Sgrouples: Don’t Spy and Scrape – Serve and Delight


As the issue of digital privacy persists, Sgrouples, which rhymes with “scruples,” is billing itself as the first privacy-centric social platform on the Web. Hence the tagline, “Privacy You Trust.”

“We are the “Whole Foods” of our industry — the good conscience, doing the right thing, offering people what they really need and want – and we can be respectfully profitable by doing so. You don’t need to serve people high fructose corn syrup to be profitable. Whole Foods understands that and so does Sgrouples. We don’t need to spy and scrape. We are designed to serve and delight,” says Mark Weinstein, founder and CEO and digital privacy advocate.[more]

Sgrouples offers a user-friendly dashboard that lets members start their own private groups, manage their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, and enjoy a personal cloud to save and share photos, documents and important files — all with “privacy by design.”

A Privacy Bill of Rights sets the tone and parameters for the site. “You own your content, nobody can search for you at Sgrouples, we don’t suggest who your “friends” are, and what you do at Sgrouples is not discoverable through a search engine,” Weinstein told brandchannel. More from that conversation:

BC: Is Sgrouples as a Facebook alternative?

MW: Facebook has been a brilliant service connecting us all; and yet there are inherent, very real issues.  Privacy is suspect, Facebook fatigue is real, and I don’t have 1,000 “friends” even though Facebook thinks I do. I have heard Sgrouples described by its users as “Facebook with a Dropbox and privacy.”

What’s your business model?

In the Internet industry, there is an elephant in the room about revenue models. Investments with no regard to revenue have been made in companies like Twitter, Dropbox, FourSquare, Instagram, etc., which at best have a single source of revenue. And all of them have issues with profitability, (Instagram does not even have a revenue model), yet they are currently measured as very successful companies. This is a key data point that caused the first bubble to pop in 2001, when investors came back to their senses after drinking a lot of the proverbial Kool-Aid. 

Sgrouples offers a strong user growth viral coefficient, and definitive, robust revenue. For example, we naturally aggregate logical revenue inflows by providing a high integrity, high value service to our users, including: personalized ads/coupons based on preferences specifically identified by users, data/content storage in My Cloud, the Sgrouples app store, photo finishing purchases, social gaming, and premium membership (ad free).

Are you aiming to compete with a Google or Facebook for advertising?

The reach and scope that Google and Facebook have for advertisers is not an aspiration of Sgrouples.  They achieve that by being intrusive, and making people uncomfortable. There are many articles written about how Google+ is really an advertising scheme designed to gather data on its users for the purpose of marketing to them in other places.

We have a robust revenue model based on providing people with the services and features that truly benefit them and our advertising model is just one part of that model. It is revolutionary in how it respects and protects a user’s information, so much so in fact, that we have filed a patent application on it. We will be rolling it out in Q4. 

What’s your take on data scraping?

Does scraping really work? I know the answer is both “yes” and “no.”  Clearly General Motors doesn’t think so. I find it uncomfortable that cookies follow me around the web like stalkers, tracking every click and communication, trying to read my mind and tell me what I want. Data scraping, to me, is similar to a drug addiction – it has permeated so far that companies are too hooked on it to even see any alternative. That myopic perspective is likely to cause a lot of failures in the next 5 years as regulations and individuals reject the scraping model. 

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