Q How do you sort the hype from reality in this current wave of Internet companies?
A I look for doubling effects. I look for things that continue to see doubling in size. The instant messenger ICQ launched in 1996. By the time I signed up, six weeks later, they had 65,000 downloads. Back then the word-of-mouth network wasn’t so efficient.
My scepticism right now is about how many Web 2.0 Web sites have audiences. The one site people outside the geek world talk to me about is Zillow (which gives real estate price estimates). It’s easy to get doubling effects inside a passion chamber — all the people who care about something will check it out. It’s hard to have it double forever. The trick is to know if it has a chance to jump from the passionate few to the unpassionate many.