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Wishbone App Hopes the 'Hot or Not' Business Model Isn't Done Just Yet

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The idea behind “hot or not” is still hot, apparently.

Science, the LA-based incubator run by former MySpace CEO Mike Jones, is having some early success with Wishbone, a simple “hot or not” style voting app with a more family-friendly approach. Ice cream with sprinkles or sauce? Bread bowls or salad? Who’s more strict — mom or dad? You can answer with one click, and then see whether you’re in the majority or minority. Seriously, it’s that simple.

“These applications on phones should be thought of almost like channels on television sets,” Jones explained to Re/code. “We want to make it very specific. We want to make it very single purpose.”

That simplicity seems to be working, at least for now. Jones says Wishbone has more than 3 million monthly active users — the majority of which are teenage girls — and more than 40 million votes are registered every single day. It’s been successful enough that Science is launching an identical app called Slingshot with topics geared toward males.

Wishbone and its 3 million users won’t take down Snapchat any time soon, but the concept has actually worked before. There’s a reason BuzzFeed quizzes are so popular, afterall, and don’t forget about Facemash, the 2003 version of “hot or not” that started in a Harvard dorm room before transforming into a little startup we now call Facebook.

Wishbone is even making a little money from the app, interspersing video ads alongside the voting cards. The company also sits on a nice little collection of user data from a very important user demographic (teens), although Jones says he has no plans to make money from that data just yet. In true Silicon Valley fashion, Wishbone is putting monetization off in favor user growth. In fact, he’s still trying to figure out what the draw is for Wishbone before making any major business moves.

“What does social media mean for teens? And why is there engagement on Wishbone?” Jones asked. “I think teens are a little bit underserved. I don’t think they’re on television. I think they’re a little bored on their phones and they want more to do.”

So, do you agree or disagree?

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