Glue: A Social Net That Lives In Your Browser

Full disclosure – this post is a about a new service from our portfolio company Adaptive Blue. I have a vested interest in the success of Adaptive Blue and the new Glue service.

What if you could join a social net that you don’t have to check all the time? That doesn’t require you to visit a destination web site, but is present whenever and wherever you want it.  That connects you to people and things that you share in common with others. That is smart and only engages you when you want it to.

You can join that kind of social net today. It’s called Glue and its now available for everyone to try. I’ve been using it for the past month and it works great. You install a quick firefox extension, log into Glue, and you are good to go. Then whenever you visit a web page about a thing you care about (a stock, a book, music, a person, movies, gadgets, actors, etc) you’ll see the other people you know (and some you don’t) that also are interested in that item. You can favorite things and tell others about them. It’s easy and quick. It’s lightweight and doesn’t require much of a commitment.

It all happens in the glue bar that drops down when you visit a page that Glue recognizes. This morning I was on and visited Ben Kweller’s page. Glue recognized Ben Kweller as a musician and dropped down this Glue Bar:


I also visited the $AAPL page at Google Finance and got a different Glue Bar:


Different pages (things) generate different glue bars, but that’s exactly the point. At I’m likely to want to interact with my music friends. At Google Finance, I’m likely to want to interact with my stock friends. They are different for the most part, but in a few cases they are the same. Glue understands all of that and more.

There’s a great five click quick tour of Glue on this page. There’s also a screencast if you want more detail. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I hope you like it as much as I do.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. eric norlin

    great minds name alike ;-) albert’s involved)

  2. tywhite

    It’s a nice thought, but for those of us without friends who understand and utilize Firefox plugins, it doesn’t hold much value. Now, once everyone supports oAuth or OpenID and individuals are easier to track around the web, that’s when this program gets interesting for the layperson.

    1. fredwilson

      Without friends?

      1. tywhite

        Ha! Feels like it sometimes — all my friends are doctors and lawyers with minimal web presence beyond email, Facebook, and fantasy football. I’m the lone geek out. But the point is there’s a relatively high level of knowledge required for adoption. If I said “Firefox Plug-In” to my friends, most would ignore me, and the strongest response I’d get is “what is that?” As a result, as occurs with many of these social web services for me, I probably won’t get to critical mass in my friend-base and am thus unlikely to continue to use it.Then again, I’m saying all this having installed it all of two hours ago — I definitely like the idea enough to give it a shot 🙂

        1. fredwilson

          My wife is in the same category and she likes it even without having any of her friends on itThere is a selfish use case, sort of like implicit social bookmarking

    2. Daniel J. Pritchett

      The FireFox plugin is just a small piece of the Glue framework. It can and will be replicated onto other platforms. Adding an IE equivalent will make Glue available to the majority of the market. Adding a standalone javascript toolbar (like StumbleUpon, for instance) would make it completely platform agnostic, no installation required.Importing contacts from other networks helps, too.

  3. Michiel de Boer

    I think Glue will be big. That is one of the reasons Zecco is happy to be among the first investing sites to be Glue enabled soon. Great tool!Michiel de Boer, Zecco

  4. oakmad

    I’ve been using this for a few weeks (since Fred’s first tweet) and have to say its getting better and better. Regular updates keep improving it, its interesting to see as I browse amazon to see who is browsing the same products and what sites they are viewing them on. I’ve noticed the same people keep popping up on my recently viewed list which makes me think of lots of opportunity for introductions. I’m impressed with the possibility and think having it as a ff extension is a positive at this stage.

    1. Fraser

      Hi Oakmad – thanks for all of your support over the past few weeks. Glad you’ve liked our iterations – keep the feedback coming 🙂

  5. Boris Mann

    This is very similar to what Flock does today (although of course Flock is targeted at more social / younger users). I did some thinking about an open standard using simple meta tags, and of course layered on OAuth and OpenID. Basically, any site should be able to expose its social graph.

  6. Chris Brogan

    I like it, actually. I hope that they consider potentially platform-izing the offering so that others can add something to the glue, like new modules. What if I want to do more than like or add my two cents? Seems ripe for all kinds of other overlay and top tab goodness. Also, I want to be able to add pages to Glue, like StumbleUpon lets me stumble new things. (That may actually be a feature. I tried it on my blog).Some day, one of these kind of meta-browsing experiences will stick. Maybe it’s glue. : )

    1. Fraser

      Great questions Chris.How to add Glue to other pages:From your Glue profile you can claim your online profiles (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.). After you claim these pages, when other Glue users visit them, they’ll be able to see your Glue activity.Sites, services (and individuals) can add support for Glue to their pages by adding AB Meta to their site:… O’Reilly has already enabled this for all of their book pages. It’s a simple and straight forward way to integrate into Glue.As for platform-izing the offering, we’re always interested in exploring other ways that Glue can bring value. This seems like an interesting thought. There are a few announcements coming soon on this front…

    2. Gonzalo Arzuaga

      Me too, I like the idea, but only conceptually. I don’t think i’ll use it myself BUT as StumbleUpon already showed, there’s an interesting market for ideas like that.

      1. Fraser

        Hi Gonzalo – I’d be curious in hearing why you’re only conceptually interested in it. Feel free to respond here or email me, fraser[at]adaptiveblueWould be valuable for me to hear 🙂

  7. Dave Peck

    I like the idea. I really do. Just not sure if Glue will be huge

  8. Joe Lazarus

    I tried Glue a couple weeks ago (that statement could be misinterpreted out of context :). I like the concept a lot, but this implementation doesn’t work well for me. The UI is a little intrusive for my taste given that my primary use case on a page like the Google stock quote example above is focused on the content, not my friends. The overlay takes up too much valuable browser real estate and it’s visually distracting since the design doesn’t match the page. I love the idea, but I wish the UI was more subtle… something along the lines of the Yahoo! Media Player plugin, which slides out when you need it, but otherwise has a small footprint on the page.

    1. fredwilson

      I like the drop down bar more than the slide over but maybe they should offer both and let the user customize itI do think the glue bar should be less deep, more like the NY Times People bar

      1. Fraser

        We’re monitoring feedback on this topic closely — if anyone else in the AVC community has feedback on this I’d love to hear it.

      2. oakmad

        I had similar thoughts and discussed with Fraser. On pages where he good stuff is below the fold its easy to scroll down and totally miss the benefit that the Glue bar provides. I’ve learned to think about the bar but a couple of display options would nice. I for one always have a ff sidebar open, I would be happy for Glue to use some of that real estate, or appear like Fred’s FM music player bar below; of course providing too many UI options is a slippery slope.

  9. hv23

    Friends from what network? Does Adaptive Blue have its own friend network or does it tap into the social graph of more powerful entities like Facebook or Google? If it’s the latter, that could be extremely powerful- social browsing w/ 100’s of friends imported from another network that you already frequent regularly, as opposed to social browsing with 10 people who you invited to Adaptive Blue.

    1. Fraser

      Hi hv23 – Glue can automatically use your friend relationships that exist on other popular social networks – Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  10. Geoff

    Can’t get it to work with Firefox on an iMac 🙁

    1. Fraser

      Can you email me the issue that you’re having and we’ll look into what’s happening. fraser[at]adaptiveblue

      1. Geoff

        Oops I see the Glue button now 🙂 However, the Preferences field is greyed out in the Tools/Add-Ons menu which confused me. Bit alarming that it has set up a My profile already – guess its kinda cool – maybe be nice to ask first :-)Thanks for fast response.

  11. morren

    Really nice; elegant design. Like the quick signup.One problem. On a MacBook in Firefox, when I click on a user to see their info (as I did Fraser on the demo), there’s no obvious way to close the user window without leaving the page. Am I missing something?

    1. Fraser

      Hi Morren, there should be a X button in the top right-hand corner of the little window. If you try it again on a new page – say… – are you able to see it?If not can you drop me an email and we’ll dig into it: fraser[at]adaptiveblue

      1. morren

        I swear I’m not crazy — it wasn’t there before, but it is now. Carry on…

  12. abrydon

    Simultaneously excited and terrified.Identifying friends and colleagues with common interest has high value, and semantically understanding the content of a page vs a simple URL seems a meaningful innovation – more useful than Clutzr, BlogRovr (Esther Dyson), Stickis (Esther Dyson), Socialbrowse (Y Combinator), which will share clickstreams of URL or highlight contacts that have visited the same page.But from a privacy perspective, what happens if a user buys a book called “Living with Manic Depression” or “Getting Ready for Divorce” on Amazon. Does that information get broadcast to his or her network and the broader Glue community? Seems ripe for Facebook Beacon issues that surfaced when products bought on Amazon were quietly broadcast via their feed.Passively contributed information (clickstream, items viewed) seems inherently more difficult to manage than explicitly contributed information (status updates). I’m curious to dig in and see how they handle it. Couldn’t easily see how in the FAQ or privacy policy.

    1. fredwilson

      Good questions AnthonyI hope alex and/or fraser will weigh in on this one

      1. Steffan Antonas

        Anthony,I’ve been on Glue for a few months now. Given that privacy is a concern for all Glue users AdaptiveBlue has added functionality that allows you to have complete control over your data. You can remove any item from your stream of ‘things’, you can protect your actions so that only approved friends can see them, and you can also delete all of your data if you want.

    2. Fraser

      Hi Anthony, all very good questions – ones that we’ve thought deeply about.While connecting people around the things they love delivers social benefit, we realize that privacy is critical in a system like this. A guiding principle that we’ve followed since the founding of the company is that the individual is in complete control of their own data.This principle helped shape the development of Glue – from the highest level of privacy to individual interactions.To begin with, unlike other passively contributed systems such as Beacon, Glue is completely consumer opt-in from the start.Additionally, an individual has the ability to protect their presence within Glue. This feature is similar to Twitter’s privacy setting where only those who have been explicitly approved by the individual will be able to access their activity.Glue is only active on pages about everyday things – books, movies, music, etc. It is inactive on all other pages. If you do not see the Glue bar appear, it is not active.But even this isn’t enough because – as you say – there may be books or movies or music albums that you’re not comfortable sharing. In situations like this there’s a top level function to remove your connection to a specific thing. When the Glue bar appears if you mouse over your avatar you will see a delete link. This will permanently delete your connection to this object. Additionally, this feature is available from within your collection of things. Mouse over the object’s thumbnail and select delete to permanently delete it.Finally, while passive actions do surface interesting connections we realize that they do not form bonds as strong as explicit behavior. For this reason we only temporarily store the 20 most recent passive actions while saving all explicit behavior.I do hope this starts to answer your questions. This is a topic that we want to be upfront about and make sure that we get right.Our FAQ and Privacy Policy should have additional details on this.If you have any further questions please post them here or contact us directly – fraser[at]adaptiveblue

      1. abrydon

        Fraser -Thanks for the response. I installed Glue and read your comments in tandem and I think the design is responsible and innovative.The decision to only observe what the user is looking at on specific sites – Amazon, for example – is responsible and shows a lot of restraint. The design of activating the toolbar on the top of the browser when behavior is being observed makes it clear when Glue is active. The limit on recall to the 20 most recent items observed also errs heavily on the side of privacy, and reminds me of FireEagle, Yahoo!’s location platform that limits memory to the last location the user was seen at. I’ve been impressed at FireEagle’s approach to privacy, and am impressed at this approach. I’m leaving it installed and looking forward to seeing it work.Antony

  13. Josh

    Haven’t tried it yet, but very excited to.Judging from most of the comments, all issues are correctable. The fundamental idea is very interesting.Glue seems to increase connection by several orders of magnitude. I think some people enjoy the heightened level of connectedness, but I think the proponents overestimate how connected people want to be.Judging from the implementation, AB strikes a good balance here. The obvious issue of having to install a plugin has already proven not to be a problem for AB. In fact, less work has to be done than if you were to install a plugin into a wordpress blog.As far as feature recommendations, I would stay away from new features for a while, as enticing as it may be. Get the service stable, and make slight UI adjustments instead. The service is already good enough to use w/o any feature additions for the vast majority of people. Great job @fraser, alex, and the rest of the gang.

  14. Steve

    Sorry, no Firefox here. Also, kinda privacy-invasive, isn’t it?!

  15. bobby_d

    Uhm… The benefit of facebook’s walled garden is that it can easily reduce spam attempts.I can easily see this service being exploited by spammers to make fake profiles, and staking footprints on heavily trafficked web pages, so their fake profiles appear, for the ‘people you don’t know’ functionality.

    1. bobby_d

      Moreover, I can see them adding malicious links in their profile pages for fishing, and cross scripting hijacks.

    2. Alex

      Hi Bobby,There are a couple of things about Glue that are focusing on protecting people from spam:1. There are no destination pages – the profiles are accessible from any page you are on.2. It is browser based, which automatically means it is more secure3. Like in Twitter you choose who to follow, so while spammers might be on the page, their are not in your faceand the worst spam would be inappropriate avatar – something that any network would suffer from.

  16. Guest

    Now imagine instead of looking at who WAS looking at the page, you could see who IS looking at the page. Have a real time conversation.So you would see “29 friends, 24 Recent People, and 63 Live People”. Integrating with Glue. It would be like a Facebook Live Chat, but instead, an Internet/AdaptiveBlue Live Chat. Way more powerful I think.

    1. Fraser

      Hi Dan – that may be another interesting avenue to explore.Right now, with this release of Glue, we’re focusing on connecting friends around common things that they like. While we may not often be looking at the same thing in real-time as our friends, we generally interact with similar items over time. And, by capturing the interaction across time and different websites, we’re able to make that connection.The real time component is definitely cool, just a different direction from our focus with this release. I’ve made a note about the suggestion.

    2. GL

      concept at the B2B level already exists. Check out . Last I heard they were growing their revenues quite nicely.There was also a NY company that was introducing a consumer offering (for blogs) couple months back.As far as Glue, looks pretty cool. Nice job!

  17. lawrence coburn

    Alex and Fraser, you guys did a great job of stripping this down without losing your core product. I think Glue has way more cross over potential than your original toolbar.

  18. andyswan

    I love it. It’s just a great second first-step for this company :)Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing Glue.

    1. Fraser

      Thanks Andy :)When are you in NYC again? I missed you when you were here the other week because I was neck deep in Glue. Would love to meet you though (I’m working on the appropriate ‘gosh, you’re tall’ line).

  19. Ed

    I know it’s stating the obvious, but I think the fact that itplays nice with Twitter and Tumblr is it’s best shot of adoption.As creative types play with this and then blog how easy it is, numbers will increase.Folks don’t want to just bookmark stuff. The suppliers have over reactedforever trying make the next big (and better and more profitable) Delicious.Folks want to be HEARD. If I can easily link to a hot post, then tweet my brilliant tumblr reblog(and *Original thoughts*), then I’m using it!

  20. sblservices

    Good idea. I like it.Thanks for “ADAPTIVE BLUE”.

  21. lurker92

    Fail. Firefox Extensions do not port. They are a euphemism for downloaded software.

  22. bombtune

    Thanks I’ll stick to facebook. This is too much.

  23. Jordan Mitchell

    Oh, the irony!! … that on the same day we shuttered our Others Online toolbar service, which shows you people relevant to the pages you browse to, that Alex and Adaptive Blue announce their Glue product (which is eerily similar in concept)!Similar to Adaptive Blue (and Me.dium), Others Online has interesting technology on the back end, and we all focused on consumer-oriented products utilizing that technology. Well over a year ago, we used our technology to connect people with each other (social net style) as they browsed the Web. This is what Glue and Me.dium do as well (at a high level).But we determined early this year, after a spike in user growth (adding thousands and thousands of users in a short time), that there was no way our revenues were going to exceed our costs. The scale of user acquisition was not achievable without spending a massive amount of money — essentially “buying” users, which I wasn’t willing to do. My understanding is that Me.dium is also having a very hard time achieving any meaningful scale.As a result, we pivoted away from B2C and focused on B2B. And it’s working … we have well-known and successful partners (online publishers and networks), we’re currently adding several hundred thousand users per day, earning revenues and have a near-time path to profitability (knock on wood)! By Q1 we expect to be reaching more than 100M unique users per month. Now that’s the sorta scale I can work with!Someone will crack the “social browsing” nut eventually, but it’s not going to be us. We sincerely wish Adaptive Blue, Me.dium and all the others the best of luck, and hope they’ll stay the course until they reach success.

  24. Jacob Rios

    I like the idea but I fall in the camp believing the problem with this concept is that fewer and fewer people go to destination sites these days for content. RSS feeds, Google Reader, etc make it so that you can browse the web’s information efficiently from one central spot, making the chances of you and your friends hitting the exact same sites increasingly rare. Rather than hope that I come across the same content of my friends who are also interested in that topic, why not push that information to them via Facebook link share, Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious, etc.I hope you make this work though. I like the concept of this company (SocialBrowse too) but think the evolution of the internet is headed in the other direction (i.e. smart, filtered, consolidation) this is relevant to an individual based on social recommendations, AI, etc.

  25. Dan Nimtz

    I haven’t installed glue yet, but it sure sounds similar to diigo. Is it?

  26. David Lifson

    I just noticed my avatar in your screenshot of Ben Kweller’s page. What I like most about Glue is the fact that I actually was listening to Ben Kweller via (I don’t use By aggregating human behavior across walled sites, we can finally take the first steps towards a fully flowing internet ecosystem – we both can benefit from our interest in content regardless of our method of consuming content.

    1. Jordan Dobson of Glue

      Apparently someone didn’t do their homework… or just lacks integrity.There is already a product named Glue since 2006. http://gluenow.comSounds like a great product but stealing a product name is not cool.I realize there isn’t much at our site, since we’re doing a rebuild, but here’s our previous demo video so you can get an idea about what Glue is about.

      1. fredwilson

        Yahoo also has a service named glue and there are a few others out there. Its not a unique name

        1. Jordan Dobson

          True Fred, however Yahoo’s service doesn’t do anything similar to what our Glue product does. http://gluenow.comNot sure why you would want your users to get confused with a pre-existing product. We get emails daily from Glue people. Bad idea.