Where I've Been is one of the hottest apps on Facebook. It is basically a map that lets you shade in the places you have been, and where you would like to go. The app was launched on June 8th. When I wrote about them just two weeks later they already had 400,000 users. Yesterday I talked again to founder Craig Ulliott. He reported 2.9M current users, and adding 25,000 new users each day.
Facebook apps are hot. I saw companies at startup incubators Y Combinator and TechStars that already had great traction with Facebook apps. Many startups I talk to these days include a Facebook app as part of their service.
Where I'm Going - My big question for Where I've Been founder Craig Ulliott was where are you going? The short answer...everywhere. Where I've Been just announced a beta service for MySpace, the other big social networking service. They also launched their own web site which will allow them to expand the service and monetize in different ways. Craig has lots of funding offers from VCs, and lots of advertising and revenue sharing offers from companies in the travel business.
What is the social network appeal of WIB? Friends like to share where they have been and learn about new places they would like to go. With WIB it is easy to find people with similar interests, compare maps, share experiences, find the best deals, and plan new trips.
What is the business model? - Millions of users are great, but what is the business model that will make this a sustainable business? Advertising, sponsorship, and revenue share. The WIB audience is very targeted on people who like to travel. WIB knows where their users are geographically located, where they have been, and most importantly, where they would like to go. This allows some very targeted advertising at very high rates. Revenue sharing with airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruise ships, and all sorts of travel businesses is also a great revenue source. WIB could also start their own travel agency.
Will WIB move from the east coast to Silicon Valley? Scott Kirsner at the Boston Globe writes frequently about why east coast startups often move to the west coast. It is a frustrating issue. I was on the management team of two startups (AltaVista and Napster) that started in Boston but moved to Silicon Valley and wrote about the reasons why. The WIB guys are happy in Philadelphia and plan on staying there. They already work virtually from several different locations. They can attract the money and talent they need to expand the business, and their users are in every country in the world. So there is no clear advantage to moving the company.
There has been recent speculation that WIB will be acquired by TripAdvisor for $3M, about $1 per user. TripAdvisor, a Boston based company, has denied the rumor. I didn't ask Craig about this in our discussion because the reality is he couldn't comment even if it were true. My guess is WIB will not be acquired, at least not anytime soon. If they can generate enough cash to grow and sustain them to the next level, the future acquisition price would be significantly higher.
Keep your eye on Where I've Been. It could be The Next Big Thing in social networking and e-commerce.