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.