Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
Webs is a giant of a company, allowing millions of people around the world to get a website up and running without any coding knowledge.
We took some time to talk to Haroon Mokhtarzada, the company’s CEO, about what Webs is up to, where it is heading, and why the company is playing nice with Facebook.
In a nutshell, what does Webs do?
Webs makes it super easy for anyone to create a rich meaningful site from personal and group sites, to small businesses to social networks. Our publishing platform goes beyond simple, static webpage creation and in addition offers over 20 full-blown applications like blogs, photo galleries, video galleries, discussion forums, social networking and more that can be instantly and seamlessly added to any sites on our platform.
You changed your name a little while back, how has the reception been to that?
Changing our name from Freewebs to Webs has been great. We’ve been free for 9 years and will continue to remain a free service (that’s right Ning users, come on over!) However, people don’t like the word “free” in their URL (which they get for free when they signup). For example, jillsphotography.webs.com is a much more attractive URL than freewebs.com/jillsphotography. Also, in the bit.ly age, Webs.com is nice and short!
Your market space is one of the most crowded online, does that help or hinder you ability to compete effectively?
You have to continue innovating and that’s just what we do. Those who didn’t innovate, like Yahoo! Geocities, AOL’s Hometown, and Lycos’ Tripod are either dead or dying. Our platform has given us the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge and continue offering up the latest and greatest to our users, including applications and functionality offered by third parties service providers.
How fast is Webs growing, and is it profitable?
Over 50 million sites have been create don Webs since we began. Today, over 22,000 new websites are created a day. We are now cash flow positive and scaling nicely. In March, we hit a new traffic record, topping 40 million unique visitors worldwide.
You just implemented Facebook Connect for your users, what has the reception been to that since its launch?
Really great. Facebook is becoming increasingly central to the way people communicate and share content on the web. It’s now quite clear that Facebook has become an important strategy to grow a website’s popularity and traffic. The ability for any website to enable Facebook connect in a few clicks is huge and speaks to the future where one’s social identity will be used across the web.
Is data portability a major concern among Webs users, or do they value simplicity over features?
Not really. Once someone has invested in building their site on our platform, they soon realize that there’s nothing out there that does what we do. So we don’t have many users trying to port to somewhere else. On the other hand, we have had requests for users to port content from other sites to Webs and that’s something we’re working on.
Finally, do you see a larger percentage of the world’s population building their own personal website, and if so, how is Webs working to meet their myriad demands?
It all comes down to our platform and App Store, which enables us as well as third parties to continue growing our functionality. These apps serve as true solutions to the plethora of different use cases we see. For example, Bookfresh launched an Appointments app that lets service businesses schedule appointments and take payments for them right on the website. Meebo launched an IM bar so site owners can enable chat and instant messaging. We even have a Prayer Request app coming online that will let churches and religious communities track requests and prayers on their websites. Much like other platforms like Facebook our iPhone, as the market presents opportunities, our App developers fill them.
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