Voxiversary on the Horizon

voxlogo.pngThe term Voxiversary combines Vox.com from Six Apart, and anniversary. I didn’t invent the term; a Google search shows that several people have already noted their first Voxiversary, as in “I’ve been on Vox for a year now.”

The Voxiversary I want to focus on here is the first anniversary of Vox itself. To be more specific, it’s the first anniversary of the official Happy Vox Launch Day! post on Oct 25, 2006. The launch followed a closed beta of a few months, which is why there are many Vox blogs older than one year.

Let’s backtrack, and remind ourselves about Vox, who built it, why, and at what cost. Over and back to Chaddus Bruce, writing in Wired just after the launch.

Vox is the latest personal publishing destination to emerge from the halls of Six Apart, the San Francisco company that operates some of the world’s most popular blogging platforms: TypePad, Movable Type and LiveJournal.

The social networking and blogging site is a major investment for Six Apart. The company raised $12 million in venture capital to develop Vox. By emphasizing blogging and by including features like advanced privacy settings, cutting-edge page-template designs and storage limits friendly to large video and audio files, the company wants to provide social networking that’s superior to MySpace, Bebo or Six Apart’s own LiveJournal.

So how is Vox doing? My own impression is “not too well.” Let’s take a look at an Alexa-based graph comparing Vox, WordPress.com, and Facebook over the last year. I chose those other services because Vox is a blog/social net hybrid, WordPress.com is a blog site, and Facebook a social network. (And by the way, the reason I’m not embedding the graph in this post is that WordPress.com won’t let me.)

For the year ending today, the Vox graph is by far the lowest and flattest of the three, with something of a jump up following the launch. WordPress.com and Facebook each rise steadily until a few months ago, when Facebook took off.

What makes this more disturbing for Six Apart is the question, raised by Pete Cashmore, that the firm needed Vox because its other products were stagnating. But Pete’s post is more than a year old, and his stagnation implication did not go unchallenged.

There’s lots more that can be said about Vox as its first anniversary approaches, but right now I’ll stop saying it, and hope that others will chip in, either here or on their own blogs.

7 thoughts on “Voxiversary on the Horizon”

  1. Andrew,

    I am not too sure that this is an apples to oranges comparison. You are comparing two mature products and one product that officially launched less than a year ago. Go back a take a look at the Alexa graphs for Facebook and WordPress during their early years and I think that you will see a trend similar to what you are seeing now for Vox.

    I think that substituting TypePad for Vox would have made your argument more viable.

    That said, I like your blog and appreciate the insight.



  2. Tallac,
    Thanks for your comment and for your kind words about this blog. I see your point about Vox being a young product. But, unlike Facebook and WordPress, Vox is a young product from an established firm that spent a lot of $ on it.

  3. I think all these services do such different things it’s hard to compare them. And it doesn’t really measure how much people care about the services they use — which seems like a more valuable metric. Or else MySpace is full of meaningful connections, and I’m nuts.

    I think we’re happy iterating on Vox (there are constantly new features and things going out) and to me it feels a lot like Flickr in the early days, where we can spend the time to try new things out and see how the community responds. I’m sure if you look at Flickr’s line in 2004 when it was about the same age, there were people wringing their hands over that as well.

    I think Facebook, for example, has been very gracious with crediting that a lot of the open source tech they’ve used (and made vast improvements to!) came from the LiveJournal team, which also really helped shape Vox’s technology. So from the standpoint of helping grow the medium, and getting people connecting online, I think we’re still making an outsized contribution, and that’s a more meaningful measure for me, personally — we’re thriving, but helping other companies and communities grow, too.

  4. Oh, I figured it goes without saying, but people are still using Alexa’s data? Really? I wouldn’t suppose Vox’s audience installs obscure browser toolbars, at any rate.

  5. Anil,
    Thanks for your comments.
    – LJ is certainly an interesting case. Someone should write it up!
    – The “learning and growth” perspective is the most interesting on most firms and products, and I didn’t dig deep enough into Vox to give that perspective the salience it deserves.
    – Alexa data are indeed suspect. But what data should we use instead? And are WordPress and Facebook users less inclined to use the “obscure browser toolbar” in question than LJ users?
    One of the reasons I made the Voxiversary post this early is to bring such questions to the surface so that we* have time to investigate them before the day itself in October.
    * We = ??
    Thanks again, Andrew

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