I joined Tumblr in March of 2008, about a year after it launched. A year is an eternity in Internet time, but for a platform that explodes, those early users are still ahead of the curve.
Tumblr has never publicized its registered/active user numbers, but there are a few educated guesses floating around. Bijan estimates that Tumblr had 450k registered users at the end of 2008, and Peter Kafka cited 110M at the time of Tumblr’s acquisition last Spring. That places anyone who registered before the end of ‘08 in the first 0.5%. Solid “innovator” territory.
The early community on Tumblr was an incredible cross section of people who were in the know — engineers, designers, music/art/photo nuts, students, entrepreneurs, investors, etc. Early users formed tight knit communities that often made the leap from online to IRL friends. My real life connections that formed on Tumblr include Mark, Whit, Andy, Fred, Kirk, and Dan, to name just a few.
That community helped grow a little Tumblog that I wrote for my friends & family into a “kickass music blog” indexed by the Hype Machine. At some point, Chewy Vitamins hit the Tumblr Music Spotlight, I was asked to be a Music tag editor, and from there, growth drove more growth. Today, everyone understands the comparison to the iTunes Store’s Top Charts. Once you make the chart, you’ve got it made. In terms of the Diffusion of Innovations, you’ve crossed the chasm and solidly hit the mainstream.
There are a million routes to growth, but being an early adopter on a service that explodes is a common one. I experienced it on Tumblr, and there’s an endless list of users/creators/publishers who built enormous audiences on Twitter/Vine/YouTube/Instagram/Tumblr by being first and riding the wave as the tide swelled.
The specific factors include:
Becoming a big fish in a small pond
Exploiting (or stumbling on) optimization techniques that are minimized as a service matures
Relatively high signal-to-noise ratio in the early days
The support of quality communities of like-minded folks
I’m sure the list goes on. But the point is: if you want to be seen, getting onboard early can give you a great head start.
“When you break it down per day, it’s a little over 1.2 million views a day. That beats every show on Headline News, that beats every show on MSNBC, and that beats every show on CNN. A couple Fox News shows are still ahead of us, but other than that, we beat everyone on cable news.”—
“At this historical moment in the technological and cultural revolution that has turned the news business upside down, there is more money for local start-up ventures in nonprofits than in for-profits.”—
Hi friends. A quick professional update. I’m happy to share that I’ve joined Big Frame, an exciting new media company here in LA. Big Frame helps independent video creators produce, market and monetize their work. I will lead Product Strategy for the company.
We work with producers like DeStorm, Mystery Guitar Man, and What’s Up Elle. We also run the networks BAMMO and Forefront, with more in the works. If you want to follow along, subscribe to those channels! And for a little glimpse into office life at Big Frame, check this video featuring many of my colleagues and starring my desk — the Thanksgiving table.
It’s a fascinating time in the evolution of the television business, and I’m thrilled to be in on the action. Stay tuned!
“I don’t like Los Angeles. The people are awful and terribly shallow, and everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to play the game. I’m from New York. I will kill to get what I need.”—Lady Gaga (via andyswan)
“When I was young there were beatniks. Hippies. Punks. Gangsters. Now you’re a hacktivist. Which I would probably be if I was 20. Shuttin’ down MasterCard. But there’s no look to that lifestyle! Besides just wearing a bad outfit with bad posture. Has WikiLeaks caused a look? No! I’m mad about that. If your kid comes out of the bedroom and says he just shut down the government, it seems to me he should at least have an outfit for that.”—John Waters (via bbook)
“A full report is below, but here a few highlights from our findings: Pinterest is retaining and engaging users as much as 2-3x as efficiently as Twitter was at a similar time in its history. Pins link to a tremendously large universe of sites. Etsy is the most popular source of pin content, but it only represents about 3% of pins. Over 80% of pins are re-pins, demonstrating the tremendous virality at work in the Pinterest community. To contrast, a study done at a similar time in Twitter’s history showed that only about 1.4% of tweets were retweets. The quality of the average new user (as defined by their level of engagement and likelihood to remain active) is high but declining. Users who have joined in recent months are 2-3x less active during their first month than the users that came before them.”
My $.02: “Listen with friends” is a function I long for, but Facebook’s implementation is a non-starter for me. Not to be anti-social, but there’s almost nothing less appealing than making myself available on chat to the unqualified pool of high school classmates, people I’ve met at parties, past and current coworkers, relatives, friends of friends, etc. that are my Facebook friends. No chance.
I’ve had a hard time with Turntable.FM. I’ve had some fun with it and think there is a ton of opportunity in this space, but between the load issues and crashing iPhone app, I’ve shied away. I look forward to someone doing this right.
Yesterday Facebook got into the “Listen With” game by announcing a new feature that allows people to click a button and listen to what their friends are listening to along with them. I haven’t tried it yet but it does look pretty nice.
Of course, as soon as they announced it, everyone cried “they are stealing from Turntable.fm”. Techcrunch even ran a followup post where Billy Chasen the founder of Turntable.fm said he was flattered Facebook was copying them.
Here’s the thing: Facebook is not copying Turntable. Not only are the features pretty different, but the idea of listening with friends is as old as, I don’t know, say, music.
As listening moved online, one of the promises of that was the idea that we could now network our stereos and listen to music with other people regardless of physical location. I’ll argue that no one has nailed it yet but clearly we are getting close. I believe the way to do it right is to study how, why and when people listen to music and then shape these tools to support that behavior. We (exfm) have some interesting ideas around how to do this, but are not ready to roll anything substantial out yet. Judging from the comments on those TC posts, it looks like there are a bunch of sites out there trying as well.
“Macondo was already a fearful whirlwind of dust and rubble being spun about by the wrath of the biblical hurricane when Aureliano skipped eleven pages so as not to lose time with facts he knew only too well, and he began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror. Then he skipped again to anticipate the predictions and ascertain the date and circumstances of his death. Before reading the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”—
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude