Which is fine, as they both solve different problems.
You mention Posterous have top tier investors and developers, Tumblr does too. Tumblr has spark capital and union square ventures as their investors. Marco Arment, the technical lead at Tumblr is a perfect balance of technical chops, getting stuff done and doing it right.
Tumblr is perfect as a "deeper Twitter," but its ability to make a gated community feels tacked on, and it's more cumbersome than Twitter's protected tweets.
Posterous has the right idea for this use case. You set a single password, just as you would for a game of Starcraft, and then you use the system as normal, which is much less awkward than Tumblr's restriction of gated blogs to viewing only from the posting UI.
As for Tumblr's top tier investors -- sure, that's true. I was trying to emphasize that Posterous, on paper, has everything it takes to win.
The downside is that Tumblr does have a greater share of Livejournal/teen angst, but I've carved out my niche of grad students, graphic designers, and classical music aficionados who upload great performances. The fact that TED Chris and John Maeda (President of RISD) use Posterous is tempting, but also makes it more businesslike.
I have yet to understand why I would want to email posts other than videos, as it's not particularly onerous to use bookmarklets. And Posting within Tumblr means my tags autocomplete, whereas Posterous has you write tags in your email subject line. Posting videos to Posterous is easier though, as Tumblr requires videos first to be hosted on Vimeo. Posterous might have another advantage as it is more useful to coordinate updates to a multitude of other sites, including Tumblr. But I screen different content on Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, and Tumblr, so I actually don't want the same things posting on all my sites.
This article is like an inverted pyramid, balanced on a couple months' trend in compete.com stats. Not actual traffic stats even, but compete.com estimates of traffic, which as anyone who runs a site knows, can be way off.
So, uh, even with the last 3 months in posterous is still growing faster than tumblr. If it were a stock its valuation would have increased more than tumblr. Also, wouldn't there definitely be less hits to posterous based on the fact that you EMAIL posts in rather than sign in? That being said, the tumblr landing experience is probably one of the reasons I blog with them and not posterous.
It's growing faster from a smaller base, though. I find more relevant that Tumblr is still much, much bigger. And I think it will stay that way.
If you have actual traffic stats I'd love to see them. ;)
Also, the estimate isn't for "a couple months", but for the past 12 months, and the trend points in one direction. Even less reliable but even more "damning" is Google Trends: http://google.com/trends?q=tumblr,+posterous&ctab=0&...
That being said, your general point is right: nothing is preordained, and the trends could switch around tomorrow, and the picture look much different a while from now. But that's why I have a blog: this is the situation as I see it today. Maybe six months from now I'll eat my words, who knows?
I think you're mistaking how much license a blog gives you to write about "the situation as I see it today." It's ok to write stuff based on small amounts of data, but the conclusions you're entitled to draw from it should be correspondingly small.
Again -- I may be proven wrong in six months or a year, and if so I admit it publicly right here (in fact, do you want to make a bet?). But I think at this stage the data warrants the trend I extrapolate from it.
look at the top search terms sending traffic to each site. they include things like "swine flu" and "cleavage lover", which IMHO are indicative of a statistically insignificant sample size
I actually think it has a lot to do with early users. In the Bay Area, it's easy to find a large group of beta testers and early users who "get" technology in a profound way that (sadly) no where else in the country does. This contributes to the SV echo chamber and yields a certain type of feedback that in turn creates very distinctly "west coast" products. In New York, the number of truly tech-savvy social web types is much smaller and the majority come from media and advertising - ie, people who care first about design, and second about everything else.
While I'm sure the debate could rage all day about real growth and traffic stats, that's not what I took away from this article at all.
As for the main point of the article - couldn't disagree more, from my personal use case. I'm a Bay Are startup geek but also a designer, so hopefully my biases cancel each other out. I like Tumblr's look but abandoned it after a few days because I didn't want to get sucked into their community features. I'm not a big fan of design subcultures like deviant art or livejournal, really the only online community I've been attracted to and stuck around for is HN. And it's a pet peeve of mine when sites or apps have only good import tools and not export, it's like they want to pretend the identity you've built up around the rest of the web doesn't exist. I'd rather see better integration with my existing networks elsewhere - that's where posterous' autoposting feature really impressed me. After starting up a posterous account as part of the ycombinator application process a few months ago, I gave it a try earlier this month for personal blogging and it's completely reinvigorated my site.
And I really disagree with his contention that posterous is only for geeks - the main feature set is pretty newbie-oriented. I can have my mom set up a blog in seconds via something she already understands - email - and have it autopost to her flickr and facebook accounts, which saves her the hassle of having to refer to her notebook on my instructions on how to upload and manage those services.
Other examples: "breaking navigation" during conversion funnels, long copy, 10 Ways To Write A Title Cosmo Editors Don't Want You To Know About, etc etc.
The Company A vs Company B thing is just (to my mind) a particularly stark example of these broader points I try to make.
Am I trolling? I don't think so, insofar as I use a provocative example to illustrate trends that I do think are important: the coming of age of New York as a startup hub and as a "school" for building consumer startups, and the growing importance of design vs. "hard" technology in building a successful consumer web app.
In order to avoid being mistaken for trolling in the future, you might consider:
+ Cutting down on the curses, particular in titles.
+ Avoid personalizing any conflict. Your favorite sports team or the hated cross-town rival "eats dust", case studies on the other hand calmly discuss math.
+ Ratchet the sarcasm down seven notches. Eight if you're talking to people who know the people you're being sarcastic about.
+ Avoid interjections like "(ugh)" unless they are being used in a self-deprecating fashion.
Believe it or not, you can take this advice and still sound passionate, intelligent, engaging, and perhaps even hip, if you're into that sort of thing.
Here's UrbanDictionary's definition of "troll":
> One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument
It's hard to be disruptive on your own blog, but you can see how if you fit the first half of the definition, you might be mistaken for the whole definition.
I personally don't think that you're being a troll, as there's nobody to really upset or disrupt. Maybe the Posterous devs aren't going to like you anymore? But it does come across as a little linkbait-y. I agree with my sibling comment's advice on how to rectify this in the future.
So because of this piece, I'm following your blog. Please continue to rock.
The whole piece has this arbitrary anti-Silicon Valley animus that I don't really get and which doesn't seem to serve any purpose.
It's useful to talk about conversion rates, the importance of good UI/UX, and what Tumblr and Posterous do or don't do well, but the broader, hand-waving indictment of Silicon Valley doesn't add anything.
(Also, the author doesn't directly do this, but articles like this can falsely suggest that the two companies at hand are playing a zero-sum game.)
I'm not saying startups should not be metrics-driven. Design and engineering are both driven by metrics. But they're different mindsets. And in this case, one is clearly winning.
You're also right that the zero-sum fallacy is wrong. However, those two companies are competitors in the market and one, at least on publicly available data, is winning hands down.
It's probably just because I'm not who Tumblr is for, of course. But it's still interesting to ask: can you overdo design simplicity?
Pegobry, your point is well taken; I'm an engineer myself, and I agree -- as Web frameworks mature, and engineering/development patterns level off, design becomes the differentiating factor. And yes, provided your numbers are correct, Tumblr currently appears to be "winning." Not sure whether the latter really matters, or whether it even supports the former at all, but it's a concept with which I happen to agree.
Your mistake was to post the article here, primarily since you wrote it yourself. Most folks here are engineers who follow YC startups. You might as well have posted a link titled, "Why Microsoft Is Kicking Apple's Ass" in an Apple forum.
After working at a myriad of places doing web work, people tend to skimp on the important little pieces that make a site usable. A lot of the time it's style over substance.
I'd have thought tumblr could improve by having the login on the homepage. And I'd prefer to also find a simple paragraph about what it can do.
The Compete data seems to show Posterous stagnating just shy of 1M uniques for the past few months while Tumblr's curve is stuck "up and to the right," though.
The essential thesis seems to be: 'I personally speculate that the design of Tumblr's signup page is better, ERGO Tumblr is kicking Posterous' ass.'
There are a lot of words in there, but none of them actually help link premise -> conclusion.
Although it seems pretty obvious that both are headed for a combination of advertising/freemium model, and the revenue that comes from that seems pretty correlated to userbase size.
What OP does screams much louder than what he says.
You can really see this if you look at the history of direct mail, some of the best performing mailers ever were pretty ugly. (source: http://www.amazon.com/Million-Dollar-Mailings-Dension-Hatch/...)