Giving a thumbs up is a modest gesture that can, at times, carry significant meaning. If you ever watched Gladiator, you'll know when the emperor gives his thumbs down, it literally means death, and a thumbs up means life. Putting your thumb to your nose could also mean contempt.
The word "thumb" and how you use it has deep meaning. To that end, the site formerly known as Opinionaided has rebranded itself as "Thumb."
First off, Opinionaided is hard to spell, said Thumb CEO and founder Dan Kurani. Indeed, I misspelled it many times already.
Additionally, "Thumbs up and thumbs down is very common and ubiquitous," said Kurani, in an interview. "It's a lightweight interaction in the physical world that lends a lot of meaning." The new meaning that Thumb would like to resonate with users is that Thumb isn't just a real-time mobile Q&A site, but a social network that allows people to connect based on what's important to them.
And of course, as a mobile service, the thumb is used often in the product, he said.
Thumb is a mobile Q&A service for iPhone and Android that launched in July 2010. The idea is simple, people post a simple question and add an image. The image, surprisingly is a key ingredient, in my opinion. After posting a question, a member (you have to sign up) can browse other questions and answer with a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" and offer an opinion. The service than aggregates all the thumb actions and gives you a score. Truth be told, I don't exactly know how to interpret the scores. I gave a thumbs down to the question about bullying. After I sent my "thumbs down," the results came back saying that 73% of respondents gave that question a thumbs up.
Thumb raised $5.5 million in funding to be the question and answer site for opinions, not facts. More recently, Thumb raised $4.3 million from SoftBank Capital and BlueRun Ventures.
As part of its rebranding, Thumb plans to launch a number of new initiatives in Q1, said Kurani, who wouldn't get into specifics, only to say they would be "thumb based."
Kurani wouldn't disclose how many users the site currently has either, but he said the usage numbers have been growing. Last month, users on iPhones spent an average of three hours on the mobile app. The statistics for Android users was similar, he added. Additionally, when Thumb launched the demographic profile of a Thumb user was young - 13 to 24 year olds. Today, the age is skewing higher.
If Thumb sounds a bit like Q&A sites Formspring, or ChaCha, it's because it does fit into the genre of question and answer sites that focus less on surfacing facts and more on bubbling up opinions. But here's how it differs according to Kurani. Thumb doesn't seek to find the "best" answer for your query. It seeks to give you quantity to provide more "sentiment."
"Formspring tends to be about you putting out a question, and getting a response," said Kurani. "It's not a one-to-many approach." On Thumb, a query might receive 70 responses at one time. The questions that are typical on Thumb are social or rhetorical questions, such as "Do you like camping?" or "What do you think of Lady Gaga's music?" Or in the above image, my favorite: "Does God exist."
There doesn't need to be right or wrong answers, just opinions. To this end, Thumb appears to be focusing more on capturing sentiment than answers. While it currently doesn't have a business model, in the future Thumb hopes to attract brands that want real-time feedback on the sentiment surrounding their products. "We can give brands the ability to respond back in a mass way by adding value," said Kurani. For instance, if someone asks a question about whether bleaching hair is a good thing, a Paul Mitchell marketer can provide a response and pay for that placement.