Friday, September 15

Evan Williams: How Odeo Screwed Up

I've been a long time user of Odeo... I've followed them since the first day... I've used pretty much everyday since then because it's made my enjoyment of podcasts better... sort of.

I've endlessly been frustrated by their lack of improvement (ironically much like particularly in services for podcast consumers.

It seemed to me to be architectural or systemic of their culture.

Here I am using the core consumer features of Odeo and yet there were huge bugs and glaring errors like tremendous duplication of podcasts when I aggrgated them in iTunes which wastes huge bandwidth... podcasts that would come through days late, weeks late... sometimes never. These two problems in particular have persisted for over a year, possibly a year and a half with little to know improvement.

I found myself asking the question... are any of odeo's people even using this?

And then I saw this post by Om Malik.


Last year Williams wrote a widely read, much-bookmarked post titled ?Ten Rules for Web Startups.? ?Be Narrow,? he said, ?Be Tiny.? Today, he flat-out admitted ?I was working on Odeo at the time I wrote that, and I was ignoring most of those rules.? Incited by excitement about podcasting and an early demo at the TED Conference leading to a front-page New York Times article (behind pay wall), Odeo got unfocused and bloated, according to Williams.

Williams went through a tidy list of the top five Odeo screw-ups:

  1. ?Trying to build too much? ? Odeo set out to be a podcasting company with no focus beyond that.

  2. ?Not building for people like ourselves? ? For example, Williams doesn?t podcast himself, and he says as a result the company?s web-based recording tools were too simplistic.

  3. ?Not adjusting fast enough? ? The company thought its comprehensive web-based strategy would win out over the competition, primarily Apple, in the long term. ?It turns out long term is not soon enough for a startup if you?re trying to get a foothold.?

  4. ?Raising too much money too early? ? Williams seeded the money with $70,000 of his own money, and after the TED excitement added another $100,000. After he tied up over a million in angel funding, a term sheet came through from Charles River Ventures at three times the angel round valuation. They took the money.

  5. ?Not listening to my gut? ? ?When you?ve got a bunch of money and you?ve hired a lot of people and you?re talking to your board and you?re talking to reporters, your gut can get drowned out.?

You should really read the whole post: GigaOM - Evan Williams: How Odeo Screwed Up

That said... I think it's pretty big of Evan Williaams to speak so candidly of himself, and I have great... even renewed hope for

1 comment:

schlomo rabinowitz said...

You should try

Much better company (no outside funding!), sustainable (!), and people are really using their services.

Plus I've done some work for them and they are very nice people.