Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Bitly Gets a New Boss

Bitly has raised $14 million in a few years, and shrinks more than 8 billion Web addresses a month. And it’s done all that without anyone running the company full time.

Until now. Technology vet Peter Stern, whose last start-up ended up being acquired by Facebook, is bitly’s first official CEO.

He’s taking the reins from Betaworks CEO John Borthwick, who helped hatch bitly as one of his incubator’s projects and has overseen it since, while juggling lots of other balls at the same time.

Stern founded Zenbe, an email start-up that Facebook “acqhired” last fall, but most of his résumé predates the Web 2.0 era: He was co-founder of online brokerage Datek Online, and prior to that he helped build “cool electro-optic sensors and devices, most of which are classified.”

Bitly doesn’t make a whole lot of money helping publishers shorten their Web addresses, but it does get its hands on lots of data about stuff people share with each other on the Web. Just how valuable all that data can be is an open question, and in the past the company’s name has been floated as an acquisition target for Yahoo et al.

The fact that the Betaworks guys have hired a full-time manager for the company suggests that they’re not selling anytime soon. It’s a good bet that they’ll work to use that data in interesting ways. The first example we’ve seen has been in the News.me iPad reading/aggregation app, which bitly owns and powers.

Good news for people like me, by the way, who like the News.me concept but don’t read that much on their iPad: Stern says a version for Apple’s iPhone is in the works.


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