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VV Show #32 - David Sifry of Technorati

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Dave Sifry

Starting a service aimed at the blogging community is like jumping into a pressure cooker – all of the users are critics and have bullhorns. Good thing David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, has a thick skin he’s built after founding four businesses. He’s not one to go on the defensive. Dave, a first time CEO after serving as CTO at his prior ventures, simply wants to “be of service.” Technorati is now of service to many people. It tracks 2.3 billion links and is, in its own words, “the authority on what's going on in the world of weblogs.”

Show notes:

1:35 Starting career as engineer

  • Worked for Mitsubishi Electronics in Japan.
  • “I was the first foreigner to come into my factory in 17 years.”
  • “Being a cog in someone else’s big wheel just wasn’t for me.”
  • “I’m not an engineer.”

5:45 Learning not to engineer
  • Started Linuxcare (now Levanta) in 1998.
  • “Somebody had to pull my fingers away from the keyboard.”
  • “Different people react differently under stress. You don’t want to hire a group of people who all react the same way when they get stressed out.”
  • “You can’t just delegate responsibility. That’s only half the battle. You have to delegate authority as well.”

12:30 Authority and responsibility
  • “If you can’t say ‘no’ then what’s the point of saying ‘yes’?”

16:45 Past ventures
  • Started first business at age 16 in high school and helped to pay way though college.
  • First business: Secure Remote.
  • “You can plan yourself into failure.”
  • Second business in 1998: Linuxcare.
  • Third business: Sputnik.

20:15 Motives for starting Technorati
  • “I think I’m just weird.”
  • “I love doing what I do.”
  • “That’s our mantra: Be of service.”
  • “I firmly reject the notion that the primary reason for companies to exist is to make a profit.”

26:30 Purpose and profit
  • “I sleep like a baby.”

29:45 Dealing with competitors

30:15 Scrutiny of bloggers

  • “I work in a business where satisfied customers walk around with bullhorns.”
  • “And I also work in a business where unsatisfied customers walk around with bullhorns.”
  • Reason Technorati had growth troubles: “We forgot to buy hardware.”
  • “I forgot to sign the order to buy more machines.”
  • “I just screwed up. Mea culpa.”

37:00 Getting the word out

41:15 From CTO to CEO

  • “Far more important than the technology you have is the team that you build.”

43:00 Sticking with Technorati
  • “I can’t believe they actually pay me for this.”

Posted by Greg Galant on Apr 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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what are his thoughts on china blocking technorati??

Posted by: vinu at April 27, 2006 5:58 AM

Another great, inspiring and highly relevant show. What inspired me the most was Dave realization that he can move out of his engineering background to other things he's better at. It wa great to hear from him about delegation of responsibility and authority.

Also, building a culture around the concept of being of service to others and considering money as 'merely' the healthy side effect of the exsistence of a company are truly inspiring and useful ideas.

VentureVoice is doing a great great service to entrpreneurs and would be entrepreneurs here. Keep it up.

Posted by: Ahmad Humeid at April 30, 2006 10:33 AM

Great interview , but how about interviewing one man web sites that generate great income considering their size. I can only hear so much about venture capital, it's as if some people never heard of starting small, but hey, thats just me . Keep up the great work, I love the podcasts.

Posted by: Jerome Mayle at May 1, 2006 11:57 PM

Wow, I've just listened to this show and you can tell that Mr. Sifry loves what he does - so energetic, so passionate. Great show.

And I would like to second the thought about cross industry fields of the podcasts and the emerging common lines.

I love Venture Voice and I am glad that there are still some 10 or 15 shows I did not listened to yet so I am looking forward to them.

Keep rockin

Posted by: Jan Korbel at May 2, 2006 1:44 PM

One more thing: guest suggestion for your show - Paul Graham. That would be nice.

Posted by: Jan Korbel at May 4, 2006 10:11 AM

Not one of the best people you're interviewd. I'm glad I don't work for him, he'd drive me nuts.

Funny how in your previus interview Scott remarked that Dave got it right by raising some serious money, yet he says that Technorati did it on little money. Maybe why Dave was able to get enough money and Scott not?

Posted by: Peter Wilson at May 9, 2006 9:45 AM

Yes, Paul Graham would be nice. For my comment on the show see http://www.filipdewaard.com/internet/dave-sifri-of-technorati-in-venture-voice-podcast/ .

Posted by: Filip de Waard at May 26, 2006 9:21 AM

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