On the heels of the Airtime launch I wanted to take a moment to draw a parallel between how Airtime hopes to avoid the pitfalls of chatroulette (i.e. naked people) and how BustedTees fights credit card fraud. Put simply, it’s your social graph. Airtime forces login through facebook in part because they are betting users are less likely to show their nether regions to the Internet if it exploits their personal identity. It’s a good bet. Society is the most powerful detractor of indecent behavior, greater even than laws: see Broken Window Theory. If Airtime were even smarter however, they would not only force users to sign in through facebook, they would crawl those profiles to ensure only users with X number of friends, Y number of likes and Z number of photos were allowed to participate on their platform. Anyone can create a dummy facebook account, but no one is going to fake an entire social graph just to show their penis to a stranger (almost no one.) This is exactly what BustedTees counts on when confronting credit card fraud.
Let me preface this by saying BustedTees has one of the most advanced fraud protection systems on the planet. We monitor ever order on BustedTees for hundreds of variables to determine the likelihood of fraud. We do this with our partner Kount. If you run an e-commerce site and don’t use Kount, you’re making a fatal mistake and it’s costing you dollars. Our chargeback rate is around .01%. Since we monitor orders so closely and on so many variables, we’re often confronted with orders that on the whole seem safe, but contain one particular variable that looks suspicious. In the past, that order was either rejected outright or we had to obtain a photocopy of the customers ID and credit card (really annoying.) We developed an alternative method. When we are unsure about an order, we ask users to go on facebook and send a message to our BustedTees customer service account. We might even ask them to accept a friend request. We look at their profile; a few pictures, their friends, where they are from, where the order is from and where the device they made the purchase on was located. From this, it’s easy to determine if a person is in control of their identity. Fraudsters that buy credit card numbers on the black market won’t be able to fake an entire social graph inside of 48 hours (which is how long they’d have.) In doing this, we’re able to process significantly more orders each month and we don’t have to ask customers to scan anything or disclose sensitive information.
All of this suggests something much more interesting than stopping naked people or even credit card fraud. This is about a new way to use the social graph, a sociological way to force a desired behavior. Individual user profiles on the web are so robust, they are capable holding users accountable for their actions, and ensuring those actions are in fact theirs. You don’t act like an asshole in real life because people know you and you have a reputation to protect. Online, people have been acting like complete assholes for 20 years, leaving nasty comments, anonymously uploading embarrassing videos of other people, showing their penis on chatroulette, cyber bullying ect.. There was no accountability. What Airtime is showing us, is that through facebook connect you can avoid that nastiness by tying people to their real life identity in a way that holds them accountable. At BustedTees we use the social graph as a final barrier in ensuring you are who you say you are. I think we’re both on to something. If I were Google, Facebook or Amazon, I’d be hiring the very best sociologists to figure out how to use the social graph to hold users accountable for their actions, or perhaps more interestingly, to encourage the actions I desire most.
Happy to take part in Matchbook and investing in it. This paragraph pretty much nails why I’m interested.
I am obsessed with Foursquare, that’s why I invested in it when Dennis invited me. I love it to death. I think that it’s basically becoming a better Mobile OS. But part of what is frustrating for me is how good some of the features are of it, and how people don’t necessarily realize. For example, at this point, for me, Foursquare’s location database and mapping is hands-down better than Google Maps. I use mapping almost exclusively to find businesses, and Google Maps is becoming almost useless for it. An obvious example here in New York is General Assembly which, after a year of being in existence, is still hard to find in Google Maps. I was in Atlanta last year looking for a particular burrito establishment. I checked Google Maps, and started driving towards the closest location. Less than halfway there, I passed another location that wasn’t even IN Google Maps! But of course it was in Foursquare.
Sometimes, though, it’s just too much work to go into Foursquare and use some of the utilities in non-traditional ways. It’s a bit of a pain to use the mapping feature - you have to pretend to be checking in.
And ditto for the lists. Matchbook, which runs on the Foursquare API, is a drop-dead simple list management tool for people who just want to use one feature. For those people who aren’t techies. For people who still like drop dead simple interfaces and single features. And believe me, they’re out there.
I also think companies like Matchbook reinforce Foursquare’s new trajectory of providing utility beyond gaming and socializing. Matchbook is an extension of that, to me: location software for those who are less enamored with gamification and talking about where they are. It’s pure exploration.