I posted this on the USV blog yesterday but thought I should share it with the AVC community as well.
We are big fans of communities at Union Square Ventures. The partners in our firm have been investing in Internet communities for almost 15 years and we are constantly reminded of the power of the community. Whenever we are presented with the opportunity to invest in an emerging new Internet community, we take it very seriously.
We were presented with exactly that opportunity a few months ago by Chris Poole, also known on the Internet as "moot." When Chris was 15 years old he launched one of the most powerful Internet communities, 4chan, from his bedroom. For eight years, Chris has been operating, moderating, building, observing, and learning from 4chan. Last year, Chris recruited a small group of engineers and designers and started building a new Internet community called Canvas.
Canvas is a real-time canvas on the Internet. It is a community where everyone can come to create imagery together. It is inspired by the best of 4chan but is aimed at much more. At the heart of Canvas is the concept of remixing. Every image on Canvas has a remix button which allows users to quickly modify the image and repost it. The result are threads that are anchored by the initial image. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
Ze Frank Scribbler
Charlie Sheen – I Probably Took More
All The Things?
4chan is famously anonymous. It is raucous, unruly, and tremendously creative. The architecture of Canvas is subtly different, and although anonymous posting is allowed, you must first register a login to participate.
There aren't any filters on Canvas. You see what is happening there in real-time. Sometimes the result is inspiring. Sometimes the result is provocative. I liken it to real world creative communities like the Lower East Side of NYC when I arrived here in the early 80s. The most interesting creativity comes from places that aren't always manicured and sterile.
Canvas is very much a work in progress. The service is still in invite-only beta and requires you connect with Facebook to register. Chris and the Canvas team are committed to building the most exciting and interesting community for real-time creativity on the Internet, and we are thrilled to be along for the ride. You can get on the ride as well because Canvas is hiring. Their jobs page is here.