72 Comments

Summary:

Weebly, a San Francisco-based web publishing start-up and a YCombinator alumnus, is throwing its hat in the hosted-blogging arena, challenging existing players’ SixApart’s TypePad and Automattic’s WordPress.com offerings. The company also announced that it has raised $650,000 in angel funding by a group of angels that […]

Weebly, a San Francisco-based web publishing start-up and a YCombinator alumnus, is throwing its hat in the hosted-blogging arena, challenging existing players’ SixApart’s TypePad and Automattic’s WordPress.com offerings.

The company also announced that it has raised $650,000 in angel funding by a group of angels that include Ron Conway, Steve Anderson, Paul Buchheit and Mike Maples.

Weebly got its start as an easy to use web publishing tool, targeting individuals and small business owners. Its drag-and-drop offering was dead simple and has helped the company attract over 25,000 users.

We met with David Rusenko, one of the three cofounders of Weebly, hours before he left for Pennsylvania for his graduation ceremony, and got a demo of the new service. The simplicity and the easy of use of their new blogging feature is stunning. While it is unlikely that any of our professional blogs are going to be using Weebly, but it will be particularly attractive to those who are looking to dabble in blogging.

The AJAX-based interface allows you to add (or subtract) different types of elements to the blog — text, pictures, videos, Google Maps, AdSense (currently in development, not live) — thanks to a widgetized architecture. You can get going in less than an hour, though it won’t allow you to set-up a personal domain just as yet. (That is coming soon.)

While the service is impressive, Weebly faces some considerable if not insurmountable challenges. Scaling the hosted blogging business is quite a challenge, as some of the more established players have learned. The company still has to figure out a viable business model. Rusenko thinks it can work on white-label versions for internet service providers, though that is easier said than done.

And the biggest challenge will be grabbing the mind share of mainstream users – who currently don’t read blogs, or perhaps don’t care much about all things Web 2.0, as Pew Internet recently reported. That said, the company does have an opportunity to carve itself a niche between WordPress and Tumblr, another tool that is currently gaining popularity because of its ease of use.

Disclosure: Automattic and GigaOmniMedia, the publisher of this blog, have both received funding from True Ventures.

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  1. It’s great to see more startups attempt to make blogging and self-publishing easier. Even with all of the hosted solutions, it’s still too hard to start and personalize a blog.

    The other thing to consider for blogging companies is the explosion of blogging in Asia. The Pew report might be true for US based audiences, but I bet that the percentages might be different for Asian countries.

    For example, in Korea, the major newspapers sites offer their own blogging services which are then featured in their mainstream content. This could be an interesting model for companies such as Weebler.

  2. Tadeusz Szewczyk Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Weebly is a great service, I already made two microsites using it, one in German and one in English. When can we expect the features to get public? We can’t see them yet online as I understand (Couldn’t find them).
    Right now Weebly is rather a direct competitor of Google Page Creator and the Jimdo and the likes.
    Without the blog feauture Weebly surpasses Google Page Creator, but not Jimdo, with it, I’ll have to recheck :-)

  3. i do not think that ISP are really interested any more about blogging.
    the market is saturated and they have nothing to gain.
    ISP are more interested to “real” community tool like digg like / youtube like / myspace like: market may be saturated also but at least it build brand or at least customer base feeling.
    Just look at how big are their php forum: it is a sign that should drive ISP to community building tools….

  4. and SL / WOW / gaia like community tools also of course ;-)

  5. Marcelo Calbucci Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Om, if you think Weebly is customizable you have not tried Sampa yet.

    http://www.sampa.com

    Marcelo Calbucci
    Founder & CTO

  6. “The company still has to figure out a viable business model.”

    What I want to know is how a company with no viable business model raises $650K in angel funding, and what do they need this money for?

    Best,
    Artashes

  7. Jay (living in First Life) Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Om, are you also in Y-Combinator’s pocket like TechCrunch? You guys are just feeding the hype about start-ups that raise money with no viable business model.

    The majority of people don’t care about things like Weebly. I don’t want to copy my comments over from TechCrunch but I really am bothered by how you are glorifying start-ups with no market potential and being a cheerleader for them. I appreciate the disclosure and honesty, but seriously, the hype is too much.

    1. It’s not a big deal Jay.

      If there’s a new company out there that offers services to products that people could use. Then why not talk about it?

      I don’t care about investing, I just want services I can use. So why not talk about startups?

      The more people use it, the longer it stays around. Look at any web service that hasn’t had much of a viable business model (digg comes to mind, although they’ve improved).

      (This response is two years late!)

  8. Yaacov 52-page project Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Services like Weebly are just what people need. It’s dead simple and makes clean looking sites in minutes.

    I’m putting my money on blogs becoming the most popular type of site in the next couple of years and the second adopters pick it up.

  9. “Weebly challenges WordPress”? The why is Weebly’s blog hosted on WordPress.com?

    1. Could you imagine? That would be nuts, but I don’t see any indicator that they are hosted on WordPress…?

  10. Jay (living in First Life) Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Yaacov – blogs have already stopped growing. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t understand web programming languages and therefore find my blog a great way to communicate my thoughts but Weebly is nothing amazing. It’s barely a full-fledged product let alone a business.

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