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If everyone loves listicles, why not try to monetize them?

list making app list making app
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XmediaLab

Imagine the potential of an app that could gather everyone's top tens. What a gift to advertisers. This is the mission of list making app Fabric.

In Hollywood they have a thing called the ‘high concept’ movie – a project that can be pitched in one sentence, usually by referencing existing hits.

Alien: it’s Jaws in space.

The Valley is going the same way, especially given the desperation among founders to align themselves with unicorns such as Evernote, Uber and Dropbox.

Well, how about this one?

Pinterest meets BuzzFeed meets Tinder.

That’s got hit written all over it, right?

Well, Jon Vlassopulos hopes so. It’s how the serial entrepreneur describes his Fabric idea.

Fabric is a list making app (soft launched on iOS earlier this year and on Android last week) that turns browsing top tens into a game.

Vlassopulos’ editorial team have created hundreds of lists that users can browse a la Tinder – by swiping (up if they love it, right is they’ve seen it, left if they haven’t).

Vlassopulos says: “Lists are a great way to present and gather information, and we use packs to inspire people and jog their memories. They’re curated triggers really. So what we’re doing is not Evernote. It’s not a utility. It’s a chance to help people create lists of everything they love.”

Thus, the list making app focuses on music, movies, TV and games as well as travel and trivia. Everything from ‘best Stevie Wonder singles’ to ‘Top 22 Cities For Museums’.

The company has also enlisted celebrities and magazines to compile their own list making app content.

Later this year, users will get the chance to create and publish their lists too.

Just a few weeks in, users are saving six packs a week, and have have added 85 items to their Fabric. 13.5 per cent share the packs to social media.

By browsing and swiping the list making app, users can easily build a ‘fingerprint’ of their likes, wants and desires. So, of course, can Fabric. Which leads to lots of interesting opportunities.

This may be why investors have coughed up.

Vlassopulos raised a $1.5 million seed round of funding to launch Fabric from backers including WME, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Machinima chairman Allen DeBevoise and individuals from Facebook, Conde Nast and Hulu.

It helps that Vlassopulos has something of a track record himself, having launched the TrailerPop app (which gamified the watching of movie trailers) and run SkyRocket (the mobile developer best known for the breakthrough Zippo lighter app).

He’s also an angel investor himself.

In the short term the list making app will make money from links to purchasable content. In fact, Fabric has deals in place with Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu and others.

But further ahead lie obvious advertising opportunities. Native/branded content is a no-brainer. And so is targeted advertising. If Fabric knows what your dream holiday destination is, then clearly a holiday firm would pay good money to put a special offer in front of you.

Vlassopulos reckons the list making app space could be huge. And he’s a little surprised that, for all the many options out there, no one has really cracked the ‘personal wishlist’ nut yet.

“Google Now, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Echo are all working on it, so there is competition. But we think the interface we’ve built really puts us in a good position to gather really strong social data.”

He’s also encouraged by the huge success of BuzzFeed, and that company’s apparent lack of desire to monetize its listicles.

“BuzzFeed has all these lists, and they’re insanely popular,” he says. “But once you’ve read them, there’s no way to engage with them. BuzzFeed seems to be on such a mission to re-define journalism that they’re kind of sitting on it.”

The listicles giant may think again if Fabric’s long term goal succeeds. Vlassopulos believes that dating and social media firms – notably LinkedIn – could embed a Fabric list making app API to help members find compatible romantic or business partners more quickly.

“Even in business, people prefer to deal with contacts they have lots in common with. There’s a real opportunity for us to speed up the process of people finding compatible business partners.”

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