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Pheed Monetizes Social Media But Is It The Powerhouse The Press Is Claiming?

Pheed-itunes-appPheed is an interesting social media and content monetization network that is worth checking out for a number of reasons. It's getting a lot of media coverage, claims lots of users and is a nice looking platform. But it's growth seems a bit manufactured from the initial celebrity uptake to February's teen tweets that were said to be responsible for its brief reign as the no. 1 social media iTunes app. One has to wonder if Pheed is all it claims to be despite the rather breathless coverage it's currently receiving in the press.

I mentioned Pheed back in December in a belated response to its October launch. It seemed interesting because a lot of entertainers had come on board, it offered content monetization options and was getting a lot of tech media coverage, much of which referenced this early article by Ilya Pozin.

Last month it got a second big round of coverage due to its brief reign at the top of the iTunes free social marketing app chart which was also documented by Ilya Pozin.

The first wave focused on the celebrities who'd come on board. This second wave focuses on Pheed's brief chart reign and a group of "influential teens" who tweeted about the app and are said to have driven the teen uptake.

Pheed's Founders: "Deep Pocketed Veteran Internet Entrepreneurs"

Let's assume that Ilya Pozin, founder of LA-based web design and marketing company Ciplex, has no business relations with the LA-based cofounders led by O.D. Kobo who are described in a Pando Daily article by Michael Carney as:

"a group of deep pocketed veteran internet entrepreneurs...who have been creating successful Chinese internet ventures together for nearly two decades."

According to Carney:

"In late 2011, the seven co-founders moved to Los Angeles and began dissecting the shortcomings of the existing social media landscape. Out of a swank house-turned-office on Mulholland Drive, Kobo personally met with the leaders of every segment of the entertainment industry including television, film, music, and sports talent, as well as their agencies and studios."

"For the better part of six months, he spent these meetings listening rather than pitching. The founders and their team of 15, then built Pheed to address the needs and concerns of this audience."

Carney also reveals that Kobo and company's investment group, the Shellanoo Investment Group LLC had, by October, "invested $2.5 million into the project and is not short on either the cash or connections necessary to see this project through to its conclusion."

Pheed's Founders Claim Underdog Status

However, if you check out Pozin's coverage, you can see that Kobo is positioning himself as an underdog in competition with Twitter and Facebook. He says:

"I feel like the only metaphor that describes accurately how I feel is the little engine that could, as it's against all odds...we're this self funded startup with no VC funding...while our competitors raise tens of millions, we're just this small team of people, and Pheed is being accepted by the community. All I can say is we are happy that people are being so accepting. It means a great deal!"

But now that Pheed has fallen off the charts, one has to wonder if their millions were put to work gaining celebrity support and influential teen tweets.

Pheed Shut Off New Memberships Because Growth Scared Them?

One of the oddities of Pheed's history is that they cut off new members for a month and then reopened February 1st:

"In December, Instagram caused a frenzy when it announced new terms of use that gave the social networking site access to photos for advertising. In the wake of that news, new members flocked to Pheed, which allows users to retain ownership of their posts. Pheed's audience grew so quickly that it stopped accepting new members at the end of December."

According to Kobo:

"In Web, sometimes the faster you rise, the faster you fall...We had a milestone to reach after year one and we reached it after two months, so we got scared. We started looking at how we could focus more and protect this community."

Somehow this all doesn't add up. Have any Hypebot readers investigated Pheed? It's certainly a nice looking platform and experimenting with content monetization is definitely a good look. So I remain skeptical but curious.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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