Joe Winterthaler was going to Clemson University (near my home town of lovely Spartanburg, SC) before he dropped out and moved to Palo Alto. Now, he’s making Quizzes, one of the most popular Facebook applications with over 1.2 million users. We sat down with Joe to get his thoughts on what makes Quizzes different than all the other profile widget apps out there.
IF: Congratulations on the early success of Quizzes. What are the characteristics that have made it so successful in Facebook so far, in your view?
JW: Thanks. If you look at the top 20 facebook applications, they were created by really smart engineers who were able to create a product that both blended in with the existing facebook features but also provided novel utility. All the successful facebook apps made full use of the exposed integration points provided by the Platform to provide users with a familiar user experience. Quizzes is just another example of a successful application that plays well with facebook and is rewarded with a loyal user base.
The most important aspect of Quizzes, however, is the application’s inherent design that provides an incentive for social participation. We think that this fundamental design principle helps differentiate Quizzes from other facebook applications; it actually makes Quizzes a utility, rather than a widget. Quizzes encourages users to invite their friends to take their self made quizzes, while at the same time inspiring their friends to create their own quiz. Thus, the growth of quizzes can be seen as an organic process, rather than viral, which provides true value for our users.
IF: How did the idea for Quizzes get started?
JW: We saw a opportunity to provide facebook users with an application that allows them to learn about their friends in a fun way. Through much user feedback and iterative development, we’ve attempted to fulfill the “inquizitive” needs of our users.
IF: What are your plans for it going forward?
JW: Quizzes is a great start, however, we feel we can continue to improve the product. We do have several derivative products in the making and we’re anticipating great things to come.
IF: Have you been receiving offers from potential acquirers?
JW: Yes, we have received numerous interesting offers from outside organizations and individual investors. We are exploring the different opportunities being presented, however, at this time our priority is still focused on the continued development of our products.
IF: What is your advice to other application developers hoping to emulate your success?
JW: Focus on your product. There has been much discussion about scaling issues, acquisition offers, revenue generation, etc., etc., but as the developers behind Quizzes, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on improving our application. We think that this mindset is very important for the success of any application developer and we highly recommend it.
We wish all developers the very best.