Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Slide's Max Levchin Talks About Web 2.0, Redux!


Almost two years ago, just as Web 2.0 was heating up, BoomTown did a three-part interview with Slide founder and CEO Max Levchin.

Soon after, the popular maker of social networking applications, often called widgets, grabbed a big pile of cash from new investors–$50 million from Fidelity and T. Rowe Price–which put the value of the company at $550 million.

So, it was high-time for another visit to see him, especially after the recent recession has forced a lot of high-flying Silicon Valley darlings like Slide to wise up a little and get down to business.

That has meant tightening up costs, abandoning some business plans and drilling down on others.

Previously, Slide’s financial strategy had included making money from selling premium versions of its software, as well as selling advertisers on its large, although disparate, audience with display ads.

Now, says Levchin, it is still about premium products, but also about selling a brand “experience” rather than less effective and increasingly commoditized network-style advertising.

The products have also evolved, although Slide still essentially makes a wide range of innovative widgets that have been attracting many millions of users each. They include everything from slide shows to a software program called SuperPoke that allows a user to poke another in a super way.

A lot of Slide’s initial growth had been through taking advantage of the popularity of MySpace and Facebook.

But, since then, the company has been trying to be a kind of distributed content and application company that is not wholly dependent on large platforms.

Here’s a video of my interview with Levchin at Slide’s new HQ in San Francisco:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald