“People are self-absorbed everywhere, but especially in San Francisco and especially in the Mission District,” says Benjamin Stein-Lobovits, founder of the Mission’s new missed connection-exclusive site, iSpy.
“But it’s fun!” he continues. “There’s that anticipation after a night out, when you check the missed connections in the morning,” he says. “Finding yourself on iSpy is an affirmation -- and not in a negative way. Look at Dolores Park on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s a fashion show.”
iSpy is a local and user-friendly version of Craigslist’s missed connections section (sans the signups, fees, or profiles) that serves the Mission District, and only the Mission District. “I think the idea of a hyper-local market is very appealing. It’s a super-targeted place for people who share common interests,” Stein-Lobovits says. He hopes iSpy will provide a smaller, safer platform than Craigslist.
The site launched July 22 and is already logging 3,000 clicks per day. Posts range from the erotic (“I have masturbated many times to our encounter on the couch Saturday night. I can’t stop thinking about you.”) to the obsessive (“I want you more than oxygen.”) to the sweet (“Guy with crutches and a Budweiser. Your laugh should be in a can. It’s amazing.”) to the tragic (“I will never be able to tell you this, but I love you. I really do.”) Anyone in the Mission is welcome, and all content is fair game.
“At this point, we have user security measures in place, like a CAPTCHA, but no content is blacklisted,” says Stein-Lobovits. “That will be open for discussion once we go down that road, but I still like the idea of nothing being moderated.”
The site’s revenue generation is another topic to be determined. “I’d like to use an advertising model, but the site can’t be an eyesore. That’s essential,” he says. At the rate the site is growing, discussions like these may come sooner rather than later.
While keeping each site local, Stein-Lobovits has his eye on expansion. “The Mission was our testing ground,” he says. “It’s working so now we’re on to the rest of the city.”
Stein-Lobovits bought iSpy domain names for all San Francisco neighborhoods, as well as every major city in the U.S. “But we’ll keep each site local,” he explains. Users will eventually visit a home site (ispy-sf.com) but will be directed to a neighborhood based on IP address or user-set data. “The new ispy-sf.com will have an extremely sleek and awesome filtration system by neighborhood, so everything will still be completely neighborhood specific,” he says.
iSpyMarina here we come.