The news today is that JS-Kit just closed a $3.6m round of funding and I have joined the company as a Strategic Advisor. I'd like to take this moment to explain who JS-Kit is, what it could be, and why I decided to get involved.
First, I get offered a lot of advisory roles or full time jobs. It's always very tempting to help entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.
The reality is, however, between my company Faraday Media, my work at the DataPortability project, APML Workgroup, Media 2.0 Workgroup and other projects there simply isn't enough bandwidth left to give the attention required.
The JS-Kit opportunity is different. When I first met Khris Loux (The CEO of JS-Kit) it was clear very quickly that we had a unique connection and a shared vision for a distributed Personal Web. As a result I have broken my own rule and accepted the offer to consult with/advise the company on a formal basis. It will be a significant commitment and take up a large part of my time.
The company he has quietly built over the last 2 years reflects our shared vision and its success is unmatched in the marketplace. With more than 550,000 registered sites, JS-Kit is the largest provider of light-weight plug in social features on the web. More importantly, though, it has no destination site. A philosophical choice that allows it to execute on a strategy of powering the edge to get more social - and more personal - without siphoning traffic back to a proprietary center.
JS-Kit technology powers some of the biggest sites on the web - with more to be announced soon.
This combination of scale and a focus on the edge makes the company uniquely placed to build something very special.
There are a number of challenges ahead for the company though - challenges of which Khris and the team are all too aware.
The name is not great! It was the name of a prototype product that became very successful very quickly despite not being ready for prime time so it sorta stuck. Blame Nick Gonzalez for writing it up in Techcrunch only days after it was put live for preliminary testing (just kidding I love Nick in a manly platonic sort of way)
Adoption is easy, but customization (it's possible to make the widgets unrecognizable from the default style) is far too hard to do for average users.
The design is Web 1.0 at best. The site, brand and products lack a cohesive visual language and a modern look and feel.
These are just some of the things I will be helping to change over the coming months. The funding round also allows the team to execute on these opportunities quickly. These changes will be a precursor to a much broader strategy that we hope will delight users, empower publishers and surprise the industry.
In the mean time though, Faraday Media is still very much alive and kicking with both my involvement and the involvement of my best friend and co-founder Ashley Angell. I believe the core technologies developed in its labs will change the web. Faraday Media and JS-Kit will continue their business development activities and my role will help to shepherd the process.
So in this time of Economic woes, failing companies, staff layoffs and uncertain times I am proud and honored to be part of a team that is continuing to have a sustainable and positive impact on the web and actually growing the opportunity for a distributed personal ecosystem.
So now I'm involved, I'd like to encourage you to try out the tools on your sites and blogs and send me feedback directly. I'd like to start a conversation with you to improve the company and the web together.
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