As you can see in their presentation movie, they have a pretty nifty idea: using a mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) you can share pictures from various locations. The catch is that everyone in that location can see what everybody else shared there, regardless of their being friends or not. Moreover, the service lets you start conversations (including text) around locations rather than around social rings and trending topics. Sound pretty cool, right ?
However, this startup didn’t get everyone’s attention by building a cool user experience. They did so by raising $41 million. Before launch. Yes, you read that right.
And at first glance – it seems to be worth it. It’s about mobile and locations. It’s about sharing and social behavior. It’s about pictures. It’s got an awesome team (only the team is worth the investment) – mostly ex-Apple or ex-Google.
All in all, it’s got a lot of things.
But it’s also got a problem: privacy.
Or rather: lack thereof.
Take this for example:
I and some friends go to a bar. We have a couple of drinks. We’re all having fun. And we’re taking pictures to immortalize the moment. We even publish them using Color. We’re having fun. The owners of the bar get free publicity.
But there’s someone who gets screwed. Really bad. And he doesn’t even know it yet.
At this table, behind us, there’s this guy with this kinda trampy chick. Let’s call him James. The chick’s name doesn’t matter. You see, James is also looking to have some fun with little miss sunshine over there. Some drinks, some music, some sweet talking and a hotel room.
James has two problems though:
- He’s happily married and he is at this very important conference/business dinner. At least that’s what his wife knows.
- He has no idea his picture is accidentally being taken by my friends. He has no idea that the pictures will be timestamped and location-bound. He has no idea they’re gonna become public domain. He has no idea about Color. At least not yet.
From there to Mrs. James finding out there are only a few steps. A few less steps if the above mentioned scenario happens in the same city James lives in.
You might say “Oh but this is unlikely. It’s a one in a million chance” and you would be right.
But in order for Color to be worth $41 million, millions of pictures should be uploaded. Every day.
One in a million, a few million pictures everyday. This means a bunch of guys like James will be served divorce papers everyday, courtesy of Color.
I wonder who they will sue for damages. Or alimony. Or whatever pretext some lawyers come up with.
I’m not one to know privacy laws regarding taking someone’s picture without that someone’s permission, but Color will take one step closer to losing all privacy. That is, of course, if it takes off in the first place.
However, “color.com” is a cool domain name. As my friend Radu said, at least we know what the $41 million was for.