Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who Knew MOBshop Is Now Shopkick?

So I was just asking myself, what the heck ever happened to the highly anticipated venture that former CBS mobilistas Cyriac Roeding and Jeff Sellinger were putting together?... ya know, MOBshop. The stealth venture, fueled by $2.5mil of Kleiner Perkins & Reid Hoffman money, was the source of lotsa frothy excitement early last summer and curiously my posts about it ended up being among the most popular ever (which ain't no big thing). So I can only blame too much Christmas wassail for not realizing that the company emerged from stealth mode in December and is now called Shopkick. As Cyriac explains in the video below, the big idea behind the company is making the offline shopping experience interactive with mobile phones (guess my speculation wasn't too far off target). Apparently Shopkick will not be a destination nor an application itself, but more of an enabler of a series of divergent branded initiatives, based on the aforementioned big idea.

Their first project is called CauseWorld, which is an iPhone (and soon to be Android) App that allows consumers to donate earned virtual currency (called karmas) to a variety of charities (e.g American Red Cross). The virtual transaction facilitates a real cash donation from founding corporate sponsors Citi and Kraft Foods. Consumers earn karmas by checking into participating retail locations through the iPhone App, a la Foursquare or Gowalla. Considering the CauseWorld App already has over 13k user ratings in just over a month, and that they're overwhelmingly positive, I'd say it's a pretty successful first outing for Shopkick. I think these guys are on to something and I like that they seem to be focusing on great user experiences (and blue chip partnerships), rather than screwing around with not ready for prime-time technology, like augmented reality. I look forward to seeing their next product... and I promise, this time, it won't be in the market for a month before I notice.

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