The @Path Less Traveled

About a year ago on TechCrunch, @arrington reported on a new fundraising round for one of San Francisco’s most high-profile startups, Path. Being Arrington, he also uncovered that Google allegedly offered to pay $100m for the startup, plus an additional 20% on top in the form of an earn out. Path is believed to have turned down Google’s offer, raised money instead at a valuation about a third of the acquisition price, and suffered through the heat of TechCrunch commenters and the chattering class, most whom — myself included, to a degree — couldn’t understand their justification for that decision.

Now, Path is slowly building up steam. Path has received enough ink, so instead of writing about it again on TechCrunch, I just wanted to share a few thoughts with the benefit of a year of hindsight.

First, Path understands two things that Facebook doesn’t: (1) intimacy; and (2) mobile. I am a fan and regular user of Facebook, but it’s just plain difficult to know what actions are truly private and contained, that won’t show up in some Open Graph ticker. It’s also a terrible mobile experience. If I had to calculate my ratio of using Twitter mobile vs. Facebook mobile, it would be about 1000:1.

Second, Path is built around information vectors that a mobile device picks up more naturally than Facebook could. Yes, I know that Facebook “could” get all this information, but they don’t, and until they do, it’s open season. Path isn’t the only one, as you have Instagram, for instance, but they make it far easier for users to record and share moments at various levels of privacy.

Third, Path has a simple yet powerful mission. Sure, it may never reach the masses in time, or it may be gobbled up by one of the founders’ previous employers, but there’s at least at chance that its bet is right, and after giving a stiff-arm to Google’s offer and releasing products and services at a torrid rate, there’s a real chance — low, but real — that Path will build a truer reflection of our lives and connections.

Today, this is indeed a Path less-traveled, and it will be exciting to watch unfold.