Today we have a great interview to start off a new era. instantbight.com has moved to Squarespace. More on the move in the coming days, no worries.
Daniel Ha is a co-founder of Disqus. Disqus is a quickly growing service that makes comments and discussions on websites more beautiful and functional. For all of you fellow bloggers I would highly consider trying this service out it is great.
How/why/when did you get into the tech world?
I grew up in a town called Milpitas right here in Silicon Valley. It's about 45 miles south of San Francisco. I was always surrounded by technology companies and, while I was always somewhat in awe, I sort of took this for granted. It was just normal for me to see and hear about tech behemoths and, during the late 90s, small Internet startups. When I was in early grade school, I was heavily into computer games like many other shy, nerdy kids. It was this that led me into programming and then, more eventually, developing for the web.
I'm no longer much into computer games, but I love the Internet and what it's given us in possibilities.
How/why/when did you start Disqus?
I started Disqus when I was a Junior in college. I started it with my childhood friend, Jason, outside of school because we were itching to start a meaningful web project. We liked to work on these "startup" type projects together, even if it's to essentially play pretend-entrepreneur for a while. Disqus was something that we really cared about, and it was something that actually began to work almost immediately. The early concept for Disqus was a fuzzy mission statement: let's tackle the future of online communities. We thought that Disqus could be a community of communities, in a way, and bake in some of the finer attributes of forums, IRC channels, and newsgroups.
Instead, it diverged in a way that let us apply what we knew about online communities to a place that many people knew well, but didn't really appreciate: the world of comments. We didn't know much about comments, but we were convinced that we could make comments feel more like real forum discussions. And this type of quality engagement could mean big things for the blogs and websites providing the commenting experience.
Why should I use Disqus for my site?
When it comes to attracting audiences for your site, the content is only one part of it. Content can be copied, but you can't duplicate the personality of the communities that form on your site. Disqus takes the notion of "community building" and makes it a real, measurable, and valuable thing. We consider Disqus the easiest way to do true audience development; websites that use Disqus attract new, quality audiences that stay longer and come back more often.
What computer/phone do you use and why?
Macbook Pro and an iPhone. I was raised on PCs; for a long time, I was perplexed that people purchased computers that they couldn't take apart and upgrade (or build themselves for less money). Today, I see computers and smart phones (essentially mini-computers) as consumer devices with purpose — like a toaster. I enjoy Apple products because I think that they're beautifully crafted and the best out there. I'd purchase other computers if I thought they were better.
What advice do you have for someone starting a new tech company?
There are smarter, more experienced people out there to give advice. My advice is to understand how to use advice properly — there's plenty out there. You won't get anything out of it until you properly contextualize it for yourself and make your own mistakes.
What an amazing five answers to make me feel right at home using Squarespace 6. Here is the desktop background I designed for Daniel. Click the image to buy it.