Viewing entries tagged
YCombinator

beRecruited Acquires Fanvibe.

I am both excited and proud to announce that beRecruited (the sports recruiting network I founded way back in 2000) has acquired Fanvibe (a former Dogpatch Labs and YCombinator company). I have known Vishwas Prabhakara (now CEO), Art Chang and Joe Pestro for several years and am thrilled about what they bring to beRecruited and it's 1,000,000+ users:

As I mentioned to TechCrunch, “beRecruited is far and away the largest recruiting network on the web — and it has consequently become a really great business. With the Fanvibe acquisition, we are thrilled to move headquarters to San Francisco and have Vish, Art and Joe lead the business into its next phase. They are perfect fits as they all have strong backgrounds in sports, product and social web.”

The most satisfying part about being involved with beRecruited is the daily emails we get from successfully recruited athletes (and their families). With the Fanvibe team leading beRecruited's next stage, the volume of those emails should soar.... and that's exciting for everyone!

Here's a fun infographic the team put together. It does a good job outlining beRecruited's scale - we have athletes in 81% of all high schools and 68% of NCAA coaches. Between the two sides, we have now made 26.5m connections.

A Week of Dogpatch Labs Updates

A handful of various updates from Dogpatch Labs companies across our three locations: Boston, New York and San Francisco. This is by no means a complete list - but it is includes links from TechCrunch articles within the last week:

YCombinator Demo Day Includes Dogpatch-ers

Congratulations to the 36 companies that launched at the most recent YCombinator Demo Day. Three of the companies are of Dogpatch Labs: FanVibe, Rapportive and one that is 'off the record'

Zozi Funding

Local-Activity Site Zozi Lands $3 Million Series A From 500 Startups And Zig Capital

WiseStamp Launches Its Platform

WiseStamp Signs Your Emails With Tweets, Stumbles And Plans

Facebook Places vs. Foursquare at YCombinator Demo Day

I had the pleasure of spending yesterday at YCombinator's Demo Day. 36 companies presented and launched - three of which were Dogpatch Labs residents: Fanvibe, Rapportive, and an off-the-record company. While there was plenty of news around the companies, spaces, etc - I found it interesting to see how the crowd of YCombinator entrepreneurs, investors and friends / family checked into the event.

The result? Totally even: while the numbers fluctuated a little bit, there were roughly 15 check-ins on Facebook Places and 15 on Foursquare.

Introducing TechNews (http://news.ryanspoon.com)

Introducing http://news.ryanspoon.com - I encourage you to test it out! About a year ago, I weened myself off of Digg (at least partially) and moved onto Hacker News. Hacker News is the best mix of technology content - from headlines to analysis to discussion.

After sifting through various services, I found SlinkSet (also a YCombinator company). Uninterested in creating a Hacker News clone or competitor, I was intrigued by the ability to 'remix' my own favorite feeds along with articles submitted by friends and readers:

Tech News SlinkSet

It is an interesting way, if you will, to create your own 'distributed feed' (ala Facebook or Friendfeed - but without the direct network). Using SlinkSet's private mode, it is also a way to communicate with a distribution list.

SlinkSet is simple and a free service. My only critique is that it is based on iframes and consequently is not as flexible as you would like (in addition to being an SEO killer). It would be powerful to either

1. open the code (like Pligg or Wordpress) and allow users to develop against it, and/or 2. create a subscription version that allows further customization

Also worth noting, SlinkSet's custom service is terrific. They have converted an installation of SlinkSet into a feedback 'wall' and the founders interact ther directly with the users. Really a terrific example of what SlinkSet can be used for and how to interact with your userbase.

How about a Techmeme Jr. (or Techmeme Minor League)?

I love Techmeme. And I've written as much many times before. I also have noted that the Techmeme Headlines are increasingly being written by major blogs and brands. Meanwhile, other bloggers have written that Techmeme should expand their sources to more, lesser-known blogs.

While I'm not sure I agree (there is value in having established, big sources), I do think that the following idea has merit:

Techmeme Junior

Techmeme, Jr.

Think of it like a minor league system for Techmeme where lesser-known blogs are featured and big brands like TechCrunch wouldn't be included (after all, they are included on Techmeme.com). As a minor league system typically works - it would act as a showcase for upcoming talent and, should an author or source grow popular / credible, it can make it's way into a regular on Techmeme.com.

This is powerful for a few reasons:

- The readers who want more depth out of Techmeme now have a avenue - Those readers add a social value to Techmeme and create a community (see YCombinator / Technews for a great example) - Those users would act as talent agents for Techmeme.com - And consequently help Techmeme discover new talent / blogs and grow their sourcing

Personally, I'd probably use Techmeme Jr. more than Techmeme.com because I already read TechCrunch and Engadget. I want to discover new content that is already credible and relevant.

Techmeme Leaderboard

Landing a Great Start Up Job: The Best Job Resources

A great thread has been growing on Hacker News about the best place to find start up jobs. I've include the mentioned websites at the bottom of the post - but wanted to first give a couple higher level comments:

1. Read and participate on blogs. Fred Wilson commonly posts about openings in his portfolio and did so again yesterday. Reading his blog (and others) can inform you of opportunities - participating on his blog (comments, linkbacks, etc) can help you build credibilty. Secondly, most bloggers make their contact information available. My email is on the left side of every post and I, for instance, have job opportunities available. Read and be aggressive.

2. Most major blogs (like TechCrunch, GigaOm, etc) have job boards and have company indexes. Browse each. If a company is particularly attractive, visit their site and their job board.

3. Classifieds sites work - particularly if you live in the Bay Area. Craigslist and Kijiji have tons of listings. Search regularly and set up rss alerts. You can also be more proactive and post your resume.

4. Job search engines / aggregators work. Try JobFox.com, TheLadders.com, Indeed.com, and so on.

5. Network. Network. Network. Upcoming and other sites list start up events and conferences. Attend, engage and carry business cards.

6. Don't be deterred because a company has no job openings. If you're smart and are a great fit, they'll take you. You can never have an excess of excellent people (at least that's my view).

Best resources to find start up jobs (from Hacker News):

- TechCrunch's CrunchbBoard - CrunchBase - Hacker News Jobs - Sequoia Portfolio Jobs - KPCB Portfolio Jobs - HotStartupJobs - Startupers.com - Jowba.com - Go Big Network - StartupLogic.com - npost.com - SnapTalent.com

The Front Page Effect – Why I’d Rather Be on Techmeme than Digg, Mixx, etc

On Friday, I had my first Techmeme ‘headline’ and it offered the chance to compare what I refer to as “The Front Page Effect” – what happens when your website / article appears on the homepage of social news sites. Based on my experiences and what data I have available on my websites, I am going to include the following sites: - Digg - Techmeme - Hacker News (YCombinator) - StumbleUpon - Daily Aggregators (for my purpose, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks) - Top Blog Mentions (in other words, having a major blog link to you in a prominent way. For my purpose, Deadspin) - Second Tier Social News like Reddit, Mixx, etc

My conclusion will likely surprise you… as it surprised me until yesterday. So here it is: I’d rather have my article hit the front page of Techmeme than any other social site. And here’s why:

Traffic (Absolute & Velocity) If you are after traffic – and for some websites and companies it’s the most important factor – there is no question that Digg is the most impactful. Hitting the front page of Digg can deliver up to 50,000 uniques within 24 hours… which is incredible. In fact, the traffic comes so quickly that it often causes a “Digg Effect” – either bringing a website to crawl or collapse. Digg delivers 25,000-50,000 uniques (depending on the article and category) – but it also delivers a 1:1 visit / pageview ratio… meaning that bounce rate is essentially 100%.

After Digg, the most powerful traffic driver is being linked from either a daily aggregator or a prominent blog. As examples, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Links drives 10-20,000 uniques and Deadspin can drive 5,000. Traffic comes steadily for 24 hours and then disappears into what the archives of content… in other words, don’t expect residual traffic.

Techmeme and HackNews deliver consistent streams of traffic. Techmeme drove 2,500 uniques to the featured post on Friday and having the top post on Hacker News will bring ~1,000 uniques. Visits coming from both sites seem to be longer than traffic arriving from Digg (1pv/visit) and blogs (1-2pv/visit).

It’s tough to know whether you are ‘featured’ on StumbleUpon. A very popular page on StumbleUpon will generate strong traffic – but it’s unpredictable and consequently arrives in spurts. It’s also very tough to measure.

No offense to Mixx and Reddit (and I quite like Mixx) – but the traffic really isn’t significant.

Comparison: Traffic Volume Delivered Over First 8 Hours

Reader Engagement

If you are after pageviews, Digg is the most powerful lever you can pull … but multiples. But, it is not great at driving user engagement on your site (comments, emails, backlinks, etc). Digg users are used to interacting on Digg.com – often discussing the article with Digg’s community. This effect also exists with links from prominent blogs or inclusion in daily aggregators: users are finding your site through other locations and communities that they are already interacting on. Users will commonly return to those destinations for discussion.

The highest level of engagement comes from Techmeme and Hacker News – both of which deliver very high quality interaction… in high quantities. The resulting comments and emails are very intelligent and relevant. If you are writing for traffic, focus on Digg. If you are looking to build a community or drive conversation on your blog – try Hacker News and Techmeme. Revenue

In general, you won’t get rich from a front page mention unless you are selling CPM ads. Of course, you can value the traffic in other ways (brand, site growth, etc) – but if your ads are on a per-click or per-lead basis, your eCPMs will fall dramatically. As an example, Digg will deliver 25-50,000 incremental pageviews… but the overwhelming result is a pageview and, after reading the content, an exit. This is consistent with traffic from major blogs, aggregators, etc – and my hypothesis again is that the user mindset is to consume and return to their original destination. eCPMs will not fall dramatically though because the traffic is not as significant.

Meanwhile, I was very surprised that CPMs and advertising revenues went after the Techmeme link. eCPMs increased by 5x and I had my highest revenue day ever for this blog… Two hypotheses (and they are just that):

1) if Techmeme delivers more engaged users (per my earlier point), they are likely to be more valuable 2) Techmeme delivers higher ‘value’ users in that they are heavily tech

SEO Impact This blog has been around for just a few months and it’s already a pagerank 5. I attribute a good portion of that to Digg, Techmeme and Hacker News – which are all highly valued by Google and deliver additional blog links, etc… creating a virtuous SEO cycle. (I also attribute a good portion to my SEO background!)

I have no way of accurately ranking the SEO value of these sites – but Digg and Techmeme are powerful. Hacker News is as well. The others are less prominent and not as optimized for search.

Brand It’s also important to consider the ‘brand’ impact of making the frontpage. I would argue that appearing on the front door of any of these premier sites is good for establishing a brand / name… after all, the NYTimes and TechCrunch are regulars on both Digg and TechCrunch. If you are in technology, Techmeme brings credibility and suggests that your article is beyond just interesting – its important. Links from top blogs bring credibility in that respective vertical… also important in building a brand.

So here’s the one line summary (with enough punctuation to make it capably lengthy):

An appearance on Techmeme’s homepage (or other vertical-specific hubs) delivers 1/15th of the traffic that Digg.com can; however, that traffic is more qualified and more engaged – and therefore more valuable.

*Update* After posting this article, it's gone to frontpage of Hacker News (which has a surprisingly high volume of traffic for Sunday morning). As you consider the impact of social media on your content and websites - it's important to remember that you need to be able to measure the results. Here is a screenshot of SlimStat (a plugin I use for Wordpress) - but you can analyze your logs, use Google Analytics, Mint, etc. Everyone's data will be different and the critical part is knowing what works for your site and your readers.

Also, I had a couple people ask me if this means that I no longer like Digg and let me be clear: I love Digg. I use it routinely as a reader and publisher (probably too much). It has become one of my core navigational start-points for the web.

*Update 2* Techcrunch has posted about the top 100 bloggers based on Techmeme