eHub Interviews Squidoo

Posted by Emily Chang on Tuesday, March 14th, 2006. Filed under: eHub Interviews

Visit Squidoo, originally added to eHub on Sep 29, 05.

imageThanks to Seth Godin, Head Squidoo for this email interview posted March 14, 2006.

eHub: What is your web application/service about?

Squidoo: Squidoo is a platform that lets anyone build one or more “lenses”, single pages about a given topic. These lenses contain links, bullet lists, maps, affiliate items for purchase, RSS feeds and more. Sort of Wikipedia meets About.com and blogging.

eHub: Why did you start this project?

Squidoo: I thought that since I really needed it, others would too. But that wasn’t enough reason to go to all this trouble. As we build the site, our goal is to raise $100,000,000 for charity and to allow thousands to quit their day jobs.

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

imageSquidoo: We now have four full-time employees. I have a day job as a writer and speaker, so I just pitch in… the heavy lifting gets done by the team.

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

Squidoo: Megan Casey is our editor and bizdev point person. Corey Brown runs ops. Gil Hildebrandt Jr. is our Chief Engineer. And Heath Row leads the community of lensmasters. We have two great board members. Lisa Gansky, former VP of AOL and co-founder of GNN, and Tom Cohen, who has worked with Rolling Stone and many other companies.

eHub: What is your design philosophy?

Squidoo: Make it simple first. Be as open as possible. Transparent about the numbers. Let the community improve the quality of the content. Don’t lose money.

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?

Squidoo: We’ve got the usual… Ajax and PHP and stuff. Gil knows better than I do.

What’s really worth noting is that compared to the last time (Yoyodyne, 1993-1999) we’re doing it with one tenth the people, in one tenth the time with ten times the results. The different in the quality and predictability of what can be built is just astonishing. Stuff doesn’t crash. It’s crisp. Documentable. Scalable. Mostly because of great people (hats off to viget.com for great work), but also because the systems are so much better.

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

Squidoo: We’ve gone through thousands of requests and added most of them. Our new MDK lets the community add its own features.

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

Squidoo: So far, we mirror net usage.

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

imageSquidoo: We leave beta on Monday (!). We already have more than 16,000 lenses (for comparison, Wikipedia just hit article #1,000,000. At our current unsustainable rate of growth, we should hit that in 11 months.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?

Squidoo: We have two. One, teaching people how to build lenses. Two, teaching the public to look at Squidoo first.

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

Squidoo: Hey, we just got here!

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

Squidoo: We make money from affiliate revenue (Amazon, eBay, etc.) and a small amount from Google Adsense. We take 5% for charity off the top. We pay our direct expenses. Then lensmasters get half.

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

Squidoo: We currently see 3 oodles a week. We hope to be at 5 oodles by April.

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

Squidoo: The team. Extraordinary people doing great work.
And the lensmasters. Creating content that is worth looking at.

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

Squidoo: A tiny portion of the world (maybe a million people) is now creating content for the rest of us. It used to be 50,000 professionals. Soon it will be 10,000,000 amateurs. It’s an interesting intermediate moment.

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

Squidoo: eHub!

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

Squidoo: More than I used to. I’m almost caught up from 1997-1999.

Thanks to Seth Godin, Head Squidoo for this email interview posted March 14, 2006.

Check out my lenses: eHub @ Squidoo and Emily Chang @ Squidoo

Visit Squidoo
Originally added to eHub on Sep 29, 05