May 17, 2012
“If you want to change the world in a real way, [then] you’ve got to be into the Web or even biology,” said Pete Cashmore, stressing the significance of technology, creation and engineering. “The world moves so fast and then you have to make sense of everything — understand the trend and understand why.”
The founder and CEO of Mashable spoke at a Webby Sessions on Tuesday during the Internet Week New York conference. Cashmore, who founded the site in 2005 at age 19 in Scotland, points out the importance of trying to maintain a specific voice with so many people on the Web. “If you have a more limited scope, you can be more creative,” he said. “We need to put creative limitations on ourselves.”
The site got its name from remixing and mashing up news items as well as stories from tips people sent to Cashmore. Mashable now has a staff of nearly 70 with an editor-in-chief — Adam Ostrow — who also oversees day-to-day operations. It has also now taken over its own advertising revenue and has never received any funding.
In addition to that growth, “the quality of the content is what’s important,” he said. People want a filter for their news and want you to bring them to a source. “A brand is incredibly important — people see it as a destiny.”
Mashable’s mission has evolved, as the site is now “using resources for the connected generation.” The audience for the site has grown and appeals to business and marketing professionals who may not necessarily be tech-savvy but who use technology each day, are early-adopters, and are “looking to be connected or to get ahead in life” and find out which new technology will build business.
There isn’t a line between consuming and creating anymore, he said. “It’s all about optimizing and if you have served your reader.” This culture of communications and reaching people is the main focus. Track links and optimize, he said. “It’s about being both prescriptive and descriptive.”
Cashmore said that Mashable and others on the Web are in a listening role and need to figure out what users want and then try to cater to multiple devices. He said to figure out where people are going and then how you can make sure that it’s the best place, whether its mobile or an app.
“Every six months, [companies like Facebook] have to have innovated or they aren’t relevant anymore,” Cashmore said. “It’s time to be a great engineer — take what you are doing and get it onto the Web. We don’t expect everything we do to be successful; you have to put effort into trying it and figuring it out.
“The future of social is about explicit sharing and about creating filters that make the world more relevant to you,” he said. “People need control.”
Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.
Email: amy.jacques at prsa.org