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While present-focused social networks like Facebook and Instagram make plenty of room for the narcissists in us, there’s not really a dedicated and focused place to reflect on the past.

Timehop, which started out as 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo, has evolved into a mobile-first startup that surfaces old memories from your social networks. The app will pull up status updates from a year or more ago, reminding you of friends you’ve lost contact with or thoughts you had a year ago on this day.

The New York-based startup says it just rounded up another $3 million in funding led by existing investor Spark Capital. O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures, which had also previously backed the company, participated as well. Andrew Parker, a principal at Spark, joins Timehop’s board.

Timehop’s CEO Jonathan Wegener says that the company will use the round to build out the team beyond seven people and focus on mobile apps. Timehop just shut down its e-mail service last week.

“The big, long-term vision is to be a place to reminisce online,” Wegener said. “Basically in this world, all social networks are real-time. They’re about what’s happening right now, but there’s no place online to discuss the past.”

While the Series A crunch has made fundraising tough for all kinds of consumer-facing mobile and web products, Wegener said it was Timehop’s stickiness that made a compelling case. He said one-third of Timehop’s user base opens the product on any given day, which is a very respectable retention figure.

“Users who try to the product fall in love with it. This helped us make the argument that people are working Timehop into their everday lives,” Wegener said. “At first, people don’t understand why they would want this. But they get really addicted to it. They see it as a mirror of their own life, and a reflection of their past self.”

He said he’s used the app to remember which friends he’s lost touch with over the years. The app will pull up old group photos, reminding Wegener to reach out and reconnect.

Timehop’s earlier investors also included angels like Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai and Alex Rainert, Groupme’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, Rick Webb and Kevin Slavin.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 8.22.30 AM

Although blogging is nearly as old as the Internet, it still feels like something is amiss.

From Dustin Curtis’ Svbtle to Ev Williams’ Medium, there is a feeling afoot that existing platforms for blogs and long-form content still need a lot of improvement. Five years ago, early platforms like Blogger gave way to micro-blogging and networks like Tumblr.

Now we’re seeing the pendulum swing back with platforms for longer-form stories and media.

SETT is a blogging platform that’s looking to emphasize community, so that new users can find a right audience immediately and long-time bloggers can interact with higher-quality commenters and contributors.

Aside from features that are now standard these days like a news feed of content and WYSIWYG editing, SETT has a top bar where it’s easy for bloggers to track comments or even private messages from others in the SETT community.

From the start, when new users sign up for an account, SETT refers readers to your site. It has a word-matching system internally that compares posts to one another. If a reader happens to like a post about one topic, the platform will recommend other similar ones to them.

The site is the brainchild of a long-time blogger named Tynan (who declines to use his last name online ever) and Todd Iceton, a developer who worked for Nutshell Mail, the company that was acquired by e-mail marketing giant Constant Contact.

Tynan has been actively blogging for six years but found that it was a bit of a slog for any new user.

“For people who are just starting out, their biggest hurdle is just getting that community first,” he said.

There are other features meant to enhance a reader’s relationship with a blogger like a simple, one-click e-mail subscription system. Subscribers get notified of new posts and new comments on posts they’ve decided to individually follow.

Readers can also start their own independent discussions about posts in a community section, where they can see who is online and which posts are being actively read by a lot of users.

The site has had about 100 or so active blogs in beta form, but they’ve opened it up since. Some of the more popular voices on the platform are entrepreneurs like Dick Talens, who co-founded 500 Startups-backed Fitocracy and blogs about how to stay in shape.

The bootstrapped startup earns revenue through premium or subscription accounts that range from $12 to $99 per month in cost. At the higher-end of the range, users get more image-hosting space, subscribers and customer support.

As for the competition, Tynan and his co-founder Todd say that, while they have respect for the other platforms, Svbtle doesn’t encourage commenting. In any case, they agree that something needs to be done to update outdated blogging formats – even if starting a web-first blogging platform in 2013 seems a bit anachronistic.

“Both are expressing frustration with the standard format. The WordPress model hasn’t changed in 10 to 12 years,” Tynan said. “Their model is kind of broken.”


The to-do list has gotten Asana, the calendar has gotten Fantastical, and the inbox has gotten Mailbox, but nobody has made a word processor for this decade.

Until Draft, which is launching today to solve major problems with Google Docs … in ways that make me nostalgic for my own startup, WriteWith.

Draft offers clean saves of drafts instead of the usual autosave jumble, clear version control between multiple users, easy importing from popular file services like Dropbox and Evernote, and something pretty unique — an editing service.

Built by one-man Y Combinator team Nathan Kontny (previously the cofounder of Inkling and Cityposh), the web app puts solo writing first. Its interface makes a point of looking nice, with the words you write appearing in large, plain-text font on a light-gray background.

There’s the usual autosave feature that any serious online word processor has, but it also provides a manual “mark draft” button at the top-right corner, because serious writing happens in stages.

Hit the button at any good midpoint and you’ll create a series of drafts that you can easily compare against each other. Let’s say I saved four drafts when writing this story. I can click on “4 drafts” at the top right and see panes for the current draft, as well as each previous one. If you scroll to the left, you can look through each one to see your major revisions as you progressed.

And if you share the link with other users, they can come in and edit. As with your own saved drafts, you can click into the Drafts view to see red background and line-outs on edited text and green on any additions. You can choose to accept newer versions or revert to previous ones. Handily, you can edit your current draft when making side-by-side comparisons with previous ones.

Pause and consider what Draft is trying to be — or not. It’s not bothering with all the formatting and layout options in Microsoft Word, and it’s not trying to play the middle ground like Google Docs. It’s just trying to be the best way you actually write before you publish somewhere else.

To that end, it already lets you import docs from Dropbox, Evernote, Box and Google Drive itself. Once connected, these docs will automatically sync back to their home services.

Overall, Draft will remind pro bloggers of Svbtle, the blog-network startup that offers a slick and minimal content management system, along with editing services. But Draft skips out on publishing tools and blog network attributes in favor of more writing features. It’s focused solely on the creation process and intended for use by a wider variety of writers.

My own startup, WriteWith, was actually building something kind of similar to it, but more designed around newsrooms, and back in 2005-2007 when the market was much less developed. We also offered full-featured version control, and some other stuff like live chat between users in the same document, and a way to set the status to match a newsroom process (posts could be set as “drafts,” “needs editing,” “ready to publish,” etc.). We provided a way to export to publishing software like WordPress and InDesign.

With my experiences in mind, I asked Kontny about exporting to publish features, and he said he’s looking at it. You can easily imagine a way to export your final Draft to WordPress to finish your formatting and multimedia selections, then publish.

But he’s right to ignore it for now because, as I can say from first-hand experience, there are a ton of products out there that writers will want a word processor to integrate with, and each one has its own time-consuming quirks to work through.

But towards the goal of clean exporting, Kontny has made a smart early move and used John Gruber’s Markdown as an export option along with straight HTML. Markdown is a tool for converting text to HTML that provides an especially readable text syntax along with zero script garbage like what you’ll often find in Word and Docs.

A revenue line is also visible for Draft in these early stages of its existence: the editing service. It’s designed for serious individual bloggers or any organization without copy editors. Kontny is sourcing qualified editors to handle copy and as much content-oriented editing as the user wants. Fees vary, and users are offered a satisfaction guarantee. Editor revisions appear as distinct panes that the author can accept, same as any other draft.

Kontny says that a lot of his beta users have been into the service, but I don’t need it because TechCrunch has two great copy editors, and because I’m (over)confident about my own skills when I’m writing on my own.

I’m more interested in where Draft can go if it can establish itself as a main service for writing and editing.

WriteWith failed for many reasons, but a main one was that too many organizations were stubbornly stuck on Word. Six years later, Docs has gone mainstream, and the sophisticated online worker is eager for new, more specialized apps that solve their productivity issues. Fantastical and its easy-add calendar entry interface is a good example.

If Draft can establish itself as the main place where writing happens, you could see it offering an API that lets larger news organizations pull in finished documents to their own workflow and publishing tools. I’m personally going to have TechCrunch look into this.

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