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Weebly challenges TypePad, WordPress

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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 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.

71 Responses to “Weebly challenges TypePad, WordPress”

  1. “Weebly is no match for the mighty wordpress!” — True. But don’t they attempt to do very different things? Not exactly the same in my book. There is a place for both Weebly and WordPress.

  2. I wish there were a company like this, that produced really slick websites for free. I like anything that allows you to drag and drop, but I’m not aware of one that can be made to look super slick with little effort. I agree that WordPress is great for blogging. But as far as home pages and web design, it would be neat to see templates that are more advanced, yet have the ease of Myspace.

  3. I checked out the demo…impressive ! But what is more impressive is they raised $650K in angel funding. Now that is hard if you ask me….lol All jokes a side. Looking forward to this and thanks for the review

  4. 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

  5. @tab:

    We originally used WordPress — and it’s one of the reasons we saw a great opportunity to create something using the Weebly platform. We’ll be migrating the Weebly blog over while testing out our auto-migration features.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • Driftwood

      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!)

  9. Artashes

    “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?


  10. 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….

  11. 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 :-)

  12. 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.