Tag Archives: Craig Donato

Oodle Buys Grouply: Moving The Social Graph Beyond (Just) Friends

Group software seems obsolescent in the social revolution. Or is it?

A few weeks ago, John Battelle’s Federated Media acquired Big Tent, the women’s group enabler with 1.3 million users. It apparently plans to target women with very specific advertising.

Oodle, the mega-classifieds platform, has now followed course, buying Grouply, which is described by TechCrunch as “a do-it-yourself social network built on top of Google Groups and Yahoo Groups.” Oodle isn’t disclosing how much it paid, but Grouply had been funded by VCs (including LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman) to the tune of $2.6 million.

So — What can you do with group software? Oodle CEO Craig Donato sees it as a first step to moving social media beyond just friends. He notes that groups bring in different kinds of conversations in a social context, whether people are giving things away, want to talk to other mothers, or share tips on recycling. Among “first degree friends,” there simply isn’t enough liquidity to engage in robust commerce, he hints.

While the social graph is still mostly about friends, the graphs are getting more complicated, adds Donato. “There are lots of circles, and lots of different affinities. The texture to the graph is incredibly important for commerce. The sweet spot is two or three degrees of separation. This might include friends of friends, college classmates or people from your home town.

‘Oodle’ Pro Launches: Tieing the Self-Serve Sensibility of AdSense With Social

Its not just about advertising anymore. Social media is important too. Accordingly, a number of vendors and network providers have developed tools to help them see where there best placements are; how their reputations are unfolding online; and to simplify and automate their processes for listings and other information.

Today, Oodle has taken several steps in this direction via the unveiling of “Oodle Pro.” The service represents Oodle’s first substantive effort to go after “individual” vertical SMB accounts, rather than media platforms. Initially aimed at real estate agents and brokers for $24.99 a month (or $14.99 a month with annual $180 subscriptions), Oodle Pro will eventually have versions set for property managers, auto dealers and job recruiters, among other classified verticals.

Oodle Pro is live for real estate now; the property manager version will be released within 2009; and the others will follow in 2010. The service represents Oodle’s first substantive effort to go after “individual” accounts, rather than media platforms.

The service has two main components. The first component tracks activity on listings, while also automatically uploading listings across its network of 80,000 indexed sites. That provides an “AdSense, self-serve like capability” to marketers, says CEO and Founder Craig Donato. The second component allows listings to be integrated with the online presence of sellers. For example, listers can use Twitter to promote a new listing, or integrate a listing with their Facebook page. Eventually, Donato sees Oodle Pro even giving a social dimension to pure classifieds sites such as Craig’s List, as Realtors can integrate their profile pages with listings.

Donato notes that Oodle already provides a listings platform for Facebook, MySpace and AOL, as well as 80,000 other sites. It is well positioned to now begin working with individual real estate agents and brokers to provide these services. Donato adds that realtors are the first targets for the service because they are among the most dependent category on social media. More than 300,000 real estate professionals have pages on Facebook.

Oodle Pro, in fact, already is being introduced to agents by Realogy, the umbrella group for 270,000 agents working under various Realogy brands, including Century 21 Coldwell Banker, ERA, NRT, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Oodle Pro will also be used by First Team Real Estate in Southern California, and McGuire Company in the Bay Area. More brokerages will be introduced to the product at the National Association of Realtors annual convention in San Diego, which begins at the end of this week.

Oodle Adds Twitter; Sees Common Thread with Facebook et al

Oodle has added Twitter to its outlets for social classified listings. Oodle’s other social media outlets also include Facebook, MySpace and AOL.

CEO Craig Donato says he hopes to apply the learnings to Twitter from its launches on the other sites. Oodle is obviously less impacted by Twitter’s 140 character limit than other media, since classifieds are typically pretty short. Many other classified sites have already launched Twitter, including eBay (and eBay’s Kijiji), Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder and JitterGram, to name just a few.

Basically, it is all about stirring about conversations among your friends , says Donato. That’s what makes a successful offering. The best conversations right now are about video, music and blog posts, he says. Listings can move up the scale by incorporating more features, such as pictures and comments. “We’re trying to harvest word of mouth for listings.”

In Donato’s assessment, there probably isn’t going to be much difference among the channels. The one differentiator that is out there is “localness.” In that regard, Facebook has quite a headstart, he says MySpace and AOL friends might be further afield.

While Twitter would seem to have a natural orientation towards mobile, Donato thinks all the social media sites are going to be going there in equal measure before long.