Gaga launches LittleMonsters (https://littlemonsters.com/) as an invite-only beta for Gaga’s fans, who she refers to a “Little Monsters”. The site is the first project by Backplane and acts as a social network for her fans. CEO Michelsen says the project, in common with other Backplane project aims to :
Unite people around interests, affinities and movements. Backplane is about bringing together communities and Gaga’s community just so happens to be the community we’re using to learn about proper functionality. We think we can really change the world.
Gaga had called her manager, Carter, after seeing a screening of The Social Network:
She said she’d like to build a social network for her fans, and build a community where they could congregate and have conversations. So I called some of my friends in the Valley.
Carter then talked with Palantir CEO, Lonsdale, which led to the creation of Backplane, which has built the platform for the site. They receive backing from Google Ventures and others.
Carter and Michelsen are interviewed at DLD 12 about connecting with fans. Michelsen:
I’m known as being Troy’s arms dealer in The Valley. So when we use social media we look at these things as reaching the most amount of people, and the power behind it. If you look at Silicon Valley there are big [technology] weapons. Troy and Lady Gaga are the detonators. They have these platforms and the individuals become the network.
Carter on Gaga’s rise:
Our timing was great. Facebook had just opened up. Twitter was on the rise. MySpace built this platform that was specifically for artists. So we were alternative ways. It just so happened that Gag’s voice is so authentic that she used it as way to say really connected with the fans, she never used it as a place to sell, sell, sell.
Backplane is founded by Carter, Michelson, Lonsdale and Lady Gaga. The seven-person project aims to provide a way to organize and power online communities based on certain interests, such as sports teams, musicians, and also bring in feeds from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Gaga has a reported 20% stake in the business. $1 million has been raised in angel funding from investors including Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures.
Gaga and Carter travel to Cupertino to meet with Jobs at his request to discuss Apple’s music-centered social network Ping. Gaga and Carter criticize Ping’s lack of connectivity to other social networks, especially Facebook, as well as its design. It is reported that the leave “respecting Mr. Jobs’ overall vision.” After the meeting Carter calls Michelsen, a well-connected technology investor and entrepreneur, to find a platform for entertainers that could help them manage their fan base across all major social networks. Michelsen:
I said why try to find a platform, let’s try to build one.