Home > Notes > Noah Everett – Twitpic

Noah Everett – Twitpic

Noah Everett is the founder of Twitpic, the site that lets you share photos on Twitter. It has about 6.5 million registered users and is an Alexa Top 100 site.

Here’s the story.


Before Business

  • grew up in Oklahoma, where he was home-schooled since the 2nd grade
  • graduated high school at 15 and was too young to attend college, so he had nothing to do
  • went to Barnes & Nobles and bought some books on programming
  • spent 12 hours a day teaching himself to program through trial and error, his parents didn’t mind
  • then got a job working as a web developer

Business Beginnings (First Signs Of Entrepreneurism)

  • always tinkered without alot of sites and ideas
  • went through moods where he felt he needed to create something; “a creative itch he needed to scratch”
  • doesn’t like the term ‘entrepreneur’, would rather be defined as “someone who takes an idea and executes”
  • was actually starting another business before Twitpic

How Twitpic Came About

  • Noah had already built a photosharing site called EchoPic
  • EchoPic was to be a simple way to upload a pic; a clean, no ads version of photobucket
  • Noah was using Twitter and realized there was no way to share his pics on Twitter, so he decided to build Twitpic
  • he grabbed a spare server, took the code from EchoPic, and spent the weekend making it work for Twitter

Twitpic Launches

  • the following Monday he launched Twitpic, the site was “crappy” and only took one hour to design; the logo and missions were completely different than what they are today
  • Twitpic was initially just to be used by him and a few other people but Mashable wrote about it the next day and Twitpic started taking off
  • soon after other blogs picked it up, and then it started getting retweeted and kept growing
  • he didn’t even have an idea for a business model

Twitpic Grows

  • Twitpic grew strictly from word of mouth; had no marketing
  • celebrity users helped its growth too: Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, even the White House
  • Noah increased Twitpic’s virality: through ease of logging in (you just use your Twitter account), making sure everything stays connected (photo comments go back to Twitter), and adding new features and updating the design

Setbacks, Mistakes And Feelings Of Quitting

  • Twitpic grew too big for Noah; he started becoming overwhelmed
  • it was only him at Twitpic; he was support, scaling, servers, new features, and he couldn’t handle it
  • he didn’t know anything about scaling, so Twitpic was constantly overloaded and crashing
  • he was now receiving negative backlash from users and bad publicity on blogs
  • even one of the founders of Twitter publicly asked for an alternative to Twitpic
  • competitors started to arrive and were verbally attacking Twitpic
  • some days he wanted to just give up and shut the site down, his feelings were hurt at all the negative backlash
  • it was an emotional rollercoaster each day

How He Persevered

  • the day he was going to shut the site down he went for an hour drive and decided to give it one more go, as much as he could
  • he locked himself in his apartment for 2-3 weeks; no cell phone, no TV, no Twitter
  • got a new hardware provider and rebuilt the site from the ground up to run on a scalable platform; it worked
  • he got thicker skin
  • focused more on the user’s experience
  • and started hiring

Company Overview (First Hires)

  • Noah is based in Charleston, South Carolina
  • his first hires were his parents, based in Oklahoma; he initially had to educate them on internet basics
  • his dad takes care of the business side: taxes, accounting, revenue
  • his mom does the secretary work: handling his schedule
  • he hired a developer, Steve Carona, who is based in New York; they’ve never met but Steve meshes perfectly

Twitpic Employee Requirements: #1 – personality, ability to mesh with team, and passion #2 – skill

Revenue (Ads)

  • decided they had to be frugal with resources and make sure they brought in revenue; decided on ads
  • they didn’t start running ads until late 2008
  • they’re real strict on their ads: ads can’t be crappy; they remove the ads that they and their users aren’t happy with
  • first ads were Google Adsense (text ads), they weren’t in your face and meshed with site’s design; only brought in $100/month from Adsense
  • next was VideoEgg; they brought in more revenue
  • revenue took off when they moved from Adsense to other ad promoters
  • initially did direct ad selling but moved to ad networks to focus on building Twitpic
  • they receive different types of ad revenue: CPM, CPC, & CPA among others

Twitpic Today

  • focuses on providing the highest-quality service possible
  • revenue projections: $3-4 million
  • looking to hire a community manager; to be full-time support and respond to user issues
  • looking to do more direct ad sales in the future
  • focusing on niche and core functionality, photos for Twitter
  • Twitter and Twitpic have become ‘real-time news’; photos posted to Twitpic are sometimes the first to report current newa, they are also used on the News and in newspapers
  • Noah stayed up until 1:00am last night walking a user through an issue

Business Advice

  • “Get the core feature of your product out as quickly as possible.”
  • “User interface can make or break you site, it needs to be easy to use and non-confusing.”
  • “When you’re a one man show you have to focus on the most important thing to get done today.”
  • “Business is an emotional rollercoaster, one day your on top the world, the next you don’t want to do it anymore.”
  • “Look at yourself and ask, “What would I want?” Don’t compromise what you wouldn’t want for a quick buck.”
  • “When you respond to your user’s complaints in a human way, they respond back the same. Twitpics earlier main detractors are now their biggest evangelists.”
  • “Don’t worry about funding if you don’t need it. Today it’s cheaper to start a business than ever.”
  • “Build a product to solve your own problem.”
  • “Just have fun and try and keep it fun.”
  • “Celebrate your achievements.”

Personal Notes

  • Noah’s best friend passed; it made him step back from Twitpic and re-evaluate his life. Twitpic was what he loved.
  • Turned down an 8 figure buyout for Twitpic because it was too much fun.
  • Achieved personal milestones: #1 – have a company worth 8 figures by 24, #2 – have a company generating 7 figures/year in revenue by 25
  • Presented Twitpic to Twitter
  • Moved to South Carolina because of The Patriot, the warm weather, and the beach
  • Total investment into Twitpic was $5,000
  • Claims to be “the nice guy who finished first.”

Twitpic

Connect With Noah

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  1. March 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

    This guy impresses me. Self taught programmer, built a 7 figure business, passed on the opportunity to cash out because it was too fun, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. I can definitely relate to him about the emotional roller coaster. Starting and running PremierInterns.com gave me first hand experience on dealing with emotional roller coasters. This guy has been able to generate revenue whereas Twitter relies on VC money…I think TwitPic has a much better business model. Keep up the good work Noah.

  2. xbg
    March 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Wondering why he didn’t add some features when business grew big. For example the lack of easy accessable statistics still annoys me. But ok, maybe it’s a matter of concentrating on “core functionality” or something. After all twitpic always worked without problems for me.

  3. jimmboi
    April 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Very shorts, simple and easy to understand, bet some more comments from your side would be great

  1. April 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

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