Though sometimes described in such forms as "Lady Gaga's Backplane," the social networking company is actually an independent entity and Lady Gaga is an investor and shining star. Backplane gradually grew from LittleMonsters.com to an odd assortment of brands tied together by the platform. Now they're planning to open the whole thing up, according to new COO and president Scott Harrison, and they're emphasizing monetization as well as the kind of control you can't get from Facebook.
The short version is that providing a service to big brands apparently wasn't enough for a company that had approximately $13 million in funding. So they're going for the mass play and will be opening up the platform likely in September.
Backplane COO Emphasizes Monetization
"Rather than having to pay to set up a network as they would on Ning, Backplane will get organizers paid. They’ll be able to charge dues, sell merchandise and crowdfund projects. And if their community grows large enough, Backplane even wants to help them sell ad space in their networks and split the revenue."
As Harrison states:
"Why wouldn’t I push my content to an area where I can make money opposed to other people making money? If you can bring 10,000 people to a room, we should share that value."
Of course there's also the issue of control. Artists and brands who have arguably helped build networks like Facebook feel like they're losing control so the combination of control of one's relationship with one fans and integrated tools to directly monetize that relationship are a potentially powerful drawing force.
Many things are unclear at this stage:
Since they're interested in people who already have a following or are likely to build one will they be picking and choosing or really opening up the gates?
Will all networks be required to hide their content behind a registration wall or will users be able to take advantage of the strength of the open web if they choose?
Couldn't they just put up a little email collection form on their site for those of us interested in being informed when they launch?
That last one may seem minor but it's a good example of their need to switch from big brand/rolodex thinking to serving the masses thinking. They just blew a TechCrunch wave of traffic from people who might be interested but will surely forget by September.
Nevertheless, Backplane's site states that "requests will be open soon." So check back if you're interested since you probably don't have anything else as important to keep up with..
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