Start-up Placety wants to share your favorite spots

By Gabey Goh | Apr 18, 2013
Original URL
  • New mobile social network centered on locations makes regional debut
  • In process of raising multimillion-dollar Series A round of funding for expansion

A NEW mobile social network hopes to be the hot new destination for social explorers to share, connect and talk about their favorite places.

Start-up Placety, which made its market debut on April 15, was founded by a small team of German- and Chinese-born mobile and web entrepreneurs with a mission to “help people make sense of the world we live in.”

“We created Placety to be the easiest and best way to answer the simple question: What’s around me?” said Ulf Waschbusch (pic), founder and chief executive officer of Placety Pte Ltd, in an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA).

Waschbusch said that the idea for the mobile platform actually grew over a long time, based on past experiences working for larger technology brands.

“When I was heading MySpace’s mobile team and launching fully built social networks to seven different mobile platforms, it became obvious that there are good solutions connecting people with each other, but there was a missing (link) connecting the other building blocks of our society — the places we live in,” he said.

“At my previous job launching Google Search products for mobile, it was obvious that Google has an immense catalog of knowledge and wisdom, but there isn’t a good way to answer the simple question of ‘What is here?’ You can type ‘cafe beverly hills’ and get results, but there is no ‘what are the cool things around me?’.”

According to him, these experiences combined led to the mission of bringing a full social experience together with the discovery and sharing of places and place knowledge.

Building the place

The app has been in development for almost a year now by a small team out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Singapore and Istanbul.

“We build Placety from the ground up to make it easy to discover Places and share your knowledge with others,” said Waschbusch.

According to him, Placety is a full social network that allows users to follow Places, People or Collections of Places and share them with friends and the rest of the world on the platform or via Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo or email.

“You can message others, upload your own photos, have your user profile page and even compete with others on who created the most exciting Places,” he added.

In addition, Placety is touted as more than a discovery app to find, create and share exciting new Places.

“Every user and every Place has what we call a pNumber. A pNumber is your score for ‘how well’ you are doing. If people like your Places, photos or comments, your score will go up. Similarly if your Places prove popular, their score and hence your personal score will go up as well,” Waschbusch said.

He said that past experiences at Garena and SGN showed how important gamification elements and a bit of fun were in the use of products, hence the incorporation of the pNumber system.

“Our pNumber system rewards users with higher points if they are positive participants in the Placety community via the creation of good places, good comments or photos that other people like and where users can compare their scores with others in our leaderboards,” he said.

When asked about its competitors, Waschbusch said that if the market was broadened to include all discovery of places, it becomes a tremendously huge market with lots of good players in it, from international players like Yelp and Foursquare or Google Places to niche apps like HungryGoWhere.

However he added that a few key points make the Placety offering unique; for example, on the network, a Place can be anything that other users see as relevant: It can be a cafe or restaurant, but it can also be a park or the perfect spot to shoot a wedding photo — or the park bench that a famous author used to sit on.

“More than any of the other players, Placety is a full social networking experience with user profile pages; the ability to message others and ask them about Places; the integration with Facebook, Twitter and Sina Weibo for sharing; the ability to leave audio notes rather than just typing on comments and thus make them come alive; a newsfeed that keeps you updated on the people or places you care about; and the pNumber system where every user and every Place has a rating, thus ensuring quality throughout the system,” he said.

Open for business

Placety made it to its launch in South-East Asia thanks largely to the enormous response the team has received from interested users and beta testers throughout the development process, after a small beta program conducted over the last few months.

The app is available for free on the App Store as a native iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad application or via the website in English, Chinese and German.

Waschbusch said the app would be launched in more markets in Asia and Oceania, Europe and the Americas over the coming days and weeks, and is expecting worldwide availability by month’s end.

“We are doing this to ensure that all users who enter the service are having a great experience in terms of user onboarding, performance and reliability — and being a Singapore-originating company, we want to give our home users the little time advantage of being first to be on the service,” he added.

Waschbusch also shared that the team has been bootstrapping the company over the past 12 months with support from friends and family, and is in the process of raising a multimillion-dollar Series A round in the coming weeks.

“Besides launching worldwide, listening to our user feedback and updating the app, the next 12 months will see us staff up and launch versions for Android, the web and other platforms,” he added.

When asked what keeps himself and the Placety team motivated, Waschbusch said it was actually quite simple.

“We truly believe in the product. We truly believe in the power it can have to answer questions that haven’t been able to be answered efficiently now, and we believe that Placety can make a difference to people,” he said.

San Francisco Without People

October 19th, 2012

Good old San Francisco. See you again in 2013. The circle closes.

World traveler once more

April 1st, 2011

The world is a small place. I grew up in Europe, studied and worked in America and now lived and worked over the last year and a bit here in South East Asia. It’s been a rewarding and eye-opening experience that I don’t want to miss. I do know that I will miss my wonderful friends here though that I was fortunate to meet!

But now it’s time to get back on the moving wagon and head to where my heart is – California. In mid May I’ll be joining a Los Angeles-based gaming platform startup as their Head of Mobile. Exciting times! I’m very much looking forward to be able to catch up with everyone in California again soon.

Garena Messenger launches today

December 9th, 2010

One of the worst-kept secrets is coming to light: as many of you know, at Garena we’ve been working diligently over this year to completely rework the Garena experience for our gamers. In that time, we have surveyed hundreds of our users, completely written hundreds of thousand lines of code and released over ten updates to out faithfull beta testers who have been testing Messenger for over four months now. Today already over 200,000 people have tried and are using Garena Messenger.

I am happy to announce that starting today, Garena Messenger will be available for all Garena gamers.

With the new messenger you can chat, meet and and play with your friends around the globe. Set up a group chat with your friends and arrange a game together or enter the familiar Garena rooms to find new friends to play with over the net.

You can customize Messenger to your liking – choose from a variety of themes and your favorite game avatars – with loads more to come over time.
You can play a range of newly launched Garena games, from BlackShot and Heroes of Newerth to the new Garena GO Kart and Leagues of Legends (the availability of these games is dependent on region -mostly South East Asia).

Also check out my video intro for the Messenger:

RING OF CHAMPIONS: THE ROAD TO L.A. PRESS RELEASE

Garena Holds Tournament To Send Southeast Asia’s Best League Of Legends Players To L.A.

SINGAPORE, August 18th 2010 – Garena, the world’s leading online gaming service provider, is organizing a League of Legends tournament from 4th to 5th September 2010 to determine Southeast Asia’s best League of Legends team. The winning team will be sent to the World Cyber Games Grand Finals 2010 in Los Angeles, California, where they will compete against the top League of Legends teams from USA, Europe and China.

Ring of Champions will be one of the biggest gaming events held in Southeast Asia, with 40 gamers from Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam battling it out at the Singapore Expo for a chance to fly to the City of Angels. All the action from the tournament will be broadcasted online in the form of a video miniseries at lol.garena.com/roc, and will feature exclusive player profiles and interviews in addition to recaps of the games played.

“League of Legends is a top-quality title and Garena is very excited to be bringing it to gamers throughout Southeast Asia”, said Ulf Waschbusch, Chief Product Officer of Garena. “Ring of Champions is a fantastic opportunity for our gamers to be sent to Los Angeles and showcase their skills on the world stage. It is the first of many League of Legends events that gamers can look forward to in the near future.”

This will be the first time that League of Legends will be included in the WCG Grand Finals.

“Riot Games is extremely eager to see the outcome of the Ring of Champions tournament,” said Marc Merrill, co-founder and President of Riot Games. “Some of League of Legends’ best players hail from Southeast Asia and we know they are going to be well represented at the WCG Grand Finals.”

Event Details
Date: 4th – 5th September 2010
Venue: Singapore Expo, Conference Halls H and J (Beside Hall 2)
Timing: 4th September – 9 AM to 6 PM
5th September – 9 AM to 6 PM

League Of Legends – Riot Games’ debut title is a session-based, multiplayer online game where teams of players compete for victory. Built by a veteran development team and the original creators of Defense Of The Ancients, one of the worlds most popular player-made mods, League Of Legends combines elements of the role-playing and strategy genres with addictive competitive action.

For more information about League Of Legends, please visit www.leagueoflegends.com and lol.garena.com.

About Riot Games, Inc.
Riot Games is a direct-to-consumer video game developer and publisher of premium, competitive online games. Riot Games, based in Los Angeles, is funded through venture capital firms Benchmark Capital and Firstmark Capital and China’s largest online services corporation, Tencent. The company was established in 2006 and has quickly become a leading global developer and publisher of premium free-to-play online video games for hardcore gamers, launching their debut title, League of Legends, in October 2009. To date, more than 3 million gamers play League of Legends and log more than 15 million hours of playtime each month.

For more information, please visit www.riotgames.com.

About Garena Online Private Limited.
Founded in Singapore, Garena is today the world’s leading online gaming service provider and game content distributor serving over 50 million users.

For more information, please visit www.garena.com.

GARENA LEAGUE OF LEGENDS PRESS RELEASE

Garena Partners With Riot Games To Bring League Of Legends To Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE, July 23rd 2010 – Garena, the world’s top online gaming service provider, is partnering with Riot Games, a leading developer and publisher of premium online video games, to bring award-winning competitive online title League Of Legends to gamers in Southeast Asia.

Later this year, gamers in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines will be able to experience League Of Legends on dedicated Southeast Asian servers, ensuring the best connectivity and quick load times. There will also be localized customer support and customized content especially for these territories, on which Garena and Riot Games are working together closely.

League Of Legends was first launched in launched in North America and Europe last October and has grown rapidly. The title has reached nearly 3 million downloads and secured numerous industry awards. Due to its unique and immersive gameplay, passionate community and frequent content updates, League Of Legends has expanded far beyond its initial territories to secure a massive global following.

This collaboration between Garena and Riot Games can be seen as the catalyst for establishing League Of Legends as one of the most competitive online titles in Southeast Asia. Garena will be hosting major tournaments and running promotions in these countries as well.

“We pride ourselves in offering some of the most compelling and competitive games on our platform and we are extremely excited to be adding the critically-acclaimed and immensely popular League Of Legends to our library,” said Ulf Waschbusch, Chief Product Officer.

Riot Games cites Garena’s e-sports expertise and software as a key success factor for this collaborative effort.

“Garena has an amazing track record for bringing competitive online video games to countries all over the world, specifically Southeast Asia,” said Brandon Beck, co-founder and CEO of Riot Games. “We are thrilled that Garena will be helping us expand League Of Legends’ reach and establish the game as a top global e-sport.”

League Of Legends – Riot Games’ debut title is a session-based, multiplayer online game where teams of players compete for victory. Built by a veteran development team and the original creators of Defense Of The Ancients, one of the world’s most popular player-made mods, League Of Legends combines elements of the role-playing and strategy genres with addictive competitive action.

League Of Legends is rated “T” for Teen and available via download at www.leagueoflegends.com. It can be played on both PC and Mac computers.

For more information about League Of Legends, please visit www.leagueoflegends.com.

About Riot Games, Inc.
Riot Games is a direct-to-consumer video game developer and publisher of premium, competitive online games. Riot Games, based in Los Angeles, is funded through venture capital firms Benchmark Capital and Firstmark Capital and China’s largest online services corporation, Tencent.[toot]The company was established in 2006 and has quickly become a leading global developer and publisher of premium free-to-play online video games for hardcore gamers, launching their debut title, League of Legends, in October 2009. To date, more than 2 million gamers play League of Legends and log more than 15 million hours of playtime each month.

For more information, please visit www.riotgames.com.

About Garena Online Private Limited.
Founded in Singapore, Garena is today the world’s leading online gaming service provider and game content distributor serving over 50 million users.
For more information, please visit www.garena.com.

Singapore – here I come

February 24th, 2010

I guess the best way to describe what I’ll be doing starting next month is from Tim‘s really nice article on Trendslate:

Former MySpace Director Ulf Waschbusch Becomes Chief Product Officer at Gaming Startup ‘Garena’
Submitted by Tim Schulz on February 24, 2010

Ulf Waschbursch, a former Director of Product at MySpace Mobile will be joining Singapore-based gaming startup Garena as Chief Product Officer in March. Prior to joining Myspace, Ulf was a Product Marketing Manager in Google’s mobile-product division after graduating from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Garena Software is a gaming-platform company that was founded by another Standford GSB graduate and has grown to over 25-million registered users across 200 countries — making Garena one of the largest international-gaming communities in the world. The company has a strong foothold in cybercafes across Asia, Europe and South America, and they’re beginning to move up the value chain by partnering with companies like MTV to build rich entertainment experiences for users. As Chief Product Officer, Ulf will be based in Singapore and will be responsible for extending the product into new feature areas and countries.

Based on what we see from the company’s worldwide user distribution map, it looks like he’ll be earning quite a few frequent-flier miles. Best of luck to you Ulf!

More about the company here.

Update: More recent mentions:
Techcrunch – MySpace Lost Faith For All Things Mobile
e27 – Former Director of MySpace Mobile Joining Garena as Chief Product Officer

Now this is something Silicon Valley press would rarely talk about:
According to research company Ground Truth (and this) m.myspace.com has been the top-ranked mobile website in the United States of America (counted in pageviews) last month. Facebook and Google follow on number two and three.

This is a great success for the team who rebuilt the whole site (back- and front-end) over the last year. Congrats!

Good-bye MySpacers

July 13th, 2009

I had a few days to think about wether I should write this post or not. But it seems people have noticed my absence. 😉 or chose to write a similar post before me.
So with this I would like to dedicate the post to the awesome people I had the chance to work with at MySpace.
As we all know, all good things come to and end eventually and thus it’s time for me to say good-bye. A move to the Bay Area will be next for me in a month or two. And from there? We’ll see.

To reminiscence a little: I really had an awesome time with all of you there!
In the last year we had a phenomenal turn-out of new products, gaining and satisfying literally tens of millions of new and existing users and changing the mobile landscape together with our tremendous set of partners from Microsoft to RIM, from AT&T to T-Mobile, from Google to Shazam. I’m proud to have been able to work with a tremendously dedicated and passionate group of people, which I am happy to call friends now.

With our nimble mobile team, we were able to achieve a great set of product launches, including among many others:
Mobile WebNext, one of the world’s most advance mobile websites for WebKit browsers
a whole new m.myspace.com, with enhanced graphical abilities and new feature sets and tremendous performance and uptime improvements leading to tremendous usage growth.
– a unified new look and user interface to make users feel home on multiple platforms
a revamped SMS status product
photo uploads via eMail, MMS, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Sidekick and more. Today a very large percentage of photo uploads to MySpace come from mobile.
– the first social networking application on Android, gaining the number two download spot on the Android Market
– the fastest downloaded application on RIM BlackBerry devices
– numerous new releases and feature updates for the Apple iPhone app, Sidekick, Nokia devices and more.

One thing we should not forget is the tremendous scale at which the team worked. Every little piece of code literally has an impact on millions of people. This I think should humble us all. Farewell friends and best of luck!