Interview with Otis Gospodnetic of Simpy.com – A Leading Social Bookmarking Service
We have posted several articles about bookmarking sites and services over the last month (you can find the articles at the following links: link1, link2, link3 if you like). New bookmarking tools seem to be launching every couple of months, with the latest site relaunch by Wink recently taking place. With a lot of attention seemingly going after the most recently launched bookmarking service, we wanted to give one of the oldest bookmarking sites (Simpy.com) a little bit of attention. We hope you enjoy the read.
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
Simpy.com: Simpy opened to public in May 2004, and as such it is one of the oldest social bookmarking services. The only two older social bookmarking services are del.icio.us and Furl. The former was acquired by Yahoo!, and the latter by LookSmart. The latter has also seen no noticeable development since the acquisition.
Simpy let’s anyone save web pages, tag them, and share them with others. Saving and tagging allows one to easily find saved pages later from any place on the planet with Internet connection. Optional sharing lets one be “social”. In addition to social bookmarking aspect, one can use Simpy to store and search text notes, to watch other users and form groups with them.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
Simpy.com: Simpy makes sharing optional, allowing a person to keep sensitive, or even all links away from the eyes of others. The service is not limited to saving web pages, as one can also save text notes. I use notes to save all kinds of different things – recipes, technical tips I know I’ll forget if I don’t save them somewhere, pieces of code, excerpts from blogs, articles, etc. Since notes can be tagged and searched, over time this becomes one’s personal knowledge archive, just like bookmarks become one’s link archive.
The service is free, and it doesn’t even push ads onto its users. What is more, Simpy let’s any of its users make money via AdSense, by serving ads with their AdSense ID. No other social bookmarking service does this.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
Simpy.com: Watchlists make it easy to watch over the shoulders of other users of the system. If you have interest in snorkeling, you can find top snorkeling “experts” in Simpy, and subscribe to them. If you find that your snorkeling experts also bookmark a lot of other types of links that don’t interest you, you can exclude them with Watchlist Filters. Watchlist Filters are powerful. They are essentially store searches that can either be inclusive or exclusive, allowing you to really get only the links that you care to see.
Watchings are transparent – you can see who is watching you, and others can see if you are watching them. Unlike Watchilists, which require no approval from the person being watched, Groups require people to explicitly join them. This allows for group collaboration and can be used for group assignments in school, for sharing research at work, as a shared knowledge base for new employees to have access to when hired, and so on.
Groups allow for different levels of privacy, and can be made either public or private. Public Groups are visible to anyone, while private ones are limited only to their members. Similarly, Groups can be made open or closed. Anyone can join an open Group, while only invitees can join a closed one.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
Simpy.com: Anyone who uses the Web to look up information, to read and learn, anyone who reads blogs and wants to save interesting posts, anyone who wants to stash their research material somewhere where it won’t get lost in the ever growing haystack that the Web has become.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
Simpy.com: There are some initiatives in the internationalization realm, which I hope will make Simpy more attractive to non-English audience. In fact, I am looking for translators, people who can translate text in Simpy’s English user interface to other languages. A third party recently built several Simpy widgets suitable for embedding in blogs and other web pages, so this will soon be offered. That’s all I can say for now.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
Simpy.com: Forward, I hope. The truth is, I see Simpy as a sailing boat, and myself as its captain. While I have a general idea about where I’m sailing to, winds are often unpredictable, so I tack my way ahead depending on the wind.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
Simpy.com: In the beginning Simpy’s simple user interface resulted in a lot of positive emails. Lately, I’ve been seeing reviews that point out that the interface needs some work.
I agree with the reviews – Simpy could use some improvements in the UI and usability realm. People often have good things to say about the service itself.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
Simpy.com: I strive to provide a useful service to individuals, groups, and the masses. I try to be open and frank with people using Simpy. Over the years I’ve been deeply involved in several open-source projects, so I’m no stranger to the idea of sharing and community involvement. I try keeping Simpy as open as possible. I involve the user and the development community by allowing passionate volunteers to participate and contribute. I don’t know why, but I love giving credit to people – it gives me some kind of inexplicable pleasure to involve people, perhaps connect a few folks, help them collaborate and make something.
I think you can see some of this philosophy behind Simpy AdSense initiative, where people can make a bit or money through ad impressions that their content, their links generate.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
Simpy.com: With so many quick copy-cats out there, it’s hard to stay ahead. Still, there are a few features that I haven’t seen copied. One of the still to be copied features is the ability to find people similar to you, people with similar interests. Having this featured allowed me to quickly find other Simpy users who regularly save and tag bookmarks that are of interest to me. Once I found these people, I quickly added them to my Watchlists, so now I have a steady stream of interesting links.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
Simpy.com: Simpy is self-funded. Several months ago Simpy acquired the data and userbase of de.lirio.us, another social bookmarking service that decided to call it quits. The userbase is constantly growing at the healthy rate, as is the data those users are creating. I am not actively looking for investors, but I’m open-minded about it.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date?
Simpy.com: Simpy launched about 2 and a half years ago. 🙂
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