Saturday, February 24, 2007

YouTube, Facebook Spark Copycats, Bubble Fear in Silicon Valley

Edward Robinson and Jonathan Thaw of Bloomberg write an insightful account of how the new Internet gold rush could be different from the first one.

Let's take a look a little background:
"A murmur of recognition ripples through the standing-room-only crowd at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club of California as Mark Zuckerberg steps on stage.

He looks like your average college kid, in his green Urban Outfitters T-shirt, jeans and Adidas flip-flops. Yet Zuckerberg, 22, is royalty to the Webheads who have assembled on this cool November evening to hear him speak on ``Defining the Self in a Virtual World.''

Zuckerberg is founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., a three-year-old social networking Web site that's exploded into an online hub for more than 17 million young people.

Last fall, Yahoo! Inc. offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion -- conjuring up a specter that last haunted Silicon Valley during the late 1990s: a technology bubble. Zuckerberg turned the offer down. He's also received e-mailed marriage proposals on his own Facebook page. He's turned them down, too.

Zuckerberg and scores of Web-savvy entrepreneurs who've grown up chatting, dating and shopping online are defining new rules for the Internet startup economy seven years after the dot-com bust."
It's a rather long read, but the following pretty much capture the main points:
  • Mass-market Phenomenon
  • A New Bubble?
  • `Damn Frothy Time'
  • Cheaper Than Ever
  • One Disappointment
  • Dot-com Bust
  • More Sober
  • Keeping VCs Waiting
  • The Next Google
  • Playground Game
  • `IM Anywhere'
  • Trouble-shooting
  • $3.5 Million Funding
  • Built on Speed
  • `Formal Fridays'
  • Hackathon
  • Ad Spending
  • $100 Million in Sales
  • `Trust Network'
  • Eventual IPO
I vaguely remember an article in The Economist in 2000 summarizing how in the (then) new gold rush "the only people guaranteed to make money are those making the shovels." And that meant players the likes of Cisco and Sun.

I'd like to think that in the newer version of Internet gold rush, knowing how to collaboratively use the shovels in diverse ways may just allow ordinary people to hit pay dirt.

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