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BuzzFeed Update: Feature-iffic!

Posted on November 14, 2007
Filed Under BuzzFeed | 1 Comment

It is surprising but I haven’t written anything about BuzzFeed since I have been here and it has been a month and half so far. This post is a long time coming.

As you can imagine we have all been super busy at BuzzFeed HQ lately. On the development side we have been constantly pumping out new integrations. You can now get BuzzFeed content in Pageflakes, Netvibes, iGoogle and on your apple dashboard. You can also get updates in your favorite feed reader, e-mail service, mobile phone and via twitter.

The most recent addition was our typepad and blogger integration. No, if you have a typepad or blogger blog, you can simply add the widget to your site with about one click.

These integrations are the tip of the iceberg though. We have a lot of ideas and new features coming out soon including a lot of things that will add value for publishers using the BuzzFeed widget (hint: start using the widget now so you can be the first to get the new stuff). I can’t say much more than that right now but I think you will all like what we’re putting together.

On a more academic note: we’ve really been pushing the boundaries of our back end algorithms and optimization technology. Frankly some of the stuff we’ve built around our own organic content and producing it is pretty cool and hasn’t been done before (at least not to my knowledge). Who knows, that could be big for us too.

A blog is also in the works so you’ll eventually be able to see how weird we all are, oh, and the unsolicited rap video we were sent (Press/Play Hotline baby! It’s pretty ill.) which is awesome. Who wouldn’t love to get a freestyle rap about their company in their e-mail? I’m down with that fo’ sho’ or something like that.

No speaking engagements coming up for me although speaking at Blog World last week was a lot of fun. I finally got to become a Lijit Wijit (yeah, I am a Lijit fanboy) which was pretty awesome as well. Not to mention that I got to finally meet Fraser, a guy I have corresponded with for about two years after we both found each others blogs, for the first time. We hung out with some friends for the night and it was like we had known each other for years. Funny thing that internet. He’s now at Adaptive Blue and kicking some ass. He’ll soon to be moving to NYC as well. Watch out! NYC is starting to really break out as a tech hub!

More updates to come very soon including more on the big idea behind BuzzFeed which is our word-of-mouth marketing platform. Until then, check out BuzzFeed.com each and everyday for your pop culture fix (and subscribe), tell your friends about it and add our widget to your blog (please).


What’s Next for Me: BuzzFeed and NYC

Posted on September 4, 2007
Filed Under General Thoughts, FeedBurner, Chicago, BuzzFeed, NYC | 19 Comments

Just as I announced my gig at FeedBurner on this blog a couple years back and the Google acquisition I am now announcing my departure from Google and my move to BuzzFeed.

It is very hard to leave my fellow FeedBurners as we have become a tight knit team over the past couple of years but they are all excited for me and understand that the opportunity to join BuzzFeed is a big one.

What we built at FeedBurner was certainly special and I have no doubt that Google will keep things running smoothly while allowing for more innovation to occur. I am also sure my fellow FeedBurners will fight the good fight on behalf of our publishers.

I figure the best way to answer all the questions I anticipate is to write a quick FAQ. If there are any questions not addressed in the FAQ please e-mail me (eric [at] ericjohnolson.com) or post a comment. Here it goes!

Eric leaves Google and joins BuzzFeed: The FAQ

Q: You’re leaving Google?!?! Are you nuts?!?!

A: Perhaps (you have to be a little crazy to do the start-up thing right?). That said, BuzzFeed is an incredible opportunity and one that I simply could not turn down. Why? Here are some of the reasons:

The founder, Jonah Peretti, is a viral marketing rock star who I can learn a lot from. I will be getting in pre-institutional funding meaning I will get to work on raising money. The product is really interesting and the overall company/idea gets me very excited both from a business and intellectual standpoint (more on the company in later posts). The role was exactly what I wanted in a next move and it is also a big step up for me. I will have the chance to help shape the business from the beginning. Etc., etc., etc…

Q: What will you be doing at BuzzFeed and what’s your title?

A: I will be joining BuzzFeed as Vice President of Business Development. What the heck does that mean you ask? Well, I will be doing many things as all start-up folks do but I will focus on working with publishers and other companies that can help us with distribution of BuzzFeed content via a widget we’ve created. We also have some other distribution ideas to firm up that I will be working on.

I will also be working with advertisers who want to utilize our platform to understand and harness the buzz on their products. It’s a great extension of all the things I have been working on at FeedBurner.

Q: BuzzFeed - does that have anything to do with feeds/RSS?

A: Not really. The company works with buzz on the internet and helps companies harness it and understand it. Sure, there is a BuzzFeed RSS feed (need to get it on FeedBurner though) if you like the BuzzFeed content and want to subscribe but we don’t create publisher tools around feeds like FeedBurner.

Q: I just noticed that BuzzFeed and FeedBurner both have “feed” in the company name and the company initials (BF and FB respectively) are simply reversed. Was that intentional?

A: No, but I do find it pretty amusing. Perhaps it was subconscious as I do love feeds. Who knows…

Q: How does BuzzFeed make money?

A: We have a couple ideas on that and they are pretty straightforward. I plan to do a whole post on the company soon so stay tuned for that. I will also write about BuzzFeed on OO occasionally as we’re doing cool new things that need to be talked about.

Q: Where is BuzzFeed located?

A: New York City.

Q: Do you have to relocate there for the new gig?

A: Yes and no. I will be obtaining an apartment in NYC but the love of my life will continue to work in the Chicagoland area so we will be hanging onto our Chicago place too. Since BuzzFeed is still very early stage I need to be in the office so we can hammer out the big decisions (i.e. what beer to buy for the fridge, where to hold the BuzzFeed holiday party, etc.: kidding of course…) but I will be coming back out to Chicago every other weekend for the foreseeable future.

If/when Laura ever decides she wants to move to NYC there is no need to worry as I will be back in town every few months for TECH cocktail Chicago. I have way to many great friends in Chicago to come back any less than every three months.

Q: Perfect segway to the inevitable “But what about TECH cocktail?” question.

A: Frank and I are planning to continue TECH cocktail in Chicago as usual. In fact, we both plan to be back in town for each one (unless we have a major schedule conflict come up of course). On top of that my good friend and FeedBurner colleague John Zeratsky has graciously accepted the position of “point man” for the Chicago TECH cocktail events. John is the right man for this post so I am happy he wanted the gig. Thanks John!

Q: What about all that stuff you said about Chicago being on the cusp of breaking out as a technology center? Was that all a bunch of crap?

A: Not at all. I still believe that 100%. Chicago is poised to take its rightful place in the tech community as a whole and, with a few more wins, it’ll be there.

Even though I will be spending the majority of my time in NYC I intend to continue to help my friends and fellow entrepreneurs build their businesses in Chicago to whatever extent I can. Also, as mentioned above, TECH cocktail will continue as usual which should continue to help the Chicago tech community. Remember, TECH cocktail was first and foremost a Chicago event. Our roots are here and we won’t ever forget that.

Also, don’t be surprised if I end up working with some of my buddies in Chicago on a company down the road at some point.

Q: If I have a business meeting(s) in NYC can I snag your couch for the duration of my stay?

A: My friends are more than welcome to stay at my NYC place any time there are in NYC. Hotels in NYC are way to expensive and we’re all on start-up budgets so whatever I can do to save you money I’ll do. Also, if you are ever in town and not staying with me please shoot me a note and we’ll grab a beer.

Q: Are there plans for a TECH cocktail in NYC?

A: Yes. Frank and I are thinking about that now. Stay tuned to TECHcocktail.com for details as they emerge.

Q: Where are you looking at getting an apartment in NYC?

A: The East Village, Lower East Side and Brooklyn. Anyone know a guy that can help?!

Q: Are you worried about being mugged/beat up due to being a Red Sox fan?

A: Yes. But I am still gonna rock my Sox gear with pride. Go Sox!

Q: When do you leave Google/start at BuzzFeed?

A: I leave Google on Friday, September 21 and join BuzzFeed on Monday, October 1.

So, I think that about does it. Main takeaways:

Thank you’s are now in order:

Thank you to all my FeedBurner colleagues who made my first start-up a very enjoyable experience. You guys rock!

Than you to Dick Costolo, Steve Olechowski, Rick Klau and the rest of the team for giving me a shot when, on paper, I had no business being at FeedBurner.

Thank you to the Chicago tech community. You guys are all incredible. Without all of you and your enthusiasm TECH cocktail wouldn’t be what it is today.

Aside from my FeedBurner colleagues I would like to send a big thank you to Aashish Dalal, Jason Rexilius, Dan Ratner, Jeff Judge, Matt Maloney, Matt McCall, Kirk Wolfe, Bruce Barron, Troy Henikoff, the midPhase guys, Mike Carruth, and the host of other folks I have had many a coffee/beer with over the last couple years (you know who you are). You guys are great at what you do and you have helped to shape my thinking around technology and business in many ways. Let’s keep up those conversations as they are invaluable.

That concludes this change of jobs post and my emotional thank yous. Again, if anyone has any questions just post a comment here or shoot a note to eric [at] ericjohnolson.com. See you all on the other side!