Lots of Lessons

Tom Evslin discusses Yahoo’s purchase of del.icio.us and touches on several issues of interest and/ or lessons to be learned.  First, he uses this deal as an example to put down the the notion that a company must be built to generate earnings/cash flow in order to create value.  Tom says:

Even if Joshua and company built del.icio.us only for resale, they created real value in aggregating users and creating a folksonomy – a user defined categorization and ranking of web content.  They did a brilliant job of solving the dilemma of all network-value businesses – how do you get to critical mass when there is NO network value for the first users?

Real estate analogy holds, but lots more to it – risk, sub-market knowledge, etc.

Remember Metcalfe’s Law that the value of a network scales with the square of the number of users.  This implies that big networks have huge value but also that small networks have almost no value at all,  Makes it hard to get started.

Del.icio.us had value for user #1 even if it wasn’t “network” value.  Tagging is a good way to remember all the web pages you may want to find again.  That use doesn’t depend on any one else doing any tagging.  So more and more people used del.icio.us to bookmark web pages for later retrieval.

Network value – build it and they will come?

Since the tags are public, anyone can use everyone else’s tags as a way to find information.  So, as soon as enough people tagged for their own selfish purpose, their tags became useful to other people looking for web content.  Moreover, there is information in how many people tagged a particular web site or blog.  Popularity means something although it’s not always clear what.  Soon del.icio.us had real network value and was off to the races.

First to market – ?

Del.icio.us got to a critical mass of users before its competitors.  That’s crucial to a network business because this lead kicks off a virtuous circle. The network service with the most users has the most value to each new user.  Other things being anywhere near equal, the larger network therefore gets more than its share of new users and grows faster than its would-be competitors.  Aggregating users faster than anyone else is why Skype succeeded and it’s why del.icio.us succeeded as well.

You can subscribe to comments about this post via the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.