Lee Odden

Interview: Guy Kawasaki on Alltop, Twitter and Blogging

Gu Kawasaki

Someone that I’ve wanted to interview as much as Robert Scoble is Guy Kawasaki. Guy is an enthusiastic promoter and marketer which are qualities Online Marketing Blog readers can appreciate a great deal. In this interview, he talks briefly about his most recent project, Alltop as well as changes he would make to Twitter, business blogging advice and a curious admission that he doesn’t understand SEO.

You have such a long and well published history working with technology and web based ventures ranging from your time at Apple to Garage Ventures to what you’re doing with Truemors and now Alltop. What are 2 or 3 things most people don’t know about you?

I don’t know if there are 2-3 things that most people don’t know about me. My life is a pretty open book.

You’re no stranger to marketing and promotion and the “brand of Guy Kawasaki” is known world wide. What tips do you have for online marketers that want to stand out from the crowd?

The only tip that really matters is this: “Market something good.” That’s the secret. It’s very hard to market a piece of crap. It’s very easy to market something good. I believe all marketing is based on good products and services.

blog.guykawasaki.com is listed on the Technorati 100 (out of 100 million+ blogs) and plenty of other exclusive lists. What part does the blog play in your own online marketing strategy? What other confirmations that you “kick ass” do you get as a result of blogging?

I hope you don’t think it’s a conscious, well-conceived plan. I just blog when I can about what I get a fancy for. These days I probably spend as much time Twittering as blogging. I just go in these streaks where I get obsessed with something. The most delightful confirmation that I kick ass, by a long shot, is how mommy bloggers have embraced me. Now that’s a tough audience.

What are a few of your top tips for business owners, entrepreneurs or corporate types that are trying to make sense out of using blogs?

Honestly, they shouldn’t blog because they think it will make money in a direct way like selling advertising or even an indirect way like building a brand. They should do it for the pure pleasure of it. Any other benefits are cream.

You’ve been involved with WebmasterWorld Pubcon as a speaker two years in a row (keynote then moderator) as well as a speaker for Elite Retreat where in both cases, marketing online and SEO are focal topics. How much of SEO that you see being promoted online do you think is snake oil and how much is the real deal?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand SEO at all. My entire approach to SEO is to try to write good stuff. Then I assume that Google will find it. That’s it. End of discussion. I spend zero cycles worrying about “SEO.”

It was with great disappointment we learned the “semantic computational algorithm” that organizes Alltop feeds is a myth, but were very happy to see Online Marketing Blog included on the SEO Alltop Page, so you are redeemed. What are the key lessons you have learned (do’s and don’ts) from creating and promoting Alltop?

Alltop is only two months old. I don’t know if enough time has gone by to learn much yet. I will tell you this: Alltop is the most satisfying work that I’ve done since working on the Macintosh. It brings me great joy to help unknown sites and blogs get traffic and to help people discover information on the Internet.

It’s clear Twitter has been good to you (follow Guy here). If you owned Twitter, where would you take it in terms of new features? How would you monetize it? What do you think about the idea of people selling their social networking accounts like Twitter on eBay?

The first feature I would add is “reliability.” 🙂 Then I would add an address book. Then the ability to “thread” replies and direct messages—when you have lots of people following you, keeping track of stuff is very, very hard.

It it were me, AFTER I fixed and added what I just listed, I would charge people to be on Twitter. Millions of people were paying $30/month for AOL. I’d gladly pay for a better Twitter service.

People are selling their Twitter accounts? I had no idea. How much do you think I could get for mine?

How do you stay updated with what’s new and what’s working in online marketing? Do you have favorite books, forums, newsletters, blogs, web sites, conferences, test web sites or any other information resources?

Do you really want to know how I do it? I don’t read any blogs on a regular basis. There are a handful of people who forward me stuff when they think it will interest me. That’s what I read. Other than that, I am so busy answering email, tweeting, blogging, and working on Alltop and Truemors that I don’t have time to do anything else.

Your work with venture capital and startups is legendary and undoubtedly, you’ve formed opinions about the kinds of characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur. What’s more important: sheer talent, a great network, creativity, business smarts, passion and drive or something else?

First of all, I’m hardly “legendary” as an entrepreneur or venture capitalist. I haven’t started or funded any multi-billion or even multi-hundred million dollar companies. Having said this, it won’t stop me from answering your question. My answer is that the most important factor is luck. The second most important is the willingness to grind it out. It also seems to me that the people who are lucky grind it out and the people who grind it out get lucky.

Thanks Guy!

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (6 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Karan Bhatia says

    I loved the part when he said “I dont understand SEO, I just write good stuff and hope that google finds it”. I hope someday this is how it is universally and everybody big or small, puts in efforts for good and useful content and forget the SEO.

  2. BTW, I know the photo is not the best, but I try to use images that I have taken myself.

  3. Nice interview, Lee –

    (kinda related) also check out Guy Kawasaki’s interview of Darren Rowse of ProBlogger:


  4. I feel better just reading this interview.

    It’s great to know that Guy doesn’t have a plan and admits to not really knowing what the heck he’s doing. I do suspect though that he’s just super smart and works his butt off.


  5. Thanks Lee for interviewing Guy. Amazing, amazing guy. I like his down to earth mentality, the way he makes things “simple” and promotes the “just have fun” attitude. Thanks again.

  6. Hi Lee,

    Great interview. Not sure I agree with Guy on charing people for Twtitter. I think you will find quite a decrease in usage if you do, especially since we are all used to using twitter for free. If twitter began charging, another service would spring up (jaiku, etc.) that would offer the same product for free. That’s like telling google to start charging for gtalk.

    If we are moving to the free economy then charging then why charge. The problem I think twitter had from the get go is that they didn’t think about their business model. I’m not sure anyone envisioned it become so successful (thus far). But to start charging now, in hopes of increasing adoption and usage is quite frankly not a good idea in my opinion. Especially since so many people are not yet familiar with twitter.

    What do you think Lee?

  7. Thanks Justin – from what I’ve seen of Guy, I think he’s awfully humble in his responses but it’s interesting.

    Jacob, I hear you about charging for Twitter but with some kind of business model, how are they going to improve infrastructure to grow? Heck, set aside grow and just focus on being reliable on a day to day basis. Without stability, Twitter will lose users as well.

    The whole “free economy” thing smacks of the internet bubble that burst in 2001. Starting companies, offering things for free to gain mass users for eventual acquisition by another company that can monetize. Same thing all over again.

    There has to be a business model – even for services like Twitter where users are accustomed to free use, whether it’s a premium version or ad supported.

  8. Avatar Mark Olsen says

    Guy – amen to the SEO comment.
    Write it and they will come.

    Come googlebot read, read, read.

  9. Thanks for putting up the interview Lee.. have been a great fan of Guy but unfortunately for some strange reason we can only access his blog and not the website here in India 🙁

  10. Guy sure does seem like a nice man.

    I know that when I contacted him about Alltop he was extremely friendly and it made me want to reach out more.


  1. Interview With Guy Kawasaki of Alltop says:

    […] Read more Guy Kawasaki Interview on Alltop, Blogging and SEO | Online Marketing Blog […]

  2. […] Continue reading here… […]

  3. May 20, 2008: Around the Web in Blogging | BlogOnExpo says:

    […] Guy Kawasaki talks Twitter, SEO, and blogging in a recent interview – TopRankBlog […]

  4. […] would you pay $5/month for facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc? How about $10/month, or $30/month? In a recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, Guy mentioned that he would charge twitter users $30/month. Now I think Guy is a smart fellow but […]

  5. […] Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking – Andy Sernovitz, Afterward by Guy Kawasaki (interview with Guy) […]

  6. […] Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking – Andy Sernovitz, Afterward by Guy Kawasaki (interview with Guy) […]