When Priceonomics first started, we crawled through the web to aggregate market clearing prices for used goods. On this blog, we started writing about that data, as well as other things we found interesting. In an effort to find more interesting things to write about, we started crawling more and more kinds of data like rent prices, cell phone depreciation, and hotel & Airbnb prices.
Since we crawled such varied sources of data, we started building generalizable tools for data extraction from the web so that our lives would be easier. We got pretty good at crawling data.
Today, we’re launching Priceonomics Data Services, our new data arm that helps companies crawl and structure data from the web. If you’re a company that needs to get data from the web, we can help. We view this as a first step in a larger vision to help companies acquire the data they need to run their businesses.
Crawling data is a tough problem that many companies face. Whenever a batchmate from Y Combinator started a data crawling project, they’d turn to us for advice. When their crawling solution broke a few weeks later, we’d commiserate together. Eventually a company convinced us to take their money to help them get data and just solve this problem for them.
Hmmm, people were giving us money to solve a problem that was keeping them up at night. And they were willing to pay us a few thousands dollars *every month* just to get uninterrupted feeds of data. Perhaps we should explore this further. We started informally polling our network to see if this was a larger opportunity. Within a month, we booked over six-figures in (annualized) revenue. Which was great, because we had practically zero revenue before that!
So today, we’re announcing Priceonomics Data Services to the world. Our data crawling services can free up your engineering team from spending time crawling data or create an automated solution so you’re not checking websites for information by hand. We typically work with companies that need a frequently updated feed of data. We do not work with companies that crawl the web for sketchy purposes like harvesting contact information. We especially work with companies that need cell phone buy back data, e-commerce pricing data, and real estate data (residential and commercial).
So what does all this mean for this blog? Good things! While we have generous amounts of investor capital and a lean burn rate, earning recurring revenue puts content at Priceonomics on firm financial footing. While other companies that spend a lot of time writing need to rely solely on advertising and page views to make money, it looks like we won’t. We just need to write smart things and hopefully a small fraction of our audience will hire us for data-related services. To us, that seems like a way to fund this blog that we can be happy about. Making great content matters to us and we’re going to double down on it.
What does this mean for our original consumer price guide for used products? Bad things! We got rid of it over a month ago. Its traffic and engagement was small relative to this blog and its revenue was negligible relative to our data crawling service. Traffic to the price guide was driven mostly by how kindly Google looked upon us, and for a while we’ve been looking to jump off the SEO train and onto a business model where we controlled our own destiny. And now it seems we’ve found one.
At Priceonomics, we crawl data, write about data, and now we sell data too. If any of these areas are inspiring to you, we’re hiring. We’re aiming to build a great company that’s truly at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, and we hope you’ll consider joining us.