Pete Cashmore of Mashable profile

Following the news that Mashable has stepped into the big league and hired its own sales force in US, we take another look at the profile of Pete Cashmore which ran in The Drum magazine in January this year.

To many social media evangialists Pete Cashmore is an idol. Poster boy for the technorati, Cashmore is the 24 year-old CEO and founder of – the worldwide top ten blog. He founded the site, which now boasts over 10m unique monthly users, from a small Aberdeenshire town in Scotland in 2005... Aged just 19.

Since then he has featured in numerous polls, including Forbes’ Top 25 Web Celebs and Huffington Post’s Top 10 Game Changers for 2009.

With just 15 full time staff, Mashable reports millions of dollars in revenue through its advertising and events businesses and Cashmore, who is also one of Twitter’s most followed users with more than 2m followers, now divides his time between Scotland, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

So, with social media at the very heart of Cashmore’s global phenomenon, what better way to find out how he founded his worldly reputation from a small, sleepy, Scottish town than on the latest social media channel being tipped for great things. After all, gurus must live and die by the very sword that builds them...

Dubbed the ‘new Twitter’ by eager journalists in New Year predictions, is an early leader in the most talked about social website of 2011 stakes. It allows users to ask questions and uses Twitter-style following to track the best contributors, with answers prioritised by how useful they are.

Set up in 2009 by former Facebook staffers Charlie Cheever and Adam D’Angelo, Quora is thought to have over 500,000 registered users.

Quora’s sudden popularity has sprung from a strong network of influential tech commentators and top level CEO’s using the site: Steve Case, co-founder and former chief executive of AOL and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz are among those asking questions.

Amid the buzz, there are doubts that Quora will live up to its tag as the new Twitter, with commentators claiming that after initial buzz drops, Quora’s growth is likely to be steady and organic and that the site may struggle to break past the technology and social media interest areas.

However, with a reported staff of just 12, Quora is certainly in at the deep end thanks to some ambitious predictions and considerable online buzz.

So, to paint a picture of both Cashmore and the latest social media channel tipped for big things, via Quora, we look at the question “How did Pete Cashmore manage to establish a leading tech blog (mashable) as a 19-year-old living in Scotland?.”

(It is interesting to note that Cashmore himself is the first to respond to the question.)


Pete Cashmore, Founder & CEO,

Heh, just kept going, I think. There’s no magic formula aside from persistence. I was naive enough to keep going.

Noah Kagan

A few things I noticed Mashable did that gained significant traction:

• Linkbait killers. First major blog to really popularize top 5 / 10 thing promotions

• Worked with SEO companies from the site to create customized sections

• More content than Techcrunch & other leading tech sites (

• Social widgets, I hate when people generalize but Mashable is a bit more aggressive and is very quick with trying new ones.

• Persistence. No doubt he has gotten scoops and been doing this for a very long time

• Hot. Honestly, he’s really good looking which in a geek centric world must get you a few more pvs a day.

I still wonder about influence impact of it vs WSJ / Techcrunch, the whole quality / quantity.

Pete Cashmore

Noah, interesting claims but all of them appear based on opinion rather than fact.

I don’t recall ever working with “SEO companies from the site” (not even sure what that means?). We haven’t done much SEO work since WordPress is very well optimized for this stuff by default – messing with it is more likely to screw it up.

I also refute the claim that Mashable creates “more content”. Did you check? Go look at your Google Reader stats and you’ll see we create less content.

If you’re at all confused about why Mashable gets more traffic than other players, I’m willing to guess you’re entrenched in the tech scene. Having run the site from outside the Valley, it became clear to me that broad audiences are more interested in how to use new web tools, sites and services than in who is being funded and for how much. There’s value in that stuff, of course, but the potential market just isn’t as large.

So Mashable targets a broader audience, which makes our market bigger than the one targeted by most players. The flipside: For some readers (and you appear to be one), tech funding, hiring, VC firms etc are what’s most interesting. That’s fine but it’s just not the demographic we target.

- Pete Cashmore

Ben Parr, Co-Editor of Mashable

He just worked his ass off. :)

Karl Long, creative strategist

I don’t think you can underestimate the position that mashable carved in the marketplace for news, it was initially a blog focused on social networking news exclusively. A tighter focus that TechCrunch and one with a much broader audience because users of social networkers are interested as well as techy/startup people. I wrote a post back in 2007 about 3 notable bloggers including Pete and the three factors I thought were part of the success of Mashable was:

• Focus – Mashable picked their spot, the blog about social networks and went for it, news and articles are always on topic

• Design+Features – Mashable is always innovating it’s design and adding new features, like mashtracker, and myspace widgets/add ons at Mashcodes

• Volume – Mashable maintains a tremendous volume of topical, relevant posts

Chris Sel, Co-Founder of Radiusly

Timing and hard work. When Mashable started, there were only 2 tech blogs – Techcrunch and Mashable. That gave Mashable (and Techcrunch) the head start as well as a lot of content to play around with. No other blogs featured startups the way Mashable and TC did and naturally when your company is featured on one of these sites, you are going to share the link to every Tom, Dick and Harry, increasing traffic to Mashable. I should also not downplay Pete’s hard work. I remember talking to Pete couple of years back and mentioned how he used to stay up all night due to time difference (Scotland) so that he can push news out and not miss out on any breaking news.

Elmer Thomas

Having met Pete here in LA, I can say his charisma definitely has something to do with it.

That + hard work + persistance + SEO + the Digg effect + mojo

Rock on Pete

Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist

Looking at what Pete did, I think he realised that content was king, but that in order to produce the amount of content he needed to truly become king, this was impossible on his own. Getting loads of people to contribute to his site right at the outset was the most significant step because it enabled him to have loads and loads of content.

Alex Brant-Zawadzki

“There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make” J.M.Barrie

Rick Bakas, Advisor for Bakas Media, Certified Sommelier and author of Quick Bites: 75 Savory Tips for Social Media Success.

Mashable (and Pete) also established a level of TRUST with readers. We can count on useful, easy to read, quick articles that relate to our world.

Elizabeth Herse

I know I started regularly visiting Mashable due the fact that I could not find a site that regularly culminated social media news and kept on top of new networks and how they were progressing, making it easier to understand where to invest your time online. I used to wish there was a way I could read about social media and interesting web content AND tech. Top 10 lists are always interesting and relevant too.

Paul Schottland

I cannot answer the 19YO or Scotland part of the question. I can answer why I read and suggest Mashable, which may be the heart of the question. Mashable regularly put interesting stories in my inbox (from friends), then put useful summaries on my facebook feed, and now that I am trained to go to their site I can read a lot of good amalgam for what’s going on at Pete Cashmore’s webmag.

I am not arguing against the points others made about the luck, SEO, or magic formula points. I just don’t know which part of summarizing interesting and useful news stories across the web generated the Luck, SEO, or magic.

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