Jonathan Abrams

CEO and Founder of Nuzzel

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 06, 2015


I'm a software engineer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Currently I'm trying to connect everyone in the world with the news content that is most important to them, as founder & CEO of Nuzzel. I'm also Managing Partner of Founders Den, a startup community and co-working space in San Francisco, and previously founded the social networking service Friendster.
Hey Jonathan, congrats on the latest funding round. Ever since I discovered Nuzzel I've been checking it multiple times a day to cut through the junk and find the good stuff! I love the friends of friends feed and its balance of familiarity and discoverability - what plans do you have to extend this?
@antbs thanks Anthony. Our main plan for extending Nuzzel is to try to get the experience you have had, i.e. finding the good stuff and cutting through the junk, to everyone on the Internet, even people who don't yet understand how to use Twitter.
@abrams @antbs and related to that, to also help you find great content about additional areas of interest that might be beyond what your main Nuzzel is feed is focused on
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
@abrams @antbs is this working for the Facebook-only users? Are there any such users?
@ducu @antbs this is stuff we will be rolling out in a few months. Facebook has never worked well in Nuzzel compared to Twitter, I think Facebook social graphs may be too poluted.
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
Hi Jonathan, could you give us some technical details about Nuzzel? Like server side technologies used, where is it hosted, how do you deal with Twitter API limits, what about websites with paywalls etc. How much of the code did you write yourself? Thanks and thumbs up for a great product.
@ducu Hi Alexandru. I wrote the original prototype version of Nuzzel myself, but haven't had much time for coding lately. Our team is only 6 people, 4 of whom are software engineers, and they are great, and doing what some companies probably coudln't get done with 50 people. Our back-end is all written in Java, and we use pretty standard stuff like MySQL and Memcache.
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
@abrams How about Twitter API? Are you using Streaming or just REST? Thanks!
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
This is typically @rrhoover's question, but I'll go ahead and ask it: What's on your (smart phone) home screen?
@andrewmettinger Nuzzel, Twitter, Slack, Facebook, Yelp, Uber, Waze, Podcasts, Skype, nothing too exciting or surprising probably.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@abrams @andrewmettinger well now I have to bite, what are your favorite podcasts? =)
Thanks everyone! I really enjoyed your questions. You can find me on Twitter at @abrams if you ever have further questions. 8-)
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
What's your proudest accomplishment?
@russfrushtick Hi Russ, I'm very proud of Nuzzel, it's pretty cool how such a small company is doing things that the whole industry is paying attention to. I'm also proud of Friendster, despite all the problems that happened when I was replaced as CEO, because Friendster still was very innovative and inspired a whole generate of other Internet services in a way that was bigger than just one company.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Jonathan, what inspired you to create Nuzzel?
@ems_hodge Hi Emily. I was inspired to create Nuzzel by my own needs. I got tired of consuming news via RSS and was getting more stuff via Twitter and Facebook but couldn't keep up and didn't have time to click on every link and wanted a tool that would harness all of the social signals from my friends and generate a personalized news experience for me. I thought it was a pretty obvious need and someone else would build it, but eventually realized no one was building exactly what I wanted.
Zach Kahn@zkahn94 · Lead Podcast Marketing @ Vox Media
Hey Jonathan! Huge fan of Nuzzel, as you know. What is the future of Nuzzel as a product (vs. a company), specifically on iOS?
@zkahn94 Thanks Zach. I think the future of Nuzzel, including on iOS, is supporting everyone in the world, even if they cannot log in via Twitter.
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
@abrams @zkahn94 How do you see this working (ie. stepping away from Twitter) since Nuzzel relies exclusively on Twitter defined user networks?
@ducu @zkahn94 we are not stepping away from Twitter at all, we are going to help people use Nuzzel even if they don't have a Twitter account, but Twitter is still a big part of it.
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
@abrams @zkahn94 Oh sure but I mean.. For Twitter users you aggregate their following network, but how can you offer relevance to non-Twitter users?
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@abrams Thanks for doing this AMA, Jonathan. How did your experience with Friendster shape the way you're currently running Nuzzel? It seems like you're being extremely deliberate (smaller rounds than you could have likely raised + laser-focus on your niche) and that seems like a contrast to how quickly Friendster grew.
@erictwillis Hi Eric, oops it seems like my reply to this question got lost somehow. I hopefully learned a lot from the problems at Friendster, the Nuzzel team actually also includes Kent and Ross who were part of Friendster. I think we learned a lot about not giving up control, about web scalability, about keeping the product simple.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far and why?
@ems_hodge Hi Emily, there are so many moments, I'd have to think for a long while to pick the most memorable. There are a lot of ups and downs as an entrepreneur. Recently I found out that comedian Steve Martin and Dell Computer founder Michael Dell are using Nuzzel, stuff like that is really fun and exciting. On the other hand, some days we literally get emails from people who are annoyed at something in our product telling us to "fuck off". It's certainly not boring.
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of
Hi Jonathan! Thanks for doing this AMA. You've been working on great products and ideas for awhile now. From Friendster to Founders Den to Nuzzel. What is something that you've learned that you think entrepreneurs don't understand or appreciate as much? Thanks! Sydney
@sydney_liu_sl Hi Sydney. I think in general there is way too much generic startup advice out there right now. There's no magic formula for startup success. Most will not be successful and the path of a successful company is often unique and includes some randomness and luck too. Every single company I have started and product I have built has stemmed from years of personal and professional experiences and thoughts leading up to that project -- I'm a bit skeptical of people who want to start a company because all their friends are doing it, and then look around to find an idea.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Hi Jonathan! What do you think of Twitter Moments? How do you think it changes (1) Twitter's future and (2) how people consume news in the future?
@melissajoykong Hi Melissa, I believe Twitter Moments came out this morning, and after I'm done this chat, I'll hopefully find some time to play with it! But it's exciting to see Twitter launching new things.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
It is notoriously challenging to start a news-driven business. What's the biggest challenges you've had to overcome in the process of building Nuzzel thus far?
@melissajoykong Hi Melissa, we certainly have faced some skepticism from investors about doing a news-based business. Which is funny because there is so much exciting stuff going on with news now, including BuzzFeed, and Axel Springer buying Business Insider, etc. Obviously we have some great investors despite this, but several people told us "there's no money in news".
Rick Marini@rmarini · Entrepreneur, Angel Investor
Hey man! How does Nuzzel fit in with the changing landscape of media / news consumption?
@rmarini Hello Sir! There is a lot going on these days with how news is discovered and consumed. Obviously Facebook, Twitter, Google, SnapChat, and others are all doing interesting things. What Nuzzel is trying to do, and I think our approach is unique, is help people solve overload and connect them to the stuff they really need to know about. And we do it cross platform, including via email, which is super old school, and via our innovative personalized news alerts on iOS and Android, which is a very new approach. We are also talking to news publishers about how we might help them in the future.
Sebastian Deutsch@sippndipp · 9elements
Hi Jonathan, are you doing NLP on the content that you're aggregating?
@sippndipp Hi Sebastian, we are not doing NLP. Our focus in on harnessing the power of social curation.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hey @abrams! I love Nuzzel and it's basically the only way I can keep track of Twitter between sessions. Now that Twitter is experimenting rolling out new product features (polls, modding character limits, etc.), what one feature is the highest on your wish list?
@alexcartaz Hi Alex! I'd love to see Twitter take Twitter Lists off the back burner and start making them easier to create, find, use, etc.
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What do you envision for Nuzzel 1 year from now?
@jakecrump Hi Jake. I think a year from now Nuzzel has become a platform where experts and organizations have created thousands (or millions) of feeds that people can engage with to get relevant content across many different topics, professions, and communities.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What are you thoughts on Jack returning to Twitter as the CEO?
@andrewmettinger Hi Andrew. I think it's great. At Friendster, I never had the opportunity to come back and try to fix things. Also great that Adam Bain will be COO. Seems like everyone is excited and it's good to have things figured out so they can move forward.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Congrats on the recently announced round, @Jonathan (details here by @Jim_Edwards for everyone else)! Twitter continues to invest in curating its content and surfacing relevant things that aren't necessarily at the top of people's chronological Twitter feed. IMHO, Nuzzel becomes less useful if they can execute on this well. What are your thoughts and what do you think of Twitter Moments which launched today?
@rrhoover Hi Ryan! I think what Twitter and Nuzzel are doing a pretty complementary. And I think Moments, what Nuzzel does today, and the things that Nuzzel will be launching in Oct and Nov, are all pretty different.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@abrams oooo! Teaser! Can you hint at what you're building now?
@rrhoover we have a bunch of big things launching in Oct and Nov, and I think if you read my previous interview with Jim at Business Insider, there are hints about them.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@abrams what advice would you have for your 25 year old self? your 30 year old self?
@eriktorenberg Hi Erik. The biggest thing I did in my 20s was leaving Canada and moving to Silicon Valley, which was one of the best decisions of my life. In my 30s, I made the big mistake of not retaining control of Friendster, that would probably be the thing I would give my younger version advice on.