One of the top destinations on the Internet for soccer news and conversation is BigSoccer.com, but many of us don’t know much about the man who created the mega popuar site. That is, until now. Enjoy the interview with BigSoccer founder Jesse Hertzberg:
The Gaffer (TG): When was BigSoccer launched and how did you come up with the idea?
Jesse Hertzberg (JH): It’s predecessor was formed in 1995. I was an old NASL fan, had enjoyed the 94 WC, and knew a new league was forming. The only place I could find to talk about the sport was the an old listserv, and I wanted a web interface for talking soccer, as I had been using Mosaic for a couple of years.
TG: What’s your memory of the first game you saw on TV or attended in person?
JH: Four years old. Fla-Flu at the Maracana. Utterly terrified of the crowd.
TG: How has BigSoccer evolved over time and what features are available other than the message boards?
JH: Slow and steady, with plenty of growing pains. We are slowly layering on social features like blogging, friending, profiles with walls etc, as well as some news and results feeds. Our biggest focus right now is on growing our blogging platform so that its easier to use and customize, in an effort to get as many soccer bloggers on our site as possible, give them broad exposure to a larger audience and, in time, help them earn additional money.
TG: I know that Gabriele Marcotti is a regular visitor to BigSoccer, but do you have a sense of what other celebrities have accounts at BigSoccer?
JH: Not really for me to say, but it’s pretty clear that over the years many of the US Soccer, MLS and Club leaders have been sniffing around.
TG: How many registered users does BigSoccer have and how many unique monthly visitors?
JH: Our best month was WC 06 with 1.3mm uniques. A slow month is around 650k. The Euro saw about 750k, IIRC. We have about 150k registered users and are working to grow that number.
TG: What’s the biggest challenge for BigSoccer that keeps you up at night?
JH: Accelerating growth while keeping a solid signal-noise ratio. We don’t want the quality of the discourse to go to pot, but we also want to be growing our audience faster than an average site would be. The other challenge is how much of an international focus to have (or not).
TG: What’s the most interesting fact about you that your site visitors would be surprised to read?
JH: I doubt they are very interested in me. My favorite hobby is to pick a far flung neighborhood of Queens or Brooklyn on a Saturday and take my family on a food, architecture and, if possible, culture tour. So, for example, it’s not widely known that Sunset Park is home to a huge Mexican community and you can find amazing food there. Some (ok, many) tacos and a NY history of architecture book make for a nice walking afternoon.