VV Show #11 - Scott Rafer of Feedster
If you thought you're an entrepreneur just because you started a software company in Silicon Valley, you're dead wrong, according to Scott Rafer. It's just too easy. Scott's the CEO of San Francisco-based Feedster, an RSS search engine and ad network that allows people to find blogs, jobs and more. Scott is no stranger to the startup world, having been an entrepreneur in several parts of the world. He's not afraid to speak his mind, either, as a blunt blogger and speaker.
Update (4/5/08): Since this interview Scott left Feedster, which is now out of operation. He joined MyBlogLog as CEO and sold it to Yahoo! within a year for a reported $10 million. He's now the CEO of Lookery.
1:30 Career start
- Did an internal startup for Kodak at age 28.
3:00 Corporate entrepreneurship
- 'The resources were pretty good but you paid for them by having 10 or 20% of your time sucked up doing things that were not moving either your individual business or in fact the overall corporate business forward.'
- Reading Seth Godin's new book, Free Prize Inside.
- 'Startups are too easy out here' in Silicon Valley.
10:00 Previous venture
- Stared WiFinder, a WiFi search engine, on September 5, 2001.
11:15 Being too early in a market
- 'First issue is how do you recognize if you are too early? I'm personally not very good at it.'
- Co-founded WiFinder with Oren Michels, who now is VP of Engineering at Feedster.
- On the board of advisors of Digital Railroad, which is 'the next generation of what Corbis does.'
- 'What you have to do is fall in love with the channel,' not the product.
- 'So if you're too early with a particular product, figure out who the product would serve, figure out how they want to buy it, and sell them something much, much, dumber until the market comes to fruition.'
15:15 Feedster involvement
- Went to Kevin Werbach's Supernova conference.
- Ran into Fran�ois Schiettecatte and got stuck in the Baltimore airport with him for 5 hours.
19:40 The next Google?
- Building a specialized advertising network.
- Providing private label search to AOL.
- Competitor IceRocket is funded by billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
- 'Mark Cuban is awesome, clearly. However, sometime he sticks with something for years and years and sometimes he sticks for something for weeks and weeks.'
- Competitor Technorati 'they spend all their time, and as far as anyone can tell every single employee, trying to drive traffic to their front door.'
- 'I'm thrilled that the Feedster 500 kicked some serious butt.'
24:30 Founder relations
- Two founders: Scott Johnson (blog) and Francois Schiettecatte.
- 'I'm getting founder-like at this point but I'm clearly not a founder.'
- 'The working relationship, it's sort of like old married couples by this point.'
- 'One of the things on my list is to go find a big Chinese partner.'
- Jason Calacanis gave Scott a 'pat on the back' for the Feedster 500.
31:15 Political views and causes
- Blogs often about politics.
- 'The four of us are free speech nuts.'
35:30 Audio vs. text
- 'We don't have anything going in the podcasting world, because I don't see how to generate revenue from it nearly as efficiently as text. But I'm a little weird this way, I don't have a TV, I don't have a MP3 player.'
- Referenced show with Evan Williams.
37:35 West vs. East Coast
- Advisor to Wireless Ink on Long Island, NY.
- 'Silicon Valley and San Francisco, I hesitate to call those of us out here running companies entrepreneurs' it's too easy to get the infrastructure.'
- Mentions Ellen Pack who runs a sophisticated nanny business.
- Mentions Flickr as an example.
- 'Other parts of the world, they're like, you idiot, go get a job.'
- 'Most of the world is not friendly to starting even the most attractive of startups, never mind the crazy crap most of us do.'
48:10 Threats to Feedster
- 'I watch the larger players with a tremendous degree of paranoia.'
50:40 Speculating on the future
- 'My crystal ball is just as broken as everyone else's.'
Scott Rafer is President and CEO of Feedster, a fast-growing blog search engine and advertising network. Feedster delivers more relevant, and timely information by continuously collecting data from nearly 7 million RSS content feeds. Before Feedster, Rafer co-founded WiFinder, the Wi-Fi hotspot directory; BookBroadband, the broadband hotel finder; Fresher Information, RSS indexing way too early; and FotoNation, a creator of connected photography solutions.
Previously, Rafer led the Internet products group at Kodak Hollywood and worked in investment banking at Needham & Company. For school, Rafer graduated from the Management of Technology program at the University of Pennsylvania.
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