- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
About Us Archive
Many of you who are longtime CN readers might remember my first post about About Us in November 2006 when they launched. They received $1M in funding at that time and I said "excuse me". Founder Ray King was bashed 10 ways to Sunday by the blogo’ and he went quiet after that. Ray reports over 5 million unique visitors a month now which is pretty amazing considering where they started from.
Since then the only time I come in contact with AboutUs is when I do domain searches on GoDaddy (at least I think it’s GoDaddy). They have a permalink on all searches apparently.
Yesterday, Ray sent over some updates for AboutUs that are basically all business model related so I thought I’d take another look. AboutUs basically is a place to find company information for any company — that is, if they have a page built for the company. It’s a wiki so anyone can edit it making for some good funtimes.
There are three updates today:
- Free monitoring – you can be notified of changes on the AboutUs page related to your company.
- Premium AboutUs Page – have someone help you upgrade your page for $99.
- Portal sponsoring – portals are collections of pages around a topic. Their showcase is the Portland Tech Panel which they have decided somehow relates to TechCrunch (wtf?).
My issue with AboutUs is the same as it always has been – why do we need this when we can find the information about a company on their Web site? This just adds more work for the Web staff at an organization to now manage and maintain yet another resource about the company. It’s a complete SEO play (like Mahalo) in that they draw traffic from Google when someone searches for company information. Does the casual user understand that they are on a user-edited site and not the "official" site for the company?
Clearly it’s working based on the traffic they are receiving. I like the options they are offering to monetize the site past AdSense and the monitoring could help clear up sticky edits quickly. Again, this relies on a business even knowing there is an AboutUs page about them. Ray also notes that most of the development work is handled in India and their HQ is in Portland, Oregon.
You know, the puppy lover Mahalo could easily add company informatoin pages to their search engine as well.
Updated 11/30: Please check out our interview with Ray King
So the really basic idea is that AboutUs.org will have 300 million web pages, one on each active domain name. Before I jump into my comments, here are a couple excerpts from the release:
The site name refers to the “About Us” page that commonly appears on business Web sites.
What has AboutUs investors excited is how much attention the site is already getting from Internet users, without any marketing or publicity.
Levin, president of Genesis Financial Solutions Inc. and an active angel investor, said his reason for investing “boils down to two words: Ray King.”
I am not going to talk about the funding information, you can read the post on TechCrunch for that. It appears someone from the TC team got right in there and edited their page. Which is great, it looks really good, what happens when some a-hole edits it to make TC look bad? There is no “lock” on the page. So today’s work goes for naught.
What I am going to address is bad information. Let’s take a look at one of my sites, HTMLCenter.com. Here is what AboutUs shows for the “Related Sites” – I know he is pulling this information from Alexa partially but let’s have a look….
So, what in the blue hell does “Human-Touch-Massage.de” have to do with my HTML web site? What about RedStart.com, MortenRasmussen.net and many of hte others. I mean are you kidding me? You publish information about my site that is clearly not accurate nor correct.
What “Ray King” has forced me to do is make me edit this page. How many of the 300 million know how to do this? How many others are wrong? Instead of allowing me to opt-in, they are forcing me to edit or opt-out. Lame. I don’t know who in the hell Ray King is, and frankly don’t care.
And now, let’s get to an even bigger issue – when will the spammers hit this site and flood every freakin page with horsecrap? I am betting 90-120 days. A spammer could easily make a mess of this site. Three hundred million backlinks – yeap, I am sure they will be there soon Ray… you ready?
I hate getting mad, but this one just makes me mad. They don’t ask my permission to include me, force me to opt-out or edit my page, and even worse, I must keep check on this page all the time to make sure some hater has not made changes to make my sites look bad. I just don’t get how people gave this guy money. Maybe I am in the wrong business.
How to Fix
So that I am not all negative, here is how “Ray King” can fix this site. Lock every page. Only allow someone who confirms their email from the domain they want to edit. Then at a minimum we have some way to block unwanted changes. While this is only a tiny step, it would at least help me to lower my blood pressure.
To me, AboutUs.org is just a site that really adds no value other than to get massive page counts and flood Google so that someone looking for the “about us page on htmlcenter” will find their site instead. I would welcome a chance to chat with “Ray King” about this site.