L.A. entrepreneur John King has his fingers in many pies – real estate, music, film, TV (he’s the former owner of KSDX in San Diego) – but these days, he’s working on an ambitious side hustle: trying to make the internet a kinder, gentler place. It’s a gargantuan uphill battle. But King says he’s up for the challenge.
The 50-year-old media investor is in the process of launching TAPP, a mobile social media app that he hopes will one day become “the anti-Facebook,” an intimate platform where friends share favorite things like restaurants, hair salons and running shoes without being inundated with ads, political polemics and fake news.” People are just now understanding how misinformation is being passed around on social media,” King says. “Lots of the stuff that is served up on Facebook today is manipulative and often not factual. The Internet is awash in anger and toxic emotions and misinformation. That’s not accidental. Social media titans know what it takes to grab you. It’s all about an attention grab—provoking an immediate chemical high that sucks people in. We are all susceptible to that kind of thing, but lately it’s reached a dangerous new level. And think of all the data big tech has collected in the process.”
So how does TAPP compare to say, its nemesis Meta (formerly Facebook)?
“Meta’s whole business plan revolves around selling personal data about its users,” King observes. “TAPP is about forging private connections with people who you know and trust.” The app, which requires users to invite each other to their personal pages, was soft-launched over the summer and is still working out a few bugs while staffing up (it currently employs just three people, including King). The app now reaches about 700 L.A. users, many of them well-connected L.A. women and social and Hollywood influencers. Early adopters reportedly include Kate Hudson and jewelry designer Jen Meyer, the daughter of Studio Chief Ron Meyer. King says he’s ramping up slowly. Remember, Facebook started small too. “We want users to be able to be themselves,” he says. “Social media created this world where people like to flaunt everything. But with TAPP, there’s no pressure to be anyone other than yourself.”
How does it work exactly? “You have to opt in to invite. That’s the way we designed it, so it’s simple to invite friends and family. It remains difficult for strangers to become your friend. I wanted to start by inviting social philanthropic women in Hollywood, the ones who do fundraisers and galas. TAPP is something of a social network. We want them to just be themselves – not their ‘proper selves.’ Social media has created this world that’s about jealousy, which is part of human nature – many people want others to fail so you can be happy. Influencers create a persona– thin, pretty, rich – which can make everyone else feel so unhappy. Young people are especially susceptible to that. TAPP is all about getting out a positive and authentic message.”
Later this month, King says, TAPP will be launching a private in-app chat feature to let users recommend and share things with text, image, video and posted recommendations. There’s also a way for users to get credit if they recommend a product and a friend clicks through to purchase. “We all want our friends’ recommendations,” notes King. “Soon we will also be inviting experts—interior decorators, coaches, makeup artists, fashion designers—to create lists of services, products, they use and love. Passionate people who do what they love and are well known for it. They will all be professionals. We call ourselves a ‘social commerce app.’ We are not nor will we ever be supported by advertisers. TAPP will be based on commerce support. That way you know you’re getting heartfelt recommendations. Advertising is fine for Meta, SnapChat, Tik Tok, Twitter. But we believe TAPP is the future.”
For more information, visit Tapp World here.
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