November 23, 2013

An interview with Evan Williams

Evan Williams (his twitter) is the founder or co-founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium. The latter company can be described as an extension to Twitter where people can share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It's designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. This interview is from 2013.

Lessons learned
  • One of his first endeavors was to make VHS-tapes where he explained how to use the Internet. Like almost all other Internet entrepreneurs, he also had his own webdesign company. He also had several other ideas he worked with. He never had a job after college until he wanted to move to the San Francisco area, so he found himself a job at O'Reilley. He also worked for other large companies, the pay was good, but he hated it, so he founded Pyra Labs.
  • Pyra Labs had two products: the main product was a project management software and the smaller side-products was Blogger. The idea behind Blogger was to simplify the process of adding content to the web. The name originates from the world web-logger that would be transformed to we-blogger and then transformed again to just blogger.
  • It was interesting to hear how Blogger ran out of money just after the tech bubble had crashed in 2000. So Evan Williams told his team they should leave because they couldn't be paid anymore but he also said he would continue on his own. So he worked on his own for about a year.  
  • Blogger was still growing but didn't make any money.To get more money, Evan Williams asked the users if they could donate some in exchange for making the service better - he didn't ask them to pay his rent. They would eventually launch paid service to be able to bootstrap Blogger.
  • Startups today tend to pivot (change idea) too quickly (as in 2 months). If the idea is big and no-one has tried to solve the problem before, then it will take a long time. 

More articles in the same series: Lessons learned from the Foundation interviews