I often get asked what the next big app or social media
platform will look like. The truth is, I don’t predict. I’m a
counterpuncher — I react. While I don’t know the two girls at
UCLA creating the “next big thing,” what I can tell you is that
I’m always keeping tabs on the current tech landscape at all
times. I do this by watching people’s behavior at scale on
social media and trusting my intuition.
For example, when Vine popped, I looked at everything people
were doing with the platform and started playing with it. I
even told my company to stop whatever they were working on to
download the app and learn how to use it. I wanted everyone to
know as much as they could about it because my gut told me it
was going to be hot.
What I’m actually doing is investing in things that I know will
win in the marketplace, but haven’t hit their tipping point
yet. Here are the 5 platforms I am paying close attention to
right now from a marketer’s perspective:
Anchor is an
app that allows you to record and share soundbites–what they
call waves–of yourself talking. I have been obsessed with the
idea of “audio Twitter” for a long time. It’s an app
I have always wanted because I am fascinated with the context
your voice can create. Speech is one of the main ways we
communicate and it is why podcasting has re-emerged as a
popular medium. The product is incredible and has the potential
to become a very important platform.
Where Anchor is strong is that it feels very native and very
easy to produce and reply. It can be used as a podcast play for
a lot of people. I think it’s a great tool to create two-minute
promos as a gateway drug to actual podcasts.
However, Anchor’s vulnerability is that it takes too much time
to create and listen to content. Since time is the number one
asset, that issue is what concerns me most. But, the truth is
that I have not seen an app that does a better job in making
spoken content as seamless and frictionless as possible. That’s
why I’m keeping a very close eye on it, but it’s too early to
make a call either way.
If you follow me at all, I am always talking about checking out
the App Store’s top free apps. As of posting this, Musical.ly is number
18, which is ahead of Soundcloud, Twitter, Kik, Yelp, Reddit,
Pinterest, and the Amazon app.
Musical.ly is an app that allows you to make short videos of
yourself lip syncing to popular music.
If you are following what’s happening with 7 to 13-year-olds in
America, this app is growing enormously in popularity. I
recently had two Musical.ly influencers on
The #AskGaryVee Show to demonstrate the massive reach
Musical.ly has over younger demographics. It is the only
platform that has a chance to become the next Snapchat — a
very powerful statement.
If you haven’t heard of Peach, it’s a messaging app that allows users to
post status updates, images, gifs, and drawings. It uses “magic
words” — keywords that allow you to post geolocations, what
song you’re listening to, or even a random photo from your
phone’s camera roll. Think Twitter plus Slack.
My interest in Peach is based on the pedigree of Dom Hofmann,
one of the creators of Vine. I am a very big fan of Dom’s point
of view on product, so I am betting on the jockey more than
Peach the app. I still don’t have a good read on how it fits
into the market, but I’m excited to see it evolve. I’ll be
keeping my eye on it.
School provides an anonymous and private message board to
high school students.
I should disclose that I am an investor in After School.
However, I invested in a very different product that has
evolved into this current product. Not only am I watching
because of my investment, but my interest also stems from its
potential similarity to old Facebook. After School is a high
school only social network that requires a school ID to sign
up. This reminds me a lot of how Facebook grew out of a
college-only social network. It’s not so much that I am
infatuated with After School yet, because there is still a lot
of work to do, but I am interested in whether a social network
only for high school kids can grow the same way Facebook did. I
am so bullish on this concept that I predict, over the next
decade, an app that grows out of a high school only app will
become one of the main social networks of our time.
is Nintendo’s first social mobile app. You start by creating a
Mii–a virtual “you”–that you use as an interface to answer
questions with friends. You can also make quote cards with your
Miis and post them on other platforms.
I have little to say since I don’t have a great grasp on this
app yet since it’s so new. I’m watching, but it’s still very
early. However, I do find it interesting that MiiTomo was
released right after I
complained about Nintendo not playing in the mobile space.
Obviously, they had been working on it long before I said this,
but the timing seems serendipitous and I’m excited to dig
The Rest of my Watch List
I have also got a quarter of an eye on some things that are
more mature that with a tweak or two could be much bigger. These
platforms are one feature away from changing their outcome. I
will be watching to see if they will take the next step in the
evolution of their growth.
It’s a beast of a platform for communications for the 13 to
25 year old set, but never seems to get much attention.
Soundcloud — It’s currently what I think is the
leader in audio and music. I’m always kind of fascinated by
it, but they haven’t taken that next leap yet. I’m rooting
for Soundcloud because I really like the team behind it.
Wattpad — This app has been doing extremely
well with long-form content, particularly popular with
— It’s a dominant player in Asia and I’m curious to see if
it’ll become a dominant player in the US.
PS: As a side note, truthfully, apps
on my watch list have very rarely changed from “watch” to
“buy.” Why? Because historically, there have only been a couple
of things worth buying into: Youtube, Facebook, Instagram,
LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat. Remember, the
market decides and only a handful of them survive the test