I recently had the pleasure of hanging with and interviewing Andrew Maltin, the CEO and one of the main people behind the new Hang w/ app, which allows users to stream video content of their favorite artists, chat with them using their smartphones/tablets, and create their own streaming videos, debuted at the CES this past week.
In the interview, Andrew Maltin gave me an in-depth look at the new Hang w/ app, and spoke about CES, the importance of social media, what makes Hang w/ unique, and many other topics.
Andrew Maltin Interview
Douglas Cobb: Andrew, glad to meet you, sir! Your latest app, Hang w/, looks like a great way for people to stream video and chat from their smartphones/ tablets, etc., to those of other people. I’ve heard that your company’s or app’s mission is “to enable people to be ‘with’ each other.” Could you please go a little bit more into what you mean by this mission statement?
Andrew Maltin: Thanks Douglas. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.
We’ve seen that social media is great for letting people know what happened in the past. Where were you last night? Who did you get together with yesterday? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
But where social media has always fallen down is connecting people in the moment. Even Twitter – which is meant to be an instant status update – only serves to show what has already happened.
Hang w/ is different because people are together in a moment. The broadcaster sets the stage by putting out a broadcast – and then dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people can join in that very moment. The viewers are seeing what the broadcaster is seeing RIGHT NOW. And viewers have the ability to chat – which makes the entire experience feel more communal and connected.
We believe Hang w/ has the ability to bring people together to spend time “with” each other from all over the world.
Douglas Cobb: Using your Hang w/ app, a person can turn his/her smartphone, iPad, etc., into a live broadcasting media tool, allowing consumers to tune into live broadcasts of a person’s favorite celebrity, musician, or actor. What other ways can a person use the Hang w/ app?
Andrew Maltin: What’s been most fascinating for us is seeing a generation of ordinary people becoming “Hang w/ celebrities”. We’ve now got regular people with followings of thousands of people who live their lives on Hang w/ and bring their new fans along for the ride.
It’s also been wonderful to see the reaction by users on Facebook and other social media. We’ve had users reach out and thank us for bringing their family together for sporting events, birthdays and other occasions.
Douglas Cobb: Andrew, I couldn’t help but notice that among companies and celebrities that Hang w/ has teamed up with so far, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Real Madrid, Cheech & Chong, you have a very impressive clientele list. Are there any industries you are focusing on and would like to expand to? Any sports personalities or other celebrities you would like to sign up?
Andrew Maltin: We’ve found that Hang w/ is an amazing tool for people who want to build an authentic relationship with fans. Today there’s a whole group of celebs (actors, musicians, etc.,) who understand the power of staying connected to a fan base. For us, it’s less about one particular celeb – and more about finding the right kinds of people. Those who want to bring their fans behind the curtain.
Douglas Cobb: You debuted the beta version of the Hang w/ app for Google Glass at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. What has the response been like to it there?
Andrew Maltin: People have flipped out over Hang w/ Glass. I’m a strong believer that wearable technology is the future. Largely because it makes the tech itself invisible and makes the result of that technology more prevalent. By eliminating the telephone and allowing users to stream their lives LIVE through a pair of glasses, we believe we are getting even closer to the mission of enabling people to be with each other.
Douglas Cobb: What happens, Andrew, when a person who has downloaded your Hang w/ app taps the words “Start Broadcasting”?
Andrew Maltin: When a broadcaster hits the “Start Broadcasting” button, a notification is sent to all of that person’s followers. So when 50 Cent hits the button, tens of thousands of people get a notice that “50 Cent wants to Hang w/ you.”
Meanwhile the video stream is streamed securely to our cloud server, and then redistributed back out to all of the followers.
Typically, we see a huge spike in users every time a major celeb starts a broadcast – but what’s interesting is that when the celeb goes away, the users stay – with many of them starting their own broadcasts – and other users following them.
Douglas Cobb: The version of Hang w/ for Google Glass that was introduced at the CES was a beta one, right? But, it is available for consumers to download free at the GooglePlay Store and the Apple App Store for free, from what I’ve seen.
When will the Hang w/ app for Google Glass be out of its beta testing stage, and will there then be a charge for the final version? Also, as it’s currently being offered for free, how are you making money from it?
Andrew Maltin: We can’t announce just yet when Hang w/ for Glass will be out of beta. As for the monetization of the platform, every broadcast begins with a short video ad and ends with a rich media ad unit. As of today, we’ve not turned on any of the advertising because we are so focused on the user experience and making sure it’s the best platform it can be. But when ads begin running, we’ll actually be sharing the ad revenue back with the content creators.
Douglas Cobb: What are some things a Google Glass user can do with the app that people who don’t have Google Glass won’t be able to do, if anything?
Andrew Maltin: The biggest benefit to Google Glass is the ability to stream what you’re seeing without having to think about holding the camera. It may seem like a small detail, but once you remove the device from the experience, it becomes effortless and allows a user to just live their life and stream it LIVE – as opposed to consciously thinking about what’s being shared.
Douglas Cobb: Andrew, I’ve read that the “Monsters of Tech” are behind your Hang w/ app, and they appeared at the CES, also. Would you please let the readers of The Guardian Liberty Voice know who these influential five people are and why you chose them?
Andrew Maltin: We chose to work with Monsters of Tech because, as a team of social media correspondents, they have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in technology and social media today. And at CES, they have access that typical attendees don’t always have. So they are able to bring our users behind the scenes to view some of the coolest new things happening in technology today.
The Monsters of Tech are:
Robert Scoble: World famous tech blogger, Silicon Valley-based author, speaker and social media legend with nearly 6 million followers on Google+ and almost 400,000 followers on Twitter.
Thomas Hawk: World famous photographer with nearly 7 million followers on Google+.
Chris Voss: Listed on Forbes magazine’s Top 50 Social Media Influencers two years running with more than 300,000 Twitter followers and among the top 1% of people searched for on Linkedin.
Andy Grignon: Successful Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, tech speaker and writer. Part of the original team to build the first iPhone and helped create and build WebOS.
John Nosta: A leading voice in the convergence of technology and health, Nosta helps define, dissect and deliberate global trends in digital health. He pens Health Critical in Forbes and is the #1 ranked health influencer in social media.
Ron Sheridan: CEO and co-founder of Pixt.com, a new social sharing platform for digital content collections. Ron has a background in Internet startups as both a co-founder and angel investor. Prior to Pixt, Ron was a co-founder at Oversee.net in Los Angeles.
Joel Comm: Serial Internet entrepreneur since 1995, creator of Yahoo! Games, the infamous iFart Mobile iPhone app and best-selling author of eight books, including Twitter Power 2.0.
Douglas Cobb: To date, you have attracted the attention of over 100 celebrities and athletes who are using the Hang w/ app platform. Who are some of these people, and how many celebrities altogether do you think will ultimately be users?
Andrew Maltin: Just today, I’ve watched broadcasts from Lucy Hale, Larry the Cable Guy and Timbaland. Other celeb users are 50 Cent, Kaskade, Terrell Owen, and the list keeps going.
I believe they are attracted to the app because of the powerful relationship it helps them build with fans. Ultimately, our hope is that everyone, not just celebs, will be using Hang w/ as their preferred way to stay connected. And we hope that anyone can find all of their favorite celebs on the platform.
Douglas Cobb: I just have a couple more questions, Andrew! You’ve given me great answers so far.
First, the company MEDL Mobile, Inc. is where I read online that the Hang w/ app was “incubated.” What other things does this company do, or is involved with, when it comes to technology and apps?
Andrew Maltin: MEDL Mobile is a custom development shop. We’ve built apps for some of the biggest names in the world – from Taco Bell and Verizon to Hyundai and Experian. The custom development business has really thrived over the last few years, but it’s always been in our DNA to create products for ourselves as well. In total, the MEDL Library has hundreds of applications and more than 22,000,000 downloads.
Douglas Cobb: Andrew, here’s my last question for you, sir. What kind of people do you think will likely want to download the Hang w/ app, and why? Also, are you or your company working on other apps that will be available in the near future that you’d like to mention?
Andrew Maltin: There are two primary use cases for Hang w/, and as such I see it appealing to two kinds of people.
First, there’s the broadcasters. These are people who like to live out loud in social media. They want to narrate. They want to host. They want to show the world what’s going on in their world – whether that’s a concert, a barbeque, a sporting event, or just a quiet night at home with friends.
Next, the viewers. Although in Hang w/ it’s not like viewing on YouTube. Because in Hang w/ the viewers are actually Hanging w/ each other by sharing the live experience, and also by chatting about it live. From what we’ve seen, people all over the world love viewing what’s happening in Hang w/.
As far as what’s next from MEDL, we’ve got a few incredible client projects that are about to release in Q1 – and a few passion projects that are being incubated internally as well. But for right now, our team is guns blazing on Hang w/. We think it’s the biggest opportunity in mobile today.
Douglas Cobb: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you, Andrew, sir! The Hang w/ app is one that seems like it will have a very wide appeal to a lot of people, and I wish it and your company lots of success with it!
Andrew Maltin: Thanks so much, and thanks again for the opportunity.
Hang w/ certainly looks like a great app which is likely to have wide appeal. It can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store or Google Play, and in beta mode for Google Glass users to try. Check the Hang w/ app out today — you can download it direct from either of these two stores, right from the Hang w/ website, at the link listed below!
Written by: Douglas Cobb