Beyond the Early Adopters

Josh Kopelman writes:

As more and more entrepreneurs start building what Fred Wilson referred to as second derivative companies, I think they run a big risk of designing a product/service that is targeted at too small of an audience. Too many companies are targeting an audience of 53,651. Thats how many people subscribe to Michael Arringtons TechCrunch blog feed. Im a big fan of Techcrunch and read it every day. However, the Techcrunch audience is NOT a mainstream America audience.

A good review in Techcrunch can get a company their first 5-25K beta users very quickly. However, Id strongly caution entrepreneurs from taking their initial consumer adoption metrics and extrapolating them too far into the future. I believe startups will find it difficult to cross the Techcrunch chasm between the Web 2.0 geeks and Mainstreet USA.

Brad Feld adds:

many entrepreneurs (and many VCs) confused one time tryout users with real sustainable users. As an analytics freak (Ive invested in a number of web / Internet analytics related companies over the past 10 years, including NetGenesis, Service Metrics, and now FeedBurner), you only have to ask two more questions to know whether (a) the company really understands its traffic / user base and (b) whether theyve got the first 25,000 user problem.

Thanks Josh for the outstanding post and putting the gap between the Web 2.0 geeks and Mainstreet USA front and center. Remember – the first 25,000 users are the same dudes (such as me) that play with everything.

Blogging vs Traditional Media

Mark Cuban writes:

A blog is media. Its a platform to communicate that can reach anyone within reach of an internet connection. Ive been writing this blog for more than 2 years and that time has allowed me to recognize the difference between a blog and traditional media and why the two will never successfully meet.

In traditional media, you are first defined by your medium. There is some constraint to the physical or digital definition of the medium the content is delivered on or by, that for the most part determines how you are perceived.

There is a cost vs time vs interest vs access series of constraints that determines who your audience is, how you reach them and what they expect of you. Over time, that has evolved our media into very defined roles.

Blogs are different. There really isnt a cost constraint. It costs nothing to create a blog. There are time constraints, but less so than traditional media. Bloggers dont have to publish or show on a schedule. In a nutshell, blogging is personal. Which is really where the paths of blogging and traditonal media diverge. Traditional media has become almost exclusively corporate while blogging remains almost exclusively personal.

YouTube Founders Interview

Fortune interviews Steve Chen and Chad Hurley:

The important question: How are you going to make money?

Hurley: We’re going to sell sponsorships and direct advertisements. But we are building a community, and we don’t want to bombard people with advertising.

Chen: If we wanted to, we could instantly turn this into $10 million in revenue per month by running pre-rolls [short video ads] on the videos. But at the same time, we’re going to make sure that whatever revenue model we’ve built is going to be something that’s accepted by the users.

Hurley: We’re building relationships with studios, networks, and labels because they’re looking for ways to reach new audiences, and we have a great platform and a great stage to make that happen.

Google as the new Microsoft

The Economist writes:

Google is thus starting to look a bit as Microsoft did a decade ago, with one strength (Windows for Microsoft, search for Google) and a string of mediocre me-too products. Google Video, for instance, was supposed to become an online marketplace for video clips, both personal and business, but has been overtaken by YouTube, a start-up that is a few months old but already has four times as much video traffic. Google News, where the stories are, characteristically, chosen by mathematical algorithms rather than by editors, perennially lags behind Yahoo! News, with its old-fashioned human touch. Google’s instant-messaging software is tiny compared with AOL’s, Yahoo!’s and MSN’s.

Google thus finds itself at a defining moment. There are plenty of people within the company who want it to play the power game. The folks who are closest to Larry and Sergey are very, very worried about Microsoft, as well they should be, says John Battelle, the author of a blog and a book on Google. Yet the company’s founders themselves may not be prepared to drop their idealism and their faith in their own mathematical genius.

Human Search

WSJ writes:

Web search engines rely on complex algorithms and tens of thousands of computer servers to provide the best results. Now, in a twist, some of the biggest search companies are turning to real live humans to boost their offerings.

The companies believe that the user-submitted answers will improve the quality of their search services, tapping knowledge and opinions not easily accessed otherwise, though they acknowledge that some users may submit wrong or misleading responses. A high number of queries go unanswered by search engines because the knowledge isn’t necessarily on the Web or indexed or measured for relevance by the search services, says Steve Stanzel, general manager for Microsoft’s Windows Live Search. “We think people can get more credible answers from people sometimes.”

TECH TALK: Four Blog Years: MyToday

One of the things which has changed over the past few months is my use of the RSS aggregator. For a long time, I exclusively used Bloglines and my account there has accumulated nearly 400 feeds. When I had a lot more time, I could actually go through a lot of the feeds. But now, with time at a premium, I use Bloglines sparingly. Instead, I use a service we have created, MyToday, for much of my reading both on the web, and on the mobile.

We created MyToday as a public aggregator feeds on a few specific topics. The interface is meant for daily reading, and scanning large chunks of information rapidly. The current selection of topics (what we call dailies) in MyToday tech, venture capital, mobility partly represents my technology bias. I also created a smaller subset of about fifty feeds for myself (as a reading list) which I check every morning.

As I scan the post titles and excerpts on the PC, I open the ones I find interesting either in a separate window (by clicking on the small window icon next to the title) or just do a click on the title to get a pop-up window to read more and then decide whether to open it in a separate window. I also rely on meme aggregators like Tech.Meme to get a glimpse into what the blogosphere is talking about.

This smaller selection has narrowed the topics I tend to post on. But it has meant much more efficient use of time. In general, if there is something interesting that Ive missed, readers often email it to me. So, where I had once feared that Id end up probably with a thousand feeds in my aggregator, it has been just the opposite. My own reading list has shrunk and I rely on topic-based aggregators to get a sense of the news and views flow.

This has also meant a greater reliance on other bloggers. I have a good idea of experts in different areas, and I find myself reading and blogging about what they have to say more. This is Web 2.0 for me encouraging a two-way flow of ideas and thought, via the Web.

I also use MyTodays mobile version a lot through my Hutch GPRS connection. Whenever I have free time or when I am travelling and dont have access to my computer, I do check the stories on the mobile. I have become more and more comfortable with reading large chunks of text on the mobile. In fact, I find my focus greater when reading on the mobile because I am less distracted my other things.

Tomorrow: Thinking Evolution

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