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. 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.

  2. I’m with Shelley. What I am hearing is lot of superficiality. That makes me think there is an effort to distract from the question of whether Kristopher has a viable nuts and bolts operation or not. I also am skeptical about rushees (though I was one to an extent.) I mean youths who rush through school, start trying to have businesses before they are drinking age or run around the world as if there is a prize for spending time on each continent. Their rewards often turn out to be bankruptcies, drug addictions and nervous breakdowns before they are 30. What’s the rush, Kristopher?

  3. I’m with Shelley. What I am hearing is lot of superficiality. That makes me think there is an effort to distract from the question of whether Kristopher has a viable nuts and bolts operation or not. I also am skeptical about rushees (though I was one to an extent.) I mean youths who rush through school, start trying to have businesses before they are drinking age or run around the world as if there is a prize for spending time on each continent. Their rewards often turn out to be bankruptcies, drug addictions and nervous breakdowns before they are 30. What’s the rush, Kristopher?

  4. nah, therein speaks someone who is working on a project that many said was impossible… and indeed it would have been if a couple of people hadn’t said ‘i want this to work for you’

    [my work has nothing to do with the web, but everything to do with imagination... ]

  5. nah, therein speaks someone who is working on a project that many said was impossible… and indeed it would have been if a couple of people hadn’t said ‘i want this to work for you’

    [my work has nothing to do with the web, but everything to do with imagination... ]

  6. “…goodness, there are a lot of people commenting here who sound cynical, jaded and middle aged…”

    And therein speaks the CEO of the next great Web 2.0 startup…

  7. “…goodness, there are a lot of people commenting here who sound cynical, jaded and middle aged…”

    And therein speaks the CEO of the next great Web 2.0 startup…

  8. Kris, in days following your launch, you will get to hear plenty from all sorts of people. As with *any* relaunch, there is a lot of initial “pissed off” time where folks hate the new stuff simply because it’s new. As long as you listen to the constructive feedback, take care of the basics(YES backups!) you should do well in weeks and months to follow.

    To all the people that say the photo sharing market has reached its max size, you have ZERO idea. You are also the same guys who would have passed on Google; or YouTube(because dozen other sites already existed); or Facebook(because Orkut/Friendster was *the* thing when facebook started.) Part of that idea comes from the assumption that every start-up is in it for a quick launch and flip. I don’t sense that from Kris. I do not think Kris is expecting to be acquired in six months, or one year.

    Oh, if there is any expert who claims to know what the internet landscape will look like in a year from now, two words: yeah right!

    –Zaid

  9. Kris, in days following your launch, you will get to hear plenty from all sorts of people. As with *any* relaunch, there is a lot of initial “pissed off” time where folks hate the new stuff simply because it’s new. As long as you listen to the constructive feedback, take care of the basics(YES backups!) you should do well in weeks and months to follow.

    To all the people that say the photo sharing market has reached its max size, you have ZERO idea. You are also the same guys who would have passed on Google; or YouTube(because dozen other sites already existed); or Facebook(because Orkut/Friendster was *the* thing when facebook started.) Part of that idea comes from the assumption that every start-up is in it for a quick launch and flip. I don’t sense that from Kris. I do not think Kris is expecting to be acquired in six months, or one year.

    Oh, if there is any expert who claims to know what the internet landscape will look like in a year from now, two words: yeah right!

    –Zaid

  10. “Doing a Zooomr”, and therein lies the challenge and the future.

    Chris, I understand about not having the money, or the system, but when you don’t have either, you can still have commonsense. And commonsense would say that is you’ve had problems following through with grandiose promises in the past, you should consider scaling back such in the future.

    This is Web 2.0 taken to an extreme. It’s like serving a lemon meringue pie that’s all meringue. Doing so might work once for all, or sometimes for some, but ultimately people are going to want something more substantial underneath the fluff.

    You can’t run a successful business purely on hype. Sure I wish the Zooomr folks luck, but sounds like they need something more than luck.

  11. “Doing a Zooomr”, and therein lies the challenge and the future.

    Chris, I understand about not having the money, or the system, but when you don’t have either, you can still have commonsense. And commonsense would say that is you’ve had problems following through with grandiose promises in the past, you should consider scaling back such in the future.

    This is Web 2.0 taken to an extreme. It’s like serving a lemon meringue pie that’s all meringue. Doing so might work once for all, or sometimes for some, but ultimately people are going to want something more substantial underneath the fluff.

    You can’t run a successful business purely on hype. Sure I wish the Zooomr folks luck, but sounds like they need something more than luck.

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  14. goodness, there are a lot of people commenting here who sound cynical, jaded and middle aged… you don’t sound wise, you sound like you just don’t want this to work.

    the voice of wisdom would say ‘this will be bloody hard work, here are some things that might help things go your way.’

    i have no wisdom, Kristopher, just best wishes. there’s always space for more people to be brilliant and to succeed.

  15. goodness, there are a lot of people commenting here who sound cynical, jaded and middle aged… you don’t sound wise, you sound like you just don’t want this to work.

    the voice of wisdom would say ‘this will be bloody hard work, here are some things that might help things go your way.’

    i have no wisdom, Kristopher, just best wishes. there’s always space for more people to be brilliant and to succeed.

  16. As insightful/relevant your initial comments have been
    “Chris”, I think pointing Kris to a $99 roll-your-own business plan site is nasty, below-the-belt move.

    I for one have seen the shit Kris has been going through this past week. Yeah, he’s done some things I wouldn’t have done but he’s desperately under-funded and under-staffed. It really is just him and Thomas, and Thomas isn’t technical. I actually can’t think of many start-ups the size of Zooomr that are run by just 1 full-time guy (Thomas still has a day-job).

    I hope he gets some serious funding to take Zooomr to the next level, he deserves it.

  17. As insightful/relevant your initial comments have been
    “Chris”, I think pointing Kris to a $99 roll-your-own business plan site is nasty, below-the-belt move.

    I for one have seen the shit Kris has been going through this past week. Yeah, he’s done some things I wouldn’t have done but he’s desperately under-funded and under-staffed. It really is just him and Thomas, and Thomas isn’t technical. I actually can’t think of many start-ups the size of Zooomr that are run by just 1 full-time guy (Thomas still has a day-job).

    I hope he gets some serious funding to take Zooomr to the next level, he deserves it.

  18. Thanks for your support Robert and All — This week has been defining all around.

    The best thing about life is to make the best of what you have and continually move forward — we’re doing just that :)

    Rock On.

    kristopher

  19. Thanks for your support Robert and All — This week has been defining all around.

    The best thing about life is to make the best of what you have and continually move forward — we’re doing just that :)

    Rock On.

    kristopher

  20. “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.”

    Sorry I didn’t pick up on this before.
    Offhand I would say no. You are talking about a VC market that got hit over the head with Friendster and Youtube clones for the past 2 years. Even Walmart tried it. Photobucket got bought by Myspace because it was there from the beginning, as old or older than MySpace itself and almost every single page on MySpace had 2 or more photobucket images. You can’t simply start up and accomplish that. Photobucket leveraged it’s position to make trouble on MySpace with javascript action on it’s links, and they couldn’t do anything BUT buy it.

    Leech services just aren’t very attractive. He should do what Writely did, and come out with the soup du jour web software before the rest of the world and then sell it off before it becomes too late, unlike kiko.

    Mashup software seems big now with Microsoft and Google pooling their new services there.

    The big new thing is web services and mashing up disaparate web content. I would think the VC is going there right about now more than anywhere else.

  21. “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.”

    Sorry I didn’t pick up on this before.
    Offhand I would say no. You are talking about a VC market that got hit over the head with Friendster and Youtube clones for the past 2 years. Even Walmart tried it. Photobucket got bought by Myspace because it was there from the beginning, as old or older than MySpace itself and almost every single page on MySpace had 2 or more photobucket images. You can’t simply start up and accomplish that. Photobucket leveraged it’s position to make trouble on MySpace with javascript action on it’s links, and they couldn’t do anything BUT buy it.

    Leech services just aren’t very attractive. He should do what Writely did, and come out with the soup du jour web software before the rest of the world and then sell it off before it becomes too late, unlike kiko.

    Mashup software seems big now with Microsoft and Google pooling their new services there.

    The big new thing is web services and mashing up disaparate web content. I would think the VC is going there right about now more than anywhere else.

  22. @Shelley.

    I fully agree, BUT, when you can’t afford a full scale development environment, to back up the production env, it doesn’t help.

    Self funded startups often times go live with stuff they didn’t test to scale. It works on dev PC on localhost, so they dump it live without really planning on what it will do in a cluster.

    Ideally you want to have enough money where you can have a real production and dev system, where you can seemlessly switch over the dev to production after weeks or months of beta testing. That’s not cheap on any level.

    Let’s not give false hope to the determined candidates.
    Kevin Rose did it, yeah, but Kevin Rose is also uncommonly famous, and well connected.

    No doubt good skilled people make a difference. As an employer I must tell you that getting those people to work at your camp is pretty darn hard. Especially with what others are offering. The idea that if you do it “just right” it may work, or that there is some sort of secret way you can beat the system when it comes to that sort of start up is foolishness. Wikipedia? Porn Mogul. YCombinator? NO. It doesn’t end. People have to wake up.

  23. @Shelley.

    I fully agree, BUT, when you can’t afford a full scale development environment, to back up the production env, it doesn’t help.

    Self funded startups often times go live with stuff they didn’t test to scale. It works on dev PC on localhost, so they dump it live without really planning on what it will do in a cluster.

    Ideally you want to have enough money where you can have a real production and dev system, where you can seemlessly switch over the dev to production after weeks or months of beta testing. That’s not cheap on any level.

    Let’s not give false hope to the determined candidates.
    Kevin Rose did it, yeah, but Kevin Rose is also uncommonly famous, and well connected.

    No doubt good skilled people make a difference. As an employer I must tell you that getting those people to work at your camp is pretty darn hard. Especially with what others are offering. The idea that if you do it “just right” it may work, or that there is some sort of secret way you can beat the system when it comes to that sort of start up is foolishness. Wikipedia? Porn Mogul. YCombinator? NO. It doesn’t end. People have to wake up.

  24. That’s the world we live in these days – very public and a lot of people making it big before they’re completely prepared to handle it. Not that I think Kristopher isn’t capable of making Zoomr successful, just that in “the old days” it was harder to get public attention than it is now, so you spent a lot longer messing up things all by yourself with noone noticing. These days it’s easier to get started and get further with programming and it’s so much easier to get public attention. The downside is that your mistakes are more public too.

    Oh well.

  25. That’s the world we live in these days – very public and a lot of people making it big before they’re completely prepared to handle it. Not that I think Kristopher isn’t capable of making Zoomr successful, just that in “the old days” it was harder to get public attention than it is now, so you spent a lot longer messing up things all by yourself with noone noticing. These days it’s easier to get started and get further with programming and it’s so much easier to get public attention. The downside is that your mistakes are more public too.

    Oh well.

  26. Pretty high profile teeth cutting exercise.

    There is a lot of goodwill attached to zooomr, but ultimately there will be a bunch of unhappy people if their “user generated content” that they OWN is damaged or misplaced…

  27. Pretty high profile teeth cutting exercise.

    There is a lot of goodwill attached to zooomr, but ultimately there will be a bunch of unhappy people if their “user generated content” that they OWN is damaged or misplaced…

  28. @Zian
    Generally I agree, however the lines between the two are really starting to blur a lot. If you’re developing web apps you really need to know how to deploy and roll back correctly. Throwing stuff over the wall to your IT department to deploy is a major source of pain and deployment issues. If you have to do it all yourself you are more inclined to make your software easy to deploy and rollback which makes it less likely you’ll “do a Zoomr”.

  29. @Zian
    Generally I agree, however the lines between the two are really starting to blur a lot. If you’re developing web apps you really need to know how to deploy and roll back correctly. Throwing stuff over the wall to your IT department to deploy is a major source of pain and deployment issues. If you have to do it all yourself you are more inclined to make your software easy to deploy and rollback which makes it less likely you’ll “do a Zoomr”.

  30. @Kelly
    Not to start a flame-war or anything but I think the skillset of an IT department and the skillset of a software developer don’t overlap perfectly.

    Just because someone is fantastic at writing code doesn’t mean they’re genius network admins, and vice versa.

  31. @Kelly
    Not to start a flame-war or anything but I think the skillset of an IT department and the skillset of a software developer don’t overlap perfectly.

    Just because someone is fantastic at writing code doesn’t mean they’re genius network admins, and vice versa.

  32. I’d say the lesson to learn out of this is to not go for the big bang release – it’s really hard to get that level of integration right. Instead, release early and release often. It not only means that your releases are smaller and less likely to cause problems, you also get more practice at doing releases. The first thing to learn is to have a way to roll back if it doesn’t work – sounds like that’s sorely lacking at Zoomr at the moment.

    We all learn these things and it’s this kind of experience that really distinguishes between a 19 year old prodigy and a great developer (who might just happen to be 19 years old). I’m sure Kristopher will either learn those skills (he now realizes how important it is) or he’ll focus on his business skills and hire someone else who has those skills. Nothing wrong with either approach – the key is just to get the right skills.

  33. I’d say the lesson to learn out of this is to not go for the big bang release – it’s really hard to get that level of integration right. Instead, release early and release often. It not only means that your releases are smaller and less likely to cause problems, you also get more practice at doing releases. The first thing to learn is to have a way to roll back if it doesn’t work – sounds like that’s sorely lacking at Zoomr at the moment.

    We all learn these things and it’s this kind of experience that really distinguishes between a 19 year old prodigy and a great developer (who might just happen to be 19 years old). I’m sure Kristopher will either learn those skills (he now realizes how important it is) or he’ll focus on his business skills and hire someone else who has those skills. Nothing wrong with either approach – the key is just to get the right skills.

  34. One week or two weeks, it’s worth the wait. Who else is offerring unlimited upload limit other than zooomr. That speaks for itself.

    Somehow I dont like VC’s . You do the hardwork, and they take the major share of the pie when the company gets sold.

    As for as funding is concerned, Kris and Tom should go the donation route.

    I wouldnt mind paying couple of dollars to help thier financial situation and I am sure they are quite few like me like that you want to help them.

  35. One week or two weeks, it’s worth the wait. Who else is offerring unlimited upload limit other than zooomr. That speaks for itself.

    Somehow I dont like VC’s . You do the hardwork, and they take the major share of the pie when the company gets sold.

    As for as funding is concerned, Kris and Tom should go the donation route.

    I wouldnt mind paying couple of dollars to help thier financial situation and I am sure they are quite few like me like that you want to help them.

  36. Have users stand behind you is parting of building your brand.
    Build a good brand, and you will build loyal users. Be upfront and honest about what is going on, and you will get support.
    It sounds like Kristopher and Thomas have done a great job building customer loyalty.
    Now they have learned the lesson about making deadlines, and meeting expectations. Sometimes things get out of hand, but that is why you must have backup systems and fallback plans.
    Good luck.

  37. Have users stand behind you is parting of building your brand.
    Build a good brand, and you will build loyal users. Be upfront and honest about what is going on, and you will get support.
    It sounds like Kristopher and Thomas have done a great job building customer loyalty.
    Now they have learned the lesson about making deadlines, and meeting expectations. Sometimes things get out of hand, but that is why you must have backup systems and fallback plans.
    Good luck.

  38. This would be considered true ‘old school’ and old fashioned and not hip, but if at any of the corporate jobs I worked at, we had a system take a week to roll out because of ‘unforeseen problems’, someone would have been canned.

    This demonstrates not only lack of money, but lack of infrastructure experience. And planning. And foresight.

    Sure it’s cute and cool that Kristopher has a live stream of his face, showing him working — but that’s just another aspect of using ‘coolness’ to make up for ability, experience, and just plain good common sense.

    Perhaps a lot less hype, and a lot more technological know how would have suited this application. As for Kristopher being ‘brilliant’ — brilliant developers don’t take systems down for a week.

  39. This would be considered true ‘old school’ and old fashioned and not hip, but if at any of the corporate jobs I worked at, we had a system take a week to roll out because of ‘unforeseen problems’, someone would have been canned.

    This demonstrates not only lack of money, but lack of infrastructure experience. And planning. And foresight.

    Sure it’s cute and cool that Kristopher has a live stream of his face, showing him working — but that’s just another aspect of using ‘coolness’ to make up for ability, experience, and just plain good common sense.

    Perhaps a lot less hype, and a lot more technological know how would have suited this application. As for Kristopher being ‘brilliant’ — brilliant developers don’t take systems down for a week.

  40. “To me, though, it points out why you need SOME funding behind you.”

    If you can’t put a million bucks worth of VC into a startup, you better forget about it ever hitting the top 100.
    All the sites everybody thought were independant such as youtube and myspace turned out to be corporate creations of rich beverlyhillbillies.
    Especially a startup that is a leech service.

    If you have employees and you’re website is bombing, do yourself a favour and have them work on stuff that does make cash.

    This type of service is “go big or go home”.

  41. “To me, though, it points out why you need SOME funding behind you.”

    If you can’t put a million bucks worth of VC into a startup, you better forget about it ever hitting the top 100.
    All the sites everybody thought were independant such as youtube and myspace turned out to be corporate creations of rich beverlyhillbillies.
    Especially a startup that is a leech service.

    If you have employees and you’re website is bombing, do yourself a favour and have them work on stuff that does make cash.

    This type of service is “go big or go home”.

  42. Yeah, I agree with that. Setting expectations and then not meeting them hurts more than exceeding them. Kristopher knows this, circumstances got away from him.

  43. Yeah, I agree with that. Setting expectations and then not meeting them hurts more than exceeding them. Kristopher knows this, circumstances got away from him.

  44. Yeah, well I’d just as well tell Kristopher to just clam up and deliver when it comes out. No disrespect intended, but it does no one any good to tell everyone another date for release and have something potentially get in the way.

    Not that it will, of course — but if it does, is all. ;)

  45. Yeah, well I’d just as well tell Kristopher to just clam up and deliver when it comes out. No disrespect intended, but it does no one any good to tell everyone another date for release and have something potentially get in the way.

    Not that it will, of course — but if it does, is all. ;)

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