While Desiree and I are always on the lookout for the latest developments in the social media space, there are times when we come across an online service with elusive real world application. Diving right in and using a service is one way to overcome that hurdle. The other approach is to get in touch with the company founder and let them tell us about the vision behind the service. That is what we have done with Empire Avenue for this episode of The Bella Buzz podcast.
We are pleased to speak with the CEO/Co-Founder, Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana.
Empire Avenue is a Social Stock Market that aims to provide some context for all of an individual’s activity on the major social networks. It is a smart game and a social network all rolled into one. It is a fun way to find new connections and to acknowledge the value that you get from someone else.
The more that you distribute quality content on social networks, get liked, re-tweeted, shared, etc., the more value that you generate for your “shareholders”. These shareholders can ultimately become very lucrative real life connections, just like every other online social network.
Dups and his team of five (and expanding) were able to develop this very complex platform in-house. Once you have become a member and log into Empire Avenue, you will see an interface that reminds you of a real stock portfolio page! An interesting development in a short period of time,has turned the pattern of social network adoption upside down. Initially the user base would have come from other networks driving people into Empire Avenue, now they are seeing that users are looking for ways to increase their share price by signing up for additional services that are part of the Empire Avenue ranking system. They are now driving users in the other direction.
At the time of writing this post, there are just a few more days left in a contest used to promote the fact that WordPress.com users can integrate with their profile. Listeners to the podcast will remember the distinction between the .Com and .Org WordPress sites from our recent conversation with Beau Lebens. Currently, the OAuth authentication process that the .Com sites provide allows Empire Avenue to assign a portfolio value to it. There are hints that in the future we may see a way to get the other stand alone sites as well.
About 15 minutes into the podcast, Dups gives a shoutout to Google+ wishing that they would open up their API so that it could be integrated into the platform as well. They must have been listening!! We can now announce a beta from that social network as well.
As the business models for all of these social networks evolve, users are going to start considering the long term viability of an entity before investing a ton of time developing their profiles. Although Empire Avenue is a game at heart, and can be fun to do as a diversion, users will want some assurance that there is some long term value to their efforts. Dups can proudly proclaim that they are already deriving revenue without advertising. They have in game purchases with a virtual currency that generates revenue, and brands will be using the platform to reach users as well. This bodes well for the longevity of the platform and a return to their investors as well.
We have to address the issue of “real name” identity that has become a point of discussion around the web. For a service like Empire Avenue with some beneficial real world value, for job seekers perhaps, we need to be able to authenticate a profile while providing a level of privacy. It is a very sticky issue that is going to need people like Dups giving it some serious thought, in order for it to be resolved.
Finally, Empire Avenue is very appreciative of the developer community that exists around the platform. They have not developed their own mobile apps, but you can find all types of resources at the Planet Empire Avenue site. It’s very cool, and shows the signs of a strong community, that they have let this eco-system develop. Bravo!
We want to thank Dups for taking the time from his busy schedule to speak with us. To stay in touch with what he is up to, you can find him on Twitter, read his blog, and of course you can invest in him at Empire Avenue. Tell him that you heard him on The Bella Buzz podcast!
Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.
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