This article was published on January 10, 2008

coComment will change online conversations

coComment will change online conversations
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
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Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Five Questions for Start-upsEvery week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views. Well, actually six questions, since we also ask the start-up to who he or she is passing the mic.

This week’s start-up is coComment, a service that makes it possible to keep track of all the comments and discussions your are participating in or observing on the web. Moreover, if you’re a blogger, you can publish the comments you’re making throughout the blogosphere. The company is based in Geneva, Switzerland. They’re funded by Swisscom Innovations. We’re interviewing Matt Colebourne, CEO of coComment.

How did you guys come up with the idea for coComment?

Question number“It was our CSO, Nicolas Dengler, who came up with it. He found that as the number of blogs grew it became absolutely impossible to keep track with the comments he was leaving. At first, it was just a simple proof of concept idea, but after discussions with a number of prominent bloggers it was launched at the Lift Conference. Yet, still as an early stage idea.

The response was so fantastic that the imperative became to found a company and to build a product that was robust, general and generic enough that it was applicable not only to the blogger community, but also to the increasingly large number of users commenting on general media sites.

Nicolas and the technology team came up with the new, social coComment. Based on a number of workshops and advice both internal and external and feedback from our users. coComment 2.0 Beta release was buggy and not very well received. Though quickly thereafter we were able to refine it into the award-winning product that we now offer.”

What was/is your biggest challenge during the development process?

Question number“Trying to balance innovation and creativity with robustness, reliability and ease of use. In our space there is huge pressure to be new, to be innovative and to offer new functionality. This MUST be balanced with ease of use for the majority of the users who are less technical.

Things are getting easier now, but there still are a lot of sites which have not been built with data-sharing in mind and it can therefore be hard to extract the comments that we’re looking to track for our users.”

Can you describe the Swiss start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?

Question number“I think the biggest difference is that always is an assumption that the business must be at least European and preferably global. There are still many businesses in the Valley that really only address the American market and then consider the globe much later.

The big advantage to us is that, as a global company, we are in a great location to address the United States, Europa and Asia. The connectivity is very good – both Internet and travel. Moreover, we have access to a multi-lingual workforce.”

What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?

Question number“We will revolutionize the way that people look at commenting and interaction; right now, it is still very much ‘fire and forget’ in many instances. Imagine the impact if every comment and conversation can be followed, if you can connect with others whose comments interest you and if you can examine the zeitgeist – the millions of conversations going on in thousands of places that allow you to see the next big issues.”

You can make up this question yourself!

Question number“How will you grow and reach that global audience?

By viral user recruitment and by providing services to the sites on which the comments are left. We have two constituencies for coComment – the end user and the site owner. The end user needs to keep track of their comments, to find conversations that are of interest and to connect with other commenters. Many site owners need comment technology, they need access to an audience and they need protection from the unfortunate consequences of users potentially violating IP or good taste on their site. We can help both and that, we believe, is why we grew so fast in 2007.”

Who’s next?

“You should definitely interview Charles Nouyrit from It’s very interesting concept and product in my opinion.”

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