A year after cutting ties with Zillow, former CEO Spencer Rascoff is living his best life with a number of new startups and projects — but by far the most special is the food-focused social media platform he’s launching with his 16-year-old daughter Sophia.
Recon Food, which launched out of beta on Tuesday, is meant to be a way for users to share photos of food they ate at restaurants as well as recipes made at home. The idea, the Rascoffs told Inman, was born out of the increased cooking that so many were doing during the pandemic. They wanted to build a platform that allows users to share copious photos of food without overwhelming their newsfeed while also building a community of food lovers in the same way that it brings them together as father and daughter.
Some of their favorite things to make together include chocolate chip cookies, molten lava cake and Colombian cheese fritters known as buñuelos.
“When you cook something and take a picture, it often doesn’t look exactly how you wanted it to look,” Sophia Rascoff, who is studying software engineering and leads a venture capital entrepreneurship organization at her school, told Inman. “Horizontal social media always feels like it has to be perfect. Recon food is a space to post all the pictures of the meal you made and the mess in your kitchen afterwards.”
Divided into the Kitchen track and the Restaurant track, the app functions as an endless stream of food photos from fellow foodies. One interesting feature is the use of geolocation, which helps identify the restaurants where a photo was taken and makes it easy to recommend specific dishes. Another is the app’s ability to scroll through a user’s camera roll and identify all food-related photos so that users can find meals from years ago and upload them easily.
“When you download the app, it connects to your camera roll and pulls out all the old food photos that you’ve taken over the years — resurfacing them and encouraging you to upload them,” Spencer Rascoff said, adding that even though they were not taken with a phone camera he has already uploaded some of his favorite college pizzas onto the app. “It’s a great way to take a walk down memory lane and remember meals that you’ve cooked or food that you’ve enjoyed at restaurants over the years.”
Spencer Rascoff stepped down at Zillow after a nine-year track as CEO in 2019 and resigned from the board a year later. Since then, he has been involved with a number of company boards as well as new startups and projects, including investing in a number of new real estate-related startups and joining the board of Palantir Technologies.
The idea for Recon came from Sophia while her father, who co-founded startups such as Hotwire, Zillow, dot.LA and Pacaso, helped to build it out and launch it. Recon Food is free to use but is currently only available in iOS.
“Now that everyone’s almost out of quarantine and we’ve almost reached the end, everyone’s finally getting out to eat and getting out with friends again,” Sophia Rascoff said, adding that it has been incredibly rewarding to see months of work come together in the launch. “It’s a really great way to discover new food. I’ve already seen so many new restaurants on the app that I’d like to try.”