„More than an aggregator“ – Interview with RebelMouse founder Paul Berry

After my article about RebelMouse and after my keynote on newsrooms I’m getting a lot of questions about this new platform. That’s why I’ve decided to make an interview with its founder and CEO Paul Berry. Some of the questions have been asked by my readers, some by myself and I’m posting the English original here.

Paul Berry

What is RebelMouse?

RebelMouse is a platform and a tool. It helps you individuals and companies build beautiful social front pages and websites.

Who is behind Rebelmouse? Please present yourself and the team:

Paul Berry is the founder and CEO, he previously was CTO for HuffingtonPost where he led product and design as well as engineering. Before he left HuffingtonPost he had 300 people reporting to him and was overseeing hundreds of millions of Unique Visitors a month.

Eric Hippeau is the chairman and was previously CEO of HuffingtonPost. He was previously a managing partner at SoftBank and was a key part of building Yahoo! Japan, GeoCities and ZiffDavis. He’s at the heart of the NYC start up scene.

Ken Lerer is also on the board and is deeply involved in helping develop product with Paul in his unique way. Ken was one of the key founders of HuffingtonPost, and before that was EVP at AOL/Time Warner and had founded a large PR company.

Jonah Peretti is one of the original investors, a great friend of Paul’s, a source of creative inspiration for strategy and product. He is CEO and founder of BuzzFeed and was previously a co founder of HuffingtonPost.

Nike Gurin is RebelMouse CTO, he was a key part of scaling HuffingtonPost through the tremendous growth we saw in the 5 years of working with Paul.

Megan Berry used to manage community at Klout and joined RebelMouse to drive community and help build social products at RebelMouse.

The team has 15 developers and a designer.

Why is it called RebelMouse, how did you get the idea for that name and who designed the logo?

RebelMouse was a name that had clicked with me in the past and that worked really well with people when I started testing a name for the company I was going to create. Its humble but ambitious, its very memorable and easy to spell. It also is abstract enough to not define the company through a name but to let us define the company as we explore and evolve. Dusan Tomic is our lead designer and was the designer who created the RebelMouse logo and has been a key and vital part of the team. He lives and works in Serbia.

When did you start RebelMouse? Please describe its way so far.

I left HuffPost/AOL on February 15th and the work began with an investment from Lerer Ventures and Jonah Peretti then. The core team is all people I’ve worked with in the past and so we have a very fast and elegant way of iterating quickly.

We launched in early June for the first time, intentionally releasing far before we were feature complete but with enough to the product to have a delightful experience for users that they felt was magical and exciting and wanted to share. Perhaps the best way to show the reaction we got was from Sarah Lacy’s review in Pando Daily, that began „I’m in love“.

We are launching some vital features in the coming weeks and months that will bring the product to a more feature complete state that I’m very excited about, including powered domains.

http://crunchscroll.com/

We have quite a few sites already using RebelMouse including TechCrunch who just recently launched CrunchSocial.com which is totally powered by RebelMouse. We talked with Drew Olanof at TechCrunch on a wednesday night, had the site ready the next night and the following morning it was promoted by TechCrunch.

This is just the start but we’re proud to have over 40k activated sites and nearly 500k PV’s monthly.

 Why should I use Rebelmouse? What advantages does it have in comparison to other news aggregators?

RebelMouse is more then an aggregator – its a social publishing tool. It allows you to re-order the stories on the page, edit them and analyze the stats. If you wish you had a better website and feel that your energy is being spread thin by twitter, facebook and other networks then RebelMouse makes all those efforts come together and makes your impact on those networks more meaningful.

So far I can import my updates from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Are there more options to come and which ones?

Yes! Coming soon will be RSS, G+, and Tubmblr. We are also excited about potential email integrations which we have begun work on.

What criteria are behind the automatic postings on RebelMouse now and which updates are collected in „drafts“?

Dashboard of schwindt-pr’s RebelMouse site

The drafts tab is intended to show you the stuff that RebelMouse thought wasn’t appropriate to publish direct but that you should consider publishing. This could be tweets that have just text and no image or media to associate with, or that were @replies that have an implicit level of privacy which isn’t intended to be public. Or it could be from a Facebook connected account for posts that were set to private as another example. We are very in tune with and aware of each network and adapt so that you never feel that we made something public which was private, and that we can make a beautiful page for you.

How can I avoid duplicate postings in the first place?

We have made huge progress on this even in the last 2 weeks so early users may have noticed duplicate stories appearing that won’t appear going forward or for new users signing up. We have a duplicate detection team and we’re really excited about what they are doing. But you can edit and delete stories on your page if some still slip through, and we’ll help merge them into one story that is more rich soon as well.

Will I be able to automatically filter incoming updates (via hashtag f.i.) in the future?

Yes this is one we can’t wait to release, we’re very close on that. Hashtags should power subnavigation that lets RebelMouse become much more then one front page and a blogging platform but also the many front pages that represent yourself and the things you think about and projects on your mind.

What are the coming other features you’re currently working on?

The key features that are coming are :

1 – Powered domains: this is the revenue model that is clear for companies to pay RebelMouse $3/month as invididuals or $12/month as companies to power their website entirely. Embeds will always be free.

2 – Mobile Apps – iOS will release first but we’ll have native apps as well. If you run a powered domain you’ll be able to pay us a bit to have an app that you can submit to itunes and the marketplaces. The core RebelMouse app

3 – The Rebels – a place to be able to see the stream of updates from other RebelMouse users you are connected with through your social graphs on twitter, facebook and others.

4 – Subnavigation to other front pages – driven by hashtags and power tagging, ability to launch new pages

5 – much much more 🙂 there will be social contributions and group work flows and a hundred different features that make it a full publishing platform.

Will there be RebelMouse apps for mobile devices too?

Yes totally – addressed that in the questions above, but we’re very excited about the potential for mobile to be a very addictive reading/discovery and publishing platform.

What will be the extras of the announced premium accounts?

The premium accounts will give you more control of the other contributors and sites you want to connect to as well as handling powering domains.

Are the postings on RebelMouse (and in the embedded widgets elsewhere) indexed by search engines and is there something I can do to optimize this?

Yes we’ve been working on this with Google and our javascript is now crawled by Google which is a first step. But one of the features we’re releasing soon is an inline html view of the content which will work with all search engines. So  its more on our side then the users to optimize for this, our philosophy was social first, seo later but later is basically now 🙂

What is the business model behind RebelMouse? What are you planning for the future?

The core model is a Software as a Service where we power domains for individuals and companies that know they want a beautiful website. But we also will be exploring solutions for brands that allow them to reach our growing audience through sponsored content and custom integrations.

Thanks so much for the interview, Paul! 🙂

Update: Read another interview with Paul Berry about RebelMouse from 2014

Annette Schwindt
hat sich inzwischen als "schwindt-pr" verabschiedet und bloggt jetzt unter annetteschwindt.de.