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You gave you away October 21, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy.
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3 comments

A few days ago I posted a presentation on where I think this space is headed. On slide 191 (yes 191) I mention something called The Three Musketeers rule, All For One or One For All. The former is siloed value creation, the latter creates value for an ecosystem.

I realised in the shower last night (keep it clean people) I had actually been thinking about this since November when I drew the below image:

I believe the Internet is, on a DNA-level, structured to create value for an ecosystem, and I believe this is why we’re seeing traditional business having a hard time playing in the new landscape, with models being destroyed and a new kind of value creation making waves.

This is also why I’m still on the fence about Facebook over the long term. Nobody can deny their growth or do anything other than applaud getting to profitability. But I feel on an instinctive level the model is All For One, it’s old media dressed up in shiny new threads, it’s a system that creates value for Facebook alone, and it’s questionable if any value is created outside of its walls.

In the presentation I included a slide of companies who are operating with a One For All approach:

Looking for a model?

Looking for a model?

If over time it transitions into One For All it will be interesting to watch. As it stands now, I can’t help but feel it is organised against the natural order of the Internet, which is open and connected. We’re seeing what happens when you do that across all kinds of industries, and it being an Internet darling does not exclude it from the same principles.

Even Rome fell people.

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I just called…to say… August 26, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in social networks, technology.
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1 comment so far

I have Skype running pretty much constantly on my computer due to being a long way from home. I like being able to talk for free to any of my friends back home, or indeed any friends in other part sof the world, and I look forward to a day when ubiquitous Internet access makes ridiculous carrier plans a thing of the past and blows the communications space wide open, with access for all.

Until that day however, we make do with what we have. And as I was doing this last night a message came in over Twitter from my dad back in Australia. We went back and forth and then I asked him why I never saw him on Skype. He responded with this:

dad-twitter

Now, you can argue Skype provides an entirely different service to the above or you can argue that it crosses over in a few really key places. It isn’t hard to imagine Facebook implementing its own video chat service, and this was heavily rumoured back in May. Add to this ongoing concerns about the future of Skype’s underlying technology, and what we have left is a legacy of arguably Europe’s biggest VC success story (in 2005 eBay ponied up ~US$3.3 billion) winding up in the hands of a company that had no idea what to do with it (and may soon go the way of Pets.com).

The ultimate take-away is, for me, about sticking to what you do.

Or put another way, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

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Eyes on the prize: what is your company’s core offering? March 3, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
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I’m a big believer in a business being free to focus on its core product(s). If it ain’t what you do, then it ain’t what you do! Far too many times I’ve seen companies get distracted by an interesting piece of technology or an idea outside their scope or ability to act on. When that happens, your core product suffers, and your competitors who may have been running a distant second seem to close the gap over night.

It isn’t simply a case of distraction though, outsourcing can also land your ability to succeed and innovate in the hands of people who don’t share your priorities, goals, or values. What that means is a devaluing of your offering in the eyes of the people you’re hoping to sell to. An inconsistent experience you can’t directly impact means your brand comes to be associated with, at best, a level of impotence in affecting positive change for its own offering, and at worst, a frustrating end-user experience. On top of the impotence. With a good measure of GAF* thrown in.

The same idea applies to brand extension. Let’s compare Google and eBay, two titans from Web 1.0. One seemingly goes from strength to strength with an occasional bit of conjecture, and another is mired in a mix of end-user apathy and anger, with top-tier management failing to set a cohesive direction. Google’s acquisitions may seem puzzling at times from the outside, however each purchase (with the occasional exception) can fairly readily be tied back into search, and eventually monetised.

Contrast this with eBay’s acquisition of promising-but-troubled VOIP provider Skype back in 2005. 2 1/2 years on this seems like a move geared around nabbing promising tech before someone else does, and not around how such a service better positions eBay to grow. Now both services are languishing with indifference and open hostility, and the purchase is little more than a land-grab in hindsight.

The trouble with a land-grab is eventually the people who actually own the land show up and cause trouble. In this case the digital natives are fighting back, services like Etsy crop up and move in on markets that could have and maybe should have been eBay’s. All due to the company losing focus, and the same can be said for Yahoo!, parts of Microsoft, and a myriad of players in the offline space too.

Times like this some old-school business lessons can come in handy. Echoed in Fred Wilson’s post about the New York Times, Jack Welch’s mantra to his VPs was be number one or two in your market, otherwise get out. Seth Godin says in his book The Dip “being the best in the world is seriously underrated”. And as I say up top, “If it ain’t what you do, then it ain’t what you do!”

Anyone have examples that fit into the above they’d care to share?