Welcome to Startup Smackdown. In this week’s match-up, Pinterest, a virtual pinboard, will go up against digital bookmarking newcomer Gimme Bar. Both Gimme Bar and Pinterest allow users to save and collect web content, but that’s about where the blatant similarities end. The content-saving startups will go head-to-head for three rounds: Utility, Community and Awesomenitude — and only one will arise a champion. Along with Internet fame and glory, the winning startup will receive a heartfelt #twitterfive from us (you may now pick your jaw up from the floor). Let’s meet the contenders:
Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” where you can organize and share images you find from all over the web. Your pins are organized onto boards and your friends (integrated from Facebook and Twitter) can choose to follow all of your boards or pick and choose the ones they like.
GimmeBar has been called a booksaving platform. Instead of just ‘pinning’ images or saving sites to your browser’s bookmarks, Gimme Bar allows you to grab images, text, videos, or the whole site and save them into categories.
Round 1 – Utility: Do we need it?
Yes. If you’re like me, browser bookmarks are where content goes to die. I rarely check back to rifle through them and even when I do they offer little information on what or why I saved the content. So, for an inefficient internet hoarder and an exteremly visual person, Pinterest was a dream come true. With Pinterest users can collect, save and organize inspiration across the web. I’m finding Pinterest most useful for planning my wedding. The board is shared with my fiance and as I stumble across ideas we like they’re pinned to the board. And because all of Pinterest’s boards are public, our family and friends can see what we like and comment (for better or worse).
Additionally, Pinterest’s public settings enabled it to become an inspiration mecca. One quick search for ‘beauty’ or ‘style’ and you are off on a visual adventure, tumbling through hundreds of thousands of users’ inspiration. The open search feature is a driving force behind Pinterest’s success as it keeps users onsite and engaged with other members. It also presents interesting marketing potential for businesses. When wedding photographers, furniture designers, or clothing brands ‘Pin’ their product images (assuming they are interesting) and tag strategically, they can gain a whole new audience.
Abso-freaking-lutely. For the same reasons I stated above, there is a need for a better way to save pieces of web content and Gimme Bar is that way. Unlike Pinterest, Gimme Bar lets me save what I want to save how I want to save it. Gimme Bar doesn’t limit my content to just images; it allows me to grab text, video, or take the whole page. It also allows users to choose whether or not they want to make that ‘Gimme’ public or private. By giving offering more privacy than Pinterest, Gimme Bar allows users to save web content without saving it to their Internet persona.
In another brilliant move by the Gimme Bar team, you can sync all of your saved content with DropBox. Gimme Bar offers more options about what I can use it for and how I want to use it. It’s less inspiration and more efficiency. Pinterest can be extremely useful in specific situations like planning a wedding but Gimme Bar offers a better way to save the Internet day-to-day.
Winner: Pinterest’s limitations on content basically give this one to GimmeBar. But GimmeBar earns the win with DropBox integration.
Round 2 – Community: Do people like it?
While it’s hard to gauge exactly how many users Pinterest has, one can infer from the 426,274 “My Style” Boards, which is one of the default boards every Pinterest user is given when they create an account. Users aren’t just pinning on the web either; the Pinterest iPhone app has an average 4.5 rating from over 38,000 reviews. Despite being founded by two men, women dominate Pinterest — pinning mostly fashion, recipes, home decor, design, and cute puppy photos. As I previously stated, the public nature of Pinterest makes search addicting and the ability to ‘re-pin’ another user’s content to your own boards cultivates a very active engaged community.
Pinterest is being adopted as more as a visual persona than a web tool. Its boards are much more than bookmarks — they are virtual representations of a user’s offline personality. Co-founder Ben Silbermann said it best when he described the idea behind Pinterest, “The things you collect say a lot about you, and we wanted to bring that experience online.” There’s an emotional element to creating and sharing slices of your digital life and that emotional connection really defines the Pinterest community.
Gimme Bar is at a disadvantage having only released their Beta in late August, but the community is growing thanks to good reviews. Unlike Pinterest, which allows you to connect to Facebook and Twitter to find your friends, Gimme users can only find their friends through Twitter. However, when I connected to Twitter only 7 out of my 15,000 Twitter followers were using Gimme Bar. Interestingly enough, all were male.
Lacking Facebook Connect is not what’s holding Gimme Bar back from a thriving community, privacy is. Now given the choice to share or hoard their content, users are choosing to keep their content private and thus community is discouraged. If that weren’t enough to obliterate engagement, Gimme does not allow you to search through even the public content. Gimme’s discovery tool only allows users to see their friends’ newest content and Gimme’s handpicked notable collections.
Winner: Pinterest. Hands down. You really cannot beat the ability to stumble through hundreds of thousands of user’s visual inspiration… and steal it for your own.
Round 3 – Awesomenitude: Utlity Schmility, is it awesome?
I can’t decide what’s more awesome, a $27 million round of series B funding or Paula Deen‘s Pinterest page.
Gimme Bar earns major kudos for being completely bootstrapped (Yep, no funding as of yet. VCs get on it!), but it was calling themselves the “the Sham Wow of the Internet” that skyrocketed their Awesomenitude.
Winner: As my credit card statement can atest, Sham Wow gets me every time.
Final Count: Pinterest 1. Gimme Bar 2.
Pinterest is by no means a loser and is a real game-changer in social networking. But I like that Gimme Bar’s success won’t be directly correlated to the size and engagement of their community. Gimme’s success is and will continue to be derived from utility. Just like Evernote, DropBox and Instapaper, people love (and are willing to pay for) a good product that makes digital life easier and more efficient.
Congratulations and big #Twitterfive to GimmeBar for being our first Startup SmackDown winner.