Russ: This is the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and online at The BusinessMakers.com. And now it's time for the Aflac BusinessMakers Flashback, brought to you by Aflac, ask about it at work. And today we're going to roll back to Episode #174 from October of last year when our own Social Media expert, Erica O'Grady was out in the Bay Area where she met up and spent time with Pete Cashmore, the young founder and CEO of Mashable.
Erica: I'm here today in sunny San Francisco, California with Pete Cashmore, who is the founder and CEO of Mashable. Welcome Pete.
Pete: Hi Erica. Thanks.
Erica: So for those of you who don't know, Mashable is actually one of the top ten blogs in the world and the number one online source for social news and social networking sites. Is that correct?
Pete: I'll have to check on the rankings, but certainly we're one of the top sources of news about new social networks. So we're talking about things like MySpace, things like FaceBook, and also new services like Twitter which is a mobile messaging platform. And we're really a news source for everyone who's in that industry, and also just people who are interested in social networks; who maybe use FaceBook or MySpace casually and want to know things like, "Hmm, what can I add to my FaceBook page? What applications can I add, and what kinds of things can I do with FaceBook these days?"
Erica: So you have a very interesting story. As of today-today's your birthday-you're 23 years old.
Pete: Yeah, I'm 23 and I founded Mashable when I was 19.
Erica: And you were living in Aberdeen, Scotland, which isn't exactly Silicon Valley.
Pete: It isn't exactly Silicon Valley, but the great thing about the Internet is that you can essentially start a company from anywhere, and as long as you work really hard at it, and you have a fairly good idea, then I think you can compete from anywhere in the world.
Erica: So tell me about how you got the idea for starting Mashable?
Pete: So when I was starting Mashable, I-you know-obviously living in Scotland, there aren't that many opportunities. I realized quite quickly that the Internet was really going to be the huge platform for my generation. It was going to be the huge opportunity for me, and I was just really interested in social networks in particular, which were growing like crazy. I mean, MySpace had millions and millions of users at that point, and I thought, okay, I want to get interested in this market. I don't really know that much about it. I started writing about. A lot of people started following that, and I would still have aspirations to actually build a social network which would be within that space directly, but writing about it just really took off, and I thought well, we'll go with this.
Erica: And what really happened is Mashable itself has now become its own social network. It's where people are sharing their stories about other social networks.
Pete: Well, I think what's interesting is that the entire web has become a social network. That's really what's happened over the past three, four years, that where setting up a social network and blog seemed like a niche at the time, and now we've just come out with a new version of the site that's all that's new on the web. It's essentially web news, because what's happened on the web since we've been around has been that everything has become social networking, that there's really nothing on the web that is not social, that's not sharable, that's not connecting you with your friends in some way. There's very few applications on the Internet now where you just go, and you're on your own, and there's no option, for instance, to share the link with a friend, or email a friend, or-you know-post the link to Twitter, to share it out on your mobile phone. It's all sharable, and it's all social now. It's almost like the web has caught up with us, and the niche has become basically a defining feature of the web now.
Erica: How many people are actually reading Mashable today?
Pete: How many people are reading Mashable today? Well, I mean, there are so many, and statistics are not my favorite thing, but for instance, our OSS numbers were 180,000 last time I checked, which means that essentially somewhere around that many people check within a feed reader, they that subscribe to the site. When you look at actually numbers, we're talking, in terms of people actually hitting the site, we're talking millions every month, and it really depends what you get down to. I mean, absolute uniques are in the millions. That's about as far as I'll go before people start getting into various debates about what different stats mean. I mean, it's like television stats essentially, but certainly we're acknowledged as one of the most popular, most influential blogs in the space.
Erica: If you could do all over again, what would you do differently?
Pete: That's a great one. I think naivety can be really advantages because if you'd known the challenges you were going to face, you might not have started. I think the key thing is not to let your vision be diluted or to be steered away from what your core is. I think that's so difficult as you expand the company, especially, to maintain the essence of what you were doing when it was just you. And it's really, really hard to transfer your knowledge and your skills to a team as it continues to grow, so what would be my core, core thing of what would I do differently? I don't think I would do much differently. I really don't. What I might do, is do less. I think sometimes as you expand it becomes tempting to get into all different areas or related, because when you're running with essentially an online magazine, its really tempting to diversify into new areas and to add pieces which are not core to you. So I think what we've definitely done with the new site that's just come out, is we're just kind of reverted to our core. We've said, "No, we're to focus yet again on content. It's the content that people come for." So to summarize that point, I think, do one thing. Do it really, really, well. Don't get distracted. Don't let other people tell you what your vision should be. Stick to the vision. Be consistent and then just work, work, work, work.
Russ: And that concludes our flashback with Pete Cashmore founder and CEO of Mashable. And that wraps up this Businessmakers Flashback brought to you by Aflac, ask about it at work. And now its time for another Advantage Point, so lets welcome Katie Laird.
Russ: Your listening to the Businessmakers Show heard here and online at thebusinessmakers.com. Stay tuned for another Businessmakers Dealmakers Series with Blair Garrou, of DFJ Mercury reviewing Moximity with founder and CEO Bryan Jones.