A criticism of social networks like Twitter and Facebook is that they promote superficiality over depth when users post hundreds of miniature updates about their lives. What suffers are the conversations, say the founders of ShareGrove, a San Mateo-based startup that presented at DEMOFall 09, a conference co-presented by VentureBeat.
While one of Facebook’s biggest aims is to strengthen the “weak ties” in a person’s social network, like distant acquaintances or friends from the past, most of a user’s online interactions tends to be with a handful of their closest friends, said ShareGrove co-founder Kent Libbey.
ShareGrove is a site that uses Facebook Connect to bring a person’s closest friends into a space that’s a hybrid between e-mail, a Facebook wall and group chat. It immediately updates whenever a member of the group posts an item (like Friendfeed which was recently acquired by Facebook) and incorporates search when a user types in a comment. So if you type in the name of a book for sale on Amazon, that will appear in a left-hand column as an object that you can drag and drop into the comment. It’s also a revenue model for ShareGrove as Amazon pays a small percentage of its sales to partners that refer them customers.
ShareGrove’s one of a handful of projects (like Zenbe and Google Wave) that are trying to find a new form of communication that melds the best of breed from all others, so that users don’t have to constantly switch between e-mailing, Twittering and blogging. (Lissn is another variant of this that launched at TechCrunch50 last week. But ShareGrove is private and Lissn is public.) While ShareGrove might have trouble gaining the same user traction that Google Wave will have when it comes out for public beta next week, its thinking and incorporation of search points the way toward a more integrated form of communication in the future.
ShareGrove is seed funded by Elm Street Ventures.