Every now and then, I like to intersperse my regular writing on startups, business, strategy and other serious stuff with something a little more light-hearted. This is one of those times.
I’ve been watching the world of Web 2.0 and many of the Internet startups with both excitement and angst. Excitement because it’s great to see all the entrepreneurial activity and people finally coming out from under their desks and starting cool companies again. Angst, because I still have this nagging feeling in the back of my brain that a lot of what is starting to happen harkens back to the age of the dotcom (or the dot-bomb).
I can’t help but do some pattern matching to see whether the current crop of web startups are not just a semi-clever remaking of the dot-coms of the past bubble. Here are some random (and intended to be semi-humorous) thoughts on some things that have changed, and others that haven’t.
Disclaimer: I’m involved in a few Internet startups as either early investor or advisor, so I’m drinking the cool-aid this time a bit as well. (Last time around, I was running a profitable software company, which was the easiest way to not get invited to the Web 1.0 party).
So, enough of the preamble…
Is Web 2.0 Really DotCom 2.0?
Then: Many startups were focused on “eye balls”.
Now: Many startups are focused on the acquisition and monetization of Internet traffic. (hint: this sounds awfully similar).
Then: Startups threw big launch parties to celebrate a launch.
Now: Startup founders eat lunch away from their desks to celebrate a launch. (this is much better).
Then: It’s all about building a user base, we’ll worry about revenues later.
Now: It’s all about creating a critical mass so we can leverage the network effects and social dynamics. (hint: this sounds awfully similar)
Then: Startups spent big money on advertising (remember the Superbowl Ads)?
Now: Startups get TechCrunched and get initial visibility for free. (this is good).
Then: Every big success (defined as a company that raised top-tier VC) had 20+ copycats.
Now: Every big success (defined as a company that sold for millions) has 20+ copycats. (a little better).
Then: VCs invested in guys wearing black turtlenecks and every third person you met was head of “biz-dev”.
Now: VCs invest in geeks that actually do real work. (this is a lot better). [Note: Business geeks do real work too].
Then: We had things like the Pets.com sock puppet.
Now: We have shiny and rounded logos, company names with missing vowels and fant.abulo.us domain names. (frankly, I liked the sock puppet and my brain still has to pause every time I try to type one of those fancy domain names).
This time, I’ve bought front row tickets and am having the time of my life. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years…