Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Would I invest in a dot com startup?

Every Joe on the street thinks he can make a quick million or two by starting his own dot com company. Hey Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, founders of YouTube.com did it. Unfortunately there is a saturation of the web sites which promise functionality however they are dependent on your, the user's, data. The first question to ask is why would I want to put my information on a third party web site so that web site founder can make some money. It is the sad truth but most of these companies will not last long. For example let's look at various Social Networks:
  • MySpace.com - one of the first site which actually picked up in popularity. Now it is mired in mediocrity and I don't see anything new and exciting happening on the site. Did I mention that they have added Facebook like functionality.
  • Facebook.com - I have to say that I was a skeptic when I joined this site however this site offers neat functionality where the user can actually spend time on the site. I am a big fan of Facebook's scrabble application
  • High 5 - Started by an east indian and it's being marketed heavily in the east indian community.
  • Orkut - I have to say this is probably one of the worst social networks I have come across. It is probably Google's worst purchase.
  • Kadoo - A new social network site whose UI looks promising however I still don't have an incentive to join this group. I am not into propogating my identity across the internet
  • Linkedin.com - I like this website. It's a social network for your professional contacts
  • Xing.com - It is a similiar network like Linkedin however this one is popular in Europe
  • PageFlakes.com - Someone emailed me asking me to experience this site. Once again I ask the question. Why should I sign up on PageFlakes.com?
  • NING.com - This is the UBER social network where anyone can create their own social network. UI is not that great and it is meant as a research application.
After I mentioned all of these social networks, how would a investor invest in these kind of businesses? Frankly everyone of these social networks offer similiar if not identical functionaliy. I would probably want to invest in networks which have alot of users and the network has a niche like Linkedin and Xing which only work with professional social networks.


odysen support said...

Hi Enoch,

One start page website you might want to check out is Odysen at http://www.odysen.com. To answer some of your questions/concerns about all these dot com startups:

Q. The first question to ask is why would I want to put my information on a third party web site so that web site founder can make some money.

A. Agreed and that is one of the key ideas behind Odysen, giving tools to manage your data/information however you want. It has multiple pages where you can change the security from private to shared or public. The result being is most of the users have a majority of their pages kept as private, some shared, and the least of all public. In making it as useful as possible, we've also kept to a very minimalistic approach (no large logo or anything), giving users the most control of their pages.

C. Frankly everyone of these social networks offer similiar if not identical functionaliy.

A. Well, the problem could be that everyone is dealing with the same types of content. Another feature of Odysen is the free-formatting of the widgets. Instead of the basic 3 column format, with Odysen you can size the widgets to format the content to however you like.

More information and page examples are available at our blog at http://odysen.blogspot.com/.

Enoch said...

After looking at odysen.com, I ask the question,"Which dot com should I invest in?" Should it be odysen, pageflakes, netvibes or some other website with similar functionality? The answer is I wouldn't since IGoogle offers simiiiar functionality and I would stick with iGoogle since I can use Google's robust security features. On the other hand, I would be open to investing if one of these companies can productize this "portal" functionality and sell it to organizations. The product would allow organizations:
- to design their own widgets
- to easily integrate this product to organization's user data storest like an LDAP
- to control access to certain widgets based on user roles

odysen support said...

Good idea for organization in adding custom widgets, integrated with organization content/data, and security level of certain widgets.

Odysen pretty much has all of this ready to go. Custom widgets is no problem (obviously dependent on complexity of widget). Integrated with organization content/data could be done, we currently have a file storage widget with notification of updates and have experience with integrating widgets with live data. Security options at Odysen are already set up with widgets and pages, and will soon be in social networking groups and profiles.

Focusing for organizations is something we've been thinking of, is part of the idea of having a very minimalistic style. For example, you don't see any big logo/banner, we wanted to 1) give the user as much freedom of their page as possible and 2) have a fairly generic but useful interface to work with, flexible to adapt to other sites. For space, once you give users full control of the format and content, every amount of space is so much more valuable. Additionally for space efficiency, the free-formatting widgets give you the option to adjust the size to whatever you want.

Why haven't we seen this with anyone else? I'm sure people are working on it, will probably see more through 2008, especially with all the recent social networking focus.

We'd be happy to discuss with any organizations that are interested in having a customized version of Odysen. Let us know what you're thinking of and we can go from there.