Posts Tagged 'web 2.0 expo'

Our launch experience, part 1: beta

Wow, what a crazy few weeks it has been!  For those of you just tuning in, we just launched 80legs.  Since launching, we’ve been swamped with emails, press, tweets, and much more, but I thought I’d recap our experience, from beta to launch, including our experience at DEMO.

We announced our private beta at the Launch Pad event during the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, back in April.  We had been working on 80legs since early 2008.  Around February, I decided we’d exhibit at the Web 2.0 Expo to get some early exposure.  When I signed the booth contract, we weren’t thinking of making 80legs available in April.  But then I came across the Launch Pad event that they had.  Applying was pretty straightforward – all I had to do was fill out a form.  But the form asked for what kind of demo I could show right now, so that the judges could get a sense for what we did.  At that point, you could run a crawl through 80legs, but there was no pretty interface to it.  It was just command-line Java.  So in the form I said something like “Nothing to show now, but trust me – it will be really cool in April!!” and submitted it.

I was pretty sure nothing would come of it.  Surely they had several applications for products that looked shiny and sexy and would never accept anything as obtuse as a “distributed computing service designed for crawling and processing web content”… that wasn’t even ready to show yet.  Then a few weeks later, I get an email welcoming us into Launch Pad.  Ohhh-k :)  I stood up from my desk (this is mid-February, I think) and said:

Guys, I’ve got news.  We’re launching our beta in April.

We are?

Yes.  At the Web 2.0 Expo.   In front of hundreds of people.  On stage.

We don’t have an interface.  Or any way for people to setup an account.  And we’re still making the crawling reliable.

Yeah.  I guess we have a month to do that!

So during March, we scrambled putting together the first version of the web portal, getting the crawling to an acceptable state, and a bunch of other stuff.  It was nose-to-the-ground, grind-away work, but at Launch Pad, we had something to show and it looked good (well, for a beta).  The Launch Pad garnered us some press as well.

We got about 300 sign-ups for the private beta – not bad for a technical product.  We decided on letting them into 80legs in periodic batches.  On retrospect, we could have handled this better.  The first couple of batches let in responded well and offered substantive feedback.  But later batches, which may have had to wait a few months, had forgotten about us.  The excitement had worn off.  It would have been better to let them all in at once, or to at least have sent them reminders.

During our beta period, we spent a ton of time on collecting feedback from users, quickly implementing suggestions we felt were important, and scaling up our crawling ability.  Every 2-3 weeks we worked on a major new feature, such as crawler improvements, 80Apps, the API and several others.  At the same time, we were implementing a ton of minor features to make the system more robust and usable.

Our beta was going well and was getting to the point where we were starting to think about going live.  But we wanted to make a splash with our live launch.  We needed something that would get the momentum going again.  Something big…

Stay tuned for part 2: DEMO ..!


Web 2.0 Expo Launch Pad video

Here’s the video from our Launch Pad event at Web 2.0 Expo!

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Recap of Web 2.0 Expo experience

Apologies for not posting this entry sooner.. it’s been a busy week with our private beta launch :).  About 2 weeks ago, we attended the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.  We exhibited at a booth there and were part of the Launch Pad event.  We also attended the AltSearchEngines Day II, which was a mini-conference put on by Charles Knight.  Here’s a quick recap of each event.

AltSearchEngines Day II

Image courtesy of Elliott Ng, UpTake Travel Search

Image courtesy of Elliott Ng, UpTake Travel Search

This was a quick day conference on Monday.  There were about 50 or so people in attendance.  Most of the attendees were from different altenative search engines.  A variety of presenters and panelists demoed different technologies and discussed current trends in the search market.  There were also some folks from Yahoo! to talk about BOSS, which made me a bit upset at myself for not deciding to spring for sponsorship of the event.  Sponsorship would have given us a speaking slot, and we could have completely deflated the Yahoo! presentation.  Ah well, lessons learned…

On a side note, the mall in downtown San Francisco has a really awesome food court.

Web 2.0 Expo

Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson

Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson

We exhibited at a small booth on the expo floor.  Despite being somewhat near the back of the hall, we got an incredible amount of traffic and were busy the entire time.. literally.  The minute the doors opened, we had someone come up to us wanting to learn more, and we had people asking us questions after the expo closed every day.  We got about 150 contacts from the booth itself.  The contacts included a wide variety of people and companies, including search engines, market research firms, price comparison sites, students, venture capitalists, and so on.  We had a live demo running on a widescreen TV that people could check out and some one-sheets describing the technology.  We actually got a little blog coverage from our booth as well.

Launch Pad

Photo courtesy of James Duncan Davidson

Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson

On Thursday, we got to give our Launch Pad pitch.  The event took place in a massive room; there were about 200-300 people in attendance.  It was pretty exciting – we presented on a big stage, with giant screens on either side of us.  From this event, we got a lot of press coverage, some of which I’ve listed here (with some commentary):

  • CNET:  It looks like Rafe liked us the most, calling us “a genuinely new idea”!
  • TechCrunch:  We got a lot of inquiries following the TC post.  We actually didn’t know it had gotten on TechCrunch until we started seeing a stream of new inquiries coming in every minute or so, which lasted for pretty much the whole day.
  • Wall Street Journal:  A quick mention at the end.. I’m guessing the author didn’t quite understand who uses 80legs.. no biggie, our customers definitely understand :)
  • ReadWriteWeb:  Another quick mention, but this time at the beginning.. it pays to come up first on alphanumeric sorting!
  • InformationWeek:  Pretty happy Michael liked the image search demonstration – the cool thing is that image search is just the tip of the iceberg with what’s possible when using 80legs.

I have to say, the conference was a great experience for us.  As a result, we now have several hundred people interested in joining the private beta, with new inquiries still coming in each day.  We plan on attending the next Web 2.0 Expo, which will be in New York City in October.  I can only hope that one turns out to be as great as this one was!

Welcome TechCrunch readers :)

So apparently we just got TechCrunched, as a result of us announcing our private beta launch at Launch Pad.  If any readers are at the expo, please come by and talk to us at Booth 635.  If you’re interested in getting in on the private beta, don’t hesitate to contact us!

80legs selected as Launch Pad finalist for Web 2.0 Expo


We’re very happy to announce that we’ve been selected as one of the five finalists for the Launch Pad event at the Web 2.0 Expo next week in San Francisco.  We will be giving a 5 minute presentation on 80legs to an audience of several hundred people while trying to get a lot of attention for the platform.  If you’re interested in checking out the event, it will be held at the Moscone Center on Thursday, April 2 at 1:15 pm.

We’ll also have a booth at the expo, so come by Booth 635 to talk to us in person if you’d like.

In case you’re wondering.. yes, this does mean we plan to launch next week.  We have ramped up our development schedule to add more functionality and performance than we had originally intended with the first release.  While we regret some of the delay this decision caused, we also realized this ramp-up will let our customers start taking more advantage of 80legs more quickly.  The first available release of 80legs will allow crawling and content matching, which means you will be able to discover which pages contain keywords or match regular expressions you’re interested in.

Web 2.0 Conference

We’re exhibiting at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on April 1-3.  Come see us at booth 635.

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