Architecture & ecosystem
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Heard of the “Gutenberg parenthesis” ? This is the intriguing proposition that the era of mass consumption of text ushered in by the printing press four centuries ago was a mere interlude between the previous era of predominantly oral culture and a new digital-oral era on whose threshold we may now sit. That’s a fascinating debate in itself. For the moment I just want to borrow the “parenthesis” concept — the idea that an innovative development we are accustomed to viewing as a step up some progressive ladder may instead be simply a temporary break in some dominant norm. What if the “open Web” were just this sort of parenthesis? What if the advent of a (near) universal publishing platform open to (nearly) all were not itself a transformative break with the past, but instead a brief transitional interlude between more closed informational regimes?
Here’s the really good news for the web economy over the next decade. Consumers are spending more and more time online, yet only about 10% of all advertising dollars are spent there. Let’s assume that, over time, ad spending on a medium becomes roughly proportional to the time consumers spend using that medium. I doubt there are any technologists reading this blog who doubt that in five years most people in industrialized countries will spend 50% or more of their “media time” on the web. This means there are hundreds of billions of ad revenues waiting to move to the web.
One Truth About Technology Architecture: Loose Coupling One of the great things about being focused on investing in web services is that the technical challenges faced by almost all of the companies in the Union Square Ventures portfolio tend to be the same. The solutions on the other hand vary widely.
Websites live or die based on how a small group of programmers at Google decide their sites should rank in Google’s main search results. As the “router” of the vast majority of traffic on the internet, Google’s secret ranking algorithm is probably is the most powerful piece of software code on the planet. Google talks a lot about openness and their commitment to open source software. What they are really doing is practicing a classic business strategy known as “commoditizing the complement “*. Google makes 99% of their revenue by selling text ads for things like plane tickets, dvd players and malpractice lawyers.
Saul Klein, co-founder of Seedcamp and one of the top VCs in europe, has a long and thoughtful post up on the evolution of Seedcamp . In it he says: In my mind, helping to bring some cohesion to our region's distributed network of talent, capital and is a 15-20 year project. ...... Getting to the right point takes time, and the cycles that kicked off what we now know as Silicon Valley began nearly 50 years ago .
The alleged societal benefit of patent law is that it creates a financial incentive to innovate. The societal drawback is that it reduces competition, reduces the spread of innovation, and creates deadweight legal costs. Perhaps patents are necessary in the pharmaceutical industry.
Compare the recent sale of Friendster for a reported $26.4 million with Facebook’s projected 2010 revenues , of $1 billion, and we have a stark reminder of how the inability to scale can kill a startup. “All they had to do was keep the damned servers up and running,” Matt Cohler , a former Facebook executive and general partner at Benchmark Capital, says in Adam L. Peneberg’s book “ Viral Loop ,” but Friendster failed to scale and the cost was enormous. So what should Internet startups avoid in order to grow? As former tech executives and consultants to hundreds of startups, we’ve seen how some companies scale and others fail , and we’ve assembled this knowledge in our recently released book “ The Art of Scalability .” Take a look at our list of the top 10 scalability killers.
The answer to that question is no. They had their chances. In the early days of the Internet, when dial-up was king, the telco companies were in the driver's seat. They had the customer relationships. They had the on-ramp to the Internet.
Creating a platform business is the dream of many entrepreneurs and their VCs – and it is easy to understand why. Successful platforms have huge scale and customer lock in and, to an extent at least, if you own a platform you can sit back and watch the dollars roll in as other companies build their businesses on top of yours. So I’ve been thinking about how successful platforms come to be, and it seems to me that most of them start off as applications. I’m writing this post today having just read about Facebook’s latest step towards being a platform business imminent launch of a share location feature which will work both on site and via an API .
It’s hard to imagine a Web sans URL shortening services nowadays but you can rest assured that they’re here to stay – for better or worse. Question is: how do the likes of bit.ly, TinyURL and Goo.gl score in terms of speed and availability? That’s exactly what Dutch startup WatchMouse sought to find out , by monitoring the performance and uptime for 14 popular URL shorteners for a whole month. Turns out most really don’t perform all that well, and that URL shorteners actually increase the load time of pages significantly.
Microsoft’s oft-lamented browser, Internet Explorer 6, may finally be put to rest . This will make many a Web developer happy – but also Microsoft itself . Web analytics company StatCounter claims its latest global data set shows IE6 usage in the US and Europe has fallen to 4.7 percent of the market from 11.5 percent a year ago. That said, IE8 usage in the US increased to 30.5 percent in May (up from 8.5 percent a year ago) while IE7 is currently at 16.6%, so it’s not all bad news for Redmond.