Getting a widget onto a website, whether its a blog or a MySpace page or anything else, is a bit of a pain. Users generally have to copy an embed code, log into their website, and paste it into the appropriate place. While that hasn’t proven to be an insurmountable obstacle, widget startups that have found ways to make it easier for users to add widgets to their sites have seen significantly higher growth rates v. their competitors.
Slide, RockYou and Photobucket were early experimenters in this space. Instead of forcing users to do the cut and paste, they simply asked them to input their MySpace (or other social network) credentials and then put the widget onto the site directly, on their behalf. When they first started doing this in 2006 everyone expected MySpace to cut them off for security reasons, but that never happened. MySpace let the companies log in as users and publish the widgets. Slide, RockYou and Photobucket saw growth explode. Competitor FilmLoop, who chose not to offer this feature, stagnated and is now in the DeadPool.
But offering this feature is a bit of a hassle. There are a number of large social networks to deal with, and they occasionally change their APIs or login procedures. When that happens, the feature breaks until changes are made. So most widget companies today simply stick to the tried and true “cut and paste” approach to widget proliferation.
Enter Gigya, an Israeli startup that launched a tool in November 2006 that allows people to email widgets to others instead of just posting them on websites. Their initial product is doing well, they say. And now they are launching a new product called Wildfire that will allow widget producers to directly embed their widgets into the bigger social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Hi5, Xanga, Blogger and Tagworld are currently supported). There is a do-it-yourself option for small widget startups, and they are working directly with some of the larger ones.
Once Wildfire is implemented with a partner widget site, users simply select the social network they use, type in their credentials and the area of the site they want it to appear, and hit submit. The widget will then be placed on their MySpace or other social network page. I’ve embedded a very high level overview video of the service below.
Gigya isn’t charging partners for the service, saying they have plans for expansion into mobile and other areas where they can begin to generate revenue. Co-founder and CMO Rooly Eliezerov says they want Gigya to be a platform for widgets, and their first two products (Gigya and Wildfire) are just the beginning.
The company has done a lot without spending much money to date. They’ve raised just $650,000 in a single financing round from Benchmark Capital and First Round Capital in November 2006. Even though the round was small, those are tier-one investors who must see a good long term business plan.
Update: It has been widely reported that the company has actually raised $4m. This is incorrect. They’ve raised just $650,000 to date, in a single round of financing last November.