Hashtag creator Chris Messina today launched Molly, a service that allows people to ask questions about you and glean information from your various social media profiles.
Molly skims your posts on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Medium to learn about you and formulate natural language questions. When someone asks something Molly can’t answer, that question is sent to the Molly app for you to answer yourself.
In addition to following your social media activity, the Molly app asks you to answer questions about yourself, like “Do you own an Amazon Echo?” or “Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth?”
The more you swipe through the questions, the more Molly learns about you, and the more you learn about how your friends have answered similar questions.
Early Molly adopters include cofounders of companies like Imgur, Stripe, Product Hunt, and others, as well as a number of well-known startup investors and tech journalists. Profile requests can be made at molly.com.
In addition to launching Molly, the company today announced that it will participate in the Winter 2018 batch at the Y Combinator startup accelerator.
While there is no shortage of social media platforms to choose from, this service was created to aggregate knowledge that’s currently spread across your many social media accounts and create a unified profile.
“Essentially, the premise behind the whole concept is to try to make social media work for us,” Messina told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Everyone began to silo their online creative expression because of restrictions placed on them by platforms that only allow photos, like Instagram, or 280 characters, like Twitter. Molly wants to put all those pieces back together again with a more human-centric approach.
Between things like an inability to share a photo between Twitter and Instagram and the angst surrounding mega platforms like Facebook, some users have started to feel that social media platforms are antagonistic, Messina said.
“Having worked at Google Plus and seen how big companies tend to struggle with social, it seems like going out and building a startup in this space was the best way to try to get ahead and take advantage of this shift in consumer behavior. To try to build a social platform that understands people, how they ask questions, and the types of answers they’re looking for allows us to build up ideally a very useful and valuable dataset that we make available to our users to give them something back for all the content they’ve contributed to the social web over time.”
In addition to his history as an early Twitter user, Messina has worked with developer communities at companies like Uber and played roles in the bot and AI communities for some time now. He has acted as moderator for Bots Facebook group and is an original organizer of Botness, a gathering of developers, investors, and platforms from companies like Microsoft, Slack, Twilio, and Facebook.
In 2015 and 2016, Messina was one of the most recognizable names in the field of conversational commerce, the opening of third-party platforms on chat apps, and the emergence of Alexa and other AI assistants that Messina calls “god bots.”
To read more of Messina’s thoughts on the state of conversational AI today, see this recently published VentureBeat interview.
Molly is a continuation of Olabot, a startup created by Esther Crawford and Ethan Sutin. In 2016, Olabot took part in Botcamp, an accelerator created by Betaworks for the makers of conversational experiences. Olabot’s early projects included the invention of personal bots for people like Redfoo from LMFAO, as well as Messina and Crawford.