SM: Do you have a sense of where you want to go from here in terms of your career and businesses?
SW: I’m in a period where I am trying to figure that out. I am in this place, business-wise and knowledge-wise, where I am on the cusp of doing something on the next level. I have the talent and skill to do something greater than what I have been doing. In terms of the big picture, I am not too sure what my plans are.
SM: Can you talk about the six people who work with you? Where did you find them? How did that team come together and what is their thinking?
SW: I am really bad at hiring people. I can create, innovate, and grow. When I encounter something repetitive that I do not want to keep doing, I will hire someone to do that. I am really bad at finding people who are clones of me who can innovate and grow. The people I have working for me have always come to me, and when I have sought out people it has never gone that well. Most people I hire are fans of the site. I hire them in a small role at first, and then grow it from there.
SM: The story you have just told is the story of a classic bootstrapped, tightly managed Internet company that has made a lot of large, highly capitalized venture capitalized companies look bloated and obsolete.
SW: True. I look at some of these sites that have received $10 million in funding and I wonder what they are doing with all of that money, because I do not need all it. I do it slower. For me, being an entrepreneur is so much trial and error that I would rather make the mistakes in the lower dollar range than at the Super Bowl advertising level.
SM: Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn’t?
SW: There are a couple other businesses I created along the way. After Internet.com laid me off I started TechIMO, and I knew I had just left a great community at SysOpt. I wanted to figure out how to get those people to come over to something new. The TechIMO site was basically a clone of SysOpt. It was a forum that had the same focus, and I contacted just a few people. Word of mouth spread fast, and everyone left SysOpt and came over. Internet.com really lost out because there were thousands of active users who came over to TechIMO. It is growing like crazy – it is not able to monetize nearly as well as ResellerRatings because it is a tech forum, but it is getting about 750,000 visits a month.
In 2001 I had this TechIMO site and people were asking for a photo gallery. There was certainly nothing that worked with vBulletin, so I decided to create a photo gallery and integrate with vBulletin. People started finding the photo gallery and asking me where I got it. After enough inquiries I cleaned it up, packaged it, and made it available for sale. It is PHP and MySQL and works with vBulletin, which was the main selling point at the time.
We have about 12,000 web sites that use PhotoPost, and we sell it for about $100 a license. There are annual support fees and renewal fees that can take that up to $130. It is still just a photo gallery. I read your article about Web 3.0 and photo sharing, and I think there is a way to make PhotoPost a player among the photo sharing sites.
SM: This has been an interesting story. Congratulations!