Meebo, which connects users with their friends across social platforms, emerged from the ashes of an idea Seth Sternberg and his team had for “file sharing between friends that had IM in it.” Those early days of development saw more misses than hits—“kind of depressing” says Sternberg in this episode of Founder Stories.
After more than a year of tinkering, Meebo finally found its magic formula and launched in 2005. Right from the get-go they heard from their users, but admittedly didn’t totally grasp the scope of what they created. As Sternberg admits, “a lot of commerce sites were calling, bloggers were calling and we did not get it.”
In the above clip, Sternberg explains why.
In part II of the interview below, Sternberg and host Chris Dixon discuss the importance of understanding the respective roles of the team—and keyed in on the evolving role of the businessperson.
“I was the one who couldn’t code, therefore I was the CEO,” says Sternberg. “As the businessperson pre-launch I was buying the sandwiches… frankly the businessperson for a start up doesn’t do a lot pre-launch,” he says. Dixon comments on this thought by saying, “I have seen teams breakup before they got to that point because of that feeling of imbalance.”
However, such perceived imbalance can quickly turn into an invaluable asset. As Dixon and Sternberg note, it is the businessperson who can help strike deals and raise money for the team once the engineers actually have something worth selling.
Part II of the interview is below.
Past episodes of Founder Stories can be found here.