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40 minutes | 5 days ago
Justin Hall: The Virtual Tour Guide Who Pioneered Personal Blogging
These days, kids grow up sharing everything about their personal lives in an effort to become Instagram influencers and TikTok famous. They don't know it, but their dreams of social media stardom were pioneered in the mid 1990s by a teenager who wasn't looking for celebrity status. His name was Justin Hall, and sharing his personal story online was, for him, less about notoriety and more a way to connect with people.Justin ran a popular website called Links From The Underground -- Links.net -- with a huge collection of interesting links from around the Web. As Links.net got more popular, Justin decided he also wanted to tell his visitors a bit more about himself and his own life. Soon, he'd built a massive collection of stories and posts about his daily activities, and people were visiting his site as much to read about him as they were to discover his link collection. This turned Justin into one of the world's first and most popular personal bloggers as he became a pioneer of the online influencer industry. For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
44 minutes | 12 days ago
Sky Dayton: The Coffee Shop Owner Who Gave People Internet Access
Since you’ve found this podcast, it’s safe to assume you have Internet access. Prior to using whatever device you're going to listen, did you spend any time thinking about how to connect to the Internet? You probably didn’t, and a big reason you didn’t is because the Internet has mostly become a basic utility thanks to entrepreneurs like Sky Dayton.Sky created EarthLink, one of the most popular early Internet Service Providers. It helped to get an estimated 10% of the US population online.Even though accessing the Internet has largely become equivalent to accessing water from a tap, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, this was exactly the problem that led Sky to Earthlink. In the early 90s, when the Internet was first opening to the general public, Sky wanted to explore it himself. He found an early internet service provider -- ISP -- in southern California, but getting his computer connected took him nearly a week. Frustrated by the challenge, Sky spent the first part of his career helping others solve the same problem.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
37 minutes | 19 days ago
Tom Truscott: The Grad Student Who Accidentally Invented Social Media
For most people, social media is part of the fabric of modern day life. But do you know where digital social media started?It wasn’t Facebook. Facebook launched in 2004, which was decades after computer networking began. MySpace, it’s well-known predecessor, only launched a few months earlier in 2003.Some people might point to Friendster, which began in 2002. And, before that, back in 1997, there was a website called Six Degrees. Its creator actually filed the first patents for social networking. However, even Six Degrees wasn’t the first digital social network.In 1979, more than a decade before Tim Berners Lee launched the World Wide Web, and even before the modern Internet existed, two graduate students at Duke University released a piece of software that would connect people and communities around the world via computers and their modems. That software was called Usenet, and it was the world’s first globally popular, digital social network.Learn how Usenet got started and how it changed the world on this episode of Web Masters.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
37 minutes | a month ago
Kevin O'Connor: The Advertiser Who Introduced Retargeting
Even if you haven’t heard of DoubleClick, you’ve certainly been impacted by it. DoubleClick basically invented Internet advertising as we know it. Their ad servers powered much of the early days of Web advertising. Eventually Google bought DoubleClick, and its core technologies were deeply integrated into Google’s ad network, meaning there’s a good chance DoubleClick’s ad serving platform is impacting you in some way literally this second.Considering DoubleClick’s revolutionary impact on advertising, most people would expect that DoubleClick's founder, Kevin O'Connor, came up with the idea for DoubleClick based on years of experience in the advertising industry. But that’s actually not the case. Kevin was a coder.How does someone who knows nothing about advertising come up with the idea for a revolutionary ad tech platform? That's what you'll learn about in this episode of Web Masters.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
28 minutes | a month ago
Raj Kapoor: The MBA Who Predicted the Future of Photography
Raj Kapoor is the Chief Strategy Officer at Lyft. But before joining Lyft, Raj was the founder and CEO of another well known consumer tech company called Snapfish. In fact, the startup strategy he’s deploying at Lyft is a strategy he began developing at Snapfish over two decades earlier.Snapfish is a digital photo management service that lets users print digital photos either as traditional photos or on things like coffee mugs, face masks, calendars, shirts, and lots of other things you've probably never even thought of. While those are common services now, they weren’t common back when Raj launched Snapfish in 1999 and built it into a company he’d ultimately sell to Hewlett Packard for $300 million.Instead, when Raj launched Snapfish, few people were using digital cameras. Sure, it might seem strange to target a market that doesn’t exist, but, as you'll hear in this episode, the lack of digital camera users was actually a huge part of how Snapfish became so successful.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
36 minutes | a month ago
Jean Armour Polly: The Librarian Who Taught People to Surf the Internet
Jean Armour Polly was a librarian who saw the internet and had what was, at the time, a crazy idea. Since libraries are critical repositories of information and knowledge in most communities, she believed that libraries should offer public internet access.Most of her peers disagreed. In fact, most librarians thought of the Internet as a competitor. And a poor one at that with unreliable information. But Jean wouldn't be deterred. She became one of the biggest advocates in the world for public Internet access via libraries. Thanks to her pioneering work championing public Internet access, Jean paved the way for millions of people around the world to discover the Web.In this episode of Web Masters, Jean shares the story of how she discovered the Internet, fell in love with it, and then taught people all over the world to love it just as much as her.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
41 minutes | 2 months ago
David Mikkelson: The Disney Lover Who Fact-Checks the Internet
In recent years, the term “fake news” has become a common phrase. It’s a shorthand way of describing informational content related to current events that’s intentionally misleading. While the term itself is relatively new, the concept is much older than most people realize.The earliest recorded example of fake news goes all the way back to the 13th Century BC when Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II convinced his population that his army clobbered the neighboring Hittites despite signing a peace treaty with them that essentially declared a draw.Fast forward a few dozen centuries all the way to the 1980s. The World Wide Web hadn’t even been invented yet, but misinformation was already spreading on the Internet. However, it wasn’t misinformation about things as important as wars and government. It was actually just misinformation about the Walt Disney Company. And a man named David Mikkelson wanted to debunk it.Over the ensuing decades, David kept debunking more and more rumors and online myths until his website, Snopes.com, became one of the most trusted fact-checking resources in the world. On this episode of Web Masters, you'll hear the full story of how David went from researching urban legends for a few die-hard Disney fans to debunking fake new.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
35 minutes | 2 months ago
Joe Colopy: The Peace Corps Volunteer Who Pioneered Commerce Marketing Automation
In 2002, Joe Colopy launched a simple email newsletter tool, naming it Bronto Mail in reference to his favorite dinosaur. But Joe wasn't the only person trying to help companies with their email marketing. Pretty soon, Joe and Bronto found themselves facing a crowded market and better-resourced competitors. So Joe did a textbook MBA strategy shift. He identified an underserved niche market in need of better marketing tools, and he focused his company on it.That niche market consisted of commerce and ecommerce companies who, at the time, didn't have any email marketing tools built specifically for their needs. By focusing on that niche, Joe and Bronto pioneered the commerce marketing automation space, becoming the market leader in the process and riding their growth to a successful exit.In this episode of Web Masters, hear the story of how Joe built Bronto and managed the pivot. It's a perfect entrepreneurial lesson in how to best attack a large market when you're a small startup competing against bigger and better-resourced companies.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
37 minutes | 2 months ago
Michael Merhej: The Music Lover Who Pissed Off the Recording Industry
Unless you’ve only just gotten onto the Internet in the last few years, you’ve surely heard of Napster. In the late 90s, Napster launched an online file sharing service where anyone could download mp3 files from other people for free, and it was wildly popular before getting sued out of existence by the major record labels who obviously weren’t happy about the idea of people downloading their content for free.But Napster wasn’t the first music sharing service. Years before Napster, a student at the University of Texas named Michael Merhej launched an FTP search engine — called the Borg Search Engine — on a physics department server. At the time, posting music files online was already common, but finding them was difficult. Lots of hardcore music afficionados hated having their options restricted by whatever Top 40 the recording industry was promoting. Those music lovers flocked to Michael’s FTP search engine.Within a couple years, it had become so popular that Michael moved he search engine onto its own commercial servers and began monetizing with advertisements, changing the name to Audiogalaxy in the process.Yes, a little later, Napster would come along and popularize file sharing to the masses. By that point, Audiogalaxy already had a bigger catalog, and, while people looking for popular music tracks stuck to Napster, anyone who wanted more options chose Audiogalaxy, turning it into the second most popular file sharing service in the world.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
61 minutes | 2 months ago
Peter Zaitsev: The Specialist Who Keeps Your Database Running
You've probably never heard of Peter Zaitsev or Percona. And he’s perfectly fine with it. The fact that you haven’t heard of Peter or Percona means you’re probably not his target customer. More importantly, if you have heard of them, there’s a good chance you A) are his target customer; and B) don’t have a lot of other options.That’s because Percona is a database performance optimization company. They specialize in helping companies using open source databases — MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, etc. — scale their database architecture to support millions of simultaneous users. As you can probably imagine, there aren’t lots of companies in the world who need their databases to be able to handle that kind of volume, so, in relative terms, Peter’s target audience isn’t very big. Compare it with the market size of, say, Apple, and Percona’s market size would probably seem like a rounding error.But that doesn’t matter for Peter. What matters is that the people who do need database optimization need it urgently, they have the money to pay, and they don’t have many other options.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.
39 minutes | 3 months ago
Alan Emtage: The Pack Rat Who Invented Internet Search
In the 1980s, pre-World Wide Web, the Internet was filled with software files hosted on remote machines. However, unlike today, where you can easily find and download pretty much any software you want, that infrastructure didn’t exist in the 1980s. Instead, if you wanted to download a piece of software from the Internet, you had to know it existed and know where and how to access it.To solve this problem for himself, a graduate student at McGill University in Montreal named Alan Emtage built a script to crawl the Internet at night and compile a database of software. He could then search his database to find what he was looking for.When other people saw Alan's database, they wanted access, too. So Alan built a public interface, and that became the first Internet search engine. However, rather than patenting his technology and licensing it -- something that could have made billions of dollars -- Alan made a different choice, and the Internet is a very different place than what it might have been.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
38 minutes | 3 months ago
Drew Curtis - The Farker Who Monetized Doom Scrolling
In 1999, a Kentucky entrepreneur named Drew Curtis started feeling guilty about constantly spamming his friends with emails linking to funny news stories. Rather than sending emails, he decided he’d build a website and let people come check it out if they wanted to. He called it Fark.com, a humorous play on the F-bomb pulled from old text-based video games on the early Internet that would censor curse words.The website quickly became one of the most popular communities on the Internet for sharing funny articles about what was going on in the world. However, unlike other humor sites of its day, Fark still exists and has a thriving community.On this episode of Web Masters, you'll find out how Drew has managed to keep Fark running for over two decades and through a half-dozen of what he describes as "extinction-level" events on the Internet.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
35 minutes | 3 months ago
Lex Sisney - The Llama Farmer Who Popularized Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, in case you don’t already know, is a core part of how “free” websites make money on the Internet. Websites with lots of visitors post ads. When visitors click those ads and buy something from the advertiser, that advertiser pays what’s called an “affiliate bounty” to the website owner.That might not seem revolutionary, but it was a huge innovation in the way companies could market and sell their products. Prior to affiliate marketing, startups needed large advertising budgets just to get launched. However, thanks to affiliate marketing, startups had a way to sell products without paying any money up front, and that opened the door to tons more entrepreneurs.Since the concept of affiliate marketing was first invented in the mid-90s, plenty of affiliate marketing networks have been launched. But the biggest and most successful one has been Commission Junction. And, on this episode of Web Masters, we get to hear from Commission Junction founder, Lex Sisney, the man who went from shoveling llama poop on his mother's farm to launching the world's preeminent affiliate network.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
46 minutes | 3 months ago
Jonathan Abrams - The Programmer Who Invented Social Networking
Before Facebook became synonymous with “social media,” and even before MySpace was the coolest website on the planet, there was another startup that most people credit with inventing social networking as we know it. That website was called Friendster.Even if you never personally used Friendster, you've probably heard of it. It was the site that paved the way for all the social networks billions of people use and love every day. It was the first place where people uploaded photos of themselves and connected with their real-life friends.Yes, that type of website doesn't sound unique today, but, in 2002, it was revolutionary, and people loved it. But it wasn't immediately obvious that would be the case. In fact, when the founder of Friendster, Jonathan Abrams, first had the idea, he thought it sounded wacky. And when he told people about his idea, they thought it sounded dumb.But Jonathan launched it anyway, and, as they say, the rest is history. Friendster ushered in a completely new paradigm for how people thought about and used the Internet that remains the core of the Web today.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
31 minutes | 3 months ago
Bill Martin - The Teenager Who Fueled the Dot-Com Bubble
If you experienced the “Dot-Com Bubble” you surely remember all the hype and excitement surrounding the Web as well as all the money that flowed into tech startups in the late 90s. You also remember when things came tumbling down in May and April of 2000, wiping out countless companies and turning Silicon Valley into a corporate wasteland.While plenty of factors contributed to the Dot-Com boom, one of the biggest contributors was investor hype. And, interestingly, the places where lots of that investor hype happened was on the Internet itself. In particular, community websites like RagingBull.com played a huge part in allowing retail investors to continuously promote the wild market.But RagingBull wasn't some corporate tool built in the heart of Wall Street. Instead, it was launched by a college kid named Bill Martin who was simply interested in talking with other people online about stocks.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
44 minutes | 4 months ago
Jon von Tetzchner - The Researcher Who Built His Own Web Browser... Twice!
Opera was one of the earliest commercial Web browsers, having been launched in 1995. That’s the same year Microsoft launched Internet Explorer, and less than 12 months after Netscape launched Navigator, which is widely regarded as the browser that popularized the Web.From the very beginning, Opera was a different type of Web browser. Specifically, even though it helped users access the same World Wide Web as every other browser, the Opera browser was built entirely on its own codebase. That might not sound like a big deal if you don't know much about browser architecture, but, for Jon von Tetzchner and the Opera team, it was a huge competitive advantage that allowed Opera to exist on devices that couldn't support any other browsers. This made Opera, for a time, the most popular web browser in the world.Unfortunately for Jon, some bad investors pushed the company in the wrong direction, and he was powerless to stop it. The only thing he could do was build another browser. So, 20 years after launching Opera, he launched Vivaldi to compete with his old company and win back the trust of the loyal users Opera had lost.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses
40 minutes | 4 months ago
Scott Crosby - The English Major Who Helped Google Conquer 70% of the Web
Google Analytics has been such an important and well-integrated part of the Google suite of services for so long that most people assume it was developed inside Google. But that’s not the case.Google Analytics actually began as part of a San Diego web consulting firm from the mid-90s called Quantified Systems Inc. Quantified Systems was really just a group of guys building one-off websites for clients around Southern California and hosting those sites on their internal servers.At the time, bandwidth was incredibly expensive, and some of their more prominent customers were running up bills worth thousands of dollars a month. To help manage these costs and charge their customers appropriately, the Quantified Systems team built a custom web stats platform to show how much traffic a site was getting and where it was coming from based on server logs.They soon realized that their Web stats program had the potential to be a more interesting business than their Web consultancy. So they gave away their clients and changed their name to Urchin Software Corporation. Their website stats tracking tool was so successful that Google bought them and used them as the foundation to launch Google Analytics.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
41 minutes | 4 months ago
Chris Evans - The Founder Who Gave the Web Targeted Advertising
Advertising is a fixture of the current Web. After all, two of the most prominent online companies -- Google and Facebook -- are really just advertising platforms disguised as a search engine and social network, respectively.Despite the ubiquity of advertising on the Web today, it might surprise you to discover that sophisticated advertising technologies were developed relatively late. In fact, many of the biggest websites in the world -- with millions of active users -- were struggling to monetize on their traffic because they didn't have good ad serving platforms.That began to change in 1996 thanks, in part, to a company named Accipiter and its founder, Chris Evans. Chris was one of the first people to identify the lacking ad software ecosystem for websites and launched Accipiter, which, for better or for worse, made online advertising easier, faster, cheaper, and more profitable.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
36 minutes | 4 months ago
Bo Peabody - The College Kid Who Was Lucky... or Smart
Even though Tripod eventually became one of the most popular online webpage builders in the world, that’s not how it started. Instead, Tripod began as a digital magazine. At the time, Bo was a college student, and he'd been dreaming of an online publication targeting young, college-aged audiences. It was going to be the MTV of the Web.However, for fun, one of Bo’s developers experimented with a new concept to allow people to publish their own content online for free. They called it the "homepage builder," and it went viral literally overnight.Within its first month, Tripod had thousands of users for its free homepage builder. Soon, it had hundreds of thousands. And, then it hit its first million shortly before being acquired. Along the way, Bo became known in the popular press as an entrepreneurial wunderkind. But was it skill and smarts that helped Bo reach the pinnacle of startup success? Or was it just dumb luck? Find out on this episode of Web Masters!For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
50 minutes | 5 months ago
Craig Kanarick - The Blue-Haired Designer Who Rebranded Companies for the Digital Age
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Craig Kanarick and Razorfish. But that’s only because you’re not reading this article in 1999.Back in the late 90s, Kanarick and Razorfish were household names in the entrepreneurial world. Launched in 1994, Razorfish was one of the first digital media design agencies. Their early customers included mega-companies like Time Warner, KPMG, and Charles Schwab.Razorfish was founded by Kanarick and his childhood friend, Jeff Dachis. In just five years, the two friends in their mid-20s grew Razorfish to 1,200+ employees, nearly a dozen offices around the world, almost $100m in annual revenue, and a successful IPO.But, as Craig explains, that success had a price. He and his co-founder became the poster boys of late 90s, Internet tech excess and, ultimately, the failed dot-com boom and bust.For a complete transcript of the episode, click here.Also, if you're interested in buying or selling an Internet business, be sure to check out our sponsor, Latonas.com, the Internet's best source for buying and selling web-based, work-from-home businesses.
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