Last month, viral advertising expert Chris Baker left his job as Creative Director of BuzzFeed. Today he unleashed a new startup he hopes will go viral,
Rather is a spin-off of Unbaby.me, a joke Baker created last year for $US500 that now has 230,000 users. Unbaby.me removes all Facebook posts about friends’ newborns from its users’ NewsFeeds. It targets common keywords like “mummy,” “baby,” and “adorable” to nix the overshares and bring users peace of mind.
Rather is a buffed up version of Unbaby.me. It lets you remove any topic from your social feeds, not just baby pictures. A user can scroll through a list of potentially-annoying keywords, like “Olympics,” to block. They can also type in their own keywords like “Twitter IPO” or “Movember,” and Rather will delete those posts too.
If you don’t want to delete a topic altogether, you can replace it with something you’d rather see. For example, if you’re a cat lover, you can replace all “Twitter IPO” mentions with “Kittens” to see furry faces instead of Dick Costolo or Jack Dorsey in your feeds. Right now, Rather is a Chrome extension. If the concept catches on, Baker plans to launch it on other browsers like Safari and eventually mobile apps.
Baker formerly worked for advertising agencies R/GA and BBDO; he has made a living implementing catchy concepts. In June 2011, he created TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite for $US10 — the cost of buying the domain. A friend designed it for “shits and giggles,” Baker says. The website required entrants to have a certain number of Twitter followers to access the site. If you didn’t meet the required number, you were turned away. The website had varying levels of access too. The final page of the site could only be reached by two people in the world, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, who had more than 10 million Twitter followers each.
The exclusive website idea came from Baker’s ex-girlfriend and the launch of design site Fab.com.
“Fab launched around that time [with a promotion]: provide three friends’ email addresses and get early access to the site,” Baker recalls. “My ex said, ‘I’m going to plug your email into this site.’ I asked her what it was for and she said, ‘I don’t know. It’s something coming out soon.’ She kept pleading with me. So I said, ‘I’m going to make a website no one can get into.'”
Soon, celebrities were testing their clout on TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite — even though there was nothing special about the website once they entered. The site consisted of door images. There was rickroll video at the end of the website.
Ryan Seacrest boasted about reaching door five. Kim Kardashian tried to access room eight four times. Baker watched her try and fail on his website’s analytics.
“Kim had 7 million twitter followers so she made it to the 7th room,” Baker said. “We knew how many times she tried to get into the 8th room. We had a message pop up that said, “Please remain here until you get more popular.”
“Kim Kardashian had 7 million Twitter followers so she made it to the 7th room. We knew how many times she tried to get into the 8th room. We had a message pop up that said, ‘Please remain here until you get more popular.’
In the end, TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite proved to be incredibly easy to hack. Business Insider exposed how to break into it; Baker laughs about that now. “You guys really ruined my friend [the web designer]’s day,” Baker joked.
For Baker, coming up with viral ideas like Unbaby.me and TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite is easy.
“It’s just a lot of trend watching I guess,” Baker says. “It’s noticing that if this little stupid thing on the Internet is bothering me, it’s probably bothering 20 million other people.”
But this time, Baker means business. He is bootstrapping Rather and he says it has been “expensive.”
“Rather is the first serious, non-joking thing I’ve done,” he says. “Our team has a vision for Rather that isn’t just about blocking things in your social feeds. It’s about really custom-tailoring the Internet to show the things you love.”
Here’s how Rather works: