Tsū (social network)

Tsū, The Social Universe, is an online social media and networking service based in Norwalk, CT. In September 2019 Tsū announced its relaunch, owing to new founders John Acunto (Chief Innovation Officer), Scot Weisberg (CFO), Sean Cross (President), David Kerzner (Co-Founder) and Greg Fell (CEO) and supported by investments from Larry Krauss of Terracap and Hilco Streambank.[1][2]  It was originally founded in 2008 by Sebastian Sobczak and was headquartered in New York City. The website first launched in 2014 and closed down in August 2016,[3] but was relaunched in 2019.

Type of businessPrivately held company
Type of site
Social networking service
Available inEnglish
FoundedJuly 1, 2013
(7 years ago)
HeadquartersNorwalk, Connecticut, US
Area servedWorldwide
  • Sebastian Sobczak
  • Drew Ginsburg
  • Thibault Boullenger
Key peopleJohn Acunto
(Chief Innovation Officer)

Scot Weisberg
Sean Cross
David Kerzner

Greg Fell
Current statusActive
Written inRuby and Redis


Beginning and featuresEdit

Tsū was similar to Facebook in features and interface but differentiated itself from other social media services by sharing ad revenue. The original compensation structure "was to keep 10 percent of the total ad revenue for itself, while half the remainder went to users and the other half to the network that brought the content creator to the platform.[4]"

The inspiration for Tsū came from the story of Ed O'Bannon, the lead plaintiff in O'Bannon v. NCAA, an antitrust class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  The case concerned the association's use of images of former student athletes for commercial purposes without compensating those athletes.[5]


In the months after initial launch, Tsū became one of the fastest-growing social networks, achieving 3.5 million registered users in its first 6 months of public existence and registering 4.5 million users by its first anniversary.[6] By comparison, Facebook registered its one-millionth user in month 10 after launch, and it took Twitter approximately 24 months to register its one-millionth user.[7]

Decline and shutdownEdit

In September 2015, Facebook blocked links to the website,[8] citing complaints that its users were spamming to recruit members. Tsū and much of the digital media community speculated this was motivated by fear of competition.[9] For a short period, Facebook also blocked links to articles about the website. However, Facebook released statements that it had blocked Tsū for violating its Platform Policy.[10] After receiving widespread backlash from digital media companies and executives, including the likes of Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore, Facebook lifted the prohibition by December.[11][12][13]

The Tsū membership explosion, however, did not last. It is speculated that this decline occurred because user earnings did not live up to expectations.[5][14] At its end, the company cited 5.2 million members, though external sources expressed some doubt.[5]

In August of 2016, Tsū’s front page was replaced with a message from Sobczak stating "our mission of changing the social landscape for the benefit of the content has passed."


In September 2019, Tsū announced its relaunch. The platform reported that it would host at tsu.social rather than tsu.co as it was prior to 2016[1].  According to Chief Innovation Officer John Acunto, the new Tsū would also share ad revenue with users, but under a more sustainable business model; it would share a 50% payout of ad revenue.[15] The new version of Tsū also added protections against spam (something that had been viewed negatively in the previous iteration of Tsū) and enables users to access data, analytics and insights related to their content.

In an interview with Fox Business (in response to the October 29th NCAA board of Governors unanimous vote to allow student-athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness[16]), Tiki Barber, former NY Giants running back, cited Tsū as a “great platform” to put the new NCAA rules to use, adding that Tsū enables influencers of all kinds to have the ability to monetize their own content and brands.  Barber went on to say that Tsū is creating a platform that gives all users access to brand partnership, by sharing in ad revenue, providing storefronts and more.[17]   Tsu’s John Acunto echoed Barber’s sentiment saying that college athletes were just one example of those who could benefit from Tsū: "I see this as an opportunity for all kinds of categories of people who are influencers [and] who have brands to engage with us."[18]

New Tsū FeaturesEdit

Available for iOS and Android devices,[19][20] main features include:

  • Profiles – similar to other social media sites, a Tsū “Profile” allows the user to upload photos and videos, friend/ follow, post, create a bio and promote personal websites.  It also allows users to promote their profiles on other social media sites.[19][20]
  • Communities – Communities are ways for Tsū users to communicate and exchange ideas and plan and promote events.  Communities can be public or private.[19][20]
  • Bank – the Tsū bank allows users to be paid out via Paypal.[19][20]
  • Analytics (“Insights”) – In-app console that provides post engagement data to the user. Shows users what posts performed the best, incentivizing them to post more content that their audience enjoys.[19][20]
  • Tsū Live – Tsū Live is Tsu’s built-in app-based television channel that includes several daily livestream components.  Both the livestream and pre-recorded shows containing educational material, announcements, news and updates, and spotlight and promote Tsū user content through reviews and interviews.[19][20]


  1. ^ a b Tsū. "Tsū, the Social Media Platform that Hooked Millions, Set to Relaunch". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  2. ^ "Hilco Streambank Announces Acquisition of Social Network Tsū". www.hilcostreambank.com. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  3. ^ "Spammy social network Tsu shuts down – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  4. ^ "New Social Network Tsu Shares Ad Revenue with Content Creators". zdnet. October 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c The Social Network That Pays You to Friend, Opinion Pages, The New York Times
  6. ^ Writer, David Fagin; musician; Snob, Food (October 21, 2015). "So, Tsu Me: Why Facebook Is Terrified of This Virtually Unknown Competitor and What It Could Mean For the Future of the Internet". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Here's How Long It Took 15 Hot Startups To Get 1,000,000 Users". Business Insider. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "Facebook is censoring links to competitor social network Tsu and deleting old mentions". Boing Boing.
  9. ^ Jose Pagliery (November 5, 2015). "Facebook won't let you type this". CNNMoney.
  10. ^ "Facebook Is Blocking an Upstart Rival---But It's Complicated". WIRED. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  11. ^ Eileen Brown. "Facebook restores 10 million posts from social media rival Tsu two months after ban". ZDNet.
  12. ^ "Unbanned: It's OK to Mention Tsu.co on Facebook Again". NBC News. Associated Press.
  13. ^ "Pete Cashmore - Wow". Facebook. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  14. ^ "Offline for Maintenance". Tsu. August 2, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  15. ^ Brown, Eileen. "Monetization will be rooted in user engagement, says Tsu's re-launch CEO". ZDNet. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  16. ^ smeyers@ncaa.org (October 29, 2019). "Board of Governors starts process to enhance name, image and likeness opportunities". NCAA.org - The Official Site of the NCAA. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  17. ^ "Tiki Barber: NFL needs to operate as normal". Fox Business. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  18. ^ "Tiki Barber Looking to Get College Athletes Paid Through Social Media Platform Tsu (Exclusive)". Sports. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Tsū". App Store. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Tsū - Apps on Google Play". play.google.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.

[1] linksEdit