WhoSay is a platform you may have seen if you click on a photo in a celebrity’s Twitter stream. Generally it leads to a page with that person’s photo and other content they are able to install that’s offered by the Who Say system.
I just got an email from someone at “Imperial Hustle” which isn’t the kind of name one should want associated with their startup, but whatever. At any rate I got this email from them:
When Tom Hanks tweets or posts a photo on Facebook, chances are he’s not using one of those social media management platforms built for the unwashed masses. Instead, celebs like Hanks, Steven Tyler and Sofia Vergara have been granted free access to the insider world of WhoSay, an easy-to-use management tool that integrates access to a variety of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, allowing celebs to share their innermost thoughts with their fans–without having to put too much thought into the process.
The gatekeeper of this tony world is Steven Ellis, the founder of music licensing agency Pump Audio. Ellis says the Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) came to him when it realized it needed a centralized way to harness the power of the social media content its clients were generating. In March 2010, the agency tapped him to design the platform and provided seed funding. WhoSay launched in September of that year with a steady stream of users referred by CAA. WhoSay also serves celebrities who are not affiliated with the agency, such as Kevin Bacon and Gwyneth Paltrow.
“We view media as valuable and our clients as capable of producing great media,” Ellis says. “We try and make it possible for them to publish and broadcast optimally wherever and however they want.”
Each post made through WhoSay’s simple interface is tagged with a shortened URL that drives fans back to a website with the celebrity’s photos, videos and text. The sites are optimized and controlled by WhoSay. Unlike similar platforms such as HootSuite and TweetDeck, WhoSay is actively working on publicizing its clients’ content to be picked up on sites like ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, “so you would stumble across a great picture from someone like [Miami Heat basketball star] Dwayne Wade on the ESPN site like you would if you were following him on Facebook,” Ellis explains. WhoSay also has international options, including distribution through Chinese social media.
The cadre of more than 900 celebrity users–folks who have passed the velvet rope in a vetting process that consists of Ellis deciding if they’re influential enough–has investors a little star-struck. Despite the lack of a revenue model, the company has managed to raise $7 million in Series A and B funding from Amazon.com and High Peaks Venture Partners, a Troy, N.Y.-based venture capital firm, among others. In October, Greylock Partners, the Menlo Park, Calif., venture firm that funded Facebook, LinkedIn, Pandora and others, invested an undisclosed amount as part of the Series B funding round. Greylock partner David Sze sees revenue potential down the line, if WhoSay becomes the go-to source for self-created celeb content.
Frankly, I call this making money from someone’s lack of knowledge, and it seems the WhoSay founders are doing just that. The point of fact is what Hope Solo and Darren Rovell – to name two are the Who Say users – are doing with WhoSay, they can do with a free-to-make blog platform on Blogger, or a semi-self-hosted blog on WordPress. But where we are today is such that million of people, including PR firm reps and Hollywood agencies like CAA, are being pushed to social media with out a clue how to use it for what they do.
This is especially true for celebrities, athletes, and agents.