Path

Path is a mobile photo and video sharing iPhone app and website co-founded by Dave Morin and Shawn Fanning.

Both Dave and Shawn are close friends of mine and I had the opportunity to visit them very early in their development of Path. It was fascinating listening in on some of the early product discussions where they were talking about the relationship between the art of game design, the importance of utility, the UI and other elements that would make up the perfect application.

During the visit, they invited me to invest and Neoteny Labs invested in the angel round and Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures followed up leading the Series A round (according to TechCrunch).

As you can see from Dave Morin’s response in the blog post about Path on the Launch site, they are approaching product design very seriously and focused on long term intentional design instead of rushing into the product out and into a viral adoption path before getting the utility, the network dynamics and other elements “just right”. Dave is calling this the “slow company” movement.

It’s a departure from the release early, release often, traction, traction, traction model many of us propose, but it’s not as different as everyone seems to think. Dave has been getting a bit of grief about his “slow company” idea by people who think that this means slow product design.

In fact, Path is iterating quite quickly, having just recently pushed video and launching new features at a pretty impressive rate. What’s slow about Path is that they are trying to think long term and trying not to blow out in a blast of adoption with a terminally polluted social network or a bazillion users with a broken game dynamic.

Path, on the surface, is a photo sharing mobile app. There are many like it. However, they’ve been working very hard on figuring out the right size of the network (they currently limit the number of friend to 50) and the sharing dynamics to prevent Path from becoming a publishing platform and to retain the intimacy of a close group of friends. They have also architected the the data and designed the UI to provide a lot of flexibility on where they go from here.

The product is still quite minimal and has yet to get massive traction, but engagement of the users who are using it seems to be high. The design sense and the quality of the team have us in anticipation as we watch the product grow and iterate thoughtfully. ;-)

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