I had a good hour and a half talk with CEO John about Xanga, the fundraiser, and Xanga 2.0. For those that missed the live show, you can catch the recorded broadcast by clicking here. @SaintVI was able to write up a simple transcript during the show and have given me permission to post it up on my page. Take a look below, and if you want more details you can listen into the show on demand.
A: How many are still on the Xanga Team?
J: Tries to run it friendly, less corporately. John, Justin,Eugenia, Marc, Bob, Dan
J: Yes. That will be a bigger focus in the future.
A: Why has the communication not been greater communication leading up to the fundraiser?
J: Overall been overwhelmed with programming.. Big update coming up soon on blog regarding Xanga 2.0, which the team will start communicating and promoting more once that is out.
A: Why does XT want site to continue?
J: Not money – not lucrative. Labor of love. Loves xanga, met many friends through xanga. Strong community and can grow the website around it. Wants to continue to honor and serve the community.
A: Why do you think we’ll meet the 60k goal?
J: Response has been amazing. No reason to give beyond $48,but many are giving much more. Shows that people really love the xanga platform. Lots of things we can continue to do to support the fundraiser.Coordinating press and member mailings for next couple of weeks. Expect it to pick up at the end.
A: Have you reached out to outside groups/sponsors to raise money?
J: Of course. Many have donated. Others will be contributing in coming weeks. A lot of money will come from lowering expenses.
A: Why such short notice for the deadline?
J: Didn’t think of it far in advance. Looked into the feasibility before announcing it. Started site in 2000. Many decisions based on technology they had available at the beginning. This is like starting a new company with technology that will hold up for the future. New cost structure will be more cost effective.
A: Why no mass messages yet?
J: We’re going to be sending out messages. Have gotten a lot of questions and working on answering them before sending the message out. More effective to communicate as much as possible in one message. This week. 35-40 million members over the years. Email addresses change. If email everyone,surefire way to get all email blocked by every carrier. Would be last email sent in company history.
A: Why not mass message on website?
J: It would be a little tricky due to number of possible replies. Currently shut off private messages on team blog. Maybe send out MM with link to XT blog for replies.
A: If xanga does not raise money by deadline will it be pushed back?
J: Deadline is hard coded in software. Can’t ask Kickstarter to give more time. Confident we’re on track to meet goals.
A: Many Xanga users trying to rally the troops to promote the fundraiser. How do you feel about their efforts?
J: And RLT’s radio show! This is why we keep doing what we’re doing. It’s been an incredible outpouring of love and support. Very heartwarming and reaffirming.
A: Are there plans for XT to be more directly involved with communication?
J: Sure. We can stick modules on the front page to promote it more.
A: What did you mean by viral marketing on your announcement post?
J: I’d rather talk more about vision of xanga first and then come back to marketing. Taking WP platform and adapting it for xanga. Xanga is community coming together and reacting in a seamless way. Not been our focus to be highest rated publishing platform. Working on adapting WP platform to be more community friendly. That’s been the main focus of our work. Most platforms focused on publishing and not interaction with readers. On xanga we’re all equals, all participants in site together. Would love to weave this into WP ina seamless way like xanga. Wants to get the best of WP with the small town feel of xanga making it as community friendly as possible. Logistically 60 Emotionally 99.9% of vision. Met my wife through reading her blog. Get to know each other by reading and interacting. Creating software that enables this interaction is important to him.
A: With Xanga 2.0 being a paid site and many people not wanting to pay, how would you sell it to these people?
J: Would prefer to keep the platform free. Kept it free fora dozen years, but can’t offer a sustainable model for free. If we can blow these numbers out of the water, we will take another look at the possibility.Grandfathering all Premium sites so still be able to read and comment. A lot of what we want to do is simplify the site. Ex: Difference between Friends and Subscriptions. Subscriptions is one-way. Friendship is two-way. Looking to clarify small differences like that. Focus on ease of use and simplicity. Also supporting many privacy features. Not many platforms left on web that support privacy. Ex: Facebook. Privacy doesn’t have to be either/or. Want to continue with features we offer and add more.
A: Clarify which accounts are automatically transferred.
J: Focusing on bringing over all Premium members. Also going to take over all accounts that have been Premium at one time. It will be a lot of work to transfer accounts over. All user accounts will be transferred even if blog doesn’t transfer. Users can still log in, read their subs and comment.
A: What about the True members?
J: We can look into whether we can support that. It’s a question of numbers; how many we can transfer over. We want to move over as many as possible.
A: There may be people who decide they want to continue on xanga after July 15. Will they have lost all their entries or will their old blog still be somewhere?
J: Have they ever been a Premium member? First we’re going to move over the current Premium members. Then we’ll move over those who have been Premium in the past. Then we’ll get as many transferred as possible.Others can download their archives in the XML format and transfer them.
A: If xanga reaches the goal, how soon will the new site beup and running?
J: We’ll see. Technically we’re hard at work and have a lot of stuff ready to go. We’ll know more in a couple of days but we’re hoping within a couple of days after the 15th. We’ll keep the xanga site up and running if there’s a lag.
A: Can you clarify what will happen to Lifetime members?
J: I don’t know how much more I can say. If you’re a Lifetime member, you are a Premium member and we’ll transfer your account and transfer your account to the new system and will honor your account at a lower rate.
A: If someone has a WP username will it interfere with thexanga 2.0 platform?
J: No. We’ll be using the WP code base but no overlap with screen names.
A: Xanga HK is still pretty popular. How are they affected?
J: We’re all in this together. I can’t tell when someone pledges what country they’re from but seeing a huge number of Chinese names.They’re in it with us and have been very supportive.
A: How many paying members will it take to keep xanga 2.0 operational for a year?
J: It’s tricky. Fundraisers are different than running youraverage premium model. Need many more Premium members than fundraisingparticipants. Most of the fundraiser is coming from a few people. Still inexperimentation stage at how to support the site.
A: Would it be possible for some people to pay a fee to keep their content online without paying for Premium?
J: We could look at adding more reward levels and include that. We want to offer all members a free and easy archive download. We’ll consider this, but don’t want to give out the vibe that we’re holding your data hostage.
A: How about giving people a 1-2 month free preview of the new site? Or giving other incentives?
J: We want to move as many blogs over as possible. I don’t see charging to move blogs over as being much in the fundraiser. The best way to ensure is to contribute to the fundraiser. We’re looking to charge people to host their blogs, not everyone who wants to read and comment.
A: But how do you plan to attract people to the new platform?
J: Referral programs would be a part of drawing people into the platform.
A: Is there a way to allow people to access the top featured posts of all time on xanga?
J: Would we be transferring just one post that was written in 2007 and not the person’s entire blog?
A: We just want to be able to find the top posts.
J: If there are specific sites for the sake of xanga posterity that need to be imported, we would look at doing that. One of the tricky things about featured content is that it’s what is popular on that day.If you go back a couple of months later, you might find that those posts have been taken down, made private, friends locked, blog shut down, etc. It’s not an easy thing. But if you make a list we’ll see what we can do.
A: What are some of your marketing ideas?
J: The viral marketing stuff is giving people a chance to look up their account to see if it’s scheduled for transition. It will provide a simple interface to see if your xanga will live or die, if you’re ready for 2.0. People can interact with it and help get the word out. Press is going to be important to complement that, to reach out to former member for whom we don’t have an email address.
A: Is there anything the community can do to help the XT out further than what they’ve already done?
J: Yes. We’ve been focused so much on the fundraiser and making sure we can make the goal and do the transition, those have been crushing amount of work. Moving forward we’d like to make it much more participatory. Next big piece is how are we going to manage this website? In past it’s been me and a couple of other people running the site and making decisions. Not open source, only a couple of people understood how the site works. The new architecture of the site will be much more open and adaptable.We’ll be creating a group of “councils” for different areas. Ex: Finding themes, front page design… Series of community driven councils to get vision from users. We want to tap the community’s vision and energy to build the new site.
A: What are some of your major memories of the xanga site?
J: I met my wife on xanga. That’s my number one in terms of impact. I’ve met hundreds of xanga members and had all sorts of conversations and taken them out for lunch or drinks, and then the next day you read about it. It takes some of the fun out of being involved in the community because all sorts of drama was flaring up when I hung out with xangans so I’ve been distant in the past couple of years. The idea that people have met and fallen in love on xanga and we’ve brought them together in marriage blows my mind. On the flipside, there’s been a lot of xanga divorces too. Being part of the community and seeing these things go back and forth has been very rewarding and fun. It’s been a really emotional experience for me. So much love and so many friendship shave come out of the site.
A: Are there any last words you’d like to say before theshow ends?
J: I’d like to say thank you. Xanga is nothing without community. The fact that you all take care of each other is great and it’s why we want to keep it going. We’re very grateful to have met so many of you over the years that have kept the site going. Thanks guys.