Tim Draper answers the question: “When you look at the Internet, what would you say are the top three impacts its had in our lives?”
I think Hotmail is one of themHotmail, Yahoo Mail, all the free mail providers. Now Google Mail. What these services have done is make it so that everyone in the world can communicate with one another. I take issue with the idea of a digital divide, because actually the digital world has made us all communicate better. Theres a digital connection, and a lot of that started with Hotmail. I think Hotmail has had as big an impact on the world as anything in the Internet. E-mail connects people; it allows us to have a network which we would not have otherwise.
The other thing that Hotmail did is open up a new kind of business, which was in effect free marketing. Hotmails marketing budget was almost zero, but it reached 11 million people in 18 months. And it grew from there to (now under Microsoft) 200 million Hotmail users. Thats free marketing for Microsoft. And thats quite valuable, because marketing tends to be 20% of your sales in most cases. So Id say thats the biggest impact.
The second biggest impactwell, I wouldnt put these in any particular orderI think search is really important, because now were able to find information, products, services, that we never could have found without the Internet. And it is really exciting! I tend to buy creative presents for people for Christmas, and I can find things on eBay, or Amazon, or Google, or Overture, whatever, that I never could have imagined finding before.
Same with services. I mean, you can find services on the Web that are just extraordinary, and you couldnt find those before. So I think search is the second category.
The third impact hasnt really happened yet, not in a big way. And thats Internet telephony. I think that free calls over the Web are going to be one of the greatest things that has happened to the world. Its going to be yet another great communication device. And then beyond that, were going to have voice and video over IP; were going to be able to see each other when we talk over the Web, and that is going to have another very large impact. And I think that companies like Santa Cruz Network, which is one of ours, and a few others, are going to really benefit from that happening.