Jim Buckmaster (CEO Craigslist)
We manage with only 20 peope by relying on our users to manage what goes on on the site. The users keep us out of trouble. The site is the result of millions of user’s suggestions. They use feedback forums where users talk and they watch the conversation. They put up with the things that are embarrassing and take that feedback and implement it. We have been told that we can run text ads and make a bunch of money, but our users haven’t asked for it so we haven’t done it. Craig did this as a hobby. Friends told friends. It was just an email list that evolved into a website and into what it is now. Even now Craig isn’t interested in it as a business.
Richard Rosenblatt (Myspace, CEO of Demand Media)
You can build an entire media company at low cost through user-generated content. There is growth the in the 35 plus demographic because the entire world wants to be creative. They are focused on specific vertical markets – trails.com. Demand Media is a bottom up company. Let users figure out the community. Provide them the tools. Raised 220 million dollars for this new company. Bought nine companies. Demand Media runs www.trails.com, www.ehow.com, and www.wehow.com as well as others, a total of nine that they purchased with the 220 million.
Myspace success – spend no money on marketing. Instead take that money and put it into feature developments that users requested. That is their form of marketing. Tom still reviews each feature.
Provide the best tools and technologies to let people express themselves. Make it easy for them to interact with professional content. Need to provide a place where the negative stuff doesn’t get so large that users don’t feel safe.
Toni Schneider (WordPress.com, Automattic)
Took a little VC money. Focused on users and doing what they tell us. Turn users into contributors. Take principles of open source and apply them to the company. Doesn’t like the term user generated content because it doesn’t describe everything. Collective intelligence is not User Generated Content. For example, Akismet – anti spam product meant to keep spam off of blogs and wikis. Akismet sees spam across hundreds of thousands of blogs and learns. It harnesses that collective intelligence to reduce the spam problem. Opening up helped bring more users. Companies need to open up and do what is hard – give up control. Your users will generate content of very high quality. They turned translation over to their users. It took 24 hours for them to translate into German. There were few errors and only one goofy string of some guy announcing his wedding.
Owen Van Natta (Chairman Facebook)
Mark has a very user centric view of the world. Paying attention to users and being open pays massive dividends. Facebook launched the ability to share information within the site and with 3rd party sites. Allows for collaboration, commentary etc.