• 07.01.05

60 Seconds with Evan Williams

Evan Williams’s Pyra Labs helped kick-start the personal publishing revolution with Blogger, the first user-friendly software for running a Web log. In 2003, Pyra was snapped up by Google, and Williams became the search giant’s blogger-in-chief. Now Williams has founded Odeo, aiming to do for podcasting — think of downloadable radio programming for your iPod — what Pyra did for blogs. His bet: Your neighbor might be the next Howard Stern.

Fast Company: Why did you leave Google after less than two years?


Williams: I’m not a big-company guy. I need freedom and control. Google is exciting, but it’s someone else’s thing.

FC: What did you learn in your 20 months at the Googleplex?

Williams: I was continually impressed with their ability to question everything and think bigger than anyone would dare: “Why can’t we index the whole Web faster than anybody else?” They approach everything like that. It’s healthy to plan for bigness.

FC: Why podcasting now?

Williams: A lot of people were doing it, and the tools for making, distributing, and finding podcasts were primitive. The user experience just wasn’t there. We can create a distribution platform for a type of media — independent, self-published audio programming — that hasn’t existed before.

FC: Is there a business plan?


Williams: In the first phase, there won’t be any pricing. We want time to grow the idea and to make sure we’re providing something that people value before we think about the business plan and the pricing.

FC: Do you worry about podcasting being overhyped?

Williams: The hype is not a great thing. But I have no doubt that podcasting is a real shift, because it encapsulates all of the biggest trends in media today. And more important, as a user, I just think it’s cool, and I won’t give it up.