Bubble 2.0: Buckle up!
So I just got back from the Web 2.0 conference and there’s definitely a new bubble in the making. Let me first say that the conference was great, the organizers did a good job, I learned a lot and networked plenty. I achieved my goals, and the organizers achieved theirs. It’s not their fault that we’re watching The Return of the Bubble.
But that doesn’t stop the conference from feeling like Bubble 2.0 is coming. Marc Hedlund at O’Reilly seems to think we’re all wrong for thinking that there’s a bubble, but his rationale doesn’t address the biggest indicator: no real business models.
There were a lot of neat ideas at the conference. No killer apps, but the truth is that killer apps take time and they begin as neat ideas. eBay didn’t happen overnight. So lots of neat ideas = cool.
There was a lot of money at the conference. I ran into more VC than I could count, all looking for neat ideas that could become killer apps. That’s good, too, because neat ideas often need capital to become killer apps. Not always, and I think less often these days than in the 90s, but still fairly often. So lots of money in search of neat ideas = cool.
But after talking to at least a hundred guys with ideas and a hundred guys with money, I didn’t hear a single solid business model. Furthermore, there were no speakers on the agenda who even addressed this vital issue.
Most common business model? “Grow fast, get acquired.” (Heard that one before, have you?). Second most common business model? “Slap Adwords on it.” Third most common? Oh, wait, that was as far as it went. I’m sure there were companies there who were selling things to consumers, or doing subscriptions, or doing added service and support. I was there, afterall, and I’m sure there were others. But they weren’t a blip on the radar, let alone the majority.
So my bottom-line takeaway from the conference is that smugmug is even more special than I’d realized. We not only have a business model that works, but it’s been working for years. We have our hedgehog strategy and we’re sticking to it.