Flock: 19 questions for a startup

EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Flock: 19 questions for a startup


Saturday, March 31, 2007; Posted: 2:40 PM – by Alex Iskold




The Social Web Browser

Company:                   Flock

Web Site:                    http://www.flock.com

Blog:                          http://www.flock.com/blog

Location:                    Mountain View, CA

Size:                          32

Funding:                   Series C closed in Nov. 05.  See below

Summary 

Flock
is an amazing new web browser that makes it easier to share media and
connect to other people online. Share photos, automatically stay
up-to-date with new content from your favorite sites, and search the
Web with the most advanced Search Toolbar available today.



   Flock development meeting


1. What is your company about?

The
web, and how people are using the web, has changed since the mid 90’s –
unfortunately, browser technologies have not.  Most are still oriented
toward ‘one-way browsing’ rather than the dynamic participatory
experience most web users want and expect.

– Simple tasks like connecting and engaging with people require many steps and hops between service providers.


Using many of the new services on the Internet is more work and less
fun than it should be, especially if the tasks at hand involve using
more than one service in conjunction.

– Tools are available, but aren’t in one place, or are limited in scope and function.

Flock
is the first browser to act as a ‘helper’, allowing people to use the
new web and services together without all of the steps and complexity. 
In short, Flock is being designed to make users’ online lives easier.

2. What is unique about your company?

Other browsers are really made for ‘looking’ at the Web, finding information and completing transactions

Flock’s
web browser is built around the user in a way that no other browser has
attempted – the result is the first true browser innovation in over 10
years.


Flock gives users control over their web experience by integrating a
variety of web applications and services into its browser, and making
participation online easy.

– Flock’s design leverages a
simple, elegant interface to deliver a powerful interactive experience
that’s accessible to power users and everyday mortals alike.


Flock is committed to innovation and forward movement, and users can
expect something fun and new – designed just for them – every few
months.

3. Why did you start this company? 

1.   
I was bored with my existing job and could not focus on anything but
the emergence of exciting new web services, applications, and the
explosive growth of user-generated content.  The participatory web was
emerging and I wanted to my part to help it along.

4. Who are the principal members of your team?

They
are all key.  As I started typing out names, I had a hard time figuring
out where to draw the line. Let’s just say that we are 32 folks who
love what we do.

5. How is your company funded?

Flock
is a venture capital-funded, for-profit venture, funded by Shasta
Ventures, Bessemer Venture            Partners, Catamount Ventures, and
angel investors including, among others, Joe Kraus, Josh Kopel    man,
Gil Penchina, Scott Kurnit, Michael Tanne and Stratton Sclavos. 

6. How do you fit into the social computing theme?

Most
users today want and expect a dynamic, participatory web experience.
They use Flock because they want to add their own stamp to the web
without having to toggle back and forth between windows to use web
applications and services, or to access the information that’s
important to them.

They want a simple and clean web experience
that they control, that is customizable to their needs, and that makes
it easier to interact with their people.

People use Flock because they want to:

            – Have fun!

– Simplify their lives online

– Participate in an interactive web experience

– Upload and share photos, without jumping between several web sites to do that

– Access what’s most important to them – news, blogs, friends’ photos, favorites, etc. – quickly and easily, and in one place



                    Flock photo integration

7. What is your high-level architecture? 

2.    Flock is built entirely off of the latest Firefox code base. 

8. What technologies are you using?

We are built using the open source Firefox platform which is based on XUL.

9. What competitors are you watching closely?

While
there are other web browsers in the market, our primary competition is
really user inertia.  People have been told that incremental changes
are ‘evolution’, but the browser has been fairly stagnant  for 10
years.  Convincing people that there’s a real evolution and a different
way to play with the web takes a bit of evangelism.

10. What are you major accomplishments thus far? 

We
have built an outstanding team, developed fantastic partnerships, and
made a fun, stable and compelling first beta.  Lot’s of work ahead, but
I feel like we are getting there.

11. What are your major challenges? 

Making
sure that we are focused on delivering the tightest user experiences. 
We all have "great" ideas, but sometimes when we combine them the
experience gets broken.  We constantly have to check ourselves to make
sure that our users are happy with where we are taking the Flock
experience.

12. What are you going to build in the next 12 months?

We
are hoping to build a community of loyal users who continue to give us
feedback.  As long as the feedback loop is active, we will continue to
iterate on delivering the future of web browsing.
 



                    Flock RSS and Search integration

13. What is the most important thing for a start up to be successful?

A
great team, focus on a real value proposition, some cash, and tons of
passion.  Oh yeah, and a case or two of Red Bull doesn’t hurt either.

14. What web sites / blogs do you use / read often?

Digg, Techcrunch, paidcontent.org, wikipedia, news.bbc.co.uk, askamobster.com, Yahoo Maps Beta, National Geographic.

15. What companies do you find fascinating?

YouTube, Piczo, Pandora, SingShot

16. Which web 2.0 things are noise and which are signals? 

Noise
is anything that focuses more on the technologies used than the
problems solved.  I’m too nice to pick on others. Signals, however, are
companies that are trying to solve real problems and/or provide useful
and enjoyable interactions.  YouTube, Digg, and Piczo are companies
that I think are truly innovative and are successful because they all,
to varying degrees, either solve user’s needs, are fun, and change the
way we use the web.

17. What is impact will social media and social computing have on the web at large?

I
think it will change the whole concept of content discovery and
delivery.  Users will have a greater voice in determining how products
are marketed to them, while marketing will become more targeted.

18. What do you think the web will be like in 10 years?

I think ten years from now the web will become self aware. ;)

19. What would you like to say to our readers?

Please check out the latest Flock and let us know what you think.

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