Backplane, which created the tech serving Lady Gaga's Little Monsters fan community raised $18.9 million as the poster child for helping brands connect with fans. But behind the scenes, the story was not so impressive, until perhaps now.
Backplane was founded to create niche based communities of "like-minded people to connect across their shared interests." Several rounds totalling $18.9 million attracted investors like Google Ventures, SV Angel and Menlo.
Backplane's first hit was Lady Gaga's LittleMonsters.com; and it attracted a million plus fans. The next step was to build similar communities for brands. Coca-Cola, Cirque De Soleil and Nike signed on.
Lady Gaga invested in Backplane and her then-manager Troy Carter was the public face of the company. But when Carter split with Gaga, things started to go turn bad for Backplane. A bloated burn rate was eating up millions of dollars and "internal squabbles led to a useless product," insiders told TechCrunch.
But before crashing, former Backplane President and COO Scott Harrison was installed as the new CEO, and the company pivoted. Backplane is now called Place, and they are building an impressive looking platform for creating themed social networks.
"Facebook gave the social web it’s beginning, but it can’t end there." writes Harrison. "We see our mission as very different, they are connecting the world, we are connecting your world. Take a second, look through your social apps, they’re about everyone else. Place is about you.
Place, currently in beta, will be free, much more self-service than Backplane and aimed at almost anyone trying to build community. Little Monsters need not worry. Like Backplane, Place still powers Lady Gaga's massive community.
Your Own Community
Place is currently looking for community builders to be part of the launch.