Since leaving Etsy over the summer I’ve had the good fortune of working on lots and lots of interesting things with lots of interesting people. At some point, I will provide a more thorough accounting of what that stuff is, but one of the best projects on my plate is helping my friends Anil Dash and Gina Trapani with their new company ThinkUp.
ThinkUp was actually an app before it was a company. In fact, you can download the open source version right now, which you can install on your own server. Even with that old school distribution model for Web software, the product has already gained a devoted following of tens of thousands of users. Now Gina and Anil are transforming it into a centrally hosted service, easy enough for everyone to use without having to wrestle with the complexity of running your own server.
What is ThinkUp? Anil and Gina answer that question in great detail here and here, but I like to think of it as an insight engine for your social network activity. It looks at your postings and returns a myriad of fascinating statistics and revelations about the who, what, where, when, why and how of your tweets and updates. Aside from being really smart, it’s also loads of fun.
Gina and Anil’s ambition is not just to transform ThinkUp into a much easier to use, much more robust product, but also to build a new company in the process — a different kind of company. Like any startup, they want to achieve hockey stick growth, but they also want to do that in the framework of “a great tech company that’s focused on doing the right thing for our users, our community, and the Web.” They are just as proud of the list of privacy-compromising features that ThinkUp doesn’t engage in as what the software does do.
To pull this off, they are in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign that will fuel this journey. I encourage you to read all about it on the campaign page to get a sense of how unique their mission is, and join the campaign.