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Published:June 5th, 2013 19:34 EST
Judyth Piazza interviews Julia LeStage, Founder and CEO of Weathermob, iPhone app

Judyth Piazza interviews Julia LeStage, Founder and CEO of Weathermob, iPhone app

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Everybody`s talking about the weather--and thanks to Weathermob, an iPhone app based social network that`s growing at (thunder and) lightning speed, they`re sharing their comments, photos, videos and colorful emogi " icons about it instantly with thousands of other weathermobbers " around the world.

Launched by 25 year media industry veteran Julia LeStage in late 2011, the critically acclaimed (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Wired, Fast Company), Webby nominated mobile social community currently has weather reporters in 134 countries on every continent. An addictive real time mash-up of an intuitive user interface, real time meteorological location specific forecast data, user sentiment and social networking functionality, Weathermob takes weather out of the hands of scientists, meteorologists and TV weathermen "and make it a personal human experience.

One of the latest, trendsetting examples of popular niche social networks like Pinterest, Waze and Instagram, Weathermob keeps its users engaged for an average of 5-7 minutes per visit, compared to an average of 30 seconds for those visiting the non-interactive Weather Channel app. During that time, mobbers " share it all--sunshine, thunderstorms, gentle rains, breezes and gale force winds, snow flurries, blizzards and hazy shades of winter "while expressing their current moods via a slot machine emoticon mechanism and typed commentary. They make new friends, plan vacations and live vicariously through those in more moderate climes. They also may get a chuckle out of the 150 rock and roll branding puns shifting under the Weathermob logo: Sunny and Share, Where the Sleets Have No Name, A Whiter Shade of Hail, For Crying Out Cloud, Can Get Snow Satisfaction, etc. The permanent tagline is: Join the Weathermob. Be Our Gust. "

On a personal level, as LeStage has discovered, they become more aware and appreciative of the smallest details of their day to day environment "making what used to be mundane interesting and, as she has been doing throughout her career, making ordinary subjects extraordinary. Weathermob is fundamentally an app about self-expression and connectedness, rooted in small talk around the weather " says LeStage, who recently started a 50 Shades of Weather " blog on Huffington Post. By telling the weather as a personal story, people can make the most average day charming and compelling. If a day is fair to middling, you can still tell an interesting story about it by sharing the joy or commiserating. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, The New York Times wrote a wonderful piece saying that while millions on Twitter went on to talk about other news and went back to being snarky. Our people remained in the zone, relating their experiences and offering compassion to those going through immense challenges. "

Even as the launch version of Weathermob (1.2) continues to attract an ongoing whirlwind of users, the company is launching Version 1.5, which will feature personalized channels " based on information received from initial and later posts. Like Twitter hashtags, the app will open a stream of mechanisms and channels that will help connect people with common interests beyond the weather. Weathermob is also expected to widely increase its sphere of influences when it launches its app for Android devices in Summer 2013.

Weathermob`s team includes Chief Product and Marketing Officer Michael Nicholas (former Chief Strategy Officer for Isobar) and top advisers in the weather media industry, including Brian Kisslak formly of AccuWeather; Bill Burke former CEO from The Weather Channel, Harvard Business School Professor Karim Lahkani and Jennifer Lum, CEO and co-Founder of Adelphic Mobile.

Beyond personal charisma, boundless energy and enthusiasm for her unique product, Julia LeStage brings a dynamic history and array of media experience to her role as Founder and CEO of Weathermob. As teh former Head of Daytime and Reality at Channel 4 (a UK National TV Broadcaster) in London, the Oxford and Harvard educated Miami native commissioned over 3,500 hours of television programming, with an average share of 23.5%, including the first series of Big Brother " in the UK "which has continued to be the most successful TV show in the history of British Television.

Driven by her longtime fascination of making ordinary subjects extraordinary, she also commissioned shows like Pet Rescue, " Watercolor Challenge, " Light Lunch, " A Place in the Sun ", Collectors Lot " and Great Estates. " Her work has won numerous awards, including Royal Television Awards, Broadcast Awards, People`s Choice Awards and BAFTAs. During LeStage`s tenure, one of Channel 4`s main independent programming suppliers was the production company Planet 24, whose shows included Big Breakfast " and Survivor. " Its co-founder and managing director Lord Waheed Alli--also chairman of the UK`s largest online fashion and beauty store ASOS and managing director at Carlton Television Productions "later became a primary investor in Weathermob.

When The Weather Channel Companies sold for $3.5 billion in 2008, LeStage learned that the company`s digital properties were valued the same as its television assets. Her growing affinity for digital media, and her constant exposure to the products as a mother to three children, helped her re-conceptualize Weathermob as an social media app. My kids began consuming more content on their iTouches than on TV, " she says. So I thought, if "Club Penguin` is the new "Mickey Mouse Club`, what does that mean in the weather world? What does a weather channel look like in 2013? The key thing that was always missing from The Weather Channel is the story of people experiencing the weather. So as the concept for the app grew and the visuals and specific features took shape, Weathermob became "Club Penguin` meets "Instagram` meets the weatherman. We created the slot machine emogi icons because we were initially concerned about how to get people to talk back, but our users quickly began to see their phones as microphones for themselves. Then we added the detailed weather forecast and it became a true one stop weather shop. "

One of the elements I pinned my hopes for Weathermob`s success on was that people are, like me, moved and intrigued by the humanity and beauty I see around me every day, " LeStage adds. When I interviewed our top user recently, she thanked me for giving her a place to share the natural beauty of the world around her. What makes us truly special is that we`ve founded the network on a shared interest - the weather - and that gives our users the chance to find new friends in a way that`s becoming all but impossible on more mainstream social networks. We`re putting some of the serendipity and happenstance that made the first wave of social networking so liberating, but blending them with the latest smartphone services. What started as a weather reporting app has also become a way to make new friends on a daily basis, which is something we and our users find enchanting and compelling. Fresh snow, too much snow, a divine sunset or a much anticipated warm Spring day have proven to be an easy link between two people and made made the weather story more relevant. "


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