It’s been about a week since we took the first layer of secrecy off of Newsvine, and everybody over here couldn’t be happier at the reaction so far. Without a single dollar spent on PR, marketing, or really any organized effort to get the word out, Newsvine found itself on the front page of CBS News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, GigaOm, TechCrunch, Russell Beattie, and hundreds of other places. Like David Hasselhoff, we’re even apparently big in Germany.
Is it wrong that I’m not stressed out about all of this? I mean, CEOs of startups are supposed to be working 20 hour days, neglecting their families, and generally being pains in the ass, right? I guess so, but this is fun.
Let me repeat that: This. Is. Fun.
People are excited, and we’re excited about that.
I’ve read probably a few hundred articles, posts, and comments about Newsvine since our announcement and while most have been positive, a couple of things I’ve read several times which seemed to lean towards skepticism a bit are comments like this:
“News with comments? That’s been done.”
“Sounds like Digg, Delicious, and Google News put together.”
To the first comment, I’d say this: When the cheeseburger was invented, there were plenty of people saying the hamburger had already “been done”. I bet cheeseburgers outsell hamburgers now.
To the second comment, I’d say this: Oh my god, if that’s what we have, then I’d say we’re in pretty good shape. I love Digg. I love Delicious. And I love Google News. All they are lacking is each other.
Is there competition in the populist news space? Sure there is. There’s probably competition we don’t even know about. But judging from all the calls and e-mails we’ve gotten from VCs over the last week, it’s not competition for funding or attention… the funding is already there. It’s competition to see who can create the most compelling community of breaking information. And that’s what makes it fun.
Of the small handful of companies looking to make this happen over the next few months and years, I know we’re not the oldest or the biggest. But when I see code like this on three separate companies’ web sites who purport to be in the same space as Newsvine, my inner geek can’t help but smile:
<!-- BEGIN UBER TABLE -->
"Please disable your popup blocker for our URL."
So in the off chance I somehow don’t have Arial installed, you’re going alternate all the way down to Swiss? Who has Swiss? And you’re going to use a font tag at all?
Anyway, enough geekspeak.
The fact is that every company entering this space will go in with their own strength. Digg has a great tech community and an impressively upstanding way of running the site. Open Source Media is strong in politics. Inform has 50-some people dedicated to finding and grouping related information. We have our roots in high-traffic news media, blogging, engineering, and design. That influence is hopefully apparent and beneficial in the Newsvine experience. I believe that in the end, several companies will be successful in creating positive news reading and news writing environments. Each will just have its own spin.
Note: The companies above are not necessarily competitors of ours. I am only mentioning them here because others have.
We’re well into the several thousands on the list so far, but I must admit that we plan on only letting a few hundred in for the first couple/few weeks. The reason for this (I swear) is not some sort of manufactured scarcity campaign, but rather the opportunity to take care of some obvious quick fixes and improvements that will only become apparent as people begin using the site.
The single hardest thing about building an ecosystem for participation is trying to predict user experience in the absence of it.
So if you signed up for the beta, the whole team thanks you, and you will definitely get in before everyone else does. But if it’s not in the first wave, just sit tight and your first experience on the site will be better because of it.