Today's Investor: Naval Ravikant

Katie Gatto · January 14, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/15f1

No. 1 mistake: They focus on the idea rather than on the people, execution, or market

Entrepreneurs, and those who work at startups, are a special part of the workforce.

They embrace innovation and disruption. They live on the edge, and, at times, chase the latest shiny object. But their willingness to fail and try something new often enable them to make a big difference.  

The Vator community is made up of these unique people. To that end, we've changed our user profiles to allow entrepreneurs to express their interests and lessons about entrepreneurship. 

These profiles will allow us to highlight an entrepreneur every day.

Today's entrepreneur is Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList and Epinions.com.

I am:  a Venture Hacker

 
Name companies you've founded or co-founded:

Epinions.com, Vast.com, AngelList

Name companies you've invested in:

Twitter, Disqus, Jambool, DocVerse, FourSquare, Heyzap

If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I want to change the world.

List your favorite startups:

Too many

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Takes patience

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

They focus on the idea rather than on the people, execution, or market

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

- Test every hypothesis as quickly and cheaply as possible
- Work with the best people you can find
- Do something you care about

(Editor's note: Naval is one of the investor judges at the upcoming Vator Splash Feb event in San Francisco. He'll join other VC judges/panelists, such as John O'Farrell from Andreessen Horowitz, Thomas Korte from AngelPad, David Hornik of August Capital, Jay Jamison of Blue Run, Duncan Davidson of Bulppen, Joe Kraus of Google Ventures, David Thacker of Greylock, and Jed Katz of Javelin Ventures. You won't want to miss this event. See agenda and buy your tickets here. Or if you want to be one of the top 10 startups presenting onstage before them and an audience of 350 to 400, join the competition.

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Twitter

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

Heyzap

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Heyzap allows any website or blog to take the most exciting flash games and put them into their website. This results in the website/blog having increased traffic, user time of site and engagement. When youtube got video out everywhere over the internet, it changed the entire experience of the internet.

Disqus

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Disqus, pronounced discuss, is a service for blog comments. Disqus enables bloggers to make the conversations on their blogs more interactive and manageable. Our distributed comment system connects readers across blog communities, while empowering publishers in promoting their content.
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Naval Ravikant

Joined Vator on