Today, I spoke to Caterina Fake, who is the co-founder of Flickr, the Chief Product Officer at Hunch.com and is one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people. In this interview, Caterina talks about how she got started with social media, what Hunch.com is, how she’s built her own personal brand and more.
What got you started in the web 2.0 world? What originally lured you into creating Flickr?
Well I really got my start in the web 1.0 world, though obviously we didn’t call it that at the time. I started working in web development in San Francisco in 1995, because it was the most interesting thing going on at the time, and as a generally creative person who liked building things web sites were the perfect medium. Flickr was a side project that grew out of a game we had been building, and it grew fast and furious to the site you see today.
How does Hunch.com work and what influenced you to jump from Yahoo! to your new startup?
Hunch asks you 10 questions or fewer, and gives you an answer. It’s a really simple idea that has a great deal of engineering and technology behind it. The main reason I left Yahoo to work on Hunch was the people. We have some exceptional team members — co-founders Tom Pinckney, Matt Gattis and Chris Dixon are all brilliant technologists and great entrepreneurs. They gave Hunch its start and I was fortunate enough to find them and come on board.
How have you built your own personal brand to become one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People?
I don’t think I ever set out to build a personal brand, but I did register caterina.net in 1996, and that is where my blog has lived for the past 10 years. I still write about things that I care about there that are not necessarily associated with technology — poetry, literature, psychology, culture. But I really believe that things that seem unrelated, the juxtaposition of disparate ideas, are necessary for innovation, creativity and invention. So my blog may seems a jumble of unrelated posts, but there is a method to the madness. We should all become renaissance men and women as it allows for surprising new ways of thinking. As for the Time 100, that was an amazing thing, and certainly good for my personal brand!
Well, Hunch isn’t a social network, it’s a collective knowledge site, more like Wikipedia or Yahoo Answers than Facebook or Twitter. I think all consumer internet sites need to be social these days, and I don’t mean explicitly social, as in comments, profiles, photos, contacts and whatnot, but should intelligently use the artifacts created by the activities of people acting on information. Every small action a person takes, their path through a system, what they look at and what they don’t, is meaningful and can be interpreted and used to make a system better.
In five years, where do you think you’ll be professionally?
Hopefully working on Hunch, which will be flourishing and mindbogglingly huge!
Caterina Fake is a businesswoman and entrepreneur. She co-founded Flickr along with Stewart Butterfield in 2004. Flickr emerged from the development of a massively-multiplayer game, Game Neverending. After being acquired by Yahoo!, she ran the Technology Development Group at Yahoo, founded Yahoo’s Brickhouse, and ran the Hack Yahoo program. Caterina currently serves as Chief Product Officer at Hunch. She is a boardmember at Etsy.com. Fake has won many awards, including BusinessWeek’s Best Leaders of 2005, Forbes 2005 eGang, Fast Company’s Fast 50, and Red Herring’s 20 Entrepreneurs under 35. In 2006, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. She sits on the board of Etsy, and advises many startups and new businesses.