Great post by Russell even though it's just another spin on the various complaints, including myself, on the type of companies coming out of the Web 2.0 frenzy. Not sure if I agree with the title completely, but he gets his message across:
All these startups in my feeds lately are killing me! There are tons of them, but none seem to be doing anything particularly special. I mean, it’s nice that there’s a sort of rebirth of small startups, but there’s absolutely no sort of wow factor that I’ve seen. And no, this isn’t an anti-Web 2.0 style backlash: I really believe in the idea of the web as a platform. Amazon and eBay’s web services are perfect examples of platforms which have created huge value for both companies, as well as the developers using their APIs. That’s not the problem. It’s all these Flickr-wannabes, flip-it-quick companies that are bugging me.
Here, let me categorize them:
Scrape Engines - These are the little search sites focusing on one niche or another. They’re not full-on Search Engines that crawl the entire web and add value by allowing us all to make order from the massive chaos that is the web, they rob value from other sites by crawling them to death and stealing most of the vital information, returning very little. I’m sure there’s some sort of justifiable symbioses here for some, but most are just leaches, IMHO.
Mashed Ups - Yes, it’s so neat you can add a free map to your database of geo-data. Good for you. Thank Google for giving god-knows-how-much money to Navteq for you every time you query their data and render a map. Even the GOOG can only throw so much money out the window for so long, so I wouldn’t plan on that lasting very long. If you’re doing the Mash-up for fun, that’s cool. But be honest, you’re not really creating much value are you? Yes, sometimes the sum of parts can be greater than the whole, but that’s really not the case here.
Web Trapps - AJAXy, Tagged and Shared: Calendaring, To Do Lists, Email, Notes, Word Processors, Project Management, Databases, and anything to do with Getting Things Done. Have fun with all that, but 99.9% of the people out there will still be using Microsoft Office and Yahoo! (Yes, my employer, but I’d say that anyways.) Really. Look, I don’t *trust* your site to keep my personal (and definitely not my professional) data safe, okay, and I’m not going to change my daily habits to include a site that may disappear from the face of the Earth tomorrow. And I could participate in the whole collective intelligence part, but then I’ll just abandon you if you “go commercial” then as well.
Social Anything - Look, you’re not going to be another del.icio.us alright? And News Corp is the last company to ever pay that much money for a Social Networking site. Ever. (Yes, that includes you too, FaceBook). And you know how I’ll find that podcast, song, movie or other digital content I’m looking for? I’ll probably just ask a friend, search for a reviews, browse iTunes, or buy whatever is marketed at me like everyone else.
Phile Sharing - Oh my god! Stop with the photo sharing sites already! An honestly, if you describe your site like, "It’s like Flickr, but with [insert file type here]" then you’ve got serious problems. No, really. No, no, really.
[Great example. So true.]
Content Management Saturation - There shall only be one Wikipedia, and it’s free. There’s about as many blog and wiki software platforms as there needs to be. Generally, I think at this point, the world does not need another CMS solution. Maybe in a few years, but right now we really have what we need.
[Crap, Russell, you're knocking on GoingOn's space. Oh well, I still love your post. But just wait til you see our product and our ambition.]
RSS Holes - RSS is a pretty great technology, but really, how many more startups munging RSS feeds do we need? Google and Yahoo! are already doing RSS Search, so there’s probably better ways to spend your efforts on that front. And if your service is described like, "We take the RSS feeds and do [insert cool sounding agent/filtering/analysis technology here]" you’re in trouble. Yet, though Bloglines has barely touched their feature set in over a year, no one seems to be able to come up with a decent competitor in terms of functionality and usefulness (and ability to read via mobile) - that I don’t get.
[Totally with you, Russell]
Firefoxing - Umm, I like FireFox as much as the next geek. But if you’re creating enhancements to a browser with a 7% marketshare, god knows what you or your investors are thinking.
Am I missing anything? Any general category or buzzword I left out? (full post)