I love my job. I spend most days meeting and advising interesting emerging growth companies and learning about the latest technology trends. The people that lead these businesses are highly motivated and intelligent – making for interesting interactions. Many of the 200 businesses that I’ve financed have been wildly successful (thinly-veiled humblebrag, I know). Even the failed ventures were at least trying to do something important and difficult. Today’s post is about a company that’s solving a real problem in social networking – making it easy.
I came across Streamified a couple of months ago. I saw a twitter post about a new Chrome extension that integrated Facebook, Twitter and Google+ …all into a single stream within Google+. That sounded like a cool way to jumpstart my experiment within G+ so I downloaded it. In an instant, I had a streamlined and elegant way to interact with all of my social networks. My social networks have both a heavy personal and business focus. I can’t think of any other way that I would have been able to interact with editors of Forbes Magazine (in London no less), reporters for the Washington Post and well known west coast angel investors that I’ve never met in person. I find social networking to be extremely valuable in business and this new tool has the potential to make it that much more user-friendly. Being the shrinking violet that I am, I reached out to the developer, Zane Claes via Twitter.
Zane told me that he was overwhelmed with the response to the product. His original idea was to code a simple Chrome extension over the weekend – predominantly for fun. Within 30 days, he’s acquired 150,000 users, some of which have already upgraded to the paid version. This little weekend project was profitable within 2 weeks! He got some early feedback from one user that was particularly critical but helpful. After making the suggested adjustments , Zane was surprised to learn the user was Guy Kawasaki of Gararge.com fame. I told Zane that I thought he had something with legs and that he should meet some VC’s in my network. He laughed and said that he loved the autonomy of travelling the world with his mobile programming consulting business. He couldn’t imagine settling down with one company – let alone deal with a professional board. I quoted one of Jamie’s (beautiful wife with remarkably low standards in men) signature phrases – “Hear me now…believe me later.” That was 60 days ago.
The product has taken on a life of its own and is evolving in some interesting and confidential ways. He’s moved to the valley and just spent time at TechCrunch’s Disrupt Conference to help with fundraising strategies. BTW, I attended Disrupt virtually and saved the cross continental trip and time away from my family. Unlike TechCrunch, this isn’t a fluff piece written about one of our portfolio companies. Eastward hasn’t put money into the venture…but I hope to have the opportunity to invest someday soon. Of course I’ll have to meet Zane in person at some point as our friendship has been fostered by the same social networks that he’s helping to transform.