Where's the Biz?

So I just ran across Jots.com - it looks just like a nicer designed Del.icio.us. Hmmm. Note that this site is different than Jot.com which is the Wiki thing. I made that mistake, which is why I'm even writing about it.

I'm not a big fan of sites that take an idea wholesale from another site. Especially something like del.icio.us which took me a while to grok what it was good for before I saw its value. I have several "tags" or "channels" now in my RSS feed and they're pretty good - a little noisy, but not bad. Jots does little to improve on this except make the pages look a bit cleaner. Regardless, the question in my mind is that both sites are filling an interesting niche - easy to create linkblogs - but they don't seem to have much of a business model. No ads that I can see and they must generate a good size amount of bandwidth. Are these businesses? One would think that yes they are, but then again, I have no idea.

Russell's Unproven Yet Seemingly Obvious Number One Rule For Web Based Services: Don't launch without a way of making money. If customers don't see ads at launch, they're going to be annoyed when they have work around them later. If you launch a "free beta" and then think you're going to charge later, forget it. Right from the start, make it clear that it's a going concern. This makes users realize what the product is and isn't and puts pressure on you to provide real products and services with a value to someone: either to the people who've paid to use the service, or to the advertisers who sponser it. And very importantly, it keeps buttheads like me from saying things like "what's the business model?"

Finding that line between the things that people want to have and use and the things they're willing to pay for in some way is the challenge. I pay for phone service and the internet. I don't pay for searching the net, but advertisers are willing to pay to put their ad somewhere near the results I get. I guess with Google showing us again the power of web advertising, everyone's feeling freer to throw spaghetti out there on the net to see what sticks... but I just can't see that as a bright thing to do. Look at what Yahoo is doing with their businesses. Over the past couple of years, they'v moved to drastically lower their reliance on advertising and increase fees and shut down unprofitable services, and from what I've read it seems like it's working. What are the numbers now? 50-50? That seems like the right idea.

Anyways, expect anything I launch in the coming days to have a Visa/Mastercard logo somewhere on the front end and a price on the technology in the back. What's the use of living through the bubble if we don't learn from it?


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