In the 1980s, those of us with personal computers used our Hayes Smartmodems to connect to bulletin board systems (BBS). These were electronic message boards that allowed people to chat asynchronously with each other, usually about geeky topics like Dungeons and Dragons or phone phreaking. Shortly thereafter, with the arrival of the pre-web internet, Usenet’s newsgroups arrived and hundreds of thousands of those lucky enough to be connected to the internet expanded the conversation to include literally thousands of topics with arcane titles like rec.arts.tv and comp.dcom.telecom. Connected computers were the enablers of topical conversations, even during the earliest days of computing.
Once the web emerged, these largely text-based conversations got spruced up and turned into online forums. There are now millions of them, and many are powered by software like phpBB and vBulletin. You probably encounter them multiple times a week. They are brilliantly optimized for the desktop web, their pages (and knowledge within) SEO really well, and have helped millions of us find answers to highly specific questions and interact with like-minded people. They are the largest repositories of conversations and communities on the pre-social web.
With the emergence of Facebook and other social networks, many of our conversations shifted to these modern communities. But these networks are general and largely non-specialized, so it has become harder to find active communities and conversations around passions like black and white photography or Pokemon.
And now that the mobile web has overtaken the desktop web, this need has become even greater — on our mobile devices, where do we go to talk about our passions?
Amino has the answer. They have created scores of mobile-only passion communities for the teen and millennial generation and are on their way to create thousands. Their communities are highly mobile-optimized (in fact, they are mobile-only) and utilize best practices from the most successful feed-based social platforms. Their users love them (check out their appstore ratings!) and, more importantly, are highly engaged in both creating and consuming content. If you care about anime, video games, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or even wrestling, you will find your community on Amino.
Amino, like many of the most valuable internet companies, creates platforms for self-expression and communication. We have an investment theme around this at Venrock (check out YouNow, for example) and we are excited to welcome Amino into our portfolio.
Ben and Yin founded the company to create the most active communities on the mobile internet. We think they have done a tremendous job and understand the needs and passions of their largely teen and millennial audience better than anyone. We are pleased to announce that we led their most recent financing and are excited to join our friends at USV to work with this fantastic team to build the best place for passions in the world.