America is in the middle of a pandemic. For the most part, we are bound to our homes. Social gatherings are minimal or completely virtual, which has been a major hurdle for the live event industry. But that didn’t stop Linda Yang, one of the lead creatives behind products at Facebook ($FB) and Google ($GOOGL),  from launching Playground.

“Our app is like if Spotify ($SPOT) and Tinder ($MTCH)  gave birth to an online event app,” Yang tells Thinknum. “In the middle of a global pandemic we are all itching for more social connection offline and online. We hope to fill that void” Some top players in media and tech seem to think she’s onto something. Playground’s board includes voices from IBM, Eventbrite, Splash and Flavorpill. The app launched last week for both android and iOS platforms.

📌 Product Feature Highlights

The Playlists

Like Spotify, the expert curators are at the crux of Playground's strategy to expose users to new music. Playground also wants to show you which events you should attend.  Recently, Playground has attracted leaders associated with the Black Lives Matter movement to curate real events, virtual and in-person. Playground has partnered with Nupol Kiazolu, a leading BLM activist to serve as the official curator for the movement ahead of the march on Washington as other various BLM related events. 

While, protests seem to be at the center of the American experience at this moment, Playground curates all kinds of cultural events for consumers, from  art and music to wellness and activism. The app has partnered with the likes of Frieze Art Fair, Comedy Central, and House of Yes. 

Swiping through events

Like your favorite dating app, the app is clean and easy to use— you can swipe left to reject and right to pursue. Each profile includes all the links necessary for an event, from Zoom links for virtual events to Eventbrite listings for ticketed events. In each profile there are ways to send financial support to event creators. Even if you missed an event, you can donate.

But, while it touts its unique features, Playground doesn't seem all that different from apps like Eventbrite. The Eventbrite app also allows you to scroll through events, get more information, follow and support creators, and buy tickets in a user-friendly way. 

🤿 Deep Dive

While the app is streamlined and easy to use, the question remains, will it disrupt the industry? How will this app, designed to consolidate a fragmented ecosystem, actually work? The curated events lists seem much like a Twitter thread. And, at least in the context of protests, Twitter accounts like  NYC Protest Updates 2020 already exist as the consumer’s go-to choice for information. That particular account fosters more than 28,000 followers. Facebook events already have a pretty evident hold on event-planning, from organizing massive grassroots social movements like the Arab Spring to a college party. There is a massive uphill battle for Playground. 

👁️‍🗨️ Final Verdict

According to the Verge Tech Trust Survey from December, 72 % of consumers think Facebook has too much power. Consumers are growing more frustrated with how companies use their information--- using an AI Driven platform to help push discoverable events doesn’t match consumer sentiment. According to a November report from Pew Research 81% of Americans think the risks outweigh the benefits. These metrics suggest that consumers are unlikely to be satisfied with another platform that further consolidates that kind of information. It is unclear if there is a huge market need for this product. While it could be a useful tool, it is not disruptive enough to out play other social media and event platforms.  

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