On Twitter, I got lucky. I'm @RosePastore, nice and neat. But on other sites, my name had already been claimed, so my Internet friends also know me as rose_pastore, pastorerose, and other unappealing variations. If you're reading this, Rose Pastore(s): Now is your chance to beat me to the next big social network.
A new company called Earlyclaim can automatically reserve people’s favorite usernames with new startups that connect to it. The service is free for users and for startups that join Earlyclaim before launching; existing startups will pay yet-to-be-determined fees based on how many people claim their reserved names.
"This is an effort to help people create a consistent online identity," Earlyclaim cofounder Alessandro Marchesini tells Fast Company.
Earlyclaim, which began accepting username reservations August 9 and will soon begin recruiting startups, plans to send daily email digests to subscribers summarizing the new sites where their usernames have been reserved. Users will have a set time limit to claim their accounts, after which the name will be up for grabs. "The time limit is important, because otherwise we're just creating ghost accounts," Marchesini says.
People can select the categories of startups they are most interested in—so a user who goes by CoolPics can opt into notifications for new photo-sharing apps, while the user reserving the handle Sexy can get alerted about new dating services.
According to Marchesini, most of the 6,600-plus users who signed up with Earlyclaim have registered custom usernames, not first and last name combinations. Trademark holders don't need to rush to claim their names. "If we get a request for a trademark name that has already been reserved, we will pull it from the user and give it to the legal owner," says Marchesini.
To prevent companies from joining the service solely to gather personal data, Earlyclaim generates a new email address for subscribers to register their chosen usernames. If a user decides to join a particular social network, he or she can later change the credentials to a personal email account.
Of course, the service isn't useful unless new social networks actually sign up with Earlyclaim, but Marchesini doesn't think that will be a problem. "It’s really a no-brainer," he says. "It's free, and we provide access to the type of people you want as your first customers—early adopters and influencers."
[Image: Flickr user Mark Turnauckas]