Mashable's Pete Cashmore: 'I Obsessively Looked at the Numbers'
00:07 Pete Cashmore: Go to sleep in the morning and then wake up at noon or whatever. Just get a few hours in the morning, then stay up all night.
In 2005, Pete Cashmore founded Mashable, a website that covers news about social media and technology.
It started as a blog he wrote when he was 19 years old, living with his parents in Scotland.
00:25 Cashmore: When I was 13, I had an appendectomy and for whatever reason it didn't go too well and I didn't really recover. So, as I, for quite a few years trying to like rest up, get better. And I missed school a lot, so I was kind of out of sync with my friends. So, I just started going my own way, using computers, trying to learn as much as I could. Blogs were springing up, so I subscribed to as many blogs as I could. Read absolutely everything I could and it kind of became my replacement education in a way. It's pretty exciting when you see like in a year, these guys have gone from a garage to having one of the biggest companies in the world. And it's... The idea that you could change the world from your bedroom was pretty compelling to me. So, I thought, wow! If I could even do one percent of that, that would be exciting.
At first, Pete didn't explain what Mashable was to his parents.
01:10 Cashmore: I wouldn't really tell them what I was up to, they would just be like, "He does something on his computer or I guess he's trying to make money or something." But they weren't pressuring me to go to university or whatever. They knew I hadn't been well, that I was recovering or whatever. So, one of the weird things was, I started in Banchory in Scotland, in North Scotland. You have to imagine the whole world that exists, because it's all kind of in your head. Like nothing around me suggested there was tech and there was Silicon Valley or any of that stuff. But it was also a huge slog in terms of time zones. I mean, not only is there only really four hours of light in the winter in Scotland, but I was on the complete opposite hours of the people I wanted to reach.
01:46 Cashmore: 'Cause I quickly realized, Well, Britain's not gonna be a big enough market, and most of the stuff is happening in America anyway. So, I need to be on those hours. So, maybe I'd go to bed at 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, maybe I'd be up by mid-day and writing again, and every time that just burned me down. What I would do at weekends, I would... Friday night I would say, okay, there is no news that's gonna happen, I would just sleep all of Saturday, I'd wake up on Sunday morning. And hopefully, I had recovered enough that I could start blogging again, 'cause the news cycle doesn't stop, and I went on for a long time. That was probably 18 months or so, when it was just me up at bizarre hours. Sleeping in the morning, not getting any sunlight, and it really drains you.
The site gained readers almost every week.
After 18 months, two million people a month read Mashable.
02:30 Cashmore: As long as you are moving a half step forward, a quarter step forward everyday, that's fine. So, I would look at the stats everyday and I would go, "Today was worse than yesterday." It would be on a daily basis, I would do this. I would look at the stats everyday and say, "Have I beaten yesterday?" And almost everyday I would have beaten yesterday in terms of the number of people who were reading the site. So, that kind of kept me going. As I would just obsessively look at the numbers, because that's all I had as well. Until 2008, I didn't even meet a single reader of Mashable, I didn't know anyone who read it. So, that was really what kept me going. And then I realized suddenly, when we had this event in San Fransisco in 2008. There were like 500 people who all read Mashable and I thought that was a crazy number of people, even though I looked at my stats and saw that there were two million people reading every month. So, it was a pretty exciting time.
Today, 23 million people a month read Mashable.