just wanted to share something we sent to all of the members of our private beta on thanksgiving day. :)
Just under a year ago our small team began the next phase of our journey to start improving everyone’s relationship with data; we pooled our resources, steeled ourselves, bootstrapped it, and dug in to release the voyurl alpha. Since then we also launched our private beta and have been lucky enough to gain thousands and thousands of friends to share our vision and our voyage. Together we’ve racked up over 30 million links, over 100 million actions, and have spent decades online in aggregate as we all work together to forge a new way forward for our behavioral data. And this is just the beginning. Now, it’s time to start making this data work harder for you.
We know that sometimes there are bugs. We know that sometimes things are slow or that links go missing. And we know that the growing pains we’re working on can cause problems for you… because we experience them, too. We’ll continue to do everything in our power to fix these issues as soon as we spot them, as fast as you tell us, and as quickly as we can solve them.
We’re lucky enough to have amazing folks who are as understanding and as helpful as you in our voyurl community. We’d like to take a minute to tell you how thankful we are to have you as part of our team. It means the world to us that you’ve chosen to join us and support us as we continue to pave a new way forward. We couldn’t do any of this without you, and we’re excited to take our next big steps together with you. We know that there’s plenty of hard work ahead of us and that you’ll be right there with us along the way. We couldn’t be more excited!
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
- the voyurl team.
it’s been just over thirty days since we launched the newest evolution of voyurl. to celebrate like the happy dorks we are, we decided to share what 30 days of data within voyurl looks like. turns out, it’s pretty awesome… and there’s lots of it.
After a few solid weeks under our belt with this new release of voyurl, I’m coming up for air to talk about the process… and an epiphany.
Almost a year ago, a few of us gathered around a powerful idea: make people fall in love with their data. Every day, we all generate volumes of bytes and bits that others use for profit. We never get to see this data or understand it. Most of the time, we’re not even told what’s going on.
We thought then as we believe now that there’s got to be a better way. So, we set out to build a service based on transparency and control when it comes to data. We set out to build voyurl. And through voyurl, we want to help everyone fall in love with their data so that soon enough we can also empower them through it.
Around september of 2010, we set to work. Some of us gave up our homes for the year, others gave up jobs, still others put their lives on hold in order to give everything to this mission for a better relationship around data. We talked; we skyped; we gtalked; we emailed; we debated; we argued; we sketched; we wireframed; we trashed the whole thing; we rarely slept… and then we’d do it all over again.
Through all of that, we emerged with a prototype. So much thought and care had been put into it; so many different scenarios were anticipated. I won’t lie: we were rather proud of ourselves. Yet we knew we had more to build. But as the maxim goes, “always be at least a little ashamed of what you release.” And since we’re perfectionists, we knew we could get stuck in the trap of ‘tweaking.’ Rather than burn more time, we gritted our teeth and released our alpha. At last, we could share this with a few people.
So, we did.
We thought we had the whole thing down, and we believed we knew exactly where things would go. We had the whole plan mapped out. So, as we began to take on more and more alpha members, we began to build out the next phases of voyurl. And, as more alpha members came on board, we kept building our vision. Then we even got some awesome press pickup around the web. We were thrilled. At the time, we may’ve let it get the better of us–seeing it as literal confirmation of our vision for this product and this ethos. Looking back, it was less to do with the product and more to do with the polarity of the idea.
Regardless, as it was all going down, we were in heaven. So we kept cranking… more features, more releases, more, more, more.
Then, finally, we took a step back. We started looking at metrics: usage, growth, etc. We started looking around the web. We weren’t hearing as much about voyurl as we had a bit earlier. There weren’t as many articles; no one was tweeting. And while the numbers weren’t dreadful, they weren’t stellar either. We couldn’t figure it out. We had anticipated everything, right?
We were right to an extent. Which is to say that we were right as it concerned our own vision for voyurl. We were right in solving for problems and user scenarios that we thought were needed. So, if we had intended to build voyurl for the four or five us, we were right. But, were we right when it came to the several thousand alpha users we were so lucky to amass? Well, to be honest, we didn’t really know.
So, we decided to ask them.
We started to release surveys and questionnaires to ask our wonderful alpha members what they liked about voyurl, what they hated about voyurl, and what they hoped to get out of voyurl further down the line. The participation was incredible, and the results… well… the results showed us that we clearly didn’t get it right yet. There was a lot of room for improvement, clear needs for simplification, and a lot more we could be doing.
Sure, it was a blow to the team. Yeah, we might’ve been bummed to hear and see these things. So, for about ten minutes we hugged it out. Then, we knuckled down and really got to work. We talked to more members. We chased down successful entrepreneurs to get their points of view. We hustled to get meetings with investors to get their thoughts and criticisms. And we became even greater scholars on the history of this space, understanding what made successes and what made failures… and what strategies went nowhere.
At the same time we decided to streamline what voyurl does as a service. We got focused and laid out a plan of attack against two simple objectives; and, then we steadfastly built against those objectives. If a cool feature didn’t achieve one of those objectives, it didn’t get built. If a great option from the alpha didn’t allow us to realize these two objectives, it got left behind. It was as simple as that.
And so, we became devout to our product and its objectives. Nothing else was important. Nothing else was necessary. All we did was ask people about our product, talk to people about better products, and get smart about the products that came before ours. When we chatted, it was relative to our product objectives. When we had questions, we put them up against our product objectives. And, when we built, we built against the product objectives.
Before we knew it, we had a whole new product that was better, stronger, faster, and right for the space. We emerged from our product meditation with exactly what we needed: a platform that planted the seeds of our long-term vision and delivered on the expectations of our members. The results continue to be thrilling. We’re getting excellent reviews from the press and our members. Twitter has been abuzz and growth hasn’t stopped or slowed. We’re rather enjoying our ‘hockey stick’ charts.
It may sound trite or clichéd. I would probably say so as well if it hadn’t happened to me first-hand. I’ve read the same blog posts and books and success stories and maxims and listened to the same gurus and webcasts and conference videos. But it really is the truth: just focus on the product, and you’ll never have to worry about the pivot. Which is to say that if you’re diligent about your product–about improving it, updating it, sharpening it–the pivot will take care of itself as a result of the combined effect of your efforts. It’s pretty incredible, and it’s one of the most amazing things to be a part of.
So, go focus on your product. Don’t just think about it, live and breath it. And, if you do, you’ll never have to think of using that dirty little five letter word again. Your product will just evolve on its own.
A very targeted ad…
adam talks about the #interwebs #cats, his #mom, your #alter #ego & @voyurl this month’s @nytm.
infohound asked: when is your service to be available; and if not immediately, how did you get all that press coverage?!!
we’re currently in private beta. but if you email us over at info [at] voyurl [dot] com, we should be able to hook you up with an invite.
- the voyurl team.
not too long ago, joel stein wrote an excellent cover article for Time magazine.
it’s a great read about how our data is almost constantly being collected and mined while we’re simultaneously left powerless in this “exchange.” services don’t tell us, cookies don’t ask for our permission, and most every platform doesn’t give us an easy way to stop this from happening… or to get it all back.
to that end, he writes:
You know how everything has seemed free for the past few years? It wasn’t. It’s just that no one told you that instead of using money, you were paying with your personal information.
just before this article was published, we had the chance to speak at IGNITENYC during social media week in new york. it was an awesome privilege. we met some incredible folks, and we got to dig into a little of the philosophy underpinning our efforts to build voyurl. coincidentally, a lot of it echoes what joel stein wrote in his article.
needless to say, we found this all to be a happy coincidence.
have a look…
it’s been a while. we know.
we haven’t come through with blog updates for a bit. and, frankly, it’s been too long.
but today, something brought us full circle to make us see how far we’ve come in just a few short months.
sure, we’ve had some incredible support with coverage from The New York Times, Fast Company, ABC News, MSNBC, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, PC World and so many more. we won’t deny it: we’ve been thrilled and excited to see all this happen. every new piece of press elicits calls, texts, emails, IMs, and–most especially–lots of joyful hooting and hollering from the whole team. we’re watching it all happen alongside each and every one of you who has helped make this a reality for us. and it’s awesome.
that’s why we’re back on the blog tonight… because of you.
we spent most of the day organizing, sorting, and packing a big stack of voyurl t-shirts to go out to our loyal and incredible supporters who backed us on kickstarter. these are folks who have been with us from the very start… before voyurl was a webservice let alone a thought and before we had several thousand members (and then some!) let alone a few.
reading all those names, writing them out one by one on envelopes, folding each shirt to prepare it for its new home… made us realize once more that none of this could have happened without each and every one of you. we’ll always work tirelessly to make voyurl the best it can be because we believe that there is a better way to treat web citizens and their data. and we believe we’re building it. we’ll never stop striving to put users–not just the web–first and foremost.
but we could never do any of it without you. so, as long as you keep clicking, we’ll keep building. we promise.
we just want to let you know how grateful we are for your support and good will.
and for that, we want to thank you.
- the voyurl team.
le-chronicle-deactivated2011041 asked: How do I remove links in one go as part of my history fetch? Its very difficult to remove one link after another and press numerous buttons. (I have 956 URL's in the list!) If it's not a feature then that's a suggestion for you guys :)
Great beta release too :)
in voyurl, navigate to “account” in the top right.
the first option of that drop down will be “block list.” select this.
within the block list, add any domain you’d like to block. and be sure to tick the “also scrub links from current stream” box and you can retroactively remove batches of links from unwanted domains.
hope that helps.
and we’re so happy you like the beta.
- the voyurl team.
just the other day a nice little heads-up arrived in our inbox via google alerts.
apparently, mashable.com had compiled an article detailing the top 5 tech trends to look out for in 2011. and, what do you know, clickstream sharing was trend #4.
what’s even better, is that voyurl was mentioned as part of this trend… as a service to watch out for.
well, we’re honored – flattered – just flat out giddy to be included in this prediction. we’re building voyurl because it’s what we believe in; we all deserve some visibility over our data. and if what we believe in is part of the future to come, well, then, i guess we’re building a future to believe in, too.
we can’t wait to get there. to the delorean!