Ex-Microsoft engineers launch social network app built on long-form visual storytelling

pixomobile21“Snowfall” quickly became a well-known phrase in online media circles after the New York Times published a unique multimedia feature in 2012. Rather than simply migrating words and pictures from paper to the Internet, the project took advantage of software development tools and told a story that included huge pictures, videos, and interactive features that appeared as one scrolled down the page.

Robert Mao and Haitai Li, founders of Pixomobile.

Robert Mao and Haitao Li, founders of Pixomobile.

Now two former Microsoft senior engineers want to let anyone tell their own “Snowfall” story with a mobile app — in far less time, and with far less effort than it took to build Snowfall.

Pixotale is a new app that lets users create media-rich stories using their phone or tablet, and share those projects in a social network. It was built by Robert Mao and Haitao Li, the founders of Redmond-based mobile app development studio Pixomobile.

The idea for Pixotale stemmed from Mao’s frustration with today’s social media options. Mao was one of the first bloggers in China, but once Facebook and Twitter soon caught on with the masses, he stopped blogging.

“However, after a few years I started questioning the value that my precious time on these social media networks brought me,” Mao explained. “In contrast, I wrote a whole lot of thoughts, ideas, stories, and made so many real life friends around the world by blogging. All I got from today’s social media is a meaningless friend count and fragments of status updates.”

pixotale12Frustrated with that problem, Mao and Li built Pixotale to combine the power of today’s smartphones and tablets with the best parts of blogging and social media. The free iOS app, which works on the iPhone and the iPad, allows people to easily combine text with photos, videos, audio and location to create a a story, which can be shared with other users who can comment or like those stories.

Mao, who has bootstrapped Pixomobile with Li, also emphasized how the social networking element of Pixotale is focused on storytelling.

“Although we say that Pixotale is a new social network, it’s unlike today’s typical social network with friends or followers,” he said. “Pixotale is a network of stories. People get connected and interact through stories.”

There are similar tools already in the market, like StoreHouse or Steller, but Mao said that both are solving a similar problem in a slightly different way.

“Pixotale’s target customers are ‘normal people,’ instead of designers or professionals,” he said. “We are trying our best to lower the bar for content creation, while using our technology and algorithm to make the story and experience as beautiful as possible.”

Mao and Li say they’re on to a trend in the new generation of social networks.

“It’s like Facebook in 2004,” Mao said. “We still need to learn and adapt ourselves to fit our users’ needs. But as long as storytelling is a fundamental part of the human communication, we are on the right track. It’s about time that more people wake up from today’s social network ‘matrix’ and refocus on their own stories in real life.”

  • http://robertmao.com Robert Mao

    Thanks Taylor! It’s a great write up!

    • http://www.horizonapp.co/ Drew Meyers

      Congrats!

      • roycektetreault

        Peyton . true that Jessica `s blurb is shocking, last
        monday I got a gorgeous Peugeot 205 GTi after having earned $6860 this past 4
        weeks an would you believe ten-k this past-month . with-out a doubt this is the
        easiest-job I’ve ever had . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much
        immediately started to bring in minimum $84… p/h . Read More Here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

      • michellefgoss

        Peyton . true that Jessica `s blurb is shocking, last
        monday I got a gorgeous Peugeot 205 GTi after having earned $6860 this past 4
        weeks an would you believe ten-k this past-month . with-out a doubt this is the
        easiest-job I’ve ever had . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much
        immediately started to bring in minimum $84… p/h . Read More Here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  • Russ Turner

    Sounds like an interesting app, stories are what grab ones attention as we get lost in the words & our own imaginations. Looking forward to seeing how the mobile app performs!

    • http://robertmao.com Robert Mao

      Thanks Russ! I am glad you like it.

  • anilraut30

    Great app Mao and positioning among-st others from what seems from lines “Pixotale’s target customers are ‘normal people,and not just professionals and designers’. Ony bit contradictory is it works ONLY on iPhone and not sure if I’m a professional or designer because I have Android and assume being in Indian middle class parent, I’m common user. Not sure if I will have to be iPhone user to be common and not professional which I’m confused! Long story short when can we expect Android version largest developing world market has low cost Tablets running on Android and they are common users! – https://twitter.com/anilraut30

    • http://robertmao.com Robert Mao

      Thanks, Andriod and WP version will come, as a startup we have to move step by step.

  • Bhavna Singh

    Sound interesting. These apps will allows users to share their stories and other multimedia which they would like to share. But what about the introverts? Such people are of shy nature so I would like to tell all of you about another amazing app “YoTurf” this is also a social networking app allow people specially introverts to find people around them of same interest.