Hooray, now we no longer have to triple check that we spelled Opinionaided right! Today the General Assembly startup—which was born as a mobile Q&A site and already has $5.5M in funding—says it’s rebranding as Thumb and expanding beyond the frothy Q&A space and into a potentially more crowded one: social networks.
To use a couple recent examples, questions on the app range from “Occupy wall street or Tea party? whos going to win in 2012″ to “Hahaha!!?” with an image of a LOLCat. As before, users can weigh in with a thumbs up or down and a comment.
The social network aspect seems largely branding-related, as the newly-named app isn’t yet introducing different features. Betabeat talked to CEO Dan Kurani about Thumb’s surprisingly impressive user engagement, why he calls it a social network, and his favorite thumb joke.
According to Mr. Kurani, the average question on Thumb gets a staggering 70 responses, with the first response coming in about 6 seconds. Although he declined to share the number of downloads, he did note that his September numbers—125,000,000 opinions to 2,000,000 questions—had multiplied, and that the average user spends three and a half hours per month on the app.
As for what, exactly, is social network-y about the app, Mr. Kurani responded via IM: “After you ask a question that is opinion-based (what do you think of this shirt? what do you think of Bob Marley?, Do you like Starbucks?, etc.) and you see the 70+ folks that responded with comments, sentiment (thumbs), and their profile information you can immediately chat with the people that think like you (or you can just give them a star for giving you good advice).”
On Thumb, the equivalent of a Facebok profile page is a little different. “It is populated primarily with their top advisor categories, number of votes, and star ranking, etc. (folks love this, almost like a game),” he said. “We don’t show the questions they ask or the responses they give, however, a new feature coming will allow them to openly express their opinions, curate, and enter groups very naturally.”
Mr. Kurani said the name change was necessitated by the company’s move into the mainstream. “It was hard to change because Opinionaided had a lot of meaning to us. It took a little while for us to fall in love with Thumb, but we did.”
After watching the TechStars reality show, we remain skeptical that investors didn’t demand that he scrap Opionionaided immediately. But Mr. Kurani assured us, “We decided to change it proactively, came up with a name, presented it, and most of [the investors] loved it immediately (and the ones that didn’t called back within a few days and said that it was perfect).”