Posterous

When you’re building a company, you sometimes have to leave your original user base behind and focus on mass appeal

See, Twitter decided early on that it wasn’t going to pander to its original base. Smartly, Twitter decided to ignore the demands of edge-case geek users like Robert Scoble, and instead focus on mass appeal, celebrities, and building out the core platform. The robust and easy-to-use Twitter API has spurred a flourishing ecosystem of third-party apps.

Tumblr’s doing the opposite. Rather than focusing on expanding its audience and making it into a valuable platform, it’s coiling in on itself, doubling down on the un-monetizable memes that its core users love — like pictures of sharks and cats. A non-Tumblr user joining the site would have no idea what the fascination with cats and sharks is all about. It’s totally self-referential.

 

An interesting article about how Tumblr is really focusing on their core user base and adding features *those users* find valuable.

This is definitely an important concern when building a new company, but not as black and white as this post makes it seem. Posterous was always meant to have mass appeal, get millions of *new* people blogging. But at the same time, we have to take care of the early adopters, without them we wouldn’t be here today.

We’ve had to make some hard decisions already, to work on features that will really help us grow rather than features that are fun or were requested by a prominent user. This is only going to get harder from here. It’s all about balance.

Very exciting day! Released our first iPhone app, PicPosterous. Makes it easier than ever to post photos online

PicPosterous was my pet project. I really wanted to do some iPhone development and build a better way to publish photos. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the the workflow of posting photos via email. Yeah, that’s what Posterous is all about, but I felt it needed to be better.

So just as Posterous came about to fill our personal need for better web publishing, PicPosterous was built to solve my own publishing frustrations.

  • Why is my Camera app separate from the app I use to post online (Mail)? 
  • I just want all the photos I take to get posted, automatically 
  • I want to build sets of photos as I take them, not at the end 
  • Basically, I want to remove the explicit “Ok, now I need to post these” 

I designed PicPosterous to replace the Camera app on my iPhone. PicPosterous is my camera in the cloud, it’s connected, it breaks down the separation of shooting photos and posting photos. If I could delete Camera from my phone, I would.
 
I’ve been using the app for a couple months now while it was still under development. When the first Posterous prototype was built, the number of photos on my blog went up 10x. Similarly, I’m now posting more photos thanks to PicPosterous.

You can see my photo site here:

http://sachinhd.posterous.com/

I used the app a ton on my last trip to New York. I created an album for each restaurant/bar/attraction I went to and posted the photos as I took them. By the end of the weekend, my photos were already organized and published online:

http://sachinhd.posterous.com/?page=5
http://sachinhd.posterous.com/?page=6
http://sachinhd.posterous.com/?page=7
http://sachinhd.posterous.com/?page=8
 
Developing for the iPhone was a really great experience. The SDK and development tools are phenomenal. I prefer desktop and mobile development over web stuff. There were some really interesting details to tackle with iPhone development:

  • The iPhone is very resource limited. It’s slow and has little memory 
  • I threaded *everything*. The app basically never blocks 
  • Uploads queue and resume if you quit the app and relaunch (or get a phone call) 
  • PicPosterous was designed to let you shoot as fast as possible, and let everything else happen in the background
  • You can even take photos and video with no internet. They will queue for upload later
  • The app is fast, smooth, and stable

If you haven’t already, please download it here.
 
Many thanks to Kate for designing the awesome icon!

Icon_512

We got offices in North Beach. I guess we’re not cool enough to be in SOMA. I sound like one of the new Microsoft ads

We’ve looked at a lot of office space in the past few weeks. Locations fell into 3 buckets:

1. SOMA. SOMA (south of market) is where all the cool, new web 2.0 companies are based. Twitter is there, and a whole slew of Y Combinator startups. Places we saw were generally awkward or expensive. People are sharing space with lots of companies, many guys all piled into small rooms.

But I don’t get the appeal. There’s nothing around there. The food SUCKS. It’s like, the place to be because it’s “cool” but really, there are better places. Everyone is quoting “$1 per square foot!” but when you actually find space, it’s a lot more expensive than that.

Believe me, i’m not going to overpay just so I can be a little closer to Twitter HQ.

2. Financial District. We saw some REALLY sweet spaces around Union Square. Places have been empty for a while and people are willing to negotiate on rent pretty liberally. Unfortunately places were just a little too large and too expensive for what we need. But in a year, I can totally see us growing into an office there. And there’s good food to eat!

3. North Beach. It’s a little more out of the way from transportation like Bart. But it’s a beautiful neighborhood with LOTS of great food. And since we have a connection with a building owner there (my girlfriend, Kate, works in a building with openings), we got a sweet deal on a space that’s the perfect size for us.

So we’ll be in North Beach starting August 1st. I’m really looking forward to setting up the office, in particular building a kegerator. I’ve wanted my own kegerator ever since I started drinking (good) beer. When I learned Brett shares the same love, we decided this is a must for Posterous HQ. Not that North Beach is lacking in great bars…

The best legal team in the business

I was walking back from my haircut this afternoon and passed the Orrick offices in SOMA.

Photo

On the Orrick website, I saw that the 4 lawyers we have been working most closely with have degrees from Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Hastings, UCLA, Berkeley, UPenn and Columbia. Quite a list. We even have a former Cupertino mayor in the mix.
 
People usually dread working with lawyers, but i’ve really enjoyed all the time I’ve spent with ours. I highly recommend them. Don’t mess with Posterous!

Posterous now has a really amazing bookmarklet

The Posterous bookmarklet is a special bookmark that lets you quickly grab content out of the page you’re on.

Click here to install it and start posting right away.

 

Yesterday we released a bookmarklet to make it easy to share content you find online. In a single step, the bookmarklet will find the best content on the page you are on (embedded media or images), and post it to your site.

A bookmarklet is the *best* companion to post by email which Posterous has been focussing on. It’s interesting to think about why we did it before web uploading, something that seems like the most basic feature everyone else has.

When we started Posterous, the goal was to make it as easy to post as possible. People start blogs and never post to them. It’s a chore. Email makes sense because you are already in email throughout your day. You have it at work, and on your iPhone. And it’s integrated in all the apps you already use. It’s the best way to share fresh thoughts and your media.

But say you want to share something you see on the web? Use the bookmarklet! No need to copy and paste, or grab embed code (what’s that?) or even think about it for 2 seconds. No need to open a new window even. Just click and post. That’s how I created this post.

Instead of defining new behavior to post to a blog, Posterous incorporates itself in what you do constantly everyday (admit it, you surf the web and read email all day at work 🙂 ). We’ll add web uploading eventually, but it’s just not as interesting as these other workflows. Even an iPhone app seems more interesting than yet another web uploader.

Enjoy the bookmarklet and post more!

Posterous.com is NOT in beta

Garry and I have been in a lot of meetings recently talking about Posterous. Most of the time, the people we are talking to have used the product and know what we’re working on. Sometimes they haven’t. And a couple of those people asked us if we are “in beta.”

Fuck no. “Beta” is just an excuse to release buggy software and not have to take responsibility for it. Posterous.com is NOT in beta. We write the highest quality code we can, and if shit breaks, we take responsibility and fix it.

While I do think there are certain reasons to do beta releases of software, I don’t believe in mass distribution of software in “beta” quality. I really hope we never have to do that for Posterous, or anything else I work on.