Sunday, October 22, 2006

Interview with Christopher Janz of PageFlakes

Interview with Christopher Janz of PageFlakes

By Kat Ortland

Rand's Customized PageFlakes Homepage
PageFlakes delivers a customized homepage that can be edited to include hundreds of unique widgets, RSS feeds, etc. & tabs for different content.

  1. What inspired you to create Pageflakes? Where did the idea come from?The idea of a personalized startpage itself is not new. Yahoo, Excite and others started personalizing their portals years ago. However, thanks to the rise of RSS, XML, APIs and AJAX and other new developments the value proposition is now much more compelling. It's these new developments as well as inspirations from other sites which made us come up with the idea for creating Pageflakes.
  2. How long did it take you, from start to finish, to get Pageflakes off the ground?About three months from scratch to Public Beta.
  3. How did you get funding for the project?So far we're self-funded but we plan to do a business angel or VC round shortly.
  4. How do you sustain the usage costs of Pageflakes?We expect advertising to be our most important revenue stream in the future. Subscription fees for premium fees are an option, but far in the future. Further revenue streams like licensing revenues are possible, but we don't have concrete plans on that yet. In general, generating revenue is not a short term priority for us. We really want to focus on developing the product and acquiring a large user base first.
  5. What programming languages & technologies does Pageflakes use?The Pageflakes framework is built using ASP.NET 2.0, Atlas, JavaScript and of course lots of AJAX goodness. The flakes are built using a variety of different languages and technologies. We wanted to make the framework as flexible as possible to allow each developer to use his favorite tools and technologies. So if you want to develop a flake, you can also use PHP, JSP or ASP.NET, and work with an IDE like VisualStudio.NET, or even develop flakes in Flash.
  6. How big is your development team? Anything special you'd like to say about them?Our core development team consists of three outstanding developers in Bangladesh. I myself do most of the UI/design/speccing stuff. In addition, we have a couple of freelancers across the globe.

    They are geniuses. :-)

  7. What are your plans for the future of Pageflakes?Short term:
    1. Continue to build an excellent product and innovate more quickly than the rest
    2. Add new useful flakes every week
    3. Release some really exciting features like the option to share and publish pages

    Long term:
    1. Provide users a convenient one-stop access point to all the services, apps and data they care about.
    2. Simplify almost any aspect of peoples' digital lives.

  8. How many people do you estimate currently use Pageflakes?We don't have much statistcis yet, since we launched the beta just a week ago. But yesterday an article in which we were mentioned got slashdotted, so we had about 20,000 visits yesterday.
  9. What is your opinion about the Web 2.0 phenomenon? How do you see Pageflakes fitting into it?I think there are a couple of viewpoints and angles that are new to Web 2.0 and that make it different. But frankly, I don't have a completely consistent picture of it yet or of what it will look like with hindsight. I'm also not sure how long the term "Web 2.0" will survive. It will probably be a temporary term because at some point people will start calling their startups "Web 3.0"... and then it will get weird.

    There are a couple of interesting developments, technological and other, which fuel the development of new services. One of them, of course, is AJAX because, as you know, it allows a desktop-like user interface and user experience on the Web. AJAX is not that new, really, but frankly I'd never heard of it until a year ago or so.

    The AJAX technology really fuels many of these applications because many of them aren't a lot of fun if you have to reload the page all the time. If you compare Gmail with the Web applications of a few years ago, I think the difference is huge.

    Another very important trend is data syndication using RSS and XML and other formats, as well as the opening of applications using APIs, which fuel all those mashups and open forms and integrations with one another. This is pretty much the focus of our efforts since we provide users with a variety of applications and services and content offerings. While we created a variety of application of our own, many of them integrate with existing applications like Zoho Writer, Flickr,, & Alexa.

    So these two things are absolutely vital for us, (AJAX and Data Syndication) without them we wouldn't exist, so to speak. These are the things that make us different from old-school portals which also offered personalization but which have much less appeal.

  10. Do you have advice or insights for other people who are trying to create their own Web 2.0 projects?If you have a great idea, go for it! And choose your partners based on skills rather than geography even if people are telling you this can't work. Our founder team consists of five people from three continents who somehow found each other....and so far it works great


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