New Milestones for BigOven

Earlier this week, passed 80,000 registered members.

Growth is picking up — each week, thousands more sign up.   And I just noticed that the free Vista Sidebar Gadget that lets you search our 160,000 recipe archive, which was released this past summer, is now well-past 20,000 downloads.   More people mean more great recipes, photos and expertise shared with everyone. 

Are you using Vista?  Would you like a ready answer to the question "what should I make tonight?" right on your desktop?  Download the free BigOven Recipe Vista Gadget here:

Look up your favorite recipes from your cellphone!

How many times has this happened:

You’re at a grocery store or farmer’s market, and just don’t know what to make.  You see some fresh ingredients, and have some idea of what you’d like, but it’s not fully-formed.  It might be "chicken caesar salad", and you might want to know what you’d need to make one.  Or it might be "grilled salmon", but you might not have made it before.

Well, simply point your cellphone to:

And you’re all set.  There, you can enter a list of keywords or ingredients or recipe name, and get simple results back, right away.  And, if you’re a free BigOven member, you can get quick access to your Favorites and Try Soons.

For more information, see the link:

#22 on Seattle Web 2.0 list

I was pleased to see that moved up another 5 places to the #22 position in the Seattle Web 2.0 List for December of the 243 sites tracked by the list, just behind #21, and beating out many fairly well-known (and/or well-funded) sites like,, Bag Borrow or Steal, Yapta, Earth Class Mail, TripHub, Jott, SmartSheet and more.  Even more promising is that if you just sort on rankings, is now #13 on the list.

Thanksgiving & Christmas — Record Growth for the Site

Following up on my last post, now that we’re past the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on the trends in food search & recipe lookup.

Google shows the following trend for the term "recipe" over time.  Note the repeated and significant peaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas:


BigOven certainly saw these two significant peaks in new user signups, and also in software sales.   We now have over 72,000 registered users, and thousands join each month. 

The Thanksgiving Effect

Most retail stores get 50% of their net income or more in the last quarter of the year.

If you’re running a food & cooking website, I guess an equivalent is new user registrations leading up to Thanksgiving. 

Check out the pace of new signups overthe past 60 days — (vertical axis removed for competitive reasons): 


BigOven Cooking Groups Now Live

Today, we’ve released BigOven Cooking Groups, an easy way for people with common interests to chat about food.  Its mission is to be the easiest way for people to congregate to talk about any food-related subject. 

Food is social. 

Several years ago, in the lead-up to kicking off the BigOven project, I was reflecting on how social and viral discussion about food really is.  It was that trigger — that food really is one of the most "viral" subjects (in the information sense) — that caused me to begin a site to let people share their cooking.

Recipes have a great information-flow — it’s almost as though the recipes themselves want to be shared.  People get passionate about food.  There’s a togetherness around the preparation and consumption of food.  People share food as expressions of love, joy, celebration, honor and ritual.  We’ll certainly see this during Thanksgiving week.

People also gather together to learn the latest diet craze, whether it’s Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Zone, or more.  Right now, in my neighborhood, I’m noticing dinner and cocktail chatter often revolving around people wanting to cook more organically; more locally.  But information is scarce on how to do this best. 

We may be moving from the era of the celebrity chef to the celebrity farmer; who knows.  But I have to say that information on how to do this best is quite scarce.  Who makes the best cheese in the northwest?  If I want to minimize my carbon impact this Thanksgiving, but still want a terrific, traditional yet elegant Thanksgiving, how do I do it? 

(I’ve created a Pacific Northwest Organic cooking group on as one of the first groups — hopefully, this time next year, we’ll have many experts you can call upon for answers to those questions.)

After a bit of development work to get this going, I’m pleased to report that tonight, the beta of BigOven Cooking Groups is live.  It allows any (free or paid) user to create or join a cooking club around any topic, contribute recipes to the club’s pool, and chat. 

(Notice I’m intermingling the terms club and group here?  We haven’t quite decided whether this should be called Cooking Clubs or Cooking Groups.  Feedback welcome.)

Perhaps you’re a fan of Italian food, or need some ideas for a special occasion.  Maybe you’ve got a finicky 3 year old and need some great suggestions from other parents of children of a similar age.  Maybe you’re in the Northwest and looking to cook more locally and organically.

BigOven Cooking Groups  makes all this possible, by providing a framework for the grouping of recipes and people.  (Videos will be added to this framework shortly.)  It’s better than newsgroups, because photos and even videos can be contributed.  Recipes can be tagged and linked together.  Hyperlinks and rich text can be added in your comments.  And more.

Since it’s a social network, we had to think through some important modeling aspects of this — e.g., if anyone can add recipes, can the group owner delete them?  Can Person X delete contributions by Person Y?  What if Person X is the one who started the group?  What happens if the one who started the group wants to leave the group?  Can you transfer ownership?  How?  Etc.)

Food is social… My goal is to make BigOven the easiest, friendliest social network about food, and groups were a vital part of the framework.  We at Lakefront Software are happy to get this major pillar of the platform out the door, even if it’s still in v1.0 beta stage. 

(More about BigOven Cooking Groups is discussed on the BigOven Message Board.)

BigOven wins Gold Award in 2008 Recipe Software Roundup

I was very pleased to note today that BigOven won the "Gold" award in the annual Cooking Software Roundup at  BigOven scored a perfect 5/5 in every category measured (Ease of Use, Recipe Manager, Menu Planner, Feature Set, Ease of Installation and Help and Support). 

What’s even better is that a google query for "recipe software" currently has the software roundup showing up as second on the search results page. 

BigOven Deluxe Inspired Cooking is the only cookbook and recipe organizer software to link to an online recipe archive that is constantly expanding. The program offers all of the features to inventory your own collection and gives you access to recipes from thousands of home cooks. Printing options are limited, but if you’re looking for recipes and meal management this is the one. Here is a program for cooks, beginner to expert, complete with more search functions and recipes than any other software.

Microsoft Access Launch Team — Where are they now?

I was reading a Seattle Times news story today and ran across a quotation from Ross Hunter.  Ross was one of the lead program managers for the very first product I worked on at Microsoft, called "Cirrus", which launched as Microsoft Access in 1992.  A couple years ago, I knew that he was running for State Representative from Bellevue, but frankly hadn’t followed up to even see if he’d won.  Well, he not only won, but he’s now the Chairman of the House Finance Committee, that oversees things like tax policy and corporate policy for the entire state of Washington.  It got me thinking about all the amazing people I had the privilege of working with on that team. 

Here’s a short list of just a few of them:

  • Tod Neilsen was group marketing manager, and later Product Unit Manager of the Access team, and by far the most visible face on the project.  He was later to become quite visible during the Microsoft Antitrust trial, often providing the evening quotation from Microsoft, and then went to Adam Bosworth’s startup Crossgain, and on to BEA when it was acquired.  In a great ironic twist, he’s now CEO of Borland International, his old arch nemesis during Access days.
  • Adam Bosworth was to become a leading figure in the ushering in the XML revolution, then created a company called Crossgain, which was sold to BEA Systems.  Boz was a VP at BEA for a little while (along with Tod), but left to become a VP at Google (yes that was before their IPO).  He’s left Google now and is rumored to be working on a new startup.
  • David Risher, once a product manager working on Access — and whom I shared an office with for a couple years — led the Microsoft Investor team, then was recruited by a tiny Seattle online bookseller called in 1995.  He was a Senior VP there (#2 behind Jeff Bezos) during its meteoric IPO and e-commerce dominance.  He was so influential in the company’s growth that they created an everlasting Easter Egg in in his honor.  He now lives in Barcelona with his wife and two daughters.
  • Matthew Bellew, once a lead software engineer for JET (the underlying datastore for Microsoft Access and other desktop products) and George Snelling, once program manager for Access, joined fellow Microsoft alums Adam Rauch (VB/MS Research) and Mark Igra in forming Labkey Software.  (Before this, they had launched Westside Software together, which was bought, not coincidentally, by BEA Systems when Tod and Adam were there.)  Labkey focuses on building world-changing data-collaboration software for cancer and biomedical researchers.
  • Chris Caposella, once a product manager on FoxPro and Access, runs the multi-billion-dollar Office business for Microsoft as a senior VP at Microsoft.  The Excel, Word, Access, PowerPoint, Project, etc. groups all report into him.  Chris was to have his own 15 minutes of fame with the infamous Windows 98 Blue Screen of Death moment on stage with Bill Gates.  (Chris was Bill’s right hand man on demos and new technology for a couple of years, accompanying Bill around the world on his various speaking engagements.)
  • Chris Payne, once a product manager on Access, ran Microsoft Investor for a while after David Risher departed, then was recruited (by David) to run all video and music for in about 1998.  Then he re-joined Microsoft as a Corporate VP running MSN Live Search in their race to catch up to Google.  He departed Microsoft in 2006 to create his own startup.
  • Dave Kaplan, former Group Program Manager on Cirrus along with Ross Hunter, is CEO of the ambitious V2Green, which aims to create the leading power regulation and distribution system for electric cars.
  • Lisa Brummel, once a group manager for the FoxPro Line, is now running all of Microsoft’s Human Resources as Corporate VP.

This is just a short list off the top of my head before I head out the door.  All of these people came together in 1991-1993 or so to help launch Microsoft Access and bring Fox Software into the fold. 

There are many other folks that are worth mentioning; sorry in advance for the omissions; this is not an exhaustive list.  But what an amazing group of people!