Biz Stone
January 9, 2014

Jelly: New Social Search Engine Proves It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know (And What They Know)

Bryan P. Carpender for - Your Universe Online

Let’s say you’re walking through a major metropolitan city and you come across a really cool mural. You’re fascinated by it and want to know more about it, but where do you go to get more info? Well, the co-Founder of Twitter wants to give you the answer – with a little help from your friends and his new app, Jelly.

Founded in April 2013 and officially launching this week, Jelly is part Q&A, part social connection app and part crowd sourcing search engine. The basic premise is that users can snap a photo of something and ask a question about it, submitting it to their friends and extended social networks for answers.


The new app features a logo that, at first glance, looks like a cloud and four curved umbrella handles; in actuality, it’s a jellyfish. According to their website, “We chose the jellyfish to represent our product because it has a loose network of nerves that act as a ‘brain’ similar to the way we envision loosely distributed networks of people coordinating via Jelly to help each other.”

Biz Stone co-founded Twitter, which has revolutionized the way people get and share information and news. Now Stone and his Jelly team are hoping to change the way people search for answers to whatever questions may pop up. "Everyone's mobile. Everyone's connected. So if you have a question, there's somebody out there that knows the answer," Stone said according to CNN Money reporter Laurie Segall.

Instead of going to a traditional search engine with all its fancy algorithms and SEO terms, you take a photo and add a caption with your question and you send it out.


Jelly represents a new way to search, falling in line with the social media revolution. "It turns out that getting answers from people is very different from retrieving information with algorithms," Stone said.

Who reads the newspaper or watches the nightly news anymore to stay current? That is so twentieth century. Instead, people get their breaking news from Twitter and Facebook in real time. It’s this mindset that Stone and his team are counting on to help Jelly become part of that social media landscape.

In this new social media-centric world where using all 140 characters is the equivalent of writing a term paper, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true. Pictures can add depth and context to a simple question that simple text cannot provide.


Given people’s speed in responding to social media and their need to be constantly connected, posing a question and an accompanying photo to their broad social network to leverage individual knowledge and experiences makes perfect sense. What better way to get fast answers than from your social network?

In the interest of experiential learning and thorough journalism, I decided I had to try it for myself. I downloaded the app and within minutes, I was able to scroll through the assortment of questions on Jelly. What I discovered was that people needed help with an eclectic array of things.

One picture of two washing machines side by side on the showroom floor of a big box store was accompanied by the question, “Which of these is better for a family of six?” Another snapshot of a geometry problem asked for help finding 3X. Both questions had multiple responses.


To browse the questions on Jelly and their associated answers, all you need to do is tap and swipe horizontally, scrolling through the responses, which range from succinct and informational to downright snarky. If a particular question/photo combo isn’t something you can help with, simply swipe down to bring up the next set.

To submit your own question, you can snap a photo or access your photo library. Jelly allows you to crop it and even draw on the photo for emphasis. Then type in a caption and you’re in business. Now, just wait for the answers to pour in.

One recent post had a picture of a tube of Blistex lip balm and the question accompanying the photo was “Is there something better I should be using?” At the time of this writing, the poster had received 99 answers to his query. Why would you waste time going to a search engine to compare the healing and protective properties of medicated lip balms when you can just ask your social network what they use and get real answers?

Perusing the new startup’s site, you will discover that Stone has assembled a crack team of experts in the mobile technologies fields, recruiting heavy hitters from Twitter, Apple, Facebook and Google, just to name a few. In short, there’s some serious bench strength there.

Available now for free in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android devices, Jelly is generating some serious buzz.

It remains to be seen how quickly users will be ensnared by Jelly’s tentacles and how effective it will be at providing answers. At the very least, it provides amusement and further connection between people; each individual answer gives you the option to view the respondent on either Facebook or Twitter.

One thing is certain; no search engine out there can compare with the wit, creativity and experiences the human mind possesses.

In that regard, those other search engines should be “totes jelly” of Jelly.