Wednesday, November 21, 2007

“Killing time at the Facebook while doing homework”

When I was reading Tuija’s blog I remembered Business 2.0 magazine’s cover from March 2007. I bought the magazine from SF airport on my way back from GDC where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo talked about communities, game3.0 and stuff related to the web2.0 hype. Still it was visibly hard to foresee what was about to hit us all some months later.

At that time everything was 2.0 and social media was all over – and still is. In March 2007 Business 2.0 magazine listed 25 hot startups to watch. The list of 25 hot startups includes companies such as: StumbleUpon ($1.5M), Bebo ($15M), Revision3 ($1M), Metacafe ($20M), SoonR $6M), Tiny ($2.8M), Adify ($8M), Vitrue ($5M), Janrain ($1M), SuccessFactor ($45M), Rearden ($100M), Spot Runner ($60M), SimulScribe ($5M)…

A lot of video related ideas –obviously thanks to the success of YouTube. The list contains also a few companies that have been more on the limelight than the others. With Meebo ($9M) users can access all of their instant messaging applications in a single browser window. Meebo is obviously doing conveniently with their localized websites. Also Slide ($20M) is doing very well – thanks to Facebook (and MySpace). Most likely Slide would not be as big without Facebook because the idea of “sharing” has been lifted to another level with FB. Joost ($45M) broadcast-quality Internet television service has at least got a lot of publicity. And Logoworks ($16.8M) got acquired by HP. Congrats!

Obviously the interesting thing is that not even a magazine which is focused on “2.0” was able to foretell the success of Facebook which happened just few months later. Now it is clear that it should say Facebook at the 2007 box. Another interesting thing is that Facebook is also lacking from the list of 25 hot startups. Facebook was founded in 2004 – which is around the same time as some of the other companies on the list. What about Dogster, Dogbook etc. pet-related communities which are doing well? Even in Finland ii2 which is supposed to be one of the most popular online communities for youth (even though many of us have never heard of it…) has a popular service which is a Hot-or-Not service for pets basically.

Is it really that hard to foretell the future of digital service business? When pondering the future of digital services I remembered a Google video I watched a year ago. It is a panel of university students chaired by VC guru Guy Kawasaki. It is well lead panel but what is even more interesting is what the students say about things (to come). The panel was held in fall 2006, at the time when students were already starting to move from MySpace to Facebook.

Lessons learned from “25 hot startups”. Venture capitalists do not know either. Benchmark Capital funded many of the Top 25 startups on the list and so far only few of them have been really successful.

Lessons learned from the video: youth are interested about the possibilities of digital communication because they just are and because all of their friends do the same. They are active in many ways. They have presence in several online communities, they send huge amount of text messages (one girl sent 4000 SMS a month!). They do not care about the browser or other minor details – but they do know brands like Google and iTunes. They know what they want. They want things to go smoothly and without any extra hassle. If IE doesn’t offer possibility to open Tabs, block pop-ups or suit for their purposes they will switch to Firefox and so on. In general they “do all” with the communication devices and are available 24/7 via various mobile and online channels. Contacts are important thing but it is also fundamental to separate “Friends” from “friends”. These youngsters had 100-700 friends at MySpace or Facebook out of which they pick their “Top 8” or “best friends”.

Will Dogster be the hot online application in 2008? Most likely not but what will be the next big thing? We have seen friend-lists services where you get in touch with your idols and publish your music (MySpace), share your photo archive with the world (Flickr), have your 15 seconds of fame or put up illegal copies of your favorite TV series (YouTube) and create own applications, poke your friends, send gifts and write or draw to your friends wall (Facebook). Maybe it will be something to do with mobile virtual communities, 3D music shop, intelligent recruiting service, TripAdvisor 2.0? Something appealing to general public and be linked with people’s basic needs in some way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting! the video was also good thought a bit outdated. It is interesting to see how difficult it actually is to see the future -- even just a few months ahead!