'Hang w/' Is Little Bit Twitter, Little Bit Instagram, Little Bit Rap, Little Bit Celebrity Ham
As social apps continue to proliferate the Web and our smartphones, it's not a great surprise that a platform like Hang w/ -- the latest shiny new thing -- would inevitably roll off a developers' assembly line. Described by some, as a 'melting pot of social networks,' this app (free at Google Play and the App Store) is an intriguing proposition and a nice complement to what went before.
Assimilating the best bells-and-whistles (we've come to enjoy) from some of the world's top social networks, Hang w/ is a unique blend of its predecessors, while singling out videos as the one feature that distinguishes it markedly, from the pack. While both Twitter and Instagram offer up Vines and short-vid clips as a video option, Hang W/ has taken this functionality to whole new level.
Most similar to Twitter, in interviewing co-founder Dave Swartz today, he described the Hang w/ offering as "a live video Twitter." It comes complete with a status stream where fellow users (or what the Hang w/ team call "broadcasters") can "hang with" by chatting, posting and sharing their stream of consciousness pertaining to their videos and others.
"Hang w/ allows you to broadcast live uninterrupted video to unlimited numbers of followers on mobile devices, on the web, and directly to Facebook -- (whereby) viewers of the content can then chat directly with the broadcaster and with each other - creating a unique live social media experience," noted Swartz.
Based in Fountain Valley, Orange County, California, Swartz and his fellow co-founder Andrew Maltin incubated the Hang w/ idea out of their MEDL Mobile app studio that they also co-founded and which is the major shareholder of Hang w/. Additionally, by attracting celebrity investors including 50 Cent, Timbaland and comedian Larry the Cable Guy, the company was able to close a $2,000,000 Series A round of funding, most recently.
That investment round was led by Mishaal Alireza who will take a seat on the Hang w/ Board of Directors. Mishaal co-founded Alireza Holding Co. in 1997, which owns and operates the largest premium Apple Reseller chain and the largest video game retailer franchise in Saudi Arabia.
"Hang w/ was in beta from December of 2012 until March of 2013. "The platform was growing with new users asking to join the beta with such frequency that we decided to put it up on the app store ahead of the planned launch day. It quickly grew and now has more than 1 million download," says Swartz.
Hang w/Different Types. . .
While users are allowed to upload a video as long as 15 minutes, celebs have the ability to broadcast up to 60 minutes. In asking Swartz about the different types of broadcasters, he pointed out that "there are a few different kinds of broadcasts - and there's an audience for each of them."
Celebs, for instance most often will share exclusive events. "We've had Timbaland broadcast on stage from a Jay Z Show, 50 Cent live on stage, Larry the Cable Guy filming his new movie and Lucy Hale on the red carpet," states Swartz.
The second category are folks, "like you and me who enjoy being 'with' other people throughout their days."
"They broadcast their lives, from driving in the car to walking the dog, to hanging out listening to music. As broadcasters, I think they like the fact that they are never alone. And on the flip side, we see that there are lots of followers who enjoy keeping them company."
"We've also got a fair number of users who are using the platform to create their own 'live mobile reality TV show.' -- and some regular folks are becoming celebs on Hang w/," added Swartz.
Hang w/Piece of the Action
While the site is not currently monetized, Swartz did talk a little about the company's future advertising plans. "We are working with one of the largest providers of digital advertising, and the ad-serving technology is all in place - however we've made the decision to not turn on the ads just yet. We are still fine tuning and perfecting the user experience."
However when ads do go live, they will appear for a few seconds before and after each broadcast - but differing from Twitter and some of the other social networks, Hang w/ plans on sharing the revenue with the broadcasters who create the content, with the exact formula for pay-outs still yet-to-be determined.
Hang w/the Future
Next month, in July, Hang w/ will be rolling out "a whole bunch of enhancements and major feature updates," noted Swartz.
The first will be a search feature which will be added to the app's Discover section. With more than "2.7 million live broadcasts - there's so much content - it's been hard for people to find the best of it," Swartz pointed out. The search feature will address that issue by curating and populating the top trending content, similar to how it's currently done on Twitter.
Another major update will be the opportunity to check out snippets of live broadcasts from the main user interface. "Now you won't need to make a judgement of whether or not you want to tune in based solely on the profile pic," says Swartz. "We've been using the new interface around the office and the app feels much more alive when you flip through and see snippets," and can determine if you want to invest your time in reviewing the entire video.
Hang w/the Fence?
Like Instagram, I see this platform moving quickly with the early adopters. For those that might be on-the-fence, in a wait-and-see mode, there really is no 'barrier to entry,' since the app is free and most smartphones today have become our go-to video camera. While some might think that no one's going to be interested in what another finds interesting, the same could have been said about our photographs. If I was told a few short years ago, that people would be photographing their restaurant meals for the world to see, I'd thought the suggestion preposterous. Today, not so much!
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