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Social Media Portal - Profiled - Scott Werndorfer - Cerulean Studios - Trillian

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 26 June 2009

Profiled - Cerulean Studios - Creators of instant messaging (IM) service Trillian


An interview with Scott Werndorfer, head developer at Cerulean Studios the creators of Trillian


Werndorfer talks to the Social Media Portal about the IM service that is nearly and going from strength-to-strength and the recent launch of the iPhone app in beta

Cerulean Studios, Trillian logo
Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your full job title and role at Trillian?

Scott Werndorfer (SMW): Im one of the founders and lead developers of Cerulean Studios.  Most of my time is spent building code for Trillian, but I contribute wherever necessary; we are a small company and everyone does a little bit of everything.Photograph, Scott Werndorfer, head developer at Cerulean Studios

SMP: What made you start Trillian?

SMW: We started developing Trillian in 1998 because we recognized the need for a customizable communications solution, which at the time consisted of something our team used everyday - IRC (internet relay chat).  From there, we expanded into instant messaging (IM), and today Trillian boasts support for many of the major IM and social networking protocols.

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building the service so far?

SMW: Coming from the standpoint of a client-based software company, building customized server products and ensuring they scale correctly was a big challenge for us.  Weve learned quite a bit in the process and hope to use this knowledge to ensure a smoother development cycle moving forward.

SMP: Briefly tell us a little bit about Trillian Astra; youve included the ability to add Twitter and other social networking resources why was this?

SMW:
Most of our customers are beginning to use social networking in some way or another, typically in addition to their existing requirement for a strong instant messaging aggregation tool.  Basic social network activity has quite a few parallels to instant messaging and we felt we had a few things to offer to our customers here as well.

SMP: What was the most challenging aspect of doing this?

SMW:
Our biggest challenge with Trillian is always ensuring that we combine a suite of different services in a way thats aesthetically pleasing and intuitive for the user.  Were always thinking of new and interesting ways to merge similar functionality into a single UI (user interface) component to make things simple and effective.

SMP: What other enhancements have you brought to Trillian Astra that you are particularly proud of?

SMW: I'm most proud of our portable codebase and scalable server backend, both of which will help Trillian continue to grow in the coming years.  Our full feature tour at http://trillian.im/tour-features.html explains the many different things weve built into Astra - device and data synchronization, tablet support, continued interoperability enhancements, ports to other platforms (iPhone, OS X, Web), etc.

SMP: You are building an app for the iPhone, what about Windows and Android; when is that coming?

SMW:
At present, we havent announced any plans for ports beyond the iPhone, although weve recently brought our iPhone app into beta testing: see http://blog.ceruleanstudios.com/?p=476 to learn more.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

SMW: Internet users everywhere!  With social networks like Facebook being invaded by parents worldwide, we think the market for social communication tools is as strong as ever and were excited to usher in the new version of Trillian to support them.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your service, and how do you do it now?

SMW: Mostly through word-of-mouth, which is a practice we continue.  Weve been lucky enough to have a loyal customer base that helps spread the word about our product and work hard to continue to earn their loyalty.

SMP: What are your low moments of what you have been doing so far?


SMW: Recognizing that the vast scope of what were trying to build would take us many years to complete.

SMP: What are your high moments of what you have been doing so far?

SMW: Remembering that our team is strong, dedicated, and capable of meeting the challenge.

SMP: Now that you are established, what do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?


SMW: Weve been around for nearly a decade now, and its given us plenty of time to learn the market and understand our strengths and weaknesses.  Our biggest challenge continues to be to win over new customers and keep the old ones happy!  Our industry is vibrant and constantly-changing, and as such we need to work hard to "keep up with the Joneses" by staying as sharp as possible.

SMP: What are the next moves for Trillian?

SMW:
Well continue to work on ways to bring Trillian to new users through a combination of feature enhancements and platform support.  As always, we'll be listening closely to customer feedback to ensure we're getting things right and will work to improve the product anywhere we can.  We hope to continue providing support for new instant messaging and social networks as they appear on the horizon.

SMP: Whats the next big step for social media and networks and is there anything that Cerulean Studios is doing to address this?

SMW:
Social media is pretty trendy, so we imagine the next big step is something no one has ever heard of but everyone will have to have!  Our best defense against a changing market is paying attention and doing our research.

SMP: Whats going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media / technology throughout 2009?


SMW: I expect that well continue to see mobile device usage grow, and it will be interesting to watch how that impacts the usage of existing social technology.  More than that, its important that many of the new social companies start building sustainable business models to ensure their continued livelihood moving into the next decade.

SMP: What impact is the global recession having and what do you think the best way is to manage it for businesses such as yours?

SMW: Were a very small company, so its doubly important that every member of our team understands that their "official" job title has to be flexible!  We do our best to keep costs low, focus on revenue, and generally stay as lean and mean as we can.  Cerulean was founded after the first dot-com explosion and its helped us to respect the balance between revenue and untamed growth.

SMP: Best way to contact you?

SMW: Email: smw at ceruleanstudios dot com.


Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

SMW: Coffee.

SMP: Whats the last good thing that you did for someone?

SMW: I routinely hold the door open for women and children everywhere and always mind my pleases and thank-yous.

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?


SMW: If Im awake, Im working.

SMP: If you werent running Trillian what would you be doing?

SMW:
I have absolutely no idea.  Farmer?

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

SMW: Tropical paradise, over 4 years ago.  I need a vacation.

SMP: Whats the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

SMW: Coffee!

SMP: Is there any other sites/s that we should be aware of that relate to the above?

SMW: Our website http://www.trillian.im

SMP: Is there a corporate or personal blog/s we should know about (if there is, you should add this to SMP also)?

SMW: Our blog http://blog.ceruleanstudios.com

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