AsiangURLs.com was my first website, a complete labor of love that I worked on for 5 years, from 1996 to 2001. I fell in love with the web while I was still in college. I create AsiangURLs.com when I was fresh and green in the world after graduation. AsiangURLs.com was my contribution to the web, and building this website taught me a lot.
AsiangURLs.com was born of frustration and gumption. I was frustrated with search engines. I was frustrated that typing in “Asian women” on any search engine (this was pre-Google) you will find a lot of stuff that are smutty and pretty objectifying of Asian women in general. Today, even in the age of Google, you will find a similar picture. Back then, you will find outright flashing banner ads that advertise porn sites. I decided that I would build AsianguRLs.com to beat the porn sites on search engine results. My goal was to rank in the first page of search results for “asian women,” and “asian girls.”
In addition, AsiangURLs.com was to be a person-curated directory and webzine of things of interest to Asian and Asian-American women. I linked out to articles and information that are of interest to young women in the Asian American community. I built a custom content management system from Cold Fusion to this purpose, and I even built a forum to encourage discussions. It was hugely labor intensive, and I never actually monetized it. In my goal to be on the top of the search results I was actually quite successful. I got a lot of press. I was interviewed by AsianWeek, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and even appeared MSNBC’s The Site interviewed by Soledad O’Brien (who I knew then would be big someday). I met a lot of very cool people in the Asian American community and Internet community.
AsiangURL.com was also a big failure for me in many ways. The forum was way too much for me to handle. I didn’t have the benefit of the technology that we have today — I was not able to properly manage the forum all by myself because feature had to be built by hand. The site I made for women attracted a lot of men, who arrived via the search engines and flamed up the forums in pissing matches (the most popular and controversial topic was Asian women-White men). I got marriage proposals as well as death threats. I tried to manage my community, but ultimately I couldn’t build all the features I need to manage it.
In the end, my success contributed ultimately to the end of AsiangURLs.com. I received a cease and desist letter from gURL.com, who was owned by WeddingChannel back in 2001, saying that I am going to get sued because I was infringing on their trademark. It didn’t matter that AsiangURLs.com was registered first, it didn’t matter that I never profited from the site, and it didn’t matter that I was not a competitor to gURL.com. The idealist in me wanted to fight, but the realist in me decided to give it up. I did not have what it takes to fight against someone so much out of my weight class. AsiangURLs.com was very labor intensive and took a lot of time, after my real full time job. At my father’s advice, I decided chalk everything up to a learning experience and move on to the next phase of my life.
AsiangURLs.com was the experience that I gave myself when no one would give me the opportunity. I learned how to engineer a site from scratch, do SEO, promote awareness, generate publicity, manage content, build community, and growing an audience. I am also able to appreciate the technology that is available today and how easy it is to do things compared to how it was a decade ago. It made me a better web producer because I understand from first-hand experience what it takes to grow a site.