May 20, 2007
A couple months ago I had a fun conversation with Chris Fralic of First Round Capital, a great guy who is also a smart and thoughtful Web 2.0 investor (hmm, is that an oxymoron?) on the growing wave of “social networking enablers.” He and I have both seen a number of companies in the sector and are trying to figure out where this space ends up.
My initial gut has been that some of these companies will grow pretty quickly and be succesful ventures for the entrepreneurs, as long as they don’t raise too much capital and price themselves out of the typical Web 2.0 exit ranges. But I am not convinced there is a great venture return here, at least not yet convinced. So far I have felt that there is much more value in the consumer facing social networks that scale than in generic B2B2C enablers.
But I am still noodling on this.
In particular, I am wondering if there aren’t opportunities around some particular targetted communities which are naturally prone to social networking and are large enough to sustain a particular social network enabler focused on this vertical. If an enabler is able to become the de facto standard social networking platform by partnering with the major aggregators for a large community, like games, music or sports, for example, it seems to me there could be a large opportunity valuable enough to generate “venture returns.” The key is that the enablers value would hinge more on the community they have on the platform, rather than on their technology, and so is less prone to commoditization and/or displacement.
I’m working on one of these right now. Stay tuned.
Filed under Social Networks.