Web Performance is a hot topic, no doubt about it. In the wake of this year’s Velocity conference in Santa Clara, California I took a moment to talk to Coach Wei. Coach is the CEO of the web performance optimization startup Yotta operating out of Boston. In this interview I asked him about his work and his view on the free to premium approach for optimization services such as Yotta Optimizer currently in Beta.
Since 2009 Coach Wei and Bob Buffone have been at the helm of Yottaa offering a (free) introduction into the world of web performance. Now, with their first paid service in beta, Yotta Optimizer, I was curious to find out more about Yottaa, it’s visions and goals.
How did you end up on the Web Performance bandwagon and become the CEO of Yottaa?
I have been interested in Web performance for over 10 years now. The genesis of my interest started years ago as I am not very good at waiting and waiting. The interest kept growing through my career from EMC and Nexaweb. At EMC, we were building the first generation of storage network management software over the web.
At Nexaweb, an application modernization software company I founded in 2000 that pioneered Rich Internet Application, we enable some of the biggest banks, technology companies and telecommunication companies in the world transform their client/server applications to Web 2.0. Almost every web site and web application I have seem needs to deal with web performance.
Over the years, I realized that tt is not easy to measure performance, hard to monitor performance and even harder to make it run faster. In 2009 I stepped away from my day-to-day role at Nexaweb and set out to create a company that could help every website achieve fast performance.
Together with my Co-founder Bob Buffone, we started building the team and platform in 2009. So here I am CEO of a startup again. In reality, the title does not mean anything. We got a great team and each us does a little bit everything. What makes me proud is that Yottaa is helping thousands of companies discover and solve their Web speed challenges and improve their business performance.
How many websites has Yottaa tracked since the start and which sites have you seen improve the most?
Over 45,000 have been tracked by Yottaa since September 2010. The number grows daily and frankly we have been delighted and surprised by such a tremendous interest in Web performance. The market is responding to the calls for faster websites.
We believe the great research that the teams at Google, Yahoo, etc and all their evangelizing of the need to Web performance optimization has been a big driver of this interest. Regarding your question on which websites improve the most, I often look at our database, the largest database of Web performance tracking data at this time, and have seen hundreds of websites make great strides.
A good example we have seem recently is that nytimes.com. It improved its performance significantly starting from May 19th according to our monitoring data, reducing page load time almost by 40%.
Yottaa provides a set of invaluable tools for website owners to assess, benchmark and monitor their performance. We know this data is inspiring developers and operations teams to improve their performance. Our new Yottaa Optimizer service automates and simplifies over 100 Web Performance Optimization (WPO) techniques to improve the performance of websites. We see improvements of 50% or greater in the sites that apply Yottaa Optimizer. The fact that Yottaa applies the optimizations in the cloud, in real-time – across the whole website, frees teams to focus on site features and marketing efforts.
Although Web Performance monitoring requires no tagging or soft-/hardware purchase is it an easy product to sell or are there still companies out there who neglect it and their users’ experience?
Thanks to blogs like yours, the great work of Google – with their evangelizing and productizing of website performance services, we think the word is getting out. There are many market influences driving interest in Web performance, from users that are beginning to expect an “instant on” experience from devices like the iPad, to the marketing teams at thousands of companies who are using content marketing to drive traffic and page views on their websites. All of those visitors will bounce away, or visit fewer pages on a slow website. Web developers and marketers are increasing their interest and desire to improve their Web performance.
If you can, please describe a sample user, how they found out about Yottaa and what their feedback was.
We were contacted by a Web architect a few months ago who inquired about our future offerings centered on Web Performance Optimization. His team had already been using Yottaa for months to assess his company’s website performance and identify performance improvement opportunities – but he wanted to know about our future offerings.
We shared some of the details with him and he was a bit surprised that we would be able to apply many of the optimizations we were testing and developing without breaking their website or making only a minimal improvement. At the time, he said that that the future service would probably not be of interest to them.
A few months later, and several weeks after our Private Beta announcement of Yottaa Optimizer, he got back in touch with us. Apparently the business unit managers and the executive responsible for sales targets were becoming increasingly aware of loosing sales to competitors that had much faster websites. (Their website loaded in 8 seconds, and the competitors ranged from 2 to 4 seconds).
He had already had the team apply several best practice Web performance optimization techniques; however they could not get the website to load faster than about 7 seconds. It was then, after numerous efforts and hundreds of man-hours applied to make these changes that the architect realized the value of what Yottaa offers. Today they are an active beta participant of Yottaa Optimizer.
Clearly the fact that we now have a live beta would have shortened this cycle. We feel that our all-in-one solution where prospects get a quick web performance assessment and see where they stand with their web performance, and just a few clicks later, see the difference that Yottaa Optimizer can make, will be able to make a very strong and compelling case that Yottaa Optimizer is a great solution.
Yottaa’s basic services are free. Do you feel that this approach has helped you prepare for the launch of premium tools such as Yottaa Optimizer?
Yes! We believe our all-in-one approach (Assessments, Monitoring & Optimization) is a great solution for companies that are focusing on their Website performance. We knew the baseline of any effort for improvement is an assessment of where the problem stands.
Yottaa’s Web performance assessment, benchmarking and monitoring solutions help our users understand why their website is slow, how their website speed compares to their competitors and with our Google Analytics integration, how website speeds is a critical factor in their business metrics and Web ROI.
The 45,000+ URLS that our system has assessed provides us with a tremendous amount of data on the current state and usage of Web performance optimization techniques across the Web.
In summary, the Web needs to be faster. The average website has a page load time or “Time to Interact” of six seconds. Research shows that websites that have a page load time of 2 seconds, convert better, have better Website metrics and provide users with a better experience.
Boston seems the place to be in recent years as far as Startups are concerned. What other online startups have caught your attention?
Boston has an amazing support ecosystem for startups. There are many great VCs, mentors, supporters and vendors in the Boston area that drive great, well educated people to be innovative and conqur difficult problems like Web performance.
There are too many startups to list in the Boston area, but ones that catch my attention are those that are also focused on brining sophisticated applications and infrastructure to the mass community of businesses. Companies that come to mind include HubSpot, Performable, Backupify, Carbonite – the list is endless.