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CO Everywhere: the story behind BlockAvenue’s pivot

CO Everywhere has launched to bring hyper-local data to your fingertips in an extremely relevant way, pivoting from their year as BlockAvenue. Founder Tony Longo tells us about their journey.





CO Everywhere launches, excites the internet

We’re pretty jaded around here – we’ve seen a lot of startups come and go, and have gotten thousands of founders and public relations professionals reaching out about how their app or invention is going to innovate the world so hard it’s going to implode. It’s mostly bull. Hyped up bull. Despite that critical line of thinking, we were enthusiastic about the 2012 launch of BlockAvenue which launched for people relocating, so it catered to the real estate industry, which is where founder Tony Longo has his roots.

BlockAvenue was a location-based analytics company focused on providing consumers an intuitive platform to help better understand everything there is to know about a location, leveraging over 50 million data points such as crime, sex offenders, transit options, local amenities, restaurants, schools and a proprietary social layer to provide its BlockScore across the United States. But BlockAve didn’t die, it has recently expanded their offering to be useful to anyone, whether they were moving or not, and their rebranded and relaunched offering, CO Everywhere has been an overnight hit, especially in the tech community.

And so CO Everywhere was born

Longo explains that BlockAvenue was their first attempt to help people better understand location. “Our approach to this was almost entirely real estate focused and we wanted to help people who were moving (buying or renting a new home),” Longo tells AGBeat. “Well, as we were building and testing the product internally, we noticed the habits of how we were all using the app and the ideas started to form. Is this a product I only want to use when I move? No way. I enjoy learning about new things in my neighborhood, everyday. Who else does this? There has to be a product out there that does this for me? And there, is where things began.”

The company started with four main data sources: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp and has already hit 1,400 data sources and say they are still adding more. Longo enthusiastically recounted how he and his team circled the roofline of a restaurant thinking CO Everywhere would pull back all of the Foursquare tips, Tweets and Yelp reviews on that particular restaurant. He said that it did, but then, “what we didn’t expect is the tidal wave of ‘other’ information that had gone on inside the walls of that restaurant (Border Cafe in Harvard Square). We are still in awe…”

Getting CO Everywhere to market

“Go to market plans are always tricky and on this one we took a very different approach,” said Longo. “We really believe in our product (like, really believe in it). It amazes us as consumers everyday. The platform is inherently social as most of the content is from social API’s and it has many use cases, so our belief is that if we build something solid that it would take a life of it’s own via sharing.”

Longo added, “Our focus to go to market was actually not about marketing or exposure – it was about design and we went the extra mile to design an attractive product that once people saw it, they would give it a try.”

The app is already being used in over 60 countries, just one week after launch.

How has the pivot fared publicly?

Companies often fail at something, so they add a shiny button, call it new and “pivot,” but we’ve been impressed that CO Everywhere is a rare example of a legitimate pivot that massively improved an already quality idea and led to a hit.

Longo says the company pivot, which also came packaged with a new brand is being received very well. “For those who kept tabs on us and followed BlockAvenue, they get it. For those who did not know about BlockAve, CO, is simply just a new consumer app that helps them do something they could never do before. ”

Should your brand attempt a pivot?

Should others follow CO Everywhere’s lead and pivot their own company? Longo said, “My advice for startups who are hesitant to pivot – if you are even slightly considering it – do it. Most companies do it anyway, they just don’t announce it. Pivots are not only fine, they are awesome, just one thing, if you are going to pivot, make sure the product you bring to market is 10 times better than the last!”

Social Media

Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.



TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Hobbi app was a complete flop

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seemingly has enough money to throw away projects and apps they know will fail. Hobbi is their most recent flop.



Facebook failed Hobbi

Due to its abysmal underperformance on the App Store, Facebook is killing their new app, Hobbi, just months after its rollout in February.

Hobbi was the brainchild of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation Team, whose stated purpose is to rapidly ideate, build, and launch experimental new apps – then pull them if they aren’t successful.

Hobbi was designed to help users document their progress on their various personal projects and, well, hobbies. Complaints centered primarily on its threadbare feature offerings. Notably, Hobbi does not allow its users to browse the works of other creators through the app- it only packages media like photos and videos for sharing elsewhere.

A post on the Tech@Facebook blog states that they “expect many failures” from the NPE Team, suggesting that Hobbi was not necessarily intended to last. But you have to wonder… what is supposed to be the point of a tool like this?

Stories are a popular feature on most major social media websites, including Facebook itself. And Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) already allows its users to curate and group posts about whatever they want, including personal projects, hobbies and interests, through their story highlights.

So Facebook created a product that was already made redundant by their existing properties. What is experimental about that, exactly?

Hobbi originally drew comparisons to Pinterest. Both are like digital scrapbooks; Pinterest is a platform for content that inspires creativity, and Hobbi creates progress reports for creative undertakings.

One could also compare Hobbi to the underperforming video streaming platform, Quibi, which recently became infamous for its ostentatious ad campaign, aggressively flaunted celebrity cameos, and ultimately, its overwhelming failure.

Jeffery Katzenberg, Quibi cofounder of Disney and Dreamworks fame, blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi’s flop – a questionable claim, considering just how much free time many have had to binge Netflix’s Tiger King during the lockdown.

The same could be said about Hobbi. People have been taking on projects like crazy in the time that has Hobbi been on the market. Quarantine cabin fever has us baking, crafting, painting, cleaning, and redecorating like never before. Yet Hobbi went nearly untouched.

Nobody used it because nobody needed it. Surely some cursory research would have demonstrated this?

One conclusion is that the app itself was the research – that Facebook’s NPE team isn’t really creating finished products, but rather testing the waters for potential new ones. (Could this framing be an elegant form of damage control, though? It’s easier to say “I meant to do that!” than it is to admit failure, especially in business.)

Still, creating throwaway apps in a bloated industry feels like cheating, whether it was meant for research purposes or not. There are plenty of indie app developers who create great tools with way less funding. Filling app marketplaces with lemons makes it harder for folks to find those gems.

Either way, hopefully we will see some original ideas coming from Facebook’s NPE Team moving forward, because this was clearly a disappointment.

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.



twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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