OPW INTERVIEW -- July 4 -- Greg Arnot is he’s the CEO of Kalerion Computing and also runs a product called Jivebug.com. Jivebug has been recently launched on Facebook so everyone, everywhere has the ability to know when their Facebook buddies are around. - Mark Brooks
How long has Kalerion Computing been around and what does Kalerion do?
We founded the company in 2004 and we’ve been doing a lot of good engineering work since then. We’re kind of a dating site with a difference. We’re using peoples’ mobile handsets to put them in touch with other people. So if I get close to somebody who is also in the community, my phone beeps.
And this is on a mobile phone as opposed to a land based phone?
Yes, it wouldn’t go very far with a land based handset. The communication protocol that we use for one phone to identify another is Bluetooth.
In order for those 2 phones to communicate, do both of those phones need to be registered within the network?
Yes, they need to be part of the network and they would typically need to have our mobile client running, but not necessarily. We also have a kind of clientless support for phones by changing the friendly Bluetooth of the user’s device to something recognizable to our mobile client. That way we are able to give a similar suite of functionality to somebody with a mobile phone that is not necessarily running our mobile software.
We have just launched a new functionality for Facebook. Somebody on Facebook can install our mobile application and be alerted or warned proactively when they come close to somebody else from Facebook. Let’s say I’ve got hundreds of friends on Facebook that I’ve never met. My phone beeps when one of my friends is close to me. I can send him a message or I can go over and start talking to him.
And more interestingly… if 2 people are on Facebook and they’re not friends, then in that case we apply a dating criterion. The resulting alert in that case would be anonymous.
But if I was at a party with all my friends that signed up to your system, my phone is going to go crazy then?
We would love that to be the case. Most dating attempts around proximity alerts have failed miserably because they didn’t do enough to foster proximity. There are only 1 or 2 mobile dating applications in the world that can do multiple simultaneous Bluetooth detections in a multi-threaded Java client and not crash the phone. Ours is one of them.
So our application can be simultaneously queuing up multiple incoming alerts for different people whether they are friends on Facebook or simply available singles.
So this is Jivebug™?
Yes, that’s the product you install on your phone. At the moment our application has a different name on Facebook but when it goes live in May it will be called Jivebug.
What is your background? How did you end up learning all this stuff?
I was in international marketing for about 13 years before I decided to get into dating. I came to Spain and when I went to parties, I was surrounded by beautiful women and I didn’t know which girls were single. Then even if you knew…how do you make the approach? How do you go over there and make that first introduction? So that’s how I got into it and started Jivebug.
How did you learn all those technical skills?
I was trained as an electronics engineer but I don’t program. I’ve learned this by having very good people working for us.
Are you looking to work with some of the other dating companies?
If you look at some of the success of the dating companies that have launched recently on Facebook, we think there is a lot of potential to grow with relatively little outlay in marketing dollars. That is an avenue that is interesting to us.
In terms of collaborating with the likes of the big players, I really don’t think that they believe we’re a threat yet. If we ever become a threat, maybe they’ll want to talk to us. We certainly are open.
How does the revenue model work for this kind of system with blue dating as you call it?
At the moment it’s pretty much free. We offer as much as we can for free and the basic currency of communicating with someone over the website is going to be free because we’re so closely matched to what Facebook is doing.
In the future, we’re going to be offering premium services. One part of our business is based on key learnings from the parties we’ve thrown; we know that girls in particular don’t like to meet the person the same night. So there is a “morning after effect” where people come to our website the next day to make contact with the person they met the night before and that’s an opportunity for us. So most of the time communication is free but in certain cases you might just have to pay.