It has been a while since our last Twingly Team Interview. So far we have published chats with five members of the Twingly crew. Today we are going to ask Twingly CEO Martin Källström a couple of questions. He offers some insights into the early days of Twingly and gives his outlook of what’s to come – both for Twingly as well as for the digital world.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up founding Twingly.
My name is Martin Källström and I’m the founder and CEO of Twingly. I have background in Computer Science and Technology. A few years ago Niclas, Björn, Figge and me launched Primelabs, the company that eventually became Twingly. The plan from the start was to do a lot of different projects to see what would “stick”, but Twingly happened to be successful enough for ending up being our one and only product.
Today Twingly offers quite a few different tools and services. But how did everything start?
Our first service was the Blogstream widget, which took about a year of development. We had to write the software that indexes the blogosphere and to create the technical environment in order to provide newspaper websites with our widget solution. The blog search engine followed, since we had all the data, so that was a logical step. With the launch of our blog search engine we introduced Twingly as a consumer facing product as well.
Do you miss coding?
Yes I do, although I enjoy they business side as well. When the abstinence gets unbearable I try to find the time to hack something. Twingly Liveboard for example is a Twitter dashboard I developed last summer when I needed get relief from abstinence of coding.
When did you start to pay attention to the blogosphere?
I actually had my first blog together with my wife in 2000/2001 or so, when we travelled in Japan and wrote down our experiences. Though after our trip I didn’t really stick to blogging (which back then really was in its early days), I first rediscovered blogs about four or five years later.
This month Twingly will celebrate it’s fifth birthday – half a decade! How would you summarize those years?
They were exciting and full of ups and downs, like probably most startups experience it. Often, ups and downs lie very close together. I remember attending the DLD conference in Munich once. There I saw Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, walked to him and pitched the Twingly blog search engine. He enjoyed it and said TechCrunch will likely cover it. A while later he informed us that it’s possible that they won’t have the time to write about us but yet a few hours later, they did anyway! Our concern wasn’t only whether we would be mentioned by TechCrunch but if everything would work smoothly, too. Fortunately, everything went well.
Do you think this kind of blog coverage is essential for young startups?
In my eyes, yes. TechCrunch published a couple of write-ups about us and it’s a great way to get noticed in Silicon Valley, the US and in most other parts of the tech world.
Today Twingly offers a variety of services. Which ones do you think have the most potential?
All of them of course ; ) But in the near future we will particularly focus on our Blogstream widget and make it even better for our Twingly partners who use Blogstream to connect with the blogosphere. Apart from news sites we are noticing an increased trend within the e-commerce sector to open up to social media, and we could welcome several new online retailers as Twingly partners, so this will be an area we’ll emphasize as well. Furthermore we’re seeing a huge boost in our offerings for data clients, e.g. media monitoring companies and other online services that are accessing our blog data.
Do you think we are seeing the peak of the current social media hype, or will it continue?
I’m convinced social media will be a big topic even in the upcoming years. People are increasingly surfing with their smartphones, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities, services and potential for all parties involved in the online business. I’m also expecting huge growth in the video and live video sector. YouTube was just the beginning.
Tell us about which online trends you are paying special attention to right now?
I’m pretty excited to see the change in the book sector. E-books are quickly becoming a huge mainstream phenomenon. That’s definitely a trend to watch. Furthermore, from a more technical perspective, there are lots of developments on the server side. Just think about cloud computing and how easy it has become for startups to launch without the need of any technical infrastructure (apart from a few computers and an Internet connection). A third trend I observe is the rise of powerful realtime technology which makes it possible to built new kinds of web services and applications without putting to much strain on the servers. I expect to see a lot of innovation built on top of this.
If you have two wishes for this year, which would that be?
My first one is a better investment climate in Europe. The US Internet sector is prospering again and there is a lot of capital available for innovation. Europe hasn’t really caught up. I hope that will change, maybe fueled by more acquisitions of the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft on this side of the Atlantic.
My second wish would be the emergence of another big player in the web world that doesn’t have its origin in the Silicon Valley but somewhere in Europe.