How’s FlapjawCo Doing Today?

April 19th, 2007  |  Published in etc

» gl. sent a link to the only blogger Code of Conduct we’ll ever need.

Kind of related, though, in a way I’ll try to explain shortly:

First, the money people:

Forbes: Where Are The Web 2.0 IPOs?

“… venture capitalists say that while the boom is back, there is a fundamental change: The era of the overnight IPO, they say, is gone forever. That means that almost all of the Web 2.0 companies that have sprung up in the past few years simply aren’t mature enough to go public.

“‘It’s almost a 1999 mentality to say, ‘How do you build a public company in three years?’ You don’t,’ said Bill Gurley, a general partner with Benchmark Capital who sits on the board of Web 2.0 real estate venture”

I’m not going to confuse the robustness of the “Web 2.0 IPO market” with the usefulness of whatever nebulous set of features you care to describe “Web 2.0” with. Just call this one a datapoint for when we get to the end.

And perhaps also meditate on the Linux Boom, ca. 1999 … the dawning awareness of what business models would and wouldn’t work (Productized consumer Linux? Didn’t work. Service/support? Left some roadkill. Proprietized business Linux? We’ll never know what kind of sense that made, because Novell has burned through all its goodwill in spectacular fashion in just six months, and esr’s attempts to revive the model for desktop users are tainted by his trademark inability to be “for” anything.)

IBM did o.k., because it realized what it had on its hands wasn’t a product so much as some raw material and a marketing angle.

All that other business model wreckage, though, created the same conditions any forest that burns to the ground creates: An opportunity for something less imposing than a whole pine tree to get a head start … something fragile and dependent on the absence of robust competitors in its ecological niche. I’ll get to it. It’s smaller than an elk, bigger than a squirrel, and less useful than either.

And to make it clear, before moving on: Forbes’ take is not one we’d do well to care about too much. Its editorial mission is not in line with what I care about. Its imprimatur on any technical trend falls under the category of “things that matter to your lunkhead brother-in-law, who routinely conflates stock price with … well … everything.”

(Also to make clear: I have one brother-in-law, and he is not a lunkhead … I like him. I’m just saying your brother-in-law probably sucks.)

More from money people:

Mercury News: Web 2.0 firms face unusual problem: too many customers

“More and more Web 2.0 start-ups are running into a surprising problem: too many customers.

“Make that too many customers in the wrong countries.

“Although the Internet is a global medium, U.S. firms, which drive the vast majority of online advertising spending, shun users in many foreign countries.)”

And now something from research:

Reuters: Participation on Web 2.0 sites remains weak

“Web 2.0, a catchphrase for the latest generation of Web sites where users contribute their own text, pictures and video content, is far less participatory than commonly assumed, a study showed on Tuesday.

A tiny 0.16 percent of visits to Google’s top video-sharing site, YouTube, are by users seeking to upload video for others to watch, according to a study of online surfing data by Bill Tancer, an analyst with Web audience measurement firm Hitwise.

Similarly, only two-tenths of one percent of visits to Flickr, a popular photo-editing site owned by Yahoo Inc., are to upload new photos, the Hitwise study found.

The vast majority of visitors are the Internet equivalent of the television generation’s couch potatoes — voyeurs who like to watch rather than create, Tancer’s statistics show.

So: The business models aren’t there yet, and even if they were the real benefit people perceive from “Web 2.0” is less the way it enables them to share, and more the way it enables others to share. Or, since it seems like a pretty one-way street, “give.”

Then there’s the final word, which is where I was headed when I read that awesome Code of Conduct gl. sent along (second chance to follow that link … please do, even if you ignore anything else I’ve typed here):

Forbes: Overkill 2.0?

“Web 2.0 is a moneymaker. Sort of. That is, the slick, innovative start-ups that make up the Web-based tech trend aren’t necessarily profitable. Many, in fact, aren’t generating much revenue. But the conferences? Cash cows.”

Yep. Conferences rock for that kind of thing, huh? Round up a few high foreheads, slap on some topicality, get the masturbatory logrolling going between the participants, spend the next few months after the conference referring people back to your fragmentary liveblogging of panels where the speakers from the last panel got down from the dais and swapped seats with the audience so they could take their turn liveblogging.

The Sierra thing and the attendant “Let’s have a code of conduct” gumsmacking was tailor-made for that environment:

Make it a panel discussion at some conference (or three or eight), hold a BoF on the need for a code of conduct, bloviate about the need for a code of conduct, blog, blogroll, bookmark, podcast, microformat, transform, tumble, munge and mashup on the need for a code of conduct.

And welcome back to 1999.

A few produced, a few tried and failed to sell, and a few more slapped some business ties on a school of remoras and turned them loose to create a cottage industry on “expertise” not so much in doing things with the technology in question, but expertise in talking about the technology enough to get their airfare covered and pull down enough gigs on assorted podcasts to promulgate their status as experts so … you know … more plane tickets and panels and podcasts.

Ironically, the same people probably also get drunk at mixers and complain that the country’s suffering because it doesn’t build anything anymore!


We just build hamburgers, movies, arms, humanitarian disasters and Web 2.0 pundits.

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