Erly, an eight-person startup backed by Kleiner Perkins and founded by three ex-Hulu high-ups, just launched its first product this morning.It’s a photo-sharing site called Collections.
Before you scream, founder Eric Feng — the former CTO of Hulu and a current partner at Kleiner for the last year or so — would like you to know that his ambitions are a lot higher.
Collections is the first product from the company, which is built around the idea of an “experience graph.”
Facebook and other social networks are organised around people — the social graph — but they’re not very good tools for tracking and planning events.
For instance, if you and all your friends attend the same wedding, it’s very hard to find a single place to post all your recollections — not just pictures, but videos, links (to a news story about the historic building where the wedding took place, for instance), and notes.
Collections tries to answer that need. The team really focused on creating a beautiful design and on making it fluid, flexible, and highly interactive.
Feng divides the “experience graph” into three parts — past, present, and future. Collections is about the past — events that already happened.
But Feng is most bullish on the future, noting that when you plan an event three days from now, it’s already entered in a calendar somewhere. Advertisers would love to have access to that information.
Of course, the only way that Erly will ever be able to get you to give up that information is by building a great app that solves a real need. He imagines a calendar that could give you recommendations where to go on a certain day, give you smart alerts based on what you’re planning (like warning you it’s going to rain before you plan a picnic on Sunday), and allow you to create a chat room to coordinate and plan the event.
Can he do it? Feng calls himself a “workaholic”, and notes that the team built Collections in less than two months (and he helped get Hulu up in less than three). He also isn’t worried about big companies like Facebook or Google coming in and stealing his ideas because he knows that ideas don’t matter as much as execution, and startups have a much greater incentive to move fast.
“At any large company, the biggest challenge is that they cannot accurately measure and reward people for their contributions,” he told me, citing Paul Graham as inspiration for the quote. “You could literally change the future of the company, do something totally innovative and fantastic, and you’d get a 7% bonus instead of a 4% bonus.”
As a former Microsoft employee, he probably knows what he’s talking about.
Here’s a video showing what Collections is all about:
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