OpenBusiness interviews Esther Dyson:
OB: OpenBusiness is about investigating an apparent trend on the internet. More and more businesses are throwing themselves open in many different ways for instance, offering free services and content. At times, however, they seem to have no real business models. Yet the social bookmarking service deli.cio.us, which requires no payment at all, has been bought by Yahoo! It creates value through the sharing of bookmarks in a sense an exchange for information but its entirely free of charge and there are no advertisements. Its all very open, but where is the business model?
Esther: Well, its true more and more businesses are being built around openness. I think you need to pay attention to timing. You can use one strategy to get into the market, and then you adopt another once you are established. Few of these strategies are actually new, many of them rely on quite well established business strategies.
For example, I was one of the angel investors in del.icio.us. We certainly planned to change our financial strategy over time. First we would build a useful resource or service,. offering it for free and gathering a community around it. Then, with luck, we would reach a point where we would have a platform to which we could add revenue-generating services. That may be ads, or it may be various premium functions you can charge for. Of course, you have to take care not to promise something for free if you plan to charge for it later!