Bit.ly et al

Real.ly like the simple concept of services such as bit.ly, even thought about launching another one - but there are already too many of them on the market and competition is getting tough:

Is a Shorter Web Address Worth Big Money? bit.ly Raises $2 Million

by Peter Kafka

Here’s another Web 2.0 riddle that seems particularly hard to solve post-Lehman: What’s the value of a service that takes a long Web address and makes it shorter?

One answer: Several million dollars.

Oh, and did I mention there’s no business model attached to said Web service?

Still with me?

OK. Here are the details: Betaworks, the incubator/start-up platform best known for selling Twitter a search engine for $15 million last year, is taking in-house project bit.ly and spinning it out as a separate company. A group of new investors, led by O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, has poured about $2 million into the company, which implies a valuation in the midseven figure range.

Other investors include Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage group, Jeff Clavier’s SoftTech VC, and uber-angel Ron Conway. O’Reilly’s Bryce Roberts will join the board of the four-man company.

bit.ly is one of roughly a gazillion url-shorteners, all of which do the same thing. They take an unwieldy Web address like, say, this one: “http://mediamemo.allthingsd.com/20090330/huffington-post-pays-for-content-after-all-via-175-million-investigative-fund/” and turn it into something concise like this: “http://bit.ly/14WdlB.”

If you spend much time on Facebook, Twitter or any other Web service where brevity is useful, you’ve encountered a shortened URL, and you’re likely seeing more and more of them all the time. The bit.ly guys say people clicked on 20 million of their shortened Web addresses last week, and that the number is increasing by about 10 percent a week.

Great. So where’s the money? Many of bit.ly’s competitors, like the aptly named tinyurl.com, generate modest revenue by running Google (GOOG) ads against the many eyeballs that come to the site to use the service. But bit.ly won’t sell ads, and it plans on distinguishing itself by tracking all the clicks and streams that come through the service and using the data to provide interesting analytics and insights into who’s looking at what on the Web, in real time.

The logic: If you’re impressed with the possibilities of Twitter’s real-time search capabilities (see above), you’ll love bit.ly.

Great. So where’s the money? bit.ly is free to users, and the company says it doesn’t plan on selling its analytics or other tools to publishers. Team bit.ly says revenue will come sometime down the road, from something else–when they figure out what that is.

That kind of shrugging was par for the course during Boom 2.0 days. But in the dark days of last fall, even the sunniest Web optimists, including Betaworks founder John Borthwick himself, were telling start-ups that they had to face reality and start making money.

So either things have gotten much better than we realized or the bit.ly investors think it’s still worth betting on fast-growing, revenue-free start-ups. It’d be nice if both things are true.

Source: All Things Digital

Few popular sites are main.ly used by twitters and various magazines, so they can save on the space. But not much is indexed so far:

  • tinyurl.com (7,590 hits on Google search)
  • bit.ly (2,160 hits on Google search)
  • is.gd (229 hits on Google search)
  • twurl.nl (155 hits on Google search)
  • ...

Feel free to comment if you come across other similar services.

As the twitter evolves and magazines turn to their proprietary homepage services, bit.ly will certain.ly turn into something else.

All references [1 - 7]


Short link: http://name.ly/~aZiR$Y

17 Responses

  1. Here is another one:
    http://sn.im/

  2. Yet another one: ff.im forwarding to friendfeed.com

  3. I don’t think I agree that there’s no business model. Bit.ly can, at any time, show ads before redirecting you to the other page, that’s one business model that can work very well. The other one is their search engine functionality based on popularity, which can, in time, return more relevant results than google. In conjunction with twitter, they will know how many people with high authority on twitter tweeted a certain link. I heard they’re caching the URLs shortened.

  4. z2z, with links like http://z2z.ca/1c – is another cool and short one, maybe not as cool as cool.ly – yet simple and effective.

  5. They also say that bit.ly has launched another brand j.mp under its umbrella.

    Source: http://mashable.com/2009/09/04/jmp/

  6. Bit.ly is catching up with competitors. Near.ly #1 now: http://mashable.com/2009/07/14/happy-birthday-bit-ly/

  7. […] the success of bit.ly, which received some $2m of seed money – the above.mentioned domains will great.ly serve your […]

  8. Thanks Marco, no analytics yet though!

    Btw I just noticed that your domain is really weird : dot-ly.of-cour.se 🙂

  9. Of course, dot-ly.of-cour.se – is the ultimate hack 😉

    What code do you use for z2z?

    Cheers!

  10. The best way to understand this growing dichotomy is to take a look at the numbers:

    – Bit.ly: 6.43 million U.S. visitors, +12.65% growth from August to September
    – TinyURL:5.55 million U.S. visitors, -1.47% growth from August to September
    – is.gd: 631,000 U.S. visitors, -13.66% growth from August to September
    – Tr.im: 416,000 U.S. visitors, -39.87% growth from August to September
    – Ow.ly: 1.41 million U.S. visitors, +9.45% growth from August to September

    Source: http://mashable.com/2009/10/12/bitly-domination/

  11. Have you noticed: bitly.com forwards to bit.ly.

    In a year time, bit.ly climbed Alexa ranking from being #100,000 (summer 2008) to #10,000 (beginning 2009), then to #1,000 (June 2009), currently #280 (worldwide) and #117 (in the U.S. and the U.K, where from it drives nearly 50% of its traffic).

    Source: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly#trafficstats

  12. What one cannot comprehend, is why the heck SnampNames is not willing to work with jingling .ly domains:

    Unfortunately at this time Moniker does not support the .ly domain extension and therefore you will not be able to submit the domains listed below. If you would like further assistance with selling your domains please contact our sales team by sending an email to sales@corp.moniker.com or work with your Domain Sales Specialist (if you already have one). You can find more information about our upcoming auctions by visiting our domain auction headquarters at http://domainauctions.moniker.com/. If you have any further questions regarding our showcase auctions please send an email to showcase@moniker.com, this case will be closed.

    No wonder Sedo is the market leader, even with old system and mediocre services.

  13. Interesting, is beat.ly the same as bit.ly? It looks like a clone, so some links go to bit.ly. Pretty confusing…

  14. As commented on aquisition romours:

    Bitly is running low on nice short links. They should use the other domains as well to appeal to the customers. BitlyPro, might provide the solution. Maybe this is what Yahoo is after…

    Yahoo has recently launched MEME service [ http://name.ly/!b$PJ ] – which is one leter shorter.

    They can use bitly’s traffic to streamline it to the new portal.

    http://gigaom.com/2010/07/19/yahoo-others-eyeing-bit-ly/?go_commented=1#comment-1062618

  15. It is so popupar that some wanted to recycled bit.li for it 😉

  16. Any idea, why with such a big budget, they did prepaid for the domain only one year. People usually do it for the maximum of 10 years.

    According to the registry the domain expires on 18th of May 2011.

    Registrant:
    bit.ly
    Jessica McVea
    416 West 13th Street
    New York
    NY
    United States
    Zip/Postal code: 10014
    Phone: 6468398575
    jessica@betaworks.com

    Domain Name: bit.ly

    Created: 2008-05-18 14:50:12
    Updated: 2010-03-09 18:25:33
    Expired: 2011-05-18 14:50:12

    Domain servers in listed order:
    ns1.p26.dynect.net
    ns2.p26.dynect.net
    ns3.p26.dynect.net
    ns4.p26.dynect.net

    Domain Status: ACTIVE

  17. Some very technical analysis indeed: http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/10/29/is-goo-gl-really-the-fastest-url-shortener-chart/ – though pretty irrelevant, as at certain point speed is of less importance, and good looking url of more.

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