Sink or Swim: Six Companies that Might Make It

This past Friday, I had the privilege of being on a “Future of the Web” panel at New Media Nouveaux outside of Washington, D.C. It was a lot of fun and certainly a necessary kind of event if the capital region is going to make any real strides in the area of social media.

One of the questions that was asked revolved around which companies or individuals were important to watch for the future. I shaped my answer in a Sink or Swim kind of mode. Companies who would sink into obscurity or make it in an industry that has as many newcomers, it seems, as we had in the late 90s and few are actually making it to an exit or IPO.

So as a recap and an elaboration, let me outline three companies that will sink and three that will swim.

Yahoo – Sink
A couple of weeks ago, I had several stories about Yahoo! and the woes they were encountering. In that time, their CEO has left, they have closed several of their businesses including Yahoo! Photos and Yahoo! Personals. This is more indication of what is to come as they slim down to an acquirable state. Yahoos failure was not in vision, but in execution. Many missteps along the road took them out of the lead position to upstart Google, and their seemingly blind navigation through the internet world post-1998 just makes me think they aren’t going anywhere but straight to the acquisition bin.

Twitter – Swim
Twitter is only a couple, six months old. They are not a big company and they may not have a business plan. However, their amazing ability to lure new users to the world of micro-content is nothing short of amazing. Twitter’s base principle “What am I doing now?” seems shallow in its focus, however look deeper and you’ll find a whole new world of connectivity between blog posts. Before blogs, we had magazines and newspapers and you had to wait until the next day to find out what someone would write – and then those someones were”qualified” journalists. Then there was blogging which gave the average person the opportunity to write a couple times of day. Twitter takes that conversation into an even more granular state of the “in between” times. Half global instant message, half blog, half forum, half marketing platform – Twitter has the bases covered. Despite upstart competitors like Pownce and Jaiku, none have the weird charm that Twitter does.

Plus, Twitter takes the internet into untethered space allowing folks to use the service via text message. That is very Web 3.0.

MySpace – Sink
No need to rehash this, Myspace is dead.

Facebook – Swim
An open platform, an open motif for all kinds of guerrilla and viral marketing, Facebook will not only become the destination for friends and colleagues – it will become the platform of choice for marketing.

Mahalo – Sink
Something about “human powered search” doesn’t sit right with me. It seems old and antiquated. It seems irrelevant. It seems like too big of a task to have relevancy in. Why should Mahalo work? If it does, it will only because Jason Calacanis is a very smart man. Beyond that, the entire concept is crazy.

ConceptShare – Swim
My good friends up in the great white north, ConceptShare, are definite swimmers. Scott Brooks called me this morning to thank me for mentioning them. Quite unusual to get a call thanking someone for a mention, but that demonstrates how smart these guys are.

ConceptShare takes the idea that collaborative design is tricky over email with comments and feedback sometimes having questionable results in the end product, and mashes the collaborative process into a single web application. With ConceptShare, a designer, photographer or videographer can upload “concepts” to the application, and contributors can comment with drag and drop comment threads linked to portions of the piece. This is particularly interesting in video where 2:35 seconds into the video, there is a color shift that seems unnatural and a contributor thinks that the video producer should edit that one 10 second section. See the power?

ConceptShare has been used by b5media, in full disclosure, for several of our design projects including our version 2 template that is deployed across the network. Very powerful. These guys laughed at me when I predicted they would be acquired by Google – but I think it’s coming.

Is MySpace Dead?

Last week, I asked Facebookers “Is MySpace Dead?” The answers were very interesting. There seemed to be as much neutrality as there was bias one way or another.

Scott Matthewman says: It still seems to be as busy as ever from where I’m sitting. But the whole customisation thing is reminiscent of late 90′s Geocities — all those animated backgrounds. My eyes!

Jon Phillips says: Its soul is old world and fb folks tell me that mass migration from myspace to fb is happening.

Rachel Clarke says: Not yet. There is a definite move towards facebook for some but MySpace will remain and have uses because of its more public nature.

Gary Grant says: It may still have some life left for the kids. It never came alive for me though, not addictive like FB.

Justin Heim says: The life line is slowing down, and it is proving to be a slow and painful death… But it is still kicking!

Brian Layman says: Yes. It is packed garbage. + too many people never joined it because it was always just a place for pre-teens. With WordPress making it so easy to create real sites, it doesn’t even have that going for them. Now Facebook offers a mature social network.

Mark Jaquith says: Not yet. But I suspect that the exodus will be as swift as the rise, if not more so.

Jessica Doyle says: I never used myspace at all so therefor it didn’t exist to me. If it was never alive then it can’t be dead.

Laurarose Dunn says: Nope. I use myspace more than facebook simply because I have more friends from over the years on it. ALthough I am finding that facebook is pretty cool too!

Rico Mossegeld says: Never tried it, so it was never alive for me.

Devon Rutherford says: I know lots of 20, 30 and 40-some-year-olds that still use myspace (not just teens). Yes, the interface sucks, but non-technical individuals typically aren’t that discriminating when it comes to selecting a social networking interface. Facebook FTW! :)

Scott Allen says: Nope – that’s still where my kids (age 12-25) are. They don’t even know about FB. MS ate Friendster only indirectly because of the interface – the musicians and artists were too restricted by Friendster, so they migrated, then everyone else followed.

Kimberly Williams says: i don’t think so but i prefer facebook over myspace any day because the things on her are better than myspace and i think you can do more.

James Joyner says: I’ve never really used it. Then again, I’m not their target demo.

Robert Barac says: I bloody well hope so… I think MySpace is the old black.

Sasha Manuel says: What is MySpace? :-P

Travis Seitler says: Not yet. Maybe in two years…

Chris Cree says: Never got into MySpace. Skipped right past it, I guess.

Minic Rivera says: Yes.

Facebook or MySpace?

My Art of War entry the other day caused quite a stir. Notably, it caused a stir with the readers of b5media blog BuzzNetworker where Kevin Palmer, the author who has developed a professional public profile using MySpace takes issue with my sentiments regarding Facebook’s success. He has successfully stirred the pot and many more commenters came out in support of MySpace than Facebook.

I’ve issued a challenge
. It’s really simple. Record a video and tell me why you prefer MySpace over Facebook. Keep it under a minute.

If I get a significant amount of input, I’ll publish the results as a video and you can say you were made into a movie star because of this blog (yeah, right!). Just to clarify, I need an actual file emailed to me. Feel free to publish to YouTube but if I don’t get a file, I can’t use it. :)