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The editors at Best Finance Schools decided to research the topic of:
The 5 Biggest Internet Entrepreneurs of 2012
Pinterest: Paul Sciarra, Ben Silbermann
- Bio: Following in the footsteps of his parents, doctors in Des Moines, Iowa, Ben Silbermann attended Yale in 1999 only to realize that he did not want to become a doctor. In 2006, Silbermann jumped ship and headed to Silicon Valley to do customer support help for Google.
- Story: Launched March 2010, Pinterest was the brainchild of failed app designers Ben Silbermann and Peter Sciarra.Corkboard style layout, users can "pin" interesting stories, pictures, recipes, etc and share with others.
- 4 months after launch: 200 users
- "in stealth mode but not because we wanted it to be" -Silbermann
- Silberman personally wrote to the first 5,000 users with his phone number for any questions
- After nine months: 10,000 users
- Steadily grew 40%-50% every month since inception
- To Pivot or Not To Pivot: Rather than admit a humiliating defeat, Silbermann and Sciarra continued to improve Pinterest.
- Pinterest kept with their original design and idea, the iconic pinboard grid, turning many investors and engineers away.
- While there was no press coverage of the startup and very few users, those who were involved really liked it and best of all, used it
- 20% of Facebook users are on Pinterest daily
- March 2012 users- 72% men, 28% women
- Now Pinterest has the third largest user base behind Facebook (1 billion) and Twitter (140 million) at 1.1 million active users
- VENTURE FUNDING TOTAL- $138M
Instagram: Kevin Systrom
- Bio: Kevin Systrom graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in management science and engineering, the perfect storm. After interning at Odeo (led the way for Twitter), Systrom got his first glimpse of the world of startups.. Leaving his job at Google, he set out to create the next big thing. [some information may need to be verified]
- Story: Born from the ashes of Burbn in 2010 when "checking in" was, well, in. This basic app incorporated pictures. To Systrom's surprise, users weren't using it to check in, they were using it to share photos.
- Launched October 2010
- Systrom left his job and within two weeks raised $500k
- Burbn ended up being cluttered, too busy, and prone to crashes
- Systrom and his team cut it down to the basics leaving the photo, commenting and liking features
- Thus... Instagram:
- 25,000 users on the first day (a large number in late 2010 with fewer iPhone roaming around)
- Perfect launch timing with the iPhone 4 just being released
- 1 million users in the first 3 months
- This number continued to grow until it hit a staggering 10 million users, just for iOS in December 2010
- -Facebook's acquisition of Instagram from $1 billion in April 2012
- Facebook/Instagram combination was the icing on the cake for Instagram
- 100 million users as of September 2012, says Zuckerberg
- VENTURE FUNDING TOTAL $57.5M
Twitter: Jack Dorsey
- Bio: Innovator/ Computer Programer, Jack Dorsey, is best known as the creator of Twitter, a social media tool using short messages for personal expression, though, at 15, he created a dispatch program still used by Taxicabs today.
- Story: Dorsey came up with the idea for a site that would combine the broad reach of dispatch software with the ease of instant messaging. He approached a now-defunct company called Odeo to pitch the concept.
- "He came to us with this idea: 'What if you could share your status with all your friends really easily, so they know what you're doing?'" -Biz Stone, former Odeo exec
- Dorsey, Stone and Odeo co-founder Evan Williams started a new company, called Obvious,
- Evolved into Twitter
- Within two weeks, Dorsey had built a simple site
- users could instantly post short messages of 140 characters or less
- Messages were known as "tweets."
- March 21, 2006 - Jack Dorsey posted the world's first tweet: "just setting up my twttr."
- Originally deemed too shallow and ego-driven, Twitter gained respect as a powerful platform for political, social and personal campaigns.
- In its early days, the site suffered from frequent service outages.
- As celebrities and CEOs alike began tweeting, Twitter was no longer the brunt of so many jokes.
- In 2008, Twitter became a powerful tool for presidential candidates, McCain and Obama
- Twitter vaulted into international prominence after the 2009 Iran presidential elections
- Government had blocked text messaging and foreign news coverage
- 2010: Twitter had 105m users who, together, tweeted 55m times/day
- Jack Dorsey had his sights on other projects
- Jack became an investor in the social networking company Foursquare
- He launched a new venture, Square
- People receive credit card payments through a device plugged on their phone or computer.
- Twitter may have already revolutionized communication, but Dorsey isn't done yet
- VENTURE FUNDING TOTAL: Nearly $60m
Turntable.fm: Billy Chasen
- Bio: Billy Chasen, after realizing the mediocrity of Stickybits created a whole new direction for the company, rather than shutting down and calling defeat. Creating a whole different set up from Stickybits (a barcode/messaging social app) into turntable (a social music app).
- Story: From the creaters of Stickybits, a relatively unsuccessful startup, turntable.fm was born. The social music platform letting users be their own DJs and share music with others. With just 9 employees and $7 million in funding, turntable started out slow.
- Founded in 2009 from the failure of Stickybits
- 2011- Popularity from celebrity investors such as Lady Gaga and Madonna's managers and Jimmy Fallon.
- More than 300,000 "rooms" and 650,000 registered users
- streams 1 million songs a day
- $7 million in funding from Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures
- In November 2012, turntable.fm updated it's already popular platform set to up the count of users tremendously
- no limit to users in room
- a few people, or a few thousand (previous cut off of 200 users)
- like a real concert, those first get a better view of the DJ's avatar
- cleaner interface
- iphone app- updated Dec 3, 2012
- "The hottest new club isn't in Los Angeles or New York. It's on a website called Turntable.fm..." -NYTimes
- Unlike other music applications, tracks are chosen by users, not an algorithm of "music you may like"
- there is something for everyone
- 140,000 users in its first month and 400,000 users in its first two months
- 1.2 million registered (2012)
- 120,000 active users (2012)
- VENTURE FUNDING TOTAL $7M
RockMelt: Eric Vishria
- Bio: Eric Vishria is the co-founder of RockMelt, alongside Tom Howes. Graduating from Stanford University with a BS in Mathematical & Computational Science and a minor in Human Biology; later serving as VP of Marketing for Opsware/Hewlett-Packard. In 2008 he left to create RockMelt.
- Story: Nine months after it's launch in March 2011, RockMelt boasted over 1 million users: 2/3 of them under the age of 25. This discovery led CEO Eric Vishria to believe they've created the first web browser for the social generation.
- "We're stuck with browsers that were designed before social media existed" -Vishria
- Average user:
- below the age of 25 (60%)
- installed on 1.3 devices
- uses it 7 hours a day
- 12 apps, used 26 times a day
- 7 chat conversations a day, up from 3, six months ago
- The web browser business has some heavy competition; people get so used to their browser that they hardly think about it, so getting users to change is challenging
- Instead of digging for your own content, RockMelt brings your customized likes to life with updates from blogs, likes, and friends
- $10 million in funding from investors
- $30 million last summer from Andreessen, Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures in round B funding
- Integration of Facebook and Twitter on all devices in a cloud style.
- Recent ipad app release (2.0.3) allows sign in without facebook when 50% didn't sign in at all
- 37% through Facebook
- 15% through Twitter
- following spotify and pinterest users can try it out before the commitment of social login
- Great for users who like constant connectivity to Facebook.
- Venture funding: $39.9 million
- Seed funding: $1.68 million