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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!


Pubvertising is Here: Publish and Advertise in One Place

Posted on August 3, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner, Media, Media 2.0 | Leave a Comment

AdverblishWe’ve been wanting to introduce pubvertising on a wider scale for some time now and I am excited it is finally out there.

The whole concept behind pubvertising - or publishing + advertising - is pretty simple. We want to allow publishers who are using our tools to easily be able to create an ad that contains their feed content which they can then easily place in the FeedBurner Ad Network.

These ads are designed to drive awareness of the publishers content and drive subscriptions to their feed(s). What better place to find feed subscribers than other feeds right?

The tool that publishers can use to create their ad is called Headline Animator. Headline Animator allows any publisher using FeedBurner to create a completely custom graphic that will include their latest feed headlines.

Right now we are setting the sizes of ads publishers can place to 468×60 and 468×120. You can see some examples below. Also, make sure to read the official FeedBurner post on pubvertising as it says things with more wit than I can. It also provides much more detail than this post does in case you’re interested in giving this concept a shot.


FeedBurner is now FreeBurner

Posted on July 3, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner | 3 Comments

No, the name of the company hasn’t changed but our previously paid services MyBrand and FeedBurner Stats PRO are now free for everyone. Here’s the skinny on each service from our official blog post:

FeedBurner Stats PRO
PRO is feed analytics taken to the next level. You will now have access to the number of people who have viewed or clicked individual content items in your feed and “Reach,” which estimates the daily number of subscribers who interacted with your feed content. You can turn this on by signing in to your account, navigating to the Analyze tab and heading to the FeedBurner Stats PRO section. Click the “Item Views” checkbox to activate these PRO features.

MyBrand
The MyBrand service (also PRO-level) is located under the “My Account” tab after you’ve signed in. MyBrand lets you maintain consistency between your feed address and your hosted website’s domain, if matchy-matchy is your thing. For example, rather than using feeds.feedburner.com/MyFeedName, your MyBrand-ed feed address can be feeds.myexcellentdomain.net/MyFeedName. To get started with MyBrand, sign into FeedBurner, click the “My Account” link in the upper left-hand corner, and then click “MyBrand”. Nota Bene: You must be comfortable playing around with DNS entries and own the rights to the domain whose DNS entries you’ll be playing around with in order to successfully activate MyBrand.

Make sure to activate these new features as soon as you can to make sure you are maximizing your FeedBurner benefits.


I’m now a Googler

Posted on June 1, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner | 6 Comments

Check out the FeedBurner blog for more on this. I have to catch a flight home to Massachusetts now for my sister’s high school graduation but I’ll hopefully be able to write more on this later. Needless to say I’m super excited.


Interactive Q&A with Dick “The Wizard” Costolo

Posted on April 25, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner | Leave a Comment

Dick CostoloMy friends over at SeekingAlpha have invited our fearless leader onto their site for an interactive Q&A. Just head over to the post at SeekingAlpha and add a question to the comments section in order to receive enlightenment. Dick will be replying to comments throughout the day today (Wednesday, April 25th). If you have some burning questions for the Wizard now’s the time to get them off your chest and end the insomnia (you know that thinking of feeds keeps you up at night - at least I hope I have some company in that respect).

Side note: If you haven’t subscribed to Dick’s blog yet you really need to. It’s packed with info that will be very useful to any current or aspiring entrepreneur.


Where in the World is FeedBurner?

Posted on April 19, 2007
Filed Under General Thoughts, FeedBurner | Leave a Comment

To answer that question simply - everywhere. One of the great things about web applications is that they are accessible by anyone with internet connectivity making your company instantly global. Of course this also presents design/UI challenges and support challenges which are something companies like ours definitely need to address. You simply can’t ignore the rest of the globe when you run an inherently global service.

We’ve been very conscious of that fact here at FeedBurner and have entered into reseller relationships in countries like Spain (feedburner.es), Japan (feedburner.jp) and Russia (feedburner.ru) in order to ensure great service around the globe. We have also begun to translate our site into a number of languages in order to make it easier for anyone anywhere to join the FeedBurner family. Oh, and by we I mean our users. They’ve done the heavy lifting on the physical translation piece as, alas, there aren’t many language scholars on the FeedBurner team.

I love interacting with publishers all over the globe and that interaction has only increased as of late. In fact, I have even been giving interviews for folks in different parts of the world (Tecnocracia in Brazil and HedgePlus in Korea). Some of these guys are even taking matters into their own hands and creating FeedBurner Networks in order to help bring their blogging communities together and to make a unified property that will be interesting to advertisers.

If you’re thinking about starting a web service make sure to think of your international brothers and sisters. There’s no doubt in my mind that they will end up being both a big an integral part of your companies success.

Side note: Check out our official post on going global which I actually didn’t know we were putting out until I mentioned I had written this post up. We’re really on the same wavelength here at FeedBurner. It’s kind of scary actually.


TwitThis: Now with Flare

Posted on March 26, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner | 8 Comments

TwitThisMost of you probably saw the latest addition to the Twitter arsenal already since it was all over Digg but for those that haven’t I’ll explain. Michael Simmons and Hiten Shah (collectively known as Chuug) have put together a site/service called TwitThis. TwitThis simply allows people, via a bookmarklet, to quickly Twitter site links to their friends. This is definitely a useful tool. I know I send out a lot of links during the day via AIM and Twittering them could save me some time.

Of course there are options for publishers to include TwitThis links on their posts to enable their readers to Twitter their posts. As of this writing there was a WordPress plugin available and the TwitThis guys have made the code available to add TwitThis buttons manually to each article and the overall site. After seeing this I was concerned that there was no way for people who consume their content via a feed reader to TwitThis so I put together a FeedFlare that will allow publishers to make that option available to their readers.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with FeedFlare I’ll explain it quickly. FeedFlare simply comprises little text links that can appear under content items in both the feed and on the site. We also have an open API that allows anyone to build their own flares.

So, if you publish content and utilize FeedBurner please grab the TwitThis flare and add it to your feed (and site) to allow your readers to quickly and easily send your stories to their friends via Twitter.

Special thanks to Eric Lunt for the assist that got this flare over the hump and ready for prime time.


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