Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Weebly CEO David Rusenko: It’s Time to Take Us Seriously

Web site creation and hosting service Weebly is a bit of a quiet online giant. Founded six years ago, the company has helped users create more than 11 million Web sites, with 75 million monthly visitors.

Though most everything the company provides is free, with no ads, it has been profitable since the beginning of 2009, based on charging a few dollars per month for premium features like larger uploads and selling domain names.

In fact, Weebly is so profitable that co-founder and CEO David Rusenko told me yesterday that it may well go public within the next few years. I think the expression on my face could be described as “Wha??”

“It all comes down to the growth rate,” he continued. “Within a few years, I expect we will have the profile to IPO.”

Even though it’s profitable, Weebly raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia Capital last year, because of the venture firm’s track record in bringing companies to IPO, Rusenko said.

But really, in an age where it’s all about online conversations and social engagement on Facebook and Twitter, is a Web site creation service so important?

“A Web site is the only medium of semipermanent communication where you can express yourself,” Rusenko argued.

By the way, San Francisco-based Weebly has just 42 employees.

Rusenko said Weebly’s customers include restaurants, teachers and real-estate agents. “Almost all our Web sites are really on the long tail.” Though Weebly’s tools and templates are quite simple, Rusenko said, “We’re building the complete platform for what 90 percent of people need.”

To date, Weebly has grown exclusively by word of mouth — Rusenko said the company has an 80 percent Net Promoter Score (which asks respondents how likely they are to recommend a company), and 80 percent of new users come to the site by searching for “Weebly” or typing directly into their address bar.

As of today, Weebly is kicking off some marketing and PR. The occasion is a nifty iPhone app that helps users create and maintain a Weebly site entirely from their phones. You can check out what it looks like here:

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