The company was acquired by enterprise software investment firm Cuadrilla Capital last monthRead more...
Startup wants to find the next Matt Drudge
Socialmedian’s Jason Goldberg is trying to create, in his words the “second-generation social news site.” Think Digg meets FriendFeed meets Drudge Report. The first generation social news sites were like Digg, which were about the popularity of news sites, said Jason, in this Vator Talks interview with Ezra Roizen and me. Socialmedian, which raised some $600,000 of which $250,000 came from the Washington Post, is set out to make news more personalized, so people can get highly-personalized news that fits their “information DNA," he said.
The method through which people learn about what other people find relevant to particular topics is through submissions. Think Digg that’s divided into topics, such as “social networking,” and “venture capital” or just about anything. After launching in early August, about 2,000 networks have been created, said Jason. Each person can choose networks that interest them and get a news feed of what people in that network are saying or reading.
Additionally, people can find a person they consider a newsmaker. This is the functionality that will enable anyone to be the next Matt Drudge, said Jason. Matt Drudge is the founder and owner of the Drudge Report, a popular conservative news aggregation site, and the precursor of news aggregation models.
In this interview, Jason also talks about the other functionalities he's weaving to build what may seem to be a complex Web of feeds. For instance, if Soicalmedian members link stories on Twitter or FriendFeed, or if they Digg a story, those activities will appear on Socialmedian as an automated feed. If Socialmedian members link stories on their profile on Socialmedian, that activity is automatically sent to FriendFeed in a feed.
Jason doesn't talk about business models. He's not concentrating on that just yet. But you'll get some good insight about where he wants to take the company, and what he's trying to build.
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Read more from our "Interviews" series
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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.
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On December 19, 2008, socialmedian announced that it was sold to Xing for $7.5 million, $4 million upfront and $3.5 million in an earn out
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