Sometimes products are easy to sum up in single sentences, sometimes they are most definitely not. Whrrl, a new site by Pelago, is one of those that eludes definition. Hence, Pelago’s need to describe it unhelpfully as “a seamlessly integrated Web and mobile experience that is social, useful, and fun”.
Let’s start with the fundamentals and go from there. Whrrl is at heart a social network, as are many websites we see these days. But it’s a social network with a purpose (or, several related purposes, as we shall see). Members primarily use Whrrl to share their opinions and knowledge about local outfits, such as restaurants, bars, retail stores, and hotels. In the spirit of Yelp, users can find basic information about establishments and then, more importantly, share reviews of them (with brief descriptions and a star rating system). You can also write simple notes that correspond with particular locations, notes you can choose to share with all Whrrl members or just your friends…
Pelago raised $7.4 million last November from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Trilogy Equity Partners. They are currently running a promotion campaign with American Eagle to get the word out to Whrrl’s target demographic, 18 to late 20 year olds. Robert Scoble recently recorded an interview with Pelago CEO Jeff Holden.
I have no idea if this will be successful… perhaps it will turn into a real champ. What catches my attention is how much venture capital is flowing into dot.com start-ups with silly one-word names that are aimed at gear-heads living in major urban areas who have too much time on their hands. That’s not a knock against Whrrl, just an observation about the online universe.
Perhaps the division I’m groping around is between those who use the internet primarily for entertainment and those who use it as a tool to get things done more efficiently, cheaper, better, etc. Seems like internet-as-entertainment has won the day. Maybe we should start calling PCsmobile devices “the new idiot box.”