After a slight delay, Lady Gaga today rolled out her much-anticipated social networking site, “Little Monsters.” The site was in private beta for several months while early adopters – some as young as 13 years old – tested the network.
The site was developed by Backplane, a Palo Alto-based startup which recently closed its Series A funding round with participation from a who’s-who of high-profile investors. Sources indicate the company raised $4.3 million in the round which, according to Chief Executive Matthew Michelsen, was actually far more than was needed.
Backplane co-founder Joey Primiani announced the opening of the Little Monsters site his Facebook feed today.
Backplane had earlier said LittleMonsters.com would be publicly released in the spring of 2012. A mobile site also due to roll and additional communities are expected to be debuted throughout the year.
There are potential problems with the design. For example, it’s currently nearly impossible to determine if others on the side (“Katy Perry”, etc) are in fact who they say they are, and the site is full of pseudonymous users, which makes it very Wild West compared to Facebook. One user expressed this concern in a post on the site called, “Are you really a Little Monster?”
Are you really a Little Monster?
That’s the question a lot of people here need to ask themselves. The responses directed at others here is absolutely disgusting to say the least. There are monsters as young as 13 years old who are subjected to language, artist-bashing, pornography and more. This completely goes AGAINST what Lady Gaga, the BTWF and this site is trying to promote. We should be there for each other, helping each other and loving and supporting our fellow Monsters. You should be setting an example for the younger ones, or you can let them grow up the wrong way. You decide.
Still, every new user is provided with an email list of Dos and Don’ts, and the nascent posts and chats do appear to have a variety of techniques for reporting spammers or abusers. How closely can be maintained as the network grows is anyone’s call.
Growing pains notwithstanding, if it is successful it could be the first in a new trend of social networks created entirely around individuals, much the same way that companies create networks around their customers or ecosystems.
Investors are clearly interested. According to the Wall Street Journal, Backplane has already raised $6.3 million since its founding in 2011. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Greylock Discovery Fund, Advance/Newhouse Investment Partnership (an affiliate of Conde Nast), Battery Ventures, Formation 8, Google Ventures, (Eric Schmidt-backed) TomorrowVentures, Founders Fund Angel, Menlo Ventures, SV Angel, i/o Ventures, and a variety of individual investors.
Backplane earlier completed the acquisition of i/o Ventures startup Cortex, which makes tools for rapid sharing of online content and multimedia. That wasn’t a terribly difficult acquisition, since Cortex was created by cofounder Primiani. Backplane’s social syndication is powered by Cortex.
It’s debatable whether Lady Gaga actually needs her own network. She already has the most followers on Twitter and Facebook with over 66 million followers combined. She’s accumulated over 19,000 followers on the new network already.
But industry insiders suggest she is outgrowing these networks (Twitter’s 140-character limit can be stifling and Facebook’s Page requirements are the object of frustration from major brands and advertisers alike). So the concept of a network created around a single celebrity is not terribly surprising, and the fact that one of Backplane’s co-founders is Lady Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter, makes it even more clear that leading promoters also see the celebrity network as a potentially powerful new tool.