Zooomr’s longest week

For those who have been watching, Zooomr (photosharing site that’s done by one 19-year-old) has been down all week. I visited Kristopher Tate and CEO Thomas Hawk on Friday and I could tell that it was a long week that wasn’t close to being over yet.

But now Kristopher’s mood is getting better. You can watch him live and talk with a bunch of other fans. Will it come up today? Will Zooomr’s longest week end?

Oh, and really great move to competitor Yahoo/Flickr who sent over a Pizza last week.

Why did it take so long? They had a machine die as they were starting the move over to the new system. Plus a bunch of data that didn’t move smoothly to their new database. When I visited him on Friday there was nothing he could do except wait for machines to work.

On the other hand, Tony Hung over at Deep Jive Interests notes how loyal Zooomr’s users are.

To me, though, it points out why you need SOME funding behind you. If you’re going to turn on tons of new features you need to have a parallel set of servers where you can play around with, test things out, and then switch things over to. Kristopher told me on Friday that they, indeed, are looking for funding. The new feature set that they showed my cameras might just be the ticket to getting that. Kristopher is indeed brilliant, but needs help building up a team to take Zooomr worldwide.

What is the new feature set’s strongest feature? It’s been localized to a bunch of different langauges (its fastest-growing set of users aren’t in America because of that). Kristopher taught himself Japanese and lived in Japan for a while, so that understanding of Asian languages and cultures has already proved beneficial to Zooomr.

But now he needs to gas up, hire a team so that there’s not another long, sleepless week, and so he can buy the servers this service deserves.

I wonder, though, whether there’ll be someone out there who’ll fund this because the space is already pretty darn competitive? I have a feeling that because of Photobucket’s sale for $250 million to MySpace that there’ll be someone willing to bet on Kristopher. What do you think?

UPDATE: Kristopher just said he’ll probably have his new version up later tonight. Me? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.

86 thoughts on “Zooomr’s longest week

  1. @35 “Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.”

    I’m guessing you are referring to Traf-o-Data. Well, even then Gates was more motivated by the business possibility of that than he was the geek aspect. He saw that the city could use that type of data. And then he and Allen went on to build BASIC languages and, well, SOLD them; didn’t give them away. Again, saw the BUSINESS potential. And then, BOUGHT DOS and by sheer stroke of luck, got a deal with IBM. All because he saw the BUSINESS VALUE (read:$$$$$) in doing so. So, to suggest Gates was anything other than a businessman at his core is to ignore a lot.

  2. @35 “Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.”

    I’m guessing you are referring to Traf-o-Data. Well, even then Gates was more motivated by the business possibility of that than he was the geek aspect. He saw that the city could use that type of data. And then he and Allen went on to build BASIC languages and, well, SOLD them; didn’t give them away. Again, saw the BUSINESS potential. And then, BOUGHT DOS and by sheer stroke of luck, got a deal with IBM. All because he saw the BUSINESS VALUE (read:$$$$$) in doing so. So, to suggest Gates was anything other than a businessman at his core is to ignore a lot.

  3. Simon: I doubt there were very many engaged users of the service like you point out. There aren’t many people who post as much photography as Thomas Hawk does, though.

  4. Simon: I doubt there were very many engaged users of the service like you point out. There aren’t many people who post as much photography as Thomas Hawk does, though.

  5. @34 100,000 engaged users is a significant number. I’d want to know the number of users they’re *adding* each month before trying to figure out what they’re worth though. And how many users did they have last month; three months ago; six months ago.

    Also, as a sense check, 10TB of storage doesn’t like a huge amount to me if they have 100,000 engaged users. 10TB = 10,000GB. So that makes 0.1GB per user, or 100MB per user on average (maybe 25 photos) Is my arithmetic wrong? I’d have thought an engaged user would have more like say 250 photographs. So, perhaps Zoomr really has more like ten thousand engaged users? If that were true, that’s *not* a significant number.

    So, I think the devil is really in the detail as to whether Zoomr has any value *right now* to a high-quality VC…

  6. @34 100,000 engaged users is a significant number. I’d want to know the number of users they’re *adding* each month before trying to figure out what they’re worth though. And how many users did they have last month; three months ago; six months ago.

    Also, as a sense check, 10TB of storage doesn’t like a huge amount to me if they have 100,000 engaged users. 10TB = 10,000GB. So that makes 0.1GB per user, or 100MB per user on average (maybe 25 photos) Is my arithmetic wrong? I’d have thought an engaged user would have more like say 250 photographs. So, perhaps Zoomr really has more like ten thousand engaged users? If that were true, that’s *not* a significant number.

    So, I think the devil is really in the detail as to whether Zoomr has any value *right now* to a high-quality VC…

  7. @Zaid,

    “Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.”

    One word answer, Traf-O-Data. Do your homework.
    Best example I can give is RedHat. They were/are selling something everybody was/is giving away and does to this day, and they did it because of marvelous business and infrastructure. 10TB is certainly impressive sounding, but with 1TB desktop drives now out, that’s about 2 Rackmount 2Us or 2 power macs plus a space in a cage at a datacenter. Again, not undermining, but stating reality.

  8. @Zaid,

    “Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.”

    One word answer, Traf-O-Data. Do your homework.
    Best example I can give is RedHat. They were/are selling something everybody was/is giving away and does to this day, and they did it because of marvelous business and infrastructure. 10TB is certainly impressive sounding, but with 1TB desktop drives now out, that’s about 2 Rackmount 2Us or 2 power macs plus a space in a cage at a datacenter. Again, not undermining, but stating reality.

  9. Oh, and they are looking into Amazon’s Web services. The trouble is, they say, those services are too slow for their liking. Good for backup, but not good for main servers.

    Zaid is right. You gotta prove that you can build a service of value first to attract capital and people.

    This is why most businesses are built by people who have past business success.

    If Kristopher succeeds in a resource-depleted environment he’ll learn a lot of lessons that will prove valuable later when he gets funded. And if he doesn’t get funded he can always go and work for a big company for a while.

  10. Oh, and they are looking into Amazon’s Web services. The trouble is, they say, those services are too slow for their liking. Good for backup, but not good for main servers.

    Zaid is right. You gotta prove that you can build a service of value first to attract capital and people.

    This is why most businesses are built by people who have past business success.

    If Kristopher succeeds in a resource-depleted environment he’ll learn a lot of lessons that will prove valuable later when he gets funded. And if he doesn’t get funded he can always go and work for a big company for a while.

  11. @31
    Yes Chris, most successful companies to grow need a great business strategy and/or guy. But at MOST of these companies, it isn’t the BUSINESS side of them that makes their product take off. Google took off because it was better technology. Yahoo took off because it was just damn useful directory of links. Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.

    It’s obvious you need great business understanding inside your company to build something of financial value. But to suggest that the original strengths of past great founders have been their business acumen would be wrong. Kris may or may not have the business acumen or skills to get the right guys–but he’s not even at the stage where we know the answer to that. He’s still on step one where you build a product of some value.

    –Zaid

  12. I think we can all agree that Kristopher and Thomas have made a bunch of mistakes in overpromising and under delivering. That said, I like the service and if they can get it up the new version will bring lots of people to it.

    They have 100,000 users and have 10 terabytes of photos stored.

  13. I think we can all agree that Kristopher and Thomas have made a bunch of mistakes in overpromising and under delivering. That said, I like the service and if they can get it up the new version will bring lots of people to it.

    They have 100,000 users and have 10 terabytes of photos stored.

  14. @31
    Yes Chris, most successful companies to grow need a great business strategy and/or guy. But at MOST of these companies, it isn’t the BUSINESS side of them that makes their product take off. Google took off because it was better technology. Yahoo took off because it was just damn useful directory of links. Gates spent much more time on product development than business strategy in his teen days.

    It’s obvious you need great business understanding inside your company to build something of financial value. But to suggest that the original strengths of past great founders have been their business acumen would be wrong. Kris may or may not have the business acumen or skills to get the right guys–but he’s not even at the stage where we know the answer to that. He’s still on step one where you build a product of some value.

    –Zaid

  15. @32,

    I’m not trying to attack people. Sorry if it came off that way.

    They could actually make a lot of money(millions) by selling the server software now that I think of it. I’d buy a license for sure. A lot of social networks would. It would have to be secure as crap to have the src out there though.

  16. @32,

    I’m not trying to attack people. Sorry if it came off that way.

    They could actually make a lot of money(millions) by selling the server software now that I think of it. I’d buy a license for sure. A lot of social networks would. It would have to be secure as crap to have the src out there though.

  17. I stand by Zooomr, and will. Afterall, it’s an effort by a friend of mine, even though I’ve never seen him.

    Chris, don’t attack me: You’ll be arrested for physically abusing a child :D

  18. I stand by Zooomr, and will. Afterall, it’s an effort by a friend of mine, even though I’ve never seen him.

    Chris, don’t attack me: You’ll be arrested for physically abusing a child :D

  19. @Zaid,

    You are wrong about Microsoft and Google. Not sure about Yahoo. To call Gates anything less than the most ruthless business person is inaccurate in my opinion. Those who started RH and Google were also very well educated in business. Google only really took off when Schmidt took over anyway. I have no idea about the origins of Yahoo. I could never characterize Gates writing Altair basic at Harvard as folks playing around with something. They didn’t even have an Altair to do it with and built it solely from the specifications. Likewise with Google and Pagerank. Page and Brin were hardly playing around with something, and they were hardly short of interest or funding. Just wanted to clear that up. If I’m wrong, somebody quick jump in and correct me. I welcome it.

  20. @Zaid,

    You are wrong about Microsoft and Google. Not sure about Yahoo. To call Gates anything less than the most ruthless business person is inaccurate in my opinion. Those who started RH and Google were also very well educated in business. Google only really took off when Schmidt took over anyway. I have no idea about the origins of Yahoo. I could never characterize Gates writing Altair basic at Harvard as folks playing around with something. They didn’t even have an Altair to do it with and built it solely from the specifications. Likewise with Google and Pagerank. Page and Brin were hardly playing around with something, and they were hardly short of interest or funding. Just wanted to clear that up. If I’m wrong, somebody quick jump in and correct me. I welcome it.

  21. @Chris:
    For the fun of it: best business persons did not create Google, nor Microsoft, nor Yahoo. They were folks playing with something until it clicked. An MBA would probably run a few calculations and sign off all of the above companies in the early days as “not worth the risk/potential benefit”. Which is not to say the MBA is wrong even–that’s just how young folks build something, some even something great.

    I do think Kris should stop giving dates or blogger interviews until he just launches. At this point he risks being questioned by even his most ardent fans. That’s that just human nature. If you give me a half dozen missed promises, it will get annoying after a while ESPECIALLY if I really am looking forward to it.

  22. @Chris:
    For the fun of it: best business persons did not create Google, nor Microsoft, nor Yahoo. They were folks playing with something until it clicked. An MBA would probably run a few calculations and sign off all of the above companies in the early days as “not worth the risk/potential benefit”. Which is not to say the MBA is wrong even–that’s just how young folks build something, some even something great.

    I do think Kris should stop giving dates or blogger interviews until he just launches. At this point he risks being questioned by even his most ardent fans. That’s that just human nature. If you give me a half dozen missed promises, it will get annoying after a while ESPECIALLY if I really am looking forward to it.

  23. @Ben Metcalfe,

    It wasn’t to insult him or the website. I was serious. Even a roll your own business plan can quickly let you know whether it is worth spending a year on something or not.

    Running some quick numbers and projections can let you know if you are wasting your time or not. If this is a hobby then that is different.
    Of course doing a startup is a risk, but you can mitigate that with a strong plan and exit strategy.

    The best suggestion I would tell Kris as the owner of a social networking site and high price social software licensing, would be to try to strike deals with smaller social networking sites(you can find a list of them on wikipedia), and get them to use his service exclusively.

    That won’t work in the same way as photobucket, because the smaller sites will never have enough money to fund them or buy them out if they spam with javascript ala photobucket, BUT, it will get his watermark seen all over the place.
    If somebody offered our site, sitespaces.net that or one of our licensees such as brasilspace.com, perhaps they would have a chance of success.
    http://cherrytap.com
    has nearly a million members. So do a lot of networking sites. The draw back is that people good enough to make that software usually are good enough to rig up the image hosting as well. It would all rely on the strength of the deal, rather than the technical aspects. Any good developer can develop any current technology such as youtube video encoding, flickr ajax ect… It’s not rocket science, you have to be the best business person, not the best software developer. That’s a fact. Look at Scoble.

  24. @Ben Metcalfe,

    It wasn’t to insult him or the website. I was serious. Even a roll your own business plan can quickly let you know whether it is worth spending a year on something or not.

    Running some quick numbers and projections can let you know if you are wasting your time or not. If this is a hobby then that is different.
    Of course doing a startup is a risk, but you can mitigate that with a strong plan and exit strategy.

    The best suggestion I would tell Kris as the owner of a social networking site and high price social software licensing, would be to try to strike deals with smaller social networking sites(you can find a list of them on wikipedia), and get them to use his service exclusively.

    That won’t work in the same way as photobucket, because the smaller sites will never have enough money to fund them or buy them out if they spam with javascript ala photobucket, BUT, it will get his watermark seen all over the place.
    If somebody offered our site, sitespaces.net that or one of our licensees such as brasilspace.com, perhaps they would have a chance of success.
    http://cherrytap.com
    has nearly a million members. So do a lot of networking sites. The draw back is that people good enough to make that software usually are good enough to rig up the image hosting as well. It would all rely on the strength of the deal, rather than the technical aspects. Any good developer can develop any current technology such as youtube video encoding, flickr ajax ect… It’s not rocket science, you have to be the best business person, not the best software developer. That’s a fact. Look at Scoble.

  25. UPDATE: Kristopher just said he’ll probably have his new version up later tonight. Me? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.

    … and sure enough, “later tonight passes” and … ?

    no dice.

  26. UPDATE: Kristopher just said he’ll probably have his new version up later tonight. Me? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.

    … and sure enough, “later tonight passes” and … ?

    no dice.

  27. Robert why is he not using Amazon Web Services server infrastructure?

    Is certainly less expensive than buying your own servers and solves the infrastructure problems with the ability to have a mirror of a server set up to practice new features on and etc.

  28. Robert why is he not using Amazon Web Services server infrastructure?

    Is certainly less expensive than buying your own servers and solves the infrastructure problems with the ability to have a mirror of a server set up to practice new features on and etc.

  29. Robert asks if a VC would invest in Zoomr. I’m sure the Zoomr guys could find *someone* that would be willing to invest. But here’s the golden rule with venture capital – if you can’t attract a top tier VC, it’s probably better to pass.

    One of the key questions for VCs will be: is there any evidence to suggest that Zoomr will attract a large number (millions) of engaged users?

    Right now, it’s not obvious to me that there is. That doesn’t mean there *isn’t*. It’s just that it’s not obvious to *me*. And it might not be obvious to the top tier VCs either. The problem I had was – from my ultra-quick look-see, it *appeared* that Zoomr doesn’t have many users, and isn’t growing that fast.

    So… if the Zoomr guys have good reasons to believe they will have milions of users in the near future, they should be shouting about it (how many users in total now, how many users are being added per month, how many photos are people uploading etc). Then, trust me, the VCs will find them…

    What lots of people don’t realise is – VCs chase hot deals like crazy. So, if the top-tier VCs aren’t chasing Zoomr, it’s because they don’t think it’s a hot deal.

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