Business news from the Ascentive team
Three years after founding bit.ly as a home-grown startup inside betaworks, John Borthwick is passing the reigns to a Bit.ly’s first actual CEO, Peter Stern. Borthwick will remain CEO of betaworks and concentrate on new products and investments. Borthwick helped hatch Bitly as one of his incubator’s projects and has overseen it since, while juggling lots of other balls at the same
Stern comes most recently from Zenbe, a webmail platform and mobile that went through a Facebook talent acquisition last November. Stern, who was a co-founder, didn’t go to Facebook. He’s more a New York kind of guy. Back in the 1990s, Stern founded Datek, one of the original online brokerages. Stern led its growth to one of the four largest online brokerage firms before merging with Ameritrade in 2002. Prior to Datek, Stern helped build “cool electro-optic sensors and devices, most of which are classified.”
bit.ly allows users to shorten, share, and track links (URLs). Reducing the URL length makes sharing easier. bit.ly can be accessed through our website, bookmarklets and a robust and open API. bit.ly is also integrated into several popular third-party tools such as Tweetdeck. A more full list of third party tools can be found on the bit.ly blog. Unique user-level and aggregate links are created, allowing users to view complete, real-time traffic and referrer data, as well as location and metadata. Tracking stats are available after users shorten their long links with bit.ly by clicking on the “Info+” link on bit.ly, or just adding a “+” sign to the end of any bit.ly link
Although bit.ly started out as a link-shortener – and that is still primarily what it is used for- all of that realtime data about the links people are sharing is very valuable and can give rise to other products. For instance, bitly data is at the core of its News.me reader for the iPad. “You can expect bit.ly to build on its strengths,” says Stern, “enabling people to explore and share content in other ways beyond url shortening.”
Bit.ly has raised $14 million in a few years, and shrinks more than 8 billion Web addresses a month. Late last year, bitly raised $10 million, which it is putting towards new product development and hires (including Flickr’s former product chief).
Stern says a version for Apple’s iPhone is also in the works.