It was by sheer willpower that I was able to finish a post this week due to an incredibly addicting new obsession of mine. That obsession happens to be a startup named Turntable.fm. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, it essentially carries out one of your wildest dreams: to get behind two turntables and DJ for a room full of friends, or even complete strangers, until your heart’s content (which, in my case, has led to a sunrise or two). There’s obviously more to the site than just that, but since this isn’t an in-depth post about the site itself, I’ll give you the chance to explore and get hooked. In the meantime, I want to elaborate on something I was reminded of in discovering Turntable.fm: startups make the web a lot of fun.
Now I’m not saying Turntable.fm is the only excitement I’ve found online in recent years, but it’s definitely been a while since I’ve felt so consumed by an individual site. When I’m not “spinning records,” I’m either sharing my addiction with a friend or eagerly awaiting for the moment I can log back in. There’s definitely a buzz within the site’s growing community that is hard to fully explain, but it’s clear to me that something this exciting could only come from a startup.
When I start to look back at other times I’ve experienced this type of euphoria on the web, I realize that all of those sites were startups themselves at the time. I wasn’t privy to the challenges of starting an internet company back then; I didn’t even know what venture capital was or what IPO stood for. All I knew is that I’d found something new and exciting and I wanted to spend all my waking hours playing with it.
A few of these sites are pretty obvious now as they’ve gone on to become household names, but a number of them weren’t so lucky. Allow me to share some of my favorites with you here:
– Audiogalaxy: a better P2P music system than Napster, community chat, and a ground-breaking recommendation engine; this dominated my freshman and sophomore year of college until it was sued to oblivion by the record labels (worth noting, Audiogalaxy relaunched in 2008 as a placeshifting app which I use on a daily basis).
– Digg: my first experience with socially-curated news, made each story into it’s own forum topic with a passionate group of commenters. It was such an exhilarating feeling to see a story you submitted hit the front page; unfortunately for Digg, a botched site rehaul and the rise of sharing within popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter have led to a slow decline of traffic.
– HotOrNot: how can you spend an entire evening looking at strangers’ photos and doing nothing but rating them 1 to 10? Seems so gratuitous now, but there’s no denying that it happened on multiple occasions – that’s not even counting those times your professor was on the other side of the room during computer lab; apparently this site still exists!
– Facebook: ahhh, “The Facebook” just happened to launch when I was in my last years of college, so what did my friends and I do with it back then? Flirt with girls of course! In related news, Google+ might just be the death of my Facebook profile (put me in a circle!).
– YouTube: when I first found YouTube, I would spend hours watching video after video out of overwhelming curiosity, gathering as many people as I could to crowd around the monitor and laugh at some poor soul who probably would have found more dignity on America’s Funniest Home Videos; another site that needs no progress report.
Those are just a few of the sites I can blame for late nights, missed deadlines, and of course, an insane amount of gratification.
At techli.com my posts usually reflect some sort of advertising angle, so I’ll tie this one loosely to that recurring theme. At some point, every fun startup has to turn their staggering page views and wildly-impressive engagement rates into a way to keep the lights on and the servers running (or in Turntable.fm’s case, to ward off the impending record label backlash) – may I suggest going ad-supported?
What are some of the startups that have brought you unabashed excitement?