The existing landscape of location-based recommendations has remained stagnant for some time now, dominated by legacy products whose utility has gradually eroded as they’ve been gamified to death with irrelevant, impersonal, and unreliable content from faceless reviewers. That’s at least one of the reasons why consumers are increasingly seeking higher signal, personalized recommendations from other social platforms - it’s not uncommon to see a broadcasted ask for recommendations for an upcoming trip on Snap or to see Instagram reels showcasing restaurant and travel highlights. And yet, those social platforms aren’t really built for this use case; the data remains unstructured and the activation energy to generate this content is sufficiently high that it effectively stays in the realm of travel influencers.
Enter Aliza Rosen, whom I first met almost a decade ago when we both worked at Twitter (Dick Costolo era). I quickly came to the same conclusion that many others had - Aliza was a star. Her razor-sharp product mind, intellectual curiosity, and dogged persistence belied her years - and led to her spearheading many important product and company initiatives, not the least of which was (finally) pushing past the sacrosanct 140 characters. Aliza was at the very top of my list of people I wanted to work with since joining venture, and partnering with her as she begins her entrepreneurial journey is something we’ve been working towards for many years.
Before attending GSB, Aliza spent the summer at Accel helping refine our perspective on the early-stage consumer space, but her attention kept returning to travel recommendations. You see, Aliza is that one friend we all have, who meticulously curates a crafted list of recommendations for Tokyo, Mexico City, etc, and takes pride in sharing it with her friends. Although Aliza’s use case is more advanced, this is a deeply human behavior. We (almost) all do it, just not in a structured or consistent way because the right tools haven’t been developed for this yet. That’s what she and the team at Rex are building - a platform to easily collect, curate, and discover great places from people we are already connected to and trust.
One of the underlying ideas behind Rex, is that our phones already have this data. Rex allows you to magically create your playlist of “rex” (recs, rex, get it?) from your photos. Mining the camera roll turns out to be a particularly smart way to do this; it turns out the photos we take are a very reliable signal of where we go and what places we like. To my knowledge, no one else in the space has attempted anything like it, meaning no recommendations are as curated or personal as Rex. Importantly, it reduces the friction for consumers to create and share, our core engagement loop.
Today, we are thrilled to announce our investment in Rex, which represents a continuation of our long-standing work with category-defining social companies Facebook, VSCO, Bumble, and BeReal. Investing alongside us are our friends at Khosla Ventures and a number of prominent angels that include current and former leaders from Twitter, Snap, and Pinterest. In many ways, our investment in Rex is fundamentally an investment in Aliza – who for her part, has built out her early team with hand-picked engineers and designers from her time at Twitter. We’re thrilled to be on this journey with her and excited to see Rex help redefine consumer expectations for this category.