Berkeley based Hubpages, which we wrote about in February, launched today. CEO Paul Edmondson also tells me that he’s raised a cool $2 million from Hummer Winblad, with Mitchell Kertzman taking a board seat and Will Price taking a board observer seat.
Hubpages allows user to create topical web page (think Wikia or Squidoo) that also included blog-like modules like comments. Pages are tagged by the creator and by readers, allowing for quick browsing among related pages.
Users are encouraged to build sites that can generate revenue. A good example is a list of important books on a topic, or a review of a product (the best running shoe, for example). Hubpages will insert google ads relevant to the topic, as well as allow links to Amazon, eBay and other affiliate-paying retailers, and split revenue 50/50 with the page creator. Compared to Squidoo, which only pays 50% of profits to page creators, that’s a good deal.
I created a page on the site, called Crunch Network, to experience the site building tools. The page took about 10 minutes to create, and includes summary text, RSS feeds from three of our sites, and a comment area. The creation tools are far beyond what wikia or squidoo has currently (I’d appreciate any comments on this from Squidoo authors), using ajax for previews, moving modules around on the page, etc. They’ve done a really nice job.
Pages are ranked and presesented on the home page. Rank is determined by a algorithm that takes total traffic and “polarization” into account; polarization is simply how often people click that they like, or don’t like, a particular website. Whether they like it or not isn’t relevant, only that they have an opinion.
Can Hubpages succeed? If it will, it has to differentiate itself from Squidoo, which has yet to see significant usage growth. A key way to increase the likelihood of links to hub pages is to encourage the creation of regular fresh content via a blog-like module. Paul says this is in development, and also adds that it’s so easy to create new hubs that beta users have been creating new ones regularly. Readers can subscribe via RSS to an individual author’s hubs.
The Hubpages team is founded by three guys out of Microsoft that were part of the successful startup MongoMusic. The team includes Paul Edmondson, Jay Reitz, and Paul Deeds. Most recently, Paul Edmondson was the Group Product Manager for MSN Entertainment, Jay Reitz was the Development Manager, and Paul Deeds was a developer in Windows Media Internet Services.