Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blogging like it's 1999

One of the reasons I like reading venture capitalist Fred Wilson's blog is that it reminds me of 1999. Remember when the economy was booming, unemployment was at ~4%, the stock market was hitting new highs, and Internet businesses were focused more on gaining users than generating revenues? That last part, at least, is still the case with some of the ventures Fred writes about, and it makes me a little nostalgic for the good old days. Here was Fred blogging about one of his portfolio companies, Foursquare yesterday:

I was having breakfast at Pastis with a friend today. The "mayor" of that restaurant, Mark Ghuneim, walks in and goes to the bar to order his morning coffee to go. I said to my friend, "watch this, he's going to pull out his phone and then look up and and try to locate me in this restaurant". My friend, who is not on foursquare, says to me "how do you know?" I said "trust me". Sure enough, Mark starts looking around the restaurant and spots us and comes over and has a ten minute conversation about web music stuff (and foursquare).

When I checked in this morning at Pastis, I added a shout that said "getting a demo of a hot new web music service". The CEO of Targetspot, Eyal Goldwerger, saw that on his phone and jumped in a subway to come down and see the demo too. Sadly, we had left by the time he got there.

But both anecdotes are examples of why foursquare has such potential. It seems like such a simple and whimsical service. You just checkin to places via your phone. But the data that it creates and the way it is published out to your social graph is powerful. I expect we'll see a lot more of this sort of thing as the user base on foursquare hits six figures and hopefully seven figures in the coming months.

A commenter of his named Greg responded:

I don't think Foursquare is going to grow. Fred, your position is unique -- you're a micro-celebrity, people want to see you because they want to grovel for your money. The average person, though, has only 10-20 friends, and random people aren't checking to see them at all hours of the day. Checking in, then, quickly becomes a lonely and pointless experience; the virtual badges get old fast, there are no great anecdotes of people visiting you, and the deals businesses offer for mayors are sparse and easily gamed.

Foursquare is a case-study in the tech industry hype-machine. Because it's useful for micro-celebrities, you have exactly those people hyping it up: MG Siegler, yourself, etc.

Greg makes a similar point to the one I speculated about in this post, Social Media: the new Public Access TV?.


JK said...

Your comment about the real time coupon offers was a good one.

Fred should hire you.

DaveinHackensack said...

I'm good with coming up with ideas like that, but I doubt Fred or guys like him are look for brainstorming from their employees. Most companies aren't, which is probably a big waste. Not that every lower level employee will have a good idea (most won't), but in my experience there are occasionally some smart, creative folks who don't make it high in organizations for various reasons (e.g., they aren't focused on climbing the ladder, or don't have the political skills to do it). A company that could tap into that latent brainpower somehow could profit from it.

Google has done this, but that's an exception (and Google managers have more confidence in the intelligence of their worker drones than managers at other companies because of Google's de facto IQ screening of new hires).

OT: The legal stuff is done. Tomorrow is the tentative beginning of a soft launch for you know what. The affiliate gif/link looks pretty cool. Let me know what you think of it tomorrow.