Talking Netvibes

28 Comments

Web 2.0 which I define as ability to do a lot more with a lot less inside of a web browser – and the ensuing funding madness has finally started to go global – albeit very slowly. Netvibes, a Paris-based start-up last week raised a million dollars in angel funding from the likes of Martin Varsavsky, the founder of WiFi network, FON, Pierre Chappaz, founder of Kelkoo and Marc Andressen, founder of Ning.

Netvibes, if you are not familiar with the company, allows you to add small modules of different kinds of information – blog feeds, news feeds, weather reports and financial information etc – and create a “portal” of your own. These Ajaxian-home pages are quite a rage, and you have a virtual potpourri of offerings to choose from: about half a dozen and that’s not including the GYM gang. (See round-up by Richard McManus.) Most if not all are going to flame out, and be forgotten, despite cute names. How many, outside of early adopters are using these services? I bet you not enough!

Netvibes seems to have the most traction in this market, with Pageflakes close behind. Goowy, which does similar things in Macromedia Flash, is running neck-to-neck with Netvibes. Martin on his blog, has about a million users, and the Alexa chart kind of bears that out, to some degree.

Tariq Krim, the founder of Netvibes, called me following the announcement, and we stalked about where his company is going, and what will those million bucks be spent on. “We want to scale the service, and stabilize the platform, so we can roll it out to more users,” Krim says.

Krim said that the original concept of Netvibes came to him, when he wanted to build a little page where he could read all the RSS feeds. And then he add ability to take web notes, and from there is grew. Apparently, a lot of people wanted that service, and when they launched their product as a beta, it grew from zero to 15,000 users. “We grew from a concept into a product in one day,” he says. Krim points out that at present nearly 60 percent of Netvibes users are coming from the US, but that’s changing slowly, as new global users start to use Netvibes. Of course a million dollars buys the company to cook-up a way to make money.

Update: Tariq emailed and point out that, “Alexa doesn’t bring us justice don’t forget that we don’t have only one page (vs tabs on others services one user use many pages). You can check other metrics like reach to see the difference !” Such as daily reach.

28 Comments

Brenda

There are AJAX startpages abound out there. But there is something to be said for user-friendliness. And while My Yahoo! gives me everything I need on a daily basis, I’ve found that Netvibes is worth all the Web 2.0 jabber. It works, plain and simple. I find it nice-looking and reliable…consistantly.

Mike

Has anyone tried out (Yoosi.com). It appears you can easily create and add content with a URL. I like other services but – yoosi.com – you don’t need an API.

Camaracut

Hello Mr Malik,
You mentioned just about every start page (seen in your performance graph) that are more or less clones of each other, but not a mention of the most customizable of them all i.e.Protopage. Are you saving your fire for another article or turning a blind eye?

VeerChand Bothra

Netvibes, Pageflakes etc. are personal aggregators – you start with an empty plate and need to know what goes into it. The quality of feeds you choose is limited by your knowledge of online sources.

We at MyToday, have created a new category of RSS aggregators – which we call “Public Aggregators”. In public aggregators like MyToday, the subject matter experts make the initial choice for you and give you a full plate. You can then choose to remove some or add some. This way, a layman can get started reading quality stuff. Have explained the idea in more detail on my blog.

Akash Agarwal

I believe netvibes and other such Ajax desktop technology demostrates a very important change that is happening in the market which is largerly driven by the need for personalization.

The market is moving from

Browser –> Search —> Subscribe model

where all the information will be delivered as a channel/service and the gateway that deliver this will become very important.

Monetizing and building a business along the way for such companies clearly is going to be challenge.

Markus

OM,

Ranking.websearch.com only reports on the top 100,000 sites. Either they are filtering out all the people visiting the site with less then 1 pageview or netvibes just doesn’t have enough traffic to register on their system.

Christoph Janz

@Thomas:
Since our Beta Release about 6 weeks ago, we almost tripled the number of modules on our site to almost 40 (see http://www2.pageflakes.com/flakegallery/all.html). Among them are several applications which you won’t find anywhere else. More importantly, extrapolate these 6 weeks into the next years, and it will be difficult for the GYM to keep up with that dynamic.

Florent V.

@ ThomasLee :
There is no big difference. I like Netvibes better because of its look-and-feel.
And I’m glad there are different similar services for us to be able to choose from.

ThomasLee

Hi Om,

I vistied Netvibes and don’t really see any difference with they offer to the user than Google cureently does with their personalized homepage options.

Through Google and others I can add nearly everything that Netvibes does to my current Google homepage.

What am I missing?

Axel Wolf

I would agree with Will and Christoph here; the “1 million users” figure is rather misleading because everyone who drops by and gets his cookie is counted as a user. Spread over the lifetime of netvibes (roughly 1 year) this would come down to about 100,000 uniques per month on average which sounds reasonable; at Fold we had about 110,000 uniques so far this month, largely thanks to a Digg frontpage posting.

Speaking on startpages as such, I would argue that the best chances lie with those who are extensible in a way that they become more than mere online RSS readers. This can happen by way of an API for writing extensions in JS or the like or by embedding already existing applications or services.

For example, with Fold you can use Flash containers to add arbitrary Flash content (applications, utilities, games etc.) to a page. Using HTML containers one can even integrate a fully fledged word processor into a page with only three lines of HTML code as outlined here:

http://foldblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/using-ajaxwrite-in-fold.html

Startpages are still in a very early stage, it will be exciting to see how the concept evolves over the next 6-12 months.

Dan Warne

What I don’t get is how Netvibes is in any way new or fundamentally unique compared to say, Google Personalised. You can add units of info to Google Personalised and not just the ones supplied by Google — there’s a bunch of third party modules in a Google-provided directory.

Christoph Janz

Happy to read about AJAX desktops here, Om. Of course I agree with Saul that you are severely underestimating the importance of AJAX desktops, though. Sure, currently Netvibes and Pageflakes are mainly used by early-adopters. Just like Yahoo back in 1997, I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

What you’re seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg. Again, just like Yahoo back in 1997. As more and more services are opened up with APIs and as more and more content is being syndicated, these offerings will become more and more attractive for mainstream users.

It won’t take too long until there will be a (secure) RSS feed for your online bank account, and the most convenient way to keep track of your current balance will be…your personal startpage (which already aggregates the 50 other services and feeds that you use). New functionalities like this will make a site like Pageflakes irresistibly useful for mainstream users.

I’m totally biased, of course, but I’m truly convinced that it’s just a question of time until every Internet user has his or her own personalized startpage.

As for the metrics, the commentator who explained why the “1 million Netvibes homepages” statement is extremely misleading is correct. No offense Tariq, just for the sake of correctness. :)

Emre Burak Turhan Mehmet Sokullu

Netvibes is great, I like it.. but the problem is that the barrier to entry in this market is too low. because the underlying technology is not a matter here; only the ajaxy user interface. Seems like the only exit options are to be sold to Yahoo or Google..

Go Tariq..

Om Malik

ted,

thanks for pointing that out. i just updated the graphic and included goowy.com as well. what i find most interesting is that netvibes.com is clearly ahead of rest of its competitors.

Ted

It’s protopage not prototpages, which is why it’s not showing up in your chart. I believe it’s probably #3 or #4. It’s the ugliest of the lot of them, but I actually find it the most useful.

anonymous

I think you are severely underestimating the importance of AJAX desktops. If the web is the platform, then this is a glimpse of the future. Yes, I agree, there is one major flaw: it is for early adopters only. Why? The problem lies with RSS.

RSS is consistently being hailed as the future, however, I strongly disagree. It has been around for many years now, and it is still not for the mainstream audience– nor will it ever be. People understand services, not feeds. They will never understand it, especially if they won’t go more than 3 clicks to find what they need. If the web is the platform, the future will look like Netvibes– not with feeds, but a page consisting of full fledged services.

These services won’t be ordinary servces, more specifically mashups. The companies that we see now will serve more as the backbone of the internet. API’s will slowly see a shift in oursourced user interfaces as we are slowly witnessing with RSS (think delicious linkrolls on blogs).

After all, isn’t the idea to be everywhere your users are? Services like housingmaps.com (which cannot yet make money due to service level agreements) create more value than the individual services themselves. This is what people want– not a feed that updates every so often. I think you will find that Netvibes is going to start a revolution– not flame out.

Markus

Om, you can compare the reach rank with ranking.websearch.com. Most sites within a industry will have similar alexa reach rank to ranking.websearch.com reach rank. If the ratio is really off for one site they are either big time spammers or if alexa rank is really high they have early adopters, if websearch is really high then they have more mainstream.

will

Netvibes doesnt neccessary requires registration to create a homepage. They drop a cookie on the computer everytime a new visitor comes to the site. So 1M # is certainly impressive but I’m guessing it is not 1M “registered users” but more equivalent to 1M unique visits (double counting people that flushes their cookies) since launch. . . 1M cookies created = 1M home pages created = 1M users . . .

10012

The Microsoft entry in this space – Live.com is actually very good and has been getting a lot of my attention lately. I’m not sure that any of these smaller players will out live this or the Google ig home page.

Om Malik

narendra, is there any way we can correlate the reach, page views and rank in alexa. i am having a tough time believing the one million users number a bit hard to believe.

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