There’s nary a video in sight, and — at the risking of sounding like a complete fool given its huge acquisition price — I find Mint’s 20+ pages outlining its feature set and why people should use the service to be positively daunting. Twitter’s page doesn’t include a video (though I think it badly needs one). And Facebook just says that it’s a service that “helps you connect and share with the people in your life”, which would set my bullshit meter off the charts if it appeared in any startup pitch.

Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch talking about the underutilized power of a video demo

Don’t boil the ocean

I’m currently reading The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki – guess why – and I definitely recommend it to anyone starting anything. One of the main messages he tries to get between the eyes is that “thou shall niche thyself” – meaning: don’t try to be everything for everybody because you’ll end up stuck in the middle.

These exact same words resonated through Scoble’s take on the relaunch of Technorati today:

“The most interesting things on the Internet are done by small teams. Not “boil the ocean and try to kill Google” teams.”

I think he is spot on and the examples he gives are good illustrations of his point. Let’s see how the “Live-web search engine” positioning of Technorati plays out against Microsoft and Google.

“For entrepreneurs working at big co is not good” – duh

Apparently, a number of founders from ventures acquired by Google are leaving the Googleplex: 

“Like DodgeBall, Blogger team members and dMarc founders left GooglePlex, preferring to follow their own internal algorithm instead of working for Google. It seems like a trend: for entrepreneurs who sellout to Google, Google money is good, but working for Google, not so good!”

Isn’t that almost always the case for entrepreneurs who decide to sellout? They innovate, the acquirer is good at scaling. Sometimes the acquisition is about the people, sometimes about the systems, sometimes just to kill a competitor, etc. What’s new? With dMarc it was about the systems, apparently, as we can read in the NYT today:

“Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said last year that he planned to eventually have 1,000 employees working in the company’s radio unit. Google paid as much as $1.24 billion to acquire dMarc Broadcasting early last year, and used that company’s systems to expand its AdSense for Audio sales system to include radio capabilities.”

Avoiding the Network Effect

Read a good post from Michael Arrington at Techcrunch about the state of the venture capital market. I agree with his analysis that the market doesn’t seem to be in a bubble at this point. But the following reasoning made me think:

“The Network Effect is still the most powerful force driving Internet success today. People don’t, for example, go to Digg because it has great software. The original Digg, as launched, cost Kevin Rose less than $2,000 to create. Anyone can create a Digg clone, and many have. The reason Digg is, and will continue to be, successful is because of the community it has created. People go to Digg because everyone else goes to Digg, and every new user who submits stories and/or votes occasionally adds value to the whole network. The Network Effect is also driving Facebook’s success, and YouTube’s. None of these companies have interesting software. All of them have an incredibly valuable community. All of these companies have to work hard to keep their lead, but it is nearly impossible for new entrants to catch up”.

I agree with his observation that the network effect is one of the critical success factors for Internet success today. And I also believe that an absense of the effect will be as much a driver of success for new startups in the future. I sense a feeling that people want an Internet service they start to use works as of day 1. They feel cheated if they notice the promise of a service is only delivered if a zillion people subscribe. Put differently, the challenge for new service providers would be to reach a tipping point at the day of launch.