Adapted from recent correspondence with Marc Andreessen:
Mike just pointed me to Marc Andreessen's post on The Pmarca Guide to Startups: The only thing that matters (the market), which I recommend. I agree that the market is an essential element of the success of a start-up. Google’s (and Yahoo's) success can be attributed in large part to the explosion of content on the WWW at the same time, which made almost any search miraculously yield something of some relevance (of course this does not explain why others like Altavista floundered). MySpace’s success can be attributed in large part to the explosion of young people on the WWW. iPod’s on the explosion of digital music. And YouTube’s on the sudden ubiquitous nature of digital video.
That begs the question: what will the next explosive markets be? I think Marc's bet with Ning is a reasonable one: what could be more leveraged than creating a site to help people create multiple social networks? My own bets right now are on the following:
- Finding a way to leverage the opinions of the millions of users who have started to express their view on anything under the Sun on the WWW.
- Finding a way to find regular (i.e. not famous) people on the WWW –traditional search engine algorithms like PageRank were designed to find important webpages, and most people don’t have one.
- Using the massive amount of digital data to personalize everything –the next decade will be one where cookie-cutter solutions won’t make the cut.
- Using the ubiquitous nature of cell phones to solve the multitude of problems and waste (including waste of time) derived from lack of communication –automatic communication everywhere everytime will be the norm going forward.
- Easy and inexpensive access to data and testing will eliminate arbitrary and/or irrational business decisions in favor of automatically tested strategies.
- The commoditization of everything non-unique: The Internet has enabled the global supply of most any good to satisfy demand most anywhere on the Planet, meaning consumers no longer have to choose one seller: they can choose a good or an equivalence class, name a price, and let sellers compete to provide it.
- (added by our own Mike Yudin): The web started as a very global media, it is now spreading to the local level. People expect to find information about their local community and interact with it online. Doctors and lawyers, car dealers, diners, plumbers, florists, community groups, schools, etc…
ab|inventio seeks to capitalize on these market trends. We have a number of teams working on solutions to each of the problems above: #1 is addressed by REPcloud (in stealth). #2 by Whozat. #3 by 2 start-ups we are working on that will personalize news and entertainment, both in stealth. Our first pass at #4 is QLess (www.waitinginlinesucks.com) , recently a finalist of TechCrunch Supernova. #5 we’re only just beginning to tackle, but www.PREPROVE.com will tackle one aspect. www.1ofthese.com will soon address #6. #7 we're combining w/#3 in one of those companies in stealth.
Care to join us in the adventure? We're hiring!