Hark, a new startup that’s launching today at TechCrunch50, is looking to help friends share media and webpages with each other with as little friction as possible. The company offers a browser plugin that makes it easy to share links with friends, as well as interact though an integrated chat room.
The company says that there are plenty of link sharing apps, but when it comes to sharing a link from a webpage, there isn’t really a good way to do it — Emailing, Twitter, and other services can be a hassle. Hark’s plugin sits at the bottom of your screen, with a handful of buttons for sharing and a chat window that slides out of the bar. When you want to flag something as interesting, you can send out a ‘flare’, which immediately sends out a small notice to the rest of your friends that have the plugin installed.
The plugin allows you to see which of your friends are online, and (depending on their settings) display which pages they’re currently browsing, so you can strike up a conversation. You can also see which other users are browsing the same page as you, and can look at their history of Flares to see if you might have something in common.
Q&A with panelists Dick Costolo, Reid Hoffman, Sean Parker, Mike Schroepfer, and Robert Scoble:
RH: Downloads are hard.
RS: I’m not interested in it. It’s not going to work on my iPhone or Android. I’ve seen this done before, and we had similar chat tech, I don’t see enough gain for me to go get it.
A: I would say on the plug-in piece it’s a really challenge to overcome. If you look at Firefox, there have been lots of plugins. If you can provide utility to the user.
MS: I would really think hard about virality. You need to have a network set up, there’s a multi-party problem. If I install and nobody else does, I don’t get anything out of it.
DC: Assuming you can get past plugin challenge, is that these have novelty and then you wish things on screen would stop. How do you make it more than a cool novelty.
SP: I think someone needs to do this with video..
RS: Meebo already did that, I’m not seeing this bring something new to the table.