Louis Gray Nails the FriendFeed Dilemma
Whether you adore FriendFeed and don't get why your friends don't, or you're one of those friends who just doesn't get the hype, you should check out this post by Louis Gray on what FriendFeed needs to do to grow. (And, I'll add survive.) I'm one of the users he describes that has a good number of followers and has a ton of data pouring into the site, but almost never goes there. This graph absolutely nails my experience:
"New users signing up to FriendFeed, by default, see all updates from all friends who they are following, as well as updates from friends of a friend. This means that even if you start out following only a few dozen people, be they those automatically synchronized with your Facebook account, or recommended well-known Silicon Valley digerati, you can be flooded with updates from Twitter, Blogs, bookmarking sites, external commenting sites, BrightKite location notices, photos from Flickr and other sites, videos from YouTube, and even items from Amazon.com wish lists. And not only do you have to see all this from the people you know, but you'll even have to see updates from friends of those you know, if your friends have made an action on their updates.
What needs to happen is that FriendFeed must tier their offering, for "small", "medium" and "large" consumption. The Lite version would probably start out with blog postings, Flickr photos, and native FriendFeed entries. The default behavior should be that you would need to "opt in" to see a service, rather than be forced to opt out or hide every single one of them as FriendFeed adds them. FriendFeed already supports more than 50 different services, but the excitement this may bring to power users is just overwhelming to new folks."
As Louis suggests, FriendFeed has done nothing to reengage me as an inactive user with a lot of followers. Worse: I've reached out to FriendFeed's founders as a reporter for a get-to-know-you meeting more than once and never even received an email or call back. This is not an ego thing, I hardly get all my emails and phone calls returned, trust me. And frankly, I didn't doggedly pursue it, because I'm not sure my non-blog audience does care about FriendFeed. But I bring it up as a news flash for FriendFeed: You are a startup, that doesn't want to pay for a marketing department. I write a column and host a show that reaches millions and millions of people outside the echo chamber who have never heard of you. Why would that not rank a call back? Job #1 when building a consumer web business is to build something worthwhile, which I think conceptually FriendFeed has. Job #2 is to promote it. It's not rocket science.
As Louis says, the company has instead relied on bloggers and tech publications to spread the word. That is myopic and naive. It's one thing to be a lean startup with no marketing department. It's another to pretend even the biggest cheerleaders in the Valley ecosystem will be enough to make your company a mainstream product. After all, early adopters tend to treat Web startups like fads. It's the "real people" who build a sustainable, real business. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook-- they all get that and that's why they don't cater features to the Valley elite's power users.
I'm predicting a modest acquisition in someone's future, with a price tag that decreases as the brutal 2009 wears on. That's a shame for a company that had a bright future and a good product, but it goes to show it's as much about execution as it is idea and attention.
An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.
Buy it from these sellers
On the Blog
- Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky
- Food and Drink
- International Travel Tips
- Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good
- Silicon Valley
- the always controversial sarah lacy
- venture capital