Several West Virginia University alumni have received widespread media attention for their effort to revolutionize the way social media works by paying users to share their written content.
Arvind Dixit, a biology graduate, is CEO and co-founder with Jason Zuccari, former Student Government Association and multidisciplinary studies in leadership, communication and public relations, who serves as president. Dixit and Zuccari met eight years ago at WVU and previously formed Volunteer Us, a volunteer-based website that recorded nonprofit community service hours.
The founders, both 26 years old, want to change the model of social media and do right by people. Thus was born Bubblews – a mashup of “bubble” and “news,” a social media platform that provides an online, global community where people are encouraged to share their passions in a minimum of 400 characters supplemented by photos,
The duo launched the service on July 16 in Silicon Valley. The launch was covered broadly in the tech media, including mentions on Mashable, a widely followed technology blog, Fox News, CNET, Yahoo and more.
“The idea that social media users will continue to contribute to networks for free in exchange for being seen as an expert has a fixed limit because most folks have bills to pay and should, over time, favor sites that share profits with them over those that do not,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, said in a release. “This is what makes Bubblews different; as people share their thoughts with the service, Bubblews shares its profits with them, showcasing a respect for the user that most free sites currently lack. If the site can reach critical mass I believe this model will be far more attractive to people than the free alternatives.”
Users create public “bubbles” or posts, follow each other, like posts and comment on others. Users are paid about .01 cent for every like, comment and unique view a post receives. Bubblews splits the revenue evenly with users who are creating content. Once a user reaches $50, he or she is paid out with PayPal.
Unlike other social media networks that mine data, Bubblews seeks to put the power back into users’ hands by allowing them to share content about themselves – but get paid for it.
Topics vary from World Cup news to writing a first adventure book to posting about one’s feelings on world peace.
“Our community is global and as our users are compensated, we’ve seen a trend in continuing community offline,” said Zuccari. “Our users regularly write and share insights to how they’re using the site. We have single mothers using Bubblews to purchase their children birthday gifts, college kids buying textbooks and volunteer groups sending supplies to third world countries.”
The concept was originally developed in fall 2012, but it was until recently that they’ve unveiled the redesign, which showcases a grid of large blocks consisting users’ photo icons , usernames, background photos and taglines.
“When we originally launched Bubblews’s beta back in 2012, it was a test to see if the concept would work,” Dixit said. “After millions of people started visiting the site from around the world and climbing to the top of the Alexa charts, we realized that we could turn our dream into a viable business, not only for us but for all Bubblews users too.”
The company employs a handful of other WVU alums, including Chief Technology Officer Tyler Pearson, accounting, and Mia Campano, Communications ‘10.
The company currently serves more than 20 million visitors per month in more than 240 countries. Bubblews is looking to operate in other languages and on mobile soon.
Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, the company has received seed and Angel Funding from AJZ Capital, LLC and Capital Financial Ventures, LLC. For more information, visit bubblews.com.
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