Seems so obvious in hindsight.
myspace, Facebook, YouTube.
They seem like such obvious hits in hindsight, just as the Pez dispenser exchange service (or whatever) that begot EBay had so many VCs shaking their heads and asking “why didn’t I think of that?”
These virutal communities play the same role with a certain generation or two that the Royal Canadian Legion does for another. Without the beer and shuffleboard, perhaps. But the stories are there. A community centre or town square for folks to congregate on a sunny day. Except its all virtual, and there’s no need to walk further than your laptop.
It wasn’t that long ago that we frustrated our friends and family with 12mb email files of the most recent vacation photos from Martha’s Vineyard. Slam into the inbox. If the firewall would allow it. Digital cameras are only wonderful if you can DO SOMETHING WITH THE FILES. Photo and video sharing are no longer a chore, and yet it was so obvious that a community had to be built to allow the essence of the Legion Hall (tell stories, show photos of your kids/grandkids/pets) to find some meaningful turf on the internet.
And while a generic email blast of “update news” doesn’t pass the manners test, these sites, to a large degree, solve that as well.
Which brings me to the recent VC investment in b5media see link. I admire Rick Segal see link and his co-leads at Brightspark see link for trying this $2 million investment on for size. Rick is a well known local VC and avid blogger, and just like Jim Balsillie I suppose (wildly successful business leader / men’s league hockey player buys pro hockey team), Rick’s now long a blog vehicle.
The truth is, Rick has been after the 1000x VC return deal for awhile. JLA see link has a mandate to look at a variety of investment stages, but early stage is probably Rick’s fave. And while he could care less about winning the annual CVCA see link “Deal of the year award” (unlike the rest of us), he is looking for that one out-of-the-continent home run.
I don’t know if b5media is it or not (that’s why he does early stage equity and I don’t), and Valleywag see link has slagged him for making the investment. But I admire the idea, and just as online communities will be a thing of our future, so will blogs.
Is there money in the forum? And with 50 million out there where do you start? From the US$1.6 billion Wall Street Journal story tonight see link on Google/youtube, it seems that viewer traffic is the gold there; and blogs certainly seem to be building traffic.