Note: These are my notes from this panel, and are not edited very well.

  • Moderator: Peter Merholz, Dir of Practice Dev, Adaptive Path
  • Scott Dietzen, Pres & CTO, Zimbra
  • Seth Sternberg, Co-Founder, Meebo
  • BJ Fogg, Founder & Chairman, YackPack

Product strategy, design, and development.

What it takes to build a web app. What it takes to build a company to support that.

Viability, feasibility, desirability


Get IM to the web, and do it in an application-like way. Good response to the blog. Users feel like they?「どィび「re part of the biz. Started light. Put features in later. Went through two eight-month prototyping process, which were killed. Version three is what we see today.

Decided not to raise money until really needed it. Only told a couple bloggers about it to generate traffic.

Features and bugs forum. Random volunteers monitor the forums. Network problems are usually caught in the forums within five minutes. Listen to the users, get their feedback, and then respond to what they want.

Had to be something that solved a problem we had, and something we are ridiculously passionate about. And fun.

Asked users why they?「どィび「re using meebo using survey monkey. Let?「どィび「s them get on IM anywhere. It?「どィび「s faster than software. Meebo is just easier.

Users get upgrades immediately.


A new or mature market. Where there are market openings. Finding something you can do a better job of.

There ought to be a way to do something better.

We are trying to encourage mash ups.

Peter Merholz: How were you able to draw from your passion? Keys, don?「どィび「t do it for the money. Do it because you love the topic.

Sternberg: Burning idea to start a company. Had to be something I loved.

Dietzen: Not focused on a technology. Has to be about innovation. If you can squeeze some more productivity out, you can go out and change the world. You?「どィび「re better off figuring out how to fix pain, rather than finding a bigger paycheck.

Question: when do you monetize the users?

More important to lay down the right innovation. As long as there?「どィび「s a market opportunity, you?「どィび「ll be able to monetize it. Solve the pain point, and you?「どィび「ll find a way to make money. Example: yackpack, announced client AARP, didn?「どィび「t go in thinking this is where we?「どィび「ll target.

Discrepancy, give the users what they need, versus listen to the users and give them what they want. Need to filter the requests. Take your strategy and their feedback.

Mentioned Opposable Mind

Staying open is the way that you?「どィび「ll win. That?「どィび「s how you?「どィび「ll stay ahead of your competitors. Example: API built off of AIM?「どィび「s network. Opens up to a wider audience. Yahoo and Microsoft will need to respond.

Empower the user first.

The delivery model is so compelling. Online versus software applications.

No clue that it?「どィび「s bounded by a browser.

Good point about funding: smart money has always been there. Dumb money will follow. Maybe those that get money should not if the market is saturated with dumb money.