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Google becoming the old guard? – and what is next

By October 11, 2006 January 1st, 2007 No Comments

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This was on Broadstuff yesterday:

I believe this is the day that Google officially handed over its crown as leader of the New Wave of Internet companies. It has now confirmed that it is becoming de facto Old Web Establishment.

This is their Netscape Moment, when it becomes clear they are not really in the vanguard for the next wave.

Heres why:

(i) They clearly no longer “get it” – they have developed N new businesses in the past few years , few of which have really taken off, while all around them a new wave of creativity has started apace.

(ii) I don’t know how much was spent on Google Video, but even with all their king’s horses and men, they couldn’t get it together and a bunch of guys came from nowhere and stole the show.

(iii) They have already IPO’d and it is now (very) clear that the cool stuff (and increasingly the wealth) is being created elsewhere – how to retain the creative talent will be an increasing issue…

(iv) …especially as the thundering herd of the rest of VC community now tries to back every Bubble 2.0 company going. A million flowers will bloom, many will wither but some will flourish…

More encouragement to compete with Google, following my post yesterday.

Then, very interestingly this came afterwards:

Now, the thing I have started to ruminate on is the point I made above…in Web 1.0 it seemed the Web Browser was The Thing, but it turned out that searching for web sites, and the related ad revenue turned out to be the real gold mine.

If (and admittedly it is an if) this holds true for Web 2.0 then plays such as YouTube – and probably the whole social networking thing – are like Netscape, ie they are the preconditions that must exist for the Real Web 2.0 applications to take root.

This speaks volumes to me.  As I’ve said before to me the web is re-organising around people instead of sites.  The parallel between the browser (or maybe early portals) and social networks makes sense in this context.  As in the early days of the web there is a whole lot of web2.0 (or social) activity out there, but it is still quite hard to do things that are useful.  You can quite easily parallel MySpace today with the early Yahoo!.  The difficulty of driving revenues from traffic in social networks also echoes the experience of the early web.  All of which goes to explain why intuitively we are all so excited by what is going on.

The logical conclusion of this piece of analysis is that there is still a long long way to go in the current wave and that there will be more $1bn companies formed.  Looking for a Google parallel which combines a smart way to organise online identity (ie your social life) and then a slick monetisation play is an obvious place to go.

People like Sam Sethi here in the UK and Marc Canter in the US are feeling their way towards something like this.   Coming at it from another perspective are customised home pages plays like Netvibes and even dear old BT.

At this stage the outcome looks far from clear though – so all to play for.