“Do you know how fast you were going?” asked the Washington state trooper outside of Chehalis on my way to Seattle. “Our airplane caught you a few miles back doing 92 in a 60 zone.” Last June I rode my BMW R1200GS up to Seattle from the Bay Area to work the exhibit hall at SMX Advanced. That state trooper’s question pretty much sums up the past year at blekko for me. I was going so fast I don’t remember, but that’s not what I told the trooper.
While I was on the road promoting blekko with my trade show team, the engineers and product guys were constantly pumping out new products and features on our search engine. In January we made a bold move and banned content farms like Demand Media’s eHow from our search results, triggering our competitors to change their ranking algorithms. We followed it up in March and blocked another 1.1 million spam sites. It’s not over. The battle against spam continues daily.
Earlier in the day before I was brought down by The Man in Chehalis I was making my way from Bend, Oregon. I rode north past Mount Hood, over the Columbia River, planning to go up to the east side of Mount Ranier crossing over the pass into Seattle. Well we all know about best laid plans. About 15 miles deep into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest I came upon a large sign telling me that all the roads were closed due to snow. “Shit. I’m going to have to backtrack and take the slow road along the north shore of the Columbia River to the highway 5 slab. I’m going to be late.”
Meanwhile, back at the office, the Biz Dev team was hard at work. We inked some curation partnerships with Stack Overflow, Foodily, SB Nation and The Motley Fool to name a few. We also started powering the RSS search on Flipboard, the popular new social reader for iPad and iPhone.
The 60 mile ride along the Columbia River gorge was painfully slow and I passed the slow moving traffic whenever I had a chance; ignoring the double yellow lines. I was rewarded with spectacular views, the ones that the widest angle camera could not capture. Two hours later I jumped on to interstate 5 north, with time to make up I hit the throttle.
Riding a motorcycle on an interstate highway is about as exciting as a colonoscopy. Actually, some riders I know would disagree. So, to keep things interesting, I started to follow a white Porsche 911 driven by a guy who appeared to have purchased the car to make up for some of his inadequacies. His high levels of testosterone were obvious as he would not let me take the lead. My plan unfolded and he accelerated keeping the lead or as I call it, the bait for the radar gun. After about ten miles of cat and mouse the red led flashed on my radar detector. It appeared to be nothing.
We launched our ‘Grep the Web’ tool in September followed by good fortune, when we closed $30 million in funding with our new strategic partner Yandex leading the round with $15 million. We finished the year strong with a new index, increasing the number of slashtags we autofire to 500 and a slick new UI. All the while, staying true to our mission.
Cautiously, I slowed down and kept a tight eye on the road ahead. Five miles ahead the Porsche and I passed a trooper parked on the side of the highway. Within seconds his cherries lit up as I looked into my mirror. That sinking feeling took over my stomach as the trooper passed by me and the Porsche and signaled both of us to pull over. I was cursing to myself like a longshoreman as I navigated to a safe spot on the side of the road. He said that a airplane with radar had seen us speeding ten miles back. I did not see an airplane. He asked where I was going, and I told him, “To a trade show in Seattle.” He said the guy in Porsche was too. I was cordial and accepted the ticket for $120 which wasn’t that bad. What was bad, was that I had gotten a ticket one month earlier on highway 1 in Santa Cruz. Two tickets so close would increase my insurance rates drastically. The rest the way to Seattle and on the way home I slowed down and stuck to the speed limit. Something was wrong about that ticket and it bothered me. I did not see an airplane when my radar lit up for a second. So, the following week I hired an attorney from the Chehalis area that specialized in traffic violations to fight the ticket for me. A few months later she went to court for me and had my ticket dismissed on hearsay.
Surprisingly, speeding tickets do have a good side to them; they are telling you to slow down, smell the roses and enjoy the scenery. As the holidays are upon us and the year comes to a close, we look back at all the good times and our successes. We look forward to what 2012 will bring us. Best wishes to you from the blekko team!