Pouncing on Pownce

by Sachin Balagopalan on July 29, 2007 · Comments


According to the New York Times today, Pownce is the hottest startup in Silicon Valley at the moment. Ironically coinciding with the NYT article I received my “coveted” (or not, since all I had to do was ask for it via the website) invitation from the folks at Pownce to join the service. I guess once upon a time these invitations were rare and people were putting the invite codes up for sale on Ebay!

When I first read about Pownce I didn’t pay too much attention to it except that Kevin Rose, the co-founder and chief architect of Digg was involved in this venture. I pretty much chalked it as another Twitter like messaging service with a little bit of FaceBook in it perhaps. However after I received my invite code and started playing with it I must admit I can see some value. I was particularly impressed with the fact that you can create logical groups of your friends and send messages to individuals or to a combination of one or more of your groups. Unlike Twitter where everyone and anyone can see your message (however to be fair Twitter does have a private messaging feature) this feature puts Pownce ahead of Twitter IMO. The bang for the buck is you can send a message, or a file, or a song, or an event to a private individual or to one or more logical groups or to the entire Pownce community. It’s actually a no-brainer from a conceptual stand point. After banging on it for a few hours I’m beginning to think that I could easily replace my IM with Pownce. Of-course it’s a whole different story to get my associates and contacts on to the Pownce platform so it won’t really do me any good right now.

The concept and the usability are definitely apparent and now it’s just a matter of ironing out details like security - with a file sharing system I would think that might be a paramount concern especially if their strategy is to penetrate the workplace at some point in time (purely speculative on my part). Then of course there are some legal issues to consider like this quote from the NYT piece suggests:

What struck me most was the site’s potential to be powerfully disruptive. Most file-sharing occurs on public sites, which can be monitored by media companies; if the users violate copyrights, the sites or the users themselves can be threatened into compliance or litigated out of existence (as happened with the original Napster). File-sharing on Pownce would be difficult to police.

After the recent copyright infringement lawsuits against Google/YouTube I think these are genuine concerns that Pownce will have to deal with. I think this one may have some legs however at the end of the day.


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