eHub Interviews Plazes

Posted by Emily Chang on Friday, October 7th, 2005. Filed under: eHub Interviews

Visit Plazes, originally added to eHub on Sep 11, 05.

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Thanks to Felix Petersen, Stefan Kellner, and Christophe Maire of Plazes for this email interview posted October 6, 2005.

eHub: What is your web application/service about?

imagePlazes: Plazes is a grass-root approach to locality and personal mapping. It allows users to share their location with others as well as managing and publishing their favorite plazes.

Plazes is also a platform. A little client software called the launcher (Mac/PC/Linux) not only automatically determines your location but also plugs in with other popular applications such as Flickr, Skype, iChat, Jabber or Typepad by enhancing these with the user’s current location.

eHub: Why did you start this project?

Plazes: We felt like location and locations is a very strong and valuable driver for building and retaining social interaction. Also we were seeing that the whole space isn’t really going anywhere with the mobile providers.

eHub: How much time do you devote to its growth?  Do you have a day job?

Plazes: Plazes started out as a side project, founded by Felix Petersen and Stefan Kellner. We received a lot of press and strong feedback by very smart people. Currently we are closing financing in order to take it to the next level.

eHub: How large is your team and what are your backgrounds?

Plazes: The core team consists of three people: Stefan Kellner and Felix Petersen, the founders and Christoph Maire.

Stefan (35) and Felix (28) are renowned innovators on the German web scene. Felix was MD of R.O.S.A. Internet Concept and Creation, and then Head of Concept at publicly traded Antwerpes AG. Stefan founded a web technology company in Stuttgart in 1997 before taking on the responsibilities as CTO of Antwerpes & Partner AG, overseeing a staff of 40 engineers.

In 2005, Stefan and Felix enrolled the backing of Christophe F. Maire (39), the Swiss entrepreneur behind companyB, CyberCinema. Christophe led his latest company, gate5 AG, to become a leader in the personal mobile navigation market with offices in Europe and Silicon Valley. He brings international venture growth experience and wireless know-how to the team.”

We all have a long history with computers and social aspects of computing, going back to the days of the Fidonet.

eHub: What is your design philosophy?

Plazes: Build, release early, listen to your supersmart audience, throw away, build again,…

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?

Plazes: Currently the localisation of Plazes user is based on the MAC ID of their default gateway plus some magic. In the future the Plazes launcher will be available for a number of platforms, including mobile, and will rely on hybrid localisation methods.

eHub: If your project is live, what are the most requested features from your users/community?

Plazes: Mobile Support, a streamlined interface, integration with numerous other applications.

eHub: Does your user base reside in a primary geographic location or is it distributed?

Plazes: Plazes has users in 100 countries. The single biggest group being the US, followed by Germany, the UK, Canada and the other western European Countries. Other Strongholds include Japan, China and India.

eHub: Where do you see the project heading in the next 6 months?  The next 2 years?

Plazes: In the next 6 months there will be cooperation and integration with other web 2.0 services, there will be a launcher for smartphones and a streamlined and focused web interface will be released.

In two years, we will be dominating the location sharing and personal mapping space.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?

Plazes: That we don’t get the small things right.

eHub: What is the one thing you need to get to the next phase of the project?

Plazes: Resources.

eHub: Do you have a business model?  If so, what is it?

Plazes: Data inside.

eHub: If you’re able to disclose this information, how much traffic or usage do you see on an average day?

Plazes: There are currently over 10k users and 12k plazes, both growing with 1% a day constantly for the last couple of months. We are currently in hockeystick mode.

eHub: What is the one thing you’re most proud of about the project?

Plazes: That we not only have over 10.000 users but only the smartest and webbiest. Everyone from Jimbo Wales to Joi Ito to the research labs of Yahoo, MS, Google or Apple to the Web 2.0 protagonists to all the A-list bloggers is on Plazes. That’s been really a lot of input. And even though we might not be mainstream (yet), it feels good to have the support and feedback from the people that have a vision for the future of the web.

eHub: How would you describe the shift that’s occurring with the web right now to future generations?

Plazes: I find it really exciting that in the future not only data will be shared but blueprints for producing real world things at home. With the help of 3D Printers, Laser cutters and the likes, kids will not only be able to produce, remix and share immaterial goods like music or movies but material things like electronic parts or a new bumber for their car. The manufacturing industry will be hit hard and will be revolutionized, products will become open source. That I find REALLY exciting.

eHub: What site(s) do you visit everyday other than your own?

Plazes: Flickr, numerous blogs, Alexa, archive.org, google, google mail, torrent sites, and all the other sites, the other people you interview visit. But mostly online productivity tools. It’s really the RSS-Oligarchy we’re seeing. It’s the downside of aggregation. Ah, and The Onion website to mention a highlight.

eHub: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Plazes: Sleep is important to avoid delusion.

Thanks to Felix Petersen, Stefan Kellner, and Christophe Maire of Plazes for this email interview posted October 6, 2005.

Visit Plazes
Originally added to eHub on Sep 11, 05