Happy Birthday…to us!
As I mentioned in a recent blog, Spokeo turned 6 this month. For the growing team, those of us who’ve been here since the beginning and the new additions, it’s an exciting milestone.
There’s no doubt about it: we’ve come a long way in 6 years. Although it sounds cliché, Spokeo began as an idea: in the spring of 2006, founder Harrison Tang found himself increasingly frustrated trying to keep track of all his friends’ social network updates. (These were the early days of Web 2.0, and social networks were sprouting up everywhere at a dizzying rate.) People were finding ever-new ways of using the internet and technology to connect and share. Needless to say, it quickly became quite the task to keep track of all these new networks and the flow of updates. Tang decided to get together with some of his Stanford engineering buddies to design a technology to aggregate all of those blogs, photos and videos in one place. Spokeo was born.
Did I mention it was born in his mom’s basement? Yes, that too. Tang’s parents were nice enough to lend the young techies their basement (including the, ahem, bathroom, which eventually housed the budding start-up’s single server).
From the start, Tang and his friends were committed to making a product that combined excellent data with user-friendly design. Once people started finding their way to the social network aggregator, they were quick to fall in love with the site’s quickness and intuitive design/interface.
While Spokeo eventually greatly expanded its people search capabilities, social search remains a sort of backbone to what we do. Spokeo 1.0 lives on in both our reverse email and reverse username search features, as well as our friend feed which allows premium users to import their email and social network contacts to keep track of any and all updates. (Spokeo now aggregates data from nearly 100 social networks.)
The site evolved through a variety of design changes in its first few years, and Spokeo remained another social network aggregator (albeit a pioneering one) until the launch of version 4.0 in early 2010, which added both name search and reverse phone search. Tang and company had heard from hundreds of users asking to add more ways to search friends and family. The change was a huge success – traffic increased exponentially and Spokeo positioned itself as a leading people search engine; an easy-to-use, customer-friendly solution to the 21st century’s people search needs. New servers were purchased to keep up with all the new voluminous swathes of helpful public data (these servers moved from the bathroom to professional office spaces, thankfully).
The last 2 years have seen the continued growth of both our team, our audience, and our people search capabilities. Last year saw the launch of reverse username search, reverse address search, telemarketer search and celebrity/famous people search, along with a myriad of improvements to the site’s speed, mobile capabilities and design.
Although it’s nice to celebrate and take stock of how far we’ve come, it’s also important to keep our eyes on the future. In the end it’s feedback from customers like this that keep us going:
“You are the best site! After years looking for my father, I found an address on this site and wrote a letter [...] within a week my father and aunt called me and my husband got me a Greyhound bus ticket; we’ve spent the past 2 weeks together. Thank you!!!”
What began as a way to see some college friends’ blogs and YouTube videos has become a vital tool for connecting people. We will continue striving to serve the human interest and connectivity needs of everyday Americans by organizing world’s people-related data, so individuals can more easily connect within one another, learn about the backgrounds of historical figures and celebrities, and discover their own, as well as anyone else’s, online footprint.
Simply put: If you’re looking for someone – Spokeo will remain the place to go. Here’s to 6 more years. We hope you’ll join us for the ride.