New Netscape Updates (or “on DIGG killers and Jason vs. Kevin”).

Bunch of Netscape updates happening this weekend:

The Role of Anchors: WE ARE HERE TO SERVE.

There seems to be some misinformation spreading about the role of the Netscape Anchors. The Anchors do NOT filter the results or control the site. The Netscape Anchors are HERE TO SERVE the members. If the members vote a story to the top 10 our Netscape Anchors will add an image for them and do some meta-journalism on the site. WE ARE HERE TO SERVE, NOT TO CONTROL. We are your editorial concierges. If you want followup on a story we do it for you immediately. The Anchors can vote on stories of course, but their votes count for as much as the publics do.

The home page ranking
We tweaked the velocity (how fast things go up the page) and gravity (how quick they go down the page) formulas and the results are looking good. This is a real art/science procedure… you’re basically turning a bunch of dials to see which one gets the best result in terms of speed vs. quality. It’s really amazing.

% of advertising, and designing for the mass vs. the (Delicious/DIGG) elite.

We’ve got the site down to almost no advertising right now. People attacked us for having five ad units at launch and they were right–it was over the top. We’re going to keep it light for the beta and I think we will wind up with three advertisements (like the New York Times) at the end of the day. I’m thinking a leaderboard and medium rectangle above the fold and a skyscaper below the fold. The DIGGsters have been beating me up for the number of ads and the cluttered nature of the site, which I can appreciate. DIGGsters like myself love clean design (or no design). However, the mass audience likes a lot of design and images–they even like ads. So, we’re gonna do something for our DIGGsters/clean design folks as an alternative to the current home page.

On killing DIGG ad the Jason vs. Kevin silliness.
I’ve been in this business since two years before it started (1993/94). I’ve watched pronouncement after pronouncement about Microsoft-, Netscape-, Yahoo-, and Google-killers. Heck, people have talked about AOL-killers since we launched and it has never seemed to happen (and as long as I’m here it’s not gonna happen I can tell you that!).

The fact is, we’ve evolved the work done by DIGG by bringing an editorial layer to Kevin’s community model. Kevin’s community model was, of course, based on Josh’s bookmarking model at Delicious. Delicious was inspired by Flickr tagging and Furl’s group bookmarking, and Furl was inspired by the *dozens* of bookmarking sites that were around in the Web 1.0 days.

DIGG didn’t create voting or social bookmarking–they just did it best. They evolved the entire concept, and that is what *GREAT* entrepreneurs do: they build a better mousetrap. There are no original ideas in this world, only ideas to be evolved.

After everyone calms down about the size of Netscape (12M uniques a month) vs. the scrappy upstart DIGG, they will realize that us launching Netscape has tripled the value of DIGG. Yahoo, Microsoft, and Fox are now thinking “if this works for AOL/Netscape we gotta get into the space.” When they do they will look and see that the best way to win the race will be not to build but to buy DIGG–heck, if this model works I could see AOL offering to buy DIGG to consolidate the market. So, it’s not like AOL has been taken out of the race to buy DIGG or other social bookmarking sites. I think this space is the future, and I could see us owning seven different social bookmarking sites some day–just like we own dozens of content /services like TMZ, Engadget, TVSquad, MoviePhone, Mapquest, etc.

We are going to bring the social news concept to more people than DIGG ever could, and those users will become DIGG users as well (like I am). This is not a winner take all space–very few spaces ever are in fact. Hotmail/Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and AOL all share the IM and email markets. The news market online is shared by dozens of folks. To think that Netscape would crush DIGG, or that DIGG would crush Delicious is silly. It’s what the silly inexperienced bloggers think.

A rising tide does lift all boats.

You can check what happened when Weblogs, Inc. joined Gawker Media in the professional blogging space–we both go much bigger. Nick Denton became a better entrepreneur when we came into the space. He got more focused, he staffed up, and the competition made us both stronger. It also made for a better product for the users.

Advertisers that Nick sold on blogging bought ads on Weblogs, Inc–and visa versa. I would say that Gizmodo and Engadget shared 50% of their advertisers at one point. Nick and I discussed group selling once in fact (we didn’t need to because we both had f/t staff).

— Kevin and the crew are dedicated to the community model of social news.
— My team at Netscape are dedicated to the community model of social news with a term of Anchors to serve the users.
— Google News is dedicated to solving the new aggregation problem with better algorithms.
— Rojo is dedicated to solving the social news problem with an aggregation + tags model.
— Newsvine is dedicated to solving the social news problem with news feeds + bloggng + voting.

If this is a real industry we will all get there *together*, and when we do we will all slap each others backs while drinking aged scotch and fine cigars at some outdoor cafe five years from now. We’ll talk about the good old days and laugh. I do that right now with Tom from @NY (my Silicon Alley “rival”) and Nick Denton (my blogging rival).

Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing are best friends even though they fought like gladiators for over a decade. Competitors share a deep bond–they are the only people who experience the war from the inside, and as a result they are forever one with the experience.

I love Kevin, I love Josh at Delicious, I love both of their sites and admire what they’ve accomplished. Their not competitors, they’re compadres.

Bottom line: we’re all in this together and we’ll either make it as a group or none of us will make it–let the games begin!

Leave a Reply