Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

Facebook’s Greatest Threat

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Facebook new logoFacebook continues to grow at a staggering rate. Though it can already be considered a mammoth, it still has much upside left. The recent introduction of the Facebook Platform will simply promote further growth. The value proposition for any company looking to integrate is quite obvious - a massive, loyal user base. Just ask iLike. The ability to piggy-back off such a large network is a huge advantage for any early-stage companies.

With all this growth, positive outlook, and momentum, one must ask, “What is going to stop this Facebook train?”

An IPO: Going public isn’t as glorified as it’s hyped up to be. Priority quickly shifts from satisfying users (or consumers) to satisfying shareholders. In other words, less attention is focused on the user. Innovation and feature sets are set aside so that business development and revenue generation can manifest.

Going public isn’t a dream. It’s more of a nightmare - especially for a user-centric, consumer-based web company. This is the scenario faced by Facebook. Rumours and gossip continue to circulate about a pending IPO in late summer or fall. Simply put, the possibility is quite real. Though raising capital does provide the ability to bring on added resources, the dilution of equity and ownership is a strong argument against such a proposition. Anyone whose ever had to deal with numerous stakeholders knows that ensuring the happiness and satisfaction of everyone is near impossible. Financial obligations move to the forefront. This usually means that the user is left to the demise of a fiscally-conscious executive posse and a board of directors, rather than a team focused on the user experience.

Another extremely plausible case is…

Social media collapse: Think back to what happened to Digg. Should Facebook choose to betray users, hide or lie about an issue, or provide non-disclosure around a given policy, and users find out about the blunder, watch out. The very mechanism that spurred viral growth and adoption may work in a counter-productive fashion.

Here are a few other, less likely cases…

A sale: As is the case with many takeovers and acquisitions, the user base of the little guy gets disgruntled. All of a sudden, the policies and corporate culture of the start-up are subject to the red tape and bureaucracy of the over-arching big guy. Many users feel uncomfortable and betrayed in a situation such as this, and defect to a similar product/service where they feel more at ease.

Complacency: Though we have not witnessed this as of yet, a failure to innovate may signal troubles for the company. Having said that, this is probably the least plausible and least likely threat to the company. Time and time again, Facebook has displayed a strong willingness to provide innovative features . For this reason, I have my doubts about the complacency of the company - unless of course, Mark Zuckerberg finds more value in yachting and spending time in the Bahamas rather than company strategy.

What do you think will slow down Facebook’s exceptional growth?

Growth of 9rules?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

9Rules logoI will be the first to admit that I’m proud to be a part of the 9rules network. It is a great group of people. In addition, the quality of the content is second-to-none. In other words, I believe it to be the most prestigious blog network on the Internet - but I’m rather biased.

Having said that, I was perusing some Alexa stats and ranks the other day and noticed that the 9rules site has remained somewhat stagnant over the past year. It has remained consistently within the 5,000 - 10,000 range, swaying up and down from time to time. Now, don’t get me wrong… I know that Alexa stats are skewed to say the least, but I am surprised that network traffic hasn’t trended upward more so over the past year. Obviously, I don’t have actual site data or stats, but I’d be curious to see if the Alexa info is relatively correlated to the actual stats or completely out in left field.

This brought me to another point that I know Scrivs (9rules co-founder) has brought up in the past: there are advantages and disadvantages to growing a network, especially in the case of 9rules. This network in particular has prided itself on providing the utmost quality content. Having said that, some might argue that by adding more and more blogs to the network, the overall quality decreases by default. This may not necessarily be the case, but an argument can definitely be made for a smaller, more selectively chosen group of blogs.

From the other side, others will argue that more blogs not only increase the variety and diversity of content, but also build upon current traffic levels to provide more exposure to existing member blogs.

Finally, another interesting point gets raised with respect to current 9rules members. I am not of this mentality, but I believe that some of the older and more core members may be: as the network grows, the ‘club’ becomes less exclusive as more members are able to enter. I have heard this mentioned a couple times, but is it truly the case? I think that every member has their own opinion and coming to one conclusion is naive and unjustifiable.

Let me reiterate that I love the network and I’m proud to be a part of it. Future growth will be interesting to observe. Even more interesting will be the development and synthesis of the community - and whether growth hampers the evolution process.



Niklas Zennstrom is a Genius

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

A limited number of first-time entrepreneurs hit it big and sell their company for millions. Some might call this luck. Less frequently is an entrepreneur able to replicate this feat and sell a second company for a considerable amount. Almost never is one able to do this for a third time. At this point, luck cannot be taken into consideration - a formula has been established.

Niklas Zennstrom co-founded both KaZaA and Skype, two wildly popular Internet successes. He’s on his way to a third success - maybe his biggest yet - with Joost.

A great article was published by BBC the other day. It profiled the mindset and thought process of Zennstrom. This Swedish genius is THE disrupter among disruptive technology disrupters. He identifies an industry with problems and short-comings, then launches a company in an all-out attack. In particular, he has a keen interest in the Internet communication and media areas, as all of his disrupters have spawned from these realms. Here is a simple breakdown:

  • Music - KaZaA
  • Telephone - Skype
  • TV - Joost

What’s next? Something in the radio industry - along the lines of or Pandora?

On a side note, his luck with five-letter company names is almost uncanny. Superstition? Strategy? Coincidence? Only Zennstrom really knows.

One thing is for sure. Zennstrom likes being in a position of power. He likes disrupting. Some might call him the shit-disturber of the online world. He is quoted as saying:

“For me, a disruptive technology is only worthwhile if it gives people something they didn’t have or couldn’t do before.”

His motivation and determination are inspirational. He conquers one area, then moves on to another - methodically and systematically. His quest to make things “faster, lighter, or cheaper” is a main driver and source of energy. His never-ending search for the next ‘big thing’ has never been centered around a given product or area, but rather a mentality. Simply put, he wants to give regular consumers a better way of doing something they’re already doing. Thus, he is not looking to re-invent the wheel - just expand upon it.


Hottest Web 2.0 Start-Ups So Far in 2007

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Here is MY list of the hottest web 2.0 start-ups we’ve seen so far in 2007. Keep in mind that this is my opinion only. Factors that were taken into account include user base growth, buzz and hype generated, as well as awareness within the blogosphere and tech community.

Though a start-up may have launched prior to 2007, widespread brand awareness and growth must have come since the start of this year. Having said that, let’s see the list…

10. Clicky - This gem is web analytics 2.0 at its best. Clicky combines a clean interface and a user-friendly experience to revolutionize web analytics. These guys are not re-inventing the wheel, but rather filling a void. Growth of the service has been phenomenal thus far, with many high profile sites implementing the tool.

9. Spock - Dubbed the ‘people search engine’, Spock promises to change the way we search for people in the future. Search result pages are specifically designed to provide personal information and details. Much buzz was generated around this darling when it landed an abnormally large ‘A’ round of financing.

8. Mahalo - “Thank you” in Hawaiian or Jason Calcanis’ human-powered search engine. Mahalo only launched in the past couple weeks, but the human-edited search results are accumulating. Many questions the use of a non-algorithm-based engine. In any case, J-Cal and Sequoia always attract a crowd regardless of the endeavour.

7. Jaxtr - Call me from my social network profile. This is the basis for Jaxtr. The company has combined buzz words, such as VOIP, widget, and social media, with a stellar executive team to form a potentially ground-breaking product. The idea is interesting. We will have to wait and see whether it goes mainstream. 

6. Babelgum - This Joost competitor is very new to the scene. Babelgum’s ranking is based mostly on the hype and buzz to date. Lots of people are talking about the company. But will they be able to compete with Joost?

5. Virb - Hype, hype, hype… I’ve been hearing about this project for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s so ingenious or revolutionary about it. Virb provides a place to put all your stuff (i.e. photos, videos, blogs) in one place. Sounds like a spin on a social network. Maybe I’m missing something. The interface is cool though. In any case, it has grown quickly and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

4. iLike - This social music discovery network has grown in leaps and bounds. A majority of iLike’s success must be attributed to the opening of the Facebook platform. It reminds me of Pandora, but with a social network aspect latched on. The company has experienced explosive growth very recently.

3. MyBlogLog - This little widget helped pave the way for one of the quickest exit strategies I have ever seen. Quickly snapped up by Yahoo, MyBlogLog (or the blog social network, as it has come to be known) continues to grow by way of its viral nature. I think the founders should thank TechCrunch (most notably) for prominently displaying the widget, therefore inducing a viral spread. Everybody copies the trend-setter.

2. Joost - Not much needs to be said about Joost. The KaZaa/Skype boys are back at it, in yet another attempt to disrupt the communication industry with an online medium. The first two wild successes have fueled huge amounts of buzz and press for this third offering, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

1. Twitter - Twitter is HOT. Hell, Twitter is the definition of hot. Everyone and their dog seems to be “twittering” nowadays. The concept is so simple, but more importantly, the execution was flawless. Now everyone is either trying to integrate or copy the company. Congratulations to those Twits. Because of them, I now know what EVERYBODY is doing right now.


  • Powerset - natural-language search engine (yet to launch).
  • - real-time site stat reporting.

Older NOTABLE web 2.0 contenders who have made a real run in 2007:

Remember… the list is only my opinion. I encourage you to add your thoughts and companies below. If you feel my list is completely out of whack, blog your own top 10 list.

Is AJAX all It is Hyped to be?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

The coming of the new-web brought with it a bucket of buzz words and terms. Among them: podcast, RSS, wikis, VOIP, blog, widgets, and of course, AJAX. Some are relevant, while others are simply fads with no long-term potential. AJAX, for one, has been a term buzzing around the development community. The combination of asynchronous JavaScript and XML forms a powerful, interactive experience by increasing usability and saving time.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not an expert in the area. Programming is definitely not my schtick. But from a non-techie perspective, I see a definite problem. A large majority of websites nowadays generate revenues via advertising. In other words, they are looking to maximize their number of page views. In the case of AJAX, a page load is not needed to perform a given action or task. Do you see what is missing here?

Why would Internet Company A want to use AJAX if it is going to decrease page views, thus decreasing revenues? It doesn’t make sense. So Internet Company A may want to stay away from this web development technique. This may mean that the user is unable to experience the site at its utmost potential.

Furthermore, another problem often overlooked is around browsing and navigation. If I alter, edit, or modify an AJAX-driven page, then hit the “Back” button on my browser, I jump back to a previous page - not my previous edit or change. This causes some anxiety among users. One could also argue that issues regarding URLs may pose problems as well.

Nonetheless, the technique does have its positive as mentioned above. The decrease in bandwidth utilization, increased interactivity, and more fulfilling user experience create an environment that is perfect for some web applications.

I guess what I am saying is that every company should assess whether or not AJAX is a good fit with their experience before deciding to implement it. 

Do you think AJAX has long term sustainability or is it simply a fad?