Why Did You Start Your Business?

Peter Friedman post by: Peter Friedman


Because we believe in the power of dialogue and relationships

March 6, 1996: Jenna Woodul, my soon to be co-founder, and I were having breakfast at the Peppermill in Cupertino, CA across the street from the Apple building in which we worked. We were discussing whether or not to start a new Internet company. I had developed a conservative 12 page business plan that allowed time to raise funding and build a prototype. But something new happened. Apple had announced the closure of eWorld – the online community service we ran – and the 70 online community moderation contractors that worked with us had formed a connection. They started to email us: “We hear you two are starting a company. We don’t know what you’re doing, but we believe in you, and we want to join you.”

We realized, right then and there, this was a group with a unique culture. A group able to deploy human management of user content, dialogue and relationships online. We had a one time chance to create something new and different: online communities with structured cultures that reflected the values of mainstream brands and consumers. The conservative 12 page, 9 month business plan went into the briefcase and we decided to start the company immediately with no funding (other than my credit card). 25 days later, on March 31, 1996, with the help of those 70 people and another 20 around the world, we launched our first online community. 10 days later on April 10, 1996 we formally incorporated LiveWorld.

Today, 17 years later, we employ about 370 people including 300 moderators. Quite a few of those original 70 are still with us.


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