Based in Geneva and working in Europe and the US, I currently advise companies and startups on Internet strategy. My primary area of expertise is defining new products and design of existing ones, with a focus on how products work rather than how they look and the business strategy that defines them.
Venture partner at Siderian Ventures, seed investors in sustainable businesses.
Launched around the same time as Delicious, the difference was that each bookmark automatically created a thumbnail from a image of your choice on the page you were bookmarking. The idea is that you could create a wishlist of things you might want to buy, not tied to any particular service, such as Amazon.
I was a co-founder of the incubator MRL Ventures, led by PayPal founder, Max Levchin. My remit was ‘local’ and when I realized how big the Yellow Pages market was and how bad these services were online, the opportunity seemed pretty simple, replicate Yellow Pages with user generated reviews. Before leaving for New York, I chose the name, worked on the business plan and design of Yelp. Yelp went public in 2012 at a valuation of $1.3 Billion.
Moreover was the first news search engine, powering Altavista, Yahoo, MSN and sites like the Economist. After Altavista received most of the online search traffic to its Moreover powered news during 911, Google decided to create Google News. I founded the company in London with Angus Bankes and Gawker Media’s Nick Denton and was head of product. We moved it to San Francisco and later sold to Verisign. While at Moreover I created Newsblogger with Blogger’s Evan Williams (who later founded Twitter) and the widely used Internet technology, RSS.
The British and Irish genealogy service, Origins was the first website to provide access to UK government data. It was profitable within its first year of operation and is still going strong.
RSS has become the most widely used global method for syndicating online content. I was a co-creator of the RSS 1.0 standard.
RSS ping is a standard I developed with Wordpress creator, Matt Mullenweg, to enable realtime updates using RSS technology. The concept extended weblog ‘ping’ mechanisms to add information about the content of what has been updated or published.
One Line Bios
One line bios are trivial but useful, the equivalent of news headlines for people, so that they can be simply disambiguated (John Doe, car mechanic, Michigan is different from John Doe, Lion Tamer, Nebraska). After first proposing them in a talk at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, today they are used by more than 500 million people after Six Apart then Twitter and the Facebook adopted them. Anil Dash did a nice write up of one line bio’s, here.
The creation of the web is arguably as significant as that of the printing press, but unlike Gutenberg’s workshop the location of its invention is intact. However, it is in danger of being forgotten (it’s not even in the same country as the official plaque which commemorates it). After having corresponded with Tim Berners Lee to write down the history of what happened where, I have managed to help get it filmed and put onto on of the online mapping services. The next step is to try and preserve it!
Oobject is a lists site, where each list is a series of pictures of man made objects. The aim is to be like a digital Wunderkammer, and in the spirit of such it supposed to be fun rather than too serious. Oobject may look like yet another, crappy, weird things site, but delve in, I’ve put an unhealthy amount of effort into it. It has one post a week which, read by around 200,000 people.
Cribcandy is a Wists powered product blog for architecture and interiors - it consists of visual bookmarks of the design items I look at every day, over breakfast.
Natural Selection as Information Theory
This is a hand waving attempt to show how any two systems self configure to transfer information between themselves, over time - how they learn. This is total crank territory, but if you are interested, this is what I spend a great deal of my spare time thinking about, and the heading above links to a summary. Its computer science information theory applied to physics, and biological systems in particular.
Described best by Paul Kedrosky as an attempt to ‘Tivo-ify the web’, Smashing Telly was an early example of a curated blog which picked longer format video available on sites like YouTube before there were things like Netflix on demand or Hulu and while it was difficult to find good stuff among the junk. It focused on primarily on documentaries.
EDML - a standard for forms to build online forms
Before XML existed there was no way to create semantic markup in HTML, I sat down with my father for several months and tried to map the standards for Electronic Document Exchange (EDI) for purchase order and invoices and the like, to an HTML based standard.