Interview: MyBlogLog co-founder, Eric Marcoullier

MyBlogLog lets publishers set up a social network around an existing blog, so that they can learn more about their readers, and enable them to connect with one-another.

MyBogLogMyBlogLog lets publishers set up a social network around an existing blog, so that they can learn more about their readers, and enable them to connect with one-another. Fred Wilson is an admirer - not least because of the social network's interconnected nature, compared to the silos of MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. Other high profile users include Mike Arrington, and Richard MacManus (see Read/WriteWeb) - helping to generate plenty of buzz for MyBlogLog. And even if you haven't already heard of the service, chances are you've seen the site's 'Recent Visitors' widget displayed on any number of blogs you frequent.

Earlier today, I caught up with MyBlogLog co-founder and VP of Product Development, Eric Marcoullier (via IM and email), to find out more about the service and to ask where the company might be headed next.

 

What was the original idea behind MyBlogLog?

MyBlogLog Recent Readers widget
Todd Sampson and I co-founded MyBlogLog in January of 05 and we went live in March of 05. We started out as a way for bloggers to understand what links people were clicking to leave their sites. It's a vital piece of information if you want to better understand what your readers are interested in, and no one else was providing it. Over the next year, we slowly expended the stats we provided in order to give bloggers a closer connection to their readers. It was never about "how many of your users are surfing your blog at 3 in the morning using Safari at 1024 x 768" -- who cares? We wanted to provide truly actionable data -- where were people coming from, what did they look at and what did they click to leave? Those are without a doubt the three most important metrics in understanding your readers. In February of 06, Scott Rafer contacted us out of the blue with this wacky notion of building reader profiles so that bloggers could get an even better understanding of them. We fell in love with the idea, adopted Scott as the third co-founder (bringing him on as CEO) and haven't looked back since.

Fred Wilson describes MyBlogLog as an 'interconnected social network', however the site promotes the service more from the point of view of the blog publisher e.g. as a way to find out more about the visitors to your blog.

How would you describe the value of the service?

We are a social network first and foremost. The message on the site reads "Discover who reads your favorite sites (including your own)" and that's what we're all about. Whether it's readers discovering other readers or authors learning about their readers or even vice versa, we want to make that connection happen. What's key is that the line between author and reader is blurring -- even if you only have a MySpace account or a Flickr account, wouldn't you like to know more about the people who stop by? Eventually, just about everyone will have some sort of online presence and we want to make the experience more social. The stats are just a great way to quantify some of the relationships and let people track their growth. Until all the other service providers start providing stats for their members, we'll do it for them.

How do you plan on building on the social networking aspects of MyBlogLog?

The biggest upcoming feature is the custom communities. We understand that there are a ton of potential users out there who don't want to explicitly host their traffic at MyBlogLog, but would be happy to do so if the look and feel could match the rest of their site or blog. We're already testing the service out (see TechCrunch example), and we're looking forward to rolling out a self service version in Q1 07.

It's been rumored that you were acquired or going to be. Any comment? (Go on, give me something!)

We love that rumor -- it brought us a lot of traffic. Can you spread a rumor that someone else bought us? I hear that Nabisco's been snooping around.

You recently introduced MySpace integration. How does that work?

It's awesome. Our engineers, John Sampson and Steve Ho, are brilliant. Using HTML and images they've recreated nearly all the functionality of the Reader Roll, so it works just like the javascript version of our widget. Pop some code in your MySpace template and we'll tell you who's been by recently, how many people visited today and where they came from.

And finally, what's next for MyBlogLog?

No massive projections or hubristic claims, I'm afraid. All we want to do is help people feel more connected. There's all this talk of a global conversation in the blogosphere, but for a lot of people it's a load of crap. For them, it's more like broadcasting a pirate radio station and you have no idea if anyone's tuning in. What's supposed to be very connected turns out to be isolating, as faceless people swing by, peek in your windows and then leave. We hope that we can help deliver on some part of Web 2's promise of bringing people closer together.

Thanks for your time Eric.