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Lemonade anyone?

An interesting observation made in a comment over on Fred Wilson’s A VC blog is that Craigslist, the simplistic classifieds site taking the world by storm, is nothing more than personally tagged spam. Fascinating. Craigslist have, albeit inadvertently, allowed people to take something we hate about the web and turn it into opt-in and organized information. Brilliant.

Another similar example? MillionDollarHomepage made money out of aggregating advertising in one place.

What else do we all hate about the web and can we flip it on its head, aggregate it and make money out of ring-fencing it?

False economies are doomed

One thing the web does well is cut out the middle man. So far the following industries have been ‘disintermediated’:

Banks: www.zopa.com & www.prosper.com
Estate Agents: www.eureka247.com
Car Salesmen: www.autotrader.co.uk
Classifieds: www.ebay.com & www.craigslist.com & www.gumtree.com
Gambling: www.betfair.com
Broadcasting: www.youtube.com

It seems that there are opportunities wherever there are experts telling us what to do when we could easily do it without them. But which industry is next?

Google is too general

Recently I needed to rent a car so off I trotted to Google to look for a local car rental company. Sadly the search results were so polluted with search noise that it fast became a waste of time. I changed tack and went off to Yell and found what I needed with ease. No prizes for guessing which site I will use when company searching in the future. Google is fast become a content / general search site for me.

Looking for a needle in a haystack is easier if you know which part of the haystack to look in. Google doesn’t.

Crap is the new good


Alex Tew is the brains behind the Million Dollar Homepage. What started out as a simple idea to make some cash for university has turned into the first candidate for 'internet phenomenon of 05/06'.

The secret to Tew’s success is simple: he had a great story to tell. His struggle to fund himself through university appealed to the media and so they covered it. And they covered it some more. And then they covered it again. Then he was pretty much the story of the week, globally.

He has benefited from millions of pounds worth of free global pr without which it is unlikely that any of us would have heard of Alex and his venture.

Just goes to show that anyone setting up or running a business should not ignore the power of narrative in capturing the attention of the media.

Crap ideas can be great and great ideas can be crap.

Mainstream media: adapt or die!

According to the trend-watching folks at PSFK the Chicago Tribune has abandoned carrying stock listings in the daily paper. They have ceded that people are using the web for "live" information. An interesting move that will, of course, free up print space for other purposes. Such as? The Tribune says it will, in future, add value by “analyzing developments and trends for a broader range of investments in stocks, bonds, real estate and other financial markets”. So: live data and interrogation via the web; analysis in other formats. Life in the old print dog yet...?


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