Interview with Mariusz Zurawek, founder of JustPaste.it, the anonymous sharing tool
JustPaste.it has really made a name for itself over the past couple of years. From a website that was launched in 2009 by a Polish student, growing into the leading tool for sharing short pieces of content online, clearly the company’s founder and only employee Mariusz Zurawek is doing something right. I’ve been a huge fan of JustPaste.it for years now and I was intrigued to hear about how they are doing and where they may be heading. I’ve got a great interview with Mariusz Zurawek, discussing future plans for JustPaste.it and what the website will be growing into.JustPaste.it simple interface allows sharing of content without registration. The example above can be found here: http://justpaste.it/pp19
Tell us a bit more about yourself and how JustPaste.it came into place.
I was running another site in Poland where people could publish articles and vote on them, it was very popular, yet complicated. I thought that there is too much effort required from users to publish things online, so I created a JustPaste.it with a design that is very similar to what is live now. It was created over one weekend and despite the fact that there have been many back-end changes and improvements, users basically see what I designed at home 6 years ago. Today I have 8 Million visitors a month, all on one server only.
JustPaste.it is a one-man show. I only use external help for things I can’t do alone like translations of the site into 24 languages. I don’t want to grow the site too fast because I think that it is not good to complicate simple things, and I want to make sure I make only required changes.
I was trying a new interface a while back and after uploading the new design, I saw the statistics deteriorating. I also got negative feedback from users that complained about the changes, so I rolled back to the familiar version. JustPaste.it interface did not change much since launched in 2009, adding languages and some sharing options, yet keeping the tool simple to use.
Who do you see as competitors and why should users use your service?
Pastebin is the only competitor that comes to mind. Google Docs or Microsoft tools are very powerful yet complicated and are not in direct competition with me. I also can’t compete with Google that has big teams of engineers working on so many features, but with my tool, the user can do things quickly and with no efforts. No big company is trying to fight me in this field. Pastebin which is the closest thing to mine, is a tool designed for different users. Most of their users are tech savvy people like programmers while my audience is the ordinary people that want a simpler tool, which resembles a word processor like Microsoft Word, which they are already used to.
What is the revenue model of the site?
I make all my money from advertisements run by Google AdSense. In the future, I’m thinking of adding new channels.
Since my audience is distributed globally, it is hard to find direct advertisers or networks that operate globally besides AdSense. The ads are shown only next to content that is very popular and was checked by myself to prevent policy violations (Google has strict policy regarding User-Generated-Content and AdSense A.H). My experience with Google is positive, if they see a problem with the content they give a me notification and don’t close the account right away. I know they used to be stricter but I work in collaboration with them now.
My costs are only 80 Euros a month for the server and 200 dollars for the CDN.
You recently launched importer from Word and other file types, how is this going on for you?
Most users are adding content directly to the site, but 15% use the upload document function, mainly Microsoft Word. I found that from some reason, instead of using email or dropbox, users use this function just as a way for sharing the document with friends.
JustPaste.it got some negative headlines after ISIS used your service to share horrible images and call for Jihad on the west. How did you deal with that and did it hurt your site?
This indeed is somewhat disturbing, and I worked with the British police (despite the fact that they don’t have any legal claim with me, situated in Poland) to remove the problematic content.
Surprisingly, I found that the bad publicity also created a positive impact and attention to the site that made other people start using it for good causes.
Is there any difference in the origin of users that create content and users the consume it?
This is a very interesting question. When I come to think of it while most of the content is created in western countries, most of the users the come to watch it arrive from less modernize countries. Even Arabic content that is being watched from Arab countries is many times created by Arab immigrants and Arab speaking users that live today in the west.
What should webmasters that visit HostAdvice know about JustPaste.it that they might not be aware of?
You can share code between [code][/code] tags and highlight it. I also see many webmasters use it to share configurations, files and logs.
What web hosting have you been using?
My web hosting, since I launched is German company Hetzner and I’m very happy with them.
There was a time when they complained about the ISIS content and wanted to force me to include registration for each content shared. I explained them that “no registration required” is the main idea of the site and they actually responded well. They agreed that as long as I am being stricter with removing content no registration would be required.
I don’t use Polish web hosting because local small web hosting in Poland don’t have the experience, infrastructure and service level that I get from Hetzner, which is one of the biggest web hosting companies in the world (Hetzner is one of the biggest 10 companies in the world, and 3rd in Europe according to the web hosting market share 2015 A.H).
Despite having 10 million uses in some months, my site loads super quick using a simple dedicated server and I have a lot of room to grow. The CPU sue is only around 10% and DB is only around 5%. I have Quad-Core processor with 32 GB of RAM, 2 SSD disks for DB and 2 regular drives for files.
I have been using Hetzner since I launched and I grew with them. You should always choose a company that you can grow with. I also use Cloudflare for CDN and it helps me protect against DDOS attacks that I can no longer prevent by myself.
Do you think that if you were located in the Silicon Valley, you would succeed more than being in Poland?
I actually think I would do less well. My site does very well outside the US so I don’t need to know the US market. Poland is actually a great place for a start-up with lots of opportunities for new things to develop. The market is changing very fast and creates new opportunities and western big companies like IBM where I was doing my internship bring knowledge and experience that is missing.
Where would we see JustPaste.it grow?
I want to keep expanding to new audiences while retaining current audiences. I’m thinking about making new features to build a community around the tool. New features will include browsing and searching of content.
I could not find online an image of you, in no interview or website, why is that?
I care a lot for my privacy. JustPaste.it after all is a tool that lets people share thing anonymously and protect their privacy. Similarly, I don’t want my image or other details shared too much.