Sunday, June 3, 2007

Joining Google, Continuing FeedBurner

As I mentioned on Friday, Google’s acquisition of FeedBurner makes me a Noogler (”New Googler“). Before I talk more about that, let me say this: we would not be where we are without the trust and support of hundreds of thousands of publishers around the world who chose to distribute their content through FeedBurner. When I joined FeedBurner, Dick and Steve gave me a simple mandate: figure out how to get big publishers on board. As time progressed, it became clear that “big” meant different things at different times: Wil Wheaton is a big publisher. Gawker is a big publisher. USA Today is of course a big publisher, but so is Greg Kleinman’s DVD Talk. What was so cool was that we pretty quickly figured out that we needed to not distinguish between the “head” of the tail and the “long tail” – if you were a publisher, we wanted you to trust us. More importantly, we wanted to continue to astound you with insanely great services, attention to detail, and, above all, attention.

That’s why, as we built out the publisher services team, Dick made outreach a priority. Yes, he’s passionate about revenue. And yes, we cared about landing the big guys who had tons of readers. But I’ll be honest: in a day when Google Blogsearch can give Joe Schmoe’s post equal visibility to a front page column in the Wall Street Journal, we really didn’t have a choice. You are all publishers, and we (Jake, Eric and I) considered it a rare privilege to be the public face of a company that consistently built out new and exciting ways to distribute your content. That’s why we left comments on your blogs, regardless of who you were, why we answered posts in the forums whether you were big or small. And it’s why we called ourselves the “publisher services team”, not the “Corporate Accounts team” or something else that would have marginalized the vast majority of our user base.

We couldn’t have arrived at this point without you, and don’t for a minute think we’ll forget that. Dick’s post about why we did this deal bears repeating:

FeedBurner has always been a publisher-centric company. We built the company around a central theme and hypothesis that distributed media present publishers with immense opportunities as well as spiraling complexity.The vision is straightforward: publishers who successfully promote distribution and measure consumption will be in a position to derive more value (aka make more money, gain more influence, etc.) from media distribution. Feeds present a simple and ubiquitous opportunity for publishers to embrace distributed media, but content distribution standards without metrics, publicity tools, and monetization engines are ultimately of little value to individuals and organizations whose businesses depend on an ability to maximize and measure reach.

So what does this mean moving forward? For one, I’m actually moving. West. As in Mountain View. This is bittersweet for me; those of you who know me know that I’ve found more than a home in Naperville, I’ve found a community that I’ve come to love. The neighborhood, the schools, the park district, the libraries, the restaurants, the River Walk, the friends… Naperville is a singular town, and I’m under no illusions as I pick up and move the family back to California that I’ll replace it. I’ve lived longer in this house than any house in my life. (Really!) It’s hard to leave, even as I am tremendously excited about what lies ahead.

About that: I’ll be joining the Content Acquisition team in Mountain View, a group I had the pleasure of getting to know as the acquisition was coming to fruition. I will remain focused on ensuring that publishers get the most out of FeedBurner services, while looking for ways to add value to that content and figuring out how to link that up to Google’s overall mission of organizing the world’s information. It couldn’t be a more ideal role for me, and, truth be told, I’m as excited by this transition as I am about any job I’ve ever held. If not for the cost of living (no, I’m not thinking about it, thank you very much), I’d say this was an ideal next step. (Actually, the Reno to Mountain View commute’s not so bad, so I’m told.)

I couldn’t imagine a better outcome for all involved: immodestly, I think Google’s getting a remarkably talented team. Our publishers are getting access to a wealth of development and advertising expertise that will create new revenue opportunities. And we will get to build out new ways of analyzing and enhancing content, which helps us deliver on the original mission of FeedBurner.

To all of you who trusted us along the way, thank you. As we move ahead, I hope you’ll give us the opportunity to continue to earn that trust.


  1. Congrats! I take full credit for my year-ago acquisition prediction coming to fruition. Since you can't take it all with you to Mountain View, you know where to unload that extra stuff you won't be able to fit in that new house you can't afford. :)

    And, alas, what are the local Democrats to do?

  2. Amazing! I'm so glad for you. And for your family. One question: Reno to Mountain View commute is not bad? Is that Reno, NV? If so, then obviously you are joking I just didn't catch the signal.

  3. Yeah, a lame attempt at a joke. ;)

  4. Congratulations on the next adventure. Here's hoping it is rewarding.

  5. Congrats, Rick. You guys pounded the pavement and made it happen. Can't wait to see what you do next with Google.

  6. Looking forward to the recalifornication. 8-)

  7. Rick,
    Congrats to you, Ed, Charley, and Brent. It was a pleasure interviewing with you guys a few months back and wish you the best.

    -Chris Ruder

  8. Rick congrats! Feedburner and Google are great match! And you and the gang are going to love working in Mountain View - grad school with free food and computer programming problems in the bathrooms :) Again congrats to you and the Feedburner team! Peace - Tim

  9. Congrats! The Feedburner acquisition sounds like it's a great deal, all around.

    That said, I think it's a shame you have to leave Naperville to work for Google. In the days of easy video chat, instant messaging, cell phones and unified messaging, it seems silly to think that you couldn't do the same job from here that you could do there. Yes, I do realize there is value to "face time" when you're a member of a team. But I would have also thought, in this day and age, that Google of all companies would realize that current technologies have the ability to put us all in the same room from a world apart. The whole "move here to work here" for jobs that aren't *required* to be local (i.e. farming, construction, etc.) strikes me as antiquated.

    C'est la vie. Good luck to you in Cali!

  10. Hi Rick,

    First, sorry about your grandfather. I've spoken with Molly and heard all about the beautiful tribute in Florida. He was an amazing man and it's nice to know he was so fondly remembered. I actually stumbled upon your blog looking for your grandfather's obituary - I've been here before and it's quite something! We need to talk politics next time we're lucky enoguh to be together - you're one of the smartest men I know but you're missing a few things :) LOL

    Congrats about the Google deal - good luck in CA. Love to Robin! Write me when you can...


  11. WOW! You're moving! I'll bet you wish you'd kept your old house in CA!

    I was just at a conference with a whole bunch of your old legal marketing pals and they all wish you well -- and everyone of them was so gratified to hear that you've turned your passion into a great new career. We were reminiscing about your first LMA speech about blogging back in 2003 or 2004, and how you became the rock star of the conference. (And yet, here I am, 3-4 years later, and we still haven't launched our first blog. So what else is new?)

    All the best to you and Robin and the kids as you embark on this next phase.

  12. [...] friendship is one reason that I’m sad to see Rick and Robin go. I’ve learned a lot from both of them, although I’ve spent more time with (and thus [...]

  13. Hey, my records indicate that you've never commented on my blog.
    (or linked to it)

    The post above makes me feel snubbed!