Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #7 – Evan Williams of Odeo

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A quick glance at Evan’s bio might make it seem as though he just stumbles into all the newest, hottest trends. However, the only thing Ev stumbled into was traffic (the kind you get on the non-information highway — where he discovered the value of listening to podcasts) on his commute. After trying his hand in Nebraska’s tech entrepreneurial circuit (well, he was the circuit), Ev made the voyage out west to California. He founded Blogger, one of the most popular blogging services, sustained it throughout the dot com bust with few resources, and sold it to Google. After spending some time at Google growing Blogger, he’s back on the trail again building his new podcast business, Odeo.

Odeo is a young startup with fuel. Ev announces in this show that Odeo has just received its first round of venture funding.

Update (4/21/08): Ev returned Odeo’s funds to the investors and sold the company. He co-founded Twitter, which just raised its own funding and is on a fast growth curve.

Show notes:

1:40 First gig

2:35 Unusual places to build Internet companies

  • Referring to Dick Costolo’s remarks on our show about Chicago being a challenging place to start a technology company: ‘[Chicago] pales in comparison to Nebraska in challenges.’

3:15 Moving to California

4:50 From employee to entrepreneur

10:35 From geeks to general audience

  • Launched BlogSpot to host blogs.

12:20 Google acquisition

  • ‘Until Blogger was Google-sized, it just wasn’t interesting at the corporate level.’
  • ‘To Google’s credit, they didn’t screw it up, which is what a lot of companies do with tiny companies when they buy them.’

18:20 Odeo thinking big

  • Met co-founder Noah Glass.
  • First developed Audioblogger together.
  • Adam Curry and Dave Winer were first to develop podcasting.
  • Used Audible to pass time while commuting to Google.
  • ‘It seems like there are a hell of a lot more people in the world who don’t spend their days in front of a computer than there are that do’ The potential for audio content is possibly much greater than that of blogs as far as reaching a really mainstream audience.’

24:10 Other podcast players

  • Apple ‘made it much, much easier to use Odeo.’
  • ‘We [Apple and Odeo] work well together. I’m sticking with that story.’

28:05 Odeo’s funding

  • Until now, Odeo was angel funded by Ev and one other person.
  • Just closed on Friday (July 22) some venture funding that will be announced this week.
  • Won’t announce who’s funding it yet.

28:50 Podcast industry

  • ‘I think there are definitely gonna be people who make a living creating podcasts, or more generally, related to podcast in a bunch of different ways.’

30:35 The better suitor: Yahoo or Google?

  • ‘Podcasting is going to fit with Yahoo’s strengths pretty well…’

32:25 Next six months

  • ‘I should probably take a hint from my co-opetition, Mr. Jobs and all the friends at Google, and not comment on such questions.’
  • ‘It’s all about helping people when they come in the door go away with the stuff that they’re most compelled by and interested in.’


View Venture Voice on Odeo.
Check out what podcast Ev’s subscribed to on Odeo.

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