Posted on: Friday 7th of February 2014
At our Personal Information Economy 2014 event we will be providing a platform for innovation and entrepreneurs working to build new markets. One of them is SocialSafe, a social media archiving service which securely stores users’ social media data in one place. The service allows people to combine their data from different social networks in their own personalised library that they own and control. A recent survey by the company found that 64% of people said social media companies should not be free to use personal information and photos for profit. We spoke to founder Julian Ranger about how the business works and his future plans for SocialSafe.
1. What’s the big benefit SocialSafe is designed to offer?
For consumers SocialSafe returns control of their data directly to them. SocialSafe creates “Your Library of You” by aggregating all your data that is otherwise spread over the Internet, and in business silos, into a personal library that the user owns and controls and is 100% private to them. Users may then do more with that data, may subsequently permission access others to use that data and will be sure that the data is theirs always. Initially SocialSafe is for all your social streams, but is being expanded to cover all data categories from finance, purchases, health, Quantified Self, leisure, etc.
For businesses, SocialSafe provides the ability to access personal data in a private and permissioned manner. The era of ‘free’ big data is coming to a close and new methods of accessing personal data, privately and with user’s permission, are required – SocialSafe is the solution for this. Studies show that Big Data is often wrong about 30-50% of the time when it comes to determining individual preferences and data. Furthermore, Big Data in any one instance is never more than just a slice of information from the whole that makes up an individual, an imperfect slice at that. With SocialSafe businesses will get access to fully accurate data, with reduced friction, and the ability to access a greater set of data by adopting more private usage models.
2. What inspired/motivated you to start doing this?
My first major business was an international military Internet business which I built from 1986 through to 2005 before selling to Lockheed Martin. As part of that experience I was heavily involved in networks, data management, security and distribution. It became clear to me after spending several years in the consumer Internet arena that there were strong parallels with personal data. We are, or should be, commanders of our own data, have the ‘big picture’ built and available to us, and release information on a ‘need to know’ basis.
3. How big is the market opportunity for SocialSafe?
Well our vision is very simple: every person on every device will have SocialSafe to access their personal library reimagining the personal internet. To date we are the only firm with a product that returns data to the user which the user holds and controls – we at SocialSafe do not hold the data and only know name, email and country for our users. We are unique in our belief and our implementation that the only point of integration for all the data about an individual is that individual. If we are correct, that gives us a multi-billion user target market!
4. What is the business model? How do you/will you earn your keep?
There are three key principles which are the foundation stones to our business model – without them users would not trust SocialSafe and hence would not use the product nor pay. There are then three elements to SocialSafe re charging: the first is free, the second is paid by the user and the third is paid by 3rd parties.
The 3 principles are:
- 100% privacy – SocialSafe will never see nor look at your data
- your data is never held hostage – you can always view and export your data paid or not
- your data is more secure with SocialSafe than where it resided originally.
The three elements are as follows:
1.Creating your library by pulling data from multiple sources and normalizing, fusing and cross-referencing it, with the ability to view and export that aggregated data – this is always free.
2. The ability to do more with your data via the SocialSafe application (search, collections, PDF, insight and stats, privacy recovery and more) – here the user pays SocialSafe, starting at £5 per year.
3. The user permissioning access to 3rd parties, where that access is validated by SocialSafe and here the 3rd parties pay micro-fees for data access to SocialSafe.
Over 35% of SocialSafe licenses today are paid licenses.
5. Where would you like to be in 3-5 years time?
A minimum of 50 million users with revenue of $15-20 per annum per user. To achieve this is dependent on major partnerships, and our pipeline suggests that we should be able to exceed these figures. An example partnership is FNAC in France who sell SocialSafe as part of a pack, and they are already selling thousands per week.
6. What obstacles will you need to overcome to get there?
Firstly consumer awareness of the benefit of owning their own data in an aggregated manner. Momentum is firmly in this direction, but of course ensuring that our product is heard amongst the noise is the key to our success – this is the reason we have a strong partnership strategy.
Secondly, for Permission Access to be a success businesses need to recognise the value of direct access to consumers and hence again awareness is key. Having early significant partners for this aspect is our strategy, which complements the partnering strategy for customer awareness too.
7. Have you got any more general thoughts or views about the changing personal data landscape you would like to share?
To date the movement to greater personal control of data has been consumer led, but with little legislation to back it up. Therefore the status quo of using big data for personalisation, even though it is only partially effective, remains the dominant theme as it gives rewards today. However, legislation is inevitable in this area and this will accelerate the personal information economy where the individual controls their own data. For example the forthcoming EU legislation with its four main points of: privacy by design; explicit vs implicit permission; data portability; and the right to be forgotten.