There are hundreds of Web 2.0/Social Networking companies out there, and my guess is only about 5% of them are actually unique onto themselves. What I mean is that most of these start-ups offer the exact same thing as their competition, with maybe a slight tweak of some sort. They are all junk with the exception of a handful. My profession requires me to follow things of this nature, and as such, I sign up and try to play around with a bunch of these new age technology solutions, most of which I forget about.
This whole post is dedicated to the number one indication that a 2.0 company is going under.
Before I reveal the sign of failure, I want to remind everyone unfamiliar with 2.0 websites that the whole basis of their technology is rooted on the wisdom of the crowd. This means that the users determine the righteousness, incorrectness, and sentiment of things like definitions, reviews, statements, suggestions, ratings, directions, etc. A comment or post on a 2.0 site might solicit a barrage of negative or positive/supportive responses from the community. For example, if someone said, “What’s a good place to eat in Little Rock, Arkansas?”, and someone responded, “McDonalds”, the chances of the user base to speak up and say, “Actually, the best place is Uncle Bobby Joe’s Rib Shack” greatly increases because no matter where you are, McDonalds is never the best place to go. The crowd self corrects.
Consequently this open playing ground of crowd correction builds a loose sense of community where other users can link up and learn more about one another. Or at least, that’s what the 2.0 companies want. Many of these start-ups really try to force a sense of community, and often times, everyone working for the start-up tries their best to establish a community. You will frequently see the founders and technicians of the 2.0 start-up out befriending individuals and supplying content to gently coax others to increase their level of participation. This is a good indication the company is failing. Actually, it’s a good damn indication that the company is going under.
I signed up for Blippr, which is more or less like Yelp but with a focus on discovering media (i.e. Books, Movies, etc). I “blipped” about one book review like 2 months ago, and just yesterday I got a request from the founder to join his friend list. I was like WTF is going on here? I practically abandoned the service, my initial use was incredibly low, and my profile was practically incomplete, but the founder wanted to put me on his friend list. Hmmm….my guess is that he is on a crusade to revive the company, but chances are it won’t work, because like I said in the beginning of this post, Blippr is no more unique than the dozen other companies just like it. I dug a little deeper and found that most of the reviews on the site were all from employees, which is a very clear indication that no one outside of the company was using it.
So moral of the post, if the founder of any 2.0 website tries to befriend you, the company has about 3-6 months left. Here is some of my Blippr evidence: