Diigo Inc.wants to make it just as easy to
take notes on the Internet as it is to read Web
The Reno-based company will be recognized
this week as technology start-up of the
year in the first-ever NCET Awards sponsored
by Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and
Wade Ren, president and chief executive
officer, founded the company,whose name
stands for “Digest of Internet Information,
Groups and Other stuff.”
With management and operations in Reno,
it has yet to hire additional employees locally,
but employs 10 engineers and programmers in
“We are adding a transparency overlay so
the Web becomes writable as well as readable,”
says Maggie Tsai, vice president of corporate
development for the company.
Users, who install the program by using a
drag-and-drop key at diigo.com, highlight parts
of online pages they are reading and store the
highlighted notes on the Diigo server. They can
also assign the status of the notes marking
their musings private, public, or for the eyes of
a specific workgroup only.
Workgroups are the workhorses among the
user base, says Tsai. Company project teams
and college study groups comprise the software’s
customer base of power users.
“Users are definitely not the YouTube type,”
she says.Rather, they are knowledge workers
who need to process a lot of information online.
Among them are job recruiters who search the
Web to compile mentions of candidates.
The Web site went live in 2007. It took a
tremendous amount of engineering to build the
platform, says Tsai.And yet development has
Next up: A subscription premium account
model that’s under development.
The business model for the privately-owned
and self-funded company is trial and error, Tsai
adds, and it’s taking future development one
step at a time.
For instance, it hasn’t hired an advertising
“We’re too small for that,” says Tsai.Rather,
the ads come from Google’s AdSense arrangement,
which generates income from clickthroughs.
“Ad sales began only recently, but we’re
already close to the break-even point,” she says.
“Bootstrapping keeps costs down. And our
global team literally works 24/7.”
Growth,meanwhile, comes from word of
“Go to Twitter and see how many people are
posting about Diigo,” says Tsai. “We’re constantly
balancing between the power user and the
beginning user. Diigo is evolving with community
feedback. There’s a difference between
what you think,what you envision, and what
works. We engage our community and listen.
But from a technology standpoint,we think out
of the box.”
Diigo is one player among a crowd of social
bookmarking sites. And while the inventors say
Diigo is rising above the noise with a more elegant
design, Tsai says,”People hesitate trying
new things because there’s so much out there.”
But Diigo isn’t picking fights with the others.
Instead, it’s designed to be compatible, citing
the Web 2.0 spirit of “open everything.” It
supports del.icio.us, ma.gnolia and Simpy as
well as plugins or bookmarklets for every major
Not surprisingly, research and development
is a heavy portion of company operations. And
Tsai says in future, the founders foresee more of
an operation based in Reno.However, she says
that the Chinese division of programmers and
engineers is a subsidiary, not an outsourcing.
“Those employees are considered part of
the founding team.We empowered employees
to feel it’s their business.We started as mentors
for them.We want them to treat this as their
own company.Whether we’re successful or not
is them, not us.”
Ren is a former professor of electrical engineering
and computer sciences at University of
California, Berkeley. Tsai,with a master’s in
business administration from Wharton School
of the University of Pennsylvania, previously
worked for Fidelity Investments.
Tsai said their heavy Internet reading load
led to the idea. “It began with scratching an
itch,” she says,”and evolved from annotation to
a much larger endeavor.”
Concerned that a spate of COVID-19-related lawsuits could bankrupt businesses, members of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce implored the state’s congressional delegation during the chamber’s annual D.C. retreat to pass a federal liability protection measure.