Doyon Kim was a co-founder of Dialpad which was acquired by Yahoo in June, 2005. He is also a co-founder of Opinity, the online reputation management site. Doyon is Founder and CEO of Spotplex, a recent spinoff of Opinity.
Jon: Doyon, thank you for talking with ValueWiki about your newest project! So what is Spotplex?
Doyon: Spotplex is a real-time ranking for blog articles based on actual impression counts, not the number of votes or recommendation. In short, people can find what people read most today and thus most interesting news of the day.
I believe Spotplex can connect bloggers with general internet public by providing data with unbiased measures and in diverse subjects.
Jon: How is Spotplex Funded?
Doyon: Initial fund came from Opinity, and we are about to close the seed round from angels.
Jon: I notice Keith Teare on Opinity’s Board. Did he lead Spotplex to TechCrunch?
Jon: As an entrepreneur I’m curious. What is it like getting TechCrunch-ed? Did Michael Arrington warn you, or were your servers suddenly on fire?
Doyon: It was quite an experience. I knew we were going to get some visibility, but the level was much more than I expected. Mike did warn us about it and I thought we were ready for the traffic, but apparently not. It was pretty embarrassing. However, it was a good lesson at the same time and now our service architecture is completely redesigned to support mass traffic.
Jon: People have suggested that Spotplex runs the risk of featuring bad articles from popular blogs over good articles from unpopular blogs, simply by favoring high traffic sites. Does Spotplex have plans for making things more democratic?
Doyon: We just released a new relative popularity measure which I am very excited about. Along with existing popular article list based on absolute number of impressions, this new list will provide users with interesting perspectives. This list sorts articles based on how much more traffic an article received compared to the normal traffic level of the blog. I believe it will give bloggers with different sizes equal opportunities to shine.
Jon: Spotplex has the advantage of being harder to game than Digg. On the other hand, Spotplex doesn’t have Digg’s voting and commenting features. How do you plan to attract a community to Spotplex?
Doyon: Now that we released our new relative popularity measure, the next thing we are working on is community building features: commenting, bookmarking, OpenID-based user system…
Jon: How do you feel about being constantly compared to Digg? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Doyon: I knew that we were going to be compared to Digg even before we launched. Ultimately, what we are trying to provide to end users are same. People are constantly looking for information and interesting news and we both are trying to satisfy the needs. We just have different methods.
I have to admit in some cases Digg can be a better than Spotplex, especially if the subject is technology oriented. A recommendation of an technology expert should count more than a visit by a random person. When my interest aligns with that of Diggers, Digg produces excellent results for me. However, the subject coverage should be limited to what this voting group is interested in and the outcome tends to be biased to their opinions. Even though now Digg became a huge community, it is still small group of people in total internet population, and I don’t think they can represent the whole internet population effectively. For example, I don’t think this group is very interest in how my Michigan football team is going to play next season.
By the way, I don’t think it is a bad thing to be compared to Digg at all. Digg is one of the most popular and successful Web 2.0 companies and I did enjoy using their services after all.
Jon: What’s next for Spotplex?
Doyon: I think we only built the basic platform for our service. There are so many things we need to do or we CAN do with this platform. One of the things which differentiate us from the others is the type of data we collect by doing this service. We receive huge amount of impression data from all those blogs. We are only counting them at this point, but by analyzing the data even further, we can produce pretty interesting results. For the people who ready a certain article, we might be able to make a good recommendation for other articles they would like, for example.
Jon: Thank you Doyon for taking the time to talk with ValueWiki. Best of luck on Spotplex!