Skip to content

Posts from the ‘blogging’ Category

WordPress vs. Facebook

April 18, 2008


Fred Wilson got a great discussion going on WordPress vs. Facebook, or, more specifically, how and why blogging is going to become the social network for adults.

It’s a good provocative post but even better is the conversation in the comments.

Mine is here.

WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg’s is here.

Other interesting comments from less notorious bloggers (haha!) are here and here and here

WordPress as an “Invite Only Level 3 Internet Platform”

October 14, 2007


There is a term I have started to use: “VC vanitudes,” referring to the numerous vain platitudes that any of you in the startup ecosystem routinely hear us throw around.

For example, 80% of VCs have “top quartile returns.” I haven’t figured out that math yet.

We reject deals that won’t deliver “venture returns.”

We build “world class management teams.”

We spend our time looking for the “next big thing.”

And, one of the most common VC vanitudes is that we only invest in “platforms,” a term of art which, I would wager, less than 25% of VCs have paused to consider what it actually means.

About a year ago I was chatting with a BIG NAME VC from one of the BIGGEST NAME Sand Hill firms. When I told him that I had recently invested in the company behind WordPress (notwithstanding the fact that he holds himself out as that firm’s Internet guy, I had to tell him what WordPress was), he condescendingly explained that his firm would never invest in a blogging “tool,” since they only invest in “platforms.”  Having been required to check my ego at their imposing Sand Hill Lobby, I didn’t respond, though I can’t resist noting that last I checked his portfolio consisted of a hardware product, an ecommerce tool, and two web consumer apps.  Platforms are great when you find them, but, let’s be honest, most big VC hits really aren’t platforms at all.

With Facebook’s announcement of the opening of the “Facebook Platform” a little while back, there has been lotsa chatter in the blogosphere (not to mention VC pitches) about internet “platforms,” a widely used but poorly understood term.

Coming to the rescue, recently converted powerblogger Marc Andreesen has offered  a lucid exposition on what it means to be a platform:

A ‘platform’ is a system that can be programmed and therefore customized by outside developers — users — and in that way, adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform’s original developers could not have possibly contemplated, much less had time to accommodate.

We have a long and proud history of this concept and this definition in the computer industry stretching all the way back to the 1950’s and the original mainframe operating systems, continuing through the personal computer age and now into the Internet era. In the computer industry, this concept of platform is completely settled and widely embraced, and still holds going forward.

The key term in the definition of platform is ‘programmed’. If you can program it, then it’s a platform. If you can’t, then it’s not.

So, if you’re thinking about computing on the Internet, whenever anyone uses the word ‘platform’, ask: ‘Can it be programmed?’ Specifically, with software code provided by the user? If not, it’s not a platform, and you can safely ignore whoever’s talking — which means you can safely ignore 80%+ of the people in the world today who are using the term ‘platform’ and don’t know what it means.”

Andreesen goes on to summarize the 3 different levels of internet platform:

  • A Level 1 platform’s apps run elsewhere, and call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services — this is how Flickr does it.
  • A Level 2 platform’s apps run elsewhere, but inject functionality into the platform via a plug-in API — this is how Facebook does it. Most likely, a Level 2 platform’s apps also call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services.
  • A Level 3 platform’s apps run inside the platform itself — the platform provides the “runtime environment” within which the app’s code runs.

Not surprisingly, Andreesen states that the only Level 3 platform out there today is Ning. I think he may be missing one.

Specifically, WordPress honcho Matt Mullenweg has offered the following:

“I think WordPress and is a level 3 platform, because plugins run on the same platform as the application itself, so you get whatever scalability is there in that system.

For users this is just their blog host, but on it’s our internet-scale infrastructure. However we don’t allow arbitrary plugins on, so it’s like an invite-only level 3 platform.”

I like that — an “Invite Only Level 3 Internet Platform.”

I am checking with Marc to see if he agrees. I’ll let you know 🙂

Rumors of the “Market Correction” of Blogs are Greatly Exaggerated

March 29, 2007


There have been rumblings lately about a decline in blogging.

Duncan Riley of 901 am recently wrote that the death of blogs is exaggerated — blogging is going through a “market correction,” not a death, he contends.

I’ll go a couple steps further. Blogging is not even going through a market correction, but in fact continues to see steady, and very healthy, growth.

The mistake Riley and others make is focusing on the rising number of abandoned blogs.

Those who have been watching the blogosphere closely for the last couple years — most notably (for me) the WordPress team — know that there always has been and always will be a healthy chunk of folks who try blogging only to find it isn’t for them.  Blog abandonment is a constant element of the blogosphere.  It just so happens that, we are now seeing the natural wave of abandoned blogs which is following the wave of blog creation over the last 6 months or so.  But that far from an indicator that blogging itself is on the wane.

What is the right measure of “blogging?”

Simply looking at the number of blogs created always has and always will overreport the level of “blogging.”  It makes alot more sense, instead, to look at more specific measures of blogging activity, things like number of posts, number of comments and audience.  These are the measures of activity we at the Automattic board take more seriously than the number of blogs created.

If the WordPress numbers are any indication of the blogosphere more broadly (I am pretty sure they are), each one of these measures has continued to enjoy very consistent, strong growth over the last 12-18 months.

Blogging Goes Mainstream-ish

March 11, 2007


What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, if you looked at the most popular tags on WordPress, it would be chock full of Web 2.0 jargon like “RSS” and “blogging” and “MySpace” etc.

I just took a peak at the tagosphere.  “Web 2.0” is the 135th most popular tags. The top 10 are:











Looks like the same topics real people talk about, doesn’t it? Is blogging going mainstream?

“Random Notes on Blogging”

January 14, 2007


The blog gapingvoid has a great post entitled : Random Notes on Blogging.

Matt Mullenweg interviewed on Cranky Geeks

December 24, 2006


Check it out here.

“Why Rocks”

November 1, 2006


I generally try not to let this blog devolve into mere pimping my portfolio companies.

However, when someone else out there is doing the promoting, I have no problem linking to it.

So, check out this cool video from the guys over at Tubetorial on “Why WordPress Rocks.”

Techmeme’s Blog Advertising

September 26, 2006


There’s been lots of discussion over how bloggers can monetize their sites.

Traditional ad models have not been so successful; sponsorships have done better, to date at least.

But Techmeme has just announced a clever new offering for advertisers: become a techmeme sponsor, and, instead of just sticking up a boring old banner on techmeme, the advertiser’s own blog feed is inserted into Techmeme.

It will be really interesting to watch how this pans out. My hunch is that for those advertisers who can grok the notion of blogging, this will become a much more effective way to reach blog readers.

“The Politics of MySpace,” Blog as an Art Form

August 13, 2006


I was just playing around with the newly released “Tagsurfing” feature on

I like it quite a bit. I think it will be most useful once I go through and pare down the particular tags I want to see “surfed.”

The jewel for me, though, was finding a beautifully done post, integrating some really thoughtful questions regarding the MySpace generation with a really tastefully selected collage of photos.

“Chartreuse” has elevated Web 2.0 blogging to a new level, virtually an art form. I strongly recommend you check it out!

“Where’s Web 2.0?”

August 7, 2006


Rob Weisman of The Boston Globe has an interesting piece this morning on the relative dearth of Web 2.0 opportunities in the Boston area.

(And, in the process, outs me as an itinerant VC Worker…)