Kara Visits Slide in San Francisco
So about a month ago, I got irked by various comments execs at popular widget-maker Slide made to the Associated Press about the boom going on right now in the market for those small third-party applications that people can put on their Web pages on popular social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Most annoying was the idea floated by its founder and CEO Max Levchin about an IPO for Slide, so I wrote a post called “Reason to Be Annoyed by Widgets No. 243.”
As I said then:
It’s a sign to me that suddenly makes the scene feel very bubbly, given that Slide certainly has traffic, but no proven track record to continually make money.”
So after my rant, I thought it might be a better idea to go visit Levchin and see what’s what at Slide’s offices in downtown San Francisco. The start-up offers many widgets, like ones to add slideshows or guestbooks or enhanced photos, like FunPix shown here, to a Web page.
It is growing like gangbusters, claiming that upwards of 134 million unique visitors a month use its widgets. It is top widget king on Facebook, where it has more than 45 million apps installed and more than 5 million active users daily on the service.
Slide is backed, by the way, by the Mayfield Fund, BlueRun Ventures, Khosla Ventures and the Founders Fund. It has about 60 employees.
This is obviously a very interesting trend. While I often mock the widgetmania that has gripped the too easily grippable denizens of Silicon Valley, as I had said before, some widgets are actually helpful and substantive and introduce a plethora of innovation and features into MySpace or Facebook that the services would or could never have offered.
Plus, they represent an important move to widely distributed applications and content, which are going to move the Web to a whole new level of use. I often call it promiscuous computing.
Yes, naughty BoomTown, but what I actually mean is that everyone in the game has to send their products far and wide and dispense with the centralized distribution that has dominated the digital scene until now.
But does that mean these companies are more than just feature-makers? Or are they new and more distributed and hipper versions of old software companies? In other words, is Slide just a new-fangled type of Intuit?
We’ll see, so check out this video and the three others that follow. The first is a tour of Slide’s offices, followed by a three-part interview (all in individual posts below, and also with links below the first video, too) with the very sharp and articulate, as you will see, Levchin.