How internet rock stars drive traffic. We take a closer look at Mahalo, Pownce and Truemors.


Three big events rocked the web 2.0 universe this summer. Internet rock stars Guy Kawasaki (Truemors), Jason Calacanis (Mahalo), and Kevin Rose/Leah Culver (Pownce) launched new companies.

In the chart below, you see how all three have done extremely well thus far. Any startup would kill for these sort of results in their first two months.

Wondering what actually drives traffic to these sites? Take a look at the table below. The table details the top 10 domain level referrals to Pownce, Mahalo, and Truemors for August 2007. This table may give you ideas on how you may want to go about driving traffic to your own startup — perhaps even a launch strategy blueprint.

mahalo pownce truemors domain referrals

* % of total domain referrals


Jason knows a thing or two about leveraging social news sites to drive traffic. I know his team (Jason included) submit Mahalo links to Digg, Twitter, etc quite often. This strategy seems to be working.

Jason has also done a great job in getting some of Mahalo’s better listings (Write a Killer Resume, Get Better Sleep When You Fly, etc) written up on popular productivity blogs such as Download Squad and Lifehacker.

The most surprising entry here — Didn’t realize Michael’s Crunchbase was this big already! Congratulations Michael, Heather + Team!


The presence of Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku doesn’t surprise. The three play well together and compliment Pownce. A lot of users probably jumping back and forth between the services. Digg is also a no-brainer — the Kevin Rose effect.

What is most interesting are the referrals from Google. Take a look at the sub-domain breakdown in the table below. Most of their traffic came from Gmail. Pownce email notifications (*cough* spam) seem to be working for them.


All the usual suspects in the top 10 for Truemors. Guy’s blog is up there, as one would expect from a Technorati top-100 blog. Also, looks like Gnomedex was big for getting the word out about Truemors. Highlights the importance for startups to actively participate in some of these influential forums.

Truemors is in a great position to leverage SEO to drive traffic (just like Mahalo). It has a lot of potential. I know the Truemors team is working on it (and yes, they’re using Compete Search Analytics).


All three companies have used the personal brands of their founder’s effectively to launch, and all are leveraging social networks. (Side note: It is very interesting that Facebook and Twitter made the top 10 for all three.) Mahalo is also doing a great job getting their content featured on other sites, and Guy is doing a great job evangelizing Truemors at conferences.

It will be interesting to see if Leah, Kevin, Guy and Jason can sustain their momentum over the coming months as the hype settles, and the product themselves become the real growth driver. It will most certainly be an interesting ride, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress and tactics.

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