LikeALittle (LAL) was a company based in Palo Alto, California founded in 2010 by Evan Reas, Shubham Mittal, and Prasanna Sankaranarayanan. Known as a free "flirting-facilitator platform", LkeALittle allowed users to anonymously discuss possible love interests in a specific location. The target audience for LikeALittle was college students. In the first six weeks of its operation, it generated 20 million page views. In January 2011, it was reported that the website attracted an average of 57,000 users each month. Since its release, LikeALittle created two other websites and released a mobile phone application. After 4 months of existence, the site became active in over 450 schools throughout the United States and Canada. The LikeALittle service was discontinued without explanation on July 10, 2012. Later insight from Evan Reas showed that the shutdown was motivated by the founders wanting to focus all their energy to one of their new projects, Circle. While there were cases of couples meeting over the mutual use of LikeALittle, there are ethical issues concerning cyberbullying, anonymity, and relationships formed online.
LikeALittle was founded on October 27th, 2010 as LikeALittle.com by Evan Reas, Shubha Mittal, and Prasanna Sankaranarayanan; the initial coding for the site was produced in under a day. It achieved national attention when it hit virality via social networks, such as Facebook.com, and attracted 20 million page views in its first six weeks. Users may log in using their Facebook account.
In early 2011, LikeALittle received $1,000,000 in Angel funding.
On June 30, 2011, LikeALittle received $5,000,000 in Series A funding.
As of October 2011, LikeALittle was still in its initial growth phase.
The company's long-term goal is to achieve maximum growth and generate dynamic mobile phone-based leads for revenue. This goal seems to have been the motivation in LikeALittle's shutdown. Evan Reas answered a question on an online forum, under the username emreas, detailing the reason for LikeALittle's end. The founders of LikeALittle expanded to a new project called Circle and wanted to devote all their assets into it. Reas explained that, “we think of Circle as a product in the same general space as Likealittle was (location based interaction), but with a much broader appeal and larger possible end game” .
Interestingly, Reas still has faith that the LikeALittle model will work on college campuses. He encouraged people to try to fill the void that LikeALittle's shutdown left, and even offered help to anyone trying to do so. He said, “Btw, on a side note, I do think there is a market for anonymous location based chatting & flirting and if the community is well managed, somebody could run a successful site doing that. If somebody is extraordinarily interested in it, I'd be happy to let them know the "recipe" to get the initial takeoff on a college campus and may be willing to hand over our code if of interest”.
Products and Services
LikeALittle's first website was LikeALittle.com, which is now lal.com. Each campus has its own subpage, typically of the form LAL.com/[school name].
On lal.com, users can anonymously post "flirts" about someone that they find attractive, complete with location and their physical appearance. To promote a positive and fun environment, users are given temporary fruit names to identify users within a thread or conversation. You can create an account that links all of your "flirts" and you can monitor responses.
LikeALittle's next website, people.lal.com, stripped a layer of anonymity from their initial project. The company gave users the ability to sync their Facebook profiles with their people.lal.com profile. The site combines GPS technology from mobile phones and IP addresses with users' interests via their Facebook profile. The resulting service provides a user with other users who have similar interests AND are in close proximity to them.
Within each school's page is a custom chat function that shows how many people are online and nearby. LikeALittle randomly assigns nicknames to visitors, such as Cucumber_17 or Blackberry_23, that maintain the anonymity of the website. Similar to online dating, you can provide as much or as little information about yourself and it can serve as a launchpad for starting relationships.
Evan Reas was a valedictorian at Ohio Wesleyan University in 2007, and earned a Master of Business Administration from Stanford University in 2009.
Shubham Mittal was a valedictorian at India Institute of Technology. He was also a gold medalist at the International Physics Olympiad, and worked at Google and Microsoft before joining LikeALittle.
Prasanna Sankaranarayanan is from Chennai, India. He previously worked for Google and Microsoft Bing before winning first place in the TopCoder competition. Additionally, he is the youngest person to ever finish as a finalist in the Google Code Jam.
LAL is funded by a handful of venture capitalist (VC's). Jeff Jordan, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, decided to invest over five-million dollars into the company. Other high-end investors include Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. LAL is worth over $35 million and has around 14 investors.
Jessica Pickles, a student at Queen's University was interviewed about her experience with LikeALittle. She published a post about another male student studying in the same area in the library, just for fun, but he also happened to be on LikeALittle as well and posted about her shortly after. They realized the mutual connection and starting chatting privately, and started dating shortly after. He later proposed to Jessica through LikeALittle and she said yes.
Similar to many websites that are driven by user-generated content, LikeALittle's services are prone to abuse - specifically cyberbullying. In its relatively short life, there have already been countless examples of posts that have targeted individuals or groups offensively.
LikeALittle protects anonymity to the point that a different name appears on each of your posts, so there is no way to track who posts what. This opens the door for harsh cyberbullying of real people on campus while the offenders are completely anonymous. People have spoken out against LikeALittle's design encouraging stalking and bullying without bad effects for others .
Due to the anonymous environment that LikeALittle provides, anyone can make inappropriate comments with no affiliation to themselves. This is a common problem among most websites and communities that provide anonymity. LikeALittle attempts to control the quality of its content by employing moderators to edit offensive or threatening posts. Additionally, on some campus pages, any user with a .edu email address of the corresponding school can delete a post.
LikeALittle also provides an anonymous forum for people to compliment others without fear of rejection. Often the descriptions are so vague, it allows people an imagination to believe that posts are about them, even if they were not originally directed to them. The ethical implication of this aspect of anonymity is that it gives people a chance to boost the self-esteem of members of the community.
While concrete relationship successes and new friendships have come out of LikeALittle, one can question the validity of the relationships and/or friendships formed in an online environment. Many criticisms of connections through online mediums discuss the idea that only weak ties can be formed in comparison with real-time contact and conversation. Additionally, users often behave differently in an online environment than in the real world because of an anonymity factor, so the validity of posts is compromised. LikeALittle, for the most part, is purely anonymous, but users can choose to reveal more information by linking their accounts to Facebook and other social networking sites, strengthening ties.
Also, consider a sense of empowerment for those individuals who may not feel comfortable interacting in a flirtatious manner a real-world setting. The anonymity of LikeALittle gives people who may have difficulty interacting with individuals they are interested in/attracted to an outlet to express their feelings and practice to gain confidence and empowerment to potentially approach the person in real life.
Detractors of the platform have argued that it provides no real benefit across college campuses to students. In an article published by a USA Today affiliate news site in July 2011, some students argued that it actually would be a catalyst for social anxiety and that kids should go the old-fashioned route and talk to the people they found attractive.
- About - LikeALittle http://www.lal.com/about
- Like-A-Little - App Appeal http://www.appappeal.com/app/like-a-little/
- Er-Chua, Gloria. "Students like LikeALittle a Lot; Social Media Site Popular with Studious University Crowd." The Toronto Star. 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.
- “What Happened to LikeALittle (Lal.com)?” Ask HN: What Happened to LikeALittle (Lal.com)? | Hacker News, news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4346049
- TopCoder Competition - Startup Hoodlum http://startuphoodlum.com/tag/topcoder/
- “Little Love for Likealittle.com.” The Sandspur, 30 May 2013, www.thesandspur.org/little-love-for-likealittle-com/
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