Interview: Maranda Pleasant

Pete Cashmore founded Mashable in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, at the age of 19. Named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, the entrepreneur’s passion is transforming human interactions and reshaping culture.

With 25 million monthly visitors and 6 million social media followers, Mashable is one of the largest, most engaged online communities, and has been hailed a “must-read-site” by both Fast Company and PC Magazine.

Maranda Pleasant: Mashable is amazing. Can you tell us what your vision is?

Pete Cashmore: Mashable is “the new site for the connected generation”—which is to say, there’s a lot of people now who spend a lot of time online, who are using technology and innovation to improve their own lives, talking about what’s new, what’s next, and how does it change your life. I wanted to get into technology and innovation, the stuff that was revolutionizing the world. We have this revolution that’s happening in our lifetime. The Information Revolution is changing absolutely every industry and every part of life and society and behavior. I was really excited about that, but I didn’t really have access to do that. So I started a blog writing about what was happening in technology, especially in Silicon Valley. What were all the new developments and what did they mean to everybody else, everyone who wasn’t fueling technology but in all kinds of other industries? After six months to a year, I had a few million people following my site. I started thinking, maybe I should build this up, get more writers, get more people talking about this stuff.

pete-cashmore_quoteWhat I try to do with Mashable is take technology, which can be very high level and can develop very quickly, and tell people what’s important, and tell it to them in a way that is very relatable, and talks about their lives instead of talking about tech jargon. That’s really been my passion: to communicate to a broad audience why the technology matters for you.

MP: Is there something that drives you every day when you wake up?

PC: Creating the future is incredibly exciting. When you talk about ideas and creativity, it’s really about having that vision in your mind of how the world could be better, of how it could be a brighter place. It’s that hope for the future and that expectation, that if we work at it through technology, through new ideas, the future might be a better place than the present.

MP: How many readers do you have per month on Mashable?

PC: 25 million.

MP: Congratulations. Is there something that you feel Mashable has done that sets it apart from other sites?

PC: Social media sprung up maybe a year or two after Mashable really got going. I saw it as a huge opportunity. I thought, well, Twitter and Facebook are incredible ways to bring the community in. We’d go on those sites for feedback. It’s almost real-time feedback on how your community is reacting. That allowed us to really build a community that felt engaged with what we were doing, that felt like they were part of something bigger, rather than it was just a place where they would go and read whatever we said was the order of the day.

Perhaps we more than other sites embraced social media. We saw it as the future of all technology, that everything would be connected and social and happen in a community.

MP: How do you think technology and social media can be used to impact the planet? What’s your motivation for being involved with the Social Good Summit and the United Nations?

PC: You have a responsibility when you have a large community. With the Social Good Summit, it’s an embryonic stemming of people starting to talk about nonprofits and charity on social media. We partnered with 92nd St. Y for that first one. Since then, the United Nations has also joined up and made it bigger and better every year.

Early on, it was kind of a niche subject. It wasn’t established that social media and social good were hyper-connected. Over the years, it’s gained momentum. Where we really got a lot of momentum was in 2011, when we saw revolutions around the world going up on social media. We started seeing people actually understand that this was a proper thing.

We are all more connected than ever. That connectivity builds tolerance. The more people you know from different backgrounds, the more tolerant you feel of different ways of living, and the closer you feel to the issues that those people have. That wasn’t always the case. You’d watch television news, you’d see some disaster, and it’d seem very remote and disconnected. You didn’t necessarily feel like it affected you directly; number two, you didn’t feel like you could help.

Now, two things happen. One is, people know people, whether that’s on Facebook or Twitter. They feel closer to the event. Secondly, people see other people doing something about it. Around Haiti, there was a lot of fundraising going on on social media. You could text to a number and it would donate $10 automatically. When you see other people doing that, it makes you feel like, oh, I can actually make a difference, because everyone else is doing it. We saw here in New York, post-Sandy, people organizing around going to the affected areas, bringing supplies. That kind of coordination makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger and that you can actually make a difference.

MP: Thank you for organizing the Social Good Summit.

PC: It’s going to be an amazing line-up this year. I’m excited. We have this guy, Jack—he was fifteen at the time that he discovered this new test for pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer and lung cancer. I’m excited to hear him speak. We bring the very well-known names and business leaders and world leaders, but we also bring the kind of people who are doing amazing things and really bubbling up in the ecosystem, and really are going to make a difference in the future. We like to balance those two things. It’s always a great conference.

To enjoy all of ORIGIN Magazine’s amazing articles please subscribe to ORIGIN by clicking HERE.

Comments are closed.