February 06, 2009

Gnip Says To Make Money, Make Sure Your Customers Have Money

Following on to yesterday's visit at Lijit, I knew my two-day trip to Boulder would not be complete without making time to visit Gnip, the interesting company started by former MyBlogLog and IGN founder Eric Marcoullier. So Micah Baldwin, my trusty sidekick and part-time chauffeur for the trip, and I caught breakfast with Eric and the team this morning, and visited their cozy headquarters. While we didn't get hours to sit with the executive team, as we did with Lijit, we learned that Gnip is growing and hiring talented developers, and has made an important discovery in its business model - target companies that have money and are willing to pay for your product.

In July of 2008, when Gnip first launched (See: Gnip CEO's Goal: Make Twitter's Data Flow Suck Less), the company made headlines for finding ways to move data around more quickly and without as much overhead, acting as an arbiter between different Web services. But as I was told today, making Web 2.0 services the primary client was pretty much a guarantee for low revenue. After all, if your customers aren't making money, how could you expect them to pay you?

As a result, Gnip, which has grown to 11 full-time employees, all of whom Eric says are required to be smarter than him in order to get hired, has gotten more activity with more traditional companies, including one market research firm that is analyzing as many as 100,000 different Twitter accounts and checks for user sentiment.

Gnip's office in Boulder has the industrious start-up feel to it. Desks are pushed together in a small space that reminds me of my freshman year dorm room I had to share with two other guys. But while the company is growing, it has a small quandary, as Boulder commercial real estate works great for small spaces and large spaces, I was told, but there just aren't enough options for medium-sized companies looking for an "in between" solution.

In fact, there is so little open space at Gnip's office that Eric, Shane Pearson and I talked on the front porch. Unfortunately, the front porch bench that adorned the office had been stolen overnight. The main suspect? "Stinking hippies", Eric tweeted.

Such growing pains are good, of course, because that means the company is growing, period, and it sounds like they are focused on continuing to improve the product, hire smart developers, and they even finally managed to grab the ever-elusive gnip.com domain, after using the gnipcentral.com site since launch.

To learn more about Gnip's unique view on the data world, check out their blog. Product news will no doubt be coming soon. Of the 11 employees, 8 are full-time engineers.