending out a note to friends, asking them for help when you want to crowdsource an answer.
Lanman says that Livestar will connect with consumers because it fills the reviews void better than any other alternative. He says Yelp is “controlled by a small hyper-local minority” and is filled with “paid reviews.” Foursquare has “high quality sources” (your friends) but the “signal is shitty and you have to rely on check-ins.” Metacritic, Lanman says, does not let you narrow down sources as well as Livestar, as the app lets you refine the search as deep as “comedy movie reviews by the New York Times.”
At this point, I’m not convinced people will use Livestar over Metacrtic or Rotten Tomatoes because those are well-established services that let you get a consensus of trusted sources and everyday users. But when it comes to restaurants (and in the future, mobile apps), Livestar has a strong proposition. People always need to eat, and there isn’t a popular Yelp-like app that aggregates professional restaurant reviews. The app is also constructed in such a way that you can give a place one to five stars by tapping on a rating, and you don’t have to write a review, so people might use it more than Yelp.
Lanman, a former senior director at Microsoft and an investor in Pinterest, Square, Chartbeat, and other notable startups, adds a high level of pedigree to the project. He’s been a deals guy and a savvy investor for a long while, so it’s interesting to see him at the helm of an iPhone app startup.
Seattle-based Livestar has about 10 employees and has raised $2 million in funding to date, with an impressive roster of investors, including SV Angel, Chernin Group, Morado Ventures, and Beehive Ventures, and individuals like Ray Ozzie, Matt Mullenweg, Don Mattrick, Max Ventilla, Hunter Walk, Mike Slade, and Charles Songhurst.
Check out Livestar’s slick video for more on the company’s vision:
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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