January 10, 2008

ReadBurner Goes from 0 to 12,000+ In Four Days

Ever see a Web service go from zero to infinity in no time? If you were watching Monday morning, when I broke the story of ReadBurner, you could have seen this happen. Just three and a half days after the site was forcefully debuted, ReadBurner is in the Web 2.0 consciousness, racing to nearly 12,000 results in Google, up from a big zippo on Monday. The would-be hobby of Alexander Marktl, first anticipated to remain in secret, yet promoted on some incredibly prominent blog sites, has not cracked under the pressure, and is an amazing test case for a very raw service, as we can watch his work - live.

As mentioned Monday, I pretty much stumbled on ReadBurner by accident. I was stunned that this interesting service, filling a gap in Google Reader's offerings, had never been heard of before. It had no domain name. It had no owner. But it had promise. And the early adopters jumped on it.

A screen capture of Google from 8:30 this evening.

After 20 solid hours of coding Monday, which kept Alexander up well into the Austrian night (my last e-mail from him came around 5 a.m. local time Tuesday), ReadBurner had its own domain name. It had a new blog, a real "About" page, and multiple cosmetic updates. Now, the site has debuted much-requested RSS feeds for most popular items, and we're seeing an unexpected wrinkle - significant traction from sites in non-English speaking countries, which could be over-represented by these first adopters, or showing us a side of the blogosphere we hadn't considered.

And a quick search on Google, as of 8:30 p.m. Pacific time Thursday night, 3 1/2 days after my initial posting, shows 12,800 results for ReadBurner. Boom.

So how did that happen? Word of mouth, RSS, Del.icio.us, and some prominent posts by other bloggers.

Look who's talking about ReadBurner:
ReadBurner - Aggregating Google Reader's Shared Items

Download Squad:
ReadBurner: Meme tracker based on Google Reader shared items

ReadBurner.com - Tracking Google Reader Memes

Library Stuff:
ReadBurner and More on ReadBurner

ReadBurner: Google Shared Items Memetracker


Readburnerlets you see what is shared on Google Reader


And beyond the feeds:

There's no doubt my hitting ReadBurner with StumbleUpon sent them some folks. My quick review got 8 fans of the Web site and 3 reviews. Each stumble can generate hundreds of unique visitors.

Others posted ReadBurner to Twitter. (See the Google Search of Twitter.com for ReadBurner here)

No less than Matt Cutts of Google logged on to give Alexander praise, saying, "Great stuff! This is a really fun project."

Want to get a product noticed online? It's no longer about advertising dollars. It's about making something cool, and getting buzz. Alexander got his for free. He definitely offered background detail to Mark Hopkins for to the Mashable story and to me, but aside from that, the ReadBurner phenomenon has been all due to word of mouth and passing it on. After the initial hype fades, it should be interesting to see if it can organically sustain the momentum.


  1. Hey lois,

    Thanks again for the writeup. Wheter the momementum can stay or not is what I've also been wondering about.

    Today I have talks with a VC regarding my other startup Qoove, but after seeing ReadBurner happen I'm beginning to ask: What do I need those guys for?

    As you said: It's no longer about advertising dollars. It's about making something cool.

  2. Alexander,

    I say talk to the VCs for sure. They still know business. But recognize you can say no if you want.

    Also, I failed to show the ReadBurner activity on Del.icio.us.

    Here it is: Delicious: ReadBurner

  3. Sorry to disappoint you, but the number of search results is not that big: it's around 264.

    Check this URL (if I remove the duplicate filtering, I get 484 results). As usually, these numbers depend on the data center you hit, but a good way to find a more accurate number of search results is to go to the last page of results (append &start=990 ).

  4. Thanks for the link Louis. I didn't realize that my SEO was that good.

  5. Ionut, there's no doubt you're right. I used your link this morning and got 314 results. Using my "with duplicates" link, we get more than 14,000 now.

    The numbers change, but the idea stays the same. I don't know that I was claiming 12,000+ unique links. But on the day ReadBurner launched, there were 4 uses of the name somewhere else, embedded in some non-related links. I can comfortably say the overwhelming majority of references now are to the new service.