Talking to Disqus’ Daniel Ha

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If you write a blog or read blogs, one of the major challenges is managing comments. For bloggers, comments can consume a lot of cycles and can be difficult to structure and manage. For people who like to comment on blogs, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of all the places where you’ve left your two cents.

Disqus hope to change things with a comment system offering benefits for bloggers and blog commenters. I’ve been using it on All About Nortel for the past few months, and been impressed. To get a better sense of Disqus, I fired off a few questions to co-founder Daniel Ha, who was good enough to respond.

When was Disqus started?

Disqus was started by Jason Yan and myself, Daniel Ha, at the beginning of 2007 while we were still in school. We were working on better tools for online group and forum discussion. Both of us were active on a number of forums and bulletin boards and we felt that the software behind these were just incredibly lackluster. As we moved forward, we uncovered bigger problems, mainly fragmented conversations. After receiving funding from Y Combinator that summer, we restarted Disqus to focus on the conversations that happen on blogs. While we weren’t prolific bloggers, we experienced how broken blog comments can be.

How did you decide on developing a blog commenting service? What did you do to create a service that bloggers wanted?

The gap between forums and blog comments was actually quite small. One of the initial ideas involved bridging communities across forums; we learned that this was much more applicable to blogs, especially since a lot of the conversation happens right in a blog’s comments. The first few versions of Disqus was relatively light and bare-bones. We allowed a lot of focus and direction to be directly influenced by what bloggers were passionate about. Along the way, I’ve been learning a lot about bloggers and the communities they run. It helps greatly in deciding the direction of the service.

What has Disqus being doing to spread the word about the service? What is the company’s marketing strategy?

We don’t really have a marketing strategy. For the most part, it’s been purely word of mouth. At the very beginning, I contacted a number of my favorite blogs to let them know that we existed. After getting discovered by blogs in a variety of categories, Disqus has been growing pretty well. Since Disqus aims to connect readers across blogs, bloggers benefit greatly from having other bloggers use the system. This certainly helps.

What are some of the new features coming down the pike later this year?
Lately, we’ve been releasing features that makes things easier for blog admins, such as more tools for moderation. Moving forward, we’re focusing heavily on making Disqus easy to use for new bloggers. Integration needs to be easier, our plugins needs to be rehauled, and a new version of the API is being released.

How many users does Disqus have?
Over 80,000 different people have left a comment through the Disqus comment system.

How does Disqus make money?
We don’t at the moment. We’re still very focused on building a product that bloggers love.

How has the company been financed?
Disqus was seeded by Y Combinator in 2007. Earlier this year, we raised a financing round with Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures along with some great angel investors.

More: Loic Le mur recently did a video with Daniel, which you can find here.

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