Tsū (social network)
|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Social networking service|
|Founded||July 1, 2013|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, US|
|Key people||John Acunto|
|Alexa rank||Global 4,256 (As of 11 November 2015[update]).|
|Written in||Ruby, Redis, and Cassandra|
Tsū was an online social networking service launched October 21, 2014. Tsū was created by Evacuation Complete, LLC, a Texas corporation, which was founded on February 7, 2008 by Sebastian Sobczak. Evacuation Complete's founder was Sebastian Sobczak who then partnered with cofounder Drew Ginsburg and Thibault Boullenger, and the site was headquartered in New York City. Similar to Facebook in its incipient stages, Tsū was open by invitation only. The website closed down in August 2016 but announced its revival in September 2019.
Beginning and features
Like Facebook, users were able to register an account, create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages, post status updates, photos, and receive notifications when others updated their profiles. Tsū differentiated itself from its competitors by allowing its users to maintain ownership of their content's monetization. Its planned compensation structure "was to keep 10 percent of the total ad revenue for itself, while half the remainder went to users and the other half to the network that brought the content creator to the platform."
The inspiration for Tsū came from the story of Ed O'Bannon, the lead plaintiff in O'Bannon v. NCAA, an antitrust class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association regarding the association's use of the images of former student athletes for commercial purposes.
Unlike other social networking sites, Tsū paid its members a percentage of its ad revenue for posting and sharing content. This chance to earn money from social networking led to an early explosion of numbers joining the site. Though usage of the site was free, the membership structure was invite-only, akin to how startup social networks are formed, where initial members invite friends and colleagues. Similar to YouTube, the payout threshold was $100. Members were encouraged to donate their earnings to a number of charities who set up profiles on the service.
In the months after initial launch, Tsū became one of the fastest-growing social networks, achieving 3.5 million registered users in its first 6 months of public existence and registering 4.5 million users by its first anniversary. By comparison, Facebook registered its one-millionth user in month 10 after launch, and it took Twitter approximately 24 months to register its one-millionth user. Estimates from outside sources, however, counted only 1.5 million downloads on iOS and Android throughout the company's entire lifespan – not active users, although users could also access the service from the web.
In October 2015, roughly one year after its public launch, Tsū won Make-A-Wish Foundation's Media Partner of the Year award, ahead of publicly held companies such as Disney and Univision, which were both past winners.
Decline and shutdown
In September 2015, Facebook blocked links to the site, citing complaints that Tsū members were spamming to recruit members. Tsū and much of the digital media community speculated this was motivated by fear of competition. For a short period, Facebook also blocked links to articles about the website. However, Facebook released statements that it had blocked Tsū for violating its Platform Policy, which prohibits other services that integrate with Facebook from incentivizing content sharing. After receiving widespread backlash from digital media companies and executives, including the likes of Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore, Facebook lifted the prohibition by December.
Although membership grew explosively on launch, it did not last. Both members and outside sources speculated that this decline occurred because too many members joined to make money rather than for the social network, and membership declined swiftly when earnings did not live up to expectations. At its end, the company cited 5.2 million members, though external sources expressed some doubt.
Tsū "went dark" on August 2, 2016, its front page being replaced with a message from Sobczak stating that "our mission of changing the social landscape for the benefit of the content has passed" and that users would have until August 31 to download their content. Further statements included: “…We have permanently taken the Tsū product offline due to the cost associated with running it and our inability to complete the last funding round,” writes Tsū’s founder Sebastian Sobczak. “We are now focused on retooling in order to launch alternative apps for our community and others.”
In September 2019, Tsū announced its relaunch with John Acunto as CEO and investments from Larry Krauss of Terracap and Hilco Streambank. The platform announced that it will now be hosted at tsu.social rather than tsu.co as it was prior to 2016. On October 1, 2019 former CTO of The Wall Street Journal and General Electric's App Studio Johnny Dranchak joined the organization’s technology team as Chief Technology Officer.
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