A Song of Praise for Amen

By David Knight |

If you’ve ever had the desire to proclaim the best and the worst of everything, your prayers have been answered. Monday saw the launch of Amen, which its creators have dubbed a “service for battling it out over the extraordinary things in life”, at TC Disrupt in San Francisco. The service has a simple premise: Users declare a person, place or thing to be the either the best or the worst ever, and others can then ‘Amen’ it if they agree, or ‘Hell no’ if they don’t – although they then have to provide an alternative.

Hence the tagline: “The best and worst of everything!”

There’s no denying it is strangely addictive. It can be accessed through a browser or via the iPhone app, which you can still help beta test. The team behind Amen includes CEO Felix Peterson, CPO Caitlin Winner and CTO Florian Weber. Felix told Silicon Allee that they were sure Amen would prove to be a success: “We noticed that strong opinions get more reactions and also that people love hitlists, they just don’t like to write them. So we came up with Amen.”

It was in beta for a couple of months, with 3,000 let in on the service in the last four weeks, creating more than 30,000 Amens, and Amen-ing other users’ statements more than 80,000 times. That resulted in more than 13,000 lists, or scorecards. According to Felix, user feedback described the service as “ultra addictive” – and it’s not hard to see why. “People are also asking for more ways to explore the data that is there, like a search. It’s been ridiculous,” Felix added. “Florian, my co-founder, was the engineer who built Twitter at Odeo. And he says this is way crazier. It’s up there with FB’s initial traction in terms of the metrics.”

One of the keys to its success so far – and its potential for the future – is that its potential content is almost limitless. Even a quick glance will show a variety of subjects, from music to politic to technology to sport. Felix said: “I think we are onto something here because everyone understands Amen. It’s very close to how we converse anyway (“Beckenbauer is the best football player ever!” … “Dude, you’re insane, PELE is the best football player ever!”). It’s fun, it’s addictive. Yet, it’s more than a game, it will provide sustainable utility to users.”

Don’t be surprised to find some names you recognise using Amen, including Demi Moore – whose husband Ashton Kutcher is an investor. And don’t be surprised either to find suggestions of the best things near to where you are, as the locations of Amens are taken into account. While many of the entries may be amusing but of no real use (for example, Felix’s own “Single malt scotch is the best thing to have in your desk drawer”), there is also the possibility to have a debate, cut down to the bare essentials, over a contentious topic – as well as the chance of coming to a (relatively) broad agreement.

But perhaps there is a danger of overanalysing the service – it’s best when you just go and enjoy it. Amen to that!