RebelMouse Founder & CEO Paul Berry | The Innovators Interviews
TechFaster: Hi Everyone. We’re here to talk with Paul Berry who’s the founder of RebelMouse. Thank you for joining us, Paul.
Paul Berry: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
TechFaster: Yeah, no problem. Could you tell us a little bit about RebelMouse and how it was founded?
Paul Berry: Sure. So RebelMouse is a social content publishing system. It’s a social front page for anything, anyone and everyone basically. So I was CTO of Huffington Post before founding this and so there were a lot of things that I learned in there and I ran product and design and engineering there. So the reason RebelMouse exists is that I think there are a lot of things that are missing from the open web and for how people are publishing today. So basically in a lot of ways RebelMouse is a content management system that’s built from the ground up about social.
So most CMS’s, Content Management Systems are really like creaky and all and really there’s nothing that has been developed from the ground up knowing about how fragmented people would be between trying to keep up with Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and how hard it would be to present all this information in a single place. But have that be a publishing platform and not just an about me profile or a social aggregator. So I’m really excited about where we are today. We’re about six months out of launch. We’re reaching about 1.5 million unique visitors.
We have 235,000 sites signed up and people are using it for an amazing assortment of things. So Time.com used it to power their person-of-the-year announcement which is like their big event. So that was really exciting. Wall Street Journal used it to cover the fiscal cliff and they’re both going to use it actually probably again next week without being able to say for what, but the repeat use is what they’re deciding. We design everyone from brands like GE and IBM to publishers like Reuters and Mashable and Endgadget, TechCrunch too.
We’ve had [inaudible] names and users, for example small companies, bloggers, individuals. It’s really resonating with people that you get twice or three times as much out of the combination of curation and content creation. So that’s one of the fundamental things. The other thing that is really exciting for people is that the way blogs are ordered right now [inaudible], by default that reason they should be a factor of how page is ordered, but RebelMouse lets you choose what’s most important to you and you can freeze that up top. So if you’re a social media either manager or campaign manager or you’re a social media expert, I believe you have all these tools to give back to the company you work for more than you’ve ever had before.
You can run your website and you can be collaborative about it and contribute and when someone incredible tweets a really positive thing about you, right now that gets, you retweet it once but it gets lost in your stream. With RebelMouse, you can take it and freeze it up at the top of your page so that when someone comes and finds out about you, they don’t miss that [inaudible] said something great about you or whatever it is that that was that highlight moment. So I should pause. How much of that is making sense for you guys so far?
TechFaster: It makes perfect sense. That’s really good insight. I’m wondering about like the relative difficulty of incorporating the different social media platforms.
Paul Berry: Well, I guess that they each – I have a really good relationship with key people in each of those companies because of the experience at Huffington Post. So what’s really important to us is that we are treating each one as the same. So there’s different difficulties in each one. For Twitter, we were one of the first companies to move to the new API which was really important. We’ve done it from the beginning about it not just being give us the fire hose and we’ll republish all this stuff. It’s about the consent from the user of please do these to my tweets.
So we have a tremendous amount of people who have aloft RebelMouse. The treatment of the tweets follow their displaying requirements. It’s really difficult to match because it’s not petty on their side. I think they’re doing the right thing. They want what we want which is that if you retweet somebody, if you’re a Twitter user that’s not on RebelMouse, when you join RebelMouse and now you’re powering your domain with it or your bio points to the RebelMouse site, whatever it is, when you retweet someone, that person should be followed a lot because you retweeted that and they’re going to look at oh wow, I got all these followers because you tweeted me.
So we have very aligned mission. So being able to work with Twitter carefully has been wonderful, getting their feedback has made the product better. But it was really difficult to get to that point where the experience was perfect for RebelMouse users, but it did match displayer requirements and we took even one step further than their requirements in terms of making it really push to their follow graph, et cetera. Facebook for example has a very different set of problems. Twitter has this advantage that everything you tweet you know it’s public.
So while there’s this protected timeline feature, almost nobody uses it and you have an understanding when you tweet that this something that’s for everyone. We do follow rules, like if you have to reply stuff to somebody [inaudible] just publish that because there’s an inherent, while it’s not private, it’s targeted and so that’s not necessarily what should show up on your homepage unless you’d like to. So we do those in drafts and then you can publish them. Facebook has a very different problem/opportunity, but a lot of what you post to Facebook is not intended to be public. It’s supposed to be seen by only a smaller group of people.
So we’re very careful about the privacy settings that you have on Facebook and if you have it for only friends to see, we don’t suddenly just burn you and publish it further as in maybe it’s you in a bathing suit and it was fine for if you want people to see it, but that’s what you want on your homepage. But on the other hand, maybe you look great in a bathing suit. So you can publish that if you’d like. So each of these networks have a lot of different nuances and we think those nuances are not a little important, they’re fundamentally important.
Google Plus we’ve got a relation with and it’s been interesting to see. There’s been a lot of take on it. It’s been a little bit harder to get the API limits that we need. They start you out at 10,000 requests a day and our system immediately was asking for, like there was enough demand to make a million requests a day and it’s been a slower process to get that request up than anyone on the team has been thrilled about, but we’re getting there.
So we have Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, RSS, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter right now and the next network up will be LinkedIn. But we’re getting to the point where pretty much everything can flow in. So that’s very exciting and our engine allows for a stream of content to be passed appropriately and to be made beautiful and drive the right image and do the right attribution. That was a very long answer.
TechFaster: I noticed that on my individual page and I understand that RebelMouse is still in beta, but I noticed there wasn’t any branding on the individual pages. I just wondered if that was an intentional move on your part or if that’s just a function of the product being in beta and you’re working on those things.
Paul Berry: it’s a little bit of both. I want RebelMouse to power the open web. So I want an enormous amount of people, 30 million people in a year to understand what RebelMouse is and to be using it, but I want them to be able to present their audiences which would reach more like 500 million people with their own brand and we’re a platform and a tool and we don’t want to push the RebelMouse brand on people so strong, like we don’t want to be a Facebook or a Twitter.
We want to work with the Facebooks and Twitters and we’re not trying to convince you to leave Facebook or Twitter, but we want to really power your site and power your profiles and get you dynamic ways to [inaudible] content. But there are things that we’d like to do, like it probably makes sense to remove the branding that you pay a few bucks a month. So there is some fair exchange there. We’re thrilled that we get many emails a day saying hey, when can I start paying? So we’re working on something that has a natural paying and price point.
TechFaster: That’s a good problem to have. That’s great. My question is, what do you think the future of social media is?
Paul Berry: Well, I think that the future is that it’s just media, that right now it’s so new that we use the word social to remind ourselves constantly that this isn’t a fad and it’s going to be something that becomes absolutely default. It’s amazing how well people can follow each other and organize around groups. I think it will always be a fast, a world that changes incredibly quickly. Bianca Bosker had a great post on Huffington Post. She’s a tech editor there about the world, the internet as seen by teenagers and in that world Tumblr is actually much more significant than Facebook.
So I think that it’s amazing how quickly, it used to take us all a long time to find out about the next big thing and I think that the half-life of those things are just insane how quickly we find out about whether it’s Snaptu or Instagram or whatever it is. So what’s so fun is that we’re in the very, very early years of this and I think that the people who embrace change are going to love the world and people who hate change are going to hate the world, especially social.
TechFaster: Great. Well, I think that about wraps it up for us. We really appreciate your participation. That was really good insight for the TechFaster community and we’ll be looking to hear and see great things from RebelMouse.
Paul Berry: Thanks guys. We’re a big fan of you.