Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #32 – David Sifry of Technorati

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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.”

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