Category Archives: PeekYou

New Years 2013

What happened in 2012?

  • My wife and I had our first child. I can’t make up my mind on if these past nine months have been the longest or quickest of my life. Either way, they have been the most rewarding.
  • Visited Albania, where my daughter’s great-grandmothers were both able to meet her. That was incredible.
  • Business had many ups (record traffic, revenue, and the launch of PeekAnalytics) and downs (Hurricane Sandy took out our servers and hit us hard; I also lost two memorable employees), but overall, it was the most accomplished year of my professional life and I feel very good about 2013.
  • My 2012 new years resolution was to lose ~20lbs and keep it off for good – and I accomplished that goal. How? My doctor and I dubbed my diet “Atkinsonian,” in that I eat very few carbs from Monday through Thursday, and I eat whatever I want on Friday through Sunday. Another bonus, my LDL cholesterol is down 60 points and I have more energy.
  • Our cat, Tefta, passed away. She was my birthday gift to Kejda in May 2007. We sort of rescued Tefta from a crazy cat lady (picture a 1br apartment with at least 40 cats). We estimate that she lived to some age between 10 and 12. We miss her and her calm and generous temperament.
  • Spent a lot of time studying the decline and fall of the Roman republic and empire. (url1) (url2) (url3)
  • Moved back to downtown Manhattan (after a one year experiment in the Upper West Side).
  • Sites I started reading every day: ZeroHedge and Marginal Revolution.
  • Favorite restaurants we discovered this year: Matilda, Da Mikele, Villa Mosconi.
  • My resolution for 2013: no excuses.

    Announcing the launch of PeekAnalytics

    Big milestone for the PeekYou team today, as we announced the launch of PeekAnalytics.

    Here’s how we describe the company:

    PeekAnalytics delivers enterprise-class Twitter analytics that help marketers understand their social consumers. By identifying where Twitter users exist elsewhere on the Web, PeekAnalytics offers an unparalleled level of demographic and psychographic insights from consumer data aggregated not just from Twitter, but from over sixty social sites and every major blog platform. What Nielsen® did for television and radio audiences and ComScore® did for web traffic audiences – PeekAnalytics does for social audiences.

    And so we’re off and running. I’m also looking forward to adding audience analysis on other platforms later this year (e.g. Facebook).

    Techcrunch TV – Discussing PeekYou with Andrew Keen

    Andrew Keen interviewing me on May 23, 2011, backstage at Techcrunch Disrupt.

    Questions Andrew asks:

    1) What does PeekYou do?

    2) What’s different about a web indexed around people rather than today’s Web or yesterday’s Web?

    3) So it’s a more effective or more sophisticated Google search?

    4) How does your platform fit into the real-time social web of Twitter and Facebook?

    5) What about people, perhaps like myself, who don’t want to be Peeked at?

    6) What does your company tell us about the way in which the Internet is changing? Is it becoming, as Sean Parker told us in the Social Network, is the place we really live now?

    PeekYou.com is now a top-500 US website

    Last night, our team celebrated the ascension of PeekYou into the ranks of the top-500 US websites (according to Quantcast.com).

    Many fellow startup entrepreneurs, partners, advisors, investors and members of the press turned out for the event. The most common and gratifying compliment I heard from the attendees was in reference to just how nice the people on our team are. We’re a tight-knit group and everyone genuinely gets along with each other and I am proud to see that shine through.

    And for those who couldn’t make it this time, we’re planning to do it again, only bigger, when we become a top-250 website (this fall?).

    “The Social Network” and a Personal Reflection on the Past Decade

    Punk Prophet Billionaire

    It is hard to describe what I felt watching The Social Network. I knew going in that much of the account it presented of Facebook’s founding was fictional. Certain things, however, hit too close to home not to make me at least a bit sentimental and a bit embarrassed as well. Why should I feel anything? It was a just a movie, right?

    I sometimes pride myself with being one of the first people ever to have been friends with a personal computer for their entire conscious life; although this experience is a commonplace among today’s children. And so, I often wonder — how does my experience compare to that of Mark Zuckerberg and other Internet pioneers? How different of a person am I?

    I watched The Social Network in the middle of a packed New York City audience — and each time a familiar experience was depicted on screen I felt self-conscious, or something like it — as in, how could this audience, seeing this, genuinely understand the excitement over Mark Zuckerberg’s achievement? I felt it acutely because it tasted so much like my own formative years — and I realized how much I would probably like Mark if he were even 50% like the caricature painted in the movie.

    Mark Zuckerberg

    Me

    Mark had an overnight success with Facemash.com at Harvard (20K hits in the first day, according to the movie). He was forced to shut it down by Harvard. The summer 1999, between my junior and senior year at the University of Maine, I launched RateMyFace.com (the precursor to HotorNot – referenced in The Social Network), generating over 100K hits in the first weekend.  I shut it down because it was too popular and I had to graduate. I later launched RateMyFaceOff.com (Summer 2000) – which was exactly the same concept as FaceMash – and for the same reasons cited by the Zuckerberg character in the film.
    Course Match – an application Mark developed to help identify who else was in your class at Harvard RateMyProfessors/RateMyTeachers – In 2001, I developed a ratings platform which millions of students have used to date – revolutionizing how students choose their courses and still among the most popular education websites ever created.
    Conceived of Facebook (November 2004) Conceived of IMConnected (Nov 2001)
    Plenty of crazy people trying to leech away his creation Plenty of crazy people trying to leech away my creations
    The Social Network portrayed Mark as someone who walked quickly and/or jogged around campus, so as not to waste time getting from here to there. Not sure if this was the actual Mark’s habit. This sounds minor – but it was one of the most curious parts of the movie for me. I used to be laughed at by my friends for doing the same thing at UMaine. I hated wasting time between locations and hated wasting time getting where I wanted to be.
    Worked with Peter Thiel, the main angel investor of Facebook I only once met Peter Thiel at a lecture here in New York and consider him a business hero of mine. Peter invested in an early and inferior competitor to PeekYou, Wink.com, and more recently in a legitimate competitor, Rapleaf (a similar data company with a different approach). I’ve wanted to work with Peter for years, certain he’d appreciate my take on the future of the Internet.
    Net worth: X billions, liquid Net worth: X millions, but almost entirely tied up in the net worth of PeekYou and RateMyTeachers.

     

    Did I waste 2002-2003, when I was sitting on business plans, some of which were foundational blueprints for Social Networking? I still am unsure of the answer. My fit-all excuse is that the Internet economy had crashed and investment dollars were scant, to put it mildly – and everyone I presented IMConnected to asked the same question, to which I did not have a good answer: How will it make money? Had I known then what I learned over the following years, I’m certain I could have gotten it off the ground for less start-up capital than I thought I needed but I was afraid to enter into the project without sufficient resources for scaling up immediately (I’d been through that with RateMyFace before and didn’t want to experience a failure to scale again). When Friendster launched in 2003 (as well as AuctionDrop – a copycat of another business plan I spent a lot of time developing) – I was starting to feel sorry for myself (the worst possible thing for an entrepreneur to do).

    The lesson learned was that great ideas are often obvious – and even if they weren’t, someone else will probably think of them eventually and set about their execution. I had a two-year head start on Social Networking (I called it “affinitology”), but failed to execute. Despite knowing full well how important an innovation it was, there was always an excuse to put it off until tomorrow (when I would have the resources to “build it properly”).

    IMConnected - November 2001

    In 2004, after Friendster had essentially failed to scale (my own biggest nightmare come true) and had come and gone from popular public consciouness, MySpace and LinkedIn were ascendant, and Facebook was on the rise (and, I assumed, destined to overtake MySpace by virtue of its well-structured architecture) – I began to obsess over the opportunity lost, but I also wondered about the fate of a site like Friendster, which had all the promise in the world, only to see its opportunity slip away overnight. I wanted to create something eternal – something that would change the way people think about the Internet forever. It was too late for that something to be IMConnected – but I knew I had it in me to think of something else, potentially better, and with the ability to make it happen. I also knew that when it hit me, I wasn’t going to waste a day. I thought about this at least every week for the next couple of years. It was an ongoing obsession and I enjoyed the thought process.

    A couple of years later in April 2006, I woke up in a semi-conscious state of mind, with the crystal-clear concept of re-indexing the web around people almost fully formed in my head – perceiving right away that if I could identify the actual individual behind any given URL, I could create a database that would not only be relevant 100 years from now, but might rank as the most important web database since Google’s. I vowed not to waste a day — and three months later, I had a prototype of the database ready to go. … After much deliberation, I named it PeekYou.

    Today the company is growing by leaps and bounds – month-over-month increases in revenue throughout the past year – we’re hiring great new people, and the markets we are entering into fit as a glove within the original vision. The sometimes ridiculous challenges I’ve faced in building this company are eventually worth writing separate stories about – but we’ll see how things stand a year from now. I’m thankfully surrounded with good people who share my vision for this database and we’re in that period of rapid growth all bootstrapped start-ups dream about.

    The Social Network induced me to reflect back on the past decade. Here are some final thoughts on what I believe I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong.

    Some big mistakes I’ve made:

    1. Underestimating the urgency of executing my ideas.
    2. Feeling sorry for myself, for whatever reason.
    3. Assuming that everyone who says nice things has my best interests in mind.
    4. Not focusing on building and utilizing my personal network and goodwill – turning down opportunities and lifelines out of stubbornness or fear of failure:
      1. Example: In 2004, Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga (formerly founder of SupportSoft and Tribe), offered me an apprenticeship to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship under him. I thought Mark was awesome, I thought Tribe.net was an interesting approach to social networking, and I thought I could run RateMyTeachers on the side. In the end, I was afraid to move to San Francisco with no money in my pocket. I’ll always regret this – and now I wonder if Mark even remembers me.
      2. Accepting deals I knew were fundamentally flawed, hoping against hope that things would work out in my behalf because my own goodness would eventually win the day for me.

    Best things I ever did:

    1. Retained a lawyer to review my contracts and to negotiate sticking points on my behalf
    2. Sought to create something eternal – I directed my ambition on building something long-lasting instead of placing too much focus on the immediate
    3. The day I conceived of re-indexing the web around people, I did not waste a day in developing a business plan and prototype.
    4. Marrying Kejda – for the first time in my life I was responsible to someone I love as much as myself. I was forced to defend my decisions to someone more intelligent than me. This didn’t stop me from making mistakes – but I have made many fewer mistakes because of her.

    The scary space between West 37th and 38th St, New York City

    Our office is in an old fashion district building at the edge of Hell’s Kitchen (West 37th St). In the back of our building, a fire escape opens up to what has to be a uniquely New York City vista. This photo was taken on the 6th floor, between 37th and 38th St, looking from west to east (from 8th ave to 7th ave side).

    To see this photo in the original 1.4 gigapixel resolution, click here.

    PeekYou + Google

    Early this morning (after a couple of all-nighters), we launched the latest PeekYou product – a Google search that displays the owners of the websites directly next to the search results (or the people referenced within them). The search results are generated with Google’s Custom Search engine — so you get the same exact results as you would expect from any Google search — but you get the added bonus of seeing the people behind those search results.

    Some sample results:
    Michael Hussey
    Google
    White Pages
    Tech Blog

    Update: Mashable says “PeekYou Makes People Search Worthwhile with Google Integration

    PeekYou.com Beta launch

    PeekYou

      PeekYou Emerges From Stealth Mode With 50 Million Profiles in Beta, Providing Easy and Efficient People Search Capabilities
      Tuesday July 17, 12:54 pm ET
      RateMyTeachers.com Founder Seeks to Meet Growing Demand for Online People Search
      Via Yahoo:

      NEW YORK, July 17 /PRNewswire/ — PeekYou.com (www.peekyou.com), an innovative search engine dedicated to finding people online, announced today that it has officially launched in beta mode. The Web site is the Internet’s first true openly edited white pages, allowing users to easily locate other Internet users with a presence on the web and access a list of all relevant links to the person being searched. The site has been in stealth mode since October 2006 and has already built profiles for over 50 million users, with more being added every day.

      Created by RateMyFace.com and RateMyTeachers.com/RateMyProfessors.com founder Michael Hussey, PeekYou aims to be an open source directory of every individual online. Hussey, who has been featured on CNN, NPR and BBC amongst others looks to bring his experience developing popular consumer destination sites to building PeekYou into the premiere people search engine. Each individual will have their own personalized page and a PeekYou profile that will include bookmarked links to all information available about the target person. PeekYou differentiates itself from other people searchers by the site’s ability to link and identify numerous Internet identities to a single individual based upon tags and online identities.

      The site allows users complete freedom to edit, add or remove information, links, photos, and tags (school, work, interests, etc.) associated with their profile or other PeekYou user’s profiles. In addition, PeekYou provides human created search engine results, reducing nonspecific and incorrect matches. Concerned with maintaining privacy, PeekYou empowers individuals with the opportunity to be “unlisted” (similar to the White Pages) as well as edit their profiles to ensure correct and accurate information.

      “People searching is one of the most popular online exercises, but until now it has been a largely inefficient and often confusing experience,” said Michael Hussey, founder of PeekYou. “PeekYou is a true Web 2.0 ‘people search’ – we discover and map where people exist online, almost like writing a biography about your life on the net. In doing so, we are building the ideal engine for individuals to monitor their own online identity.”

      “PeekYou is creating an entirely new lens from which the web will be viewed,” said Baldev Duggal founder of Duggal Dimensions, LLC, which is funding PeekYou. “I think PeekYou will forever change the way that ‘people searches’ are conducted.”

      About PeekYou

      PeekYou.com (www.peekyou.com) is an innovative search engine dedicated to finding people online. The site has been in stealth mode since October 2006 and officially launched in Beta Mode in July 2007, with over 50 million users and more being added everyday. PeekYou is the Internet’s first true openly edited white pages. The site allows users to easily locate other Internet users with a presence on the web and access a list of all relevant links to the person being searched. PeekYou satisfies a huge demand for Internet users looking to track down friends, family and business associates while maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with search engines. Once launched PeekYou will be the go to site for people search. PeekYou is privately funded by Duggal Dimensions, LLC, founded by Baldev Duggal who has been at the forefront of technology and creative innovation in the photo and computer imaging field for over 35 years.