GE 158: How Ghostery Skyrocketed from 700K to 50M Browser Extension Installs without Spending a Penny to Acquire Users (podcast) With Scott Meyer

Scott Meyer Ghostery

Hey everyone, today our guest is Scott Meyer, CEO of Ghostery, which alerts users about web bugs, ad networks, and web trackers allowing people to manage their privacy and data. Scott was previously the CEO of About.com and GM of The New York Times on the web before starting Ghostery.

Today we’ll be talking about how Scott went from politics to business to a successful media career before founding Ghostery, how he’s helped make the web suck less for 400 enterprise customers, how they sold $1M in contracts in less than 2 years, and the trick to opting out of those targeted ads that follow you around the web.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Ghostery Skyrocketed from 700K to 50M Browser Extension Installs without Spending a Penny to Acquire Users TRANSCRIPT

Episode highlights:

  • [02:44] – Ghostery is a SaaS product that uses data that people contribute to anonymously. They then use that data to create a suite of software tools that are popular across the industry.
  • [03:16] – They charge a flat annual fee. They have million of users that have opted in to share data, so they can provide data to solve problems almost instantly.
  • [4:14] – All enterprise customers are using the browser extension.
  • [4:51] – They are growing about 30% a year for the past 4 to 5 years, and will generate north of $20 million in revenue this year.
  • [5:12] – They have the ability to be profitable but are focused on growth.
  • [6:17] – The original idea for Ghostery was to power Ad Choices. They bought the extension from David Cancel to get a source of real user data to see if companies were complying with the program.
  • [7:33] – Companies started asking for a software service that would explain all of the tracking software they found in the browser extension.
  • [8:17] – At Warburg, Scott did a lot of listening and looking for investments that were interesting. Seeing a gap in the market is the time to go for it.
  • [10:21] – They have over 400 enterprise customers and the browser extension has been installed over 50 million times.
  • [10:34] – They bought the company with the extension. The secret sauce to increase installs was that they knew they hit a niche, and they were very good at social media.
  • [11:59] – A free, lighter version of the product creates a lot of inbound inquiries
  • [12:53] – Building a widget that people will use is great for lead building
  • [00:15:05] Ghostery communicates with users and the code is open source—transparent to a fault.
  • [15:52] – If you see your friends running in one direction, think hard about why? It may be really smart or really dumb. Have your eyes open and go in the best direction for you.

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